The following article comes from the book *Alberta Workshop* which is a compilation of the theme speeches of the first 25 years of the Masonic Spring Workshop held each April in the Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. Bro Tom Jackson (Pennsylvania) called this the best workshop available to rank and file Masons anywhere.
Bro. Simon G. Potsma
When we ask the question at what point does participating become giving we cannot held but look at the following:
1) Participating in giving financial assistance.
2) Participating in assisting with the Ritual and thereby giving of one's time.
These two modes of giving are, of course, highly commendable but is there not something of a more lasting value in which we can participate and ultimately participate in giving? This is the deeper spiritual understanding of all that Freemasonry stands for.
At this point in time in history we all are aware that we have entered a new era, popularly known as the age of Aquarius, and in an age such as this many questions are asked by the brethren and many more will be asked.
What is the Aquarian Age? - where we have heard so much about..
As the sun is the centre of our Solar System and the earth revolves around the sun in about 365 days.
This is one earth year. In its turn the sun also revolves and its Siderial epoch is 25,920 of our earth years.
One Siderial Solar month is one twelfth, thus 2160 years. One siderial month is 30 degrees. Therefore, one degree or day is 72 earth years or approximately man's lifespan as well is this 72 the number of Heart Beats per minutes.
Should a newly initiated Master Mason not be entitled to receive the proper answers to his questions?
Of course he is entitled to know if he so desires. However, those Senior Brethren will have to understand that in order to make Freemasonry a viable instrument of disseminating wisdom, one has to follow these three steps.
FIRST OF ALL one has to learn. SECONDLY, to understand that what he has learned, toe THIRDLY be able to teach that what he has learned and understood.
We have been told many times that Freemasonry is a Secret Organization or an Organization with some secrets. As these so called secrets are not Political, Economical, Social or Financial nature and most of the parts of the Ritual can be purchased at any good bookstore, it follows that the secrets we possess must be of a metaphysical nature.
What is a FREE Mason? He is the FREE Builder on this INNER self.
As the Secrets etc. are of a metaphysical nature, or inner nature, the real Masonic tradition "esoteric" which means a pursuit of studies of the hidden or "that which is veiled".
By its very nature it has been esoteric or secret. This idea has proved repugnant to many, and the query is advanced, "If you have such valuable secrets enabling the self to find light, why do it behind closed doors? State your facts out in the open where all can see and use them."
Well, the "facts" have been out in the open for several thousand years. Men have seen them, some stopped to study and practice them, and countless others have gone on to cheat, wrong and defraud. The principles of the esoteric tradition have been public. They are "secret" because to practice them is difficult or they are politically dangerous for power-hungry autocrats.
What is really "secret" is what unconsciously happens when small groups of men quietly congregate out of the hurly burly of mass living to devote themselves to any serious undertaking regardless of the subject matter. Common participation develops the sense of interest more, and a technical language comes into being. This technical language is derived and learned by working with the problems the society is trying to solve. Hence, only the co-workers really understand it. These features may be seen in many small scientific or literary groups.
Masonry is very definitely a group that congregates out of the confusion of life to devote itself to the moral and spiritual life of the self, and it has its technical language which is understood only by the men who use it.
This Evening I will endeavour to try to place the spotlight on only one point in each of the three degrees and see if there really is a deeper more spiritual meaning to them.
We will now take a look at a part of the first degree.
In the Entered Apprentice Degree after being accepted, the Candidate is guided to the Northeast Corner where the Rough Ashlar is placed, from there he is guided by way of the East, Past King Sol-O-Mon, to the South East Corner of the Lodge. There from the state of Physical Perfection (Rough Ashlar) to the state of Physical Perfection is accomplished, with the aid of the Great Architect of the Universe.
In order to build this Perfect Physical Structure one has again to follow the Three Steps. Firstly, THE IDEA, SECONDLY, the Blueprint, THIRDLY, THE BUILDING.
Neither one can become the other, however in the proper sequence one is fashioned after the other, and if one were to be deleted, no building would ever be erected. This is the law of the Universe.
In the Journey from the Imperfect Ashlar to the Perfect Ashlar, the Power of King Sol-O-Mon is materialized. The name Sol-O-Mon means Sun in three different languages. The Power is Ultimate wisdom.
Wisdom is the Practical Application of Knowledge and in this instance, transferred into Omniscience and Omnipotence.
As every Journey takes time this one is not different. Time is something that we all use, or not use as the case may be. Time is the relationship of the Earth vs our Sun. So Immediately WITH UTILIZING TIME we place ourselves in A RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNIVERSE, AND THE UNIVERSE IN RELATIONSHIP TO OURSELVES.
