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Article # 245
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry-Chapter-1

Author: Manly Palmer Hall    Posted on: Sunday, May 20, 2007
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[Manly Palmer Hall, the founder President of Philosophical Research Society's , was a seeker and lover of wisdom, and a great philosopher and mystic. He had the courage and the raw intellectual energy to look for wisdom in places most men had long since forgotten about, or never knew existed. Manly P. Hall spoke and wrote extensively, of the wisdom found in all ancient traditions. In an age when serious study of "other religions" was anathema to most, he found deep cross cultural  threads and revealed many interconnected roots of modern religious expression.  His works are exceedingly rare in its grand scope, detail and synthesis. He embraced the wisdom of every tradition and with a fluid command of their obscure and complex contents, worked to express their unifying truths. This book was written very early in his career, even though , he had not been initiated in Freemasonry. It is a very absorbing book, kindling our thinking and requiring a careful and serious study. First  chapter is posted in this article. The other chapters will be posted in the subsequent articles. End Notes have been incorporated in the main text itself. Please read on . .] 

 

The Lost keys of Freemasonry or The Secret of Hiram Abiff

By  Manly Palmer Hall.

 

Publisher’s Foreword

The steady demand and increasing popularity of this volume, of which eighteen thousand copies have been printed since it first appeared a few years ago, have brought the present revised and rearranged edition into being. The text can be read with profit by both new and old Mason, for within its pages lies an interpretation of Masonic symbolism, which supplements the monitorial instruction usually given in the lodges. The leading Masonic scholars of all times have agreed, that the symbols of the Fraternity are susceptible of the most profound interpretation and thus reveal to the truly initiated certain secrets concerning the spiritual realities of life. Freemasonry is therefore more than a mere social organization a few centuries old and can be regarded as a perpetuation of the philosophical mysteries and initiations of the ancients. This is in keeping with the inner tradition of the Craft, a heritage from pre-Revival days.

 

The present volume will appeal to the thoughtful Mason as an inspiring work, for it satisfies the yearning for further light and leads the initiate to that Sanctum Sanctorum, where the mysteries are revealed. The book is a contribution to Masonic idealism, revealing the profounder aspects of our ancient and gentle Fraternity, those unique and distinctive features, which have proved a constant inspiration through the centuries.

 

Foreword

 by  Reynold E.Blight, 33 degree.K.T.

 Reality forever eludes us. Infinity mocks our puny efforts to imprison it in definition and dogma. Our most splendid realizations are only adumbrations of the Light. In his endeavors, man is but a mollusk seeking to encompass the ocean.

 

Yet man may not cease his struggle to find God. There is a yearning in his soul that will not let him rest, an urge that compels him to attempt the impossible, to attain the unattainable. He lifts feeble hands to grasp the stars and despite a million years of failure and millenniums of disappointment, the soul of man springs heavenward with even greater avidity than when the race was young.

 

He pursues, even though the flying ideal eternally slips from his embrace. Even though he never clasps the goddess of his dreams, he refuses to believe that she is a phantom. To him she is the only reality. He reaches upward and will not be content until the sword of Orion is in his hands and glorious Arcturus gleans from his breast.

 

Man is Parsifal searching for the Sacred Cup. Sir Launfal adventuring for the Holy Grail. Life is a divine adventure, a splendid quest.

 

Language falls. Words are mere ciphers and who can read the riddle? These words we use, what are they, but vain shadows of  form and sense? We strive to clothe our highest thought with verbal trappings that our brother may see and understand and when we would describe a saint he sees a demon and when we would present a wise man he beholds a fool. "Fie upon you," he cries; "thou, too, art a fool." So wisdom drapes her truth with symbolism, and covers her insight with allegory. Creeds, rituals, poems are parables and symbols. The ignorant take them literally and build for themselves prison houses of words and with bitter speech and bitterer taunt denounce those who will not join them in the dungeon. Before the rapt vision of the seer, dogma and ceremony, legend and trope dissolve and fade and he sees behind the fact the truth, behind the symbol the Reality.

