The Philosopher Stone has been the quest of many seekers over an approximate span of a thousand years. The Stone has inspired discovery and helped to unlock the secrets of the universe. Reportedly, the Philosopher’s Stone has never been found.
But I’ve found a map.
Isaac Newton, considered the greatest scientist who ever lived, believed the Philosopher’s Stone existed. Alchemy was his first love, and he wrote more about this than any other topic. Yet he never found the Stone. He even translated the mysterious Emerald Tablet. This tablet was believed to be the secret map leading to the Philosopher’s Stone. Newton also believed that the Hebrew scriptures held clues on how to find it. Being a believer in God, he wrote extensively about the scriptural clues he noticed.
In 1669, alchemist Hennig Brandt accidentally discovered phosphorus while searching for the secret of the Stone. Brandt reasoned that urine, which is gold in color, might hide the secret. He fermented hundreds of gallons of cow urine, then boiled it down to a putrid-smelling paste. What was left behind glowed! Brandt thought he’d found what he sought. Instead, he had discovered phosphorus, the 13th element. Brandt tried to keep his discovery a secret, but others soon replicated what he did. Phosphorus was not gold but helped matchstick makers make mounds of it.
I’m convinced The Philosopher’s Stone has been hidden right under our noses. It is hidden within all of us. The Philosopher’s stone is our capacity to become conscious of Consciousness. Descartes was close when he stated, “I think; therefore I am.” The focus of thought that awakens the inner Philosopher Stone is present-centered awareness. PCA (Present Centered Awareness) is my one-trick-pony. One-point focus reduces our thinking to the here and now. After all, I only ever exist here and now.
Archimedes said that if he had a fulcrum with a lever, he could move the world. Present centered awareness is my fulcrum. This is “the stone the builders rejected” that became the cornerstone. “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” Christ is the transforming Stone. Focusing on the Indwelling Presence is the fulcrum. The lever is trust. Presence is the true fixation of genuine mountain-moving faith. Our thinking must return here and remain.
Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God reminds me of how important the Presence is. Nicolas Herman (aka Brother Lawrence) was a Carmelite monk of the 1600s. He discovered the pearl of great price, the Stone. His present-centered awareness brought him to an intimate sense of the Presence.
Remember, God, said to Moses, “Tell them, I AM that I AM has sent you.” Exod. 3:14 God’s Hebrew name is called the tetragrammaton, the 4-lettered unspeakable Name. It means the One who is present. Focusing on Presence is the Stone that transforms the common into the extraordinary.
We all seek the same things. Whether we are alchemists, scientists, philosophers, or theologians, we seek the Stone. We yearn for the Secret of Life. Scientists have called it The Theory of Everything. Alchemists called it the Philosopher Stone. It makes no difference what you call it. How can we transform our mundane life into a gold-standard one? We can’t, but the Stone can. We seek health, power, and abundance. Jesus said, “I came that you may have life and that to its fullest.” John 10:11 He is the genuine Philosopher Stone. Look at it. Focus.
I discovered the power of PCA (Present-Centered Awareness) when I was about 7 or 8. We traveled to Canada regularly to see my grandmother and aunties. But it was an 8-hour haul, and I often got carsick. My father would get us a bunch of comic books to keep us occupied. My mom gave me Dramamine so I wouldn’t puke in the car. Sometimes I’d fall asleep. I’d count cars and see how many different license plate locations I could spot. I got bored. “Are we there yet?” would irritate my father into bellowing at me. I’d resume counting and pinching my fidgety brother. Growls and dire warnings were multiplied from the front seat.
I started holding my breath, timing it with my cheapo windup Timex. I could barely go for 30 seconds. But I kept trying and noticed I could extend my time by relaxing in a certain way. Time itself became interesting to me, and I wondered what it was. I began measuring my heartrate too. I noticed that if I took my focus off the secondhand and just relaxed, I could hold my breath longer. I would silently say to myself over and over, “All that matters is now.” I did this in the early 1960s. I didn’t read a book or have a teacher. After a while, I was able to hold my breath for 2 minutes and 45 seconds comfortably! (I don’t recommend anyone try this.) I was able to swim underwater for 3 full lengths of an Olympic sized pool.
I had stumbled across a kind of meditation practice. Present Centered Awareness opened the timeless present (and Presence) to me. To me, this was the map leading to my personal Philosopher’s Stone.
Almost 50 years later, I enjoy a happy Stoned life (without any substances). We’re all adrift in an ocean of thoughts. Thoughts shape our environment. Thoughts expressed in words and actions transform the environment. By thought, humankind has taken iron ore and turned it into cars. By thought, crude from the earth’s primeval storehouse is changed to energy. By thought, humankind will devise a better energy source that doesn’t contribute to our own destruction. Everything originates with purposeful thinking. Look at a doorknob. Its conical calculated shape fits a hand. Why? Because a person’s thought combined with enough purposeful action to get it done.
