Further Reflections on the Third Degree
W.Bro. R. A. L. Harland, P. M., Lodge No. 1679
President of the Circle
It is impossible to deal in an exhaustive way with the subject of the Third Degree, which is capable of many and various interpretations. To the numerous questions that will inevitably arise in the minds of students there are no authoritative answers and the profound meanings enshrined within the dramatic ritual are best left to individual reflection. All that the author of a Paper can hope to do, therefore, is to try to share with others his ideas, thereby stimulating thought, and Wor. Bro. C. H. Blake has written an admirable treatise on these lines.
We are all aware that in Freemasonry the predominant features of our system are derived from the Volume of the Sacred Law, and this is why the Ladder by which we aim to reach the summit of our profession rests, as may be seen on the Tracing Board of the First Degree, upon the opened Bible. There are in the Third Degree certain Hebrew elements which are profoundly significant, and Wor. Bro. Blake has rightly drawn attention to the Old Testament narrative of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The sagas of Genesis are unexcelled, even unique, and their psychological verisimilitude is unerring. The stories of the wilderness wanderings, of the newly emancipated slaves who would gladly have returned to the fleshpots of Egypt rather than endure the rigorous life of the desert, and who so vexed the righteous soul of Moses that he lost his temper with them and forfeited his right to enter the Promised Land, have always suggested an allegory of the pilgrimage of the soul through the "wilderness" of this world. Moreover, the foundations of the theistic interpretation of the Universe and of man's place in it are laid down once and for all in the first chapter of Genesis. Man's place in the Universe is that of a creature indeed, but a creature made "in the image and likeness of God". He can only fulfil his true destiny as he is content to submit himself to the beneficent Will of God who created him. The root of sin is "hubris", the ambition to usurp the place which in the nature of things belongs only to the Creator. In the whole range of sacred literature nothing is more relevant to the mystery of the Third Degree than the apparently naive, but in fact inexhaustibly profound, legends of the Tree of Knowledge and the Tower of Babel.
The keynote of the Third Degree is sounded forth in the simple declaration: "To seek for that which is lost". It vibrates, however, three Great Chords; the universal confession of a dreadful loss; the deathless intuition that somewhere "that which is lost" is preserved; and, the Faith that the loss will eventually be restored. It should now be possible to express what follows from the foregoing in terms of comparative simplicity. As the Craft legend runs, upon the literal side of it, the purpose of a great King was to erect a superb structure. He was assisted in that work by another King who supplied the building materials, by a skilful Artificer whose business was to put these together according to a preordained plan, and by large companies of craftsmen and labourers. In the course of the work an evil conspiracy arose, resulting in the destruction of the chief architect and preventing the completion of the Building, which remained imperfect from "the want of those plans and designs, which had hitherto been regularly supplied to the various classes of the workmen". This suggests that we must approach the mystery of the Third Degree along the line of mystical rather than literal interpretation. It is in this sense, as Wor. Bro. Blake indicates, that the "three Grand Masters who bore sway" at the erection of the Building, are a triad expressing the nature of the Divinity in manifestation, which is held to possess three distinct phases, appearing as Three Hypostases or "Persons". These three quasi-historical characters combine to typify the threefold creative method of the Deity; whose "Wisdom" (symbolised by Solomon) contrives our creation subjective and ideally; whose "Strength" (represented by Hiram King of Tyre) and resources project the world of Nature as the material out of which the creative idea is to take shape in the creature, and whose architectonic and geometrical power finally moulds that idea into objective form, perfection and "Beauty". H.A., therefore, is the personification of the third aspect of the Divine creative energy. He represents, in terms of Hebrew mysticism, the Cosmic Builder; the Great Architect "by whom all things were made" and "in whom", as St. Paul says, using Masonic imagery, "all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord". (Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter II, verse 21.) The name H.A., sometimes given as Adoniram, means the representative or messenger from the Lord ("Adonai") or Father ("Abba"). It is the Hebrew form of the Greek "Hermes", who was also the son of the All-Father (Zeus) and the messenger and intermediary between the gods and men to show men how to live and give them safe conduct through death. In the Graeco-Alexandrian scriptures he is called both Hermes and Thoth (the Divine Thought or Creative Mind) and appears as the great Initiator and Teacher of hidden knowledge. Studens of the Craft traditions will be aware that in some of the "Old Charges" the name of Hermes (instead of Hiram) is introduced into the narrative of the legendary history. H.A., then, Masonically speaking, is the personal aspect of the Third Logos, the "Son of the Widow", Who is also the Creator Lord of the triune (celestial, psychic and material) manifested Cosmos; and, following the uniform procedure of Initiation system, he typifies in the personal Mystery of the Craft, that member of the Divine triad Who is the Principle of human Exemplars, the "Word" that is made flesh ".
