THE conception of life held by the spiritual alchemist is quite different from that ordinarily held by the man of affairs. The events that spring into existence as the result of his contact with external environment are viewed from an entirely different angle. Instead of being considered in reference to their value as factors contributing to physical survival and physical gratification, they are scanned from the height of their cosmic relations. Their worth is estimated by the measure in which they further the development of the soul and are of assistance in cosmic welfare.
Through illustration let us draw this line of demarcation clearly: From the material point of view, for instance, a man is considered to be unusually lucky when he inherits a fortune. It is common to speak of a man as highly successful when he has obtained eminence in the political field. And a man who builds up a large and prosperous business is deemed one to be envied.
But the spiritual alchemist jumps to no such hasty conclusions. He realizes that if we are ever to appraise anything justly we must delve deep beneath the surface of appearances. Things are often not what they seem at first glance. After all, environment and circumstances are effective only as the individual responds to them. The good and the evil reside not in events and external conditions, but in the effect they have upon the individual. The development of character is more important than physical gratification. Therefore, before saying of any event that it is fortunate or unfortunate the spiritual alchemist first looks to the more important factor, which is its effect upon the character, its contribution to the growth of the soul.
A material fortune may be used as an aid to soul progress, but observation inclines to the belief that more often than not it is a spiritual hindrance, therefore alchemically a misfortune. A high political station sometimes engenders bigotry, pride and arrogance, and is then alchemically a failure. And so prosperous a business as to keep the attention absorbed by worldly affairs to the exclusion of intellectual and spiritual interests, reveals to the alchemist a condition that excites pity rather than envy.
Not, it should be clearly understood, that the spiritual alchemist believes wealth, business, political station, or other worldly affairs evil. To him events, worldly affairs, or other interests are neither good nor evil, fortunate nor unfortunate, in themselves. They become good or evil only through their influence on soul culture. But quite often the things mentioned become unfortunate in individual cases because they are permitted to impair the development of the soul and hamper its progress.
The spiritual alchemist conceives the universe to be an immense organic structure, or cosmic man. He perceives that individual souls are evolving from lower to higher states, and entering into rapport with the whole cosmic scheme. He apprehends that a like process is going on in it, and that the universe also is evolving and eternally unfolding its infinite possibilities of expression.
In tune with the pulsating heart of nature, an inner conviction floods his consciousness that every immortal soul plays a part and has its function in this glorious scheme of creation. It is a living conscious cell within the body of Infinite Man. Expanding its consciousness, as for the moment he has done, it may even partake of the greater consciousness of the all. Thus the ineffable plan unfolds before him. Each immortal soul perpetually expands the domain of its consciousness and continually increases the power of its control over environment. The separate evolving units thread together to give more complex expression to universal consciousness and power. As a man becomes stronger when the separate cells of his body gain in vigor, so the expansion in power and more complete cooperation of souls, lend increase of consciousness and power to the Cosmic Man.