Recommended reading: A basis of the search for Further Light

esoteric freemasonry

I recommend this article as a means of understanding why Freemasons ought to always be curious seekers:   What is Esotericism in Masonry 

Excerpt …

… a brother asked if our lodges allowed or encouraged the study of esoteric masonry. This made me think, because in my experience, the study of what is termed esoteric masonry is a rarity, and in fact, many of the members are if not disapproving of it, they are downright discouraging about it. In fact, many will argue against any kind of esoteric masonry existing at all!

… Esoteric studies are not aimed at excluding anyone, but are aimed at expanding the understanding of the symbolism and teachings of freemasonry as they apply to our daily lives and our civilization. Esotericism, that is, the philosophy and study of symbology as it pertains to freemasonry should not run anyone off. The problem is that some men are very comfortable with what freemasonry is today… easy, without the need for deep contemplation and study.

The young men joining today are looking FOR the promise of freemasonry, if the fraternity does not allow those who are interested in the foundational principles of freemasonry to practice that freemasonry, then the will of those not interested is being imposed of them, by preventing them from Masonic education and philosophy in lodge. Must it be all or nothing? Fraternal association, ritual and paying the bills is just a slice, a single piece of what freemasonry is for all of us and it would be wonderful to see the brothers tolerate a few minutes of esoteric thought and discussion.

 

Many people keep journals and diaries which are in truth expressions of personally divined perceptions. Journaling, when it avoids mere recitation of meetings, appointments and events, cannot help but be introspective and divinatory.

The act of writing out one’s thoughts on a daily basis is a powerful means of communion with one’s inner spirit – the mind is the place where the majority of human activity takes place – the mortal home of the soul.

Taking journaling one step further by setting aside time to write thoughts as they spontaneously occur without time for editing for propriety’s sake can be very revelatory.

Such writings need not be shared with anyone else, but if kept and pondered with questions such as:

“Why did I write that?”

“How come I wrote it that way?”

“Why am I so angry … so pleased … so offended … so happy?”

The effect is both healthy and instructive … a movement further along one’s own path.

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Manly P. Hall – from the conclusion of The Secret Teachings of All Ages



Today I am publishing an essay not of my writing, but that of Manly P. Hall, whose incredible work, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, was first published in 1928. What follows is taken from the Conclusion of his book. It is my contention that any self-respecting Mason would deeply relate to his book in general and this writing in particular. Of this material comes the stuff of which truly Speculative Masons can cut their teeth.
Goodreads review of The Secret Teachings

CONCLUSION …

That the philosophic culture of ancient Greece, Egypt, and India excelled that of the modern, world must be admitted by all, even by the most confirmed of modernists. 

The golden era of Greek Ãesthetics, intellectualism, and ethics has never since been equaled. The true philosopher belongs to the most noble order of men: the nation or race which is blessed by possession of illumined thinkers is fortunate indeed, and its name shall be remembered for their sake. 

In the famous Pythagorean school at Crotona, philosophy was regarded as indispensable to the life of man. He who did not comprehend the dignity of the reasoning power could not properly be said to live. Therefore, when through innate perverseness a member either voluntarily withdrew or was forcibly ejected from the philosophic fraternity, a headstone was set up for him in the community graveyard; for he who had forsaken intellectual and ethical pursuits to reenter the material sphere with its illusions of sense and false ambition was regarded as one dead to the sphere of Reality. 

The life represented by the thralldom of the senses the Pythagoreans conceived to be spiritual death, while they regarded death to the sense-world as spiritual life. 

Philosophy bestows life in that it reveals the dignity and purpose of living. Materiality bestows death in that it benumbs or clouds those faculties of the human soul which should be responsive to the enlivening impulses of creative thought and ennobling virtue. 

How inferior to these standards of remote days are the laws by which men live in the twentieth century! Today man, a sublime creature with infinite capacity for self-improvement, in an effort to be true to false standards, turns from his birthright of understanding–without realizing the consequences–and plunges into the maelstrom of material illusion. The precious span of his earthly years he devotes to the pathetically futile effort to establish himself as an enduring power in a realm of un-enduring things. 

Gradually the memory of his life as a spiritual being vanishes from his objective mind and he focuses all his partly awakened faculties upon the seething beehive of industry which he has come to consider the sole actuality. From the lofty heights of his Selfhood he slowly sinks into the gloomy depths of ephemerality. He falls to the level of the beast, and in brutish fashion mumbles the problems arising from his all too insufficient knowledge of the Divine Plan. 

Here in the lurid turmoil of a great industrial, political, commercial inferno, men writhe in self-inflicted agony and, reaching out into the swirling mists, strive to clutch and hold the grotesque phantoms of success and power. 

Ignorant of the cause of life, 

ignorant of the purpose of life, 

ignorant of what lies beyond the mystery of death, 

yet possessing within himself the answer to it all, man is willing to sacrifice the beautiful, the true, and the good within and without upon the blood-stained altar of worldly ambition. 

The world of philosophy–that beautiful garden of thought wherein the sages dwell in the bond of fraternity–fades from view. In its place rises an empire of stone, steel, smoke, and hate-a world in which millions of creatures potentially human scurry to and fro in the desperate effort to exist and at the same time maintain the vast institution which they have erected and which, like some mighty, juggernaut, is rumbling inevitably towards an unknown end. 

In this physical empire, which man erects in the vain belief that he can outshine the kingdom of the celestials, everything is changed to stone, Fascinated by the glitter of gain, man gazes at the Medusa-like face of greed and stands petrified. 

