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Chapter 3
Purifying the Metals
TO become a spiritual alchemist one must take a very different view of life from that
held by the rest of the world. Life and all its experiences must be considered from the
inner plane of realities; for realities alone can be raised in intensity of vibration to the
plane of spiritual substance and there persist as portions of the immortal spiritual
The attachment to appearances must forever be severed. When seen from this higher
plane the things upon which more worldly people dote, and for which they
ceaselessly toil and struggle, are recognized to be but the dross of life that must be
skimmed from the various molten metals of experience and cast into the waste of
perishable debris. These very things that men set their hearts upon, when more
closely scrutinized, are observed, to be but the scum that rises to the surface of life's
purer metals when they are melted by the fires of the reverberatory furnace of their
cosmic relations. This refuse must be skimmed from the pure and transcendent
values that lie beneath it and cast to one side; but the metals themselves, thus
recognized and separated from the dross, should be preserved with the utmost care as
priceless spiritual possessions.
Every experience of life from the cradle to the grave; yea, and every experience of the
life to come when the soul shall have passed through the river of physical dissolution,
is composed of two parts, real metal and corruptible dross. And it is possible with
each experience to separate the dross and the real metal and operate upon either and
entirely neglect the other. The vast majority of mankind preserve only the dross and
unwittingly discard the part of real value. Consequently, their possessions tarnish, or
if placed in the fiery furnace of cosmic usefulness turn to ashes, perishing and leaving
them poor, indeed. But the spiritual alchemist carefully and patiently searches each
experience of life as it comes to him for the bead of real metal that is sure to be hidden
amid the rubbish and debris of its external effects.
Oft-times this rarer portion is but a glowing speck imbedded in a mass of confused
impurities. Nevertheless, it is well worth the effort of its recovery. Each grain of
unsullied metal added to the priceless collection of years, is so much that will never
be lost and never be taken away; for it finally will be converted into an ineffable and
glorious effulgence, called by the learned, spiritual gold.
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Real Metal Distinguished From
--As students of spiritual alchemy let us now learn to discriminate between real
metal and dross. The real metal is the underlying reality of each experience, that is, its
effect upon the soul; while the dross is the apparent condition, the material effect,
which is the cloak of seeming with which every reality in existence is clothed.
All too often, for instance, we speak of a man as if he were merely an entity of flesh
and blood, while in reality he is soul and spirit, and the physical body is but the
garment of manifestation which covers the character. We commonly say that the man
is sick when in reality it is only his body that is ill; and thus we confuse the dross with
the real metal. It is true that a man may be sick; for his soul may be corroded with the
rusty scales of lust, prostrated with the lead poison of greed, corrupted with the
verdigris of sensuality, or tarnished with the impure tin of self-indulgence; but to
these it is less common to refer. Men walk through life apparently the image of bodily
health, yet with souls that truly fester. But so blinded to reality are most people that
they can see only the perishable covering that hides such conditions as inwardly
So long as we consider a man fortunate or unfortunate without appraising the effect
of events and conditions upon his soul, we are mistaking dross for the pure metal; for
the dross relates to external life, and the true metal only concerns the soul.
When we accept it as possible for one man to be injured by another, we are accepting
appearances for reality; for no one is injured in his real nature except by his own
permission. But if I take the attitude of a spiritual alchemist I realize that another may
torture my body, or place me in prison; yet he can not injure me thereby unless in my
ignorance I mistake my body for my real self. I realize that the soul is the only true
self, and that it is impossible for anyone to in any way affect my soul except through
my own consent.
Thus it is that either in wisdom or in ignorance we give the unspoken nod of our
approval to every event that constitutes a real metal of life; that has any influence
upon the soul; for the event itself has no power to affect the soul except through the
attitude of the soul toward it. The same event happening to two persons may readily
be considered from diametrical standpoints, and thus, because viewed from different
planes, have exactly the opposite effect on the inner self of one from that which it
exerts on the other.
For instance, the inheritance of a fortune may lead one person to a life of ease, luxury
and licentiousness; while leading another into a life devoted to welfare work, charity
and philanthropic endeavor. The effect on the soul of one is exactly the opposite of
the effect on the soul of the other. It is not the inheritance that causes these effects, it is
the attitude toward the inheritance. And thus it is with all events; it is not the things
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which happen that affect us, but only our mental attitude toward those things.
