Masonic Mysticism....

It has already been shown that the structure and appointments of the Lodge are symbolic ; that the Lodge is a representation both of the Universe and of man himself as a Microcosm or the Universe in miniature ; that it is an image of his own complex constitution, his heavens and his earth (his spirituality and materiality) and all that therein is .By contemplating that image, therefore, the Mason learns to visualize himself ; he is given a first lesson in that self-knowledge in the full attainment of which is promised the understanding of all things. "Know thyself," we have said, was written over the portals of the ancient temples of Initiation, self-knowledge being the aim of their intention and the goal of their purpose. Masonry perpetuates this maxim by recommending self-knowledge as "the most interesting of all human studies." It is the tersest, wisest of instructions, yet little heeded nowadays, and it is incapable of fulfillment unless undertaken in accordance with the ancient science and with a concentration of one's whole energies upon the task .It involves the deepest introspection into oneself and perfect discrimination between what is real and permanent, and what is unreal and evanescent in ourselves . As aspirants to the Mysteries could not learn the secrets of the Temple without entering it, learning its lessons, undergoing its disciplines, and receiving its graduated initiations, so no one can attain self-knowledge save by entering into himself, distinguishing the false from the true, the unreal from the real, the base metal from the fine gold, sublimating the former into the latter, and ignoring what is negligible or superfluous . The very word Initiation primarily derives from the Latin in ire, to go within ; and thence, after learning the lessons of self-analysis, to make a new beginning (initium) by reconstructing one's knowledge of life and manner of living. The 43rd Psalm restates the same instruction : Introibo ad altare Dei, " I will go in to the divine altar ." Similarly, the Masonic Initiation contemplates a going within oneself, until one reaches the altar or centre, the Divine Principle or ultimate hidden basis of our being.To know the anatomy and physiology of the mortal body is not self-knowledge . The physical fabric of man is a perishing self, mere dust and shadow, projected from vitalizing forces within it, and without permanence or reality .To understand the nature and mechanism of the mind, emotions and desires, is useful and necessary, but is not self-knowledge, for they, too, are transient and, therefore, unreal aspects of the deeper real self. The personality we present to the world is not our real self. It is but a mask, a distorting veil, behind which the true self abides hiddenly and often unknown to our unreal surface self, unless and until it be brought forward into consciousness, displacing and overriding the notions and tendencies of the natural, but benighted, superficial self. Until then its "light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not ." To bring it forward out of its veils of darkness, to "comprehend" and establish it permanently in our awareness is, and has ever been, the purpose of all Initiation . But this cannot be achieved until the outer bodily and mental vestures have been purified and a voluntary dying or effacement of everything in us alien to, or conflicting with, the real self has been suffered ; all which is implied by the teaching of our three Degrees respectively.True self-knowledge is unobstructed conscious union of the human spirit with God and the realization of their identity . In that identic union the unreal, superficial selves have become obliterated . The sense of personality is lost, merged in the Impersonal and Universal. The little Ego is assumed into the great All, and knows as It knows . Man realizes his own inherent ultimate Divinity, and thenceforth lives and acts no longer as a separate individual, with an independent will, but in integration with the Divine Life and Will, whose instrument he becomes, whose purposes he thenceforth serves . This is "the great day of atonement," when the limited personal consciousness becomes identified or made at one with one's own divine, omniscient, vital and immortal Principle, which each must realize as the high priest of his personal temple and after many washings and purifyings against the contrary tendencies of his former unregenerate nature . This was the secret supreme attainment hinted at in the cryptic maxim "Know thyself !." Each of us may judge for himself whether he has yet reached it .To find our own Centre, our real self, involves, therefore, a turning inwards of our previously externalized faculties of sense and thought, and an introspective penetration of the outlying circumferential elements of our nature until the Centre" is found. This task is figured by our ceremonial perambulations and by the path of the winding staircase leading from the ante-rooms and forecourts of our nature to the Centre, up which the aspirant must ascend, asking, seeking, knocking, all the way ; being subjected from time to time to tests of his progress and receiving, without scruple or diffidence, such wages of good fortune or adversity as unseen Providences may know to be his due .The inmost sanctuary he will find closely guarded . Nothing unclean can enter or approach that holy place. Hence in the biblical description of the symbolic Temple one finds that, in the forecourt, stood the great laver of water for the cleansing of pollutions, and the altar of fire for the sacrificial burning up of one's impurities. The sword of the G., directed to those unqualified to enter the Lodge, is the Masonic way of inculcating that peril exists to those who are not properly prepared to approach the Centre or who would rush in where angels fear to tread ; it corresponds with the sword of the Cherubim in Genesis, which turned every way to keep the way to