To conclude this brief review, we should bear in mind that the legend of the Third Degree, in which lies the essence of Masonic doctrine, is an adaptation of a very old one which existed in various forms long before its association with modern Freemasonry. It gives expression to a form of cosmogonical doctrine common to every human race since the beginning of time; a doctrine explaining the genesis, fall, and destiny of man, and accounting for the mystery of evil and disorder with which the world is now afflicted by a catastrophe which occurred before the world order assumed its present physicalised condition. The same doctrine was taught under other veils among all the nations of antiquity. Through all the cataclysmic events which make that ancient world so strangely like our own, the prophets saw God at work creating and moulding a new community of faith and obedience, and some of them even saw that it would become world-wide. Mercy and judgment alike were characteristic of His working and it was hard then, as it is still, to reconcile these two. But one prophet did reach the daring thought that the suffering which God's judgment brings might be accepted and borne by the innocent on behalf of the guilty. He may not have realized that he was forshadowig a new understanding of God's attitude to men. God had to act in decisive fashion right down in human history before men could be quite sure that the suffering of the Servant of the Lord, who figures as the subject of the exilic prophet's dream, had been the symbol of something in the very heart of God himself.
Further Reflections on the Third Degree
W.Bro. C. H. Blake, P.M., Lodge No. 5279
The first part of my talk, lasting almost to the interval, will consist largely of introductions.
My first introduction is to explain why I am giving this talk. As many of you will remember, I read to you some time ago the four talks that I gave to my Lodge as Worshipful Master. I then said quite frankly that I had not the knowledge to give the intellectual talk that the Dormer Circle had every right to expect, but that I thought you might be interested in the kind of talk that can be put over to the brethren in an ordinary Lodge. When I handed that paper to the Editorial Officer I included with it the copy of a talk on the Second Degree that I had given in Lodge and of one on the Two Pillars which I was prepared to give when required. These were included in Transaction No. 78 which members have already received. At the same time I handed in a copy of a talk on the Third Degree which I was going to give to a Lodge of Instruction. That talk was not included in Transaction No. 78. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I was asked to make that talk the subject of today's lecture, with sufficient additions to make it suitable for another Transaction. I repeat that I have not the knowledge to go on adding and adding to my basic ideas on Freemasonry. The additions may seem to be rather in the nature of "padding", but if, at the end of this session, you feel that the padding has been worth while, then I need not apologize for the fact that such additions may not be exclusively related to the Third Degree.
My second introduction is to explain the nature of some of my sources. Owing to the peculiarity of the constitution of "Dormer", it would be but right to put first the Meaning of Masonry by Wor. Bro. Wilmshurst. A very close second however is Transaction No. 56, "The Quest Motive" by our Wor.Bro. President, a transaction which I earnestly commend members to re-read and visitors to purchase. But a lot of the so-called padding comes from the books of Troward, particularly, Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning. Until quite recently I had always assumed that his books were out of print.
Troward was a Britisher, who became a divisional judge in the Punjab, so combining Western and Eastern thought. He first became interested in Mental Science by a ghost story which he relates in one of his books and of which I will give you the outline. On a certain occasion he and his wife moved into a bungalow that had once been occupied by a previous Assistant Commissioner. They had their beds taken into a certain room and both settled down to read. Troward, feeling drowsy, extinguished his light and went to sleep, to be awakened by the sound of a shot. He relit his light and saw his wife, still sitting up in bed, with her book open in front of her; but her light was out and she was extremely frightened. She refused to explain anything until they had had their beds removed to another room. She then said that while she was reading, a man, whose description she gave, stood by her side, leaned over her, and said, "Do not be afraid" and there was the sound of a shot which extinguished her light. She was certain she had seen a ghost; Troward was equally certain that she had been dreaming, though he admitted he had been awakened by the sound of a shot which, however, he insisted had come from outside. They agreed to differ and eventually went to sleep. The next morning an old lady paid them a call in order to enquire how they had settled down on their first night in the bungalow. Naturally she was told the story and she exclaimed: "Isn't that amazing! Some years ago when I was lying very ill in bed in the same position as your wife's bed last night, my husband, the Assistant Commissioner, whose description has been correctly given by your wife, came into the room, leaned over the bed, and said 'Do not be afraid' and shot himself."
