Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Reflections on Freemasonry

I have spent a considerable amount of time in the past studying the rituals, symbolism, and philosophy of Freemasonry. The following are some of the conclusions that I have drawn concerning the fraternity. It began through the simple initiatory rites of the medieval craft guilds. After achieving a certain degree of proficiency, the apprentice would be initiated into the secrets of his trade, consisting of a knowledge of the principles of building, architecture, and symbolism. Reference to works such as The Ten Book on Architecture by Vitruvius can demonstrate the vastness and sophistication of the education of the architect while books on the symbolism and sacred geometry of such structures as Indian and Egyptian temples, mosques, and cathedrals can demonstrate the profundity of the spiritual wisdom which is his legacy. Within the traditional worldview, building, like all traditional arts and crafts, is attributed a divine origin. It is something given to us from God through the angels and prophets, and is therefore imbued with the sanctity of its origin. As a sacred and symbolic work issuing from a divine source, it may serve as a support of the spiritual life of the craftsman. The practice of building, the transformation wrought upon the physical substances, and the canon of sacred doctrine transmitted through symbolism, all serve to support the spiritual life provided by the religion of the community. Like the forms of spiritual practice which it supports, it only possesses efficacy within the context of the religious tradition as a whole. In other words it is an aspect and dimension of the tradition issuing forth from or working in concert with the revelation, not an independent means of salvation in its own right.

All of the above associations are in reference to the practice of the craft of masonry as it originally existed and as it exists in itself, not to the modern fraternity of Freemasons. The modern institution is secular, not in the sense that it does not acknowledge the existence of God (an acknowledgment that is actually one its prerequisites for membership), but in the sense that it does not ally itself with a particular religion so as to fulfill its function as a support to the spiritual path. Neither does it require of its membership such a participation. Perhaps the greatest deficiency of the modern institution consists in the transition from operation to speculation. When the institution ceased to perpetuate the practice of building, it seems to have lost its reason for being. The symbolism still possesses its meaning, but it is no longer integrated into the life of the initiate through the daily practice of the craft. The transition from operative masonry to speculative masonry precipitated an excessive emphasis upon discordant symbols. Without the practice of building to limit the range of symbols drawn upon and the nature of the knowledge transmitted, the initiation rituals soon began incorporate many foreign symbol systems and various bodies of occult doctrine virtually indiscriminately leading to the dizzying hierarchy of rituals and synrectistic aggregate of symbols which destroyed the original simplcity and elegance of the craft initiation.

To state my present position very succinctly, I believe that the modern institutions of Freemasonry have strayed so far from their origins that not only do they fail to support religion but can actually serve as a hinderance to it when taken as a false substitute.

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