Mystics, in their spiritual journey, may achieve various levels of excellence, and the Sufi’s endeavor has always been to attain full comprehensive perfection, by training and purifying his heart and cleansing his soul to eliminate all mortal desires and exterminate any attachment with the lower world. Similarly, the Alchemist’s goal is to adjust the properties of imperfect elements in order to transmute them into their most perfect state, nothing but gold-ness, normally via an agent called the elixir that is capable of removing all residuals and purifying and refining the element and balancing it, and ultimately converting it into gold.
Elixir is a unique substance with countless extraordinary properties and capabilities in addition to changing base metals into gold. It can be used for example to cure all diseases, prolong life and youth, and realize celestial knowledge and divine wisdom. For this reason it is also called the elixir of life or the philosopher’s stone, among other numerous names.
However, the elixir does not seem to be a simple material that can be entirely synthesized from other ingredients or obtained by ordinary chemical reactions, but it also requires especial spiritual -and even divine- intention, and it also involves exclusive knowledge of astrology and numerology and other sacred sciences, which may explain its scarcity. That is why gold is still precious metal. In fact, elixir is too scarce to the degree that it would not be even so efficient at all for someone who obtains it to use it simply for transmuting cheap metals into gold; especially that some of the requirements for any successful attempt to make this agent is honesty and sincerity in involving one’s spiritual intention, away from typically illusory and misleading material gains. Therefore, all projecting attempts to obtain this supernatural material proved unsuccessful and they were fruitless, and eventually this whole science of alchemy totally declined in the 18th century and was replaced by the modern industrious chemistry that is based on pure rational materialism.
Nonetheless, alchemy was evidently an influential tradition in most ancient prominent civilizations such as the Chinese, the Sumerians, and the Egyptians, and it may be accounted for their profound supremacy and proficient power that produced many gigantic monumental structures, such as the pyramids and other megalithic temples, which could not be explained based on the primitive tools they are said to have used.
Moreover, in more recent history, attributing supernatural powers to some spiritual and religious figures is extensively evident in numerous sacred texts which describe, for example, how Jesus performed various miracles including healing the blind and resurrection of the dead. Prophet Muhammed also performed several outstanding miracles such as splitting of the Moon, food and water multiplication, and the most famous miracle of the Night Journey to Jerusalem and then Ascension to Heaven (Israa and Miraj).
Even if we want to exclude these as exclusive miracles performed only by prophets, we still have countless well-documented and undeniable supernatural deeds by many pious followers, especially the Sufis, throughout the previous centuries and up to the present time, albeit the great majority of such deeds are deliberately concealed and can only be observed by close students.
In fact, Sufis and other mystics in general don’t like to display their divine favors, and they often prohibit their students from broadcasting their frequent supernatural encounters with them, simply because this contradicts their practical method that led them to this subtle mystical realization. Another reason why they don’t allow their students to expose their mystical encounters is because the public are mostly unprepared, due to their innate materialistic experience, and they often will not recognize such supernatural activities even if they witness them directly, and they may accuse the Sufis with magic or deviation or even heresy. Moreover, most of these mystical encounters are normally personal and extremely delicate that they cannot be easily expressed to the outsiders. I have personally encountered many such supernatural stories with my Master, but he clearly asked me not to speak about them, and it would not be really comprehendible even if I want to do that. In the book dedicated to his biography (Biography of Sheikh Ramadan Deeb, 2013) I was only able to mention few common stories that can be undeniably recognised by other people who may have met him or know at least a little about him, and they surely know that he is an exceptional sage.
However, we shall see that although Alchemy is an amazing spiritual science and the extraordinary properties of Elixir is so amazing that it can purify Gold itself more than a thound times, yet for the Sufis it is only the first step in logging into celestial science and divine wisdom.
The main subject of the research that we want to tackle in this book is how the Sufis actually accomplished this elusive state of perfection, and whether it is an isolated religious talent or divine gift or it is a universal natural or psychical capacity. Also we want to investigate the alleged material applications of Alchemy or whether it is only an intellectual science that can be applied restrictedly in the spiritual domain. The nature of this subject also obliges us to look deeply into historical and prehistorical esoteric sciences and sacred texts or archaeological evidences, and also comparing all that to the conclusions of modern sciences in the fields of physics, chemistry, astronomy and cosmology. However, the main focus of this book is on the mystical methods and spiritual practices of common Sufi traditions, based on the writings and heritage of famous scholars and sages such as Junayd Baghdadi, Mansur al-Hallaj, Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Bayazid Bastami, Ahmad al-Buni, Ibn al-Farid and Ibn Arabi, in addition to the author’s personal involvement with prominent contemporary Sufis such as Sheikh Ramadan Deeb.