Lawḥ-i kīmīya (I): An Alchemical Tablet to `Abbās (c.1856-60?).

AN EARLY ALCHEMICAL EPISTLE

OF

MĪRZĀ   ḤUSAYN `ALĪ NŪRĪ, BAHĀ'-ALLĀH

(1817-1892)

ADDRESSED TO A CERTAIN `ABBĀS.

Last substantially corrected 25/09/03 + 2006 ....

The Lawḥ-i kīmīya (I): An Alchemical Tablet to `Abbās (c.1856-60?).

The text of the alchemical epistle or Tablet of Bahā '-Allāh translated here is partially and inadequately printed in Ishrāq Khāvarī's Mā'idih-yi āsmānī  (= Ma'idih) 1:47-57. A far superior mss. text is photostatically reproduced in Iran National Bahā'ī Manuscript Collection (= INBMC; privately published mid. 1970s) vol. 36:355-365. Though quite difficult to read this latter text is critically superior to the at times seriously misleading printed text in Ma'idih. It is this latter text which has been translated below:  I am working on superceding the Ma'idih text in favour of the superior INBMC 36 text. Textual additions not included in the Ma'idih  printing are marked in the translation between asterisks * as deriving from the INBMC 36 mss. of Bahā-Allāh's alchemical epistle. I have referred to this epistle, which undoubtedly dates from the mid-late Iraq period (c. 1856-62?), as Lawḥ-i kīmīya [1] `Abbās. The scriptural Tablet was evidently for a certain (currently unidentified) `Abbās who is  the person addressed in the course of this fascinating Tablet.

An interesting use is made at paragraph XXVIIIf of Jabīr b. Ḥāyyān's, Kitāb al-mawāzīn al-saghīr ("The Lesser Book of the Balances") the Arabic text of which can be found, for example, in Berthrolot, Chimie.. vol. III p.114. (see note below).

 Stephen N. Lambden (1986). 

Lawḥ-i kīmīya (I):

An Alchemical Tablet to `Abbās (c.1856-60?).

Trans.  Stephen N. Lambden

This now 20 year old trans. (February, 1986) is being corrected, completed and further annotated.

[I]

In the Name of God,

the All-Sufficing, the One Implored for Help.

 [I] It ought first to be understood in what manner the Powerful Ruler and Wise Sovereign has established this firmly established [alchemical] Secret (sirr-i qawīm) and mighty affair (amr-i `azīm [= the nature of being?]). [2] Wherefore ought the [human] soul (nafs) and spirit (ruḥ) to be cleansed and purified of self and passion until it be capable of receiving [the truth regarding] this perpetual trust (wadī`at-i ṣamadāniyyih) and this Lordly alchemical art (ṣanī`iyyih-yi rabbāniyyih).

[II]

[1] Then take the luminous water [liquid] (āb-i nūrānī) from the dusky fire (ātish-i ẓulmānī) so that the "upper" part be distinguished above the "lower" part, and "water" [liquid] (āb) and "earth" [substance] (arḍ)  have been separated from each other. [2] After this separation purify [these two parts] until [they are] capable of becoming associated (tazwīj) and blended (mizāj). [3] That is to say, gently heat the sulphur (kibrīt) in the fire (ātish) until that "tincture" (ta`fīn) attains the [desired] moist constituency of the [alchemical] sages (rabṭ-i ḥukamā'). [4] This until, [that is] the earth [substance] of the sulphur (arḍ-i kibrīt) emerges from the water [liquid] of the sulphur (āb-i kibrīt). [5] In this way you shall cause this subtle, acrid [fiery] and luminous water (mā'-i laṭīf-i ḥādd-i nūrānī) to be set over this dark earth [substance] (arḍ-i ẓulmānī) until there does not remain any of that water [liquid]  (āb) in the earth [substance], [6] in either the distillation (taqṭīr) or the refuse of the distillation (radd-i taqṭīr). [7] And this until, that is,  all the water [liquid] (āb) has been collected.

[III]

 [1] * And if you desire to obtain the first distillation (muqaṭṭir-i awwal) then make it to be set above the "earth" [substance] of the sulphur (arḍ-i kibrīt) and repeat the process until this divine water (mā'-i ilāhī) dissolves that which remains of the reality of this entity ["self", substance] (ḥaqīqat-i nafs) in this "earth" [substance] to the degree that no trace of this entity (nafs) remains in the "earth" [substance].* [2] At that point the pillars [base] of the [philosophers'] Stone (arkān-i ḥajar) namely, the Spirit (ruḥ), the Soul (nafs) and the Body (jasad) will have been differentiated [prepared]. [3] Therein is the mystery of the Divine Unity (sirr-i tawḥīd) of His Eminence the Creator evident and manifest in this wondrous [alchemical] art.

