SYMPOSIUM OF PAPERS CONTRIBUTED BY MEMBERS OF THE CIRCLE

(PART ONE)

INTRODUCTION

by Wor.Bro. R. A. L. Harland, P.M., Lodge No. 1679, President of the Circle

It is my privilege as President of the Circle to introduce to members the first part of the excellent symposium of Papers contributed in response to the invitation issued by the Governing Council, as follows:-

"MASONIC LIGHT" by Bro. B.C. Portsmouth, Victoria Park Lodge, No. 48 Western Australia

"THE USE AND PURPOSE OF SYMBOLISM WITH SOME NOTES ON THE MOSAIC PAVEMENT" by Bro. P.J. Gill, United Softgoods Lodge No. 632 Victoria, Australia.

"THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF THE THIRD DEGREE" by Bros. B.C. Portsmouth & W. Ginbey, Lodge of Research No. 277 Western Australia.

I would like to take this opportunity of conveying to the authors of these Papers my personal thanks for the high standard of the work submitted, and I trust that their example will encourage others to write suitable short Papers to be read before the Circle. The three papers comprising this Transaction were written by Brethren resident in Australia, and I would particularly welcome further contributions from overseas members. Manuscripts should be addressed to the Secretary direct, and I can assure all members of the Circle that their literary efforts will receive every consideration with a view to inclusion in the Transactions.

"MASONIC LIGHT" by Bro. B.C. Portsmouth, Victoria Park Lodge, No. 48, Western Australia.

Many people believe that once, centuries ago, Mankind, as a whole, was closer to the world of Spirit than is the case today. It would be quite understandable, if that were so, that Mankind once knew the secrets of that World Unseen . . . not only how to receive guidance from those who had travelled Earth's pathway before them, but how to obtain Light and Knowledge from Cosmic sources.

Some say that Egypt was the site of the first real civilisation on the earth . . . some say Babylon . . . some say that long before Egypt and Babylon were great, thinking men lived on a fair land now beneath the waven the lost land of Atlantis. Others again, say that both Egypt and Atlantis were but colonies or offshoots of Mu, the Motherland, which existed when now rolls the great Pacific Ocean. Perhaps, even before the upheavals and cataclysms which put an end to these old lands and their inhabitants, other places were centres of culture, meeting-places for the dissemination of knowledge.

Whatever the truth may be, concerning these ancient lands whose beginnings and whose endings are shrouded by the mists of Time, one thing at least seems clear. Down through the centuries, wherever there were gatherings of thinking men, there, in one form or another has existed a oneness of purpose. This oneness persisted, though fire and flood and tempest raged upon the earth . . . though inquisitions and persecutions threatened civilisation's very existence . . though plague and death and pestilence stalked across the land. Still, through century after uncounted century, a man who sought could find the answers!

The Ancient Mysteries once formed the heart of every great religion . . . and the secrets were given slowly and carefully, to its Initiates . . . the secrets which are the keys of the problems of Life and Death, those same problems to which thinking men seek the answers today.

Even as the solution of a problem in Euclid, or the explanation of a Quadratic Equation, would alike be useless if presented to a Kindergarten child . . . so would the inner secrets of the Mysteries be meaningless if revealed to a mind unprepared.

Hence, through countless ages, form and symbol has been used to convey intended meaning. To the casual observer, the symbols were (and are) merely ornamentation or ceremony. To the one who sought the hidden meaning . . . the meaning was (and is) there for the seeking!

Freemasonry is much, much more than a derivation from the building crafts of the Middle Ages, as some would have us believe. Freemasonry is a survival of these Ancient Mysteries, which aimed at quickening evolution in their Initiates. But a Religion, or a Masonry, uninspired by Spiritual Light, a Masonry emptied of true knowledge, is as a massive doorway . . . leading nowhither!

Even as, in the 3rd Degree, the tiny Light is never quenched, though the Initiate goes down into the darkness of the tomb . . . so, no matter what the circumstances of mental and physical life, always, deep within us, burns that tiny light; that invisible, often unacknowledged, link with the Unseen.

As a blind man seeks for one who can disperse his blindness, so does an uninstructed man seek for one who can restore his mental sight! As the sun gives light and meaning to the things of the physical world, so does Masonry give Light and Meaning to the mental world! As one who has been blind, in the physical sense, must gradually be introduced to the stages of twilight and half-light, until he at last can stand in the full glow of sunshine . . . even so must a man, who seeks the realities of being, be introduced gradually to the wondrous glory of the Vision.

Masonry seeks to carry out this principle, as has many another of the Mystery-survivals, and as do many of our present-day Religions. Slowly and gradually is the Light revealed to the seeker after Masonic knowledge. Too much at one time would prove useless . . . as the mind of an individual can only absorb a certain amount at a time. A too-rapid advancement would prove useless also (as regards Masonic understanding), for a man must walk before he can run . . . he must learn his "tables" thoroughly before he can work out multiplication sums correctly!