In this commercial age science is concerned solely with the classification of physical knowledge and investigation of the temporal and illusionary parts of Nature. Its so-called practical discoveries bind man but more tightly with the bonds of physical limitation.

Religion, too, has become materialistic: the beauty and dignity of faith is measured by huge piles of masonry, by tracts of real estate, or by the balance sheet. 

Philosophy which connects heaven and earth like a mighty ladder, up the rungs of which the illumined of all ages have climbed into the living presence of Reality–even philosophy has become a prosaic and heterogeneous mass of conflicting notions. Its beauty, its dignity, its transcendency are no more. Like other branches of human thought, it has been made materialistic–“practical”–and its activities so directionalized that they may also contribute their part to the erection of this modern world of stone and steel. 

In the ranks of the so-called learned there is rising up a new order of thinkers, which may best be termed the School of the Worldly Wise Men. After arriving at the astounding conclusion that they are the intellectual salt of the earth, these gentlemen of letters have appointed themselves the final judges of all knowledge, both human and divine. 

This group affirms that all mystics must have been epileptic and most of the saints neurotic! It declares God to be a fabrication of primitive superstition; the universe to be intended for no particular purpose; immortality to be a figment of the imagination; and an outstanding individuality to be but a fortuitous combination of cells! 

Pythagoras is asserted to have suffered from a “bean complex”; 

Socrates was a notorious inebriate; 

St. Paul was subject to fits; 

Paracelsus was an infamous quack, 

the Comte di Cagliostro a mountebank, 

and the Comte de St.-Germain the outstanding crook of history! 

What do the lofty concepts of the world’s illumined saviors and sages have in common with these stunted, distorted products of the “realism” of this century? All over the world men and women ground down by the soulless cultural systems of today are crying out for the return of the banished age of beauty and enlightenment–for something practical in the highest sense of the word. 

A few are beginning to realize that so-called civilization in its present form is at the vanishing point; that coldness, heartlessness, commercialism, and material efficiency are impractical, and only that which offers opportunity for the expression of love and ideality is truly worth while. 

All the world is seeking happiness, but knows not in what direction to search. Men must learn that happiness crowns the soul’s quest for understanding. Only through the realization of infinite goodness and infinite accomplishment can the peace of the inner Self be assured. 

In spite of man’s geocentricism, there is something in the human mind that is reaching out to philosophy–not to this or that philosophic code, but simply to philosophy in the broadest and fullest sense. The great philosophic institutions of the past must rise again, for these alone can tend the veil which divides the world of causes from that of effects.

Only the Mysteries–those sacred Colleges of Wisdom–can reveal to struggling humanity that greater and more glorious universe which is the true home of the spiritual being called man. Modern philosophy has failed in that it has come to regard thinking as simply an intellectual process. Materialistic thought is as hopeless a code of life as commercialism itself. The power to think true is the savior of humanity.

The mythological and historical Redeemers of every age were all personifications of that power. He who has a little more rationality than his neighbor is a little better than his neighbor. He who functions on a higher plane of rationality than the rest of the world is termed the greatest thinker. He who functions on a lower plane is regarded as a barbarian. Thus comparative rational development is the true gauge of the individual’s evolutionary status.

Briefly stated, the true purpose of ancient philosophy was to discover a method whereby development of the rational nature could be accelerated instead of awaiting the slower processes of Nature, This supreme source of power, this attainment of knowledge, this unfolding of the god within, is concealed under the epigrammatic statement of the philosophic life. 

This was the key to the Great Work, the mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone, for it meant that alchemical transmutation had been accomplished. Thus ancient philosophy was primarily the living of a life; secondarily, an intellectual method. He alone can become a philosopher in the highest sense who lives the philosophic life. 

What man lives he comes to know. Consequently, a great philosopher is one whose threefold life–physical, mental, and spiritual–is wholly devoted to and completely permeated by his rationality. Man’s physical, emotional, and mental natures provide environments of reciprocal benefit or detriment to each other. 

Since the physical nature is the immediate environment of the mental, only that mind is capable of rational thinking which is enthroned in a harmonious and highly refined material constitution. Hence right action, right feeling, and right thinking are prerequisites of right knowing, and the attainment of philosophic power is possible only to such as have harmonized their thinking with their living. 

The wise have therefore declared that none can attain to the highest in the science of knowing until first he has attained to the highest in the science of living. 

Philosophic power is the natural outgrowth of the philosophic life. Just as an intense physical existence emphasizes the importance of physical things, or just as the monastic metaphysical asceticism establishes the desirability of the ecstatic state, so complete philosophic absorption ushers the consciousness of the thinker into the most elevated and noble of all spheres–the pure philosophic, or rational, world. 

In a civilization primarily concerned with the accomplishment of the extremes of temporal activity, the philosopher represents an equilibrating intellect capable of estimating and guiding the cultural growth. 

The establishment of the philosophic rhythm in the nature of an individual ordinarily requires from fifteen to twenty years. During that entire period the disciples of old were constantly subjected to the most severe discipline. Every activity of life was gradually disengaged from other interests and focalized upon the reasoning part. In the ancient world there was another and most vital factor which entered into the production of rational intellects and which is entirely beyond the comprehension of modern thinkers: namely, initiation into the philosophic Mysteries. 

