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15 травня 2013 р.

Esoteric Alchemy: The Transmutation of Attitudes



    Raymond Lully, who was one of the great early alchemists, once pointed out that the great tragedy of the concept of alchemy was the transmutation of metals. Basil Valentine, a monk of St. Bennett, had the same thought when he wrote into one of his books, "WOE TO THE GOLD MAKERS!"

    Now, this is an interesting thought because our subject this morning, essentially, is "Esoteric Alchemy". And the history of alchemy itself divides into two distinct branches that have descended from Antiquity, possibly originating in Egypt. The word "chem" in both chemistry and alchemy is an ancient name for Egypt. "Al" is "divine" or "sacred", and we find it used in the Bible in such terms as Elohim, and of course the Deity of Islam is Allah. The "divine" prefix would indicate that alchemy is a spiritual art, a divine secret science. The great texts of alchemy have come principally from the hermetic background at the beginning of the Christian era. And probably there were alchemical schools in Alexandria at that time. Also we have early records of alchemy in China and in India. And it seems that from a very far back there has descended a double concept of chemistry: physical chemistry, having to do with those areas of knowledge which are now considered scientific - and spiritual chemistry which was definitely a sacred art.

    In practice, what is the difference in these two systems? I think, probably, Paracelsus summarized this rather well when he pointed out that the alchemical transmutation was impossible unless the alchemist HIMSELF was in the process of transformation. He could not sit back with his bottles, and test tubes, and retorts - and consider his art simply another way of advancing chemistry or a way of replenishing his own financial needs.

    So we find as is today that chemistry is largely dominated with the profit concept, the idea of wealth. We are making all kinds of chemical experiments for various reasons - some of them very good, some of them very dangerous - but always with a certain concept of return in material wealth for the good or the evil that is done. So that largely chemistry is a material art, dominated by scientific inquiry and not in any way involving any necessary spiritual overtones. The chemist does not have to be a person of great faith, he does not have to have metaphysical experience, he does not need to believe in metaphysical or mystical procedures; he is simply working with physical tests and physical texts.

    The alchemist, on the other hand, is an entirely different type of person. In the history of alchemy, as it is descending to us, most of the alchemists were very pious people, deeply religious and convinced that their advancement of science was a spiritual contribution to the well-being of society. The alchemist was concerned with the advancement of his own inner life. Jakob Boehme used a number of alchemical terms in his mystical writings, and these have been very confusing to modern students of his work. But actually, the use given by Boehme in most cases is probably the original intended usage, namely that it is all part of a great system of human regeneration, that it has nothing to do whatsoever with the advancement of worldly goods or worldly position.

    Now, in Europe the alchemists got into trouble - very serious trouble - and were persecuted and in many cases put to the rack and tortured to death. Why? Because the rulers or avaricious leaders wanted the secret of gold-making. So the moment the alchemist himself began to publicize this part of his belief, he immediately opened himself to persecution. So the gold-making as a science brought many of the alchemists to destruction. Also the manufacture of gold or any other precious substance without control by the state could result in the bankruptcy of the world. So the ancients were very careful on that point.

    Now, the question then remains: CAN gold be actually manufactured? Not whether it should be or not - but can it be. I think, the answer has to be in the affirmative. It CAN be. It also is obvious from recent experimentation that the subject could be advanced, and in the course of time it is probable that any artificial metals can be created by chemistry and by the various forms of progress that we now have in the sciences.

    But this is not the real purpose of alchemy. And where the chemists all get together to raise their own level of economic living, the scientists run into a very desperate prostitution. It was not for that purpose at all.

    The earliest alchemists that we know were using symbols of a very early date. [In] many cases the symbols have been accepted as literal pictures, and this has led to further confusion. We know, for instance, that in ancient alchemy the Great Retort in which all the experiments were being made was the Solar System itself, viewed as a globe, within which all the chemistries and alchemies of existence were taking place. We know from our own researches in more recent times that the ancients certainly believed that this world in which we live is a great theater of mysteries, the major secrets of which have never been solved; that, actually, the world is a strangely complete thing, within itself containing everything necessary for the infinite perpetuation of itself. And this condition goes on rather peacefully and naturally until human ambition and avarice take over. The ambition of the average modern person is involving fame, distinction or wealth. Therefore, he immediately is using knowledge for the formation, directly or indirectly, of gold. He may not make the gold in the retort but he will sell secrets or sell scientific developments which will bring him rich financial rewards. Now, we might say this: what harm is this? Well, one of the reasons why it is extremely dangerous is because the moment we begin to experiment with the basic laws of existence, we are very apt to forget their own integrities. Natural laws have to be obeyed, and modern thinking is not of the obeying type. We are not interested in obeying natural laws, we are interested in changing them to fit our conveniences. We want to use natural laws to exploit the Universe in which we live. And as a result of that, we are constantly in trouble and are in the same dilemma that burdens the alchemist.

    Many years ago we had an amateur alchemist here in Los Angeles. He was a delightful old German gentleman and for a prosaic living he worked in a cheese factory. Now, he wasn't hoping to transform cheese into gold (laugh) or anything of that nature. But he was experimenting on the side throughout most of his life, trying to work out the strange and mysterious formulas that had descended to him from the past. Before his passing on, by the way, which occurred many years ago, he gave most of his alchemical books to our library. But he passed on definitely certain that there was an answer, but that he had not been able to live long enough to find it.