So, though the Light of Wisdom is surely embedded in our Ceremonies, and in our Ritual, we must remove the protecting cover, before we can glimpse that Light in its true wonder, "A Lodge," we are told, "is a place where Freemasons assemble to work, and to instruct and to improve themselves in the mysteries of the antient science." If the Brethren are to work, to be instructed, and to be improved . . . some there must be capable of directing the work, of doing the instructing, of correcting the errors so that true improvement shall take place! And, if some such there must be . . . it can only be those who have sought and found the Light for themselves . . . those who have travelled the pathway which leads to the All-Highest!

Such men there have been in all the ages.

The One they sought has been known by many names... but He is still, as always, the Great Architect. He alone is the Light of Masonry . . . the Light of Christianity . . . aye, and the Light of many another Pathway by which Mankind struggles upward.

Every one who seeks the Light shall surely find it! Freemasonry is a Guardian of that Light . . . Freemasonry can become to you a living thing, and no mere collection of empty forms . . . for the Light which cometh from Above can so illumine and direct our seeking, that the dark places are made light . . . until we know, with a vital, shining clarity, the real purpose and meaning of those twin problems . . . LIFE . . . and DEATH!

THE USE AND PURPOSE OF SYMBOLISM WITH SOME NOTES ON THE MOSAIC PAVEMENT by Bro. P.J. Gill, United Softgoods Lodge No. 632, Victoria, Australia

The usefulness of the Mosaic Pavement in notes of this description lies in the fact that many of its profound teachings are collateral to the meanings of almost all the other Symbols found in Freemasonry. Various examples are the V.S.L., the two Pillars of the K.S.T., the different variations of the Triangle and its three points, the Officers of the Lodge particularly when thought of numerically as well as individually. After you have considered the further remarks to be made here, you will doubtless find many other relationships that the Mosaic Pavement has with the rest of the Craft's Symbols. Further, may it be pointed out, the Mosaic Pavement refers to the Universal Laws, i.e., the Laws of T.G.A.O.T.U. in relation to the earthly life of Mankind, as the Centre of our Beings whilst the rest of the Lodge indicates our Outer Selves. just as the Lodge has these two parts separate yet conjoined so are the Inner and Outer Selves complementary to each other.

To detail some of the examples given above let us first begin with the two Pillars of K.S.T. The Mosaic Pavement is composed mainly of Black and White parts generally diamond-shaped. Consider here the Pillars Symbology of the two opposites to be found everywhere in Nature; Male and Female, Negative and Positive, Day and Night, Gravity and Repulsion, the Magnetic North and South Poles, all representing the Duality in the great system of T.G.A.O.T.U. B and J are your Symbol as is also the Black and White of the Mosaic Pavement. Black may it be suggested Symbolises Strength while White means to Establish; one without the other cannot form Stability which is represented by the third point of the Triangle. The shape of the Black and White sections each when divided in half make two Triangles.

An example, although not strictly correct, which will serve the purpose is the opposites of Gravity and Repulsion. Gravity is Strength and compels or attracts Repulsion to enter into the field to make the opposite necessary to create or Establish the second point or condition, both to be Stabilized by the appearance of the third point in this case Earth.

As the Philosophy of Freemasonry is taught in the main by its Symbols, some of which can be given profound meanings let us consider the following ideas.

Take Black as a colour - how is it possible to know that Black is Black unless there is something to compare it with. Obviously White is the answer, for it is the complete opposite to Black. Again the North and South Poles, without the South Pole it would be impossible to acknowledge the existence or presence of the North Pole, and if it were possible to know of the North Pole without knowledge of the South, how would it be possible to know with any certainty that the North Pole was in fact the North Pole? It may perhaps be the South Pole. Refer for consideration to the previous examples; Male and Female, Day and Night, Gravity and Repulsion.

To come now to another angle of the opposites. Good and Evil with the variation of God and the Devil. The V.S.L. advises of these opposites, one way in a forthright manner as well as Symbolically giving a profound meaning. Mankind with its individual ideas and characteristics, gives each personality different interpretations of these two opposites which are the answer to the root causes of all our troubles today.

Let us examine this matter allegorically. Supposing several people were looking at a particular object, for example, a tree. One who is colour blind may say it is red. One with myopic eyes will see it distorted - another says it is green-one looking through field glasses can see it a different distance to anyone else whilst the blind man is not able to see it at all. They are requested to describe it to someone who has never heard of or seen a tree. Who is he to believe? Each individual will give a totally varied description according to his own notions and as it is translated to his inner brain, and each one is correct in the point of view given. Here are five aspects on the one subject all seemingly correct yet who is to judge.

