WAR IN MASONIC PERSPECTIVE
V.W.BRO. F. B. BROOK, M.A., LL.M.
GRAND TREASURER UGLE
"And Song shall not die away
And the night of our trouble shall vanish
In the dawn of a perfect day." (1)
The world is in travail. Our lives are beset with difficulties and dangers.
"What does it mean?"
"What will be the outcome?"
"What shall I do?"
These are the questions that go ringing through our hands.
I believe that Freemasonry gives an answer to these questions and that is why I am speaking to you tonight.
A little while ago the King chose for his Christmas card some wonderful words:
"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year; "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way." (2)
Now that is the first lesson of Freemasonry. "Put your trust in God." But we have a further lesson to learn and that is - "Try to understand." You see, we are builders and have to do something. We are not passive - we are active. From us is wanted not merely a blind obedience but a willing, intelligent co-operation in the work.
First we have to learn to help to prepare the stone. Then we have to smooth and finish the individual stone into a Perfect Ashlar. And finally - we have to superintend the fitting of one stone to another so as to make a building - the Temple of the Spirit of Man. To do that, we have a study of the Great Architect. From that Plan we see Man's setting in the Universe and how man fits with man, and then from Man and Universe in an inspired perspective our eyes see dimly a vision of the Great Architect.
To help you to understand these difficult points I would ask you to come with me to our Masonic Picture Gallery and look at a couple of pictures.
The first is a beautiful one. It is a picture of three columns, differing in style but united in splendour. By each column is a guardian, each in the robes of a prince, but one of higher rank. As we come near the picture, he comes towards us. "Greeting, Strangers. What is your quest?" We tell him we are on a pilgrimage to study the plan of the Temple of the Spirit of Man. He replies:
"Right glad am I to hear such words. Let me try to help you. I am King Solomon - Men call me the Wise. I have to look after this column, the column of Wisdom. It is placed in the East. In the West you will see another column, the column of Strength. That is in charge of Hiram, King Hiram of Tyre, while in the South you will see the column of Beauty whose guardian is Hiram Abiff. A wonderful craftsman he has to create and shape all things as directed by Divine Wisdom.
"Are the pillars three. The pillars of the world
To give it strong foundation, and their names
are Wisdom, Strength and Beauty - witnesses
Of Master mind that did conceive the Plan.
The Hand of Power that upholds, and third
The Artist Fingers fashioning in love
The mountain and the lily and the stars." (3)
I trust this will help you. Success attend your search."
The second picture is a strange one. It is a picture of a Scientific Laboratory. In one corner is a telescope - in another a microscope. On a blackboard are drawings of a circle, a spiral and a wedge, while in the centre is the model of a gigantic hand. A great Scientist, with domed forehead and long beard, steps from the picture and speaks to us. He syas: "I am glad you have come to see our laboratory. This is a laboratory of Science. With the telescope we look at the stars and study their movements. With the microscope we study all the tiny things - the snowflake, the crystal and the growing cell. As Kenneth Walker says "In the healthy body everything is done deliberately and in conformity with design. Although each cell is a self-contained, self-supporting unit, it still
remains a unit that works for the common good. It is as though somewhere in the body there was a master-mind at work, a mind that co-ordinated the work of the parts with the whole, integrating the activity of a million million cells." (4)
So from both telescope and microscope we learn about rhythm and harmony.
In this Universe we find both things and big tell the same story - not CHOAS but COSMOS. On that blackboard you will see a strange drawing. The circle is the circle of limitation. The wedge is a device based on the principle of the lever. It can be used to split and destroy but it can also be used to raise. In a circle by itself you can only go round and round in one plane. To raise in a confined space you need either a direct lift or a wedge so that the movement may be not only round but upward. I have not yet worked out all the implications of the drawing, though I hope to do so some day, as it may be that we shall find this upward movement of the spiral path, not only in matter but in Spirit.
A little while ago we Scientists thought that what we could weigh and measure was all, that there was nothing but the Finite, and that the Finite also meant Final, but gradually we found that all we had done was to throw a net over a part of the Infinite and call it Finite, (5) and that inside that Finite was a something which we could not weigh or measure, a something beyond,somehow connected with the creation of life and that is why I had this model made of this gigantic hand. It is really intended to illustrate an Indian legend:
THE STORY OF THE HAND OF BRAHM.
