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Philosophers' Stone

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Philosophers' Stone?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Philosophers' Stone

All Reality is an Organ for True Nature to Reveal Its Possibilities

Whoever holds the philosophers’ stone can unlock the secrets of reality. The philosophers’ stone is our true nature, the nature of everything. There is only one philosophers’ stone. If we recognize that is what we are, if we love it and revere it and plumb its depths, it will take us through its wormholes to various aspects of reality. When the heart is open, we see that all reality is an organ for true nature to reveal its possibilities. For thousands of years, alchemists looked in all the corners of the universe for the philosophers’ stone, but they neglected to look in the heart of human beings.

Archetype of the Self

“The archetype of the Self is expressed in the form of many historical symbols that represent various phases of the individuation process in the life history of nations. A particularly frequent symbol of the Self is the "Divine Child," which often appears also as a savior-messiah. In alchemical types of symbolism the Self as the ultimate achievement of psychological work is represented as the "pearl of great worth," the "philosopher's stone," or other symbols that convey the emergence of a small precious jewel as the result of the integration of the psyche." [Ira Progoff, The Death and Rebirth of Psychology, p. 182]

Forms of the Philosophers’ Stone

The philosophers’ stone as I will use it here refers to true nature in general, in whichever way it expresses itself. When it expresses itself in a diamond-like form, it is more clearly recognized as the key that opens the secrets of reality. But any way that true nature manifests is illumination. There is also a deeper truth about why I’m not restricting the philosophers’ stone to any one form or view of true nature, a deeper truth that connects all its forms and experiences, whether diamond-like, liquid, gaseous, empty, spacious, or altogether formless. We will further explore this truth as we go on. What is important for us to understand here—we can understand it in any of the turnings, but it becomes most obvious in the third and fourth turnings—is that without the philosophers’ stone, without this miraculous, magical whatever, which is difficult to confine to any one word, there is no illumination. Without it, the transformation of human consciousness is not possible. Without it, we would continue living as semiconscious animals, as brutes, as clods of consciousness.

Inner Most Nature of Everything

The innermost nature of everything which exists is this source and agent of unity. Without it, we wouldn’t be human beings; we wouldn’t be alive. It is the innermost nature of our being; and it is not something vague, but something actually substantial. You might not be aware of it, but without it you cannot read this or understand me right now. You can perceive it. It is amazing that the agent of unification is the same as the agent of transformation, that transformation is transformation towards unity. It is miraculous and mysterious. First it is revealed in experiences of the heart or mind revealing facets, qualities, or aspects. It allows you to see yourself as compassion, love, or clarity, but the way it shows you that is by it, itself, being that. “Hu” becomes, through the brilliance, that which is you. You are learning what is you at that moment. If what you need is enlightenment, it becomes clear light. It teaches first by unifying, by directing your experiences toward more unity. In time it will lead to the inner experience in which it manifests as the agent of transformation itself, the elixir. It is also called the philosopher’s stone and the water of life.

Nonconditional Freedom

The philosophers’ stone is nonconditional freedom. This freedom is not conditioned by a particular state, by a particular view, or by a particular realization. In this freedom, we can be dual, we can be nondual, we can be nonlocal, and we can be none of these; we can also not be at all. Each one of us is a human individual—a particular manifestation of Total Being—but as we awaken to true nature and explore reality from the perspective of true nature, we realize that we are also Total Being. We are always Total Being because everything is Total Being. Total Being is everything, and it is each particular thing, and each particular thing is everything. And we are the particular thing that can know all this. The particular is simply the other side of the whole, a truth that does not arise in nondual realization, but rather from realization of unilocal unity.

Precious Jewel (mani)

Writing about the pure consciousness that Buddha said exists in the state of enlightenment, Lama Govinda says:

“He who realized this, has truly found the philosopher's stone, the precious jewel (mani), the prima materia of the human mind, nay, of the very faculty of consciousness in whatever form of life it might appear. This was the real aim of all great alchemists, who knew that "mercury" stood for the creative forces of higher consciousness, which had to be freed from the gross elements of matter in order to attain the state of perfect purity and radiance, the state of Enlightenment.” ( from Lama Anagarika Govinda, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, 59).

The Philosophers’ Stone is the Whole Universe at All Times

The philosophers’ stone is the whole universe and, not just the whole universe, it is the whole universe at all times. If it were not the whole universe at all times, then it would not be beyond time. And if it did not contain the whole universe, regardless of the size of the universe, then it would not be beyond space. What is amazing about the philosophers’ stone is that it is the total being of all time and all space, but this Total Being of all time and all space can manifest as any particular at any space-time coordinates. True nature is the whole that is, at the same time, each particular that is completely the whole without losing particularity and form. What really matters is that we as individual human beings are this mysterious philosophers’ stone. As we explore it, it reveals itself to us because it is our nature, the nature of reality. It reveals to us the secrets of reality—what we are, what reality is, what the meaning of life is. True nature is the answer to our deepest questions: “What are we? Why are we here? Why is there something instead of nothing?” We can know the answers to these questions even if we cannot write them down or speak them aloud.

There is No Final or Ultimately Definitive Experience of True Nature

When this elixir—a transformative agent full of presence, energy, and aliveness—appears as the nature of everything, we call it true nature. We can experience true nature as light, as illumination, as love, as emptiness, as presence, as awareness, as consciousness, as truth. In fact, there is no one way of experiencing true nature, and that is one of the secrets that is revealed in the fourth turning of the teaching. There is no final or ultimately definitive experience of true nature. When true nature has not only force and power and energy and presence but also contains understanding and illuminated cognition, then it attains a diamond-like quality, experienced as objectivity, clarity, and precision. This is what I call the philosophers’ stone, the lapis philosophorum of the alchemists. They thought that whoever found the philosophers’ stone would be able to unlock all the secrets of existence. The stone has all the qualities and faculties necessary to illuminate and discriminate reality, to distinguish what is false and what is true.

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