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Article # 154
M.W.G.M's Address in Daman

Author: M.W.Bro.Arun Chinthopanth O.S.M    Posted on: Sunday, January 2, 2005
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At the outset

[ Recently, the Regional Grand Lodge of Western India held a meeting at Daman, an important city in the Union Territory of Goa, which was once the possession of the Portugal. M.W.Bro. Arun Chinthopanth O.S.M, the M.W.Grand Master of India, graced the meeting and addressed the brethren present. It was an inspiring and highly enlightening address, exuding great erudition and was unique, providing a beautiful exposition of the core of the teachings of the Third Degree. We have been exhorted to “Guide (y)our reflections to that most interesting of all human studies, the knowledge of yourself.”, which gives rise to the question “Who Am I ”.The M.W.Brother, in his own inimitable style has guided us to an answer to that question. Ritual requires us to “ Unite in the Grand Design of being Happy and communicating Happiness”. There is a beautiful explanation of the Grand Design and Happiness. We are grateful and very much beholden to our M.W.Grand Master for his kind permission to post this address in this website for the benefit of the entire Fraternity. Please read on.. Webmaster]

At the outset, I would like to thank you, R.W.The Regional Grand Master and Regional Grand Lodge of Western India, for the very kind invitation to me and the Grand Lodge of India to participate at this Special Meeting of the Regional Grand Lodge of Western India. I am also thankful to you R.W. The Regional Grand Master and the officers of the Region for the courtesies and the hospitality shown to me and the officers of the Grand Lodge of India who are part of the deputation this evening. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the officers of the Grand Lodge of India, who have given me the honour of their presence in the deputation this evening. We have two Past Grand Masters, we have brethren who have travelled here from long distances and I thank each and every one of them for the honour they have given to Grand Lodge of India and to me this evening.

R.W. The Regional Grand Master, let me congratulate you on this innovative idea of having a Special Meeting at a place where no Lodge exists, where no Masonic body exists, as you mentioned and it shows the ability, the capacity of not only the Regional Grand Lodge, but the members of your Region to be able to organize such a meeting. And after seeing this I have no doubt that the Grand Festival at Mumbai, to be held soon will be a great success as well. I would also like to compliment and congratulate the brethren of Surat, who it appears have gone out of the way and put in so much of effort, commendable effort, in organizing this meeting in such a wonderful fashion. I am sure, like R.W.The Regional Grand Master mentioned, it is going to be an inspiration to all others to follow.

I would also like to congratulate the recipients of the Long Term Service Jewels particularly my brother, Dinesh Shroff, who has completed 50 years of Freemasonry and I am sure, their receiving these jewels, this recognition in our presence this evening, is also a source of inspiration to all of us, that we must follow them and complete 25,40,50,60 years of service; not just membership, but service to this great organization to which we belong.

Brethren, I must tell you of an incident that happened to me some time ago, I thought that I would share this incident with you.

I met a person who got speaking to me and we were just exchanging some thoughts and I spoke to him about Freemasonry about how it stood for values and what its teachings were, and as we were speaking to each other, he suddenly asked me a question. He said, “who are you?” I was taken aback a little at this question I told him my name is Arun Chintopanth. He said, “I didn’t ask you for your name. I said who are you?” I was little confused. So I said, you know, I am the son of ------ He said, “I didn’t ask you for your parentage. I said, who are you?” I was at a loss for an answer, so I told him that I am the Grand Master of an organization called Freemasonry and by profession, I am a Chartered Accountant. He said, “I didn’t ask you for your profession or your social standing. I said who are you?” You can imagine my plight my brethren. I was little confused, embarrassed as well, and I thought this man is a lunatic. So I slowly excused myself and slipped away.

A little later I was thinking about this incident, my brethren. I was reflecting on this incident. And I thought may be this man was not a lunatic after all. Perhaps, I was the ignorant person, not being able to answer a simple question as to who are you? I could not give him a satisfying answer. Then a thought came to me, really who am I, and the thoughts became very absorbing, very interesting and very powerful and at that moment I realized the significance of the statement made in the 3rd degree of Freemasonry. In the ceremony of Raising, when we are told that the most interesting of all human studies, is the knowledge of yourself. My brethren, this beautiful study, believe me, after this incident, I have realized, that yes it is the most interesting of all human studies. Generation after generation, man after man, has been in the quest of an answer to this question. Who am I? where do I come from? where do I go? Ko hum is a universal question which has prompted quest from all parts of the universe, from all parts of the country, from all human beings, from all generations and as I mentioned, it is the most interesting of all human studies.

