The True Freemasonry: Exoteric And Esoteric
"... the Grand Lodge above, where the world's Great Architect lives and reigns for ever."
The method of treating a subject of vast magnitude necessarily varies with the character, the knowledge and the mental attitude of those to whom the writer addresses himself. To treat fully from all points of view of the Esoteric Craft of Freemasonry would require many volumes, countless references to ancient and modern books, some well-nigh inaccessible to the ordinary student, and a profundity of scholarship far beyond anything that we possess, probably beyond that possessed by any human being now alive: yet the materials exist, their locality is known, and some day, perhaps, they may be compiled. Meantime, however, signs are not wanting that a higher Masonic consciousness is awakening in the Craft. Numbers of the Order are gradually, and here and there, becoming alive to the fact that much more than meets the eye and ear lies beneath the surface of Masonic doctrine and symbols. They reflect that the phenomenal growth of the Craft is scarcely a ccountable for upon the supposition that modern Speculative Freemasonry perpetuates nothing more than the private associations that once existed in connection with the operative builders' trade. Upon a little thought it becomes pretty obvious that our Third Degree and the central legend that forms the climax of the Craft system cannot have, and can never have had, any direct or practical bearing upon, or connection with, the trade of the operative mason. It may be urged that we have our great charity system and that the social side of our proceedings is a valuable and humanising asset. Granted, but other people and other societies are philanthropic and social as well as we; and a secret society is not necessary to promote such ends, which are merely supplemental to the original purpose of the Order. The discernment of such facts as these, then, suggests to us that the Craft has not yet entered into the full heritage of understanding its own system and that side-matters connected with Freemasonry which we have long emphasised so strongly, valuable in their own way as they are, are not after all the primary and proper work of the Order. The work of the Order, is to initiate into certain secrets and mysteries, and obviously if the Order fails to expound its own secrets and mysteries and thereby confer real initiations as distinguished from passing candidates through certain formal ceremonies, it is not fulfilling its original purpose whatever other incidental good it may be doing.
Now as these facts are the basis upon which this lecture proceeds, let us at the outset make our first point by stating that as the progress in the Craft of every Brother, admitted into its rinks is by gradual, successive stages, in like manner the understanding of the Masonic system is also a matter of gradual development. Thus, if the idea of the Craft, which we shall endeavour to set forth in this Paper, be, as we believe it to be, true and supported by the most abundant authority, then the perverse purposes to which its primary designs have been put, the debasing of the pure ideal left by the original founders, was not only inevitable but actually essential, a vital part of the scheme. These abuses are "in" Freemasonry, but not "of" Freemasonry, and if it were possible to conceive an Order into which no such imperfections could possibly enter, it might indeed be a glorified assemblage of Adepts, but it would most certainly not be the Masonic Order on earth. The elementary propositions of our subject are easy enough to state and will probably not be disputed by students: viz. that roughly three centuries ago a group of far seeing wise men, called (either contemporaneously or subsequently) members of "The Invisible Society", caused to be grafted on to the Guild and Fellowship of Operative Masonry, a certain system of ethics and some principles of cosmogony or theogony or whatever may be the proper word, such imported teaching being either original or tradition, or collated, but in any case forming a distinct system; that they founded a school or association for the purpose of promulgating these teachings, giving the broad lines of such association its rules, government, and ceremonies to their immediate and most advanced followers; that these Brethren subsequently elaborated the scheme, which as time went on consolidated and developed into a numerous and powerful organisation, which organisation is in fact represented by the whole body of Freemasonry as we know it today. So much is tolerably simple and gives us a purely human and historical association, not differing much perhaps from a big mutual-improvement society. But when we add to this conception that the Founders of Speculative Freemasonry were Initiates, that the society had an esoteric, as well as an exoteric aspect, are that in this esoteric aspect the Master acknowledged by the Founders has always occultly directed the Society in its progress and does so still, then a perfect whirl of questions assails us. How can it be proved? Did the