I love the simplicity of the Alchemy metaphor here. Alchemy was the science of the Middle Ages that was looking for the formula that would turn base metal (the stuff that is cheap and at hand) into gold. Science is looking for this “philosopher’s stone” today in its search for clean energy that has no side-effect. We all looking for the Idea that will create a money generating business, or a solution to our problems, the fountain of youth perhaps. We are all looking for some form of the Philosopher’s Stone.
Buddha was a spiritual alchemist, I would say, because he said he just taught Suffering (base metal) and the cessation of suffering (gold.) Tolle is saying that our base metal is pain and through mindfulness that pain becomes the fuel for the light of awareness. Eureka! I can turn my ignorance into enlightenment, my darkness into light.
This is so simple it can’t be true. Liberation must be more complicated that this. Pain is sustained by our thought about the pain and our effort to get rid of the pain. Stop resisting. Apply consciousness into the raw wound instead of covering it in the used bandages of thought.