A man who had demonstrated his peculiar mental and spiritual fitness was accepted into the body of the learned and to him was revealed that priceless heritage of arcane lore preserved from generation to generation. This heritage of philosophic truth is the matchless treasure of all ages, and each disciple admitted into these brotherhoods of the wise made, in turn, his individual contribution to this store of classified knowledge. 

The one hope of the world is philosophy, for all the sorrows of modern life result from the lack of a proper philosophic code. Those who sense even in part the dignity of life cannot but realize the shallowness apparent in the activities of this age. Well has it been said that no individual can succeed until he has developed his philosophy of life. Neither can a race or nation attain true greatness until it has formulated an adequate philosophy and has dedicated its existence to a policy consistent with that philosophy. 

During the World War, when so-called civilization hurled one half of itself against the other in a frenzy of hate, men ruthlessly destroyed something more precious even than human life: they obliterated those records of human thought by which life can be intelligently directionalized. 

Truly did Mohammed declare the ink of philosophers to be more precious than the blood of martyrs. Priceless documents, invaluable records of achievement, knowledge founded on ages of patient observation and experimentation by the elect of the earth–all were destroyed with scarcely a qualm of regret. What was knowledge, what was truth, beauty, love, idealism, philosophy, or religion when compared to man’s desire to control an infinitesimal spot in the fields of Cosmos for an inestimably minute fragment of time? Merely to satisfy some whim or urge of ambition man would uproot the universe, though well he knows that in a few short years he must depart, leaving all that he has seized to posterity as an old cause for fresh contention. 

War–the irrefutable evidence of irrationality–still smolders in the hearts of men; it cannot die until human selfishness is overcome. Armed with multifarious inventions and destructive agencies, civilization will continue its fratricidal strife through future ages, But upon the mind of man there is dawning a great fear–the fear that eventually civilization will destroy itself in one great cataclysmic struggle. 

Then must be reenacted the eternal drama of reconstruction. Out of the ruins of the civilization which died when its idealism died, some primitive people yet in the womb of destiny must build a new world. Foreseeing the needs of that day, the philosophers of the ages have desired that into the structure of this new world shall be incorporated the truest and finest of all that has gone before. 

It is a divine law that the sum of previous accomplishment shall be the foundation of each new order of things. The great philosophic treasures of humanity must be preserved. That which is superficial may he allowed to perish; that which is fundamental and essential must remain, regardless of cost. 

Two fundamental forms of ignorance were recognized by the Platonists: simple ignorance and complex ignorance. 

Simple ignorance is merely lack of knowledge and is common to all creatures existing posterior to the First Cause, which alone has perfection of knowledge. Simple ignorance is an ever-active agent, urging the soul onward to the acquisition of knowledge. From this virginal state of unawareness grows the desire to become aware with its resultant improvement in the mental condition. 

The human intellect is ever surrounded by forms of existence beyond the estimation of its partly developed faculties. In this realm of objects not understood is a never-failing source of mental stimuli. Thus wisdom eventually results from the effort to cope rationally with the problem of the unknown. In the last analysis, the Ultimate Cause alone can be denominated wise; in simpler words, only God is good. Socrates declared knowledge, virtue, and utility to be one with the innate nature of good. 

Knowledge is a condition of knowing; virtue a condition of being; utility a condition of doing. Considering wisdom as synonymous with mental completeness, it is evident that such a state can exist only in the Whole, for that which is less than the Whole cannot possess the fullness of the All. No part of creation is complete; hence each part is imperfect to the extent that it falls short of entirety. Where incompleteness is, it also follows that ignorance must be coexistent; for every part, while capable of knowing its own Self, cannot become aware of the Self in the other parts. 

Philosophically considered, growth from the standpoint of human evolution is a process proceeding from heterogeneity to homogeneity. In time, therefore, the isolated consciousness of the individual fragments is reunited to become the complete consciousness of the Whole. 

Then, and then only, is the condition of all-knowing an absolute reality. Thus all creatures are relatively ignorant yet relatively wise; comparatively nothing yet comparatively all. The microscope reveals to man his significance; the telescope, his insignificance. Through the eternities of existence man is gradually increasing in both wisdom and understanding; his ever-expanding consciousness is including more of the external within the area of itself. 

Even in man’s present state of imperfection it is dawning upon his realization that he can never be truly happy until he is perfect, and that of all the faculties contributing to his self-perfection none is equal in importance to the rational intellect. Through the labyrinth of diversity only the illumined mind can, and must, lead the soul into the perfect light of unity. 

In addition to the simple ignorance which is the most potent factor in mental growth there exists another, which is of a far more dangerous and subtle type. This second form, called twofold or complex ignorance, may be briefly defined as ignorance of ignorance. 

Worshiping the sun, moon, and stars, and offering sacrifices to the winds, the primitive savage sought with crude fetishes to propitiate his unknown gods. He dwelt in a world filled with wonders which he did not understand. Now great cities stand where once roamed the Crookboned men. Humanity no longer regards itself as primitive or aboriginal. 

The spirit of wonder and awe has been succeeded by one of sophistication. Today man worships his own accomplishments, and either relegates the immensities of time and space to the background of his consciousness or disregards them entirely. The twentieth century makes a fetish of civilization and is overwhelmed by its own fabrications; its gods are of its own fashioning. Humanity has forgotten how infinitesimal, how impermanent and how ignorant it actually is. 

