THIS PECULIAR SYSTEM OF MORALITY
by W.Bro. B. C. Pottinger, LGR
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God - and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and then shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
(Romans ch.13 vs. 1 5)
During the ceremony of our Initiation we were informed that it was customary at the erection of all stately and superb edifices, to lay the first, or foundation, stone at the north-east corner of the intended building, and that, being newly admitted into Freemasonry, we were placed in the north-east part of the Lodge, figuratively to represent that stone, and on the foundation laid "may you raise a superstructure, perfect in its parts, and honourable to the builder." The Charge, which is given by the Initiating Master, then proceeded to conduct us through a very dramatic episode concerned with Charity in the form of a trial to educe, in the Socratic method, the fact that at that point we had nothing to give. It was an embarrassing moment which almost certainly is indelibly impressed on every Candidate's heart, even though we were immediately told that it was not done with a view to sport with our feelings but for three especial reasons; firstly, to put our principles to the test; secondly, to evince to the Brethren that we had neither money nor metallic substances about us — no money to buy our way in, nor weapon to fight our way out; thirdly, to ensure that we were oriented to cheerfully embrace the opportunity of practising Charity at any future period when called upon so to do by a distressed Brother.
Having successfully gone through the trial, the Working Tools of that degree were then presented to our notice, and it is obvious that there are several reasons why they should have been presented at that particular stage. Briefly we can say that as we had been obligated and entrusted in the approved manner, the working tools were then presented to our notice to enable us to upgrade ourselves in order to qualify for further advancement in due time.
In connection with these working tools we were informed that being free and accepted, or speculative, Masons we apply these tools to morals, and as the word speculum = mirror or reflection, by its meaning as intuition, spiritual or mental vision, the Hermetic Law of Correspondence "As Above, so Below, but in a different manner" is implied.
The fact that the Initiating Master handles the Working Tools, and presents them to us in the East, is an indication that our acceptance of them was by mental apprehension only. This appears to be borne out in the Lecture on the First Tracing Board in which it is said: "Those immovable Jewels are the Tracing Board, the Rough and Perfect Ashlars … they are called immovable Jewels because they lie open and immovable in the Lodge for the Brethren to moralise on."
This idea is further strengthened at the Long Closing of the Lodge, which commences with the words: "You are now about to quit this safe retreat of peace and friendship, and to mix again with the busy world; amidst all its cares and employments, forget not those sacred duties which have been so frequently inculcated, and so strongly recommended in this Lodge …", bearing in mind that the Lodge is Closed from the West, and it is through the Western Gate that we enter from, and emerge to, the mundane world against which the Lodge is Tyled, but yet it is this realm in which we should put our principles into practice.
The moral indications of the Working Tools were stated as relating the 24-inch gauge to the 24 hours of the day, which are divided into three sections: part to be spent in prayer to Almighty God, part in labour and refreshment, and part in serving a friend or brother in time of need. The common gavel was said to denote the force of conscience and there are three gavels in constant use in the Lodge. While the work of education, symbolised by the chisel which removes the darkness of ignorance to convert the rough ashlar into a perfect one for the Craftsman to try and adjust his Jewels on, of necessity must be spread over the three degrees to enable us to become members of well-organised society.
So far we have been considering particular aspects of the First Degree as they would have appeared to us at our Initiation. In order to set the scene for this current study it is apposite to quote a philosophical axiom: Simple means suffice for simple ends; integral means are required for integral ends. Let us therefore expand our understanding by taking a more penetrating look at the first set of Working Tools, and retrace our steps with deeper understanding, adding facts and inferences in order to arrive at possible conclusions, or open doors leading to new avenues of thought or study (the daily advancement in Masonic knowledge), from our vantage point of Fellowcrafts and Master Masons, ever bearing in mind another philosophical axiom that the end is always in the beginning, without which there would be no purpose or will to proceed.
According to the First Book of Moses, called Genesis, ch. 1 vs. 3 5 "and God said. Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
The Bible is, as are all sacred writings, an esoteric manual. To those who can interpret them, the correspondences, symbols and allegory are a mine of information from which can be garnered deeper understanding and an elevation to higher levels of consciousness. In common with Freemasonry the secrets are incommunicable save to those who are worthy as we say in our ritual: properly prepared. We would be exceedingly foolish to equate God's six days of creation with six of our Earth's days!
An Earth day is the period of a complete revolution on its axis ordinarily divided into 24 hours. The mean solar day, used in the ordinary reckoning of time, among most modern nations begins at mean midnight; its hours are usually numbered in two series, each from 1 to 12, but sometimes now more conveniently in a single series of 1 to 24, known as the civil day. The Babylonians and Hindus began their day at sunrise, the Athenians and Jews at sunset, the ancient Egyptians and Romans as midnight (Webster dictionary). Some Qabalistic astrologers start their day at midday.
It was the Egyptians who devised the calendar of 12 months with 30 days in each plus 5 additional days at the end of the year, and divided the day into 24 hours, 12 for daylight and 12 for night, though these hours were originally not of even length but were dependent on the seasons. These seasonal hours were replaced by theoretical hours of constant length by Hellenistic astronomers, and at this period all astronomical computations were carried out in the sexagesimal (pertaining to sixty) system. Our present division of the day into 24 hours of 60 minutes each is the result of the Hellenistic modification together with the use of Babylonian numerical procedures of an Egyptian practice.
As an aside it is interesting to note that Pythagoras, who received training from the Egyptians in astronomy, geometry and numerical symbolism, related odd numbers to spirit and even numbers to matter (however tenuous the matter), and was thoroughly acquainted with the Euclidian 47th theorem dealing with the 3-, 4-, 5-sided triangle, has been associated with the 12 hours each of daylight and night and 60 minutes each hour because 3 + 4 + 5 = 12 and 3 x 4 x 5 = 60.
As this two-fold division of the 24 hours was a common factor world-wide when our rituals were first recorded why do we use a three-fold division of the first working tool presented to our notice? Why is the second working tool the single common factor or symbol used by the three Rulers of the Lodge? Why does the third working tool appear to have fulfilled its function by the time we have completed the Second Degree, yet our education (to educate means to bring out or lead forth) obviously continues in the Third, and other Degrees?
To try and answer these provocative questions let us move to those questions we answered in the First Degree prior to being entrusted with the test of merit leading to the Second Degree but first some observations on them: The questions and answers are formal, or in other words "strictly ceremonious, having the form without the substance" (dictionary definition of formal); the answers cannot be educed from the Candidate for Passing (even supposing he had a photographic memory) because the necessary information to enable him to answer the questions is not contained in the Ritual he was taken through at his Initiation. Regarding the "tokens", those given in the degree are on "hills" whilst those given between degrees are in "valleys" this indicates a change in the faculty used, or a change in the level of consciousness, or both.
The questions we are going to consider at the present (others will be considered later) are: What is Freemasonry? and, Who are fit and proper persons to be made Freemasons?
The answer to the first question is: A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.
The answer to the second is: Just, upright, and free men, of mature age, sound judgment, and strict morals.
The breakdown of the answer to the first question was given in Transaction No. 148, but as each Paper stands on its own, even though they are part of an overall pattern, it is restated as follows:
- Peculiar: An exclusive privilege; exclusive quality.
- System: An aggregation or assemblage of objects united by some form of regular interaction or interdependence . . . arranged in regular subordination . . . a complete exhibition of essential principles of facts, arranged in a rational dependence or connection; a regular union of principles or parts forming one entire thing.