The spiritual alchemist goes even a step further than this: He believes that it is only
when we confuse our bodies and material possessions with our true selves that we
become the slaves of circumstance. Freedom from the bondage of environment
depends upon our recognition of the distinction between our real selves and real
obligations and the external form and the responsibilities that some seek to assume,
but which in truth belong to Nature.
I do not mean that man can always control the events of the external world. He can do
this to a limited degree, and he should strive to increase his ability to overcome such
external restrictions as are imposed by environment. But there are many events far
beyond the power of any individual to control. There are events that affect whole
communities, whole nations, whole worlds, and even whole starry systems. These
events, by compelling adaptation to altered environment, have an effect upon the
physical bodies and the actions of the members of a group. No man can imitate
Joshua of old, and command the Sun to stand still, with any reasonable hope of being
In spite of any effort of our most ardent metaphysician the succession of the seasons
will continue. And what wisdom providence displays in making it impossible for us
to tamper with the movements of the planets in their orbits! What would happen to
our solar system if it could easily be deranged by the monkey-like curiosity of certain
prevalent individuals who just can't let the dial of a radio or the engine of an auto
But man is not responsible for the movements of the stars. He is not even as yet
responsible for the cyclones that at times sweep sections of the earth. Collectively,
man is coming to be responsible for the effects of wind and flood and earthquake,
because he is learning how to build to prevent their causing great havoc. Yet even
here no one man has more than a limited control. Somewhat he may influence others
toward proper building, and he may build properly himself; but he can not compel the
inhabitants of a region often devastated to take adequate care of themselves. Nor
beyond the limit of his ability to alter their peril is he in any way responsible. Man is
not responsible for anything beyond the power of his control.
Spiritual Freedom
--It is the recognition of the difference between real metal and the dross of life, and
of the difference between his own responsibilities and the responsibilities that
rightfully belong to Nature, that permits, in the true sense, of the spiritual alchemist
being the most free of all men.
Following his reasoning, let us recognize that I am responsible for only such
conditions as lie within the range of my ability to alter. There are other intelligences
in the universe than myself, and it is presumptuous for me to assume the obligation of
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their acts, other than in so far as I have an influence over them. If, for example, the
nation of which I am a citizen conducts its affairs in a particular way, I am answerable
for this so far as I have a national influence. Or if the guiding intelligence of the
world, or the influence of energies reaching the earth from the planets temporarily
inharmonious to each other, brings drought, crop shortage and pestilence, the
responsibility rests with the intelligence or forces superior to man. Certain
limitations are imposed upon my physical domain. Beyond my power to overcome
them it is an impertinence for me to assume these duties of more advanced beings.
Yet because I do have it within my power, and because this is a duty really belonging
to me, through forming a proper attitude toward events I can completely be free from
the bonds of environment; for it is only through my attitude toward it that any
condition or event can in the slightest influence or affect me.
An unjust judge, it is true, can deprive me of all my property; but he has injured me
only in as much as I have identified myself with my property. If, instead of
discovering the real metal of the event, I mistake the dross, the material thing, the
property, for the thing of value, and attach great importance to it, I am greatly injured;
for I have striven to retain dross and it has been wrenched from me by violence. But
this injury was perpetrated not by the unjust judge, but by myself. It resulted from my
ignorance in supposing that I might be injured by another; and from mistaking dross
for a thing of permanent value.
Instead of thus suffering injury, had I sought the real metal, I should have found that it
can not be appropriated by another. My material possessions can be retained but a
few years at best, and then are discarded; for they can not follow me beyond the tomb.
But my most valuable possessions--the metal of each experience gained through my
attitude toward it--are not so transitory. They persist as factors in the consciousness
that determine character; and character, as well as the mental attitudes forming it,
leaps the abyss of death to a land where blossom the fairer flowers of eternal spring.
