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Article # 119
Freemasonry, Universalism and World Society at the Beginning of the XXI Century

Author: M.W.Bro.Arun Chintopanth, OSM, M.W. the Grand Mast    Posted on: Wednesday, October 6, 2004
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[The VII World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges was held in Santiago, Chile between 5 th and 9 th of May, this year, attended by M.W.Grand Masters and their representatives of 70 Grand Lodges from all over the world. Our M.W.Grand Master, M.W.Bro. Arun Chinthopanth attended the Conference and presented a paper on “Freemasonry, Universalism and World Society at the Beginning of the XXI Century”. The paper exhibited his erudition and great learning and was well received with standing ovation and maximum appreciation. M.W.Bro.Arun has graciously granted permission to post this article in this website. This article will benefit and enlighten the Fraternity. Please read on…]

Freemasonry, Universalism and World Society at the Beginning of the XXI Century

M.W.Bro.Arun Chintopanth, OSM, M.W. the Grand Master

Mr.Chairman and My brother Grand Masters, Greetings to all of you and to all the brethren of the Grand Lodges that you represent.

I come from India, a land of spiritual seekers and spiritual teachers. Indian civilization has been ancient and very exalted thoughts have come from this ancient civilization through the centuries.

In the 10th Century, a man of learning by name Narayana Pandit in his work called ‘Hitopadesa’ gave expression to a profound thought in this verse:

“Aaiam Najaha Paro Veti Laghu Chetasam

Udara Charitanamtu Vasudeva Kutumbakam”.

It means that there are people, who distinguish and classify others as either their own or different from them, whereas there exists another class of people, who say that the entire creation of God is one family i.e. Vasudeva Kutumbakam.

My brothers, we are assembled here at Santiago to reiterate this very theme – the Universalism of the World Society.

What Narayan Pandit said in the 10th Century, we the Freemasons are set to prove to the world in the XXI Century.

The concept of Universalism of World Society and of a universal brotherhood could perhaps be traced from the time the ‘thinking man’ came on the scene. The concept of ‘Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of Man’, which now is the essence of Freemasonry, is also the foundation for all the religions of the world.

W.Bro. Hosbeng H. Hased of Lodge Zanzibar in his treatise on ‘Our Masonic Quest’ says:

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, man has been experimenting periods of pessimistic materialism and disillusionment. In every age that man was overwhelmed by despair and dereliction, the ancients instituted Mysteries, performed functions of stirring up man’s ‘State of Darkness’, kindling the dying ashes of his hope into a flame; and reviving in him the senses of the Divine Presence, lost behind the veil of material attachments. In a world fruitlessly groping blindly after security and certainty, our Ancient Mysteries have always revealed to their aspirants an ever present and every loving Divinity. The Almighty Father, Architect and Ruler of the Universe, offering them an impregnable and everlasting Refuge, thereby reminding them of their forgotten heritage – their birthright of happiness in ‘The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man’.

Let us examine what we mean by Society. A Society has been defined ‘as a conglomeration of social beings such as men, expressing their nature within the parameters of an organization, which guides and controls their behaviour in myriad ways’.

Society is the relationship between two constituents determined by mutual awareness. Society is where beings exist in mutual recognition and awareness which ultimately reflects their behaviour.

It was Aristotle who first expounded the theory that man was a social animal. According to Aristotle, ‘the person who is incapable of sharing a common life is either below or above humanity’; ‘is either a beast or a God’.

The pattern of behaviour between beings recognizing each other, being aware of each other, and for the benefit of each other is being SOCIAL. All human beings have to interact with other human beings in order to survive. Both nature and necessity impel man to live in society. ‘No man is an island’.

Having been impelled to live in Society, man, the animal, has to perforce behave in a manner that is determined by two main forces-Physical and Social.

That indeed is the differentiating factor between man, a social animal and a beast. If we agree with Aristotle’s theory that man is a social animal, then all human beings, the moment they are born irrespective of colour, race, creed nationality, height or weight become social animals. All men therefore are social animals, who must live their respective lives within certain given parameters of their individual behaviours that

they may benefit other humans i.e. the society.