- Morality: That which instils moral lessons. An allegorical play, so termed because it consisted of discourses in praise of morality between actors representing such characters as Charity, Faith, Death, etc.
- Allegory: The representation, by means of a figurative story of narrative, of some thing metaphorically suggested, but not expressly stated.
- Symbol: A visible sign or representation of an idea or quality.
(These definitions were taken from the Webster dictionary.)
The breakdown of the answer to the second question under consideration is to be found as follows:
Firstly, being just and upright. In the Fifth Section of the First Lecture of the Craft Lectures on the Three Degrees, where, in moralising on the three Movable Jewels, it says: "The infallible Plumb Rule, which, like Jacob's Ladder, connects Heaven and Earth, is the criterion of rectitude and truth. It teaches us to walk justly and uprightly before God and man, neither turning to the right nor left from the paths of virtue. Not to be an enthusiast, persecutor, or slanderer of religion, neither bending towards avarice, injustice, malice, revenge, nor the envy and contempt of mankind, but giving up every selfish propensity which might injure others. To steer the bark of this life over the seas of passion, without quitting the helm of rectitude, is the highest perfection to which human nature can attain. And as the builder raises his column by the level and perpendicular, so ought every Mason to conduct himself towards this world; to observe a due medium between avarice and profusion; to hold the scales of justice with equal poise; to make his passions and prejudices coincide with the just line of his conduct; and in all his pursuits to have Eternity in view. Thus the … Plumb Rule teaches justness and uprightness of life and actions.
A point was made earlier in the use of a philosophical axiom which stated that the end was in the beginning. In the three-fold constitution of Man as being of Spirit. Soul and Body through which the consciousness descends from and ascends to God there is of necessity an hierarchical order of beginnings and endings related to levels of consciousness and the gnostic powers of man in which parts are related to each other, to the whole, and to the ends for which they exist. Each level of consciousness is a reflection of that which is above it to quote the Hermetic axiom; "As Above, so Below, but in a different manner" and a foreshadowing of that which is to follow.
You will have noticed that the three Movable Jewels explained in the First Degree Tracing Board are the Working Tools of the Second Degree.
Secondly, in response to the question why the privileges of Masonry were restricted to free men, the Second Section of the First Lecture gives the answer: "That the vicious habits of slavery might not contaminate the true principles of freedom on which the Order is founded."
An even fuller answer was given in the preceding Section of the Lectures where, after the answer that we had left the West to go to the East "To seek a Master, and from him to gain instruction" (we should be aware that this does not refer to the Master of the Lodge), the question is put: "Who are you that want instruction? A Free and Accepted Mason" "What manner of man ought a Free and Accepted Mason to be?" "A free man, born of a free woman …", and "Why free-born?"
The answer to the last part of this catechism has a distinct bearing on the theme, so after the exoteric explanation given in the Lecture which is quoted in full, we will consider a possible esoteric explanation or allegorical interpretation:
"In allusion to that grand festival which Abraham made at the weaning of his son Isaac, when Sarah, Abraham's wife, observing Ishmael, the son of Hagar the Egyptian bondwoman, teasing and perplexing her son, remonstrated with her husband, and said: Put away that bondwoman and her son for such as he shall not inherit with the freeborn, even with my son Isaac. She spake as being endued with aprophetic spirit, well knowing that from Isaac's loins would spring a great and mighty people, who would serve the Lord with freedom, fervency, and zeal; and fearing that if the two youths were brought up together, Isaac might imbibe some of Ishmael's slavish principles; it being a general remark in those days, as well as the present, that the minds of slaves are more vitiated and less enlightened than those of the free-born." This is the reason we, as Free Masons, give why every Mason ought to be freeborn but in the present day, slavery being generally abolished, it has therefore been considered under our Constitution, that if a man be free, although he may not have been freeborn, he is eligible to be made a Mason.
In sacred writings, myths, and parables there is constant reference to two mothers, to mother and daughter, or to two sisters. One such pair is that of the Great World Mother or Mother of Wisdom, and the Mother or Mistress of Nature. The World Mother is ever-virgin, pure, spotless, eternal and unchanging; while from the Mistress of Nature proceeds the ever-changing forms of Nature according to time, place and circumstance, which are manifested from the Sixth World or realm of Nature, likewise known as the Astral World.
Man cannot alter the prototypes of the World Mother, but can, and does, alter the manifested forms of the Mother of Nature by such processes as selective breeding.
There is also constant reference to two brothers. One stays at home or is bound by his natural duty; the other travels and is free. These are references to the secondary principles of the Soul, one in the Astral World, and the other in the physical world.
In the allusion to that grand festival which Abraham made, it is suggested that Sarah, the nobly born, was spiritually conscious, as her son Isaac was destined to be, and she did not wish him to be contaminated either by identification with the astral world through association with and assimilation of Ishmael's slavish principles or by identification with that realm inherited from his mother, Hager, whose consciousness was bound to Nature. If these names are translated into principles, which every man has and can identify within himself if he so wishes, then it can be readily appreciated why the passage we are refering to, ends "… it has therefore been considered under our Constitution, that if a man be free, although he may not have been free-born, he is eligible to be made a Mason."
To continue with our breakdown of the question of who are fit and proper persons to be made Freemasons, and having dealt with the formal answer as far as "Just, upright, and free men, …" we have the further questions put in the Lectures: "Why of mature age? The better to be able to judge for ourselves, as well as the Fraternity at large."
This warrants the passing comment that "mature age" is taken as the full age of 21 years, below which one cannot be intiated into the Craft, and 21 is the product of 7 x 3, indicating the sphere of Objectivity of Soul, Nature and Matter with which the Lodge deals.
And the final question: "Why of sound judgment and strict morals? That both by precept and example we may the better be enabled to enforce due obedience to those excellent laws and tenets laid down in Freemasonry."
This last answer is an integral part of our Circle's Closing Invocation which says "May the Light from the Inner Sanctuary shine forth through this our Dormer, that men without may see our goodly works of Heart and Mind."
It is also an echo of various parts of our Rituals which, in several ways and stages along the Path of Spiritual Regeneration, remind us that our inner condition is manifested outwardly.
This objective manifestation of our subjective condition may be consciously directed at any stage, but it requires a steady perseverance and vigilance until the "Dormer" window is permanently opened a stage of advancement associated with a real Initiate whose third eye, or ajna chakra, is fully operative (Transaction No. 27) or it may occur spontaneously according to mood or conditioned reflex, such as when we clothe ourselves previous to entering a Lodge. It is basically completely unconscious until the "will to be" is brought to conscious recognition.
The basic tone or condition emanating from each personality may be said to be occasioned by the moral quality of that personality. It is revealed for all to see by the way we walk, our general posture and bearing, the way we wear our clothes, our manner of speech and timbre of voice, the gestures we use, and so on.
Obviously, if we possess a moral quality which varies according to our spiritual growth and level of consciousness, it must be derived from a Moral Order to which it is related by a corresponding faculty. It would also follow that if our Masonic system is universal, it must of necessity use universal principles applicable to all mankind irrespective of his evolutionary status. If this reasoning is valid and correct there will be moral indications in all our degrees, which, of course, is apparently so with just a cursory appraisal. On a closer examination it is revealed that our moral character is considered from the time of our application to be admitted, and is the subject of one of the Working Tools in each degree.