Evolution on the Physical plane as we have been taught by men such as Darwin is the work of ages. Perfection of Form takes a long long time.
The Question which is sometimes asked. Does it (meaning the Masonic Teaching) make sense? If it did not you will all agree it would not have endured.
Is it necessary to veil all these great truth in allegory?
Yes of course, it is valid as a Mystery school. The true Masonic Lodge is a Mystery School a place where candidates are taken out of the follies and foibles of the world and instructed in the mysteries of Life, Relationships, and the identity of that germ of spiritual essence within which is, in truth the Son of God, beloved of his Father.
The Mason views life seriously, realizing that every wasted moment is a lost opportunity and that Omnipotence is gained through earnestness and endeavour. Above all other relationships he recognizes the Universal brotherhood of every living thing.
As Freemasonry is a progressive science in harmony with all of Nature we must realize that here is no way of going back to dogmatism.
Life is one grand school of Being, and we have come to that stage where it is time for us to learn to understand the purpose of existence; to grasp our whole nature firmly; to use every means in our power in every direction - whether this is waking, dreaming, sleeping or in any other state - to bring the whole of our nature into accord, so that our lower instrument may be "in line" and thus more and more fully reflect our divine inner nature.
The Sun (Sol-O-Mon) shines on all the wicked as well as the good. therefore the laws governing on the physical plane are applied equally to saints as well as sinner.
The Constructive Power of THE SUN behind the Sun is portrayed by the Grand Master's Apron, and shown as the GOLDEN SUN.
The Deeper meaning or Esoteric Freemasonry appears at first sight a strange hodge podge of ideas until one further examines it and does not become discouraged at first.
The sages in all ages veiled their teachings for very good reason and usually gave the unveiled teaching only to some of their close disciples.
The Part in the Second Degree. We now should have a further look at is the ascent of the Candidate by way of the winding staircase.
In reality here is where the Fellow Craft is elevated within his Higher Self.
The elevation as we are well aware is not of a physical nature but a spiritual one, and the particular exercise is to expand the consciousness.
The Path is within ourselves, not outside; each of us is the stair to his own development.
We have to assume either that this is a universe of law or a universe of chaos, chance, accident. In fact, we know perfectly well that it is not a universe of chance, because everything we use and understand we see to be under law; and where something befalls us, the cause and try to find it. We cannot even imagine an effect without a cause.
The first thing that we have to learn to perceive in everything and in every circumstance is the reign of law. We recognize law in part, but not in full, as it should be recognized. Mistaking our own nature, by the very power of that nature, we set in motion causes that produce the results we now feel, and then call those results by such terms as "destiny", "fate", "chance", or the "will of God". The operation of law to most minds means a fate which befalls us wherein we are benefitted or afflicted, but over which we have no control, and in producing which we had no hand. Yet the operation of law can be easily understood. It has been enunciated by all the great Teachers of the past as meaning action and its consequent reaction. Let us remember that these are not two separate and unrelated things - Cause and Effect, Action and Reaction, are the two aspects of one and the same thing. In Sanskrit, both these aspects are included in the one word, Karma.
Karma has been recognized in the Christian scriptures, with which we are most familiar, in the expression, "Whatsoever a man soeth, that shall he also reap." By consequence, we should easily see that whatever a man is reaping, that he must have sown. Once we get the conception that actions do not produce themselves, that law does not operate of itself, we can see that we cause actions and experience their reactions; that is we who set up causes and feel their effects. Cause and effect, action and reaction - the operation of law - are seen to be in ourselves, not outside. There is no action unless there is a being to make it and to feel its effects. Everything that happens to any being has its antecedent cause, and that cause lies in some past action of the being himself. In other words, law rules on every plane of being, and every being of every grade is under that law.
We are all reaping what we have sown, individually and collectively; for we must know that we never act alone. We always act on and in connection with others, affecting them for good or evil, and we get the necessary reaction from the causes set in motion by ourselves. This presents to us the idea of absolute Justice, for under such a conception of Law each being receives exactly what he gives.
This points to another conception: there could not be action and its consequent reaction, unless there were a community of being amongst us. There must be that in our natures which is peculiar to none, but common to all. In other words, we have all sprung from the same Source; we are all travelling toward the same Goal. The path differs only with the pilgrims. The causes that each one sets in motion determine the path that one must follow. This might be called "destiny", if we understand that it is destiny of our own creation. Being created by us, it can be sustained by us or changed by us. If we do not like the "destiny" that befalls us, the effects that surround us, the conditions that encompass us, all we have to do is to set in motion such causes as will produce other and more desirable effects. But we have to do it; no one else can do it for us. No one holds us back. No one propels us forward.