Ptolemy has been ridiculed for conceiving the earth to be the center of the universe, yet modern civilization is seemingly founded upon the hypothesis that the planet earth is the most permanent and important of all the heavenly spheres, and that the gods from their starry thrones are fascinated by the monumental and epochal events taking place upon this spherical ant-hill in Chaos. 

From age to age men ceaselessly toil to build cities that they may rule over them with pomp and power–as though a fillet of gold or ten million vassals could elevate man above the dignity of his own thoughts and make the glitter of his scepter visible to the distant stars. As this tiny planet rolls along its orbit in space, it carries with it some two billion human beings who live and die oblivious to that immeasurable existence lying beyond the lump on which they dwell. 

Measured by the infinities of time and space, what are the captains of industry or the lords of finance? If one of these plutocrats should rise until he ruled the earth itself, what would he be but a petty despot seated on a grain of Cosmic dust? 

Philosophy reveals to man his kinship with the All. It shows him that he is a brother to the suns which dot the firmament; it lifts him from a taxpayer on a whirling atom to a citizen of Cosmos. It teaches him that while physically bound to earth (of which his blood and bones are part), there is nevertheless within him a spiritual power, a diviner Self, through which he is one with the symphony of the Whole. 

Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality–such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance. 

If the Infinite had not desired man to become wise, He would not have bestowed upon him the faculty of knowing. 

If He had not intended man to become virtuous, He would not have sown within the human heart the seeds of virtue. 

If He had predestined man to be limited to his narrow physical life, He would not have equipped him with perceptions and sensibilities capable of grasping, in part at least, the immensity of the outer universe. 

The criers of philosophy call all men to a comradeship of the spirit: to a fraternity of thought: to a convocation of Selves. 

Philosophy invites man out of the vainness of selfishness; 

out of the sorrow of ignorance and the despair of worldliness; 

out of the travesty of ambition and the cruel clutches of greed; 

out of the red hell of hate and the cold tomb of dead idealism. 

Philosophy would lead all men into the broad, calm vistas of truth, for the world of philosophy is a land of peace where those finer qualities pent up within each human soul are given opportunity for expression. 

Here men are taught the wonders of the blades of grass; each stick and stone is endowed with speech and tells the secret of its being. All life, bathed in the radiance of understanding, becomes a wonderful and beautiful reality. From the four corners of creation swells a mighty anthem of rejoicing, for here in the light of philosophy is revealed the purpose of existence; the wisdom and goodness permeating the Whole become evident to even man’s imperfect intellect.

Here the yearning heart of humanity finds that companionship which draws forth from the innermost recesses of the soul that great store of good which lies there like precious metal in some deep hidden vein. 

Following the path pointed out by the wise, the seeker after truth ultimately attains to the summit of wisdom’s mount, and gazing down, beholds the panorama of life spread out before him. The cities of the plains are but tiny specks and the horizon on every hand is obscured by the gray haze of the Unknown. Then the soul realizes that wisdom lies in breadth of vision; that it increases in comparison to the vista. Then as man’s thoughts lift him heavenward, streets are lost in cities, cities in nations, nations in continents, continents in the earth, the earth in space, and space in an infinite eternity, until at last but two things remain: the Self and the goodness of God. 

While man’s physical body resides with him and mingles with the heedless throng, it is difficult to conceive of man as actually inhabiting a world of his own-a world which he has discovered by lifting himself into communion with the profundities of his own internal nature. 

Man may live two lives. 

One is a struggle from the womb to the tomb. Its span is measured by man’s own creation–time. Well may it be called the unheeding life. 

The other life is from realization to infinity. It begins with understanding, its duration is forever, and upon the plane of eternity it is consummated. This is called the philosophic life. 

Philosophers are nor born nor do they die; for once having achieved the realization of immortality, they are immortal. Having once communed with Self, they realize that within there is an immortal foundation that will not pass away. Upon this living, vibrant base–Self–they erect a civilization which will endure after the sun, the moon, and the stars have ceased to be. 

The fool lives but for today; the philosopher lives forever. When once the rational consciousness of man rolls away the stone and comes forth from its sepulcher, it dies no more; for to this second or philosophic birth there is no dissolution. By this should not be inferred physical immortality, but rather that the philosopher has learned that his physical body is no more his true Self than the physical earth is his true world. In the realization that he and his body are dissimilar–that though the form must perish the life will not fail–he achieves conscious immortality. 

This was the immortality to which Socrates referred when he said: “Anytus and Melitus may indeed put me to death, but they cannot injure me.” To the wise, physical existence is but the outer room of the hall of life. Swinging open the doors of this antechamber, the illumined pass into the greater and more perfect existence. 

The ignorant dwell in a world bounded by time and space. To those, however, who grasp the import and dignity of Being, these are but phantom shapes, illusions of the senses-arbitrary limits imposed by man’s ignorance upon the duration of Deity. The philosopher lives and thrills with the realization of this duration, for to him this infinite period has been designed by the All-Wise Cause as the time of all accomplishment. 

Man is not the insignificant creature that he appears to be; his physical body is not the true measure of his real self. The invisible nature of man is as vast as his comprehension and as measureless as his thoughts. The fingers of his mind reach out and grasp the stars; his spirit mingles with the throbbing life of Cosmos itself. He who has attained to the state of understanding thereby has so increased his capacity to know that he gradually incorporates within himself the various elements of the universe. The unknown is merely that which is yet to be included within the consciousness of the seeker. 