 

Through the shadow shines ever the Perfect Light.

 

What is a Mason? He is a man who in his heart has been duly and truly prepared, has been found worthy and well qualified, has been admitted to the fraternity of builders, been invested with certain passwords and signs by which he may be enabled to work and receive wages as a Master Mason and travel in foreign lands in search of that which was lost - The Word.

 

Down through the misty vistas of the ages rings a clarion declaration and although the very heavens echo to the reverberations, but few hear and fewer understand, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."

 

Here then is the eternal paradox. The Word is lost yet it is ever with us. The light that illumines the distant horizon shines in our hearts. "Thou wouldist not seek me hadst thou not found me." We travel afar only to find that which we hunger for at home.

 

And as Victor Hugo says: "The thirst for the Infinite proves infinity." That which we seek lives in our souls.

 

This, the unspeakable truth, the unutterable perfection, the author has set before us in these pages. Not a Mason himself, he has read the deeper meaning of the ritual. Not having assumed the formal obligations, he calls upon all mankind to enter into the holy of holies. Not initiated into the physical craft, he declares the secret doctrine that all may hear. With vivid allegory and profound philosophical disquisition he expounds the sublime teachings of Freemasonry, older than all religions, as universal as human aspiration.

 

It is well.  Blessed are the eyes that see, and the ears that hear, and the heart that understands.

 Introduction

Freemasonry, though not a religion, is essentially religious. Most of its legends and allegories are of a sacred nature; much of it is woven into the structure of Christianity. We have learned to consider our own religion as the only inspired one and this probably accounts for much of the misunderstanding in the world today concerning the place occupied by Freemasonry in the

spiritual ethics of our race. A religion is a divinely inspired code of morals. A religious person is one inspired to nobler living by this code. He is identified by the code, which is his source of illumination. Thus we may say that a Christian is one who receives his spiritual ideals of right and wrong from the message of the Christ, while a Buddhist is one who molds his life into the archetype of morality given by the great Gautama, or one of the other Buddhas. All doctrines, which seek to unfold and preserve that invisible spark in man named Spirit, are said to be spiritual. Those which ignore this invisible element and concentrate entirely upon the visible are said to be material. There is in religion a wonderful point of balance, where the materialist and spiritualist meet on the plane of logic and reason.

 

Science and theology are two ends of a single truth, but the world will never receive the full benefit of their investigations until they have made peace with each other and labor hand in hand for the accomplishment of the great work, the liberation of spirit and intelligence from the three dimensional prison house of ignorance, superstition and fear. That which gives man a knowledge of himself can be inspired only by the Self  and God is the Self in all things. In truth, He is the inspiration and the thing inspired. It has been stated in Scripture that God was the Word and that the Word was made flesh. Man's task now is to make flesh reflect the glory of that Word, which is within the soul of himself.  It is this task, which has created the need of religion, not one faith alone but many creeds, each searching in its own way, each meeting the needs of individual people, each emphasizing one point above all the others.

 

Twelve Fellow Craftsmen are exploring the four points of the compass. Are not these twelve the twelve great world religions, each seeking in its own way for that which was lost in the ages past and the quest of which is the birthright of man? Is not the quest for Reality in a world of illusions, the task for which each comes into the world? We are here to gain balance in a sphere of unbalance. To find rest in a restless thing, to unveil illusion and to slay the dragon of our own animal natures. As David, King of Israel, gave to the hands of his son Solomon the task he could not accomplish, so each generation gives to the next the work of building the temple, or rather, rebuilding the dwelling of the Lord, which is on Mount Moriah. Truth is not lost, yet it must be sought for and found. Reality is ever present dimensionless yet all prevailing. Man, creature of attitudes and desires, and servant of impressions and opinions  cannot, with the wavering unbalance of an untutored mind, learn to know that which he himself does not possess. As man attains a quality, he discovers that quality and recognizes about him the thing newborn within himself. Man is born with eyes, yet only after long years of sorrow does he learn to see clearly and in harmony with the Plan. He is born with senses, but only after long experience and fruitless strivings does he bring these senses to the temple and lays them as offerings upon the altar of the great Father, who alone does all things well and with understanding. Man is, in truth, born in the sin of ignorance, but with a capacity for understanding. He has a mind capable of wisdom, a heart capable of feeling and a hand strong for the great work in life, truing the rough ashlar into the perfect stone. What more can any creature ask than the opportunity to prove the thing he is, the dream that inspires him, the vision that leads him on? We have no right to ask for wisdom. In whose name do we beg for understanding? By what authority do we demand happiness? None of these things is the birthright of any creature. Yet all may have them, if they will cultivate within themselves the thing that they desire.