first members of the Society think so? How comes it that the mythology, the symbolism, the very name, and legend of the Master Builder, are borrowed from every imaginable source, Kabbalistic, Gnostic, Neo-Platonic, Buddhist, and Egyptian? If an occult guidance be claimed for the Craft, whence all these corruptions and abuses? and so on; there is no end to such questionings. It is no part of out purpose to answer such questions categorically; it would be useless to attempt it, for a new flight would emerge at once; but rather to indicate what is the true conception of Freemasonry in such a manner as will demonstrate that all these and similar questions are irrelevant, and proceed from ignorance of the fundamental idea involved in the concept of the Masonic Order. The keynote of the lines we propose to take will be found in the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below". And by way of introduction to what follows in the main part of the Paper, we should add that whether the student takes the Gnostic view, or the pure Buddhistic, or any other great Cosmogony which is available, it is clear that an inner, force or spirits operating through or manifesting itself by means of the matter which is perceptible by the senses, is the true construction and meaning of the Universe. We may take the imper ceptible force or spirit to be anything we please for the time being, either the final supreme "causa causans"; operating directly or by means of intermediate Aeons, Dhyan Chohans, Elohim, Angels, Creative Spirits, or what you will. Let us but admit that in some way or other there is a substantial real which is the cause of the apparent. As in the Macrocosm so in the microcosm; the Divine spark, call it Spirit, call it if you like Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or by any name you please, is manifest in, imprisoned in, or dwells in, a material body, phenomenal and illusory if you will. The body, however, whether of the Cosmos or of the individual, is perceptible to the bodily senses of other individuals; it has its limitations, its hereditary qualities, its Karma, which do not affect the spirit or Higher Principles, or Higher Self, save in so far as the latter is bound to its prison house. And because the same law by the Hermetic axiom must pervade all things, every association must have its inner spirit and its outward material form. So the Masonic Order has its inner guiding spirit, and the outward form which, like the form of a man, was born at a definite time with the limitations of heredity, with Karma, all tending to obstruct and delay the union of the visible phenomenal body of Freemasonry with the Substantial Spirit thereof, or what we may perhaps term the finding of the Higher Self. The relation of this Spirit to the spirit of the Cosmos, by whatever name called, and also to the Spirit which animated the human bodies of the Founders of the Craft, we shall endeavour to show, with a view of indicating that the teachings of our Order are utterly consonant with those of the inspired seers of all ages. For the benefit of Brethren who are not specially familiar with Oriental philosophies and modes of thought, an appendix has been added to this Paper on the "Seven Principles of Man" as understood by the Eastern schools, a conception which has been largely used as an analogy.
1. THE MASONIC CRAFT: ASTRAL AND VISIBLE.
It will no doubt be of assistance to students, and also serve to bring out clearly the position which the Masonic Order claims to occupy, if fundamental theories are stated in the form of propositions; such propositions being followed by explanatory and illustrative notes. Of course these propositions must not on any account be taken as dogmatic statements, but merely as a convenient way of explaining a somewhat difficult subject. Obviously the first point is with regard to the nature of the Order, and our first proposition therefore is:
1..The Masonic Order is in itself a distinct living entity or unit, whose visible body is composed of multitudes of entities, each having an individuality of its own, the whole Order, like the living human being, having its seven Principles.
The first proof of this proposition is to be found in the existence of the Masonic Order as an Association at the present day, for it is fact that every association is to a greater or less extent an individual entity apart from the members comprising it. For instance, a regiment of soldiers has its ideal personality, its Linga Sharira (model-body, popularly called "astral body"), so to speak, which survives from generation to generation, and has definite character, memory, honour and disgrace. Further, the men composing the regiment may be regarded as the Sthula Sharira (physical body) of the regiment, while the "esprit de corps" which holds them together corresponds to the Prana (life) of the regiment. Thus in every association the seven principles may be traced, some being dormant or mere potentialities; and according to the varying development of them, so are the associations analogous to human, animal, vegetable, or mineral entities.
