In every practice you find a shadow. But purity is not reviling any part of life.
Could you explain what you mean by naturalistic and heuristic?
A heuristic is a cognitive bias. It’s simply the rule set our brains form without even trying. Each of these “rules” was intuited to be an elemental component of the human soul, and in their default state they were considered to be the reason that the atman or individual soul experiences the sense of separation from the universal soul.
Western alchemy was naturalistic in that they saw everything as working as a whole elemental stew, and human beings were thought to think and feel and experience things the way they do, not because of any previously existing presence or force in the mind, but because of the forces or elements they were exposed to. This sort of thinking gave rise to ideas like “You are what you eat” and things like that.
So nature vs. nurture. Yes, eastern alchemy favoured innate nature. Western alchemy was concerned with transmutative nurturing.
An example of eastern alchemical thinking would be the concept of Buddha nature. They didn’t believe that Buddha nature was something you had to create or distill. They believed it already existed and exerted influence on the individual and you just had to clear away the resistance to it.
To western thinking, human nature is locked until something else acts on it so they try to use the alchemical art to catalyse that process. This is why they never told alchemy apprentices what matter to start with. It was the work that mattered. The work process is what the alchemist was trying to achieve.
It sounds like all religion and philosophical thought has some root in one or the other of these views? Indeed. A lot of religious ritual is based on the idea that the acts practised would have a “refining” influence on those present while they took place. You don’t have to understand the priest as they deliver the mass in Latin. Just the fact that you were present and receptive would uplift you and make you closer to god. A lot of our oldest hygiene practices were originally thought of as alchemical purification, bathing being the most obvious example. The first state of matter to emerge from the prima materia state, to be created by the prime mover if you prefer, was thought to be water. So bathing put you physically closer to god. This was the basis of water baptism as well. Baptism just being officiated bathing.
‘Wash your mouth out with soap.’ Indeed. In fact, washing the mouth was a ritual. They would rinse their mouth before joining a political assembly as it was thought to assure honest speech.
That would be a cool thing for politicians to do before parliament. It would probably improve things or maybe a little wine could bring out a little truth. It’s the origins of the phrase “in vino veritas” as well. Wine was classified as a spirit and thought of as alive. This is why it was used as a stand in in communion in Christianity, and wine specifically was water that inspires. It seemed to move people to speak. The person who couldn’t handle their wine, or drank to excess, was considered to have a character flaw that the wine found offensive. This is where we get the idea that something we eat or drink could disagree with you. They believed it literally could.
Today was philosopher’s stone. Next would be chamber of secrets. No chamber of secrets, no single one.
I’m so glad I made it for the end of class! They say that sometimes even a part of a metaphysical insight can have huge effects, sometime more than the whole would have.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.