Though each degree is separate and distinct, it is clearly stated that the First and Second are conjoined, which could be given as the inter-relationship between moral truth and intellectual truth. The Third Degree deals with a totally different form of mentation while still dealing with intellect but this form is above the level of discursive reasoning, although we are re-united with the companions of our former toil, for they are a necessary part of our mundane existence on Earth. Royal Arch Companions would know from the Opening Prayer of the Chapter that the three Craft Degrees are welded into an indissoluble whole or unity. This is so of any form of advancement. We focus our consciousness on a particular aspect of our being in order to actualise its potentiality, and then proceed to integrate it into the fabric of our existence, each level of consciousness being unitive to those below it.
It has been stated many times in our Transactions that the First Degree is equated with Truth, the Second Degree with Beauty, and the Third Degree with Goodness. Tthe ancient philosophers would, in my opinion, wholeheartedly concur in this. In the preceding paragraph it was said that the three Craft Degrees are a whole or unity. Truth, Beauty and Goodness are a triad or triangle enclosed in the Circle of unity. We can focus our attention on one aspect of this triad, but the other two aspects.are also present. One aspect may be dominant in our consciousness (and usually is) but cannot act in an executive capacity without the consent and co-operation of the other two: Three rule a Lodge, and although it is the function of the Master to rule and direct his Lodge, he cannot Open the Lodge in due form without the assistance of two regularly invested Wardens.
Truth, Goodness and Beauty are Eternal verities, beyond space and time; primary attributes of the three aspects of the Godhead in Whose Names we Open the three Degrees. In order to communicate truth, goodness or beauty we must possess an appropriate faculty, either in the regulative or assimilative mode, to allow us to distribute or receive. Each faculty, again separate and distinct, needs to be related to the other two, and yet again we find this to be so in the three degrees, with the emphasis changed accordingly, where we are lead by graduated stages to the final goal of using knowledge with wisdom and understanding.
We will look at the primary triad in the order they are presented to us in the three Degrees: Truth, Beauty and goodness.
- Truth is approached by the illative faculty, or reason.
- Beauty is approached by the aesthetic faculty, inner taste or heart.
- Goodness is approached by the moral faculty, conscience or will.
Once again we have a demonstration of the axiom quoted that the end is in the beginning, for our entrance into Freemasonry was governed firstly by a favourable opinion preconceived of the Institution, an apprehension of the goodness manifested by those we knew to be associated with the Institution and a due enquiry into our moral standing in the community of which we were a member; secondly, we were placed in a situation calculated to allow the heart to conceive through inner taste; thirdly, we were allowed to perceive intellectually that which the heart truly dictated. In another manner the Hermetic axiom As Above, so Below, is implied, for the Supreme Triad of the Lodge is reflected in the beginnings of the Craft Journey.
Obviously our peculiar system of morality covers a very wide spectrum (and the word spectrum is used advisedly), for humanity is composed of human beings with differing racial backgrounds with the attendant collective unconscious mind field, differing psychological types within each field, and differing levels of understanding.
Our rituals use the word "moral" in different guises, which demonstrates an inherent knowledge of a moral order. The moral faculty, conscience or will, is concerned with goodness, and goodness is the very ground of our being. From being, life proceeds through our various vehicles or bodies of manifestation, is guided by the aesthetic faculty of inner taste or heart, the traditional seat of life, and seeks the beautiful or perfection of form with which to identify and express itself. The illative faculty, or reason, with which we make inferences or deductions, perceives the connection between two ideas and forms conclusions, and directs the manifesting life towards the end for which it exists in conformity with the purpose of the Soul as it is revealed in our progression through the degrees, and walk steadily along the mystic path.
Each of these faculties has a two-fold application — the twin pillars of manifestation which, when conjoined in stability, frees the consciousness to ascend to higher levels and, at the same time, to radiate that joy in creation which is the ultimate birthright of all human Souls, as is so amply illustrated in the Installation Address to the Brethren: "I therefore trust that we shall have but one aim in view, to unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness. May you enjoy every satisfaction and delight which disinterested friendship (impartial brotherly love or non-attachment) can afford."
The two-fold, or positive and negative (force and form) aspects, when held in balance, allow our aspirational nature to develop towards our ideal perfection and expand our communicative energy in goodwill towards all men; this two-fold expression again being held in synthesis and characterised by devotion. The positive and negative aspects may be briefly stated as attraction and repulsion, desire and antipathy, expression and repression.
The word "moral" has several interpretations in addition to conscience or will. Webster's dictionary defines it as "Characterised by practical excellence, or springing from, or pertaining to, man's natural sense of what is right and proper, chiefly in the phrase 'moral Virtue', which, in the medieval doctrine, derived from Aristotle's, is distinguished from intellectual virtue." It means quality or character; a tale or writing; inference, meaning or lesson; a kind of allegorical play; rectitude of life; conformity to the standard of right. While Bacon says "the end of morality is to procure the affections to obey reason, and not invade it": an admixture of will, heart and mind.
When the subject of morals is introduced in general conversation, the consensus of discussion usually revolves around sexuality in its various ramifications outside the marital status. This points to an overall use of the opinionative mode of mentation by the majority of people, who have not had either the opportunity to learn to use the process of reasoning from principles for themselves (the daily advancement in Masonic knowledge), or prefer to be carried along in the stream of mass opinion under the pressure of Nature and the collective unconscious mind.
Half a century ago sexual instruction and the discussion of sexual relationships were strictly taboo. In these days we are bombarded with sensuality by all the media. It is a curious situation that shows clearly how the pendulum swings backwards and forwards between the two pillars of manifestation, likewise symbolised by the black and white flooring of the Lodge.
Whatever our personal views are on the subject, it has to be acknowledge that we are at present dealing with one of the three most powerful forces in Nature. In the Platonic disciplines the main channels of the personality were known as self-preservation, self-assertion, and self-expression. In present-day terminology they would be acknowledged as survival techniques the acquisitive function, and the sexual tendencies.
But it is all too easy to fall into the opinionative trap by the assumption that the moral code in relation to the sexes in vogue in that land from whence we derived our birth and infant nurture is acceptable world-wide. An examination of racial customs extant since the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England shows that a great variation continues. Monogamous marriages then and now are in the minority. In the frozen northlands where population was sparse and isolated it was a custom for some tribes to offer a traveller the services of a daughter. In some parts of Tibet a woman married into a family. In some desert lands a friend visiting was offered the services of one of the wives. In some countries a man's mistress was accepted socially, whilst in others she would be ostracised.
There is a perfectly natural reason for these variations in social codes; such as the introduction of new stock to off-set in-breeding, a low fertility rate, high death rates in childbirth, and a high child morality rate, and so on.
Other factors emerge, such as the increase in the percentage of male children born during a war, and the acceptance by many women of male partners from the armed forces of other countries.
Nature is truly wonderful in the way she manipulates us with a prescience not generally recognised and even less understood.
Dion Fortune in her book The Mystical Qabalah makes the point that if the word polarity was used instead of sex we would have a much better understanding of the subject, for sex is particular to this world, but polarity extends throughout all realms. The joys and sorrows of this, our mortal existence in the mundane world of Earth, is symbolised, as already stated, by the black and white squared flooring of the Lodge, as are all the positive and negative effects derived from the causes stemming from other realms, for manifestation, or the objective world, is the threefold sphere of Soul, Nature and Matter as symbolised by our pillars which are themselves three-fold, consisting of a base or pedestal, a column, and a chapiter.