Referring to the opposites of God and the Devil or Good and Evil we will see that they are only relative as opposites and the degree of opposition will be determined by each individual according to his own lights. Where is the yardstick that will measure correctly the true relative opposition of all the examples that have been given in these notes? The outer brain or senses are not able to advise correctly as proved in the preceding paragraph. The true explanation is given clearly by the Duality of T.G.A.O.T.U. who created both GOOD AND EVIL but the yardstick is created by the grosser intelligence subject to any deformities it may contain.

With some further thought on the part of the reader it can be seen that Good and Evil are one and the same thing and out of the combination or joining together of both opposites will be seen one of the greatest Truths in Freemasonry, elsewhere called the Divine Essence and Love. The Black and White sections are equally spread over the Mosaic Pavement, cemented together by the outer border to make one Whole.

Nature, may it be suggested, can provide us with a simple example of this combination of Good and Evil. In the Eucalypt forests of Australia there periodically occur the large fires that reduce these forests to a heap of ashes. Out of these ashes spring the new saplings, themselves to be the giants after a period of years. The new replacing the old. You will see in a moment why the Eucalypt Gums are used as an example. The cause of these fires of destruction is the result of the big trees growing so large and old, giving off Eucalyptus Oil vapour or gas especially when the hot sun beats directly down. The wind is prevented from dispersing these gases because the foliage, mainly at the top of the tall trees, acts as a wind-break. Spontaneous combustion occurs and so the fire starts.

The forces of Good or Evil have razed the old forest to give way to the new. Can you relate this to the Evil of War and the Good that comes out of it - the impelling Forces that direct Man's feet towards his Ultimate Goal.

The Eucalypt Gum destroys itself through the vaporizing of the Eucalyptus Oil as well as having the means for regeneration through its roots which give birth to the young saplings.

The Mosaic Pavement also Symbolises one of the fundamental Laws of T.G.A.O.T.U. bringing a third point to the Duality as is represented by the three points of the Triangle. This is called the Trinity where reference will be found in the New Testament. The Father and the Holy Ghost are the Duality and the third point is Christ. So that Good and Evil, Positive and Negative Male and Female, etc., cannot be manifested on this Earth until the third condition has been created or joined to the other two.

To explain in full detail the relationship of the three points or conditions when brought together in order to create or manifest as gross matter would take many hours of explanation, but the following illustration may give a pointer to further study and contemplation.

In order to make a cake, a scone, a damper or a biscuit, etc., in their simplest form, flour and water are the only ingredients required, but the proportions of the flour and water vary in each case. The third point or condition is the application of heat to cook the mixture to solidify it. Theoretically, the transmutation of atomic elements is achieved in the same manner, but to attempt to revert the cake back to the basic ingredients of flour and water and then add a little of either the flour or water to alter it to a scone mixture would appear to be somewhat difficult.

The perambulations of the candidate around the Mosaic Pavement suggest the idea of Man's descent and ascent into and out of the gross forms of matter - his gross Self takes control over his Inner Self until such time as evolution and incarnation bring him back to T.G.A.O.T.U. The candidate first enters the Lodge in darkness - suddenly after being taught matters which give him a certain amount of light - is in darkness again only to be shown a greater light. In all there are seven perambulations which coincides with the multiples of seven rounds required of Man as incarnations before he again becomes as God - to a reunion with his former companions in toil.

It may be as well to repeat what has been said elsewhere regarding the altered appearance of the Mosaic Pavement in the H.R.A. Degree. In the Craft Degrees the Mosaic Pavement represents Man living with his Outer or Grosser senses surrounding or dominating his Inner Self which is in the Centre, In the middle of the Mosaic Pavement we find the Symbol of a Light indicating that Man does not comprehend its meaning whilst the actual Living Light is suspended from above.

On entering the H.R.A. Degree we find the G. has disappeared and Living Light descended to the Centre of the Mosaic Pavement on the floor of the Lodge. This virtually means Man has developed his Spiritual Self sufficiently for it to overcome the Grosser Self and live in Harmony and Love with T.G.A.O.T.U.

The time has come, although only in its infancy, when the use and purpose of Symbolism is to be replaced by Mankind's knowledge - the actual living the precepts - of the meanings so profoundly hidden in the Symbols of Freemasonry. It may be incorrect to say that the meaning of the Symbols will entirely replace the Symbols themselves for the time being, as without their aid the teachings and laws of God could not be revealed to Man.

A slow unfoldment is necessary, but the signs of commencement are to hand. By the time Man has again become At-Onement with God, Symbology will become a forgotten and needless Art.

Symbols have been handed down from time immemorial, from the dawn of time when Symbols were the first form of Man's attempts at writing, and communication.