[IV]

 [1] Then you shall set a portion of this acid [sour] vinegar (khall-i thaqīf) which is the mercury of the prophets (zībaq-i anbiyā') above this purified earth. [2] This until the divine water (mā'-i ilāhī) dissolves the silver (fiḍḍa) taken from natural gold (dhahab-i ma`dan) and assimilates it unto itself. [3] Do this, in other words, until the sulphurous earth (ar-i kibrītī) is united with the mercurial water (mā'-i zībaqī), or it become waxy [impermeable] (tashmī` shawad). [4] At this stage, on a few mornings  put the waxed earth (arḍ-i mushamma`) into the [acid] vinegar (khall) until the waxing [process] is completed (intihā-i tashmī`) [5] for such is the first stage of the assimilation which you  can attain. [6] This [stage] is [that of] the level of all the the operations [gates] (tamam-i abwāb ) of the elixir of the moon (iksīr-i qamar).

[V]

 [1] And then, if you desire [to obtain] the aforementioned purified oil (duhn-i muṭahhar which is the same as the substantive reality [self] (nafs) [2] then feed the luminous waxy earth (arḍ-i mushamma`-yi munavvarḍ) to it [which will result in] the completion of the elixir of the sun (iksīr-i shams). [3] And of the operations [gates] (abwāb), this process [gate] is greatest. [3] Whomsoever has attained it has assuredly attained to the furthermost extremity (al-ghayat al-quwā).

[VI]

 [1] Know thou in addition, that certain students of this [alchemical] art (san`at) outside of correctly estimating or regulating the apposition of spirit (ruḥ) and body (jasad) effect a conjunction [marriage] (tazwīj) and [expect thereby to] accomplish the [desired] blending (mizāj). [2] But this is very improbable for they will never attain the goal [in this uncontrolled way]. [3] The following maxim (kalimat) is [numbered] among the secrets (asrār) of the prophets (anbiyā') and of the [alchemical initiates] sages (ḥukamā') [who were aware] that spirit (ruḥ) cannot dwell in an unsuitable body (jasad-i ghair), nor body (jasad) receive a contrary spirit (ruḥ-i ghairī). [4] If this matter be [correctly] understood you shall attain all that you have desired [?].

[VII]

        [1] Some have asserted that the [philosophers'] Stone (ḥajar)  is the microcosm (`ālam-i asghar) [ lesser world] which derives from the macrocosm (`ālam-i akbar) [the greater world]. [2] This inasmuch as they consider that humanity embodies each of the three kingdoms [species] (ajnās); namely, [i] the plant (nabat), [ii] the mineral (ḥajar) and [iii] the animal (ḥayawān). [3] [They believe] that the exterior aspect of this [bodily] temple, although it is of the microcosm (`ālam-i saghīr) is yet, in its interior aspect, an imitation of the macrocosm (hakī āz `ālam-i kabīr ast). [4] They have likened the created nature (khalq) of the [philosophers'] Stone (ḥajar) to the created nature (khalq) of the human being (insān) in terms of the fact that he appears from the earth and returns thereto. [5] But [consider also that] plants do not come forth from the earth except through [the action of the further element] water.

[VIII]

        [1] Then understand [furthermore], O questioner, the subtleties of the mysteries I shall mention, in terms of the secrets of the words [through] but a hint (ramz) of the riddles (rumūz) of the prophets (anbiyā), so that thou may  be acquainted with the secrets of this [alchemical] matter (amr). [2] If you would penetrate the riddles of that [alchemical knowledge] then know that God -- blessed and exalted be He -- created the earth through  the water and created the sun so that it would shine forth upon the earth. [3] Then a vapour (bukhārī) and a smoke (dukhanī) rose up and [the] heavens (āsmān) were created. [4] Then through mature wisdom (bi-ḥikmat-i bāligha) the world [universe] (`ālam) came into being such that the heat of the sun adversely effected the earth. [5] Then, through the perfection of [divine] Power (bi-qudrat-i kāmila), He created the clouds (sahāb) so that rain would fall upon the earth and from it be manifest every color and hue (alwānhā wa ranghā) [ = the rainbow ? ).

[IX]

        [1] Know also that the greatest pillar (rukn-i a`ẓam; i.e. key element) relating to the aforementioned [alchemical] operations is fire (ātish) for it is through the instrumentality of it that all these [alchemical] stages (maqamāt) ought to find complete realization. [2] But this by means of a light and gentle fire because the speed of the association of the fire and the oil (duhn) is [a time factor] determined, clear and assured. It is such [that it is] unnecessary that it [the matter of the time factor] be demonstrated.