The fallacy opposed to this lies in confining the conception of a living entity or unit to such bodies as have form and limitations perceptible to human senses, as, for example, to men, animals, vegetables etc. It is, howevers obvious that every cell of the human body has in a certain sense an individuality of its own (using the term in the popular sense), it lives, it functions, and dies, according to its own laws of growth and development. There are also in the human body innumerable parasites and bacteria, having nothing in common with its life save as guests it a house, some of them being actively hostile to the common life. Moreover, multitudes of cells of foreign matter simply pass through, and are never incorporated in the body; hence, to the perception of a cell or a microscopic parasite the entire human being as an entity might well seem a myth. Either then we must make the limit of the perception of human senses our final limit, or conceive of an association as a living entity; the latter is obviously "a priori" the most philosophic.
Like the ordinarily understood living entity, the Masonic Order, and indeed every other association, has both its material and its astral body. The astral body is the ideal form, the internal and invisible Order, so to speak, and of course existing before the visible and material form. This astral Order must be as old as Humanity, and capable of existence apart from the visible Order, and the counter proposition is that such invisible or astral Order is the only true Order. Express reference is made in the Order rituals to the existence of a Grand Lodge Above, having its Grand Master and Officers. Such reference is meant to testify to the fact, which forms part of the long stream of esoteric tradition throughout the ages, that a supernal Masonic Assembly not only exists, but that it preceded, in point of time and constitution, the Masonic Order on earth. Had it not so existed and preceded the terrestrial Order, that Order itself would not have existed; for the hypothesis is, as we have already stated, that the latter is the shadow and projection upon the physical world of a corresponding hierarchical order in the superphysical.
There is, then, an astral Masonic Order or inner community which has been engaged from the earliest ages in building the grand Temple for the regeneration of Humanity, by which the kingdom of God will become manifest, as is proved by the testimony of occult science of all ages. There is also a visible material association, now existing, which we have suggested was considered by its original Founders to be the material and visible body corresponding to that astral Order. The Brethren of the 1717 Grand Lodge were the custodians of the Craft legend, now known as the Hiramic myths and it will be necessary to show or assume that this mystic Hiram ("our Master Hiram Abiff") was the same as the Prototype of the ancient mysteries. It will be necessary to return to this point, but for the present, accepting the various Hermetic and Kabbalistic schools as connecting links, we may assume it, although we add the qualification that the view of the 1717 Brethren was more limited, and that they knew less of the mystic side of these great teachings than the famous schools who preceded them.
The relations between the visible and the invisible Masonic Order are analogous to those between the material body and the astral double of a human being. This must needs follow as a corollary from the propositions for every material unit must have its astral form, and the relationship between the two is always the same.
The various human beings composing the Association called the Craft are analogous to the various cells composing the human body, these are heterogeneous and none of them exactly represent the whole. There is an individuality (again using the term in the popular sense) in every association which is more or less definite, but which is not the individuality of any of its members or of the sum of them, or the average of that sum; but a distinct entity. That this applies to the Craft is clear from the popular speech even of the critics of Freemasonry, who declare, "Freemasonry teaches, proclaims, instructs etc," and although usually there is no authority for making such statements about Freemasonry, the speakers instinctively recognise the Craft as a distinct entity.
Every philosophic truth is faced by an opposite error, which is mostly a misapprehension. It may therefore conduce to a better understanding of our first proposition if we place alongside of it its counter-proposition, viz, "Freemasonry, like every association, is nothing more than the aggregate of the individuals at any particular time composing it, and can, therefore, have no character or qualities of its own". This counter proposition represents one form of ordinary thinking, and as the philosophic "pros " and "cons" have been so thoroughly thrashed out in the arguments of the Nominalists and the Realists there is no need for their repetition here.
We may now predicate a few points which follow as natural corollaries from the analogy of the body of Freemasonry to the human body:-
1.. It ought to be sufficiently organic to express in material form and human language its constitution, rules and teaching.
2.. As the material human body is subject to sickness and imperfection of various parts, to old age, decay and death, and to Karmic results in general, which do not touch the higher principles, so it is in the Craft. Imperfection in the members is not only to be expected, but is an absolute necessity.