    Then we had another gentleman who was engaged in alchemical speculation. He followed every rule in the book that he could find and, of course, soon found that every book had a different set of rules! (Laugh) This is always confusing and very frustrating. He went on, and on, and on, using every contrivance of physical knowledge. He bought a lot of apparatus and instruments, he followed hunches and hints, and he kept on going, and he was always on the verge of a great discovery - but it never happened. The one thing that he did not do, as I tried to point out to him on a number of occasions - he did not have a deep abiding love of God, faith or mankind. He was simply an intellectual, convinced that a science could be made to work, but what the science meant in terms of his own character, never seemed to occur to him.

    Now, when we go into the alchemy of China and India, we find almost immediately that the symbolism moves from pure chemistry or a thing of that matter to all kinds of vibratory patterns which we know in life. Alchemy in China was tightened with music and the musical scale, the harmonics of life. The ancient Greeks of the Pythagorean period combined all their knowledge of cosmogony and the actual reformation of man into a great mathematical formula, which was never to be taken literally but was to become almost like a mantra, a sacred statement which, if obeyed, could produce tremendous results.

    Also, as we went along through the different systems, we find that hermetic philosophy became involved in alchemy. The hermeticists of Alexandria followed a mysterious being known to them as Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes the Trice Greatest. Who he was, when he lived - no one seems to know. Whether he was a production of symbolism or perhaps a great alchemical adept of some ancient time, we do not know. But in Hermeticism we begin to sense the beginning of the transmutation of man as the essential purpose of the Great Alchemical Procedure.

    In Europe, of course, it was necessary to be more careful in the promulgation of some of these beliefs, because of the bitter opposition of the clergy. The clergy sensed the fact that in some way alchemy was a religion, and they were therefore quite sure it had to be included among the heresies. As a result, however, of the motion of Arabic knowledge into Europe, the alchemical secrets passed to keeping persons like Paracelsus, and Khunrath, and Valentine gain their knowledge of the alchemical processes largely from Constantinople and Baghdad. This, of course, meant still more: that it had to be held in secrecy against the persecutions and martyrdoms that were popular at that time in Europe.

    So we find alchemy in many parts of the world recognized probably for what it actually was, and that is a series of symbols intended to convey a major operation concerning the transmutation of man himself. Without this transmutation, none of the great good things that we dream of can come about. Therefore, the Elixir of Life or the Philosopher's Stone was that power by means of which all good things could come to pass, wherein all errors and forms of ignorance could be overcome, and where the human being himself would gain complete control of not only his own life, but the laws governing it.

    Therefore, we come to this particular thought that seems to be very much in the medieval alchemical tradition, and that is: is there any proof of transmutation? Do we have any actual evidence of things being completely altered? Has there ever been a scientist that could completely alter anything? He can modify it - yes. He could improve it to a degree, he could destroy it as always. But the process of actual transformation of a thing from what it is to something totally different - this has been a question that has been of concern in alchemical researches for ages. The answer, of course, is extraordinarily simple; the answer lies in the human body itself. The process of digestion of food requires the transformation of elements, it requires an almost instantaneous adaptation of certain principles to special usages for which they were not originally intended. It is possible, therefore, for food which is taken in to in some way maintain a life principle, which is not in the food, which is not in the body otherwise - but it must be used to nourish the spiritual ends or principle in the human being. Therefore, the bread and butter, the cheese and milk keep alive something that is not any of them, keep alive a thing which throughout life will continue to cause the heart to beat, which will continue to circulate the blood and nourish the functions of the human being until the end of life. Therefore, out of what goes into him comes out of him arts and sciences, poetry and music, philosophy and science, religion and economics. They all come out of someone, and that someone is nourished by the food, by the atmosphere around him, by water and by the rays of the planets, and the light of the sun and moon. Therefore, the wedding of the sun and moon in alchemy is very important, not because we are going to have a wedding up in the sky of the two luminaries, but because we are going to have a union of the principles for which they stand inside of the human body itself.

    So we have the amazing recognition [of] the One Life flowing behind all forms and made available through nutrition to every living creature. We find consequently that from the harvests in the fields a world is nourished, and those who eat these harvests become proficient in many forms of activity. Now, this in sense is the problem that we find in the Christian doctrine of the Eucharist. Here we have a problem of the Divine Blood, and in alchemy this Divine Blood is the Elixir of Life. How this Divine Blood operates is not clear to many people, but in some mysterious way Universal Life supports living things, and these living things may never be aware of the source of their own nutrition. And in the mechanistic era, such as ours, they do not care about the source of their nutrition; all they want is to keep on going.

    Now, out of all this has come a new concept of nutrition also - a concept involving vitamins, and proteins, and carbohydrates - an entire system of nutrition based upon the development of highly specialized nutrients from the various food materials that we eat. All these food things have something to do with the maintenance of the various structures of the human body. In this sense of the word, there is an acceptance of alchemy, without any understanding of it. Here we have the realization that nutrition does do the work. But how this nutrition does it, and why it does it, and how one general type of nutrition can maintain an infinite diversity of creatures - is another problem that is difficult to understand. One of the problems, of course, is that the nutrition must be regarded as conditioned to the creature which is receiving the nourishment.