A long time ago and after a long time, Man began dimly to realise that, being made in the image and likeness of God, he was entitled to a share in God's divinity. So he went to the High Gods and demanded of them his divinity. They held council to consider the matter, agreed that Man's claim was just and that they could not withold from Man that which was his due. So they gave Man his divinity. But, having given it, they became afraid and said: "Man is not ready for the great gift. He will misuse it. He will wield it for power and personal gain. He has not yet learnt Wisdom." So they sent a messanger, secretly, by night, who stole Man's divinty away from him and brought it to the Gods. Again they assembled in Council. "Where shall we hide it?" they said, "For Man is so
made that he will never rest till he gets it. If we drop it in the ocean he will dive down to the depths. If we hide it in the heart of the mountains he will blast the rocks, if we hide it in High Heaven itself he will batter down the
gates." Then Brahm, greatest of them all, said: "Give it to me,. I will hide it." And he took within his hand the tiny flickering spark of Man's divinity and closed his fingers on it. When he opened his hand again - behold the spark had disappeared. Then said the other Gods: "Where have you hidden it?" Answered Brahm: "I have hidden it where it will be long before Man discovers it. I have hidden it within Manhimself." They said: "where in Man have you hidden it?" Said Brahm: "That is my secret and will remain my secret until MAN DISCOVERS IT FOR
Now in those two pictures you can see what we teach in Lodge. The hidden Mysteries of Nature and Science and the Sacred Symbol the hidden mysteries of Nature and Science and yet - no - therefore the Sacred Symbol. And I say to myself, if these are the Lessons taught me in Lodge, then let me see what I can learn about myself in myself. Let me turn myself into a Lodge, and the first thing to do is to sit down quietly by myself, away from the rest of the world and concentrate my thoughts.
I then find that, like Lodge, in myself there are several officers, three of a higher grade and one of those officers linked with something higher still. I find that the Master of my Lodge is Wisdom connected with the Infinite, with two saenior officers Strength, Strength of Will, and Beauty, the beauty of creative thought. These three are the unconscious mind. There are also Junior Officers. At my right hand is Intellect the conscious mind with reason and intelligence, opposite is Desire to see that commands are promptly obeyed. By the door of the
Lodge is a wonderful instrument, the human brain to transmit the commands of the Higher and the Conscious mind to the Keeper of the door who is the body. That body, when in perfect order keeps off intruders and communicates with the outside world. By my left is Wisdom matured by Experience. All these officers
are required for Man to commence to labour in Lodge. So on the gavel of Wisdom let every brother of the Lodge spring to attention and, as an oficer with a duty to perform, recite his duties and then, before Lodge is opened, let Experience offer a prayer to the Great Architect and open the Volume of the sacred Law. Then at the signal the Lodge is open and ready for work. (7).
With eevery faculty working at its highest in peace and harmony then think of the duty of a Mason - To consider - and you will find that the first thing he has to consider is that very word "Consider." The dictionary will tell you that it means "Studying the stars." Now that means concentrate on the true message of the stars. Hear the message from the East coming through the lips of a great poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, in "The Light of Asia":
Ranging beyond this sphere to spheres unnamed,
System on system, countless worlds and sums
Moving in splendid measures, band by band
Linked in division, one, yet separate,
The silver islands of a sapphire sea
Shoreless, unfathomed, undiminished, stirred
With waves which roll in restless tides of change.
He saw those Lords of Light who hold their worlds
By Bonds invisible, how they themselves
Circle obedient round mightier orbs
Which serve profounder splendours, star to star
Flashing the ceaseless radiance of life
From centres ever shifting unto cirques
Knowing no uttermost ---------
That fixed decree at silent work which wills
Evolve the dark to light, the dead to life,
To fulness void, to form the yet unformed,
Good unto better, better unto best,
By wordless edict; having none to bid,
None to forbid; for this is past all gods,
Immutable, unspeakable, supreme;
A Power which builds, unbuilds, and builds again."
On the next starlight night go out and get that message. Look up at the Heaven and you will find that each twinkle says to you "In a divine code I am flashing you a message of sparkling light at a speed which will go seven times round the world in a second, a message that set off on its journey a million years ago. It
is a message of speed and purpose. Look at all those other stars, each on its own course obeying a divine command, each star with its own glory. Look up and you will see the Heavens are The Tracing Board of God whereon the Great Measurer has shewn his Plan and more than that, has shewn the Plan to you."
Then look at the sun with his three steps of mourning noon and night, up from the East to open and give life to the day, at meridian in the south to give continuance of life to all created things, then down to the West to close the day, never really to set but to pass through that western gateway which is but the gateway to the Dawn. It is only man who thinks that the sun sets. The earth turns to make morning, noon and night, the instruments to give the flow and ebb of sap and blood. Each day is a creation, each day a renewal of life, and with his rays the sun turns the water of the sea into vapour to pass to the mountain there to condense in cloud and mist and rain and snow, to melt down a thousand and rivulets until it comes to the river and back again to the sea, taking with it all corruption to be purified by that very salt which man misuses to make a poison gas and destroy. Nature creates and preserves, man destroys.
Then look at the earth, warmed by the sun it gives life to the grain. On the earth in the past have often been heard the tramp of feet, the thunder of chariots and the clash of arms. The bow was broken, the chariot overthrown, and bowman and charioteor perished. Over the bow and chariot grew the grass and they were buried and dissolved in the earth. Today instead of bow we have a gun, instead of chariot, a tank, but that gun can burst, that tankbe shattered and the rains will come and the sun will shine and over gun and tank in the years to
come will be the waving fields of corn.