the Tree of Life from the approaches of the unfit.Mental as well as physical purity is indispensable to real Initiation, but is far more difficult of the two to acquire . Modern psychology discloses not only how fractional a part of our entire mentality functions above the threshold of our normal awareness, but also what knots and twists, what mental lumber, what latent horrors and accumulations of inner foulness, lie stored in the sub-consciousness of even those living ordinarily clean lives . They are the deposits of the mind's past activities ; forgotten often by the conscious mind itself, yet automatically registered upon our impalpable mind-stuff by the recording pencil (mentioned among the Third Degree working-tools) which at every moment of our lives posts up entries of our thoughts, words, and actions. For at the centre of ourselves is the all observant Eye; so that we ourselves constitute our own Judgment Book, wherein each of us unwittingly inscribes his own history and formulates his own destiny, and its pages we have each to read ourselves .With these mental deposits and consolidations those skilled in Initiation science are well familiar. The modern psychologist calls them "complexes ." In the old treatises on the subject they are termed foul ethers, congelations of impure mental matter . They are the "base metals" of Masonry. Each of us has been an artificer of those metals and worked them into all manners of grotesque designs in his mental nature, and hence the conferment upon the candidate, at a certain stage, of a name attributed to the first of such artificers and signifying him to be still incompletely purged of worldly possessions of this kind. These "base metals" require to be discharged from the system by a long process of corrective purifying thought and aspiration and to be transmuted into gold, or pure mind-stuff, before real Initiation is possible. No inward fog must intervene between the outer and innermost organs of consciousness when the time comes for these to be unified. The Light of Truth cannot penetrate a mind crammed with pernicious thought and with opinions to which it clings tenaciously . It must empty itself of all pre-acquired knowledge and prejudices, and then rise on the wings of its own genius into the realm of independent Thought and there learn Truth at first hand by directly beholding it.The incident of attaining Light and self-knowledge is dramatically emphasized in Masonic ceremonial . It is represented by that important moment in the ritual of the Third Degree when darkness suddenly gives way to bewildering light, in which light the candidate gazes back for the first" time upon the remains of his own past and beholds the emblems of his own mortality. He has now (at least in ceremony) surmounted the great transitional crisis involved in becoming raised from a natural to a higher order of humanity. He perceives his temporal organism to have been the "tomb of transformation," in which the great change has been wrought . He has risen from that tomb, and for him the old grave of the natural body has lost its sting, and that spiritual unconsciousness, which is termed "death," has been swallowed up in the victory won at last by his higher eternal principle over his lower temporal one. The mystical sprig of acacia has bloomed at the head of his grave, by the efflorescence of the Vital and Immortal Principle in his purified mind and neural system .Thus is portrayed for us, in Masonic ceremony, the moment of attainment of knowledge of one's true self. The incident, let it be emphasized, does not involve the physical death of the body and its faculties, for to "the companions of his former toils" the, purified mind will thereafter be reunited . But thenceforth they will be his docile, plastic, obedient servants, and no longer his master. He will continue to live in the world for the remainder of his appointed span, no longer for his own sake, but for the uplifting and advancement of his fellowmen to his own high degree. His expansion of consciousness and wisdom will become part of his equipment for practical work in the world. His own spiritual evolution is complete, so far as the educative experience of this world can take it ; he lives now to help on that of humanity.A great and good Brother, reviewing his long connection with Masonic sanctuaries more than a century ago, wrote thus about Initiation :"The only initiation which I preach and seek with all theardour of my soul is that by which we may enter intothe heart of God and make God's heart enter into us,there to form an indissoluble marriage which willmake us the friend, brother and spouse of our DivineRedeemer." This attainment is the self-knowledgepointed to by the Craft teaching, and to which thatteaching seeks to guide the reflections of everyLouis Claude de Saint Martin ; Theosophic Correspondence, with Baron Kirchberger ; a work of great value and disclosing the nature of Masonic work in French Lodges prior to the Revolution of 1789 .Masonic Initiation has no other end than this conscious union between the individual soul and the Universal Divine Spirit .This union is symbolized by the familiar conjunction of the square and the compasses. The square is the emblem of the soul ; the compasses of the Spirit which indwells in that soul. At first the Mason sees the points of the compasses concealed behind the square, and, as he progresses, their points emerge from that concealment until both become superimposed upon the square. Thus is indicated the progressive subordination of the soul and the corresponding coming forward of the ultimate Spirit into personal consciousness, so that the Mason can " work with both those points," thus becoming an efficient builder in the spirit and rendering the circle of his own being complete by attaining conscious alliance with his ultimate and only true self................................W.L. Wilmhurst

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