These three-fold pillars have several symbolic correlations. One that is of use to us now is the three-fold constitution of Man of Spirit, Soul and Bodies (mental, emotional, vital and physical), for in the Ancient Mysteries Spirit was regarded as being androgyne in nature, Soul as hermaphrodite, and the physical body as particularised male or female with the secondary sexual characteristics of the opposite sex. This equates with the anima/animus principle of the psychologist Prof. Carl Jung.
The vital and physical bodies were (and still are) regarded as one unit, for the vital or etheric body is considered to be the mesh, pattern or template on which the aggregate of physical molecules is held to form the physical bodyhence the dissolution of its natural constituents when the etheric vehicle withdraws at death. This is why the Tyler, who symbolises the physical body, is stationed outside the door of the Lodge, for although there is a principle of body, the physical body is not a principle. In this sense it can be said that the vital or etheric body is the principle and the physical body merely a collection of substance or matter of the physical world through which the principle works.
The various bodies or vehicles in the constitution of Man are predominantly masculine or feminine, or positive or negative, or to put it another way, force initiating or form limiting the locking of force into form to fulfil a function: otherwise the force or energy would merely be dissipated, of which the atom, in itself a miniature cosmos, is a prime example. These individual bodies of Man are said to be of alternating polarity in an ascending scale: hence a man is held to be positive in his physical nature, but negative in his emotional nature. A woman is of the opposite polarity.
In the myths about the human Soul — a myth being an allegorical story from which much can be learned or intuited concerning spiritual principles, for these principles never change, irrespective of mans knowledge or the changes in languages — it is recorded that the Soul, being hermaphrodite, needs to differentiate into male or female to consciously learn how to use these two aspects of her nature; and this is why man needs the companionship of a woman and vice versa, so that they may educate each other and harmonise their polarities in balanced stability to elevate their forces, powers and energies to higher levels of consciousness rather than frittering or dissipating them downwards at the behest of Nature.
Freemasonry is a balanced and ideal system, ever presenting by precept and example in its dramatic morality plays (more of this later) a portrayal of the ideals inherent as innate ideas within the deeps of every Soul. To rephrase this in modern parlance one could say that the Candidate in each degree, together with the primary and secondary officers, and the brethren within the columns, are portraying the emergence of the spiritual principles within themselves as they are presented to their consciousness in a sequential unfoldment.
With the conscious recognition of these principles they can be exercised, according to our understanding, outside the Lodge in the "popular world" where, removed from their ideal setting of the peace and harmony of the Lodge, they are far more difficult to manifest and maintain in an established stability.
We quite often use the expression "popular world" in a somewhat derogatory manner, as if we, being "peculiar" in the sense that we are of an "exclusive quality", are therefore superior to and apart from the popular world. In our outer nature we, too, are part of the popular world, and form part of the aggregate of human Souls in manifestation, among which are many of different persuasions who seek the Light with diligence and perseverance and follow a particular off-shoot of the Mysteries congenial to their understanding and purpose in life. They, too, are engaged in building a superstructure, perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder the perfect ashlar so that it may be utilised in the building of the New Jerusalem, the Eternal City in the heavens that will ultimately be built here on earth.
They are every bit as much our brethren in the Great Work, and equally entitled to our regard although specialising in a different department of the work.
All mankind is destined to assist in this Great Work sooner or later in accordance with the Divine Plan. Even when we are within the precincts of the Lodge we act as if we had already actualised the spiritual principles within ourselves of which we are becoming conscious, we find, if we are honest with ourselves, that when we leave the Lodge theory and practice do not always go hand in hand. Another aspect of the work is that as we assimilate, even in part, one aspect of our Ritual, others disclose themselves, so that in the progress through the degrees with an earnest intent to build our superstructure, we are not only elevated in rank, but also extended outward in service and responsibility to all who may solicit our assistance on all levels of being. If this were not the case, would we ever have had the chance to knock on the door of the Lodge to seek admission under the qualifications required of us?
Let us look at the situation in which, as a Candidate for Intiation, we were placed, and let us try to follow the ideal progress which we could have made over the years as we identified with successive candidates through the degrees in the light of increased awareness and understanding, against a background of morality.
The affirmation of a belief in a Supreme Being is the first end-in-the-beginning that is presented to us, and one which we unknowingly accepted, for our real aim is the actualisation of all our potentialities in order to attain Union with God while entombed in a body of flesh our earthly temple. This is a goal and purpose in life seemingly so unattainable, so remote, and so unexpected, that the cable tow would probably have put an end to our endeavors in this life but it is our goal and purpose in life, and we will accomplish this end eventually, if not in this lifetime, then in another. As Lao Tsze said: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step "!
The first prayer given on our behalf was to the Supreme Governor of the Universe. Supreme means highest in power or authority. The Supreme Governor is therefore the First Person or Most High of the Trinity, whom we can approach in the initial stages only through the Third Person. It is by a continuation of the aid of the Supreme Governor that we were introduced to the concept of the Second Person. Yet if we take a closer look at the initial prayer we see clear indications of the three Grand Principles on which our Order is founded: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and of the three Pillars supporting our Lodges: Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. We did not take exception to the prayer. Frankly, we did not even realise its purport or implications. But why did we so readily acquiesce?
In addition to the three Grand Principles on which our Order is founded, and the three Pillars which support our Lodges, we can perceive a third veiled triad in this brief prayer of heart, mind and will. Bearing in mind that we are dealing with an ideal level of consciousness in a Candidate for our mysteries, it behoves us to enquire why so much classified information though heavily veiled and not easily seen even in retrospect should be presented to our consciousness. But when we examine the ideal qualifications any Candidate is said to possess, the position becomes clearer.
Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, and every Candidate ideally should be just, upright, free, of stature age, and of strict morals. This raises the question that if this is so, what is implied by these qualifications, and why should it be necessary to give further instruction?
Our original belief in a Supreme Being is usually a very nebulous concept carried over from childhood as an act of faith, and of an opinionative mode without any real understanding of levels of consciousness or faculties which must of necessity be attained to or developed for a real appreciation of the Fount of All Being, Life and Intellect. This immature act of faith is not necessarily derived from childhood instruction, which is normally identified with the religion extant in that country in which we derived our birth and infant nurture, for the idea of God is indigenous to every human Soul.
We may be just and upright men of strict morals by a passive conformity to the moral code of our country of origin, ever remembering that it is held by many systems of philosophical and mystical training that a soul is born into the physical conditions it has earned by past endeavours and which will be best conducive to her progress in this life. The moral faculty, conscience or will, addresses itself to goodness, and good people are just and upright quite naturally.
The will may be divided into many aspects for the purpose of delineating its action and field of use, each aspect being related to a faculty and/or a level of consciousness. But the main divisions derived from the ancient teachings is a triad of the nature — will, the personal will, and the spiritual will. Will is the power of self-determination and self-conduct the ability to say yes or no in the choice between two or more alternative choices of action or inaction. Life would be extremely difficult if, on each occassion, we had to go into the pros and cons before making a decision to do or not to do anything, either for our own good or for the good of the community. We therefore have an inherited will-memory, and acquire a personality will-memory during our life; and this will-memory is our conscience, which can be modified and trained as our understanding of goodness is expanded.