Philosophy assists man to develop the sense of appreciation; for as it reveals the glory and the sufficiency of knowledge, it also unfolds those latent powers and faculties whereby man is enabled to master the secrets of the seven spheres. From the world of physical pursuits the initiates of old called their disciples into the life of the mind and the spirit. Throughout the ages, the Mysteries have stood at the threshold of Reality–that hypothetical spot between noumenon and phenomenon, the Substance and the shadow. 

The gates of the Mysteries stand ever ajar and those who will may pass through into the spacious domicile of spirit. The world of philosophy lies neither to the right nor to the left, neither above nor below. Like a subtle essence permeating all space and all substance, it is everywhere; it penetrates the innermost and the outermost parts of all being. 

In every man and woman these two spheres are connected by a gate which leads from the not-self and its concerns to the Self and its realizations. In the mystic this gate is the heart, and through spiritualization of his emotions he contacts that more elevated plane which, once felt and known, becomes the sum of the worth-while. 

In the philosopher, reason is the gate between the outer and the inner worlds, the illumined mind bridging the chasm between the corporeal and the incorporeal. Thus godhood is born within the one who sees, and from the concerns of men he rises to the concerns of gods. 

In this era of “practical” things men ridicule even the existence of God. They scoff at goodness while they ponder with befuddled minds the phantasmagoria of materiality. They have forgotten the path which leads beyond the stars. The great mystical institutions of antiquity which invited man to enter into his divine inheritance have crumbled, and institutions of human scheming now stand where once the ancient houses of learning rose a mystery of fluted columns and polished marble. The white-robed sages who gave to the world its ideals of culture and beauty have gathered their robes about them and departed from the sight of men. Nevertheless, this little earth is bathed as of old in the sunlight of its Providential Generator. 

Wide-eyed babes still face the mysteries of physical existence. Men continue to laugh and cry, to love and hate; Some still dream of a nobler world, a fuller life, a more perfect realization. In both the heart and mind of man the gates which lead from mortality to immortality are still ajar. Virtue, love, and idealism are yet the regenerators of humanity. God continues to love and guide the destinies of His creation. The path still winds upward to accomplishment. The soul of man has not been deprived of its wings; they are merely folded under its garment of flesh. 

Philosophy is ever that magic power which, sundering the vessel of clay, releases the soul from its bondage to habit and perversion. Still as of old, the soul released can spread its wings and soar to the very source of itself. The criers of the Mysteries speak again, bidding all men welcome to the House of Light. 

The great institution of materiality has failed. The false civilization built by man has turned, and like the monster of Frankenstein, is destroying its creator. 

Religion wanders aimlessly in the maze of theological speculation. 

Science batters itself impotently against the barriers of the unknown.

Only transcendental philosophy knows the path. Only the illumined reason can carry the understanding part of man upward to the light. Only philosophy can teach man to be born well, to live well, to die well, and in perfect measure be born again. Into this band of the elect–those who have chosen the life of knowledge, of virtue, and of utility–the philosophers of the ages invite YOU.

Masons and Mormon Temple Builders

kirtland-temple-13

Saw a blog article about the history of ownership of the LDS Kirtland Temple which was opened in 1833 and is pictured above.

The picture reminded me of the Masonic Temple in Bannak, Mt which Lietta and I visited a couple of years ago.

bannak masonic
The Williamsburg Virginia Lodge

masonic williamsburgva

and the Warsaw, Ny Lodge  show essentially the same design.

Masonic Warsaw NY

Interestingly the “Cultural Hall” in Nauvoo which many think was a disguise for the actual Nauvoo Lodge and the Seventies Hall which looks like it could have been another disguised Lodge.

LDS culutral hall Nauvoo IllSeventies Hall Nauvoo
The current Nauvoo Temple which the Church obviously wanted to resemble the original.

Current Nauvoo_Templeoriginal nauvoo-temple

On the original the Moroni masonic image weather vane was atop the cupola. You can google that weathervane to see more images of it.

atop the nauvoo temple weathervane moroni and masonic image

Which brings me to the image below.

Who would be interested in buying the original Nauvoo Temple

Now who do you suppose the brethren back then thought might be interested in buying a building that looked like that?

Myth, Herds and Freemasonry 

Freemason Civic Duty

Why Can’t We All Just Agree?

Having been accused of being a liberal far more times than a conservative, I’m drawn again to the impacts of what professionals refer to as “socialization” where communities,   cultures – even celebrities without credentials – strongly influence the general attitudes in place.

There are areas of my community, of my county and state that are in many ways strongholds of political or social philosophies with which I am not in total harmony, but none contain individuals whose opinions render them unworthy of my regard or respect.

I was nurtured and grew to adulthood inside a culture – both social and geographic – that has tended in recent years to combine social and political conservatism into one identity. Living outside that culture now for most of 40 years, I’m still drawn emotionally to some of the feelings and values that I carried with me when – unknowingly as a young missionary – I left the area, never to call it home again.

Just as I’ve mentioned to those who have assumed that I am socially and politically “liberal,” I struggle sometimes to relate to friends and family whom I assume to be “conservative” when in fact the label may be totally meaningless.

Whether we admit it or not,  every definition of life we possess is an assumption. Every reasoning behind what we choose to do and how we choose to behave is based on assumption.

Our assumptions are the authors of our own story, that personal mythology from which we navigate our lives.

Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox years ago addressed this subject with excellence and I have paraphrased their writing to discuss what in essence are the different herd mentalities that inform who we are, perhaps who we used to be, and who we might become.