That incident aroused in Troward a desire to investigate all the ghost stories that he could. We can assume that, being a judge, he had no little skill in sifting evidence. He became convinced of the existence of ghosts: that led him to the study of Mental Science: Mental Science applied, as he applied it, to religion, becomes Spiritual Science and Masonry is Spiritual Science.
I was first introduced to the books of Troward as an officer prisoner of war in Germany in 1917. I emphasise officer, not for any snobbish reason, but because, as some of you may know, as an officer I had no compulsory labour to perform. Instead of playing endless games of cards or walking ceaselessly round and round inside barbed-wire enclosures, I was able to devote hours a day to reading. I digested those books as far as my mental capacity would allow and continued to read them at intervals until I became a mason nearly 20 years later. There is to the best of my recollection no direct allusion to masonry in Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning. When I was initiated, I was as much in the dark as I assume most of you were; but my darkness persisted. Apart from the social and fraternal side of the Lodge, I was extremely disappointed and when, some three years later, I was compulsorily evacuated and unable to attend my Lodge for five or six years, I had no feelings of any great loss. At the first meeting I attended after that period, I was asked to accept the office of J.W. for the ensuing year. In spite of certain misgivings, I felt it was too spontaneous an offer and too great an honour to refuse. Shortly afterwards I took from a shelf my copy of the Meaning of Masonry and began to re-read it. Suddenly the light dawned: suddenly I realised that all the ideas I had absorbed from Troward were essentially masonic. I then decided that if and when I became W.M. I would endeavour to explain to the brethren the basic principles of Freemasonry; arguing that if I, with all the advantages I have just related to you, could not see the meaning at a glance, how could the ordinary brother, with little leisure and perhaps less interest, be expected to see it. Such was the origin of the four talks.
My third and last introduction is a revision of something I said last time. To me, the first outstanding important milestone in the meaning of masonry is the closing in the Second Degree. You remember that the two Wardens tell the W.M. that they have discovered the S .... d S .... l in the centre of the building. The building is the Lodge: you, as an individual, are the Lodge: the three principal officers represent your three mental faculties — the Physical or Conscious Mind, the Psychical or Sub-Conscious Mind, the Spiritual, the very Essence of Mind. You, as an individual, have therefore at that stage realised the existence of God in you and that realisation occurs after you have understood the meaning of the Pillars and at the symbolic age of 12. In other words, you have now realised that B . . z symbolises the existence of God in a universal sense, that J .... n symbolises the existence of God in you in an individual sense and that such realisation occurs after you have been through the seven symbolic years as an E.A. and the five symbolic years as a F.C. I am no authority on the spiritual meaning of numbers, but I think I know enough to realise that such a meaning exists. To me, the essential meaning of "12" is that it marks the end of a phase and the beginning of a higher phase developing from the earlier one. May I give you two examples from the V. of the S.L., one from the New and one from the Old Testament. When Christ was at the symbolic age of 12, he was found learnedly discoursing with the doctors in the Temple. On being rebuked, he said to his mother: "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Granted that a Jew achieves maturity at the age of 12, but that is only the surface meaning. Christ had reached the end of boyhood; he now stood on the brink of higher developments. We know nothing more until at the symbolic age of 30 he began his ministry. Almost immediately he chose 12 disciples, for knowing that his time was short, he wanted them to continue the work after his death.
From the Old Testament we have the example of Jacob and his 12 sons. They went to Egypt and in due course, with the slight modification that every Bible student knows, those 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. The whole of the rest of the Old Testament is devoted to the historic, poetic and prophetic story of Israel. Later I shall refer to the inner meaning of the word "Israel", which will confirm the importance of what I'm now saying, but for the moment I confine myself to the number 12. The five books of Moses end the introductory phase: the 12 sons of Jacob lead to the higher phase, the story of the development in a certain race of the knowledge of God.
The Second Degree culminates then in the realisation by the individual that God is in him. That knowledge leads to the realisation that something is missing. In the opening of the Third Degree, the wardens tell the W.M. that they have lost something. In other words, you, with your mental faculties, realise that you have lost something and the inference is, that owing to that loss, you have come from the East, you are in the West and that as you recover from that loss, you will proceed from the West back again to the East.