The innate Idea of God and conformity to the moral code of the country of our origin has a three-fold derivation. From the unity of Spirit which is, was, and forever will be perfect and indivisible and at one with the Triple Logos or Trinity, we have a perfect, though veiled, knowledge of our relationship with the One and only Good and with all spiritual beings throughout the universe. From this unity of Spirit we are differentiated into individual Souls who are capable of turning their attention upwards to Spirit, capable of living a life within themselves in an intellectual manner, and capable of turning their attention downwards through secondary principles to the realms of Nature and Matter or Body. All individual Souls are parts of the Great World Soul to which they are conjoined in one indissoluble wholeness; but their field of awareness is narrowed down to race or country when a Soul is identified with the realm of Nature; and still further isolated to town, family and self in the realm of personality.
We are all aware that in the process of growing up children develop self-assertion and establish themselves within a pattern of leaders and followers; they next develop self-expression in line with their particular personality traits according to the vogue currently in use at that time. But as they appear to possess an inherent sense of immortality, self-preservation is developed last. One has only to view nature to see how self-assertion can lead the immature young to stray too far from the protection of the mother or herd to court disaster from which, if they survive, they can become leaders within the social code, or deliquents and social outcasts. With an established sense of self-preservation coupled with self-expression, the leaders can eventually become pillars of the society of which they are an integral part.
The condition of being free men of mature age is one of the questions answered with an affirmation and the utmost sincerity of conscience, but freedom and maturity are in actual fact the hallmarks of relative perfection. From the most exoteric point of view we are indeed free inasmuch as we were not born slaves in the generally accepted sense of the term; and we were considered, historically, to be or mature age in our society when we reached the age of 21 years. But as was shown earlier in relation to the grand festival given by Abraham at the weaning of his son Isaac extracted from the book of Craft Lectures, from the esoteric point of view far more is involved.
We are only free in conformity to the law. To quote an aphorism in full: "Freedom under the law is in proportion to conformity to the law." The moment we step outside a law or misapply it, whether by ignorance or desire, trouble ensues through excess, deficiency or confusion.
Misuse comes about by wrong identification, taking the word identification to mean "to become the same; to coalesce in purpose" which can apply equally well to the will, the heart, or the mind.
The Soul, like all principles, is triple-aspected. It can abide, proceed, and return, and these aspects can be variously indicated in the sacred mythoi handed down from epoch to epoch. In this case it is suggested that Abraham represents the abiding principle in the allusion quoted, Sarah the proceeding principle, and Isaac the returning principle. But as we need a vehicle or body consonant with a particular realm of manifestation, Abraham would still remain the abiding principle, but Hagar would represent the secondary principle of Sarah in the Astral World or World of Nature, and her son Ishmael the returning principle in that realm.
The Astral World is the world of desire and appetency, the fount of our animal nature, being symbolically covered by our pure white lambskin apron which denotes innocency. Innocency is defined (Webster) as "Freedom from guilt or sin, especially through lack of knowledge; purity of heart; blamelessness. You win it, not through innocence, but through the consciousness of virtue." Identification with that realm therefore implies that Ishmael, the elder half brother who "knew" his father was still a slave or bondsman to that realm, it could not be otherwise and he could, by association, ensnare Isaac.
And the Lecture goes on to make the point that "in those days, as well as the present, the minds of slaves are more vitiated and less enlightened than those of the free-born," for the level of mentation is that of pictorial images related to the senses. Hence Isaac when he reached maturity, the 3 times 7 (the 7 being the number of divisions or planes in each world), would be able to extend his consciousness over three worlds, while Ishmael would remain bound to two worlds.
Earlier in this discourse it was said that the moral faculty, conscience or will, is concerned with goodness, and that goodness was the subject of the Third Degree, yet it was the tongue of good report in relation to our moral standing in the community that allowed us to be recommended for entrance into the Lodge. We will now look at the first question asked before we were entrusted in preparation to being admitted into the Second Degree: "Where were you first prepared to be made a Freemason?" and the answer was given: "In my heart." It was also earlier said that the heart, or inner taste, was the aesthetic faculty by which we approached beauty, and beauty is the subject of the Second Degree.
This enigma is a little puzzling at first sight, but if our good moral standing was a natural one, would we not also have a natural inner taste for what is beautiful? Beauty is the revelation of perfection, and perfection is the complete manifestation of an idea. But this question "Where were you first prepared to be made a Freemason?" is asked at the commencement of the Second Section of the First Lecture, and the catechism goes on: 'Who brought you to be made a Freemason? A friend, whom I afterwards found to be a Brother."
It is not fitting to go through all the questions and answers, but in relation to the Tyler it is said: "Being armed with a drawn sword to keep off all intruders and cowans to Masonry …" and "Having sought in my minded I asked of my friend … and the door of Freemasonry became open unto me." ".… who came to your assistance? One whom I afterwards found to be the Inner Guard."
The sword symbolically teaches us to set a watch at the entrance of our thoughts, place a guard at the door of our lips, and post a sentinel at the avenue of our actions, thereby excluding every unworthy thought, word, or deed, thus preserving a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. This is the discriminative power of the mind with which we control our outward actions in life in accordance with our inner taste and conscience as governed by our mundane appreciation of truth. Our mundane appreciation of truth is the subject of the First Degree, through which we perceive unqualified imitations and intrusions which if taken symbolically could be interpreted as the phantasy working of the lower mind in relation to our sensual nature and appetencies which have to be kept at bay if we are to pass through the "door" and move our consciousness inwards to our vital principle or etheric body, symbolised by the Inner Guard, who admits us in due form and hands us over to the Junior Deacon, the returning intellectual principle of the etheric soul.
What we have been considering is a demonstration of the Hermetic axiom As Above, so Below, but in a different manner.
In the descent of Spirit through Soul to Matter through the six worlds or conditions of existence which are encompassed by the Circle of God, the subjective triad of Being, Life and Intellect are the fount of Goodness, Beauty and Truth which manifest as will, heart, and mind. Will is reflected into Matter or Body as the moral faculty of conscience, heart is reflected through Nature as the aesthetic faculty of inner taste, and mind is reflected through the dianoetic mind of Soul as the illative faculty.
This is the condition of natural innocency of an ideal Candidate who comes of good report and with a favourable opinion preconceived of the Institution through the agency of a friend, and knelt to receive the benefit of a blessing invoked, not only on his behalf, but on behalf of all present as a unity.
From this stage we had a conscious recognition of our situation presented to us in such a way as to create an interior illumination of the subconscious guidance previously received from a higher aspect of ourselves, which permitted us to freely undertake the necessary obligation in full knowledge of our condition before the next level of consciousness was revealed to us the translation from the natural level to the personal level. We were then taken through a recollection to more firmly impress this knowledge on the consciousness, and then taken through another short morality play within the larger whole in which we were entrusted with the necessary knowledge to enable us to consciously traverse the same interior journey under our own volition up to the stage of being invested with the Badge of Apron.
This Apron is a symbol of the spiritual body we are in the process of furnishing and adorning. It has always been with us, but, it is assumed, we have been completely unconscious of it until we were formally invested with it. On no account should we enter the Lodge without being properly clothed, for in the process of preparing to enter the Lodge, we are deemed to be moving our consciousness from the mundane level of existence, which is left outside in the care and guardianship of the Tyler.
The next stage is that of being placed in the north-east part of the Lodge, and we were informed that it is customary at the erection of all stately and superb edifices, to lay the first, or foundation, stone at the north-east corner of the intended building. Why?