    So we have within our own bodies an extraordinary laboratory - a laboratory the mysteries of which we have begun to touch, a laboratory in which every type of nutrient is made available to every type of living thing. And all this happens without a chemist sitting somewhere and arranging it all! We can in nutrition have someone who can help to make it practical, who can prescribe various materials for our common nutrition and for special emergencies that arise. But prescribing them is not creating them, and prescribing them is not understanding them. It is simply that we have gradually come to know that certain materials have certain effects, and we depend upon this to maintain the procedures which we hope will strengthen and lengthen our life expectancies.

    Now, immortal life was one of the beliefs of alchemy, so they had a number of very quaint and unusual concepts about this matter. Some of these concepts are very difficult to understand even now, but we know that they definitely believed that there were in the world a few individuals who had solved the mystery of alchemy. And the master of all the alchemists was Elias Artista, the most celebrated of all the hermetic adepts and philosophers. No one really knew him, although we do have two or three early books in the library in which the alchemists described a meeting with him. But Elias Artista was the symbol of the perfect alchemist. He had a number of disciples, however, who came very close to him in achieving the ends which he sought. And the powers of Elias were such that he would appear in laboratories where worthy persons had worked very hard for years and give them a hint or a little advice to advance their researches, then he disappeared and was never seen by them again. He appeared in many nations and in many different appearances, he spoke many languages. But he is supposed to be an eternal person, living on and on because there was nothing within himself to cause him to die; death has to be the result of causes. And life expectancies are increasing constantly, but life expectancies to reach a phenomenal extension of time are now either a phenomena in themselves - or else they are the result of very serious scientific conditioning or constitutional ability to adapt nutrition over a longer period of time than is possible for most people.

    The alchemists also pointed out that the beginning of the alchemical experiment was, of course, to remove all friction from life. By friction we mean wear and tear. Now, what is wear and tear? Well, to most people wear and tear is doing the things they have to do and have no particular interest in doing. Wear and tear is also the result of the lack of control of the mental, emotional and physical activities of the individual. All of these activities use energy. A large part of the energy we use today we waste. We are not conserving it, we are not taking care of this mysterious vitality that comes to us. We are allowing it to be expended in all kinds of useless ways. Of course, we have to make physical adjustments for employment and things of this nature, but at the same time it is not the work necessarily that is the greatest cause of problem; it is the attitude toward the work. It is the lack of enthusiasm, the lack of recognition of significance of the things that we do that depress us. Then emotional relationships out of hand can become a terrible enemy to vitality. Worry, fear, anxiety - all of these use up part of this alchemical nutrition that is constantly being made within ourselves. If we waste it, we can no longer have it. If we use it unwisely, it is dissipated. And gradually, to keep on with the artificial attitudes that we have we undermine the necessary functions of the body.

    So the alchemist first of all declared that the master of all arts was God. Deity was in a sense the extrapersonal perfect alchemist, because in Deity all things continue according to the Divine Will. How this Will operates, man does not know exactly, but he does recognize, if he is mystically inclined, that there is a tremendous background of eternal wisdom behind the things that happen in nature. And so Deity becomes the perfect force behind generation and regeneration. Deity brings forth the seed, the plant, the flower and the fruit. And then that seed becomes the next generation of the same. And in alchemy these seeds are called "the Tears of God", because they are the weepings which produce life everywhere.

    The symbolism is strange and obscure but we can gradually work some of it into a pattern if we try hard enough. We must begin with what the alchemist begins with: base metals. We must begin with things as they are here, visibly and inevitably. We cannot build our alchemical formulas from elements or substances not available to us. So the beginning of all things is to recognize that the first operation is a transmutation of physical factors, elements and properties; in other words, purification. If it is Mercury, it must be purified. If it is Sulphur, it must be purified. If it is Salt, it must be purified. And if it is man, he must be purified. Everything begins with the purification or the removal of the dross which limits the value and limits the survival of elements, principles and substances.

    So we start with the concept of the pure material with which to work. The alchemist is given various clues and keys on how to achieve this pure material. He might assemble it under certain aspects of planets, he might wait until the moon shines upon the water before he uses it in his test tubes. He may do all kinds of things. He must purify, first of all, by gathering his materials from pure sources as much as he can. Most of the great experiments of Paracelsus and many others were possible because of the pure high atmosphere of the Alps; here materials were uncontaminated, here things grew to the fullness of themselves. And here in his day there was no smog or congestion. These pure materials, having been found, become the basic elements with which to work. Now, you may have to go out, and work, and look, and search for a long time to find a pure material in a workable condition, something that you can actually use.

    Now, the same problem applies to the person himself. The alchemist must first purify his own body and his own nature. Until the body is cleansed, its various processes cannot be refined. Because actually, all the purification in man, all the integration and organization of his abilities and capacities, all the improvement of his nature through learning, through meditation, through contemplation - all of these things lead up to, contribute to, and make possible a final internal illumination; the final secret has to come from inside. Therefore, everything has to be refined until the soul of itself is available, and in man it is his own soul; and until this is available, he labors in vain.

    Now, the things that have to contribute to this progress must be considered as disciplines or as first steps toward achievement. They represent first of all man's recognition of his responsibility to the life principle which exists in him and in which he exists. This principle is divine, sacred, and the most valuable and mysterious thing in the whole world. Unless the individual is true to this basic principle in his own life, in his own way of living and thinking, he cannot hope to advance in the course of spiritual alchemy. So he must do everything possible to make his own life reasonable and normal.