Our assumptions are usually based on that informal and formal set of teachings from which we authorized our answers to the following questions:

Where did I come from?

Why is there evil in the world?

What happens to me when I die?

With whom do I belong?

How close should I be to others?

What are my obligations?

What is taboo and to be avoided?

Whom should I imitate?

Who are the heroes, villains, enemies and allies?

What are the stages along life’s way?

What is disease?

How can I be healed?

What should we do with bounty and surplus?

What is our relationship with nature and the animals?

Why do we do the things we do with the feelings that we feel?

In so doing are we vitalized or bleeding away emotional energy? And does what we do leave us feeling validated or merely accepted?

Our lives are living myths of our own creation. Our companion is our personal story, all the stuff inside we use tell us who we are and tell the world the same.

“Myth” is a word given too much work in how we share knowledge with one another.

Defenders of religious creeds use the word “myth” to characterize religious beliefs that conflict with their own, saying

“Your, assumptions are not as valid as my assumptions. In fact, your assumptions are myth while my assumptions are truth.”

What do we deny if we refuse to recognize our own assumptions?

How much are our individual lives shaped by inner scenarios based on assumptions we have been taught to accept as absolutely true?

Do we live an inner myth that reflects how we’ve been taught that the real  world is defined by our personal societal culture rather than how we’ve discovered the world to actually be?

Our personal mythical scenario is always on and is always running. Sam Keen has described myth as referring to

“an intricate set of interlocking stories, rituals, rites and customs that inform and give the pivotal sense of meaning and direction to a person, family, community or culture.

The myths we carry around inside include unspoken consensus, the habitual way of seeing things, unquestioned assumptions, and our ‘automatic stance’.”

A society lives on its own unconscious conspiracy to consider a myth the truth, the way things really are. Do we belong to the majority who are literal without thinking; men and women who are not critical or reflective about the guiding “truths” – myths – of their own group?

As Keen implies,

” To a tourist in a strange land, an anthropologist studying a tribe, or a psychologist observing a patient, the myth is obvious. But to the person who lives within the mythic horizon, it is nearly invisible.”

I also like this quote from Carl Jung:

“I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’, and found that I did not know. So … I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks … I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.” -C.G. Jung, The Portable Jung

 

In a herd, members usually instinctively choose behavior that corresponds to that of the majority of other members. They do this through imitation, mimicry, citations or quotes as “authority”.

people often do and believe things merely because many other people do and believe the same things. The effect is often called herd instinct. People tend to follow the crowd without examining the merits of a particular thing.

As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. – Wikipedia

Herd behavior as a social study can describe how individuals in a group can act together without planned direction. There need not be strict control from upper echelon or hierarchy – individual cultural members tend to be the strictest enforcers of cultural norms and group-think. Herd behavior includes spontaneous moments such as riots, demonstrations and protests. However, herd behavior manifests itself consistently at religious gatherings, sporting events and organization meetings.

Where do we as Masons find place in all this?

Lewis Monical, a Past Grand Master in Arizona, wrote the following (courtesy of Masonic World website):

“If we are to regain the stature of former years, we must move Masonry out of the lodge room and make it a powerful, constructive influence in community, state, national and international affairs. The Masonic body, as such cannot act, but we as individuals and Masons, can certainly do our part. We must speak out through the public platform and the public press. We must assume a positive attitude in public affairs. Hopefully, such action will pro-vide a powerful modern awakening for Masonry today. The time is coming, it may even be here, when societies like ours must come out in the open with a public declaration of aims so all men may see in all this political confusion that there is one body with strong and worthy ideals.”

In the first degree, we are charged to be true to our government and just to our country.  From Morals and Dogma we are told: “This degree teaches us that no free government can long endure, when the people cease to select for their magistrates the best and the wisest of their statesmen; when, passing these by, they permit factions or sordid interests to select for them the small, the low, the ignoble and the obscure, and into such hands commit the country’s destinies. There is, after all, a ‘divine right’ to govern; and it is vested to the ablest, wisest, best, of every nation.

“A democratic government undoubtedly has its defects, because it is made and ad-ministered by men, and not by the Wise Gods.  It cannot be concise and sharp, like the despotic. When its ire is aroused it develops its latent strength, and the sturdiest rebel trembles.  But its habitual domestic role is tolerant, pa-tient, and indecisive. Men are brought together, first to differ, then to agree. Affirmation, nega-tion, discussion, solution; these are the means of attaining truth.”

Our present government is seen by many to be crumbling into ruin, It has lost much of its effectiveness because Americans have lost trust in it. The crisis has been long in the making.  Long before the present flagrant corruption and moral bankruptcy in our government, it was axiomatic with sophisticated citizens that first-rate people seldom make a career of politics.

Because we have entrusted civil government to men of mediocre ability and shabby morality, we now have the reverse of what we want, yet we’re “asking for it” by our cynicism.

This nation has reached a point in distrust of government beyond which it must not let itself drift apathetically any longer. We now have two apparent options: (A) Let “government of the people, by the people and for the people” run right on down the drain; or (B) take a full turn-about and return to the kind of government our forefathers designed for us.

If the choice is Option A, there will be a time of anarchy and chaos. Then the “Savior of the Republic” will ride up to the “rescue. ” Government will be restored with a vengeance, and it will be for the people, but not of and by them. Nations drift into despotism and dicta-torship. As Chesterton said: “A despotism is a tired democracy.”