Man all too commonly identifies himself with external things. He fails to perceive
that these are the ores of life that yield only dross unless some special effort be made
to recover the true metal within. At times he attracts to himself honor among men, at
other times he may have wealth, health, a wife, children, and pleasure. But such ores
are of no greater real value than when he is despised among men, or when he loses
money, is ill, is separated from his wife, estranged from children and is beset with
Each of these experiences is an ore, or impure metal, composed of both dross and
precious mineral. But appraising it from the standpoint of its external effect in each
case he retains only the dross and permits the permanent wealth to pass from his
possession. It is only when he perceives the effect upon character, and strives for an
attitude that makes each event increase the power of the soul, that he discards the
dross and recovers priceless metal.
He has not, it is true, the power to determine, beyond certain limits, the kind of ore
brought to him. He can acquire, if he tries, ores that contain all of the seven essential
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metals. And he can get them in ample volume to furnish the metals in quantity
enough to flux with each other and complete the transmutation. But whether these
ores from which metals may be extracted are pleasing or severe, whether they are
easily worked or are extremely refractory, is only to a measure within his power.
Thus being beyond his power, they are likewise beyond the scope of his
responsibility. The manner in which the raw materials are furnished is mostly the
responsibility of Nature. It is his responsibility to work all the ores she provides, and
not grumble at their quality.
When he assumes he knows more than Nature, and remonstrates because he thinks
she should have brought him ores of a different texture, he is playing a role for which
he is fitted neither by experience nor by intelligence. Nature is the boss alchemist,
and he may be sure she knows her business. But because he can not control the
prerogatives of Nature does not make him a slave. It is only when he tries to do the
work that rightfully belongs to her that he is under compulsion. For the only thing that
can possibly affect him, that is, affect his real self, is his attitude toward these ores of
experience Nature brings. And as it is within his power completely and at all times to
control and direct his attitude, whenever he desires he can be completely free.
Alchemical Tools
--Nature not only furnishes him with the impure metals, or at least makes it possible
for him to mine these ores, but it is her duty to furnish him the tools of work. These
tools are named capacity and ability, and include the power to attract or repel
Nature has plans of her own that are sensed only by the most advanced of men. She is
building a cosmic edifice; and in this tremendous enterprise of construction she must
employ workmen of every variety of talent. Not having them ready made, like any
good executive, she undertakes to develop them. But as each has a somewhat
different duty to perform in the universal enterprise, the training to fill these positions
correspondingly varies. The training of one is not the training of another, because
each must be skilled in a different function.
Thus it is when we arrive at this stage of our education known as the life of man, that
there is a vast difference in the tools with which we are supplied. One man has
Uranus, Saturn and Mars prominent in his birth-chart, with Mars receiving
harmonious aspects from Mercury, Uranus and other planets. Not only has he a
capacity for mathematics and engineering, but he has unusual mechanical skill, and
makes a success of vast projects requiring the use of intricate machinery. His Mars
thought-cells use their psychokinetic power, which is increased by his association
with Mars environments, to bring good fortune into his life.
His neighbor has Uranus, Saturn and Mars equally prominent in his birth-chart, but
Mars receiving discordant aspects from various planets. He also has unusual
mechanical skill, but as the Mars thought-cells use their psychokinetic power to
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bring misfortune into his life, and associating with Mars environments increase their
psychokinetic power, whenever he is much about machinery he suffers physical
accident, and whenever he attempts a large construction project, fire, or flood, or
financial depression comes along just in time to wreck the venture. So-called good
luck and bad luck are not fortuitous. So-called good luck is due to the psychokinetic
power of harmonious thought-cells in the finer form, and so-called bad luck is due to
the psychokinetic power of discordant thought-cells in the finer form.
Still another man has Mars weak in his chart and making no aspects, and has neither
the ability nor the inclination to build even a chicken crate. In Nature's school these
men are undergoing different training.
Opportunities for physical accomplishment are presented to some, and not to others.
And thus we might take up all the various combinations of circumstances that are
beyond man's control. For such detailed analysis you may turn to the lessons on
astrology and mental alchemy. Here I desire only to point out that people at birth are
not equal in ability, nor throughout life are opportunities equally distributed. No
more so than a musician should receive the same education as an accountant. For all
individuals are undergoing training in Nature's school. The lessons given at any time
differ with the progress made in developing the talents necessary for the individual
successfully to fill the job for which he is being fitted. The makeup of our astral
bodies at the time of birth is the result of the training we have undergone in
impersonal lives before birth. We have developed to a point where we have certain
capacities and abilities. These are tools we have earned. Furthermore, from time to
time, as the result of the stimulation of the thought-cells in our astral bodies, through
the movements of planets subsequent to birth, other tools are placed in our
possession. They are those accentuated forces that attract or repel opportunities.
