The Spiritual and the Material Are Two Different Aspects of the Same World
Alchemists want to understand the whole world in both its material and its non-material aspects. They are willing to forego scientific consensus (and thus risk being labeled as crackpots) in order to study phenomena and apply principles that they can perceive, whether or not others share their perceptions. This is not the same as being superstitious. Nor is it the same as being religious. If alchemists don’t feel compelled to demonstrate what they believe to the readers of Scientific American, neither do they feel compelled to believe what they can’t demonstrate to themselves. What for a religious person might be a creed is, to the alchemist, a working hypothesis. Confronted with a spiritual teaching or religious belief, an alchemist is less likely to ask, “Is it true?” than “Is it workable?” A workable idea is one you can act on with good result.
It is characteristic of alchemists to treat the pursuit of physical science as a spiritual discipline and to approach the spiritual with scientific rigor and practicality. For alchemists, the spiritual and the material are two different aspects of the same world. That insight into one is insight into the other is both an article of faith and a working hypothesis. Alchemists set out to demonstrate it because they believe it.