[X]

        [1] And if thou desire  to practice [alchemy] according to the wondrous way (tarīq-i badī`) and the new Path (sabīl-i jadīd) and journey on your way, then gather up the essences (anfas) [breaths, spirits] of the minerals (ma`daniyāt) as well as  their souls (arwāḥ) and bodies (ajsād) according to the natural balance (bi-mizān-i tabī`) which hath been concealed from the eyes and minds of [God's] servants. [2] Then effect purification until they [the constituents] are purged and cleaned of impurity and blackness. [3] This until each constituent manifest a color in accordance with the exigencies of the universe (bi-iqtiḍā-yi `ālam ) and its own natural constituency (ṭabī`at-i khūd). [4] That is to say, that which is characterized by whiteness (muqtadī-yi bayḍā) is whitened and each constituent capable of redness (qābil-i ḥamrat) becomes crimson and red. [5] Then blend these [constituents] together [but know that neither] a complete union of essence (mizāj-i kullī-yi wāqi`ī) nor a complete union of form (mizāj-i kullī-yi ūrat) will not result unless you  transform the whole, water [liquid constituency] (āb) [as something] flowing torrentially. [6] Then place it in vinegar [acid] (khall) until these [constituents] are [completely] blended and unified;  until that is [they, attain] the unity of the absolute certainty (ittiḥād-i ḥaqq-i yaqīn) in which they [the constituents] admit of no separation and never become differentiated, even though you should attempt to manipulate this in a perfectly controlled manner.

 

 

[XI]

[1] This is the stage (maqām) of the immortality of forms (khulud-i ajsad) and the gathering of the bodies (hashr-i ajsām) from their own centre (mahall-i khud) into the Paradise of Immortality (jannat-i khuld), which is the station of the permanency (maqam-i baqā') of this spirit of mercury (ruḥ-i zaibaq ). [2] This is its perpetually being established in the sulphurous body (jasad-i kibrītī). [3] The expulsion, in other words, of the dye (izālat-i sibgh) and change and alteration at this stage (maqām) is impossible except God will it. [4] At this time and on this level the resurrection of the bodies (qiyamat-i ajsād) is complete. [5] Such are among the mysteries of the world of nature (asrār-i tabi`iyya) and the essence of [alchemical] knowledge (`ilm-i san`iyya) in the world of nature (`ālam-i tabā`āt) which I proffer unto you. [5] Then be thankful for this greatest bounty and mighty favor which none hath anticipated among either the sincere ones or the cherubim.

[XII]

 [1] Some among the prophets (anbiyā') have, from "Mercury" (zaibaq) alone  completed the [alchemical] task. [2] The mention of that [alchemical task] has eternally been impermissible and will ever remain impermissible. [3] It hath ever been hidden in the treasuries of Infallibility and will ever remain treasured up in the storehouses of the Divine Power. [4] Know that this luminous, acid vinegar (khall-i thaqīf-i nūrānī) which you have taken from the Lordly Tree of Wisdom (shajarat-i ḥikmat-i rabbānī), if three times elevated above the ignoble [residue?] until fiery [acid] by virtue of the oil (duhn) which is the sulphur (kibrīt) and the dye (sibgh) as something identical with the purified earth (arḍ-i mutahharḍ), there will take place a blending (mizāj) or, in other words, a dissolving and then a conjunction.  [5] At this point ruby colour (lawn-i yaqūt) will shine forth and be made manifest and then act upon all the [constituent] bodies (ajsad). [6] It will, that is to say, penetrate, ascend through and dye  all the bodies of the [constituent] minerals (ajsad-i ma`daniyyāt).

[XIII]

 [1] Know also, O wayfaring seeker, that in the observable minerals (ma`daniy[y]āt-i ẓāhira) subtle (laṭīfa), glorious (jalīla) and invisible (ghaybiyya) dyes (sibghhā) are hidden [even] from the servants [of God] who have been successful in attaining this greatest [alchemical] result. [2] This even when it is though the life-force [of the minerals] that [is evident] a very powerful dye which is most-subtle, most-noble, most-powerful  and most eminent  [3] And know [also] that the most noble of minerals (ma`ādin) which bear a dye (sibgh) are four; namely,  [i] "Mercury" (zaibaq),  [ii] "Sulphur" (kibrīt),  [iii] "arsenic" (zarnīkh) and [iv] "Sal-Ammoniac" [Ammonia] (nūshādir).  [4] Their "bodies" (ajsād) are, [i] "Gold" (dhahab), [ii] "Silver" (fiḍḍa), [iii] "Lead"  [iv] "Iron" (ḥadīd) and [v] "Copper" (nuḥās).  [4] And the greatest of them all in the dimension [gate] of Redness (bāb-i ḥumra') is "Gold" [produced?] from "Copper"; and in the dimension [gate] of Whiteness (bāb-i bayḍā) is the "Moon" (qamar = silver ?) [produced?) from "Lead".

 [5] As for the "Soul" of redness" (nafs-i ḥumrat), it is "Sulphur" (kibrīt); while the "Spirit of whiteness" (nafs-i bayḍā) is "Arsenic" and "Mercury". [6] The cleansing, uniting, and blending agent in the [alchemical] Work is "[Sal-] Ammonia[c]" (nūshādir).   [7] And this is all of the dimensions [gates] of the minerals (ma`adin ) which have been mentioned. [8] As for the divine mineral [metal, mine] (ma`din-i ilāhī) which is of "Father" (āb) and "Son" (ibn) and "Holy Spirit" (ruḥ al-quds), it has become known just as it was by means of enigmatic utterances and the subtle expositions of past times.