Now this outfit with which we are born, as indicated by the birth-chart, and the
additions to it, as indicated by the progressed aspects, are given to us by Nature,
because they are just what we need at this particular stage in our schooling.
Nature does not compel us to keep the various implements in the imperfect condition
with which they come to us. She is quite willing that we should remodel, sharpen, or
otherwise perfect, these tools. If we can do so it indicates that we are ready for those
of better design. But those she gives us, that is, the astral organization mapped by the
birth-chart and progressed aspects, are such as she deems we most need until we
attain the skill to make them better. Thus the capacities, abilities and the tendency to
attract opportunities with which we are born are not our responsibility, but that of
Nature. When we complain of them we merely air our ignorance; for Nature knows
better than we what we need to fit us as competent specialists in her vast workshop.
We are not under obligation for our birth-chart, or for the tools it lists, but we are most
importantly responsible for perfecting these tools and for the use we make of them.
It is common, I know, for people to deplore both lack of material possessions and
lack of opportunity. But when we do this we are vacating our seats, where we sit as
pupils at the feet of Nature, and attempting to become the instructors, and tell her how
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to run the universe. The ores of life, the experiences that have as yet not been
separated into dross and pure metal, are only loaned to us by Nature. Material
possessions, fame, family, friends, and all that worldly men set their hearts upon, do
not belong to us; nor can we retain them more than a limited time. They belong to
Nature, and it is her privilege and her wisdom to give and to take away. So also with
opportunities. They belong to her, and she issues them to us temporarily only as we
can use them in our schooling, and then they are withdrawn to the inscrutable
storeroom of a vanished past.
Our tools, however, she permits us to keep. They are the reward of our progress.
Some we have at birth. They are capacities, abilities, and the power to attract events
and opportunities. If we have used these properly they assume a more perfect form
and function, and are built into our finer bodies as implements of increasingly
superior design. And as in this more splendid model the workmanship is largely our
own, they do not belong to Nature, but to us, and we are allowed to keep them; for
Nature, in her wisdom, takes from us only the things that belong to her.
We come into this life well equipped for the lessons we next must learn. We are
given, or have acquired in impersonal lives, the necessary tools. Life, at the direction
of Nature, delivers to us certain impure metals in the form of experiences. Within
limits, we have the power to acquire better tools, and to gain possession of ores more
to our liking. We have the power, that is, to modify the makeup of the astral body as
mapped by the birth-chart, and to annul influences shown by progressed aspects, or
initiate other influences of importance not so shown, by which we change the type
and quality of events.
Nature thus permits us, in addition to those otherwise furnished, through unusual
industry and intelligence, to acquire other tools and other metals. These are the
rewards of exceptional merit; the result of changes deliberately planned and
persistently carried out in the development of character.
Other than these that are acquired as a reward for special effort and fine
craftsmanship, Nature is responsible for both ores and tools, that is, for both
experiences and abilities. Yet exercising these abilities upon whatever experiences
Nature sees fit to deliver, using the tools we have upon the ores presented, we can
extract from each a metal of purity and brilliant luster. When obtained, like our tools
when well cared for, the pure metal is never taken away; it belongs to us as a priceless
possession. This obligation is not that of Nature; the responsibility of extracting pure
metal from each event of life is solely our own.
Let us, therefore, that the metal may be retained, discuss how in each case it may be
separated from the dross.
Purifying Lead
--As lead is the most difficult of all the metals to separate from the dross, let us
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consider it first. It is not an easy thing to endure poverty. Nor do I suggest that we
should make no effort to overcome physical want. On the contrary, we should
exercise our ingenuity and our initiative to attain to comfortable circumstances, not
merely for our own pleasure, but because normally we can render greater service to
society when so situated.
Yet if the grinding heel of scarcity crowds us against the financial wall, let us not
moan and wail. Dearth, however much it may inconvenience the physical body, is
incapable of affecting the soul. It can injure us only when we take a wrong attitude
toward it.