    Now, this does not mean that he has to depart from society or go into some refuge on the top of the Alps. It means, however, that there must be an establishment of basic harmony within himself. Harmony is the proof of the compatibility of the elements. Harmony is the ability of different chemical elements to work together, and this is only possible when they are purified - for in their gross form they will never be compatible. Salt and sulphur in the form of the physical elements that we can buy in a store can never be compatible. Therefore, it is necessary to cleanse them both, refine them and take out of them those elements or parts which are the cause of conflict. It is not the spirit of sulphur or the spirit of salt that is the trouble; it is the crystallization around it, by means of which it becomes in conflict with other similar crystallizations. This, we know then, is what the ancients believed to be the creation of peace within the Self. The alchemist must put his own house in order; he must begin by realizing that he is actually searching for something that is in its substance and essence completely sacred. Therefore, any other consideration is going to damage his probabilities of getting it.

    Now, the alchemical procedure that is most commonly known is related to two distinct ends: one is the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, and the other is the brewing of the philosophical medicine: the Elixir of Life. So the Stone in itself represents the Body of Wisdom purified, and the Universal Medicine represents the soul. The medicine of immortality must be derived from things that have a birth and death within themselves. In other words, the nutrition that is given off may cause the primitive element to be lost, but its power goes on, it does not die; it simply reincarnates on a higher level. For when we take into ourselves basic elements, they are reborn in us and therefore pass through a process of evolution as they are used by the human being to maintain the economy of life.

    So in the beginning the alchemist must find a quiet place to work; he must have his little laboratory. Well, the laboratory in his day was a furnace, a fireplace with a bunch of bottles and a few old books to guide his way. But to us the laboratory is actually a body, so free from interference and confusion that we can retire into when we so will. In other words, the laboratory is our own internal - not our eternal, but our internal; it is that part of ourselves which is always capable of being reduced to a harmonious situation. The personal life must be basically harmonious. Now, a lot of people feel that this is not possible, that there is no answer to all these grievances and griefs that beset us and affect us. But the alchemist says you are after the most valuable thing in the world, and if you are hoping to get it, you must earn it, you must make adjustments that will never be required of anyone except for this purpose.

    So to create a quiet place within the Self for the contemplation of the symbols of regeneration - this is very vital. It does not mean, however, that the person has to become a constant celled monk or mysterious acolyte. He does not have to retire from life; he simply has to retire from confusion. He has to reject the idea of confusion within himself. The acceptance of confusion is a form of ignorance. It is not real, but we all are subject to it. Confusion also means waste of energy, waste of time, depletion and inability in that state to contact a deeper and higher part of ourselves.

    This we find in the oriental philosophies, in the series of Yoga and Vedanta. Here we find the mystery of the chakras, and the chakras are the Seven Seals of Revelation, and the Seven Seals of Revelation are actually the seven sacred metals of the alchemical transmutation. It's all part of one thing. But if the orientalist wishes to practice Yoga, it is very important for him to first of all recognize that he is not practicing it in order to gain power to dominate somebody else, he is not practicing it in order to free himself from the responsibilities of living. He is practicing it because it is a way ordained by Deity, by means of which the wanderer returns home to the spiritual homeland from which he came. It is a part of a journey, and the journey up through the chakras and up through the [...] are all journeys toward reality, toward the Self, toward the Infinite, which we are all seeking to understand.

    So in alchemy the quietude is the same as that recommended for Yoga - to find a quiet place. Now, in Tibet there used to be an old monastery where they had a very nice idea of how to train an acolyte in quietude. They had him sit under the temple bell and ring it all the time (laugh) - until most people would have gone completely crazy (laugh). But he was supposed to sit there and be so peaceful that it was incredible. He must reach a point where the clanging meant absolutely nothing or [when] finally he was able to hear in this clanging the Voice of God. There had to be a complete indifference to interruption. Indifference did not mean to neglect duties - but it meant to cure abuses of all kinds. So the alchemist also had to learn to achieve an absolute quietude that was not negative. He was not looking for a psychic revelation, he was simply finding peace which is the foundation of growth. After a certain length of time in this allotted labor, he was able to quiet his nature, to release from it certain basic powers already available to him because he also has within himself the Seven Seals of Revelation in the forms of the vital organs, the various ductless glands, the various systems of the body, the composition of the blood and the seven orifices of the heart. And it is in this "ceptimate[?] cave", as Buddha pointed out, of the heart that great mysteries are revealed. So the heart becomes also part of the alchemical paraphernalia, by means of which the individual receives, finally, the full support.

    Also, of course, the alchemists used as a symbol of their achievement the lamb with the cut throat and the blood pouring from it, because of the idea of man being saved by the blood of the lamb. Now, the blood of the lamb in this case is actually the Eucharistic vitality which arises from the absolute sacrifice of all forms of negation and the purification of the life that flows through us through the wonderful possibilities of the Infinite itself.

    Now, we have to get a nice and quiet about these things, the body being as much at rest as possible. We soon come to another very important decision. For this purpose the body can be considered alchemically the Power of the Moon. And this body being subject to all kinds of digestive and assimilative processes, the lunar energies work for the maintenance constantly of the peace of the flesh, and the individual has to cooperate consciously with this process if he wishes to proceed further.

    Now, having that in the little bit of control of the body, we make usually a very disheartening discovery, at least for the beginning. And that is, essentially speaking, the body which is the earth of the alchemical experiment, did not really do as very much harm in the first place. It was not the flesh but the dweller in the flesh that was giving trouble nearly always. The flesh was the victim (laugh), the flesh was being scourged daily. It was being constantly beaten like some faithful animal by the ambitious, self-centered driver. So the next thing was to find out what this driving force was, and as soon as we do that, we begin to get into the Fire Principle, which is emotion.