[XIV]

        [1] Then it is now evident that the basis of the [alchemical] work has to do with "Mercury" and "Sulphur" [2] for there is naught possessed of foliage (dhū waraq) [nothing vegitative, mundane] but it is formed for [the sake of] the [alchemical] art (li-ṣan`at) through [its coming into relation with] the trickling, quivering "mercury" (bi'l-zaibaq al-wākif al-rajrāj) [which is something] possessed of value (dhā al-thaman) [= INBMC 36:355-6]. [3] This is not, however, the commonly known mercury and sulphur even though this same mercury and sulphur are readily available (sūqī), being so widespread about the earth that there is no place that is deprived thereof. [4] And this is nothing other than an expression of the extensiveness of the divine Mercy and the Lordly Bounty. [5] The [alchemical] goal is to open these two pillars [= Mercury and Sulphur] so that through their own assistance and without outside interference they are opened up and become blended. The  key [to this] is the [operation with heating] fire" (miftāḥ-i ātish), the element (unṣūr) with the aid of which they are opened and become blended.

[XV]

 [1] And furthermore, every person, by virtue of the faculty of the sharpness of his own insight, hath formed an opinion and regulated matters accordingly. [2] And know thou also that it is the [Jabirean] "science of the balances" (`ilm-i mawāzin) which the ancient sages (ḥukamā-yi āz qabl) among the philosophers and others considered to be the most abstruse of the sciences (`ulūm) to the extent that they have composed [many] volumes on this science (`ilm). [3] All such matters have been assimilated and been subject to the discriminating powers  of your vision and intellect such that it is unnecessary [for me] to expose [the matter of] the [science of the] "balance" (mizān) [of nature] [4] Do not suppose though that that which hath been mentioned hath been plagiarized from anyone [?]. [5] I [Bahā'-Allāh] have never studied the traditional sciences [wisdom] (ḥikmat) nor been formally educated. [6] Nay, rather, [my receipt of] the Divine Favor derives from the penetrating subtle power of the [Holy] Spirit.

[XVI]

 [1] Inasmuch as the setting forth of the [alchemical] exposition has reached this stage (maqām) I shall pursue the matter further by mentioning diverse [alchemical] terms [ names] such as have been set forth and concealed in the [alchemical] books. [2] This in order that you may  comprehend all aspects [of the science of alchemy] and entertain neither doubt nor uncertainty [about its mysteries or Bahā'-Allāh's] ability to expound them]. [3] Then know that the basis of this firm affair (amr) and mighty [alchemical] mystery (sirr-i `azīm) is the "Sun" (shams) and the "Moon" (qamar) which correspond to the "mercury" (zaibaq) and the "sulphur" of the prophets (kibrīt anbiyā') and sages (ḥukamā'). [4] They have been given many names (asmā') such that the subtlety (laṭīfa) of the [alchemical] work remained concealed from the eyes of many] and guarded away from strangers. [5] This to the degree that every non-initiate failed to become one privy to the divine mysteries (asrār-i ilāhī) or one anyone independently [mystically] informed (`arif) of the treasures of eternal Wisdom (ḥikmat-i ṣamadāniyya).

[XVI]

 [1] "Mercury" (zaibaq) and "Sulphur" (kibrīt), for example, have been given the following names;

  • ·       [a] "Heaven" (samā') and "Earth" (arḍ)
  • ·       [b] "Spirit" (ruḥ) and "Body" (jasad );
  • ·       [c] Male [organ] (dhakar) and "Female" [organ] (unthā);
  • ·       [d] "Eastern and Western Mercury" (zaibaq sharqī va gharbī);
  • ·       [e] "Oil" (duhn) and "Water" (mā');
  • ·       [f] "Soul" (nafs) [Breath] (nafas) and "Body" (jasad );
  • ·       [g] "Head" (ra's) and "Tail" (dhanab);
  • ·       [h] "Exterior" (ẓāhir) and "Interior" (bāṭin) and
  • ·       [i] "Blackness (suwād ) and "Whiteness" (bayḍā).

[XVII]

  •  [i] "The Mercury of the East" (zaibaq-i sharqī);
  • [ii] "Sulphurous Water" ( mā'-i kibrit )
  • [iii] "Acid" [Fiery] Water" (mā'-i add);
  • [iv] "Acid [or: Sour] Vinegar" (khall-i thaqīf/ thiqqāf);
  • [v] "The Water of Youth" (mā'-i shabb);
  • [vi] "The Milk of the Virgin" [or: Virgo] (laban-i `adhrā');
  • [vii] "The Key of the Absolute" (miftāḥ-i muṭlaq);
  • [viii] "The Water of Life" (mā'-i ḥayy);
  • [ix] "The Wine" (khamr);
  • [x] "The Vinegars" (khall);
  • [xi] "The urine of the calf" (baul-i `ijl); and,
  • [xi] "The urine of the youths" [boys] (baul-i subyān).

 [4] And when distillation has been three times been accomplished, that is to say [when] the Primal Water (mā'-i awwal) has been extracted from the Olive Tree (shajarat-i zaytūn) and set above the inferior [residue] (safl) and they have put it in the tincture (ta`fīn), and this three times, they maintain that it is "triangulated [tripled] Water" (mā'-i muthallath) and [that this] is the key to the divine Treasure (kilīd dar kanz-i ilāhī).