It is quite obvious that Symbols have been passed down through the ages by men who must have felt an inner compulsion to do so yet they had only a vague conception as to what the deeper meaning lying beneath was suggesting to them. The ancient legends seem to tell us that God instructed the First Men on this Earth to preserve the "Lost Word," i.e. the Word or Secrets that were to become lost in such manner that when the time arrived for it to be known again, would easily be rediscovered. In the meantime it was necessary to safeguard the hidden secrets from vulgar and unworthy eyes. It may be supposed that as Man improved his system of writing he gradually forgot the meaning of the original writings which then came to be called Symbols, when at the same time his Grosser, Outer Self took control from the Inner Self and turned a deaf ear to what it had to say concerning those Symbols. In this manner God preserved His Secrets.

All the Mystery Systems have their own sets of Symbols with little variation in the designs from one System to another. Freemasonry is one of the main lines of descent of the ancient Mysteries even back to the creators of the original System, who were instructed by God to keep inviolate those meanings and secrets until such time as they were to be revealed and to this day have done an excellent job in their preservation.

Can the thought arise that through the Forces which compel and direct Man's ascent to higher conceptions the Dormer Masonic Study Circle has a place in the Scheme or Cosmic Plan to assist the genuine seeker of Light in the interpretation of Masonic Symbolism and the Mysteries of T.G.A.O.T.U.?

So Mote It Be.

THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF THE THIRD DEGREE by Bros. B.C. Portsmouth & W. Ginbey, Lodge of Research No. 277, Western Australia

Brothers, we, today, live in an age of ever-increasing speed. In every walk of life the aim seems to be ... more labour for less effort, and accomplished ever more quickly. Those who travel to and fro on the earth's surface do so at ever-increasing speed ... in the air and beneath the sea intrepid adventurers take less and less time to reach their destination.

What of the mental world? Here, too, there seems to be a "Speeding up" of the ability to think. The average child of seven, nowadays can read tolerably well, can count and figure and remember, and has begun to use his own thinking apparatus intelligently and individually. Three, or even two generations ago, a far greater proportion of people were quite illiterate, and only a rich man's son could command any degree of education as a right.

What of Masonry, my Brothers? Are we too being "speeded up"? Certainly, in numbers our Craft is steadily and surely growing, but are we, as a body, growing also in understanding and knowledge? The whole structure of Freemasonry is built upon the supposition that we are able to think, and that we have both the time and the inclination to think. Do we not come, in the very first instance "of our own free will and accord," having, one supposes, spent at least some time in thinking about the experiences ahead and what they will mean?

Truly, we live in an age when speed threatens to crowd out individual thinking, but we, as Masons, should endeavour to use our individual mental abilities, to enhance our mental stature, and to grow spiritually. When a Brother is initiated into Freemasonry he becomes a member of a seeking Fraternity - "seeking for that which was lost," he is told, and even as he ponders on the unfamiliar wording, he begins to think in an unaccustomed way.

The ceremony of the First Degree is a dramatic portrayal of the entrance of Man into Life, both physical and spiritual. The First Degree, in practice, is the stage of preparation, of self discipline and purification. The newly-made Brother is required to make himself acquainted with the simple principles of Moral, Truth and Virtue. He is taught the important duties he owes to God, to his neighbour and to himself.

The Second Degree, while still emphasising the necessity for complete moral rectitude, takes the Brother a step further and advises daily meditation for the purpose of enlightenment. To "extend his researches to the more hidden paths of Nature and Science," as he is bidden to do, a fellowcraft must, of necessity, use his thinking apparatus. Some of the old mystery religions advised a daily retirement for a brief space from the outer world to "develop intellectual, artistic and psychic faculties" - and this could well be incorporated in the instructions given to a sincerely-seeking fellowcraft, for only by studying himself, as a prelude to studying the greater things of the universe, can any soul be re-born."

To a large extant, the Mason's understanding of his Craft depends on the instruction and help given to him while he is a fellowcraft. With efficient teaching he should, at this stage, begin to realise that Freemasonry is much more than a series of symbolic rites repeated parrot-fashion. He is realising that, to some Masons, Freemasonry is a living thing, and no mere collection of empty forms. A sincere fellowcraft is beginning to apply those beautiful words and phrases he hears to his own life, and thus to make them realities. Ere he seeks admission to the next rung of the ladder, he should earnestly endeavour, because of what he has already learned and realised, to make the world the better for his smoothing and polishing of the crude stones. The fellowcraft is taught that the privileges of the Second Degree are obtainable by the help of God, and the assistance of the square. BRETHREN, a man must give himself time and opportunity to think, if he is ever to realise how the square can help him - if he is ever to seek his God. "Seek and ye shall find," says the V.S.L. - and to every Brother on whom devolves the duty of teaching fellowcrafts, I would say - "Show him how Masonry can help him to know himself, and how Masonry can help him to find his God!" The wondrous mysteries of Nature and Science are only available to the thinker (not necessarily the highly-educated man) - and man himself is the greatest natural wonder and the greatest scientific working model of all time.