 

There is no need of asking, nor does any Deity bow down to give man these things that he desires. Man is given by Nature, a gift and that gift is the privilege of labor. Through labor he learns all things. Religions are groups of people, gathered together in the labor of learning. The world is a school. We are here to learn and our presence here proves our need of instruction. Every living creature is struggling to break the strangling bonds of limitation, that pressing narrowness, which inhabits vision and leaves the life without an ideal. Every soul is engaged in a great work, the labor of personal liberation from the state of ignorance. The world is a great prison its bars are the Unknown. And each is a prisoner until, at last, he earns the right to tear these bars from their moldering sockets and pass, illuminated and inspired, into the darkness, which becomes lighted by that presence.

 

All peoples seek the temple, where God dwells, where the spirit of the great Truth illuminates the shadows of human ignorance, but they know not which way to turn, nor where this temple is. The mist of dogma surrounds them. Ages of thoughtlessness bind them in. Limitation weakens them and retards their footsteps. They wander in darkness seeking light, failing to realize that the light is in the heart of the darkness. To the few who have found Him, God is revealed. These, in turn, reveal Him to man, striving to tell ignorance the message of wisdom. But seldom does man understand the mystery that has been unveiled. He tries weakly to follow in the steps of those who have attained, but all too often finds the path more difficult than he even dreamed. So he kneels in prayer before the mountain he cannot climb, from whose top gleams the light which he is neither strong enough to reach, nor wise enough to comprehend. He lives the law as he knows it, always fearing in his heart, that he has not read aright the flaming letters in the sky and that in living the letter of the Law, he has murdered the spirit. Man bows humbly to the Unknown, peopling the shadows of his own ignorance with saints and saviors, ghosts and specters, gods and demons. Ignorance fears all things, falling, terror stricken before the passing wind. Superstition stands as the monument to ignorance, and before it kneel all who realize their own weakness, who see in all things the strength they do not possess; who give to sticks and stones the power to bruise them, who change the beauties of  Nature into the dwelling place of ghouls and ogres. Wisdom fears nothing, but still bows humbly to its own Source. While superstition hates all things, wisdom, with its deeper understanding, loves all things, for it has seen the beauty, the tenderness and the sweetness, which underlie Life's mystery.

 

Life is the span of time appointed for accomplishment. Every fleeting moment is an opportunity and those who are great are the ones who have recognized life as the opportunity for all things. Arts, sciences and religions are monuments standing for what humanity has already accomplished. They stand as memorials to the unfolding mind of man, and through them man acquires more efficient and more intelligent methods of attaining prescribed results. Blessed are those who can profit by the experiences of others; who, adding to that which has already been built, can make their inspiration real, their dreams practical. Those who give man the things he needs, while seldom appreciated in their own age, are later recognized as the Saviors of the human race. Masonry is a structure built upon experience. Each stone is a sequential step in the unfolding of intelligence. The shrines of Masonry are ornamented by the jewels of a thousand ages; its rituals ring with the words of enlightened seers and illuminated sages. A hundred religions have brought their gifts of wisdom to its altar. Arts and sciences unnumbered have contributed to its symbolism. It is more than a faith; it is a path of certainty. It is more than a belief. It is a fact. Masonry is a university, teaching the liberal arts and sciences of the soul to all who will attend to its words. It is a shadow of the great Atlantean Mystery School, which stood with all its splendor in the ancient City of the Golden Gates, where now the turbulent Atlantic rolls in unbroken sweep. Its chairs are seats of learning; its pillars uphold the arch of universal education, not only in material things, but also in those qualities, which are of the spirit. Up on its trestleboards are inscribed the sacred truths of all nations and of all peoples, and upon those who understand its sacred depths has dawned the great Reality. Masonry is, in truth, that long-lost thing which all peoples have sought in all ages. Masonry is the common denominator as well as the common devisor of human aspiration.