[XVIII]

        [1] In like manner its "earth" (arḍ-`u) was given innumerable names (asmā');  for example,

  • [i] "Lead" (raṣāṣ),
  • [ii] "antimony" (kuḥl),
  • [iv] "The copper of Wisdom" (nuḥās al-ḥikmat),
  • [v]* "magnetite" (maghnīsā),
  • [vi]* "lithage" (martak),
  • [vii] "white Lead [Ceruse]" (isfīdāj),
  • [viii] "The head of the mine" [Metal][Mineral] (ra's al-ma`din);
  • [ix] "The body" (jasad); and
  • [x] "The mercury of the west" (zaibaq-i gharbī) and so on.

[XIX]

 [1] And know that there are enigmatic names which have not been mentioned. [2] Indeed, in connection with the various levels of the organized accomplishment of that [alchemical] process [each] state and [resultant] color has been given a specific name (ismi) and accorded a specific designation. [3] For example, the "Earth" (arḍ) before being processed (tadbīr) and purified (tahīr) and while "blackness" (suwād) still remains in it has been named;

  • [i] "Pitch" [or Asphalt] (zift);
  • [ii] "Antimony" (kuhl);
  • [iii "Copper" (nuḥās) and
  • [iv] "Black Lead" (rasas-i aswad);

[XX]

[1] Then, after its being delivered of dirt, blackness and darkness is named

  • [i] "The sulphur of the whitener" (kihrīt-i mubayyiḍ) [or reading]
  • "The sulphur of the Ovary" [?] ([reading] kibrīt-i mabī / mibya);
  • [ii] "White lead" (raa-i abyā,
  • [iii] "White  lime (kils al-bī [sic.?]),
  • [iv] "The  purified Earth" (arḍ al-muahharḍ),
  • [v] "The new Earth" (arḍ-i jadīd ),
  • [vi] "The [Potter's] Clay" (afl) or "The Infant" (afl);
  • [vii] "The Silver" (fiḍḍa), and
  • [viii] "The Moon" (qamar).

[XXI]

 [1] And after its being "married" [combined], [re] united (tazwīj) and refined (talīf) it is designated as;

  • [i] "The leaven" (khamira);
  • [ii] "Gold of the seed of Gold" (? reading dhahab badhr al-dhahab)  or "primordial, atomic Gold" (dhahab bi-dharr al-dhahab);
  • [iii] "Red Sulphur" (kibrīt al-aḥmar),
  • [iv] "The Sun" (al-shams),
  • [v] "The Disc [or Bread] of Byzantium" ? (qur al-ruḥm) and
  • [vi] "The [full-] sisters [Tulip] of Wisdom" (shaqā'iq al-ḥikmat).

[XXII]

 [1] Humanity [man] (insān), similarly, with respect to its [his] every state [of being]  is designated and characterized by a particular name and title (bi-ismī wa rasmī); from [being] in a an embryonic state (`alaqat = `[foetal] blood clot') to his being honored with the robe (mukhalla` shudan bi-khil`at) of "Blessed be God, the Best of Creators" (= Q. XX:XX). [2] It is likewise for the various grades of all created beings (makhluqāt) and all things aforementioned, if thou would gaze with vision pure and unblemished. [3] All these diverse [alchemical] names have been mentioned [see above] to the end that their diversity not bewilder [human] intellects (adhhān) and cause perturbation . [4] This is naught but [an expression of] the clarity of [spiritual] favour (sādhaj-i maramat) and the essence of [spiritual] Bounty [on the part of Bahā'-Allāh].

[XXIII]

 [1] All the Prophets (anbiya') and Sages (ḥukamā') have made mention of this [alchemical] matter (amr) by means of cipher and enigma and through diverse names. [2] Thus did certain persons question the Commander of the Faithful [Imam `Alī] (d.40/661) -- upon him and his family be peace -- at the moment when he -- upon him be peace - was delivering the Sermon of the Exposition (khutbat al-bayān). [3] And it was said: "O Commander of the Faithful! What is alchemy (al-kīmīya)? He replied, `Yea! And by my life! It was and it will be and it exists' (kāna wa yakūnu wa kā'in). And it was said, `What is it?". [4] And he [Imām `Alī --upon him be peace-- said, `It [alchemy] concerns (inna fī) trembling Mercury (? reading, al-zaibaq al-rallāj), lead (al-usrub), vitriol (al-zāj), iron tinctured with saffron (al-ḥadīd al-muza`far) and the most-green verdigris of Copper (zinājar al-nuḥās al-akharḍ) before the treasures of the earth (li-kunuz al-arḍ).' [5] And it was said, `O Commander of the Faithful! We do not understand'. [6] And he -- upon him be peace -- said, `Take some Earth (arḍ) and some Water (mā'). [7] Then cultivate the Earth in the Water and the [alchemical] Work (al-`amal) has been accomplished.' And he said, `[The alchemical Work] is no more than this [I shall say] no more than this').