All our Lodges are, or ought to be, situated due East and West, for which are assigned three Masonic reasons The Sun, the Glory of the Lord, rises in the East and sets in the West; learning originated in the East and thence spread its benign influence to the West; the Tent or Tabernacle erected in the wilderness by Moses according to a pattern shown him by the Lord on Mount Sinai was by God's especial command situated due East and West (4th Section, First Lecture) and this pattern proved afterwards to be the ground-plan of that most magnificent Temple built at Jerusalem by King Solomon. It is suggested that, allegorically, the ground-plan is the principles contained in the Universe or macrocosm, of which man is the microcosm, and the superstructure to be raised therefrom is still evolving from potentiality to actuality, and this is the reason why the Temple or superstructure has to be periodically rebuilt in a manner far transcending our present ideas.
According to a Brother Mason, who is operative as well as speculative, Temples and Churches were carefully planned in advance, and the materials assembled to ensure a continuity of work according to the seasons. From simple research it is evident that sites were carefully selected relevant to ley lines (psychic lines of force) which criss-cross the land, the cross-over of major ley lines producing the psychic field necessary for a place of worship in the same way that the cross-over of major nerve ganglion in the physical body are associated with the etheric chakras (the "gateways" for various energies from the (to us) subjective worlds). This is why many churches were erected on the sites of pagan temples and apparently out-of-the-way places, and that throughout the world we find places designated as holy.
In the old days compasses were unknown, and the position of the rising sun is variable according to the time of the year except for the spring and autumn equinoxes when the sun does rise due east. The apprentice mason was placed at the north-east corner of the intended structure at day break, usually at the spring equinox, and his shadow carefully marked on the ground "from whence a line was drawn." This gave the east-west line of the north wall of the temple or church. By the use of the principle of the 3-, 4-, 5-sided triangle the 90° right-angle to form the north-south wall in the east could be determined. The apprentice could then hold the line at the south-east corner, and by the same principle the east-west wall in the south could be determined.
The placing of the apprentice in the northeast corner of the Lodge is therefore of a tradition based on empirical knowledge, and the exhortation to raise a superstructure, perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder, wholly in accord with ancient custom based on spiritual knowledge.
But this spiritual knowledge cannot be imparted without due regard to the Ancient Landmarks of the Order, involving a sequential following of a regular gradation which has to be earned every step of the way by a daily advancement, without which the parable of the Sower (Mark ch.4, vs. 3 11) gives a graphic warning of the deleterious effects of the out-of-balance four Elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
The parable quoted of the Sower and the kingdom from Mark does not end at verse 11. In verse 10 reference is made to the disciples who were the 12 (Royal Arch Companions please note), and the whole of the chapter (41 verses) is replete with esoteric wisdom, revealing a vast knowledge of the constitution of the psyche, her gnostic powers and the faculties through which they work, together with indications of the negative qualities of the personality which bar our progress and have to be kept at bay by the sword of discrimination, the working tool of the Tyler.
Verse 35 is a particular interest, for it is an allusion to a part of the Egyptian Mysteries wherein the consciousness is elevated to a higher level en masse, as should happen in our Lodges in the Second Degree when we ascend to the Middle Chamber.
Verses 27 and 38 are of special interest, for they refer to two different states of "sleep". Verse 38 says: "And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow …". The condition of being "asleep" and the resting of the head on a "pillow" are frequently found in mystical writings, and the pillow is said to represent the level of intellect or consciousness in the setting depicted, the head resting upon it denoting that that level of consciousness has been transcended; while verses 26/27 says "…if a man should cast seed into the ground; (27) And should sleep…" which refers to the identification of consciousness with a particular realm so that one is ruled instead of ruling: the normal condition of mankind bound to the realm of Nature through the hypnotic thraldom of the senses to the sensible realm.
Let us rejoin our Candidate still waiting patiently at the north-east part of the Lodge and take a deeper look at the dramatic morality play concerning charity. Due to the mode of preparation and presentation, the solemnity and instruction, the questions and answers, the average candidate is slightly confused and disorientated — he is meant to be! — and in a heightened state of sensibility. It is in this condition that it is educed from him, as said at the beginning of the Paper, that he had nothing to give; no money to buy his way in, no weapon to fight his way out. It is an awful moment, in which we were all aware that every pair of eyes in the Lodge was foccused upon us. The Master informs the Candidate that the trial was not made with a view to sport with his feelings, and gives three excellent exoteric reasons for the procedure which, it could be said, conceal more than they reveal. Why? Because it is another end-in-the beginning presented to the consciousness as a goal to be striven for, but for which the Candidate is not yet equipped to attain. We are more fortunate, and hopefully apply our knowledge to the best of our skill and ability.
In the Fourth Section of the First Lecture we are informed that Jacob's Ladder is composed of many staves or rounds, the three principal ones being the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity (Love). By Faith we have a continual acknowledgment of a Supreme Being: Hope is an anchor of the Soul, both sure and steadfast, and enters into that within the veil; Charity (quoted in its entirety) "Lovely in itself, is the brightest ornament which can adorn our Masonic profession. It is the best test and surest proof of the sincerity of our religion. Benevolence, rendered by Heaven-born Charity, is an honour to the nation whence it springs, is nourished, and cherished. Happy is the man who has, sown in his breast, the seeds of benevolence; he envies not his neighbour, he believes not a tale reported to his prejudice, he forgives the injuries of men, and endeavours to blot them from his recollection. Then, Brethren, let us remember, that we are free and accepted Masons; ever ready to listen to him who craves our assistance; and from him who is in want, let us not withhold a liberal hand. So shall a heartfelt satisfaction reward our labours, and the produce of love and Charity will most assuredly follow." And further in the Fourth Section, it says "…But the third and last, being Charity, comprehends the whole; and the Mason, who is possessed of this virtue in its most ample sense, may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession; figuratively speaking, an ethereal mansion, veiled from mortal eyes by the starry firmament…" The superstructure, perfect in its parts, and honourable to the builder!
As we are looking through the discerning eyes of a higher stage, we can acknowledge that the answer made in the north-east that we had nothing to give was appropriate at that time, but we expressed a willingness to give when circumstances permitted it, and that was sufficient to allow us to be presented with the means to enable us to commence giving the one essential thing we, quite unknowingly, did have to give the one thing that all Aspirants on the Path of Light must of necessity give ourself in service: the charity of the heart, mind and will.
If this is so, then why wasn't a simple logical explanation, sufficient to convey the facts? And what is the real relevance of the quotations from the Bible and from the official Craft Lectures?
In mystical writings there is constant reference to two distinct levels of consciousness in man. There are, in fact, more than two, with a sliding scale between them, but the distinct levels require a change in consciousness, not an increase or diminution of a particular type. For instance, one can think in terms of pictures, words, geometrical symbols etc., all of which are included in our Masonic system. The Chinese have a saying that a picture in worth 10,000 words: a saying that can be misleading unless qualified by relating it to its proper principle. One such picture well known in the Western world has come to us from India, derived from the Hindu dispensation, of two birds in a tree, one high up watching the one lower down who is pecking away at the fruit.
These two levels are also referred to as opening the eyes of the Soul, of moving from darkness to light, of being asleep and awakening from sleep, and of being woken from sleep as in the case of the fairy story of the Sleeping Princess. It is difficult to grasp the fact that according to the seers, saints and sages of all ages and all climes, our usual state of consciousness is, to an advanced Soul of enlightened man, a dreamlike condition.