Look at the snow to frighten by its cold and yet to cherish by its saving warmth like some fleecy blanket from the blast. It frighten, yet through its whit epurity comes up a feerless snowdrop. That snowdrop may be torn to pieces by the hand of the destroyer or crushed by the boot of the oppressor, but can any Principality or Power create a single petal of a snowdrop?, and next year there will be the snow and another snowdrop to sing, may rather to be a paean of praise to its maker, but the boot and the hand and the armies, Principalities and Powers, where will they be?
So at last hate empassioned
God to purify refines
When He hushes angrey voices
Down the valley of the pines
Sheds His peace and heals man's hatred
In His valley of the pines. (8)
The whole message of the world is not only Plan and a Planner but Creation and a Creator.
So let us look on Man as a Masonic Candidate. First in blindness stumbling with halting steps, then with the light of grwoing knowledge, ascending the spiral of civilisation.
Freemasonry had another name for it generations ago. His progress is painful and slow but Man must rise in through and despite himself, for in him is the divine impulse - and then at last, Learning that material possessions are but a means and not an end, he steps forward to immortality over an open grave.
In olden time, so said the legend, dead man had to be ferried over the Styx. To pay his fare an obol was placed between his lips for Charon the grim ferryman.
As time went on we felt it strange that those Ancients thought in terms of moeny, even in the presence of death. Why strange when we think of what we do ourselves? Have we so degenerated that we anticipate death? Have we to become living corpses with our fare always upon our lips? Can we not realise that money does not pass the grave, that even in this life, the living of our lives is of more value than seeking more means to live? Have we to leave this earth to feel our eyes "no longer blinded by the dust of earth?" Why not live life in all its
splendour and its fullness here on earth and now?
If we can learn to do that, then War may prvoe a blessing in disguise. War destroys more than lives and property. It also destroys illusions. (9) And if we can learn to study that part of the Divine that is within us, if we can learn to use and not to worship material possessions, then, though the loss of all our treasures is a grievious loss, that loss is turned to gain if it means the loss of an illusion, that acquisiton of material possessions is the sole end of all our strivings. Man is worth more than money, and man must be the master and not the slave of the machine.
And now you say to me, you have told us of the army of oppression, but what of the army of sufferers, countless in their millions, and for this I can but tell you there are two kinds of sorrow, your own and the other man's. For yourself let me remind you of the words of Sir Walter Raleigh, written in 1596:
"I believe that sorrows and dangerous companions, converting bad into evil, and evil to worse and do us no other service than multiply harms. They are the treasures of weak hearts and the foolish, the mind that entertaineth them is as the earth and dust whereon sorrows and adversities of the world do, as the
beasts of the field, tread, trample and defile. The mind of man is that part of God which is in us, which by how much it is subject to passion by so much it is further from Him that gave it to us. Sorrows draw not the dead to life but the living to death."
That is a hard lesson, so couple it with the words:
"My life is but a weaving
Bewteen my God and me,
I try to choose the colours,
He worketh steadily.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
I but the under side. (10)
and the sorrows of others be very compassionate. Though I cannot give you an explanation I can point out to you a duty and that is that wherever there is human need there is need of a Mason. It is his bounden duty to help the cripple and the maimed, the widow and the orphan.
For us as Builders Ancient Freemasonry is a way of life,inspired by a belief in the Great Architect and evidenced by Brotherhood and Charity, Toleration and Friendship. How can we be true Masons if distress is not relieved? With the grip of a Mason we can raise a fallen world.
And now what of the dead? Remember that every airman, soldier, sailor, civilian, man, woman and child, who has died, has died for you to keep you free, free from your enemies, free from yourselves, and for them let me repeat the words of Buddha when he gave up everything to save the world:
"Therefore farewell, friends!
While life is good to give, I give and go
To seek deliverations and that unknown Light." (11)
and let us say thos ewords, not as an epitaph but as a message of inspiration and hope from fellow builders of the Temple of the Spirit of Man. Let those words sound for you a bugle call, and from tonight, when you leave that door, go out on your pilgrimage under your Masonic vow to seek deliverance and that
1. "Through a glass darkly." Author
2. "God knows" - The Gate of the Year M. Lousie Haskins
3. "The Spirit of London" Author
4. "Diagnosis of Man" Kenneth Walker
5. Hibbert Lectures 1878 "On origin and growth of Religion" F. Max Muller
6. Essay "What is Truth R.W. Sloley
7. of, "The Magic of Freemasonry Mjr. Arthur E. Powell
8. "The Valley of the Pines" Author
9. of, "Diagnosis of Man" Kenneth Walker
11. "The Light of Asia" Sir Edwin Arnold