3.. As a man often knows inwardly in his higher knowledge truths which he is utterly unable to express in words or in any way to communicate to his fellows unless they are able by their own intuition to grasp his meaning, so the amount which any man or body of men are able to gather of the doctrine of Freemasonry must by no means be taken as the sum total of those doctrines, but some allowance must be made for the limitations both of expression and receptiveness incident to material bodies,
This brings us to the second and third of our propositions, viz:-
(2).. The visible body of the Craft, like the material human body, had a material origin at a definite epoch of time. Its organic constitution is hereditary and is for the purpose of acting as a vehicle, or means of communication between the invisible soul and other souls bound in material limitations.
(3).. This organism is the constitution designed by the first Founders of the Masonic Order acting on the express or implied directions of the inner community whose doctrines they desired to perpetuate.
The demonstration of this follows directly from the analogy of an association to the human body. The body of a child is derived from its parents, and from them it inherits the organs whereby in mortal life it communicates with its fellows, but the soul is not derived from the parents. In like manner, if any man or body of men, desire to perpetuate any idea, or to impress any idea on the world at large, the first and most obvious method is to form a society thoroughly impressed and impregnated with that idea. The second method is to write a book, adopt a written book, or make a compilation. The deficiency in the case of the first method is that the society may wander from their original purposes while in the second instance written words soon lose their meaning in the absence of a living teacher to expound them. Hence, it follows that the Society with written records presents an exact analogy to the child stamped with the hereditary image of its parents, and the living soul coming into that child, the body becomes its vehicle of communication.
Adopting the conception of the Masonic Craft as a unit consisting of an association of smaller units, held together by some common tie, and with some common object of central will, informing and controlling the association, it is evident that unless there is a clear and unquestionable means whereby that will can be expressed, the Order is a nonentity so far as the rest of the world is concerned. This brings us to the fourth proposition:-
(4)..The physical and visible Masonic Order, in common with every other Association, has, as the physical man has, organic means of communicating its will, thoughts, and teaching.
This proposition is almost self-evident from a consideration of any Association of which we know. For instance, the smallest club begins by appointing a secretary to answer questions and to speak in the name of the club, and then forms a more or less efficient organisation by which the wishes of the members as a whole can be ascertained. Similarly, a limited Company has its board of directors, its seal authenticating its utterances, and its official appointed to speak and act in the name of the Company. Even a Nation has its House of Representatives or its Autocrat. In every case until such an organisation is formed the Association has no cognisable existence. The common consent of both friends and critics assigns an organic voice to Freemasonry by speaking either in praise or condemnation of what the Craft does, says, or teaches.
(5).. The organic means of communicating the thought, teaching or decision of the whole Craft is by decree of a Grand Lodge, i.e., a General Assembly lawful, approved and received by all subordinate Lodges.
The Masonic movement began on St. John the Baptist's Day, 24th. June, 1717, in obscure circumstances, by four old London Lodges resolving to generate out of themselves an over-riding fifth entity designed to be the governing authority for themselves and a few other Lodges in and around London and which became the first Grand Lodge. From the very first it was considered that the whole Craft, either personally or by representation, should deliberate on what concerned the whole. When Freemasons grew too numerous for all to be present, they came by representation. In an association too large for a consensus of all its members to be possible, the result is attained by the principle of representation. As there may be imperfection in the representation, there may also be doubt about the expression of will when first promulgated, but it is to be presumed accurate, and its subsequent acceptance by the association makes it the organic voice of that association and binding thereon. These conditions are all fulfilled in the decrees of a Masonic Grand Lodge. The formation of the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 was the seed-germ of the world-wide Craft of today.
The doctrines authoritatively promulgated by the Craft may be reduced to a very small compass. Since the great union between the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813: which resulted in the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England, the organ (so to speak) of the living Craft whose function was to enunciate teachings in final, absolute and crystallised form, has become temporarily inoperative, its potentiality however retaining. The office of the teaching Craft was thenceforth limited to the authorizations, inculcation and application of truths already defined, or to the tentative and local promulgation of teaching hereafter perhaps to be generally received by the whole Craft. Occultists will, of courses be familiar with the idea of a certain amount of teaching being given out from an authoritative source, and then the supply ceasing for a time, to be again renewed at the proper season. Materialist enquirers must simply accept the fact that the Craft by its constitution provided itself with an organ of speech, and that having made sundry definite statements by means thereof, it became silent, although the organ of speech was not destroyed.
