A Synthesis of Alchemy

by Dorje Jinpa

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The Work is both in us and about us (Hermes)
Since psychic energy is an energy it will not contradict the laws of physics (Heart)

The transmutation of one element into another has for over 350 years been considered impossible. This is due in part to the work of chemist Robert Boyle, who in 1661, defined elements as ‘simple bodies into which compounds are ultimately resolved.’ And while scientists have now successfully demonstrated the process of transmutation in the laboratories most people still classify alchemy with the supernatural. The New World Dictionary defines transmutation as “the conversion of atoms of a given element into atoms of different element, as in radioactive disintegration or by nuclear bombardment.” This definition arises primarily form the work of Ernest Rutherford, winner of the Nobel prize for chemistry, who in 1919 discovered that while transmutation was seemingly impossible to produce through merely chemical means (i.e. the exchange of electrons in the peripheral shell of the atom) it could be produced in atoms of nitrogen and oxygen by exposing their nuclei to radioactive particles of a suitable type (1). Thus radioactive substance, which is matter already in the process of transmutation, has become the scientists Philosopher’s Stone.

By 1937 practically all known elements were found capable of transmutation on a small scale. Even minute quantities of gold were produced from a variety of other elements, though the cost of the procedure far outweighed any profits from the venture (2). In 1959 Biologist Louis Kervran demonstrated the natural spontaneous transmutation of certain elements within living organisms (3). This confirmed, to some degree, the earlier findings of scientists Baron von Herzeele (4) and Rudolf Steiner (5). And while scientists cannot as yet understand or demonstrate the processes of transmutation in biological terms, the primary fact remains, it does exist and can no longer be denied by scientists. But of course the bias of centuries is often difficult to overcome.

The initiates of the Ancient Mysteries viewed science and the religious mystery as one and the same subject. This approach to the Mystery of life has been forgotten. Modern scholars, for example, divide the history of alchemy into two distinct categories—physical alchemy and spiritual alchemy. Manly P. Hall, the highly respected esoteric historian, has classified them in this way. To him as well as other modern writers on the subject, the methodology of physical alchemy was a blind, an allegorical veil, for instructions in spiritual alchemy. And while this may be true, the reverse is also true; that in the process of soul transformation lies hidden the secrets of physical transmutation.

The ancient authors who understood this divine Art veiled spiritual truths using chemical terminology and chemical truths using theological references, so that without the master key of correspondence, ‘as above, so below,’ it is difficult to know where to begin. There are secrets on both sides of the equation. Yet there is another hidden category to this esoteric science. According to the hints given by some of the best of the alchemical authors, such as Paracelsus, Basil Valentine, Thomas Vaughn, Von Welling, Rudolf Steiner, and Alice Bailey, there are three distinct, though indivisibly related, approaches to esoteric science—outer, inner, and secret. Thus the true secrets of alchemy lie hidden behind a triple veil.

According to the Adepts of this most ancient and sacred tradition the theory of alchemy is based upon the essential unity of the universe, that all things, animate and inanimate, subtle and dense, have a common origin, basis, and essence. When applied to the physical plane the alchemists called this essence the prima materia or first matter. The ancient Greeks called it aether or ether. If a body can be reduced to its original condition, its prima materia, the alchemists reasoned, it could then be built upon in such a way as to produce any known element or substance. If we apply the Hermetic law of correspondence we soon realize that this truth can be applied equally well to the metaphysical or non-physical universe. When applied to the evolution of consciousness, for example, we see that its prima condition pertains to the essence of Mind, which the Buddhists call Primordial Awareness. On this level the alchemical process is being applied to the transformation of the consciousness back to its original condition, ‘the mind in the natural state,’ as the great Buddhist yogi Naropa expressed it. According to the Buddhist scriptures on the subject, the yogi can then create (materialize) from this a new incorruptible ‘rainbow body’ of fire and light. The original Mind (Alayavijnana) is to the individual consciousness what the prima materia or etheric matter, is to the physical world. In other words there is a working and accurate analogy between the two, not in the details but in essence.

Therefore, once the essential formulas of alchemy are discovered they can be applied on all levels of the physically and metaphysical universe.

Only by approaching our subject holistically as the synthesis can we gain a true understanding of principles involved. The fundamental truth of unity, the ‘Law of Synthesis’ as Brother D.K. calls it, affirms that there is no boundary line, no hard and fast distinction between spirit and matter.Matter is a dense form of spirit and spirit is a subtle state of matter (6). Paracelsus, the great l6th Century alchemist physician, maintained that it was the ultimate unity of the spiritual and the corporeal worlds that made transmutation possible. Albert Einstein expressed this truth in terms of physics. “There is no essential distinction,” he said, “between mass [matter] and energy” (7).

With the theory of relativity have come new definitions of matter and energy.  Matter is now defined as energy whose vibrational activity is slower than the speed of light, while energy is defined as matter whose vibrational activity is equal to the speed of light. The only difference, therefore, between matter and energy is the relative speed of their particles. All is energy, says the ageless wisdom, one all pervading Fire, from the dense slow moving energy of matter to the subtle, high vibrational activity of consciousness and spirit. Matter, say the Sages, contains the consciousness principle, and consciousness is made up of very subtle energy particles. Thus the division of the world into animate and inanimate, mind and form, spiritual and physical, is an illusion, for like energy and matter, there is no essential distinction between the two.

According to the ancient Hermetic Tradition the work of the alchemist lies in assisting Nature in the Great Work of Evolution. According to Brother D.K. the evolution of physical matter lies in its transmutation into the higher frequencies of energy and light. Alchemy, though seemingly dead and buried, may be at the dawn of its own rebirth into a radiant jewel of science. Electricity could be produced at very little cost through a process that the ancient alchemists called ‘fixing the volatile,’ a condensation of the subtle biological energies, as for example those powerful energies produce by germinating seeds, onto the dense physical plane. The transmutation-regeneration of the diseased and aging cells in the body might be accomplished. Water could be generated in the wastes-lands and deserts of the world, transforming the Earth thereby into a beautiful garden paradise. World hunger could be eliminated through the alchemical processes applied to agriculture. Unfortunately alchemy can also be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. This of course has already happened with the transmutation of matter into the energy of an atom bomb. Hence the injunction, still very much in effect, to be silent concerning the specific alchemical methodology.

Recently a well known scientist concluded his TV program with the statement that science is very close to knowing all there is to know concerning matter and energy. “In a very few years,” he said, “we will have no further need for physicists.” In this statement is expressed the great conceit of our age! May we never forget that no matter how great our understanding of the truth may be, that which is seen is always but a very small part of something greater.


1 Ernest Rutherford. The Transmutation of Matter. The Royal Instituation 1930
2 Ernest Rutherford. The Transmutation of Heavy Elements. The Royal Instituation, 1937.
3 Louis Kervran.  Biological Transmutation. Brooklyn, 1972.
4 Von Herzeele published over 500 experiments between 1876 and 1883 indicating the transmutation of the elements within organic substance. Rudolf Hauschka Hailmittellehre. Frankfort 1965, chapter IX.
5  Rudolf Steiner. Agriculture, London 1974, from lectures given in 1924.

6  "Spirit is matter at the seventh [highest] plane, " says H.P. Blavatsky, "and matter is spirit at the lowest point of its cyclic activity. . . "  The Secret Doctrine. Adyar edition, vol. 2, p. 357.
7  Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld.  The Evolution of Physics. N.Y. 1951, p. 208.


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