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A Tale of the Philosopher's Stone

Updated on June 1, 2011

Turning Lead to Gold

The alchemists of old sought 2 basic elements. The first was a substance that would confer immortality on its owner. The second was a stone, called the philosopher's stone. The philosopher's stone was a rock that, when touched to a metal like iron or lead, would turn the metal to gold. There are many tales about this magical stone, yet there is one underlying idea that modern readers tend to take from the alchemists' search for such magical properties. This is that, during the great search, while the results of their search are generally futile, the alchemists themselves change, generally for the better. In fact, the greatest result of the alchemical search has been the founding of modern day chemistry. But I digress.

The following is but one of many stories about the philosopher's stone.

J. Martin Kohe, the author of "Your Greatest Power," relates this story, originally told by the author and humanitarian Raimundo De Ovies. Shortly after the great library at Alexandria burnt to the ground, scavengers went through the remnants, searching for anything that might be of value. Alas, all of the books had been burnt either partially or completely. Of the tens of thousands of books, only 1 had survived in its entirety. This book was taken to a local agora where it was sold for a pittance.

The man who purchased this book found it to be rather unexceptional, save for one tidbit. This was a story that related that the philosopher's stone could be found on the shores of the Black Sea. Yet, it was no large stone, but rather a pebble, and it was nestled in with thousands of other pebbles. The only way to tell that it was the philosopher's stone was that it, unlike its compatriots, was warm to the touch.

So the man, after reading the story numerous times, and convinced of the veracity of the tale, sold all that he owned and moved to the shore of the Black Sea. There he began a life of searching, picking up and touching each stone with the sincere desire to find the magical philosopher's stone. After finding a stone was cold, he would immediately hurl it into the sea and reach for another pebble. This took weeks, months, and finally years. After 3 years of the search, one day the man picked up a pebble that was quite warm to the touch. But alas! He immediately threw it into the sea from force of habit. And so, successful in a way, the man had completed his search for the philosopher's stone, which now rests at the bottom of a deep, dark sea.

One can only hope that the man learnt something along the way.

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