What have you lost? You have lost your sense of spiritual values. Again may I give you two examples, one from the New and one from the Old Testament. From the New we have the story of the Prodigal Son, who, asking for his share of the inheritance, went to a distant land and spent it. He then realised that he was worse off than the meanest servant in his father's household, and returned home. Brethren, we are all prodigal sons: we have all, though we have no conscious recollecton of it, asked for our share of the inheritance, which we have received in full measure — the wonderful physical body we possess and the marvellous Nature by which we are surrounded. We have all, in varying degrees, wasted our substance in riotous living: most of us and in theory all masons, have realised our lack of spiritual light. As all initiates do, we have turned our back on the West and have proceeded towards the East.
The second exanmple from the Old Testament & the story of the Garden of Eden. The picture of Adam and Eve before the so-called Fall is the ideal as ever present in the mind of God. Apparently that ideal cannot be realised without the experience and education afforded by life in this world and perhaps in many other spheres. It is necessary to give a thing a name in order to know what we are talking about and in that sense the story is generally referred to as the Fall or the Great Catastrophe. If, however, such a name is meant to indicate that God has made a mistake or that something has happened contrary to his plan, then I must entirely disassociate myself from such an explanation. If the name of God as given to Moses — "I am that I am" — means anything, it is a statement of "being" in the absolute. "I am " — the present tense of the verb "to be": no past, no future, no time, no space, no conditions, but an ever-present reality. If such is the nature of God, nothing can ever happen of which he is unaware.
What was the nature of the so-called Fall? Adam and Eve, representatives of humanity, tasted the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To me, the essential key is good AND evil. Brethren, in the sphere of the Absolute, there is no such thing as evil. To say that there is no evil in this relative existence of ours would be to deny what our common sense tells us, but that is a very different thing from recognising evil as having a substantive existence of its own. If evil had such a substantive existence, it would be equal with good, would cancel it out and leave nothing. That is precisely what the V. of the S.L. is constantly warning us about: "There is ONE God": "Thou shalt not LIMIT the Holy One of Israel." The Israelites were the chosen people, not because of any favouritism, which is absurd, but precisely because, on the whole and thanks to a succession of remarkable teachers, they did realise that ultimate fact.
Religion deals with the Absolute: Science deals with the Relative: there is no necessary clash between them if that essential difference is realised. In that connection I would strongly recommend two books by Gerald Heard: "Is God evident?" and "Is God in history?" both of which are in the Circle's library. I do not recommend the books as literature, but I do recommend, particularly the second one, as a genuine attempt to bring modern scientific thought into line with the "Tradition".
As most of you know, it is part of the "Tradition that, long before the dawn of history, man was not the savage he is so often thought to have been. You may remember H. G. Wells' Outline of History, produced in parts between the two wars, and the fiendish pictures given of early man. I have read somewhere that before his death H. G. Wells realised and regretted the mistake he had made. It is now believed by a number of intelligent investigators — and their knowledge is based largely on modern psychological developments — that, before the period of wars, kings and heroes immortalised by Homer, man was a peaceful, social individual, with far greater psychic powers than most of us possess today. Gerald Heard has endeavoured to trace the fall of man — i.e. his increased capacity for evil — from those early prehistoric times to the days of the early civilisations.
Some of you probably saw some weeks ago a televised play called "Madeleine". I did not see it, but came home as the play was finishing and my wife said how interesting it was. A little later we were thinking of going away for a few days, so I went into our local "Boots" library to choose a book for holiday reading.