    Now, emotion is life. The energy behind emotion is magnificent, it's divine, but the use we put to it is miserable in most cases. Emotion is when we get mad, angry, jealous, our ambitions run wild, we don't like people, we don't like things, we can't stand the daily problems of life and we become beautifully and systematically neurotic (laugh).

    So with all these disagreements within ourselves, our emotions are constantly battling us; in the moment we sit down somewhere [and] a negative thought flows in. Another idea comes along, and always there is this temptation: if I'm gonna work this hard, what am I gonna get for it? This is one of the major temptations. Those working truly for the good of the Great Alchemical Mystery are not concerned about what they are going to get for it; they are concerned only with the fact that it is the spiritual and moral necessity of their lives. That it is that for which they were intended in the first place, and the only thing they are going to get for it is release from the absence of it, release from the pain and misery of trying to live without it.

    So the emotional factor which beats the body, which uses up a very large part of the energy which the body is able to manufacture, is a constant wasting of life. It's a wasting of the Divine Power. It is actually the body being perverted, and being this managed simply because we want to do what we want to do. Now, behind this little mystery and this little problem lie thousands of years of tradition. We have always supposed that when we were unpleasant, we had a right to be. We have also believed that when we wanted to think something nasty about a person, it was our privilege. Or if we wanted to be angry and go into warfare, that was also a right that was inalienable.

    So out of the emotional excess on the personal level are all the temper fits, poutings and psychoses that we most dread. On the larger world field of the Great Alchemical Retort this misuse of emotional energy is war, crime and all the difficulties that we most fear.

    So in the small way we have to heal war by getting rid of our own conflicts, getting rid of our own hurt feelings, our own offenses, getting rid of those things we want to do which we know we can't, and the extravagance which demands that we accomplish the incredible - or be miserable. We have to get our attitudes and our emotions down where they are reasonable, and we have to use them reasonably and beautifully.

    One of the best uses, of course, of emotion is art, and music, and things of this nature. But in the ordinary commonplace of things it's kindness, it's affection, it's the natural friendliness of human beings. And where these increase strongly, there is a change in body chemistry, the emotions no longer persecute the body. They no longer offer the body on the altar of their own ambitions. They do not destroy, they do not nurse grievances, they waste no time remembering past events. The only thing that we remember from the past is experience which is helping to make us better now. So gradually we relax the emotional content.

    Now, the emotions can be beautiful, and emotions that are beautiful are well worth cultivating, but - here again - they must be sincere, they must be real, they must be naturally within a pattern of normalcy. Even the best emotion gets into trouble if it becomes hysteria.

    Then we pass on to the next level of this complicated pattern, and that is the mind level. As the emotions sit around making trouble for the body, the mind arrogantly stands up and makes trouble for both (laugh). It is the detriment to the emotions, and it is a further detriment to the body. The mind sets the body in great habits, and these habits are mostly unreasonable. The mind is the final basis of career. It is that which we learn to do well, so that we can get rich doing it. The mind is planning forever to make a millionaire out of the body (laugh), and the body being unable to stand all the pressure probably drops dead after the first [...] (big laugh).

    This is the problem of the mind also - argues and debates. It's the mind that is up to its neck in politics, regardless of whether ANY of the candidates are worth voting for (laugh). The mind is the basis of telling other people how to live, when we don't know how ourselves (laugh). And the mind is that which comes to the conclusion that the more we accumulate, the happier we are, when every day this is proving to be an absolute falsehood.

    So [in] all these problems the mind is got to be brought down to what it was intended to be: a sort of psychological bookkeeper. The mind is not the master of life, although we have allowed it to become such. The mind is simply a very useful secretary, able to keep the ledgers balanced, and now we are giving all the minds courses in computerization - but it is going to be a long time before we use these computers to find out what is wrong with ourselves. We may some time - it may be some day that we will have to fight it out with the computers (laugh), because they may be more right than we are (laugh). In any event, however, the mind is a constant cause of agitation. Its ambitions and appetites know no bounds and very often it forms a very difficult and unfortunate partnership with the emotions. When the emotions justify an [unfortunate] attitude, there is definitely a bad situation. When the emotions tire the mind, that is one trouble; when the mind rationalizes the emotions, there can be another. In all these problems the only answer is gradually to recognize the ascent of the being through these conditions.

    These are the stories that we have in the great system of the ancient mysteries: the rites of Eleusis and Dionysus, the rites of Horus and Isis, the rites of Buddha in India, China and Japan were always arranged in three basic steps, and these three basic steps represent the three great levels of the personality, that part of ourselves which we have some inkling of - but very little understanding. They will also become the basic bulwark degrees of Free Masonry, and many other fraternal orders have the same trichotomy of rituals and symbols. So the three together constitute what might be termed the "visible" or "tangible temples".

    In the body these three powers are the grandmasters of life; they are the ones upon which merely everyone depends for survival, for continuance, for the fulfillment of purposes. If we cannot solve it physically, we try to solve it emotionally. If that fails, [we] try to explain it or rationalize it mentally. Then if all of these things fail, we are at a kind of a wit's end. Sometimes we simply drop back and say: there is no answer, - and we turn to the more familiar things. Those of a more idealistic nature look upward and see above these three steps something else - perhaps God - that something they still have to transcend more than they have realized was necessary. But for our personality and for the experiments of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury we have the threefold body and the auric, or magnetic, field in which it functions.