A fellowcraft who has begun to learn of God's greatest creation (himself), is mentally ready for the Sublime Degree - for who among men does not sometimes wonder WHENCE .. WHY .. and WHITHER? Has not mankind always striven to find the answers to these problems, and those few who have achieved this knowledge, have they not perforce been compelled to wrap up the secrets they have gained in allegory and symbol? If a fellowcraft is faithfully instructed on the principles of upright living, and is beginning to understand a little of his own spiritual nature, he is then ready for the further revelations of the Third Degree ceremony - for he has already arrived at the "WHITHER" question in his daily meditations.

He has probably heard the references to G.L.A., when the Master has spoken of a Brother's passing, and as he kneels with bowed head at the Third Degree ceremony, listening to the Chaplain's words of prayer, he thinks of that Brother who has already passed on through that Valley of the Shadow, of which the Chaplain speaks.

There are, of course, as most Freemasons soon realise, two distinct schools of thought regarding the origins of the Craft. One school leans very much to the materialistic side and believes that modern Freemasonry is only about three centuries old, whose sole occupation in life was the building of material stone structures.

The other school of thought opines that Freemasonry has descended, through almost uncounted centuries, from the ancient Mystery Schools. Occultism was certainly a science in those far off days, as witness countless hieroglyphics and stone records dating from the days of Greece and Babylon and Rome, and the centuries of Egypt's prosperity. One writer states :-

"We do not derive Freemasonry in the first instance from the building crafts of the Middle Ages, but from the Ancient Mysteries once forming the heart of every great religion in which the secrets, which are the problems of life and death, were given to the initiated. In those mysteries the facts of the worlds invisible were revealed to the pure, and thus within each religion men were found who, knowing the secrets of those worlds, could explain and defend religion. Such men, initiates, were called Masons because by their knowledge they built the foundations, walls and buttresses of religion for the sheltering of men. The founders of religions were termed Master-Builders and the M.M. has remained the highest degree in Craft Masonry."

Be the foregoing as it may, our ritual book states that "the usages and customs among Freemasons have ever borne a near affinity to those of the Antient Egyptians," so it may well be that modern Masons, while endeavouring to - make a daily progress in Masonic knowledge," could arrive at the deeper meaning of the ceremonial words and gestures even as perhaps the ancient Egyptian seekers did so many centuries ago.

There are a number of Research Masons in various parts of the world today, whose delvings into the beginnings, the history and the meanings of Masonic ceremonies, have qualified them to attempt to teach seeking Masons. Most of these qualified men agree that, behind the veil of allegory, especially of the Third Degree, lies basic truth and basic instruction for the seeker.

The narrative of the death and burial of the Master-Builder and the narrative of the actual building of K.S.T., are traditional history. To the literal minded, the building of the Temple at Jerusalem appears to be the history of an actual stone and mortar structure which was erected by three Asiatic notables. The Great King who conceived the idea, purposed to erect a superb structure - another King supplied the building materials, whilst the third was the practical architect and Chief of Works, whose business was to put these materials together according to a preordained plan. There were also large companies of craftsmen and labourers.

Some scholars say that the "Three Grand Masters who bore sway" at the erection of this building are, in reality, three aspects of the Divinity (that is, of the Great Architect) by whom all things were made," and, as St Paul says, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord." (Eph, Ch. 2, V. 21.) These scholars say that Solomon represents WISDOM, Hiram, K. of T, represents STRENGTH, and, as the idea finally moulded into objective form, perfection and BEAUTY - Hiram Abiff.

Here again I make no comment, merely give you the idea which may be, to you, a new one, or may be a familiar explanation. Again, other scholars have striven to formulate an even deeper meaning of the Third Degree symbolism. They say that the Legend of the Third Degree is an adaptation of a very old one which had existed in various forms and places long before its association with modern Freemasonry. This cosmogonical doctrine (that is, a theory dealing with the origin and evolution of the universe), seems to be common to every human race, and it appears in amazingly similar form in every one of the old mystery religions. They say that this theory explains the genesis, fall and destiny of man, and attempts to account for the mystery of evil and disorder with which the world is now afflicted, by describing a primal cosmic catastrophe and world tragedy which occurred supposedly aeons of time ago. The scholars who support this theory say that, under the allegory of a temporal murder, and the loss of building plans, the craft legend perpetuates this primal doctrine of cosmic tragedy. Humanity is thus the real Temple whose building became obstructed, and Freemasonry thus, while enshrining this great cosmic truth, indicates also the method by which we may regain that which is lost to us. It holds out the promise that, with Divine assistance, and by our own industry, the "genuine secrets" shall be restored.