[XXIV]

 [1] The ancient philosophers (al-falāsifa)  did not expand on the [alchemical] matter lest the people treat it playfully [act fraudulently]. [2] [According to tradition] It has been transmitted from Abraham, the Friend [of God] (al-khalīl) -- upon him be peace -- who said,

 [3] `The knowledge (al-`ilm) is in the [cosmic] Egg (al-bayḍa).' And it is not an Egg (bayḍa ).'  And it was said to him [Abraham] `And what is `the [alchemical] work  (al- `amal)?' And what is the Egg (al-bayḍā)? And what is other than the Egg?'

        [4] And he [Abraham] --upon him be peace -- replied,

`The Egg (al-bayḍa) is the Cosmos [world, universe] (al-`ālam) and the four natures (al-ṭabā'i` al-arba`a) in which is the knowledge of the All (`ilm al-kull ).'

* [5] And it is said that Jesus, the Spirit of God (ruḥ Allāh) and His Word (kalimat) said, `It, verily, is Being (kā'in )'.

[6] And it was said [also] unto him [Jesus], `From what is it?' [7] And he [Jesus further] said, `The Speech of God (kalam Allāh ).' [8] [Whereupon] The people were divided over the issue into those who followed the law (al-shar`) and those who paid heed to wisdom (al-ḥikmat). [9] And that one [Jesus also] said,

`He that hath no sword, let him buy a sword' (man lam yakun lahu sayf  falyashtar sayf an)   (cf. Luke 22:36b).

He [Jesus] did not go beyond that [statement?].* [= INBMC 36:362]

[XXV]

 [1] And Apollonius [of Tyana] (Balīnās) the Sage (al-ḥakīm)  (fl. 1st cent. CE) had advanced that [alchemical knowedge] inasmuch as he made mention of the inscription on the (Inscribed Tablet, naqsh al-lawḥ = `The Emerald Tablet'; Tabula Smaragdina) which was [originally] in the hand of Hermes [Trismegistos] (hirmis). [2] And he said:

`There is no doubt about Our Reality (ḥaqā'iq).' [3] "That which is above [transcendent] (al-a`lā) is of that which is below (al-asfal) and that which is below (al-asfal) is of that which is above [Transcendent] (al-a`lā), accomplishing the wonders (ajā'ib) of the One [Reality] (al-wāḥid) as all things (al-ashyā') are of the One [Reality] (al-wāḥid).' [4]  "Its Father (āb) is the Sun (al-shams) and its Mother (umm) is the Moon (al-qamar)."

        [5] And he [Apollonius also] said:

"The Subtle (al-laṭīf) is nobler than the Gross (al-ghalīẓ).  [It is]  the Light of Lights (nūr al-anwār) exists through the Power of the Powerful (bi-quwat al-qawiyy).

The earth ascends to heaven, then it descends and rules over earth and heaven, that which is above (al-a`lā) and [as well as] that which is below (al-asfal)."

[XXVII]

 [1] Then know that God, blessed and exalted be He,  took a [cosmic , alphabetical] trace [line] (khaṭṭ an) and cleft it in the middle [lengthwise] (bi'l-ṭūl). [2] Then he made one of these two [lines] rotate about the other. [3] And between the two he made the Cosmos (al-`ālam). [4] But the cosmic [alphabetical] line (al-khaṭṭ) came into being from the Point (al-nuqṭa) and derived its motion from it. So understand that which we say!

[XXVIII]

[The following few paragraphs down to Para. XXX  are translated from INBMC 36:362-3 which is omitted in Ma'idih IV:55. Sections here are with a few  minor changes "cited" from Jabīr b. Ḥāyyān's, Kitāb al-mawāzīn al-saghīr ("The Lesser Book of the Balances") the Arabic text of which can be found, for example, in Berthrolot, Chimie.. vol. III p.114.]

     * [1] Then know that God created all things from the four elements (al-`anāṣir) which are,

  • ·       [i] Fire (al-nār),
  • ·       [ii] Air (al-hawā),
  • ·       [iii] Earth (al-arḍ and
  • ·       [iv] Water (al-mā').

 [2] There [also] emerged the foregoing, the four elevated and ancient natures (al-usṭaqūsāt al-arba`a al-awwālī al-qadīmiyya); namely,

  • ·       [i] Heat (al-ḥarārat),
  • ·       [ii] Cold (al-burūdat),
  • ·       [iii] Moistness (al-ruṭūbat) and
  • ·       [iv] Dryness (al-yubūsat).

        [7] When intermarriage [within] the Elements took place

  • ·       [1] the [Element] Fire expressed two fundamental qualities,  namely heat and dryness [= Natures 1 & 4];
  • ·       [2] the  [Element] Water expressed the two fundamental qualities cold and moistness [= Natures 2 & 3];
  • ·       [3] the  [Element] Earth expressed the two fundamental qualities Cold and Dryness [= Natures 2 & 4] and
  • ·       [4] the  [Element] Air expressed the two fundamental qualities  Heat and Cold [= Natures 1&2].