As you know, the books are arranged under alphabetical names of authors. As I did not know that there was a book called "Madeleine", I could hardly have known its author. Yet the first book I picked from the shelf had that title and on turning over the pages, I saw that it was a secret service story — in fact, the story of the play my wife had seen. It is enormously difficult to distinguish between coincidence and conditions produced by thought. All I can say is that when as a J.W. I picked up the Meaning of Masonry, my mind for some time had been dwelling on my ignorance of that meaning and when I picked up the book "Madeleine", I had for some time been concentrating on this problem of good and evil. Madeleine was of Indian royal blood; her father was the recognised leading teacher in the West of Sufi mysticism. He had been advised by his teacher to marry a Western wife in order to combine the virtues of both worlds. He went to America and married a Miss Baker, a close relative of that Miss Baker who became Mrs. Eddy of Christian Science fame. Madeleine was their eldest child. She was born in the Kremlin — though I do not suggest that that is important — and shortly afterwards, just prior to the outbreak of the 1914 war, the family moved to England, where they stayed till 1924. They then went to France, where they stayed till the fall of France in 1940. Thus Madeleine spent her first 10 years in England and the next 16 in France. On her return to England, she was almost completely bilingual, one of the qualifications the Secret Service required. She joined the W.A.A.F. from where she received her call to the Secret Service and eventually paid the supreme penalty. Everywhere she went — in England, France and Germany everybody spoke of her saintly qualities, which brings me to the reason for telling you all this. Most of us know something of the roughness of life in the Services and her brother was very perturbed when she joined the W.A.A.F. because as he said: "Madeleine has no knowledge of evil: it is as if she had not fallen." You can imagine how that remark literally hit me in the eye, in view of the thoughts I was then thinking. Doubtless you have all met one of those rare persons whose very presence seems to uplift you. Doubtless the real saints — not necessarily the canonised ones — must have had that influence on their contemporaries. Most of you have read The Robe. You may or may not like the theme, but you cannot deny that it gives a marvellous picture, however imaginative it may be, of the influence of the personality of Christ on those with whom he associated. Whether or not there is any human being who has not fallen is not for me to say, but I have endeavoured to illustrate how the so-called Fall means the acceptance of evil as something real, which thereby involves a lessening of the spiritual values and brings us back to the masonic statement that we have lost something.
The most disinterested M.M. will tell you that the Third Degree is the story of the murder of H.A. Who was H.A.? At the building of King Solomon's Temple mention is made of Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre and Hiram the Architect, a widow's son of the tribe of Napthali. Despite the fact that in one part of the ritual we are all called "Sons of the Widow", which has an explanation quite apart from the present theme, I insist that Hiram the architect of Solomon's temple was not H.A. I will give you two reasons: the first-there is no suggestion or mention of the murder of Hiram in the V. of the S.L.: to which you can reply that the V. of the S.L. cannot give all details of all events. The second reason, however, should be convincing: Solomon's temple was completed, but the masonic temple, owing to the death of H.A. is incomplete. I will go so far as to say that if you think the real meaning of masonry has anything whatsoever to do with Solomon's Temple you have missed the whole point. Solomon's Temple is used as a symbol for the Temple of Man and it is interesting to note that when, in the lecture on the first tracing board, mention is made of Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and H.A., they are immediately symbolised as Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. We are then faced with this comparatively simple problem: who is it that is interested in the incomplete building of the Temple of Man and who can also be represented as Wisdom, Strength and Beauty? There can be only one answer for the mason: it is God, represented as a trinity of virtues. No wonder that H.A. could not disclose the secrets without the consent and cooperation of the other two, for he with the other two formed the Trinity!
There are many ways of thinking of God as a Trinity the Christian explanation is one way but by no means the only way. Let us consider the Old Testament way. If there is one statement that is repeated over and over again in the Old Testament, it is that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham contains the syllable "RA", the name of the Egyptian male god of the sun. The change of name from Abram to Abraham emphasises that masculine principle. Read the life of Abraham from that masculine point of view: you find that he is the father of many nations, that his seed will fill the earth. Abraham symbolises the creative, the paternal, the masculine nature of God. Isaac contains the syllable "IS", the female god of the moon, emphasised in Isis and still more in Assyria. Read the life of Isaac from that feminine point of view: his very name is connected with the laughter of his mother his wife Rebecca had a dominating influence over him he was ready to be sacrificed; he went into the field at eventide to meditate. Isaac symbolises the formative, the maternal, the feminine nature of God. Jacob, as I explained in the talk on the Two Pillars, is the same root as Jachin and means the ONE, which can be taken as the individual or the spiritual or as the individual becoming the spiritual. His life, until his wrestling with the angel, symbolised the individual aspect: after the wrestling, with the change of name to Israel, it symbolised the spiritual aspect. To affirm that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is to recognise God as father, mother and the resulting individual, or as creative, formative and the resulting individual, or as Body, Soul and Spirit or as physical, psychical and spiritual. The very name Israel contains IS, RA and EL, the latter being a Hebrew element denoting "THE", which can be taken as individual or universal, so that Israel is the three in one and a real Israelite is one who has recognised that trinity, one who realises that in the individual is the spiritual and that the individual's greatest and only really worthwhile task is to develop the spiritual nature. Give that meaning to an Israelite throughout the V. of the S.L. and you get a flood of meaning and you also come right back to masonry. The W.M. in the Lodge, having been both J. and S.W. combines in himself the Physical, Psychical and Spiritual; he is the symbol of the individual who has developed his spirituality; he is Jacob who has become Israel.