Furthermore, the very fact that we are beset by this wolf of want indicates that Nature
in her wisdom has provided it for the lesson it carries. We need this particular
schooling, or she would have given us some different problem to solve. To the
spiritual alchemist poverty is not an affliction, it is the ore of lead, given him by
Nature to develop his character. If he shirks the lesson he is still in its presence. The
more he dreads it the harder it is for him to bear. But if he learns the lesson here
required he alleviates his condition on the physical plane, and gains a valuable
spiritual possession. Physically this lesson is at all times, and without complaining,
to do the very best he can with what he has. Spiritually, it is that both poverty and
wealth are alike in offering opportunity to create values for the soul.
Another ore of lead takes the form of heavy responsibilities. More is required of him
than he feels it is possible for him to do. The feeling persists that the weight of the
world is resting on his shoulders. But does he become discouraged? Not if he is a
spiritual alchemist. However heavy the burdens may be, if he bears them as
resolutely as he can, and does not falter in the trying, he knows he has done his part.
Maintaining such an attitude, and using his intelligence to discriminate between
necessary and useless burdens, they commonly melt like thawing ice, and relieve
him of their crushing weight. Should they really be too huge to carry, he realizes,
however, that they do not all belong to him; for he is responsible only for what he can
do. Even should they crush him they cannot affect his soul. If he has done his best,
that is as much as Nature requires.
These burdensome responsibilities, heavy work, drudgery and physical hardship are
supplied to him by Nature because they are his present need to continue his
schooling. He is being fitted, you may be sure, for a task in cosmic affairs that
requires such experiences to prepare him for it. They offer him exceptional
opportunity to develop persistence, self-reliance and optimism.
Long, dreary, depressing spells of illness are also impure lead. They are not pleasant,
and are not to be sought. A part of the lesson Nature here seeks to teach, no doubt, is
how to avoid them. No pains should be spared to shun them, and thus demonstrate
that to us they are unnecessary subjects in the curriculum of life. But when they do
come, in spite of all our efforts to skip them, we may as well recognize that our future
universal fitness requires that we master these disagreeable lessons. There is a right
way to act in sickness; quite as much so as in health, and it is our task to find this way
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and apply it. To become disheartened and blue affords no help, it merely assures that
we shall be given more of the same leaden exercise. Not until we face such conditions
with patience, hope and fortitude, have we gained the mastery. Realizing this, we
discard the dross and retain the metal in its purer form.
Still another kind of lead is death. Every moment of life should contribute as a
preparation for this event. In addition to the effort to build, by proper states of
consciousness toward the various experiences of life, a complete spiritual body, the
preparation should also include gaining knowledge, acquiring ability, reorganizing
more harmoniously the thought-cells, and elevating the dominant vibratory rate.
Nothing experienced or learned--as hypnotic experiments prove--is ever forgotten
by the soul, or unconscious mind. Ability is know-how, and it can be adapted to doing
things after life on earth is done. The thought- cell organization of the inner-plane
form determines, while on earth and after passing to the next life, the fortune or
misfortune of the conditions attracted. And the dominant vibratory rate determines,
both while on earth and after life on earth is done, the inner-plane level on which the
soul functions.
But whether death comes early or late is only slightly our affair, being largely a
responsibility of Nature. To fear death is to become a slave to the desire for life. It is
to be miserable, and make less glorious the time allowed us here. Nature knows how
long we should remain in this lower class of her instruction. In her wisdom she will
see to it we are given opportunity to develop the talents we need for cosmic
construction. If we are ready for a different classroom than that afforded by the
physical world, why should we mourn at our promotion, or weep at our departure?
Death, it is true, is an ignoble defeat when met with fear and shrinking; but it is a
grand victory when faced with the knowledge and courage that it is preferable to a
life of slavery to error and fear. The lessons it affords are courage, faith and
cheerfulness. Coupled with the conviction that even this grim reaper has no power to
alter the soul, they separate the worthless, and retain for spiritual use, this otherwise
distasteful metal in its finest form.
Purifying Tin
--It is quite as difficult successfully to withstand undue prosperity as it is to contend
with adversity. To be sure, prosperity is more pleasing to the physical senses; but if
wrongfully viewed it is equally distressing to the soul. All too easily does wealth
engender arrogance and pride. All too often it is taken as the symbol of some inherent
superiority. Far too frequently does it permit time and energy to be spent in ways that
are spiritually unprofitable. The dross is taken for the metal, and proves as great a
hindrance to transmutation as does either corrupted lead or rusty scales of iron.