Viewed on these lines, therefore, the legend of H.A. exemplifies the ancient and very effective method of conveying spiritual principles and teaching to the public mind. There would seem to be considerable basis for these theories - compare the fabled murder of Osiris, by Typhon, in Egyptian traditional history. The God, Baldur the Beautiful, figures similarly in Norse legend and in many others we find the same root doctrine - a great blameless Being, a Divine or semi-Divine Master or worker for human good, opposed and done away with by rebellious ruffians. One finds in almost every such legend, mention of a cavern, a tomb or a sarcophagus, from which the murdered Master re- rises. In most legends, too, there is record of some particular plant placed at the gravel head - the Egyptians used a tamarisk to make the grave of Osiris, the acacia was used for H.A.

The learned scholars may be perfectly correct in their doctrine. This cosmic tragedy may have been so perpetuated since the dawn of time and since man himself become able to think and to reason about these great truths and theories. But again, others have taken the foregoing as mere legend and have adapted its teachings to the requirements of ordinary Masons of the present generation. They have taken the view that all this cosmic tragedy even if it were true, happened so long ago that man of today can scarcely understand its portent. Modern Masons are, for the most part, ordinary thinking men, living in the rush and bustle of modern cities surrounded by mechanical and electrical contrivances of every sort and size, with scant time to give to abstruse theories and mysterious allusions. The modern Mason is, for the most part, sincere and good living, and honestly means to live up to the solemn vows he made at his initiation. He means to seek, in Masonry, a way of living which will make him worthy of his craft and worthy of a place in G.L.A., when his time on earth is done.

For this man, who has no pretentions to being an archaeologist or a cosmogonist, yet is a sincere and educated individual, there must be an immense amount of instruction hidden in the Third Degree ceremony, which he can use and adapt to his everyday life. Many writers have endeavoured to present this latter viewpoint and we, in these few pages shall, while not disputing or belittling the more erudite and learned explanations, endeavour, as these others have done at greater length, to present the ceremony of the Third Degree from a modern angle.

To most of us the ceremony of the Third Degree stands out clearly in our memory, even though it may be years since we first wore the M.M. Apron.

Let me, for a few moments, take you back through that ceremony and, even if you have since seen it enacted countless times with others, try to remember how you felt on that evening - try to recapture the beauty and simplicity of the actual ceremony as you heard those words for the first time.

First, of course, there was the Tyler on guard at the door of the Lodge. When you were first initiated you were hoodwinked and so knew no more than that there was someone whose position seemed to be outside of a closed door. Now, with your deeper understanding you realise that the Tyler himself is a symbol, for even as his position is "outside the door of the Lodge to keep off all cowans and intruders" - so should you, when you enter that door, close tyle your mind, leaving outside all worldly cares and worries, all personal spites and jealousies.

While awaiting your call, undoubtedly your mind would think back over your two previous ceremonies. In the first, stress was laid upon the fact that the next few months would be a time of preparation, of consciously training one's mind, both in the little daily periods of contemplation and in the outside world. The second few months was pointed out to be a period of mental advancement. Sincere and honest application to Masonic development resulted in an enlargement of your capacity for thinking, and the "liberal arts and sciences," spoken of in the ritual book, unfolded a fascinating array of questions, questions to which, so far, you had received few answers. Perhaps, as you watched the Tyler and waited for the word of summons, you may have wondered whether, in this Degree, some of your questions would be answered.

As you were being prepared, you probably noticed the differences, compared to the various points in the First and Second Degrees of the preparation, which symbolism you had been, in due course, taught the meaning. You may then have pondered awhile on the possible significance of the Third Degree preparations.

As soon as you were formally admitted, the very first symbolism you met (the points of the C ... ) bade you realise that the most valuable tenets of Freemasonry, Virtue and Morality, are linked with Brotherly Love. In modern understanding, first learn to be master of your own mind; second, learn to control your actions and thoughts with regard to others; and then, the at-oneness with all men, Brothers of the Craft, and brothers of Humanity, will be the natural result.

So many of those who attend church services and Lodge ceremonies, become so used to hearing the same prayers and phrases time after time, that after a while the phrases become empty and meaningless. But re-capture, if you can, for these few moments, the solemnity and beauty of the prayer which is given as the Third Degree candidate kneels, "Architect and Ruler of the Universe," it begins. The aid of the Great Architect is asked and His blessing on the Craftsman and on the ceremony ahead (which deals with the Architect who once was foully slain).