If the choice is Option B, it will be up to Masonry, the church, and other institutions which influence the public mind to re-educate the nation about the worth and dignity of public service in government. It is a truism and a notorious fact that a nation gets the kind of political leaders it deserves; and its deserts are determined by its expectations and demands. If we expect third-rate people and demand nothing better, that’s what we get. If what we get in the end is Option A, it will be because in that fleeting moment, when we were still free to choose, we wrung our hands and said: “Well, that is politics. It’s a dirty game, so we have to put up with the dirty people who play it for the rest of us. Who wants a saint in the White House? ”

Masons today, especially the younger ones, desire to act together as a Fraternity, not as individuals only. We have fostered this idea in DeMolay and continued it in our own Craft.  Historically, Masonry steers a wide path from involvement as a Fraternity, but as individuals, we do the Fraternity a great disservice if we do not involve ourselves in the task of bettering our schools, our community and our govern-ment.

This stance of uninvolvement is sometimes unpopular, unattractive and perhaps in some ways accounts for our decline in membership, and NPD suspensions. We might also consider this as a partial reason for non-attendance in Blue Lodges because of increasing commitments to appendant bodies of Masonry. Our Craft traditionally prevents the sponsoring of Boy Scouts and other good works which the member can do in our other Masonic organizations.

We return to the definition of the problem.  How can our beloved Craft find its way out of this predicament without radical change?  Radical change is not desirable, nor is it necessary.

Nothing forbids the members of the Craft from joining others within the Masonic family to act in civic duties. From Morals and Dogma again: “Masonry is action and not inertness. It requires its initiates to work, actively and earnestly, for the benefit of their Brethren, their country, and mankind. It is the patron of the oppressed, as it is the comforter and consoler of the unfortunate and wretched…. It is the advocate of the common people in those things which concern the best interest of mankind…. Its fidelity to its mission will be accurately evidenced by the extent of the efforts it employs, and the means it sets on foot, to improve the people at large and to better their condition. ”

Specifically, what can we do? Our real civic responsibility is to convince the world by our actions that we are Masons. We should do those things which provide leadership in im-proving the physical, moral and emotional status of our environment. We should sit in on school board meetings, announce our support of well-qualified and fair-minded candidates for public office. We should support community drives for blood banks, traffic safety and community beautification. We should support our DeMolay, Rainbow, and Job’s Daughters, not only with advice and money, but with our presence.

In fine, we should provide, with our actions, the kind of a public image which the whole world can admire and will wish to emulate .

A diverse culture will by definition have a diverse set of values, assumption and yes, mythological stories ranging from origin to culmination.

It is only when we assume that we individually or as members of a specific culture have the one true point of view and morality that we in fact weaken the whole of our entire society.

Civic Duty and American Freemasonry

Politics

Effective contribution to civic discourse:

What I learned about being so right I might also be wrong.

The greatest American Heroes are those willing to learn about sharing opinion … and then share it. To my chagrin, I have not tried to be a great American Hero, rather a Johnny One-Note who encourages political polarization as opposed to genuine civic and civil discourse.

The town-hall citizens that I believe were the civic hope of our Founding Fathers have a need to understand and preach political wisdom with among other things, three tools of communication:

Rhetoric – The art of speaking or writing effectively

Reason – The power of the mind to think, understand and form judgments by a process of logic

Persuasion – The action or fact of persuading someone to accept an idea, concept or fact.

A Con is not one of those tools.

A Con – The act of cheating or tricking someone by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true. A con is also the act of saying to someone exactly what that person is expecting to hear in order to create the illusion that speaker and listener are “on the same page.”

The goal of political debate is not necessarily to be “right.” Nor is it an advancement of a particular view of “the truth.” Rather, political debate has as its goal that of causing someone to act in a way consistent with the speaker’s objectives. Fundamentally as campaigns roll-out, political debate’s most important pursuit is the winning of votes.

Many political persuaders decided long ago that truth and reason are irrelevant to political debate. With competing ideas in a supposed democracy in which free speech is a function of persuasion, those most easily persuaded tend to be mostly one-dimensional, simple-minded or in fact unscrupulous regarding ends and means of persuasion.

If you would persuade, maintain constantly for yourself a reverence for reason and genuine truth. However, understand that you yourself may not know what is true, whether or not your reasoning can be shown as flawed and your own priorities not necessarily of the highest importance in the over-arching political and civic reality.

Unless you understand that your assumptive knowledge and wisdom are not drinkable bathwater, you have little to contribute toward genuine consensus.

Reason may not be the most effect tool of perceiving the correctness of your own perceptual truth and is perhaps of greater value in discovering for yourself what is not true.

Bearing a respect for reason and truth according to reason, political debate ought to be then a clear-headed objective of reaching consensus based on commonality of understandings of truth and reason.

Political debate is at its least usefulness when the principal reliance is on talking points, canned stump-speeches and the broken record of “Johnny One-Note” candidates. The object of such political persuasion is the creation of a voting base of Johnny One-Note voters who are obsessed with single or merely one or two issues about which a candidate or its party are obsessed.

Such becomes the Johnny-One-Note electorate about which it the following has been written and this is a quote I have publicly posted previously:

Author Oliver Lange in his novel, Vandenberg, had this to say about American society in the 1970’s.

