Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology
“It is a strange thing, if we look at it naively, that in alchemy the end product is something which in the order of nature we look upon as very low, namely a stone, something whose quality is just to be there. A stone neither eats nor drinks nor sleeps, it just remains there for all eternity. If you kick it, then it stays where you kicked it and does not move. But in alchemy this despised thing is the symbol of the goal. We have to go deep into the mystical language of the East and of alchemy and of certain other Christian mystiques to get an idea of what this means.
If through fighting and meeting the unconscious one has suffered long enough, a kind of objective personality is established; a nucleus forms in the person which is at peace, quiet even in the midst of the greatest life storms, intensely alive but without action and without participation in the conflict. That peace of mind often comes to people when they have suffered long enough; one day something breaks and the face acquires a quiet expression, for something has been born which remains in the centre, outside or beyond the conflict, which does not go on any more as it did.
Naturally, two minutes later it begins again, for the conflict has not been solved, but the experience of that one thing just quietly beyond the conflict remains, and from then on the process becomes different. People no longer search, they know the thing exists, they have experienced it for a moment. Thereafter the opus has a goal, that of finding this moment again and slowly being able to keep it, so that it becomes something constant.
In all the struggles of life there is always that one thing which is beyond the struggle; as Dr. Jung describes it so beautifully in the comment on “The Secret of the Golden Flower,” it is as though you were standing on the mountain above the thunderstorm. One sees the black clouds and the lightning and the falling rain, but something in one is above it all and one can just look at it. In one way you are in it too, but in another way you are out of it. On a humbler or more minor scale, you have reached it if in a storm of despair or in a destructive dissolving attack of a conflict you can keep a sense of humour for a second – or perhaps you are swept away once more by a negative animus, and then suddenly say to yourself that you have heard that kind of talk before.
You may not be able to get out of your destructive animus, it may still be too strong, but something in you smiles and says it has heard that silly song before; you would like to laugh at yourself, but pride will not allow that, and you go on with the negative animus and he gets you again. Those are the divine moments when something is clear and moving beyond the opposites and the suffering. Usually they are only brief moments, but if you continue working on yourself long enough, the stone slowly grows and becomes more and more the solid nucleus of the personality which no longer participates in the ape-circus of life.” ~Marie Louise Von Franz, “Alchemy,” Pages. 169-170