It has become the accepted thing to explain the assertion of the Rosicrucian philosophers that the baser metals may be transmuted into gold by claiming that this refers to the changing of the lower animal nature into the spiritual gold of love and compassion. But there are always seven keys to the truth concealed beneath any allegory, and the half-veiled teaching of the mystery of transmutation is no exception. The changing of the selfish passions into unselfishness by means of the awakened spiritual will is a correct reading of the meaning of these philosophers, but it is not the only one.
There is a deeper significance to the teaching. These wise old Fire-philosophers concealed a cosmic philosophy beneath an allegory so simple in its cunning that it only aroused the cupidity of the selfish, and the contempt of those wise in their own conceit. This philosophy may be stated thus:
There is but one consciousness in the universe; it is infinite, and all the differing states of consciousness in nature are its finite manifestations. Similarly, all forms of matter, and all modes of force, are but finite manifestations of an Infinite Source of energy and matter. That which is infinite can only manifest itself finitely through infinite diversity, and so consciousness, matter and force are but the infinitely diversified aspects of infinite Unity.
From the material aspect of Nature, this unity in source and essence of all its myriads of forms is easily proven, and the Rosicrucian philosophers, having done so for themselves, sought to teach the great truth under the allegory of the transmutation of metals. One has but to accept their hint to perceive that transmutation is plainly taught in the alchemy of Nature and its processes demonstrated at every moment of life.
The examination may be begun at any portion of the arc of the manifesting cycle. Selecting the mineral kingdom, the frost and rain are seen rending the rock into fragments; the attrition of these under the action of water, producing sands and clays; a seed lodges thereon and a mighty monarch of the forest uprears its form directly out of and from the mineral kingdom. It has arisen out of that which as rock, clay, water or air gave no hint that it contained such a divine possibility. Some unseen force has transformed the apparently lifeless rock into the living tree. No new thing has been added; only that which eternally Is has been used. Truly, some mighty chemist has been busying himself in the workshop of Nature, and, while the finished product is accepted and admired, recognition is refused of either the alchemist or his processes. Yet there has been a divinely wonderful thing accomplished — the transformation of the inorganic into the organic; a weaving of the fibre of the rock into the cells of the tree. No trace of the old rock appears in the new product, yet the basic substance in both must have been the same, else there can only be supposed an annihilation of the one and a new creation of the other.
Scientists perceive something of this mysterious transmutation, and seek vainly for the basic substance from which Nature must have sprung. The search will be in vain so long as it gropes in matter only. The indestructibility of matter and the conservation of energy, broad and generalizing truths as they are, will not bridge a chasm which only consciousness can cross. Or rather, the inseparableness of consciousness, force and matter, as eternal aspects of one basic unity, must be recognized and accepted as a starting point in the search after truth. Then it will be perceived that eternal transmutation is the process of Nature, and the real meaning of the sayings of the Fire-philosophers will dawn upon the mind.
For creation is transmutation. Of a surety, there has been, and is, a new creation with every gas that condenses into a rock, with every flower that blooms from the heart of the unyielding granite, with each form of man or animal builded by means of these earlier transmutations. There never has been, there never can be, other creation than this transmutation of the lower "same" into the higher "other" of Plato. And he who is wise enough and strong enough to control, direct, and reverse Nature's processes may easily disintegrate the base metal back to a common, primal source, and then re-integrate it as gold, with no greater effort than that which he now puts forth in his effort to change human hate into godlike love.
That which is thus seen to be true in relation to the material aspect is equally true of the conscious aspect of the Absolute. For this is only the same infinite Unity, making itself known as another finite concept. The same consciousness is at the base of that in the rock, and that of the very highest archangel: the consciousness apparently benumbed in the one may be transmuted into that of the other. It is being so transmuted; it is in the eternal plan, and it is the work of the eternal eons, to slowly bring about the wondrous change.
Looking backward in Nature, man may perceive the states of consciousness out of which he has crept; looking forward, he may perceive those which await him. The very highest state of consciousness of which he can conceive he may reach through this divine process. The wisdom to image forth, and the power to transform, are his. The glorious certainty that consciousness is ONE, and that the very highest creative consciousness whose efforts he perceives in nature about him may be his, lies revealed in the transformation of the lowly daisy out of something which it was and yet was not. Worlds may wing their way through space in obedience to his human will, once he has transmuted that will into and united it with that of the Supreme.
The changing of selfishness into unselfishness in one's daily life is but a preparatory transmutation, even as the grinding of the rock preceded the formation of the soil which made the tree possible. Making the flowers of human kindness spring along his pathway is but the prophecy of the time when they may actually do so, as is told in the myths of the gods of old. And man is a god, for his being roots in that which he may transmute into godhood; he is a finite god because he has but begun the transmutation. As Those beyond him have, with infinite love and patience, transmuted the fiery star-dust into a world and a mantle of flesh for him, so must he, with equally infinite love and patience, transmute the base metal of his lower nature into the gold of spiritual life.