Surveying now the ground we have gone over, we see that the Craft may be conceived of as an entity, apart from the individuals at any particular time composing it, and bearing a strong analogy to the human body, the men at any given time making up the association called the Craft, corresponding to the molecules and cells composing the body; having also its ideal or astral counterpart, imperfectly expressed by the outward and visible Order; and having further its common mind or thought faculty, and an organ whereby the thoughts evolved by that faculty can be expressed and made known. It thus appears that we have the means of knowing the outward or exoteric Freemasonry, and that we can use such knowledge to gain acquaintance with the esoteric Order; see how far the outer is a true presentment of the inner, how far Karmic Law operates, and other problems of deep interest.
II. THE LIFE PRINCIPLE OF FREEMASONRY
It has been significantly stated that every man has three distinct personalities; the first the man as he is, the second the man he believes himself to be, and the third the man as others see him. Of these, the first can probably only be known to omniscience, but the synthesis of the second and third will come as near to it as it is possible for finite human intelligence to attain. Indeed, the man himself can no more know the outward presentment of his personality than others judging him can know (as he him self partially does know) the spirit and reason of that presentment, and its real meaning. So, by strict analogy; it is with the Masonic Order; outsiders who are not members of the Craft, may have a very full knowledge of its outward aspects, but of the inward realities they have no more knowledge than outsiders have of the true motives of a man's actions. Just as it is valuable to a man to be told by a friend how his conduct appears to others, but dangerous to judge a man by appearance only; so the candid criticism of honest outsiders is of the greatest value to the Craft, and to the seeker after truth the account of our Masonic teaching and system as presented by an outsider, when collated with the explanation thereof given from within by the authoritative voice of the Order itself, affords the best possible information of what Freemasonry really is. The writings of the modern Hermetic school are of great value in this respect; honest enough to see clearly faults as well as virtues, mystic enough to discern the spiritual side of Freemasonry, and able to look dispassionately on the outward presentment, they can know and describe the visible body of the Craft, into which the voice of the living Craft can infuse a living soul. We have used the expression "the living Craft," and the question naturally arises wherein does the life consist? Here again the analogy of the human body will assist us, for science informs us that the life principle of the body is resident in certain cells. In a cell-colony, the life and the power of continuance of the species resides in the germ-plastic cells, these are surrounded and overlaid by enormous numbers of somatic cells which are mortal, which come and go in the processes of metabolism, not the life of the colony, yet necessary to its life. And these germ-plastic cells are not homogeneous, but themselves undergo molecular changes whereby they become each, as it were, the microcosm of the whole colony, so that each germ-plastic cell has a potentiality of reproducing the entire colony. On this molecular differentiation seems to depend the law of heredity, and the most reasonable conclusion appears to be that the germ-plastic of reproductive cell is a vehicle subject to continuous chance and differentiation, but carrying the subtle order or life principle, and capable of imparting it. That life principle must have been originally infused into the cell from some universal life or over-soul, or whatever name it may be called by. The vehicle, however; of the germ cell being the microcosm of the cell colony, is itself imperfect and limited, and to this extent to be distinguished from the vital principle it carries, which, being drawn from universal life, is not subject to these imperfections. The Craft, as we have seen, growing together with a common life like a cell colony, arranged its own constitution and conditions, therefore, although outsiders may perceive that there is a life principle somewhere, it is only from within that the nature of that life can be stated, or the precise conditions of it. Taking the analogy of members of the Craft to molecules of the human body, we should expect to find that life dependent on certain members and passed from one to another of them, a life moreover originally infused from without. This accordingly brings us to the next proposition:-
(6).. The corporate life of the Masonic Order resides in the rank or degree of Master transmitted by appointed means from the Grand Officers of the premier Grand Lodge, into whom the essential spirit of the Order was originally infused.