There is no difference in our powers. Each one of us has the same power to perceive, to experience, to learn. What we learn differs, our experiences differ, our perceptions differ, but that does not show a difference in our powers - it shows a difference only in the application of those powers. Each one of us contains within himself the same possibilities as exist anywhere and everywhere in the universe. The lines that we have hitherto taken have brought us to whatever pass, conditions or surroundings that may obtain at the present time. But we might have gone another way and produced an altogether different environment. We ought to see that even now, however hampered we may be as the result of mistaken actions in the past, we have not lost and can never lose our power to set other and better causes in motion. The path toward all knowledge lies before us: "All nature lies before you - take what you can."
This means that all beings below man, and all beings above man, as well as man himself, have gained whatever individual positions they may now be in by their own exertions. It means that no being is standing still; all are acting, all progressing in one direction or another, according to the lines they have followed and are following. It also means that all the beings below man will sometime reach our stage, and that every being above man has passed through stages similar to our own - which is evolution to its highest point, spiritual and mental, as well as physical. We have applied the great Truths of nature only in a partial, a limited, a personal sense. These are universal truths and should be applied in a universal sense, if we desire to arrive at the fullest recognition of them.
The life in each of us is the Universal Life. Many imagine that Life means existence in a physical body, and that only; that outside of physical existence there is no life. But Life includes all things and forms from the highest spiritual down to life in its grossest form; it is the same Life all through, common to all. It is the One Life, the One Spirit in each and all, so that in each being of every grade there lies the potentiality of All-Being. There is that in each which is beginningless and endless, which is changeless; and that, though illimitable, invisible, inconceivable, can be realized by every human being.
Some illustrations will bring this fact forcibly to our minds. We speak of ourselves, of our identity. We say, "I was a child; when I was a young man; when I was middle-aged; as I am today; as I will be in the future." Now, what is Tat, itself unchanged, which is going through all those changes? The same "I", the same identity. That does not change. The body changes, the ideas - mind - change, the surroundings change. But the Man himself, the identity, remains unchanged through all these changes of body, scene and circumstance.
Again, take the power of seeing: we all have that power, and no matter how much we exercise it, it still remains the power to perceive. It is not changed by what we see. And we may consider this: change cannot see change. Only that which is permanent can see change. So there is that in us which is permanent, which is Real, which is of the highest, which is a ray from and one with the Supreme, the universal Principle or Power, the creator, the sustainer, the regenerator of all that was, is, or ever shall be. We have to realize That - each one for himself - first by recognizing that IT IS, omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable; second, by divesting ourselves of those things we thought It to be: that It is this body, this mind, these circumstances. All these are changing things, things seen; but that which is the Real, the Supreme, our very Self and the Self of all things, is not subject to change; I is changeless; It cannot be seen, for It is the Perceiver.
The ideas we entertain of the Supreme, of Law, of Nature, and of our own Being govern the actions we perform. When we were children we had certain ideas, and we acted according to them, and so on, all through the years. Some of our ideas we have from time to time discarded, and others that we have collected have taken their place. We are now acting according to the ideas we now hold. Are they the best and highest possible to us?
If we change our ideas, we change our actions. If we see that Law rules, that this Law is inherent in our highest nature and not outside of us, we shall see that it is the Spirit in us - our very Self - that is the cause and sustainer of all our actions; and this Spirit by its very power as the Highest, through false ideas creates for itself false positions and false destinies. We have often adopted and we often change our ideas without any real consideration as to their truth, as to their relation to Life, as to their bearing upon existence. We must adopt and hold fast to three great ideas: that each human being has what are called the "three attributes of the God-head" - the power of creation, the power of preservation as long as the creation seems satisfactory, and the power to destroy that creation and regenerate better ones. All we have to do is to realize our own real nature, see what our defects are, strengthen our virtues, and move on. Just so surely as we do this, we shall find that our virtues and strength increase, and our defects gradually fall away.
According to Albert Pike in "Morals and Dogma",
"He who desires to understand the harmonious and beautiful proportions of Freemasonry must read, study, reflect, digest and discriminate. The true Mason is the ardent seeker after knowledge."
In the third degree we eventually come to the point where we are confronted by Jubilom with his heavy setting mall.
This heavy setting mall was not exactly dropped on the Candidate's toes, but to his forehead.
In other words a "high place".
As all allegorical Stories have a great deal of violence in them this Story of Hiram Abiff is no different.
All great initiations in the past have taken place on High Places, e.g., Mount Olympus, Mount Sinai, The Tower of Babylon, The Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion on Golgotha.