Having recognised H.A. as part of the Trinity, we now have to determine his function and that is indicated by the meaning of his name — the teacher from the father. P.M.s know him also as Adoniram, a name with essentially the same meaning — the messenger from the Lord. To use a Christian term, he is the Christ principle, the self-sacrificial principle, which is by no means limited to Christianity. In practically every religious system which has endured — and that includes the Mystery systems — we find the self-sacrificial principle at work. In Egypt in Greece, in Phoenicia, in Rome, a god is torn to pieces and as a result of his sacrificial death, initiates — not beginners as in Freemasonry but those initiated into the secret doctrine — learn how to live. In Scandinavia, Baldur hangs himself on a tree and in Britain, King Arthur, mortally wounded, disappears with a promise of return. Christians have every right to see in Jesus Christ the supreme and perfect example of that principle, but in my opinion they have no right to insist on it in a masonic assembly containing non-Christians. That is what I understand by the statement in the Charge that you are to abstain from every topic of religious discussion in the Lodge. You cannot understand the real meaning of masonry without introducing religion, but you must not limit it to one religion, whatever your private views may be. In a so-called Christian country I am perfectly justified in giving examples from the New Testament, as I have done on several occasions this afternoon. If I were attending a lecture, similar to this given in the East, I should expect the lecturer to illustrate the masonic principles by reference to Krishna, Buddha, Mahomet or other world famous examples. On the other hand, I would strongly advise masonic non-Christians to read the epistles of St. Paul, substituting, if they so desire, H.A. for Christ and they would obtain a wealth of deep masonic knowledge, for St. Paul was, in his own words, a steward of the mysteries of God.
The next question we have to answer is how H.A. was murdered. Again every M.M. knows the answer because every M.M. has symbolically been through the same process; but to go through the motions is not necessarily to understand the meaning. H.A. was murdered with the plumb-rule, level and square, for the heavy maul is not a working-tool, nowhere is it explained as such: it was substituted for the square for greater dramatic effect. The Plumb-rule, Level and Square, however, represent the three principal officers and the three principal officers represent the three mental faculties of each and every one of us. We now realise then that H.A. was not murdered by three principal but unknown conspirators: he was murdered by each of us. We have all by the wrong use of our mental faculties, i.e., by wrong thinking, murdered the master. When we give the sign of h .... r, we are aghast at what we have done; when we give the sign of s...... y, we are sorry for what we have done; when we give the p ... I sign we acknowledge that without the centre, we cannot atone for our crime. Though the superficial meaning of the penalties may be a punishment for disobeying certain promises, the real meaning is that if we do not use our mental faculties correctly, we must use them incorrectly, which amounts to the spiritual loss of such faculties. A good mason uses his head for conscious reasoning, his symbolic heart for emotional and pyschic reasoning, his symbolic centre for spiritual reasoning. His failure to use them properly results in his symbolic deprivation of them. The penalties, crude as they may seem, go to the very head, heart and centre of the problem.
Yet we return to the East by means of the Plumb-rule, Level and Square, in other words, we return to the East by the correct use of the very same tools by whose incorrect use we murdered the master. Could anything be plainer once the symbolism is explained? By wrong thinking we leave the East and go to the West; by right thinking we leave the West and return to the East. By wrong thinking the Prodigal Son left his home; by right thinking he returned to it. By wrong thinking Adam and Eve, i.e., humanity, left the Garden of Eden; by right thinking they will return to it.
We all know the famous lines of St. Paul — "Whatsoever thngs are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS " (Philippians Ch. IV, v. 8).
Perhaps we all do not know one of Tennyson's lesser known poems — "The Ancient Sage". May I advise you to read it or to reread it. It contains one of Tennyson's famous semi-sceptical lines — "Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt": it contains also some of Tennyson's deepest thought. It contains, for example, the poetic statement of a condition which Tennyson experienced and which is confirmed, I believe, by Tennyson's son in writing his father's biography. It is the condition of losing touch with his individuality and experiencing a much vaster life — "and through loss of self, the gain of such large life as matched with ours were sun to spark" with which I can compare a quotation from Troward — "We come into touch with the Absolute in proportion as we withdraw ourselves from the Relative." The main reason, however, for mentioning the poem is that it terminates with a passage beginning: "Think well, do well will follow thought", which seems to summarise what I have been trying to say.