Alexander Pope writes beautifully: “Know then thyself; presume not God to span, the proper study of mankind is man.

“There was an old man who was running an antique and curio shop. One day, a tourist came to his shop and after viewing all the exhibits he started talking to this old man, the owner and then he asked him: “what do you think is the most mysterious and strangest thing that you have in this shop?”. The old man surveyed the entire stock he had in his shop. The stock of artifacts, the archaeological find, the fossils, the rocks, the stuffed animals, birds and finally he turned to this visitor and said”, the most mysterious and strangest thing in my shop is unquestionably myself.”

My brethren the most beautiful study, the most interesting study, the most mysterious study is the knowledge of ourselves and this the 3rd degree in Freemasonry prompts us to do. It is said, Schaupenhaur, the great philosopher was once resting in a public park and it was closing time. The sentry came and asked him, “Sir, who are you? what are you doing here?” Schaupenhaur replied, that is the question for which all my life, I am trying to find an answer. “Who am I? What am I doing here? My brethren what is this I? Who am I? Can we answer this question? The I is associated or enmeshed in so many roles, in so many points of references, that to be able to answer this question, who am I, we must first isolate this “I”. Normally we associate the body with the “I”. We say, when I am wearing this jacket, I associate it to the body. I say, I am wearing the jacket. But is the body really I? Krishna tells Arjuna in the Gita, you are not the body, “you are something beyond the body”. For example, if one Mr. X is ill, and is in the hospital, we say how is Mr. X recovering? How is he progressing? But if Mr. X dies, we do not say, when is Mr. X coming home? We say, when is the body coming home? The body is different from I and this is what Krishna says in the Gita. The body is not I. The body is only a means of identification. It is a point of reference. I told you that “I” has a number of points of reference and the body is a point of reference. It is given as a means of identity. It is only a resemblance so that an identification can be made.

Mulla Nazaruddin and his two friends were talking about resemblances. The first friend said, “you know I resemble Winston Churchill, because wherever I go, people stand up and salute me”. The second man said, “you know, I resemble John F. Kennedy, because wherever I go, people ask me for my autograph”. Mulla Nazaruddin said, “oh that is nothing. I resemble God himself”. His friends said, “How do you know that? how do you say that?” Mulla Nazaruddin replied, “The fourth time I was convicted and sent to jail, the jailer looked at me and said, Oh God you have come again”.

My brethren, the body is only a means of identity. It is a resemblance, an identity to be identified as a person but it is not I.

But if the body is not I, then the mind is I. What is the mind? The mind is nothing but a screen on which series of thoughts are being projected continuously. The thoughts are being projected on the mind. Now what are these thoughts? Thoughts are recording of our own experiences. When I am hurt the mind records the thought. “I am hurt”; pain is recorded. That is the recording of an experience. Now, would that be the I? Recording of experience- is that I? If all our experiences that are recorded represent reality, then yes it is I. But do our thoughts represent reality always? We look at the stars and our experience tells us that the stars are very tiny, very far away. That is the experience of the mind, that is the experience of the thought. But if you ask the scientist, he will tell you, yes, the star is no doubt far away, but it is certainly not very tiny. It is very huge. It is much bigger than this earth, or other planets, which means, that this experience is not the reality, it is not the correct experience. We say, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, but we know that it is not true. We know that the sun neither rises or sets. It is the movement of the earth which gives the illusion, that the sun is rising and setting, but that experience tells us that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, which means the mind or the thought or the experience, is not I, because its not reality.

If I go to a lunatic asylum, I look upon them as lunatics, whereas the lunatics perhaps may look upon me as a lunatic because of their experience. So the mind cannot represent this I. So the body is eliminated, the mind is eliminated.

The third thing is the intellect. Can the intellect be I? What exactly is the intellect? The intellect is the knowledge that I have developed. If I am a Doctor, it means that I have developed, cultivated or acquired the intellectual knowledge of being a doctor. If I am a lawyer, it means that I have acquired, learnt, studied the knowledge of law. Now, I am identified as a Doctor or a Lawyer, or an Architect or an Engineer, but do these constitute I ? These are only intellectual representations; what I have learnt. It is not “I because I was not born as a Lawyer, I was not born as a Doctor, I was not born as an Engineer. These are certain things that I have acquired over the years, and what is acquired cannot be the same as the acquirer. I am the acquirer, the knowledge, the intellectual knowledge, the qualification is what has been acquired and it was not born with me; it was acquired by me over the years.