Unfortunately for us, Man, claiming himself to be a rational being who claims that he can think for himself, goes about doing exactly the opposite resulting in chaos and disharmony. Instead of being of benefit to other humans, he becomes a bane to them.

Now let us view the kind of scenario that we expect to see in the XXI century. We have been reading books and articles lately on the modern age – the XXI Century. Authors and contributors have written on the various aspects of this millennium. All of them, or at least most of them are heralding this millennium as an era of material prosperity – an era of materialism. Thus the most important pursuit in the next millennium seems to be the pursuit of the three Ps – Pursuit of Pleasure, Profit and Power.

Much action, much movement has been prophesied; but in what direction? There is no great ideal or purpose except material gain. Living a life of adhocism, day to day, hour to hour without any great ideal or purpose. That is all. Such a civilization is a dangerous civilization. The powerful Roman civilization itself got destroyed when the people resorted to crass materialism without any great ideal – without far sight and foresight.

Bill Gates, the messiah of the new generation in his book ‘The Road Ahead’ has glorified this millennium as a beginning of another great journey. He glorifies this era and says very optimistically that this revolution – the Information Technology revolution – will touch even more lives and will take all further. But, brethren in spite of all this bravado there is one significant passage in this book which I want to highlight. In this couched passage he says:

“As with all major changes, the benefits of the information Society in the next century will carry costs. There will be dislocation in some business sectors that will create a need for worker restraining. The availability of virtually free communications and computing will alter the relationships of nations and of socio-economic groups within nations.”

He further says that new concerns regarding issues of equity, individual privacy, commercial confidentiality and national security will become a focal point. He also says that economic upheaval will create wholesale unemployment especially among older workers. Entire professions and industries will perish.

Noel Tyll in his book ‘Predictions for a New Millennium’ says,

‘The portrait is inescapably one of the painful use of force in the name of radical doctrine; wars of the spirit as well as the breakdown of spiritual order.’

In India, the period of time is broken up in terms of YUGA. According to this, we are now in the KALIYUGA. The scriptures tell us that: ‘In Kaliyuga all will be dishonest. Charity and sacrifices will be only for a name. People will be short lived and the stature of the people also will diminish. Beastly type of men will be on the increase. Taste and smell will vanish. The yield of milk from cows will decrease. Flowers and fruits will become less. Rains will be in and out of season. There will be murder of people everywhere. Righteous persons will decrease and sinners will increase.’

Overall, quite a depressing scene indeed! Mankind seems to have no hope; seems to be the worst of time. But yet, however grim and difficult the situation appears to be, it is certainly not devoid of solutions.

One such solution goes by the name of ‘Freemasonry’ of which we are all an integral part.

As one spiritual leader writes, ‘When a society feels stifled and strangled by too much logic and rationalism, when materialism begins to cross people’s sensitivity, they turn to God and spirituality”.

And this is why Freemasonry in this scenario of the XXI Century will find a fertile soil to grow to great heights. The field will be fertile for good souls to think more of Godhead and turn to the practice of the principles and tenets of Freemasonry to escape, or shall we say, isolate their souls from the general chaos and from the influence of materialism. Freemasonry, it appears, will be a panacea to the ills of the XXI Century. While the qualities of love, respect, reverence, truth, discipline, charity, kindness, compassion, honesty and contentment will become more and more alien to the large section of humanity, it will, however, unite the minority, the righteous lot, who profess these qualities under the name and form of Freemasonry.

However chaotic Society may become, there will always be exceptions. Such exceptions will be oasis in the world of chaos and disorder. One such oasis will be Freemasonry. The more outrageous the outer world, the stronger will be the need for an organization like Freemasonry.

What we presume to be a chaotic state of the Society in the XXI Century can be perceived as opportunities for Freemasonry. So long as the concept of Freemasonry is strong, be it in a handful of men, Society will gain from it and there can be no threat to it. Let us remember that no external threats can thwart a righteous cause.