    Now, the magnetic field is a very curious thing because it is also a mass of chemical factors. The magnetic field is a constantly changing compound of interactive energies. The magnetic field is like a bottle that is being violently shaken after a whole group of materials have been put into it. Now, when we look at these situations symbolically, the magnetic field is a bottle, and it is the bottle that contains the three parts of our lower nature, each one of which has a magnetic overtone. And when we begin to realize this, we begin to see that we have interactions here as well as in the body. In fact, we have to explain, for instance, why a temper fit will cause a headache, or why indigestion will result in serious emotional complexes. The answer is simple: they don't do it that way, the troubes arise in the difficulties in the auric (or magnetic) field, due to intemperances of attitudes. If an individual is angry, the magnetic field blazes up and really practically burns out most of the other values, for the moment at least. If an individual is depressed, the magnetic field fades down to a shadow. If an individual is in the presence of contagion and is healthy, the magnetic field can protect him from infection. If, however, he is depleted and goes into the presence of it, he may catch the ailment.

    So the magnetic field is in constant motion: emotion forms, thought forms and bodily essences make up this particular area. And if there is any deceit, any falseness in the personality, it will show in the magnetic field, although the individual may try to talk himself out of the problem itself. If you have a temper fit and you say it was justified, you are not sure of that because it's not only justified if it does not result in trouble in the magnetic field. The magnetic field is not interested in your excuses, it is not interested in your explanations - it is interested in the chemical interaction of values. When you pervert a value or misuse it, the magnetic field bears witness. And the moment it bears witness the magnetic field's resources are depleted and the individual does not feel so well.

    Little by little, abuse of the various emotions, thoughts and bodily functions will result in the exhaustion of the magnetic field. And when that exhaustion is complete, the individual simply leaves this world. He cannot function if the energy fields do not sustain him. So it is very important to maintain harmony. And this was one of the great principles of Pythagoras: that the world had to be maintained as a musical instrument, that it had to be in harmony always. And the individual in his personal life is also a musical instrument. He is the vina of Siva, the mysterious instrument that plays the majestic music of life. If he mistakes his destiny or misuses his powers, he is simply in trouble.

    Now, most of the alchemists got about to the point where they were beginning to sense some of these values. And then they went into a doldrum, because having gone as far as the mind could take them, they found themselves at the entrance to the promised land - but they could not enter into. They did not know how to handle that which lies beyond. They had listened carefully and, as Faust in his laboratory, they'd read all the great books. They had studied all the mysteries, but there at last they stood with all their lore, fools no wiser than before. Something was wrong. The great search ended in frustration, not in the great reward which they'd hoped for. Now, the only answer to this was to do what Lully, and Valentine, and Khunrath, and many others did - and that is check over what had happened. What did happen? Why is this sudden block that is impossible for most people to get through? And the final decision was that this block was the absence of a faculty higher than the mind. The mind could only go a certain distance. Even if you've most beautifully trained the mind, it could not fulfill the ultimate. There has to be something higher than the mind, without which the Great Experiment can not be performed.

    Now, in alchemical [...], when Elias Artista visited the alchemist, he sometimes gave him a small amount of the transmuting powder. He put it in his ring or he made a tiny vial which was worn around the neck, and one grain of this powder would transmute a thousand times its own weight into solid gold. Well, there was a lot of talk about that, but the grains were few, but it was known that in some cases they were. It is believed that Roger Bacon offered to finance the Crusades for England as the result of the ability to transmute base metal into gold suitable to be minted. All these legends and fables go on, but the main story of the thing seems to be that Elias Artista, or one like him, appeared at the proper moment to give some type of instruction, something more than the alchemist alone had achieved. Elias never occurred, or never appeared, unless the disciple was in every way worthy. He would never help any alchemist out of his own mistakes, but he would help him to progress beyond a sincere effort to a greater degree of accomplishment.

    And, of course, in the alchemical tradition there were seven stages of adepts and masters relating to the science. Therefore, it was a long journey at best, but it was also a journey which every step brought with it a greater sense of inner security and sincerity. With the beginning of the fourth step, under the leadership of a guide or by means of this mysterious tincture, the alchemist received his first evidence that he was going to ultimately succeed. He received the inner message that the labor was not in vain. It was from a hope in the first three to a kind of mysterious, mystical certainty in the fourth level that made it possible for him to go on.

    So this fourth level was found and, of course, we find in alchemy [that] the life of Christ is an alchemical formula. We also find, according to the cabalists, that "The Song of Solomon" is also purely a chemical formula in disguise. But the Christian formula of the Christ mystery places Christ as the final achievement of the universal medicine. And in the alchemical symbols figures of Christ and also of other saints appear in the bottles to indicate that this was the intention of the story, although most people did not realize that fact.

    So in the fourth step we come to the next thing, and that is the beginning of an integrated mystical experience. In other words, the fourth step was the awareness of the soul. It was what in Indian philosophy is the Buddhic state. It is the state of the individual suddenly becoming rational inside himself, achieving a sense of reality superior to thought, and also becoming for the first time capable of directing his own efforts by the very Divine Power within him which he was seeking to release into manifestation. So in the ancient hermetic mysteries the soul was the symbol of the Elias Artista, the adept. It was the one power in man capable of becoming the internal instructor, capable of becoming the source of inner enlightenment that cannot fail.

