On Integral Alchemy

Profane Light

The familiar image of the alchemist that has come down through history is that of an old, bearded man with long robes bent over glass flasks in a medieval laboratory, preparing a secret concoction that would turn lead into gold. This may be quaint and charming, but it isn’t really what alchemy is about. This is not to deny that medieval alchemists were, in fact, preparing secret concoctions in their laboratories, but to highlight the deeper reality beneath the surface appearance of things. Alchemists knew that the secret substance, the so-called magical “philosopher’s stone,” was their own transformed consciousness. Unless they had gone through inner alchemy, as a process of purification by fire to eliminate all of the heavy, leaden aspects of their own personality in order to achieve a (golden) state of enlightened awareness, there would be no corresponding change in the material world, or in the chemical substances…

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