Gurdjieff, in his system of esoteric development known as the Fourth Way, draws the analogy that there is as much difference in consciousness between an enlightened man and an average man, as there is between an average man and a man laying asleep on a bed.
To quote in full verses 26 and 27 from Mark ch. 4 "And he said, so is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how," and verse 28: "For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; …". This is natural man, imprisoned within his personality as within a coffin, his only means of communication with the outside world being through the five physical senses which bind him with their reactional nature to the appetencies and instinctual desires of Nature to the sensible world as a shroud. He is not aware of his condition, accepting it as normal, guided and guarded by a glorious hierarchy of beings towards his inevitable destiny.
Some, however, are more fortunate, for they register in their sensorium a quality emanating from certain people to which they feel drawn — the attractive force that led to the Candidate standing in the north-east corner. But the problem of waking the Candidate up still remains, and having woken him, how to keep him awake. It involves a change in consciousness, so what would be more obvious than a conscious shock? That is precisely what Gurdjieff would have called the episode concerned with Charity: a conscious shock. Similar circumstances are quoted by Dr. Roberto Assagioli (The Act of Will): "At a given moment, perhaps during a crisis, one has a vivid and unmistakable inner experience of its reality and nature."
And what of the quotations from the official Craft Lectures? In the middle of the quotation from Charity, it said: "… Happy is the man who has, sown in his breast, the seeds of benevolence; he envies not his neighbour, he believes not a tale reported to his prejudice, he forgives the injuries of men, and endeavours to blot them from his recollection …" These, and similar admonitions, have been with us from childhood, and, like water off a duck's back, have ceased to have any meaning for the majoity of people, as, in the case of a portion of a prayer used so frequently without understanding: "… and forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. ", so glibly said, but so very seldom practised because it is at variance with the "one-up-manship" prevalent throughout the world, and is an un-understood as the parables in the Bible, having no apparent value other than the justification of a meek and mild temperament.
Those who have practised such disciplines will readily testify to their beneficial effects to an aspirant or initiate in the development of will or determination; the expansion of conscious awareness of the needs, desires and moods of others; and the cultivation of an increasing vigilance towards one's own thoughts, words and deeds the sword of discrimination coming into use again, and the level of consciousness already beginning to emulate that of the bird high in the tree watching the bird lower down partaking of the fruit in an endeavour to satiate its appetencies.
But even as the parables meant little or nothing to the multitude, although they conveyed a pleasing impression, unless they "had ears to hear" they would not pursue their enquiries further. In like manner, the aphorisms available from different systems need to be supplemented by private instruction according to one's ability to make them a conscious integer in life, even as the parables had to be explained to the disciples outside the inner circle of 12, and Masonically speaking, we "leave the West and go to the East to seek a Master, and from him to gain instruction."
As Freemasonry is a universal Order based on universal principles, we are justified in seeking explanation and amplifications to such principles enshrined in our particularised Rituals from wherever we can garner them, even as King Solomon gathered men and materials from all quarters to build the Temple at Jerusalem. In this vein we can again consider part of the Gurdjieff system with profit: Inner Talking. It is one of those things that is so habitual to us all that it is part and parcel of our lives and passes unnoticed until it is drawn to our attention. This interior monologue is happening all the time we are not engaged in active conversation, not employed in a task requiring our full attention, or when the mind is being specifically used for a particular purpose. In this inner talking we subject the various events of the day to a running commentary in which we see ourselves in the best possible light, make excuses when we think we did not distinguish ourselves, so that by a process of self-adoration and self-justification we keep ourselves in the highest degree of personal estimation.
This triggers off the process of "making accounts" of feeling slighted, overlooked, not given our due etc., complete with the appropriate associational memories and emotional reactions. It is a tremendous wastage of various energies and forces and binds us ever more closely to the reactional personality, which blots out the light from above and within as a mask instead of transmitting the light as a lens as a good and faithful servant illustrated in our Lodges by the Deacons' and Inner Guard's ready obedience to the authority of the Master through the Wardens.
At this juncture it would be as well to consider why it is necessary that each Candidate for our mysteries should come of his own free will and accord. For there are real dangers to be faced by those who are persuaded to enter against their own inclination, or enter for mercenary or other unworthy motives. If their will or conscience does not freely allow them to accept our dispensation without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind, a blockage could be caused against the protective blessing invoked on their behalf as well as an interior refusal to acknowledge the fact that their consciousness was in any way lacking or inferior to those they sought to join.
Usually all that would happen in such a case is that the standard and atmosphere of the Lodge would be lowered. But should any member, for some reason best known to himself, outwardly conform without any inner commitment, he could end up as the man quoted in Matt. c.12, vs. 43-45: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
Nature abhors a vacuum, and will immediately fill one with the first available material. That which is most readily at hand is the very material of the personality itself, our prison house if we are in its control, but our earthly Temple when we control it from a higher level of consciousness even as the Master controls his Lodge.
But even as the Master does not permit the entry of any unqualified person into his Lodge, so too, should we so compose ourselves to be receptive to the beneficent powers wherewith, with trowel in hand and sword by our side, we may ever be prepared to defend our holy sanctuary against the unprovoked attacks of our enemies — the inimical forces. The symbolism of the sword as the discriminative power of the mind we are aware of; the trowel is a composite symbol sometimes worn by the Tyler made up of the poniard, the square, and the compasses, all three of which are used by the Inner Guard.
Therefore, a state having been induced in the Candidate in which he consciously realises his impotence to do that which he professes to admire, his awakening to his condition must be maintained and reinforced until he is given the requisite information to enable him to sustain his change or elevation of consciousness. He is therefore praised by the Master and admonished to continually hold on to the memory so forcibly impressed on his mind. If brethren carefully ponder the Ritual, they will see that even at this stage the will, heart and mind are operating as a unity, and it is as this unity he is requested to advance to the pedestal to have the working tools presented to his notice, and it is only the third time during the ceremony that the Master has personally directed his movement without the use of an intermediary the first time was at the communication of the secrets of the degreeand it must be pointed out that in this instance it is a request, not an order, for freewill is involved.
As said at the beginning of the Paper, the 24 inch gauge is divided into three sections, and not into two as one might expect from its composition of two series of 1 to 12. Is this merely "poetical licence" so to speak, or is the allegory and symbolism capable of interpretation in such wise as to be acceptable to our reasori, palatable to our inner taste, and in accord with our conscience?
The flooring of the Lodge is composed of black and white squares. Black is placed first for two reasons: in the creation story of Genesis first there was darkness and then there was light (this sequence is a common one, such as the black egg of akasa); secondly, we first enter the Lodge from the West in a state of darkness, with light originating in the East; there is a third reason which will disclose itself as we proceed on our journey.
When we refer to the positive and negative qualities of the pairs of opposites which form the basis of manifestation the white or positive factor is given first.
This two-fold division also refers to the Transcendence and Immanence of God; the Macrocosm and Microcosm; Spirit and Matter. From the Transcendent aspect we get the Above and the Below; from the Immanent aspect we get the Inner and the Outer. It also represents the systolic and diastolic rhythm of the universe, the Yin and the Yang of the Taoists, the two Pillars of the Temple, live and its mirror reflection evil, creation and destruction, first and second force of Gurdjieff, force and form of Qabalists etc. These pairs, though partaking of the same principle of duality while apparently unrelated due to their emplacement in the sevenfold scheme of creation, are paradoxical in essence and nature, being conjoined in stability by a third factor: the apex of the equilateral triangle. Which again paradoxically has three apices depending upon from which side it is viewed!
