18 Alchemical Evolution
THE PATH OF STONE

You will die.
To die is to live.
In you is perfection.
To find perfection, know imperfection.
You think you seek.
That which you seek will destroy you.
You feel you may attain.
Your attainment will be taken from you.
You sense truth.
Truth is senseless.

Make fluid that which is rigid
Solidify that which is volatile
Animate that which is dead
Contain that which moves.


The Path of the Stone
has only two directions.
Those who would know, never will.
Turn back now.

For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable people in the furnace of adversity.
(Ecc II, V)


INTRODUCTION

You who would attain to knowledge.
Do you have the discipline to learn?
Would you enter the Most High Path of the Stone?
Here you may find understanding and wisdom.
Go elsewhere if you have other needs.

Dissolve and filter
Disperse and fix
Filtrate and study impurities

CHANGE
'Refine the process not the goal.' Alchemists and other adepts are well aware of the changes in cultural obsessions and social attitudes. Therefore alchemy as a living tradition has to change to meet these idiosyncrasies. A form of teaching is not the knowledge itself, just as a ship is not the cargo but a means of transmission. Temporary systems are no longer appropriate in all circumstances. Due to this tendency to atrophy, the alchemical teaching is in a state of flux, finding new expression through a change of people, time and direction.
The capacity to interpret in various ways means the container may be used inappropriately. Certain seekers may try to consume the plate or value the cup so highly they forget to drink its contents. It is deplorable that the sayings of great teachers have been abused to the point of whole lives being wasted on futile effort and misinterpretation. To profit from a teaching we have to know how to apply it. Effective hermetic literature contains a great variety of meanings and levels.
To overcome cultural setting we must acknowledge societal conditioning. How do we perceive ourselves? Are the means we employ in searching for the truth appropriate? Are the needs our culture stimulates satisfied by our society? Are we able to perceive objectively? We are so eager and greedy to learn; like a starving guest we trample over the banquet trying to get to the greatest delicacies.
By reading and digesting, a lot of misunderstanding would be avoided. Seekers erroneously hang on to the security of useless practice and superseded teaching. They would rather be told what to do then find what is applicable. Supposed seekers cling to ridiculous 'teachers' and sterile systems with a stubborn rigidity. It is not the appetite for learning that is increased by a source of wisdom but greed.
The alternation of tension and relaxation, repetition and formula all lead to indoctrinated and programmed individuals. If a form of 'wisdom' uses or develops such techniques it belongs to the world and not to anything higher.
By individual change we change our environment. We should look to our own inadequacies rather than societies and attempt change here first. Trying to change things we have little power over or understanding of is self gratifying but futile. By developing a clear head we may see the necessary and effective action as it presents itself.

RESIDUES
'What is left may be more important than what is removed'. There are a variety of alchemical vestiges in existence. Alchemy is noted for its diverse symbology. Fossilised formulations retain dogma and rigidity. In the hands of the wise, tradition can be put to useful effect. The constricting rules imposed on people by the orthodox is the flip side of this. The unorthodoxy of alchemy has encouraged the ludicrous as well as the profound.
Alchemy as a path without hierarchy can reveal what for centuries had to be protected from persecution. Alchemy is a path of evolution to perfection. Here is the most high knowledge awaiting those who would tread and unravel the Path of the Stone. The protagonists of many so called spiritual systems are quite often seen by wider society as ridiculous, nonsensical and unbalanced. This is a fair description of the vast majority who have misunderstood the goal, misappropriated the mode of travel and mystified everyone including themselves. It is always the most useless who make the most noise regarding their supposed advanced status. There are some rare people doing useful, even visionary work.
To fully appreciate a genuine esoteric form one needs:

1. A mind free of preconceptions.
2. Freedom from distractions.
3. Understanding of the language used.
4. Attunement to the work.
5. Digestion of the material presented.

When people attempt to imitate rather than initiate or exemplify an esoteric path they rarely create even second rate material. They just add confusion and distrust to the audience. They ensure most esoteric paths are seen as ridiculous, nonsensical and unbalanced.
To deal with fools you must speak in their language and in their manner. Otherwise they will not understand and have little chance of ever doing so. The comprehension of alchemical teaching is based on genuine aspiration and study. Answers are unraveled and revealed, they are constantly updated by more profound interpretations.
This the Path of the Stone is an ancient and noble way. It will take you time and attention. It is a path of observation and service. Nobody but the pure have any chance of success. It requires wisdom and discrimination. Arrogant fools litter its pathway, crying tears of failure. Better go back now and find an easier path.

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