“We proved the lie, were served up with a gagging portion of our own vintage distillation of apocalyptic horseshit

— all the narcissistic swill about indomitable spirit, invincibility, courage and nobility of purpose

— and demonstrated once and for all to those who looked on with interest a fact long suspected:

that this nation, through a self-administered indoctrination of spurious righteousness, larded with the false rewards of superfluous luxury, had at last achieved the most tractable, malleable — let’s face it, spineless — people to walk the face of the earth.”

– Vandenberg (later published under the title, Defiance) – The Journals, 1971

Lange’s Cold War novel concerned a fictional lone American holdout against a Soviet occupation of America – hardly a liberal theme by today’s standards.

Yet the description still appears to fit this society to a Tee.

Our politicians of both parties thrive on tossing our way narcissistic swill about what America stands for and what the American People are truly like.

I’m reminded of G.W. Bush during his presidency expressing surprise that the rest of the world might not see America and Americans in the same light as our narcissistic swill and all those talking points celebrities of all stripes throw at us.

For all of us as a political audience talk is cheap, indomitable spirits are prompted by the cheap theatrics and propaganda of pundits and political personalities, movies and commercialized patriotism more interested in money than global peace, global honor or global respect.

If we refuse to seek consensus among ourselves our whole lives will seem like unsatisfying and unavoidable implementations of ideas and notions entirely lacking in substance and socially redeeming value.

Walking in a Mason’s Path: 21st Century Conformity or Liberty and Freedom?

mysticcoffeecup

Many people introduce themselves in categorized or labeled ways. Some might do so by describing themselves as a “Southerner” or a “Yankee” or politically as a Conservative or Liberal. (Since I live in Washington State, my sister calls me a “tree-hugging, mocha-snarfing Northwesterner.”)

My primary spiritual foundation as a Freemason is my “walk” in a Master’s Path which is based on personal perception of how I view life and life’s questions.

The way in which we perceive our path – consciously or unconsciously -reflects that we have – permanently or tentatively – internalized certain assumptions about life, the Divine and the following questions:

Where did I come from? 

What we do know is that most sacred writing declares outright or infers that we are by our nature sons and daughters of The Divine and in our prayers and oblations many of us relate to the Divine Architect in such a context. One observation in this regard is that we ought not make our emulation based on that model  an impossible pattern.

Life is not an impossible pattern and one principle cornerstone is in fact a very personal relationship with God – as we perceive God – unfettered by someone else’s magic, interference or need for a go-between. That relationship, that sense of communion or connection with the Higher Power is not only ours to possess, but a  way of creating or re-working our life pattern.

Why is there evil in the world? 

In life we encounter seemingly constant problems of addressing and confronting evil according to the values of our personal moral compasses. I do not think that we are limited to the personal opinions of anyone else in order to seek and find answers to why evil exists. A walk in a Mason’s Path includes the need to discern the answer as to why evil exists, how it is to be discerned and in what form a response should be made. In my opinion we are left with our need to explore … to learn and understand “how to know” rather than precisely “what to do.”

What happens to me when I die? 

Repent for the kingdom is at hand” does not nor did it ever mean “do things my way or you’ll burn in hell.” If it did, from what we find in the Holy Bible, then Jesus would have not spoken to Nicodemus in such a metaphorical manner, nor told his disciples to “Feed my sheep” when “govern my lambs and don’t let them out of your sight” would more accurately reflect “do it or else.

Jesus literally walked into death unafraid – because He had knowledge of reality that went beyond mortal fear of the unknown as well as an understanding of eternal life and how the kingdom of God exists within us.

Esoterically, a Mason’s knowledge of reality perhaps need to move beyond mortal tendencies to fear death and the unknown. Otherwise, lilies of the field have no business in the fear, shame and guilt of religious dogma since they don’t seem to worry about conformity and group think.

Ought not our paths be simple, confident, and compassionate and based on inculcating a desire in others for the highest good of all concerned? For that reason, a Walk in a  Mason’s Path ought to include a clearly obtained and definable understanding of what the great spiritual leaders have meant about the kingdom of God being within rather than a place in the future.

What is taboo and what is to be avoided? 

A walk in a Mason’s Path by common sense should include effort and thought as to having defined what is taboo and what to avoid. As doing so conflicts with contemporary judgmental mores – are we not forced to deal with those questions on a very intimate and personal level?

Who do we shun – if we must shun?

With whom do we socialize and what are the consequences of that activity?

Again from the Holy Bible, “sinners” was a word Jesus ended up throwing back in the faces of those who professed most to know who and what sinners were. Judgment and execution of penalty was precisely what Jesus refused to do with those among whom He preached the most. The accusers, the judgers and those who would execute were the societal segment He opposed most directly.

He walked and talked and blessed and healed the most outcast, persecuted and exploited members of society; the lepers, the poor, the tax collectors, prostitutes, the demon-possessed and the zealots hungering for revolt – the entire spectrum of what the hypocritical “righteous” considered dangerous or unclean. Furthermore, in doing so,  he did not catch leprosy, did not fall into a psychologically destitute poverty, did not become a tax collector nor prostitute himself, become demon-possessed nor join in political revolution.

Does that Path not suggest that we could do the same without soiling ourselves?

Who are the heroes, villains, enemies and allies? 

Does a Mason pay undue homage to supposed moral celebrities, a high priesthood, an assortment of politicians – particularly those with whom he agrees? If we don’t own our values, intuition and discernment, then who does?

In summation, I believe that moral and spiritual independence is a Mason’s holiest prescription for a real relationship with The Divine Architect. It is based on fierce independence of self that leads to seeking to know and understand The Divine in the most useful and working way we can find.