Man himself is a paradox, being, in this context, a duality and a triplicity. He is a spiritual/ corporeal being composed of spirit, soul and matter. As a human Soul he stands between the twin pillars of manifestation equating with the pedestal, column and chapiter of each pillar. Through spirit he is at one with the transcendence and immanence of God; through soul he is the microcosm of the macrocosm; through matter he is related to all the kingdoms of nature. Man's superstructure is his Temple, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, through which he is at one with all realms — but a man of the popular world is deemed to be conscious only of his manifested being in the world of matter.
In order to expand the consciousness inward and upward, knowledge of the goal is required before any attempt to eradicate inordinate attachments is made, otherwise, like the man in the parable, we may end up in a worse condition of incarceration in our coffin of flesh, which could be said to be the pedestal of the pillar, or the lowest part of the threefold division of the Soul as described by Proclus.
The first part of the threefold division of the 24 inch gauge is related to God, to whom we turn in prayer. Prayer is the elevation of the whole force of the Soul to its Sovereign Source through its upper part, which is always at one with Spirit.
Why, it is sometimes asked, does an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent deity require our prayers and worship? The straight answer is that He doesn't need anything. But by His unbounded wisdom and goodness He has ordained that being made in his image we may be assimilated to Him so that the more like Him we become the more can we exercise our God-given talents as the Crown of Creation, and rulers over all manifested kingdoms. We have only to look around us to see that it is an inherent part of man's nature to imitate that which he admires, to adore, to love, and to worship, whether possessions, appearances, or abilities. In proportion as we are able to turn to God so do we consciously receive that which has been available to us all the timeas it says in Mark: "With what measure ye mete, so it shall be meted unto you."
The second part is to be spent in labour and refreshment. This is the middle part of the Soul which lives in itself according to its own nature, exercising its regulative and assimilative functions.
The third part is serving a friend or brother without neglecting the ordinary duties of our station in life. This, as an ideal situation, involves the realisation that although we manifest in diversity, in essence we are one or a unity. It requires the moving outwards from ourselves in creative works for the benefit of the whole, as against the acquisitiveness of selfish propensities for mundane considerations that have to be left behind when we depart from this mortal existence, for the lower part of the Soul is related to its secondary principles in manifestation.
It raises the question as to what period is allocated to sleep! There are various answers to that question, and we will dispose of some of them as they are not relevant to the subject in hand. It is held by some teachings that in one sense we are "asleep" all the time our consciousness is identified purely with the physical world, and are not awake unless or until our consciousness is elevated and identified with the Soul.
In Cruden's Concordance it says: "Sleep is used in the Bible for natural sleep; for the indolence and dullness of the. soul; or figuratively for death."
The common gavel, we are told, denotes through the moral faculty as an innate sense of what is right and proper in combination with an inner taste for beauty of the aesthetic faculty and the creative inferences of truth perceived by the reason of the illative faculty. These three faculties are, according to the Platonic disciplines, reflections of Being, Life and Intellect. Being expresses itself in the archetypal forms of Life, from which Intellect creates: They are an indissoluble whole, repeated on lower levels in terms of that level. This is clearly demonstrated in the Lodge, for when the Master sounds to order in the East, it is repeated in the West and South. In like manner, our conscience of being is related to the first part of the gauge and the upper region of the Soul, our conscience of life is related to the middle region of the gauge and the Soul, and our creative conscience of intellect is related to the third part of the gauge and the lower region of the Soul in the charity of mind, heart and will. As an observation, it is interesting to note the similarity of the shape of the gavel and that of the tau crosses on a Master's apron, and their combination in the Royal Arch Chapter.
The third of the triad of implements indicates the advantages of education, the true meaning of the word education being to bring forth. It has always been held that we already possess all knowledge in the depths of our being, but that it is not permitted to be revealed until circumstances freely warrant it. Those who have qualified themselves by their purity of intention and moral standing have always been able to progress through the paths of heavenly science, and the study of the liberal, or liberating, arts and sciences are a subject of their own. Of the empirical sciences we, as Freemasons, are not concerned. But the chisel is used on the rough ashlars to make them perfect, and perfection is the attribute of beauty, the work of the Second Degree, and the final accomplishment of the Craftsman. Why, then, does the chisel seem to be of no further use after the Second Degree when the ashlar is perfect?
Is not the pedestal of our pillars an ashlar? Is not a chisel used by operative masons to further beautify and adorn both the column and the chapiter? We know from the Third Degree that we moved from moral truth to the contemplation of the intellectual faculties, and from there to the principles of intellectual truth, virtue and science. It is enough in this Paper to point out that the intellectual virtues are above the processes of thought and thereby outside the range of the illative faculty. The liberal arts and sciences are the steps leading to the third Degree, the intellectual virtues are the means whereby we are Raised.
Rejoining the Candidate, having been regenerated to a new level of consciousness, and in that condition had the necessary instruction in the means to maintain this new awareness, he is allowed to retire and establish himself at that level. On his return this is demonstrated by the step and sign, indicating that he can move and energise himself correctly, and he is again placed in the north-east where he is given instructional direction in priorities of conduct and the expression of virtues which will eliminate negative qualities without overtly arousing their opposition.
We can readily appreciate the fact that the Entered Apprentice is still being guided by, and expected to continue to be guided by, his expanded morality in thought, word and deed. For it is in the next Degree that his awareness will be focussed on the twin pole of manifestation, when he will be expected to hold a balanced stability to make his passions and prejudices coincide with the strict line of his duty because his life drives are meant to be sublimated in service to himself as well as to all human creatures not crushed and annihilated so as to lead to the devitalisation of all his works.
It was said that the moral faculty was the channel of will or conscience, and conscience was an innate idea of what was right and proper. This raises the question as to why the quality or quantity of conscience varies from person to person. Why, in other words, do some men conform more to the moral code of their country than others and are therefore more fitted for advancement?
In the Third Degree we find that, from the working tools, there is a straight and undeviating line of conduct laid down for our pursuit in the Volume of the Sacred Law which, we are told elsewhere, is a record of His revealed will; that our words and actions are observed and recorded, and we have to give an account of our conduct through life; and that by His unerring and impartial justice, having defined for our instruction the limits of good and evil, we will be rewarded or punished as we have obeyed or disregarded His Divine commands.
In the Second Degree we have a somewhat similar admonition to regulate our lives and actions according to Masonic line and rule in order to render us acceptable to that Divine Being from whom all goodness springs, and to whom we must give an account on all our actions; that a time will come when all distinctions save those of goodness and virtue shall cease; and in all our pursuits to have eternity in view.
This points most clearly to the law of kharma, the law of cause and effect, by which the seeds sown in any life bear fruit sooner or later. The life we lead is of our own making, our just deserts, and the exact conditions requisite for our advancement if we continue to perform our allotted task. Our moral standing permitted us to knock on the door of the Lodge our inner being to enable us to make a further advancement in the art and science of the perfect life, and add to the superstructure we are in the process of building.
And may the Most High grant us strength, life, and health so to continue, to His Glory, and the welfare of our fellow beings.
Amen, so mote it be.