At one time, before the first Grand Lodge of 1717, there existed among the Speculatives a special rank or degree of Master or Installed Master, one of great exclusiveness and reserved for Brethren who were experts in esoteric, philosophical, and occult matters. At the formation of our present system this Degree was not taken over; it probably was very little a degree in the sense of being a formulated ritual, but consisted rather of teaching transmitted orally. In any case, it seems to have been treated as displaced or superseded by the introduction of our present Third Degree, the Constitutions of 1723 enacting that our system should henceforth consist only of our present three Craft degrees plus the H.R. Arch; but, as to Installation, they provided that after a Master Elect of a Lodge has submitted to the ancient charges "as Masters have done in all ages". the Grand Master (or a deputy) shall "according to certain significant ceremonies and ancient usages" install him. This shows that "certain significant ceremonies", brought forward from antiquity, were meant to be perpetuated for the future. Thus the theory of our Order regarding its own life is, and always has been, that it is dependent on and resides in, and is transmitted by, its Installed Masters; in other words, the Masonic equivalent of "the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession". Be it carefully understood that up to now there is nothing as to supernatural grace or personal revelation, or moral goodness. We are dealing simply with the human side of a human organisation which has prescribed its objects and constitution, its mode of communication with human beings, and the ceremonial means whereby its common life is to be carried on. All these elements we may observe in more or less detail in every living association; in fact we are now looking at the four lower principles of the Association known as the Masonic Order.
To follow out the analogy, the general mass of members of the Craft are its Sthula Sharira (physical body), chaotic if regarded as an unorganised mass, but differentiated from the first into somatic and germ-plastic cells, the latter being represented by Installed Master; through these germ-cells the Prana, called Life in the case of a human beings, Divine Wisdom in the case of the Craft, is conveyed more or less vigorously and efficaciously to the whole organism.
The counter-proposition to Proposition 6 is that what is known as Apostolic succession conveys no spiritual vitality, that the inspiration or inward persuasion or intuitive sense which prompts a man to be teacher is the sole effectual warrant, and that any ceremony of ordination is merely the sign that a particular body of people for the time being accept one of their number as their leader, just as they might accept a member of Parliament. The answer to this counter-proposition is that it is true of the astral Craft alluded to in the Introduction to this Paper. The personal inspiration of, and revelation given to, prophets, seers and initiated, was, before the formation of the visible Craft, their warrant for teaching. That such personal inspiration, altogether unconnected with ordination and the rank of Installed Mastery, may still exist, is nowhere denied by the Craft—indeed, in our Instruction Lectures it is positively asserted to exist (see First Section, First Lecture, "To seek for a Master and from him to gain instruction"). The Masonic Order, however, as previously shown, was to be a "visible" Order, i.e., the already existing astral form was to assume a material and objective existence. In the process of this formation the material process of carrying on the life of that material body was formulated. Thus, to recur to the human analogy, the life (if we may call it so) of an astral form, may be independent of the mechanism of germ-plastic cells; but so soon as the subjective form becomes objective or material, such mechanism or vehicle for the life principle becomes necessary. The important point to note is that the orig inators of the Craft, intending a distinctly visible, tangible and material body, provided that its life principle should be clearly recognised, and the presence or absence thereof provable by ordinary historic methods and the rules of evidence.
The operation of the law of Karma on the lower principles of the Craft will be treated, in the next section of our Paper.
III. THE KARMA OF THE CRAFT.
To some minds it may seem as though the analogy of the Craft to the material body is somewhat strained and fantastic, and is, moreover, unscientific. The following references to modern scientific works where the analogy is insisted on from the opposite side, viz. of a material body to a commodity, may therefore be useful:-
...What is the organism? A community of living cells, a little state, well provided with all the appurtenances of upper and under officials, servants and masters, great and small."
(Maudsley, "Physiology of Mind").
"There is evidence that the semi-independent cells which go to make up a complex organism are not destitute of intelligence. A complex organism may be said to be a community of cells."
(Syme on "The Modification of Organisms").