Yet the spiritual alchemist takes a far different view of tin than those who quote from
the Bible that hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven. He looks upon
wealth as merely another ore of life. It is neither good nor bad, but a responsibility to
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be as energetically shouldered as those of lead and iron. It becomes good or bad for
the soul only through retaining the tin or the dross. If the pure metal be discarded, if
the opportunity to use it for the good of all is permitted to pass, there is nothing to
transmute. Material opulence can not be transported to the spiritual realm. But if
wealth is used for the betterment of the race, instead of for reveling in luxury, the
dross is discarded and the pure tin retained. Not only does this permanently affect the
soul, but in such a manner that its substance is easily transmuted on the spiritual
Nature has provided us with tools, such tools as we require. These are abilities,
including those qualities mapped in the birth-chart that tend to attract or repel wealth;
and those relations mapped by progressed aspects that at times bring opportunities to
acquire riches, or that at other times result in financial loss. It is Nature's part to
furnish us with tools, but it is our part to use the tools she places in our hands to the
best possible advantage.
If among the tools thus inherited we have the power to gain treasure, we are quite as
accountable for the use we make of it as we are of the use we make of poverty and
loss. The Bible parable of the men given for use a different number of talents is not
without alchemical significance. We are responsible in proportion to our
endowments. Riches are not to be shunned. They are to be made use of for the benefit
of all. If a man is gifted as a writer, it is his privilege to use that tool for human uplift.
If he is a structural engineer, civilization has need of bridges and tunnels. Likewise, if
he has financial ability, he should use it to the utmost; but use it to advance the
interests of mankind.
If losses come he should not wail and moan; for these also are ores for his furnace. He
has not been injured by the departure of dollars and cents, except as he identifies
himself with lucre. Neither is he really benefitted by the possession of more than a
competence. But he can be truly benefitted by either loss or affluence if he but
recognizes that their real value lies in his attitude toward them. If, like the holy
beggars of the East, he shrinks from making money but permits others to support
him, he becomes indigent also in his soul. If he gains money merely to feed his vanity
and as an aid to riotous living, it is a detriment. But if he has money and uses it for
truly philanthropic purposes, he has proved his skill in the use of one of Nature's
tools, and from this ore of tin, known by the name of material wealth, he has extracted
a pure metal that helps to glorify his soul.
Purifying Iron
--Iron is brought to some people in much larger quantities than to others. Some
people have a predilection to cuts, burns, accidents, losses by fire and robbery, and to
arousing the ire of others. Iron also is attracted in its more constructive ores, such as
following the mechanical, engineering or building trades, or in association, either as
operator or patient, with surgery. But of this we may be sure, that whenever the ores
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of iron are present in large lots, the cosmic fitness of the individual to whom the iron
comes requires these experiences for its proper development.
Iron is one of the most necessary metals to complete the transmutation, for without it
the other metals become dead and lifeless; but it is only valuable when pure and
separated from dross. Lust and anger are both expressions of iron in a state of decay
and corruption. Unrelenting effort in behalf of some high cause, and undeviating
activity and determination in the face of great obstacles and unfair opposition, are
forms of iron that have been well purified.
When others strive to injure us, it is only because of their ignorance. If they possessed
understanding they would know that in treating us unjustly they were in reality not
injuring us, but only injuring their own souls. Another can not truly injure us, except
with our own permission. If, when another speaks harshly to us, or criticizes us, or
becomes angry with us, we also become angry, or speak harshly, or become
resentful, we are injured. But we have then injured ourselves. But if we cast aside
anger and thoughts of vengeance, and think and act justly, though firmly, with a clear
comprehension of the effect of our attitude and actions on the welfare of society as a
whole, we have freed the metal from dross and come into possession of pure iron.