As Shakespeare says through Julius Ceaser:

“There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,

For I am armed to strong in honesty

That they pass by me as the idle wind,

Which I respect not.”

Freemasonry by its own admission, cannot on any grounds disown or deny its responsibility to Society. It too must have a positive role to play and must benefit not only the individual as a member, but also the society at large.

And when Freemasonry plays its true role, converts more and more men to believe in its concept of the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man, the Universalism of World Society will get closer and closer to reality. And once this happens, Freemasonry would have done its bit in transforming world society from a state of chaos to a state of tranquility.

Let me conclude with a small story.

Aman died and reached heaven. But, he saw there was quite different from what he had expected. The place was looking just like a wreck, a ruin. “ Paradise” was written there, but the writing had faded. It was perhaps millions of years since somebody had written it. And it was dirty all over. And he saw people there, just dry bones. They were skeletons full of dust on them.

He asked some people there, ‘I want to inquire about a few great people, whether they are here – Gautham Buddha, Socrates, Pythagoras, Heraclites, Mahavira, Lao Tzu. Where are they?” The people said, ‘Never heard of them”.

The whole place looked as if it had not rained for centuries. Everything was dry, nothing was green. There were no flowers, or foliage. He had never seen such a place. He thought to himself, ‘My God, if this is paradise, God save us! This is a dangerous place.”

He then inquired whether there was train going to hell. They said, ‘It is about to leave, run and catch it’. He went on the train to see what hell was like. He thought, if this was the situation in heaven, what would be the situation in hell! But as he went closer, the breeze was becoming cooler, fragrant. And when he reached hell he saw beautiful people – men, women and children. He thought to himself, ‘My God, there seems to be something wrong. This place should be paradise, everybody looks so happy.’

He got down and asked somebody, ‘Have you heard about Socrates, ‘Goutham Buddha, Pythagoras, Heracles ….. ?

They said, ‘Those are the people who have changed the place. This place used to be so rotten, but since those persons came here, they have changed the whole place. Now everything is green, an oasis. There is love, there is song, there is music. Wait for the night, when everybody dances, sings; right now everybody is working in the fields. Look at the man – he’s Socrates working in the field.

My brother this what will happen to society when we as Freemasons will toil to convey with conviction, our belief in the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of man.

A desert becomes a valley of flowers.

Thank you.

M.W. Bro. Arun Chintopanth, the worthy son of R. W. Bro. S. Chintopanth, a renowned Ceramic Expert and a distinguished Freemason of Bangalore was born on 1 st January 1949.He graduated in Physics and Mathematics from St. Joseph College at Bangalore in 1969 and qualified himself as a Chartered Accountant in 1975 and has been practicing as a Chartered Accountant in Bangalore. He was initiated in Lodge Bangalore on 11 th January 1972. He is a good ritualist and an eminent speaker. He had a steady progress and rose to eminence by merit and was installed as the R.W. Regional Grand Master of Southern India and his full term of three years was highly successful. The most noteworthy is the renovation of the Freemasons Hall in Chennai at a great cost of a little more than 10 million rupees. His services to freemasonry was recognized and he was conferred the most distinguished award of the Order of Service to Masonry. He is the youngest recipient of that award. After his election in November 2002, he was installed as the M.W.Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India in November 2003.He is the youngest of the M.W.Grand Masters in India. He is an erudite scholar and a great orator. It is a delight to listen to his speeches. His address posted here was greatly appreciated by all the brethren present. We are very thankful to M.W.Bro. Arun Chinthopanth for the gracious permission granted to us to post his address in this website.—Webmaster.

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jkyacht wrote on Thursday, October 7, 2004:

Subject: Article 119

What a wonderful lecture and perfect parable to summarize with. It reminds me of the Buddhist precept of the ten worlds. from Hell the lowest to buddhahood, of course the highest possible life condition. But that the potential for Buddhahood exists in all ten worlds, even Hell. Thank you for your insightful words.

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