The enlightened alchemist’s creed
The old man brooded in his chair beside the fire, surrounded by precarious stacks of ancient, leather-bound texts.
It has to be here, he muttered to himself. After a lifetime of searching, I am no closer than when I was a child.
For three days he stared into the fire, deep in meditation, never leaving his chair to eat, drowsing only occasionally.
Then, a thought, a spark flashed through the depths of his thoughts. He fed the thought and it caught hold and burst into a flame.
Suddenly, he leaped to his feet and shouted, “That’s it! Of course! So simple, yet so profound. It is the key that unlocks all doors.”
He rushed from his study and found his young apprentice in the garden. “Alexander,” he gushed breathlessly, “gather the brethren. I must speak to them.”
“When, master?” the boy asked.
“Tonight, boy, tonight! Get them here!”
The boy sprinted away, and the old man returned to his study, where he grabbed a quill pen and scroll and began writing furiously.
A full moon shone through the high window onto the polished, round, wooden table by the time the last man arrived that evening. The old man motioned to the boy to shut the door.
The old man stood silent for several long minutes as all eyes rested upon him.
“Brethren,” he began, his voice quivering, “I have found it. I have found the Philosopher’s Stone.”
The men gasped.
“For centuries we alchemists have searched in vain,” the old man continued. “We have devoted our lives to discovering the legendary substance capable of turning common metals into gold, the elixir of life endowed with power to cure illness, prolong life, and purify souls.
“Our goal has been clear: the transformation of all things imperfect, diseased, and corruptible into perfect, healthy, incorruptible, and everlasting states. Yet the key for making this evolution possible has ever eluded our grasp.
“This is so, gentlemen, because we have been looking in the wrong place. The one key that unlocks the door to all transformation in human life is not a physical substance at all. It is within us. It can be drawn forth at any time with but little effort, yet its effects are immediate, profound, and permanent.”
Tybalt, ever the impatient one, blurted in exasperation, “Tell us, Josef! What is it?”
The old man chuckled. “It is so simple that I fear you may discard it as the quaint idea of an addled old man, thus never harnessing its awesome power.”
He gazed at the floor and then, quietly, as if speaking to himself, he said, “I suppose that is the way with all truth.”
He looked back up at the men, all of whom were leaning forward eagerly in their chairs.
“The Philosopher’s Stone, my friends, is nothing more than this: gratitude.”
The men sat in stunned silence, exchanging confused glances. Before they could interrupt him with questions, he continued, “Gratitude is the magic elixir that has the power to transform all negative thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and experiences into positive, uplifting, joyful ones.
“It the one key that unlocks the door to all human virtue. And virtue is the path to the enlightenment and heavenly bliss for which we have been searching.
“Without gratitude, there can be no compassion or love, for how can we turn our focus to others when we are perpetually discontent with our own circumstances?
“Without gratitude, there can be no self-honesty, for the man who fails to see positive truth in his circumstances also fails to see the truth about himself. And without self-honesty, there can be no improvement.
“With gratitude permeating our thoughts, we cannot dwell on pain and sorrow. Gratitude makes us see negative experiences with new eyes, improves our physical health, and expands our energy.
“Gratitude is the candle that shines through our darkest moments, blessing us with hope, drawing forth our faith. Gratitude alleviates the heaviest burdens.
“Gratitude also prevents pride from corrupting our souls as we prosper. It makes us ever mindful of our dependence on God and the humbling truth that our circumstances could be otherwise.
“To be grateful requires the recognition that we are blessed by a loving God. And with that recognition comes the desire to please Him, to give our lives to Him as He has given us everything we enjoy.
“Speaking of which, understand that just as the Philosopher’s Stone is not a physical substance, neither is the gold we have been seeking. The gold rendered by the transformational power of gratitude is peace and joy — the most rare, beautiful, and valuable of all things on earth.
“Our Magnum Opus, gentlemen, has nothing to do with metals and chemicals. Our work is the transformation of the human soul from within, beginning with the elixir of gratitude.
“And so it is that I present you with the Enlightened Alchemist’s Creed.”
He motioned to the boy, who handed a scroll to each man. The men opened their scrolls and read:
The enlightened alchemist’s creed
I. As I awaken each morning, before rising from my bed, I give thanks for ten things, people, or experiences in my life. I envision each one in turn, meditating upon the effect it has on my life, and what my life would be without it.
II. Because I am grateful, I take nothing for granted. I never lose my sense of childlike wonder. I am ever curious. I marvel at common miracles: the newborn baby, the growing seed, every beat of my heart.
III. Whenever I feel angry, frustrated, or discouraged, I immediately contemplate things which make me grateful, until the negative emotions have been transformed into peace and joy.
IV. When life does not meet my expectations, I thank God for the privilege of growth and find the opportunities that lie hidden within disappointments.
V. When faced with trials, I consider those suffered by others and thank God for mine. I remember that, as gold is extracted from ore through fire, it is only through trials that I am purified. I submit my life to the Master Alchemist and allow Him to transform my heart.
VI. When I see people who appear to be more blessed than I, I recognize that they carry unseen burdens, which I would not be eager to carry even were I to enjoy their blessings.
VII. When I see people struggling and in pain, I thank God for my own struggles, which have given me eyes to see and increased my desire and capacity to uplift others. My conscious, persistent gratitude is the catalyst for compassionate service, and the fruit of service is joy. I will be ever mindful of the needs of others, and I will be joyful.