[XXIX]

 [1] Then God, exalted and glorified be He, created from the foregoing, the higher world and the lower (al-`ālam al-`ālawī wa'l-suflā = the heavens and the sublunary world of generation and corruption). [2] Not being in a state of [constant] equilibrium [its primordial] constituents (ṭabā`i) tended to revert to a state of degeneration ["corruption"] (al-fasād) until We called into being [?] the Edifice of the two luminaries (tarkīb al-nayyirayn = the sun and the moon). [3] He [God] -- exalted and glorified He -- when He created the Sun (al-shams), he set its constituents (ṭabā`i) in order [equilibrium]; the particles [elements] (al-ajizā') of which are the [vehicles of the] blessings of Fire (alā' al-nār [?]). [4] And He intensified it [the fiery particles of the primordial sun] and it produced the color of the [element] Fire (lawn al-nār = light?). [5] And He created the Moon (al-qamar) which is the recipient of the [sun's fiery] particles (mu'idd al-ajza') and the locus of the [element] Water (qalb al-mā') above the particles (al-ajza'). [6] And it [the Moon] produced the color of the Water (lawn al-mā'; = silver blue?). [7] Thus came into being the two recipients [the Sun and the Moon] (al-qābilayn) which, however, are not merely passive realities (al-munfa`ilayn) since the two active realities (al-fā`ilayn) are [i] Fire (al-nār) and [ii] Water (al-mā') and the two passive realities (al-munfa`ilayn) [iii] Earth (al-arḍ)  and [iv] Air (al-hawā').

[XXX]

 [1]

So know, O `Abbās,

and be well aware that whatsoever has its [elemental] constituents (ṭabā`ī) in equilibrium is not consumed by the two luminaries [= the Sun and the Moon] and is not dissolved away by the "water of the streams" (al-mā' al-ghudrān).  [2] Such is pure Gold (al-dhahab al-khālis), the food of which is nature [? text uncertain] (al-ṭabī`at). [2] So be aware! By God!  I have set forth for thee two mighty gates (al-bābayn al-`aẓīmayn), [regarding] experimental (`amalan) and theoretical (`ilman) [alchemy]. [3]  I have made mention of all that is appropriate (muhtajan [?]) about it and worthy of enquiry (sā'il an `anhu). *  [Ar. = INBMC 36:363]

[XXXI]

 [1] Then know [furthermore], O wayfarer, that they [past alchemists] have named this secret [alchemical process] task, ḥayawanī,  "transmutational" (vitalistic, regenerative).  [2] [For this] there are two reasons, firstly, since that which exists is something living (ḥayawān) by virtue of its soul (ruḥ), spirit (nafs) and body (jasad). [3] Such is also found in the philosophers' Stone (hajar-i ḥukamā') and they thus came to make use of the expression "transmutational [regenerative]" (hayāwnī). [4] The other reason is related to the fact that the basis of this [alchemical] work  depends on purified "oil" (duhn-i muṭahhar) and [since] "oil" (duhn) is related to the animal (ḥawāyan) it hath been designated by this [particular] name" (= Ar. Ma'ida IV:xx).

[XXXII]

 * [1] And as for their having named it "interior" (javvānī). [2] This is by virtue of the fact that three realities [things] (ashyā') and three elements (`unṣur) [exist] in the atmosphere (jaww[vv]) of the world of existence (`ālam-i imkān). [3] This is the greatest Pillar (rukn-i a`ẓam). [4] And after the manifestation (zuhūr) of its pillars (arkān-i ū) in the world of being (`ālam-i wujūd) it becomes  [something]  "exteriorized"  [concrete] (barrānī)* (Ar. INBMC 36: 363).

[XXXIII]

 [1] Now as regards the referring of the name "the [Philosopher's] Stone" (ḥajar) to this entity [thing]. [2] The reason for this is in view of the fact that the [philosopher'sl "Stone" (ḥajar), by virtue of the spiritual power (quwwat-i ruḥānī) latent within it, is capable of effecting the removal of "Iron" (ḥadīd = base impurities?). [12] And this upright Pillar (rukn-i qawīm)[ the Philosopher's Stone] furthermore, displaces and transforms all [natural] bodies [forms] (ajsad) through (its) spiritual might (qudrat-i ruḥānī) and Lordly power (quwwat-i rabbanī).

[XXXIV]

 [1] And thus [after these disclosures] there remains neither [obscuring] cipher nor enigma, neither allusion nor secret relating to this [alchemical] matter (amr) but We have disclosed and clarified it. [2] This in spite of the fact that I did not and do not intend to write [extensively on this subject]. [3] Nonetheless, I have fully, subtly and in detail, set forth this bountiful remembrance [= this Epistle] to the end that you, through the instrumentality of  your own heart (bi-kaynūniyyat-i fū'ād-i khūd), might vision the mighty Sign (aya-yi qudrat) and the Divine Power (ghalabat-i ilāhī) on the level of the [natural] forms (maqām-i ajsad) and be prepared (musta`idd) for the [eschatological] meeting with the Greatest Elixir (liqā'-yi iksīr-i a`ẓam), the Illustrious Essence (jawhar-i mukarram ) and the Glorious and Mighty Spirit (ruḥ-i mufakhkham-i mu`azzam), "Him whom God shall make manifest" (man yuẓhiru-hu Allah = the Bābī Messiah figure) who is the Agent of the Inversion of [human] spirits (arwāḥ), the Agent of the renewal of the Elements (`anāṣir) and the Agent of the "resurrection" of hearts and intellects.