It all be useful now to see what species of body it was that the early Freemasons took is the analogy to the visible Craft, and as to this they leave no doubt whatever. It was the body of Hiram, as described in the Order rituals. Here observe that no question of the historic truth of the Craft central legend is involved; that belongs to a totally different part of the argument. All we need now is
(1) The Craft, being an association which had provided itself with definite machinery for ascertaining and declaring its will and thought, deliberately designed and adapted certain myths as its canon of teaching.
(2) The principal myth of the Craft system is that of the death And burial of Hiram Abiff narrated in the traditional history.
(3) According to this narrative the visible body of the alleged Master Builder passed through certain adventures, and had certain characteristics.
(4) This body is taken as typical of, or analogous to, the body composed of individual members united in an association. Though it be said that the whole narrative is an allegory, this part of the argument is untouched. In that body so described lay what the association chose to adopt as the microcosmic type of its own life, and such, therefore, must be considered to be the Craft's thought of itself. Now, one great and prime characteristic of the body so described was suffering, and the suffering of a physical body means disunion and disharmony of its molecules, whether arising from some of them being only imperfectly governed by or in active opposition to the central will or from the presence of some foreign body either passively or actively hostile to the common life.
(7)..Pain and suffering in the human body correspond to disunion in the Craft, and are the result of Karmic laws.
This follows from the correspondence of individual human beings to the molecules of an organic body. In the healthy human being every molecule is permeated by the corporate life, and consequently perfectly fulfils its function. But directly any molecule is cut off wholly or partially from these life-currents and becomes separate, its semi-independent condition becomes a wholly independent condition, with the self strongly accentuated, and it is consequently a foreign body. Immediately, by the laws of its being, there is a great effort to cast out the foreign body and because more or less of the tissues become involved in the struggle, inflammation and suffering result. All the pathology of disease may practically be reduced to the presence in the organism of molecules which do not obey the central will, and this disease and suffering is in strict accordance with Karmic laws. If, then, nations and associations have their Karma as well as human individualities, the presence in an association of members whose conduct, ideas, etc., are out of accord with the spirit of the association and its purposes, whether these be actually foreign bodies (so to speak) or members from whom the spirit has departed, the result is the same, disease and suffering proceeding from Karmic laws, though we may be unable to see where the Karma was generated. So the spirit that has from the first animated the Craft, finds as St. Paul found "a law in its members warring against the law of the Spirit." The Spirit of the Craft has to be "made perfect by suffering", and that suffering is the presence of molecules (members) mechanically part of its organism but not polarised to the vital currents. The cure in the human body is the strengthening of the life principle, until it dominates and subjugates every molecule to the good of the whole body. The cure in the case of the Association is similar by promoting brotherhood and unity, by subjecting every individual to the life curre nts animating the Association, by checking us from self-assertiven ess, from vainglorious striving after power, in a word by killing the self. In the reality perfect Order every member bows to the authority of the Order and seeks no power or honour for himself apart from his brethren.
We have seen that, as with a living body, so with an Association, the spirit of life-monad manifests itself in and through material particles, or cells or human units, gathered from and partaking the character of its environment, and that the greater or loss adaptability of the visible body to the needs and impulses of the monad depends on the law of Karma. The two Aspects of this law must also be kept in view, the Karma to which the monad is subject on entering its material body (in the case of a human being that which was earned in a prior incarnation), and that which it generates and reaps in the continuance of its present material existence. It would be rash to attempt to trace the prior history of the animating spirits of Associations—it is enough to assume that somehow or other they come under the some Karmic law as human beings, and have not necessarily earned in their present incarnation (if we may use the word) all the results they reap. If the law of Karma be true at all it must be true, exactly in so far as applicable, to every independent or semi-independent existence, to the cell therefore, as much as to the body which is built up of cells, and to the Association composed of human beings as much as to the several human beings composing it. This, which seems elementary, leads irresistibly to the next proposition.
(8).. Provincial Grand Lodges and all Private Lodges have a semi-independent existence, as Associations within the parent Association, like the organs of the human body; their organisation or government corresponding to the nerve-ganglia governing the human organs, and like these semi-independent, capable of sustaining life; but not of initiating action in regard to the parent Association.