We come now to our last question — "Where was H.A. buried?" We know the answer from the ritual — in a grave from the Centre three feet East, from the Centre three feet West, from the Centre three feet North, from the Centre three feet South, and five feet or more perpendicular — the height of the average man. H.A. is buried in the centre of each individual, but he remains dormant until the individual adopts the cruciform posture. Far be it from me to suggest that posture is of no importance, but the adoption of the cruciform posture is meant to symbolise the inner adoption of the cruciform principle. The symbol of the Cross is by no means limited to Christianity: long before the time of Christ, the Cross was used as the sacrificial symbol. The three working tools put together form the Cross, a cube unfolds into a Cross. On the J.W.'s pedestal is the rough ashir — a cube — a hidden Cross: on the S.W.'s pedestal is the perfect ashlar — a cube — a hidden Cross. From so many different angles the Third Degree brings us back to the centre, to the vital and immortal principle, dormant in all men, active in those who do the will of the Father. Almost all forms of doing, in the really deep sense of the word, involve some form of self-sacrifice: not necessarily the self-sacrifice that leads to physical death, noble as that may be, but the self-sacrifice that leads to the death of the lower self. The true mason, physically alive, able and willing to continue the good work in this life, can gaze upon the skull and crossbones of his dead lower self.
To put into practice the real meaning of the Third Degree is to meet enormous opposition from the lower self, but we read "To him that overcometh will I give — a New Name", Revelation, Ch. III, v. 12. To Companions, to Kabbalists, there is no virtue in the discovery of a name; the virtue is in the overcoming and then the New Name becomes part of you, whether you are Companion, Jew or anyone else. It is generally agreed that the specially personal name of God is Jehovah. We read in Exodus, Ch. VI, v. 3, that God revealed himself to Moses by the name Jehovah. The Bible however contains no other statement of such a revelation except at the Burning Bush. There should then be a connection between Jehovah and the I AM. Not being a Hebrew scholar, I cannot pretend to analyse the word Jehovah, but I am led to understand that the first part of the name suggests essential life manifesting itself as derived life and the second part suggests a plurality of derived lives connected by some common link. The whole name thus represents Universal Life which is over all, through all and in all and combined with the statement that God is ONE, indicates the Unity of Spirit from which all individualities proceed and in which they are all included. That name was revealed at the Burning Bush assuming that "bush" symbolises "matter" and "fire", "spirit", we have once more the symbolism of the union of Spirit and Matter.
We see then that Jehovah and the I AM, two names given to God, both mean in essence the same thing. Doubtless other names given to God in the sacred writings would lead to the same conclusion and we thus realise that the scriptures, including the mystery religions and masonry, deal with general principles. The secret consists in the realisation of your own essential being, of the vital and immortal principle, of the Centre; the method consists in the veiled symbolism of the Third Degree; the result is the establishment of the Fifth or Spiritual Kingdom. Through the Kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and human, God has worked as an impersonal force, intent apparently only on the survival of the race — as Tennyson says, speaking of nature in "In Memoriam"
"So careful of the type, she seems,
So careless of the single life."
In the Fourth or human Kingdom, has been manifested, created, evolved — call it what you will — an individual with an intelligence capable of understanding the law that has brought him to his present stage. In the lecture on the first Tracing Board, we are told that there is a point within a circle round which the brethren cannot err: this circle is bounded between north and south by two grand parallel lines, the one representing Moses, the other King Solomon. Moses represents Law: Solomon represents Wisdom. We travel round the circle, often oblivious of the centre and we are subject to laws that are infinite. Every time we disobey the law, deliberately or through ignorance, some form of punishment ensues. We are now however intelligent enough to realise that within us we have infinite wisdom, which helps us to understand the working of the law, so that by using the law, we can go on from strength to strength. Such individuals can find God in a personal sense, not only in nature around them but in their own nature within them.
"And Spirit with Spirit can meet;
Closer is he than breathing and nearer than hands and feet."
Tennyson — The Higher Pantheism.
Such individuals are helping to form the Spiritual Kingdom by a process of "becoming" that involves "overcoming" and "to him that overcometh will I give a New Name."