[XXXV]

 [1] Since I have arrived at the point of mentioning this Blessed Name (= that of the Bābī Messiah) I shall, sincerely and for the sake of clarification, make further mention of this science (`ilm= alchemy) so that its nobility and favored nature might be celebrated among the servants [2] until the manifestation of that Sun of Reality (shams-i  ḥaqīqat ), the Hidden and Intended Bounty (jūd-i ghayb-i maqṣūd) and Praiseworthy Point (nuqṭat-i maḥmūd; = man yuhiru-hu Allāh, the Bābī Messiah) .

[XXXVI]

 [1] Then take some "white Gum [resin]" (samghat-i bayḍā), which is the whitened and purified "earth of the Sulphur" (arḍ-i kibrīt-i muṭahhar-i mubayyiḍ), which ought, in other words, to be in a state of immaculate whiteness (ṣāfī al-bayāḍ) such that there in no wise remains [therein] any turpidity [darkness] (tīraghī). [2] Then combine (mizāj) it with the "red gum [resin]" (samghat-i ḥumrat) which is the "spirit of moistness" (nafs-i raṭb), that is to say, [3] "purified Oil" (duhn-i mutahharḍ)  which has been treated [nurtured] (tarbiyat shudih) with quick lime (kils) and has attained the stage (maqām) at which the "Oil" (duhn) has not been burned up [4] and is the essence of redness (ṣāfī al-ḥumrat). [5] This is such until they are completely dissolved [fused together] to the extent that no trace of the "earth" (arḍ) remains except that which has been [thoroughly] assimilated [dissolved] (maḥlul).

[XXXVII]

 [1] At this point in the [alchemical process] the "work" (`amal) is completed. [18] And this on the lowest level (? maqām-i qalīl) has found consummation (? bi-intihā rasad) since the dawn time of meaning and exposition has been made manifest from the horizon of certitude. [2] Then cling you unto it in order that you may  be one who holds fast unto the Firm Handle (al-`urwat al-wuthqā), the Most-Elevated and Brilliant Cord (al-khayt al-durrī al-a`lā) and the Strong and Most-trustworthy Rope (al-habl al-muḥkam al-awfā) and be of those who have quaffed of the essences of mystic meaning (jawāhir al-ma`ānī) from the Founts of the divine Perpetuity (`uyun al-ṣamadānī) and thus be numbered among the well-informed (al-rāsikhīn).

[XXXVIII]

 [1] And know furthermore that this science [alchemy] (`ilm), despite its great nobility (sharafat) and sublimity (`ulūvv)  is intimately related to the world of nature (`ālam-i ṭabī`at). [2] If an individual does not understand the worlds of nature (`awālim-i ṭabī`at) how can such an one possibly understand the science (`ilm) of that which is beyond nature (ṭabī`at). [3] Notwithstanding [their ignorance of] the levels (marātib) [of existence] there are those who consider themselves eminently learned. [4] Praised be God above that which they assert for they are not among those who are informed.

[XXXIX]

 [1] Having expressed certain grades of utterance and evidence, of analysis and explanation, I bequeath unto you who has sought the Most-Great Elixir (iksīr-i a`ẓam), [2] that which will render them independent [through wealth] (ghanī) of whatsoever is in the observable dominion (mulk-i mashhūd) [3] and thereby of the want of food, drink and clothing and whatever is required [to prevent poverty]. [4] Yet, you shall remain [essentially] poor (muḥtāj) and in dire need (muḍtarr). [5] Nay, rather, the more so than previously, since [the] assembling [of wealth] is [nothing but] a guide to [its] dispersal for  freedom from want [riches] (ghanā' ) is [in reality] the path to [true] poverty (faqr).

[XL]

 [1] So seek out a [religious] Cause (amr) such that you be detached from the [matter of the] elixir (iksīr) and all that is in the heavens and on earth. [2] Then seek for that which is the Furthermost Tree (shajarat-i quswā), the Greatest Subtlety (laṭīfat-i kubrā), the All-Glorious Height (rafraf-i abhā'), the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing (sidrat al-muntahā) [3] and the stations (maqāmāt) of nearness [to God] in the Retreats of Eternity (makman-i baqā'). [4] This is the legacy (vaṣiyyat) of this servant [Bahā'-Allāh] though being occupied with these [alchemical] matters need not be an impediment to [the entering of] this Gate [= being a Bābī]. [5] Say: `Then enter it!  `O thou concourse of faithful ones'. [6] And praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.

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