I think, therefore I am. Then what I think, I am. Thought, acted upon by words, and purpose, is creative. Though, what precedes thinking is more important. I suggest we could reverse Descartes’ statement. Consider, “I am; therefore, I think.” The key to using the Philosopher’s Stone in our personal experience is being consciously and attentively present with Presence. Awareness of Presence and Being recondition our thinking from harmful to healthful.
When I act, a specific thought is my motive. Things are changed by how we use thoughts. As one said, “Thoughts are things.” Individual thoughts are filled with unseen energetic potential. So are words. When thought births word and action, creation takes place. We end up creating what we focus upon.
Our thought lives are often wasted energy. Our thinking needs to be directed, focused, and acted upon. We generally think too much and do too little. Let us, rather, think less and be more effective. The Stone, the awareness of Presence, stabilizes. Action should stem from a serene sense of being. Production becomes powerful. Action for busy-work sake is energetically wasteful. First, let yourself be aware of your existence here and now. Let thinking flow from a calm sense of being. Feel your “being” here now, while allowing your thinking (label your thoughts as to their nature. “Worry thoughts. Hunger thoughts.” etc.) Reverence yourself because of the very present Being it springs from. Allow thinking because of being present, but focus on being rather than thinking.
Meditation does not focus on doing anything but on awareness of being here, now. The Stone of Presence is for all to personally discover.
We are told, “stop, and think.” Better to stop and let yourself be. Thinking is always going on, and we don’t need to whip it up. Even when we think we’re thoughtless, we’re not. Some thought is there. Being overly thoughtful can be dangerous. Rather, just label the thought “worry thought” and return to enjoying the moment. If I use my mind to run away with me like a train off its track, I can wreck. If I’m obsessed with thoughts, I burn myself out with manic thinking. Instead, be here now. (I sound like Baba Ram Dass)
Unquestioned thoughts can easily deceive and destroy. Slowing down my thought process with one-pointed PCA lets me hold my thoughts gently. I also choose to be skeptical of every unquestioned thought. Many of them, may not be my own but programmed into me from other sources. I was very opinionated. I still can be. The difference is that now I hold my ideas with a question mark. No opinion, no matter how right it seems, is worth losing my sense of the Stone of Presence.
I am wrong more than I like to admit. Hardened thoughts, ideas, and opinions end up as embedded judgments in my spirit. These poison us at our core. Prejudices can lodge deep within us undetected. These can be only be dismantled and disarmed by observing the unquestioned ideas that cling to them. Once I admit that I am unsure of an opinion, I can deflate it of its negative energy. Unquestioned thoughts become bars that limit. They become self-made prisons. But I can drain them of power. The toxicity of hateful ideas needs to be neutralized. Otherwise, these ideas poison me from within and poison others through me. This is why I need to jettison judgment. It always turns on its owner. Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”
Forgiving myself sets me free to forgive others. I choose to forgive others for their hateful judgments and opinions. Instead, I pity them because I understand the damage they inflict on themselves as well. They need to find their personal Stone too.
I see this working out in my daily reactions to people and situations. I regularly help a friend to the toilet, and he coughs on my back during the transfer on to the pot. This infuriates me because I assume (judge) that he did it on purpose. My knee-jerk unquestioned thinking seems right at the time. But if I look again, questioning my thoughts, I realize that my judgment is based on a faulty premise. He has a chronic cough. It is unintentional. He didn’t do it on purpose. Mucous running down my back is a mere inconvenience. The damage I do by thinking unquestioningly is harmful. My thoughts happen so fast that most escape my notice. He coughs, I fume. But rather than blame him, I now take preemptive action by putting a towel on my back first.
Anger stems from surface unquestioned thoughts. I focus on what I want and don’t want, then unconsciously attach my happiness to it. When control-thoughts are interrupted or crossed, I’m tempted to explode. Mindless thought is possible and more common than most of us would like to admit. It is living in virtual un-reality created by the mind. It is mindless because I lose the immediate consciousness of PCA. Foolishly, I want my virtual un-reality to be uninterrupted. When something from outside rattles the cage of my mindless un-reality, I react with harm to myself and others.
When I get locked in the cage of my conditioned mind, I am only content if nothing rattles me. Of course, this is a vain dream. There is always some irritation, some annoyance that breaks in. But when I “come back to now,” my inner poise is again realized. The Philosopher’s Stone is there at the core of my being and never left. I did. Herein lies the Secret. Col.1:27
- Here is a portion of The Emerald Tablet — Translated by Isaac Newton
“This is true without lying, certain & most true. That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing. And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.”
Yes, PCA (present-centered attention) fits.