    Now, in the system of alchemy the cultivation of this soul power is perhaps most clearly defined in the writings of Boehme, the German theologian mystical shoemaker who was one of the greatest mystics of the Protestant world. Boehme was the one who finally realized that within himself was the adept. The adept was not somebody wandering around outside - the adept was the adept Self, more or less of the same spirit of leadership that we find in the psychology of Carl Jung where the inner teacher becomes the symbol of the master alchemist.

    At this particular phase of the subject light begins to shine from within, light begins to clarify things. The eye begins to see through the blind spot in its center. The world becomes more and more translucent, the elements become more and more understandable. And instead of seeing nothing but bodies, the intuitive mind gradually learns to see nothing but qualities. And the intuitional mystical experience is one in which the individual, looking at things, sees them as they are and not as he has thought them to be. He sees the rock in the stone and the star, not as he does with mortal eyes but from an inner vision which projects a higher level of sight. In other words, to make it a little clearer, all things that exist have not only the visible forms of their existence, but [also] the invisible forms. Each rock and pebble, each twig and flower is not only a physical thing but a metaphysical thing [as well]. With the mind, emotions and bodies we see the physical thing[s], we pick them up, we make a buket of flowers. With the psychic power of the soul we see the psychic bodies of these things, we see the magnetic fields of them, we become aware of their degree of growth in the development of their potential. We also become able to watch clearly the result of combining them. We see the compatibilities and incompatibilities. We see the elements that work together and the works that cannot be reconciled.

    So little by little, as we work with the soul eye, we become aware of the Universal Soul. For the first time we are capable of seeing the quality of life. This is well-noted in some of the early visions of the Platonic writers and many other mystics who were able to behold the invisible shapes of things, and in seeing their shapes behold their natures. While the physical body cannot change greatly, the psychic centers within the body are in constant motion and constant agitation. It is then also possible for the alchemist to discover something that perhaps he had never fully realized before; he may have believed it, but believing and knowing are two different things. He knows, for example, that no matter where he turns, or what he looks towards, or what he examines - there is nothing in the entire Universe that is not alive. Even the grain of sand is a living mystery. Everything is alive, and in the great aliveness of things the magnetic fields of all this different forms gather in the magnetic atmosphere of the Universe. It is a very great and important subject for careful study.

    But in any event, with the beginning of this dimension of value, the alchemist begins to discover how to accomplish the mutations which are necessary to his art. He knows the principle of sublimation. He knows the cycles of recapitulation that have to be used, because gradually he sees that alchemy is only a symbolic representation of the entire process of universal activity. Everything is part of the same great pattern, and this pattern unfolds as we become capable of understanding it. The pattern is never more nor less, but our relation to it is forever changing as a result of personal growth. A disillusionment or frustration - these leave scars in this great pattern, but in the course of things we go on in any event to that which is necessary to us.

    As the result of the development of the soul psychofactor, we are reminded of Nickolas Flamael, a [shreidler?] in France, who became an alchemical adept. He and his wife Pernella both worked together and finally accomplished the projection. Then what did the good man do? Flamael simply took all that he had made, with all of his arts and with all of his struggles - and dedicated to the building of churches and the service of the poor. And in the Yard of the Innocents in Paris his Church of the Innocents stood for centuries, but was finally destroyed during the revolution. When I was in Paris last time, I tried to find where the church had been. I finally found the Square of the Innocents, now a little park - but no building. And in the Yard of the [...] in Paris are [...] from the ancient church. This church was ornamented on the outside, with the hieroglyphics of the achievement of the Great Work. But the whole process was based upon the simple fact that Flamael had dedicated everything that he [had] learned, every advancement in knowledge, simply to the relief of suffering. He had no intentions of profiting by it himself. This is probably why he was one of the greatest of the European adepts, and why after he was supposed to have died, he simply retired into the Near East, where he was seen centuries later.

    But in any event, when you get to this level, you begin this work with the chemistry and alchemy of life. It is no longer little materials and bottles, it is vast concepts experienced within the unfolding massiveness of human projection. Little by little, the entire mystery goes on, until finally it made [that] the individual from an intuitive procedure forms a reunion with the divine part of himself. And having made this union with the divine part of himself, he then goes on to the further steps of the great transmutations, he finds himself gradually lifted up into the hierarchies of life - but never, however, for personal gain, never for glory, never for wealth and never to escape pain. These things are processes of growth, and the pains and sufferings that we have are the impairments which by our own policy we know no better. It is not a fall, it is one of those things that nature has presented to us for contemplation and which we must face, whether it is happy or not.

    But in going on and on we gradually find the part of alchemy in the Great Universal Plan of things. We find that the planet itself is in a state of constant alchemical transformation. We know that the solar system is moving from one level of evolution to another, we know that the whole cosmos is coming more and more into perfect harmony with its own rules. These different forms of life, therefore we find, have a tendency, as time goes on, to be absorbed into higher forms of life. It is not that some time our planet will simply disappear or go forever and we will cease because of it - it simply means that evolution is a growing, and when we outgrow the experiences that we are facing in the 20th century, we will no longer be subject to the confusion and sorrow of these experiences.

    We have to solve problems. And the alchemist's problem was to solve the mystery of himself. He had to find ways to outgrow his own limitations, and various systems have advanced for that. Religion have attempted exactly the same thing, philosophy has attempted it, science will someday attempt it because science will have instruments by means of which many of the great mysteries of antiquity can be solved. But, regardless of the motive behind it or the methods used, the whole answer is the gradual transformation called transmutation, multiplication and finally projection of the Great Work.

