Let me begin this essay by explaining the philosophers' stone, which is Latin for lapis philosophorum. Over a half century ago, I was a philosophy major at Muskingum College. Back then, when I was young, I was fascinated by the notion that philosophers had spent centuries trying to discover a means to turn base metals into gold or silver. The process was called alchemy.
Can you imagine what philosophers could do with that stone? Now, I didn't major in philosophy to become a millionaire. Nonetheless, I needed to pay my college debts off. The use of the philosophers' stone would have helped. Nevertheless, I went off to graduate school and worked to make my work-efforts turn things into gold.
Now, at the other end of my life, I am still in need of gold. Additionally, during the latter part of that half century since college, I have danced with death twice. During those dances, I recalled that the philosophers' stone also was thought to possess an elixir...an elixir of life. Some philosophers believed that one might be able to liquefy gold and drink it, resulting in immortality. If philosophers could achieve either task, the philosophers' stone would have been their magnum opus , which is Latin for great work. While things of gold are great, I need to be alive to enjoy them. Therefore, the elixir of life is quite appealing to one that has done the dance twice.
Plato in Timaeus talked about four elements, which came from prima materia , which is Latin for first matter. From the time of Plato to the 13th-century, they researched and argued about the alchemy issue. There is a story about Albertus Magnus; some thought that he had discovered the philosophers' stone and had given it to Thomas Aquinas.
Interestingly, in the 17th century, there was a book entitled Mutus Liber, which means Silent Book. It contained fifteen instructions to make a philosophers' stone. I haven't been able to get a copy of it from my local public library.
While I haven't found the philosophers' stone to make gold or the elixir to make me immortal, that failure has allowed me to realize an ultimate reality. Wishing to find the stone that has alluded other philosophers for a couple millennia doesn't seem a suitable lifestyle. I don't have a great deal of time to search for the philosophers' stone. Therefore, instead of finding the philosophers' stone, I will help those who are hurting and in need. While I don't have a lot, I do have more than many in this world. Some of those people, I can help make their lives better. In my small way, I can be an alchemist by bringing gold to them.
That is the backstory. If I can do that for others, think about how your alchemy could benefit some people in need. Or you can be like Silas Marner in George Eliot's novel before he saw the light.
It is your choice. Choose wisely.
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