This proposition with regard to Associations is the necessary corollary of what has gone before. Every Association, however small has a separate existence "qua" Association, and a certain modified autonomy to the extent of regulating its own affairs as such Association. Each Association is, however, a part of some greater Association, a race or nation it may be, and finally a part of humanity itself, to whose general laws its own autonomy is necessarily subject, and hence it is only semi-independent. In the living human body the nerve-ganglia governing different organs are to a considerable extent automatic, that is to say they act without the conscious interference of the central will, though not in opposition thereto, and they sometimes react, by a reflex action, to external stimuli, without conveying the impression of that stimulus to the central consciousness, yet the central consciousness and the central will can generally, to some extent at least, know and control their action. Thus these ganglia are semi-independent and the correspondence is practically complete. The analogy holds for every association. Thus the business of a State is carried on by Departments, each of which is semi-independent, to the extent that in the healthy normal state it does its own work without troubling the central authority, but the object of that work is the good of the whole State. Suppose what is called corruption to be present in any department, this means that the heads of that department and possibly all connected w ith it, are using for selfish ends and for their own benefit the powers entrusted to them for the general good of the State. This is separateness, and in time produces a feeling of discomfort so widespread that the central will is compelled to strive to cast it out. The period longer or shorter before the central will comes into operation depends on the strength, vitality, and health of the Association or State. What is termed mortification (or really corruption) of a part of the human body is precisely analogous to this. Corruption of the body politic is a most apposite term. In the Craft, looked upon as an Association, there are Departments, Subsections and Branches, each organised and therefore semi-independent. By the original constitution every private Lodge was such a Subsection, and looking for the moment upon these Lodges as units, we get a conception of the Craft as a homogeneous multicellular organisation. In the process of development, as we have already shown, the central authority was lodged in the Grand Lodge whereat all Masters and Wardens represented their own Lodges. Within the Lodges the organisation, as we have demonstrated, constituted in itself an association. And thus the whole Craft in its normal and healthy state forms an association consisting of semi-independent organic associations with one central will, consciousness, and power of expression (or living voice); each of the constituent associations (Lodges) being in its turn composed of human beings (like semi-independent cells) organised by the division of labour into various departments fulfilling various functions. As the constituent elements of the Craft are drawn from its environment, so are the constituent elements of the Lodges which form the Craft, and as these are local and racial in their constitution, their elements necessarily vary, and thus differentiation in the character of the Lodge's themselves will necessarily result, and this differentiation may be the source of dis union, which has been shown to depend on Karmic laws. In considering the character of a friend, we recognise at once that to blame him for a hasty word uttered in pain or sickness as though it were a deliberate opinion, would be unjust. Far more so to blame him for unavoidable weakness, illness, or deformity. We know (or we feel intuitively) that this all belongs to the lower principles, in fact to the house our friend, by his Karma, is compelled to live in, not to himself. In speaking of the Craft, justice requires that the same distinction should be ke pt in view, and therefore in the second part of this Paper we propose to trace somewhat further the analogy in the Craft to the Seven Principles of man, with a view of working out the more esoteric side of the subject.
As a fitting conclusion to the first half of our Paper, let us apply to the Craft the further analogy of an acorn—a small and exteriorly unimpressive object, which nevertheless enshrines the life-force of the great oak that cast it, and which contains energies capable of expanding into another tree greater than its parent. So with Freemasonry. It is the humble off-spring of the great Mystery systems that once were the only means whereby Divine Wisdom was revealed to men in this world; and it enshrines, in compressed and simple form, the essential immutable principles of their teaching. The time has now come when those severely compressed principles can be released, interpreted, and given an infinitely wider field of usefulness than was possible in antiquity. Which field our world-wide Order provides, for it is an organism that is being gradually evolved, a "body prepared," for the dissemination on a wide scale of philosophic secrets and mysteries which, in earlier states of society, could only be imparted to the initiated few, but which can now be comparatively broadcast. In this Study Circle we aim at helping on that movement, at releasing and revealing what lies compressed and concealed within our system.
"THERE IS NOTHING HIDDEN BUT SHALL BE REVEALED"