    This is a sort of a marvelous wonder world of forces and values which work together with "the music of the spheres", as Pythagoras called it, a universe of infinite integrity, infinite beauty and infinite wonder - a universe which exists within ourselves as a potential of all of these things, for there is nothing in the Universe that is necessary to man that he does not possess. And it is perfectly possible to conceive the ultimate unity of man under Universe, not by him ceasing to be himself, but by outgrowing what he has come to consider himself - which is another pretty little problem that we all have to face. We all think of ourselves as we are. We think of ourselves looking in the mirror and seeing exactly what we are. We look in and we see a face that is fairly reasonable - that's pretty good (laugh); maybe if it's too odd reasonable, we try to do something about it. And we look around us, we see our clothing, we see our friends, we see our associates - and we see ourselves as a kind of creature, just as we are. And with the mental and emotional levels of vision we see the inside the way we think it is; for the outside we have to depend on X-ray. But on the other faces of it we look inside and we see ourselves as a more or less complicated mass of conflicts and contradictions; we realize that we are nothing to brag about if we want to be really honest about it, but we always [...] think of something to brag about. And all these infirmatives[?], witnesses, limitations we take for granted! The individual is what he is. He is going to be a hero a little while - and he is going to leave. Where he is going most people aren't very sure. But in any event, we take this selfness as it is to be ourselves. This selfness is the thing we've given the name "John Doe" to. And whenever someone says "John Doe", we stand up. We recognize ourselves by these forms, utterly and completely. We recognize ourselves as separate entities somewhere in the world of creatures. And it never occurs to the average person that there is any real reason why should be anything else except what he appears to be. There is no reason why he should give up all his pleasures for something he doesn't understand. There is no reason to assume that he can ever be any more than he is; science is very doubtful about that. He thinks he might in the course of millions of years become an animated computer, but there is no proof of that. We just don't know but we assume that as we are is it. So it's from that standpoint we are locked in the lowest level of achievement, but the only other answer seems to be to try to make "as it is" as comfortable as possible. We don't want to suffer more than we have to. We do not want to do anything that is going to inconvenience us. We want to go along as well as we can until we leave.

    Well, this, of course, is a lack of aspiration, and there has to be some aspiration - or nothing works. Therefore, it becomes very necessary for the individual to sense that there is something more than he can become - or he will stay the way he is. No amount of education will get him out of it, because the education can only help the mind, but the mind cannot get [at?] the fact. So out of growth, out of friendship, kindness, experience particularly, we have to gradually release the soul power, the Overself of Emerson. We have to release this inner superiority and give the best of ourselves immediately the rulership over the rest of ourselves. Plato says that in the Philosophic Empire the wisest lead, and those not so wise are still wise enough to follow honorably.

    To the individual the best part of himself must be the leader of the rest, for the moment he rests leadership upon any contaminated level of his own consciousness, he is in trouble. So he tries to go along the best he knows, but the alchemist was a kind of a being apart, a natural mystic. There have been many mystics that were not alchemists, but were also on the same general level. There is a part of society - it's a small part unfortunately - that has discovered within itself the need for growth, the need to become more, that there are certain nagging questions that we need to answer in order to live well NOW. And we also have to know more about more, before we can get along with the little that we do know.

    Gradually we have to increase in all these values, in order to make life in this world suitable to us. We have to try and find the answers to war and corruption. We realize that as we are now, even though we may never be in a war ourselves, we are in a war, in conflict with our neighbors and our families, and with the biological structures of our own bodies. Therefore, something has to be done to overtreat these things.

    So the way of overtration is a slow process of discipline, by means of which we ascend through the three personality factors of our lives and come into harmony with the fourth level, which in the ancient astronomy was the level of the Sun, the fourth orbit. Then we have to take the body and the psyche, or the soul, and wed them, in what the alchemists call "the Marriage of the Sun and Moon".

    All of these things are interesting experiences and philosophical thoughts, but out of them come certain simple things. Alchemy is nothing more nor less than a dedicated effort to find out where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. It is also a science by which all science's built-in selfishness can be rededicated to the common good of humanity. It is a way of applying all that we know to all of the problems that we must solve. Gradually, step by step, we become more knowing, more useful and more helpful. And we become better citizens here and, whether we realize it or not, we are better citizens of eternity.

    So the alchemical symbolism is a lovely metaphysics, it is a gracious and beautiful approach to one of the great problems of daily existence. And every individual in his own personal life can be an alchemist, he can be a worker with the divine chemistries of living. He can work with the chemistry of adjustments with society; he can work in disciplining his own nature; he can develop integrities and kindliness - and gradually transmute his life from a self-centered effort to succeed into a soul-centered effort to serve the great cause of life. As these changes take place within himself, he will find that he is gradually being transmuted. He is being changed from a mortal creature to a divine being, which was always there, always within him, but which was locked by the limitations of what we might term "natal ignorance", the ignorance of life growing up that has to grow to know, has to develop its own potentials in order to be able to learn and which, in one way or another, by the problems of life will ultimately be impelled to dedicate itself to the search for that which it needs to know. If we pull all these things together and work them out, we will be, I think, good alchemists, good mystics, good Christians and good followers of the great ethical principles of the world. Oh, thank you very much.

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