The V.S.L. teaches, in no uncertain terms, that "God is a Spirit" ... hence His building is spiritual also. Realising this, the First and Second Degree preparations begin to make sense, as you recall that all the exhortations have tended to develop the mental and spiritual side of the candidate's personality. So then, as the beautiful words of the prayer are said, "The pattern unfolds and the presence of invisible, but powerful pressures, can be sensed if not fully seen in the sudden enrichment of the mystical and symbolical side of Freemasonry. (As Charles E. Green so ably says in his Keys to Freemasonry.")

In the old mystery religions, we are told that sometimes the next part of the ceremony was performed actually amongst the tombs where, undoubtedly, the atmosphere would be sufficiently eerie to strike terror into the hearts of would-be Brothers - but with us, the unique method of advancing from W. to E., in this Degree, is purely symbolical and merely leads to the solemn taking of the O.

Now cast your minds back to the actual ceremonial enaction of the death and burial of H.A. I need not remind you of every detail for you have doubtless seen and shared in its pageantry many times. While the ceremony, as a whole, probably does teach deep and profound truths about the universe, may I point out to modern Masons, a few thoughts which will help them to live their lives to the fullest - lessons which, beyond all question, are enshrined for our use in the familiar ritual.

Forget, for a while, the symbolism by which Solomon represents Wisdom; Strength and Beauty are personified by the other two notables, and concentrate rather on the actual story of H.A. whose experiences you were made to enact.

Our ritual says that he "lost his life in consequence of his unshaken fidelity to the sacred trust reposed in him" - and you were adjured to remember this, if you should ever be placed in a similar state of trial. Perhaps, spoken this way, these words may sound a little fantastic, but modern Masons all . . . there are countless unsung heroes of comparatively recent times who have died for their beliefs and their ideals, quite apart from war and religion.

Those who experimented with X-rays in the early days of Science, assuredly died for their beliefs, their ideals, in the Service of Humanity. Masons or no, we honour them as Brothers of Humanity ... men and women who kept faith with what they considered a sacred trust. If you could read the minds of men you would find, in unexpected places, this steadfast faithfulness, even unto death. How much more then should we who have had this lesson portrayed for us in our beloved ritual hold ourselves ready to suffer mentally or physically, even to die, as men understand death, for Truth and Virtue and Integrity?

Forget now, for a moment, the controversy as to whether the death of H.A. was either an actual happening which was adapted to teach succeeding generations deep truths, or was entirely allegorical ... concentrate instead on the use the ceremonial death and raising could be to you! You, in the character of H.A., lay alone in death (as must every man when his time comes). None can share that experience with you for each man has in life built his own Temple, has made and manufactured and hewn his thought-bricks, and woven them into the structure of his memory. Solid and permanent are those stones.

If you have neglected your mind and have lived a life of slothfulness and wilful wrongdoing, still are those living stones solid and permanent, for day by day you have made thought records and added them to your memory structure. If you have, as fellowcrafts are taught to do, used your time to improve your mind, dealt justly and charitably and honestly in your earthly business, then you have moulded and polished those living stones and your mental Temple is an edifice fair to see.

However you have lived your life; when the time comes that you must face death, you do it alone. None can travel with you down the Valley of the Shadow. Think again of that prayer to the Great Architect - "endue him with such fortitude that in the hour of trial he fails not, but passing safely under Thy protection, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he may finally rise from the Tomb of Transgression."

A word of explanation in modern terms - the record of the structure you build on earth is vibrationally recorded (for everything concerned with the making thereof, eyes, ears, etc., records invisibly). Each thought, each act, is a "recording" on the "soundtrack" of your life, and only as you shape and regulate your thoughts and actions, will your mental structure be a credit to the Great Architect.

Forgetting, for the moment, the deeper meaning of cosmic tragedy, supposedly attached to the ceremonial raising from the dead, and forgetting also the occult teaching that "Every seed of true being must first fall to the ground and die, if it die not, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" ... concentrate on the restoration of life of H.A., in the person of craftsman. Many modern Masons have electrical and radio knowledge, they know that one must "tune in" to the exact wavelength on which a broadcast is sent out on to the ether, to be able to receive it. This is fact, simple modern fact. And radio waves are vibrationary in character, that also is fact! These thoughts (with which you have built your structure) are all made on your own carrier-wave. The carrier-wave (which is your own individual personality, built upon the invisible "soul" with which you were born), is as permanent and solid as is each individual stone of the finished structure, and so, being spirit and not matter, it is indestructible.

Man, says the V.S.L., is made in the image of God, that same God who is a Spirit. So, "when this mortal shall have put on immortality," the spirit portion of each man responds to the call of the Great Spirit and the thoughts made during an earth lifetime are once more available when memory returns. The "companions of their former toil," because their thoughts and memories are also available to them, can "tune in" (as radio men will agree is a necessity) and thus the promised "reunion" with those companions can become simple, understandable, modern fact.

