Transmutation of one substance into another such as base metals into gold, water into wine, etc., is the physical aspect
of alchemy. It is often referred to as the "Greater Circulation." Much charlatanry and quackery became involved with this
aspect and many people were cheated by rascals who claimed that they had in their possession the Philosopher's Stone that
could effect a transmutation of base metals into gold. Human greed knows no bounds; the poor wishes to be wealthy, the rich
aims to be wealthier, and with all their efforts, whether successful or not, sorrow and suffering is the karmic result.
Aspirants of the Ancient Wisdom are taught that the world of form is transient and that one's happiness should not be based
upon something that is illusory. Illusions do not last and they are not eternal. They bind man to a false sense of human limitation.
They enslave man to matter by seducing him to indulge in things that hampers the development of the soul. Truth and the Real
are that which is eternal and they are to be found in the "kingdom of God" within us. Unfortunately, most Christians overlook
this one of the most important injunctions of the Nazarene Master. The ancient precepts advises us further that the less earthly
desires one has, the richer one truly becomes.
The "Lesser Circulation" of the herbal family is also included in this category of Physical Alchemy. The main object of
this work is the search for a universal panacea that would cure the ills and sufferings of humanity. This is quite a noble
desire should the lucrative aspect and profit motive be absent; it would exemplify the Bodhisattva ideal.
In contemporary times, there are many of those who have claimed to have accomplished a successful transmutation in their
laboratories, even teaching the secrets of the art to their ardent followers.
When alchemists realized that they were advancing in age and were no closer to the goal of physical transmutation, they
sought a way to stall the process of old age, to regenerate the body, and even to acquire a degree of physical immortality
and biological immunity to diseases that humankind is so prone.
With such an object in view, they commenced their search for an "Elixir of Life" that would prolong their physical existence.
At the very onset, the search took them to the field of herbalism, for many plants were believed to possess the traditional
virtues of the fabled "Fountain of Youth." The Hindu mystics attribute such qualities to the "Soma" creeper. The Chinese Taoists
declare that a certain mushroom that they call "lung chih" has the virtue of regenerating the physical body. The Egyptian
god Thoth is also said to have described a life-giving mushroom which conferred immortality.
At a later period, however, the discovery was made that the real Elixir lied within man himself, and it had to be manufactured
via psycho-biological means. Briefly, this is the work to be undertaken at the biological level.
Psychological, or "Mental Alchemy," is the science of the development of the Mind. Of the four lower bodies, the mental
sheath is the only one unstructured, as yet, into an organized body--that is, in most people. In the course of evolution,
the mental body will be constituted and coordinated so as to allow the Ego, and the waking consciousness, to function fully
in the mental realm. The "Secret Doctrine" of H.P.Blavatsky tells us that in the Fifth Round the mental body is expected to
be fully developed. Mental Alchemy accelerates the evolution of the Mind. It permits its practitioner to acquire in the Fourth
Round what Nature intends humankind to attain in the next with her somewhat languid process. Mental development entails the
development and the refinement of the following abilities, qualities, and faculties:
1) A universal attitude and perspective
4) The ability to reason inductively, deductively, syllogistically, analytically, analogically, etc.
5) Mental quietude
6) Abstract thinking
7) Divine thinking
8) Mental receptivity
10) Discrimination (Viveka)
11) Detachment (Vairagya)
13) Mental creation Etc.
Before quick progress can be made in developing the above faculties, the mind has to be purged of all the phobias, neurosis,
and psychosis that are infecting it; even the guilts, resentments, and sinful feelings torturing one's consciousness. The
aspirant is advised to forgive--forgive self and forgive others. The steps of conviction, contrition, confession, consecration,
and communion should be adhered to when one desires spiritual unfoldment.
One of the other steps to be taken is the unification of the male and female aspects of the psyche. Psychoanalysis, however,
has only touched the outer fringes of the mind with its inner probings.
Mental Alchemy, like the previous categories, is not considered the ultimate goal of Alchemy. They are but stepping stones
leading to Transcendental Alchemy. More on Mental Alchemy and the general laws governing transmutation may be read in the
Kybalion written by anonymous initiate-writers.