So, it is only in the High Places were the inner teaching or esoteric teaching can be given. This appears to be real as well as symbolic.
In order for the Freemason to reach a greater and deeper understanding of the work he is shown the following.
In the first degree - The Perfection of Form,
In the second degree - The Pathway to the Inner Self, and
In the third degree - The Initiation to the Higher Self.
In short the masonic degrees also teach us evolution simultaneously on three different levels.
1. The Physical 2. The Mental 3. The Spiritual.
Let us look now at what Gottfried de Purucker has to say on the subject at hand.
"I might add that the higher the degree, the more informal and less ritualistic become the relations between teacher and pupil, and more is the pupil expected to strive to live in and to be at one with his inner divine monitor. Further, In the more advanced stages no record of any kind is made. It is solely the memory of the auditors which is trained to receive and to retain what has been impressed upon it, a training which a dependence upon written notes could never bring about. Neither in writing, in paint, in cipher nor in engraving, are the teachings committed to visible record; they are carried in the mind and in the heart alone.
The whole endeavour is to arouse the will power, the individuality, and the native faculties of the inner god. The transmission of intelligence, therefore, passes at low breath and with mouth to ear, to use the old saying. In the highest degrees not even this is permitted, for the neophyte, the recipient of esoteric knowledge and wisdom, has become so trained that he can receive by thought-transference, as it were, and need not even be in the presence of his teacher. More and more the teacher communicates through the soundless sound, the voice of the silence, the voice in which the teachings 'uttered' opens the spiritual vistas within the disciple.
Every step forwards is a going into a greater light, in comparison with which the light just left is shadow. No matter how high one stands on the ladder of evolution, even as high as the gods, there is always one other just ahead, one who knows more than he; and ahead of him there is a constantly ascending range of entities of progressively vaster cosmic consciousness. The hierarchal stream is nature's basic framework; hence, none of us is without a teacher, for there is the infinite universe above us - hierarchies of life and of evolutionary experience far superior to ours."
No man was ever made good by law, no man was ever made moral by law. Each man must be law for himself both moral and spiritual.
In "Moral and Dogma" Albert Pike on page 104 and 105 dealing with his conclusion of the third Degree says:
"Masonry, like all the Religions, all the Mysteries, Hermeticism and Alchemy, conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve only to be misled; to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it. Truth is not for those who are unworthy or unable to receive it, or would pervert it. so God Himself incapacitates many men, by colour-blindness, to distinguish colours, and leads the masses away from the highest Truth, giving them the power to attain only so much of it as it is profitable to them to know. Every age has had a religion suited to its capacity.
The Teachers, even of Christianity, are, in general, the most ignorant of the true meaning of that which they teach. There is no book of which so little is known as the Bible. To most who read it, it is as incomprehensible as the Sohar.
So Masonry jealously conceals its secrets, and intentionally leads conceited interpreters astray. There is no sight under the sun more pitiful and ludicrous at one, than the spectacle of the Prestons and the Webbs, not to mention the later incarnations of Dullness and Commonplace, undertaking to 'explain' the old symbols of Masonry, and adding to and 'improving' them, or inventing new ones.
To the Circle inclosing the central point, and itself traced between two parallel lines, a figure purely Kabalistic, these persons have added the superimposed Bible, and even reared on that the ladder with three or nine rounds, and then given a rapid interpretation of the whole, so profoundly absurd as actually to excite admiration."
Brethren as we have here the Masonic Organization with all its resources and it IS DESIGNED AS A SCHOOL FOR ESOTERIC STUDIES, THEN IN THIS ENLIGHTENED AGE ON HAND WE SHOULD UTILIZE IT TO THE FULL.
There is much more to "LIFE" than the mundane aspects and it's up to each of us to re-discover the real reason for living.
THE REAL MASTER MASON does not follow any dogma or any one else's ideas not does he worship opinions instead of realities.
When we look with an open mind at the subject that we have so far dealt with this evening is it then reasonable to assume that perfection on the - Physical - Mental - and Spiritual Planes can be achieved in Just one lifetime?
Time does not permit me to further pursue some parts of the Ritual.
I now wish to read you an appropriate verse "The Golden Stairs" by H.P. Blavatsky.
"Behold the truth before you: a clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for all, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and perfection which the Sacred Science depicts - these are the golden stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the Temple of Divine Wisdom."
Brethren if by our united endeavors this evening we have come to understand at least a trifle more of the world around us and within us I hope that we may be somewhat better equipped to be able to "PARTICIPATE IN GIVING" more to the GREAT WORK at hand.