We should, of course, exercise caution to avoid accidents and to prevent becoming
involved in acts of violence. Yet if in spite of due precaution we are in an automobile
accident, are held up by a bandit, or a surgical operation becomes necessary, there is a
right way for us to conduct ourselves under these circumstances. We can make an
effort to prevent undue agitation. Calmness and tranquility are lessons of great value
that may be learned from experiences with iron. We do not need to quail; for courage
in trying circumstances is a purer form of iron. The material loss, or the pain, has no
effect upon the soul except as the soul accepts it. Therefore, each such violent
condition may be viewed as a test of our fitness to handle this metal. Instead of
spending either time or energy thinking about the pain or loss of injustice, we can
immediately plan what constructive activity lies open to us. By diverting our energy
to building, or overcoming, or remedying, to the fullest extent that the situation
permits, we ignore the seeming, get rid of the dross, and supply ourselves with iron in
an unadulterated state fit for final transmutation.
Tolerance is another lesson to be learned from iron. We think, without doubt, that we
are right and others who differ in opinion are wrong. We perceive only our own
viewpoint clearly, and because iron is abundantly present we become highly
enthusiastic. Such enthusiasm is a very fine grade of iron ore, but it must be freed
completely from dross before it acquires much value. We must recognize that the
experiences of other people give them different viewpoints. Their conceptions are
the natural outgrowth of the things that have come under their observation. And as
they have not had the same opportunities that we have had, it is impossible for them
to see things from the identical angle that we do. We must not, therefore, blame them
for their opposition to ideas that to us seem inevitable. They can not help rejecting
those ideas. It may be possible, or it may not, to educate them to our point of view; but
at least we always owe it to ourselves to avoid any feeling of irritation at their lack of
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comprehension. We owe it to our own souls not to interfere unduly with their
opinions and actions. The exercise of such wide tolerance purifies the iron and
prepares it for transmutation.
Should lightning strike, or a fire burn down our property, or money be taken from us
at the point of a gun, we have an ore of iron from which may be extracted pure values.
Being knocked down, financially, emotionally, or literally, calls for neither weeping
nor complaint, but for as quickly as possible getting to our feet and doing the best
thing we can think of about it. Lawsuits, the opposition of others, and persecution
because of our stand in regard to the things we feel have spiritual value, all bring
opportunity to gain iron and to purify it.
We can be just, even to enemies. We can strive valiantly to overcome opposition
without desiring the injury of those pitted against us. If their injury becomes a
necessity in order that a wider and more important section of society may survive, we
may approach the task as a surgeon who sympathizes with a patient performs an
operation. He feels no enmity toward the part removed. Instead, he is actuated by the
desire to help the patient. Thus does severity, as an ore of iron, when exercised
without malice, but with a view to the improvement of conditions, become purified
and suitable for spiritual construction.
Purifying Copper
--What are we to do when someone whom we love refuses to reciprocate? How are
we to act when our husband or our wife grows cold and spurns our caresses? When
another and newer face comes along and entices away the one, the tendrils of whose
affections have wrapped themselves firmly about our heart, what course of conduct
and thought lies open to us? How shall we purify such agonizing copper?
However much we may delude ourselves into that belief, the object of our affection
nevertheless is not a spiritual possession. If he or she is the soul-mate, that spiritual
relationship will take care of itself when we have built a sufficiently active and
conscious spiritual body through complete transmutation of the metals of experience
to the spiritual plane. But the physical body of the one loved, and the affectional
interests of this one so far as the earthly plane is concerned, are but another form of
copper dross.
Friend, lover, husband, and wife, all have their own lives to lead. We may again be
united in the beyond, who knows? But while on earth each has the working out of his
own destiny, each has the ores of the various metals to collect for himself, each must
lead the existence that seems to him most alluring. When we endeavor by force or
subterfuge to bind others to us who wish to depart, we are through injustice to them
really injuring ourselves. When we grieve and sorrow over their departure, we are
retaining a corrosion that eats into the vitals of all that it contacts. This helps us
neither here nor hereafter.
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It is always permissible, if we can do so without injury to another, to endeavor to win
the friendship or love of the one we hold dear. A husband or a wife is a weakling who
permits another to steal the love of the mate without making an effort to retain that
love. But love is never retained by force, nor by complaining, nor by finding fault,
nor by any other disagreeable activity. It is either held through the exercise of lovable
qualities, or it is lost. Anxiety, and fear of the loss, but make the loss more certain.
And in spite of all effort the loss may come.