So an acquirer and an acquired cannot become I. So the intellect is certainly not I.

The 4th option : I do not know who am I, who I am. I do not know so many things for that matter. So, is I ignorance? Does this I represent ignorance? Now this is also a fallacious statement, because I cannot be ignorant. If I know that I am ignorant, it means that I know something. So this I knows something else outside of that I. So ignorance cannot be I.

Then I give up and say, that I don’t exist at all. The I does not exist at all because you say its not the body, not the mind, not the intellect, it is not even ignorance, then I does not exist at all. Now this is an absurd statement. A witness was telling a judge, “Your Lordship, I am sure that there was no one present at the time of murder”. The judge asked him “Are you sure that there was no one present at the time of the murder?”. The witness replied, “cent percent your Lordship, I am sure, that there was no one present at the time of the murder”. The Judge said how can you say that there was no one present at the time of the murder, unless you were there present to see that there was no one present. It’s an absurd statement to say that I don’t exist. I must exist, so non existence is equal to I is not correct. I do exist.

Now, we have isolated I away from the body, away from the mind, away from the intellect, away from ignorance and away from non-existence. Then what is this I?

Vedenta says, I is Chaitanya. Chaitanya means pure consciousness, pure awareness. Now does this consciousness, does this awareness have a form? Does it have a body? How does it look? No, it has no form, it has no body. Because if it has a form, or a body, it becomes limited, it becomes finite, it can be destroyed, but this consciousness, this awareness cannot be destroyed. It is all pervading and because it cannot be destroyed, it is called ‘SAT’. Now where is this consciousness, awareness? It is all pervading. Since it is all pervading, it is everywhere, it is called ‘CHIT’. Now what is the nature of this SAT and CHIT? What is the nature of this consciousness? It is absolute bliss. It is happiness. It is Ananda. So this I, called Chaitanya, awareness, consciousness, is SAT CHIT ANANDA, Satichadananda Swarupa is what ‘I’ actually represents and that is our natural form, that is our natural state. We were born with the state of Satchidananda Swarupa.

Now you may ask me, what is the use of this Satchidananda Swarupa? I have a family, I have a bungalow, I have two cars, I have a bank balance. Why should I have this Satchidanda Swarupa? What benefit is it for me? Why should I recognize it? The answer is simple. It gives one happiness. Recognising this true nature of this I, to answer this question, who am I, gives us great happiness. It is not happiness in the form of material things, but happiness in the form of realizing the true nature. When we realize our true nature, the outside world doesn’t affect us. The movement, the disturbances, the chaos, the vices in the outside world does not affect me, because I have realized my true nature. When I have realized my true nature, the outside world does not bother me, because I know my true nature and I know that my true nature is happiness, irrespective of what happens outside. This is what Freemasonry means when it says, the Grand design of Freemasonry is to be happy and communicating happiness. When we are happy in this state, not a pleasure of having material happiness, but when we have this state of happiness within us, the natural state of Satichidananda Swarupa, then we are happy, it is immaterial what the outside world does to us. This is what Satchidananda Swarupa means to us.

Now how does one acquire the answer to this question who am I? How does one answer this question? It is not answering the question, it is recognising the fact of who am I, this Satichidanada Swarupa and how do you recognize this Satchidananda Swarupa. There are three ways given (1) by Shravanam – listening to unfoldment of this great TRUTH (2) Mananam – by contemplating on what we have heard about this great TRUTH (3) Nidhi dyasana – to introspect within ourselves about this great TRUTH. And this is what the 3rd degree in Freemasonry teaches us. Unfortunately, the 3rd degree in Freemasonry is popular for the wrong reasons. The lights are off, a very convenient time to snooze. I don’t know about the Western Region, the South from where I come, most of the temples are air conditioned, so it is very convenient for us to snooze. No, my brethren, it is a very very profound degree, which gives us an indication of the answer to this question who am I or ‘Ko Hum’.

