Henry V. Miller

Though we no longer believe in alchemy, our age is nevertheless the one in which the art of transformation manifests itself in every realm. Almost everything we touch, eat, drink, smell has undergone an amazing process of transmutation. Everything we have learned about the "secret processes" derives from a study of nature. From eternity nature has been transforming everything--always in terms of a richer, more complicated life. In studying nature's ways we observe that everything is necessary and indispensable, or, as the mystics put it, that "everything has been given." Man can not alter nature, try as he will. He is not even able to subdue or chasten her. He can merely quicken or retard her processes. Despite himself, despite his petty, vain will, I mean, he is obliged to act in conformity with her laws. The more closely he studies her ways, the more obedient he becomes, the better and speedier his results.

There is a cosmic elasticity, if I may call it such, which is highly deceptive. It gives man the illusion, for a time, that he has the power to alter things. In the end, however, he is always brought back to himself. There, in his own nature, is where transmutation may be practiced, where indeed it should be practiced, and nowhere else. And when man perceives the truth of this he becomes reconciled to all apparant evil, ugliness, falsehood and frustration; thenceforth he ceases to impose upon the world his private picture of grief and woe, of sin and corruption.

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