The W.M. bade you observe that the light of a M.M. "is but darkness visible," etc. Doubtless this sentence has many profound meanings, but to the Mason who thinks in a modern way, I would suggest that every man has within himself that light, that inner link with the Creator. Undiscovered, that light may be spiritual (and psychic powers may be dormant), but as the gates of spiritual perception are opened, as awareness wells up from within the aspirant himself, so does that light become more visible. If you let your mind dwell for a moment on the literal building of K.S.T., you will recall that it was a work of years. Not until it was completed, dedicated and consecrated as a Tabernacle worthy of the Shekinah, did that PRESENCE descend upon it, illuminating and flooding the whole House, and enabling the earthly vehicle to fulfil a spiritual purpose. So, with the Masonic Order ... and so, I believe, with every individual Mason. As a physical vehicle, a material organisation, Masonry is as complete, as elaborate, and as efficiently controlled as it can probably ever be. It now stands awaiting illumination, and that illumination must come from within itself, even as the Divine Presence manifested within the symbolic Temple.

So, likewise, with every individual Mason.

So was it with you, when you first heard the Master's words - "The light of a M.M. is but darkness visible, serving fitly to represent that mysterious veil of darkness which rests upon the prospects of futurity, and which the eye of human reason cannot penetrate unless assisted by that light which cometh from above."

Soul-development (which is what you seek in your daily meditation) tends to turn inwards your previously exteriorised faculties of sense and thought ... and, as you approach closer to your Centre of Being, you are assisted more and more by that light which cometh from above, for your spirit is akin to that Spirit, your tiny light is akin to His Great Light.

As in your Third Degree ceremony, darkness suddenly gave way to full light, and you were bidden to look upon the emblems of your own mortality, so one day, when your "vital and immortal principle" will entitle you to become a member of G.L.A., you will look back upon your mortal life and your mortal achievements, be they rough ashlars or trimmed stones ... and in the light of that Land of Spirit you will observe the structure your living stones have built.

The temporal organism, the body, will be realised to have been a "tomb of transgression," in which a great change has been wrought. You will have risen from that tomb. As in the Third Degree ceremony, you rise figuratively, and, in the secret places of your heart, assisted by the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, you will find Truth. There is no word or action which has not its echo in eternity. To the measure that you have faithfully built your living structure on earth, where the guiding light is faint and far-off, so will be that glory of light eternal towards which we all are journeying.

Freemasonry is a symphony on the theme of "Silence," so we must learn to listen to that "Voice of the Silence" in the depths of our being. It is always there, but is difficult to hear when the noise of the outside world is vibrating in our ears. As the craftsman, in the figurative story of the Third Degree, must pass through the Valley of the Shadow, and knows at the end the welcome of the Master, so should every Mason, when his time cometh, fear not to "put his hand into the hand of God" and venture forth into the unknown, trusting and believing that death will merely enable him to rejoin those companions of his former toil "when this transitory life shall have passed away."

In future years Brethren, each one of you can, if he choose, journey far along our mystic path and add to his knowledge of our ancient craft, but I think that nothing you will find along that journey will surpass the simplicity, the dignity and the beauty of the wonderful Third Degree, with its simple teaching, its simple straightforward promise of a future life and the radiance of understanding which it can bring to every seeking soul.

So, Brethren, I would like to end with that lovely prayer at Lodge Closing, by W. Bro. Walter L. Wilmshurst, in the "Meaning of Masonry":

"O Sovereign and Most Worshipful of all Masters, who, in Thy infinite love and wisdom, hast devised our Order as a means to draw Thy children nearer Thee, and hast so ordained its Officers that they are emblems of Thy sevenfold power;

Be Thou unto us an OUTER GUARD, and defend us from the perils that beset us when we turn from that which is without, to that which is within;

Be Thou as an INNER GUARD, and preserve in our souls that desire to pass within the portal of Thy holy mysteries;

Be unto us the YOUNGER DEACON, and teach our wayward feet the true and certain steps upon the path that leads to Thee;

Be Thou also the ELDER DEACON, and guide us up the steep and winding stairway to Thy throne;

Be unto us the LESSER WARDEN, and in the meridian sunlight of our understanding, speak to us in sacraments that shall declare the splendours of Thy unmanifested light;

Be Thou also unto us the GREATER WARDEN, and in the awful hour of disappearing light, when vision fails and thought has no more strength, be with us still, revealing to us, as we may bear them, the hidden mysteries of Thy shadow;

And so, through light and darkness, raise us, GREAT MASTER, till we are made one with Thee, in the unspeakable glory of Thy presence in the East."

It should be Truth to every Mason that when we shut the book and lay aside the jewels, in the end, there shall be only God.