My brethren, now how should one go about answering this question. There must be an intense yearning. An intense urge to answer this question. Just by reading the books or memorizing the Rituals, we will not be able to answer. There must be an urge from within to answer. That is why the degree tells us very clearly that “this is the last and greatest trial by which means alone, you can be admitted to a participation of the secrets of this degree. It is not easy. It does not come by becoming a member of the Lodge or by memorizing a Ritual. It is a very great task, it is a great trial and we must be prepared for it. The urge must be so much, that we must be prepared for it.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa writes of a disciple, who continuously asked his guru. He told the guru that you always talked about the knowledge of yourself, but you have not told me what is the learning I must have, what is the intensity with which I must go on for the answer to the question. The guru would not answer him and one day, when they were bathing in the Ganges, the disciple once again asked him, Sir, you have not told me an answer, how intense must be my urge to answer this question. The guru immediately caught hold of the head of the disciple and ducked him into the water. The man was gasping for breath. He was submerged in water, making all sorts of movements to get out of the water and finally, inspite of his great resistance, he splashed out of the water and gasped for breath and the guru asked him, what was the intensity with which you came out of the water? Did anyone pull you out? Or was it because of your own intense desire to come out of the water? The yearning was there for you to come out of the water. Such must be the intensity with which you must counter this question of who am I? what am I? what am I doing here?

Brethren, the 3rd degree in Freemasonry gives us an insight into the knowledge of the I, the answer to the question, who am I? I mentioned to you by answering this question, we satisfy ourselves. If I am a Doctor and if no patient comes to me, then I feel disappointed, because I have no patients. If I am a lawyer and no clients come to me I am disappointed, but this knowledge of the I has no such disappointment for us, because it is only to satisfy ourselves and when we are happy within this knowledge, then we radiate this knowledge. We radiate this happiness, that is why in Freemasonry, we say not only to be happy, but to communicate happiness. And when does this happen? Again in the Ritual we say, the Lord of Life, will enable us to lift our eyes to the bright morning star, whose rising brings peace and salvation to the faithful and the obedient of the human race. The essence of life my brethren is the quest for an answer of the question, who am I, and this 3rd degree in Freemasonry provides the insight, the answer of the 3rd degree. Unfortunately, my brethren, I can mention, we have not taken it seriously. Freemasonry has become very cosmetic. We have not gone into the essence of it. This is the essence of it, not just memorizing the Rituals, not just having Charity Programs. Yes, these are all incidental, but the essence of Freemasonry is not only to imbibe this happiness, but to communicate this happiness. It is possible only when we initiate more people, get more people in our fold. R.W.The Regional Grand Master so correctly mentioned about Lodges who are doing so well, initiating. It is not just about statistics my brethren; we have an obligation, we have taken an obligation, we have made a promise, not only to practice, but communicate this practice of Freemasonry and it is an obligation, each one of us to propagate the message of Freemasonry. I write to Lodges who are not initiating, I tell them, please initiate candidates; They say, Sir, ours is a large city, we can’t commute, some say there are very old people, some say, we can’t get candidates. But, I am sorry, these are not answers. Unless the urge is within us, we can not discover this happiness and communicate the happiness. Freemasonry will be of no use to us.

A mother sent her son to a summer camp and she packed everything neatly in his trunk and sent him to the summer camp. After seven days, he came back from the camp and he brought a trophy with him; so the mother asked, “what is the trophy for?”. The boy replied, “The trophy is for the best student, for the student who packed his trunk best while returning from the camp”. His mother was very happy until he added, “I never unpacked it in the first place”.

Brethren, we are not unpacked, we are satisfied with the Ranks, the Titles, the Jewels. That is not Freemasonry, that is only the packing. The treasure is inside the trunk. The essence of Freemasonry is inside the trunk. Freemasonry gives us all this. It’s like a coconut. If I ask for a coconut, you will give me a coconut with the fibre and everything. I say this is not the coconut, give me a coconut, then you remove the coconut fibre, give me the nut and I say this is not the coconut, then you break open the coconut and give me the parts, then I say this is not the coconut, I want the coconut, then you remove the kernel and that is the essence of coconut and that is really the teaching of Freemasonry, the essence of Freemasonry. The answer to the question of whom am I --- Freemasonry in the 3rd degree answers beautifully as in the words of Upanishads which says TAT TWAM ASI, which means That Thou Art!


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 delivered at the Meeting of the Regional Lodge of Western India held at Daman and the same was greatly appreciated by all the brethren, who attended that meeting. The address is posted here to enable the brethren all over the world to peruse the same. 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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