If this comes to pass, we may be sure that it is because we have not yet learned to
handle copper adequately. Nature has provided us with this particular experience
because from it we can learn a needed lesson. When love prospers and affection
rejoices, we can permit them to inspire us to noble things. And when love is
unrequited, or the affections of a dear one go astray, or the one closest to our heart is
violently wrenched away by the angel of death, we still can gain and purify the ores of
copper. We do not need to restrain the actions of the other, nor do we need to embrace
and maintain sorrow. There are others worthy of love. The birds of the woodland, the
pets of the household, the flowers that grow by the side of the path, all welcome and
respond to love. What has been taken away was perishable, was dross, and could only
at best have been retained a short time. But love itself, as an emotion of solicitude for
the welfare of another, or as engendering a tenderness toward all, may be retained
permanently as a metal of great purity.
Purifying Mercury
--Our thought processes furnish us with the ores of mercury, and commonly they are
in a state of considerable contamination. Few of us there are but at times make
mistakes. We forget some appointment and suffer embarrassment because of it. We
perhaps permit ourselves to be short-changed when making a purchase, and feel
aggrieved when we discover it. In addressing a letter we may forget to write the city,
or we may reverse the street number in such a way that the letter fails to reach its
destination, much to our annoyance. A name with which we are perfectly familiar, at
the moment we need it most, slips our memory. We fail to make a memorandum of
something we are sure to want to refer to in the future. Carelessly we destroy the
receipt of a purchase before examining it thoroughly, and when we find it is defective
we can not exchange it because we have nothing with which to prove when and
where bought. Thus, because of trains of thought in the unconscious mind that
temporarily grasp the reins governing our actions, little errors, and sometimes more
serious ones, that are not beyond the limit of our abilities to avoid, creep into our
These errors, as well as more efficient mental activity, are ores of mercury. Usually
they are very much defiled, not because essentially they are dross, but because we
make them so. The impurity arises from the feeling of chagrin, annoyance, irritation,
despondency or other disagreeable emotion that is associated with them. All such
emotions are proof that we have identified the material effect as the real; while in
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truth the real and valuable part of the experience is the attitude of the soul toward it.
There is a right way to act when an error has been committed as well as when error
has been avoided. The right way, which is also the right way under other
circumstances, is to spend no time or energy feeling discomfited by the error, but to
think only what is best to do under the circumstances. A man can think constructively
under any circumstance, and error in particular calls for constructive activity. To
realize that a mistake is not important, but that it is important to take a constructive
attitude toward all events, is to free the metal from dross and provide mercury in a
purity that insures spiritual transmutation.
Purifying Silver
--Because of their need of us, and our solicitude for their welfare, it is difficult for us
to realize that our children are not our own personal property. In reality they belong to
Nature, and are being fitted, each in its own way, to become a workman with special
abilities and duties, in the cosmic plan. It is our privilege to assist them in this
development, and to do what we can to advance their welfare. But we should not
assume to be so omniscient that we know what experiences they need, or how they
should think at any given time. If their ideas differ from our own, no doubt that is part
of their necessary schooling. And if they are taken away from us, it is because they
are needed elsewhere, and we need the lesson of their loss.
Furthermore, while no effort should be spared to promote harmony in the home, yet if
discord does come it is but another form of silver. The soul need be disconcerted
neither by external domestic turmoil nor by the loss nor actions of children. When it
realizes that its responsibilities are no greater than its abilities, and looks upon the
events of the home as opportunities to learn sympathy, understanding, and
non-attachment to that which is transitory, it comes into possession of silver in its
purest form.
Purifying Gold
--Wherever power and leadership are exercised there is opportunity to secure
spiritual gold. If another, who appears to have no greater ability, is given a better
position, there is no cause for pain. Appointment and preferment come to some, as
does leadership and prominence. If it is denied to us we should feel no self-pity; for
there is a right way to act when honors are denied, or when a position is lost, or
leadership is denied, as well as when these things are granted. They also are ores of
gold; and offer opportunity to build gold into the character. Let us, therefore, accept
whatever position life compels us to take as our present need for experience. Let us
not cease to strive for a higher post, yet feel grateful for such influence as lies within
our power to use. Without complaint, let us utilize whatever power we have for
human betterment, and thus purify our gold to a state that encourages transmutation.