 

Most of the religions of the world are like processions. One leads and the many follow. In the footsteps of the demigods, man follows in his search for truth and  illumination. The Christian follows the gentle Nazarene up the winding slopes of Calvary. The Buddhist follows his great emancipator through his wanderings in the wilderness. The Mohammedan makes his pilgrimage across the desert sands to the black tent at Mecca. Truth leads, and ignorance follows in his train. Spirit blazes the trail, and matter follows behind. In the world today ideals live but a moment in their purity, before the gathering hosts of darkness snuff out the gleaming spark. The Mystery School, however, remains unmoved. It does not bring its light to man; man must bring his light to it. Ideals, coming into the world, become idols within a few short hours, but man, entering the gates of the sanctuary, changes the idol back to an ideal. Man is climbing an endless flight of steps, with his eyes fixed upon the goal at the top. Many cannot see the goal, and only one or two steps are visible before them. He has learned, however, one great lesson, namely, that as he builds his own character he is given strength to climb the steps. Hence, a Mason is a builder of the temple of character. He is the architect of a sublime mystery, the gleaming, glowing temple of his own soul. He realizes that he best serves God, when he joins with the Great Architect in building more noble structures in the universe below. All who are attempting to attain mastery through constructive efforts are Masons at heart, regardless of religious sect or belief. A Mason is not necessarily a member of a lodge. In a broad sense, he is any person who daily tries to live the Masonic life and to serve intelligently the needs of the Great Architect. The Masonic brother pledges himself to assist all other temple builders in whatever extremity of life and in so doing he pledges himself to every living thing, for they are all temple-builders, building more noble structures to the glory of the universal God. The true Masonic Lodge is a Mystery School, a place where candidates are taken out of the follies and foibles of the world and instructed in the mysteries of life, relationships and the identity of that germ of spiritual essence within, which is, in truth, the Son of God, beloved of His Father. The Mason views life seriously, realizing that every wasted moment is a lost opportunity, and that Omnipotence is gained only through earnestness and endeavor. Above all other relationships he recognizes the universal brotherhood of every living thing. The symbol of the clasped hands, explained in the Lodge, reflects his attitude towards all the world, for he is the comrade of all created things. He realizes also that his spirit is a glowing, gleaming jewel, which he must enshrine within a holy temple built by the labor of his hands, the meditation of his heart, and the aspiration of his soul. Freemasonry is a philosophy, which is essentially creedless. It is the truer for it. Its brothers bow to truth regardless of the bearer. They serve light, instead of wrangling over the one who brings it. In this way they prove that they are seeking to know better the will and the dictates of the Invincible One. No truer religion exists than that of world comradeship and brotherhood, for the purpose of glorifying one God and building for Him a temple of constructive attitude and noble

character.

 

Prologue

In The Fields of Chaos

The first flush of awakening Life pierced the impenetrable expanse of Cosmic Night, turning the darkness of negation into the dim twilight of unfolding being. Silhouetted against the shadowy gateways of Eternity, the lonely figure of a mystic stranger stood upon the nebulous banks of swirling substance. Robed in a shimmery blue mantle of mystery and his head encircled by a golden crown of dazzling light, the darkness of Chaos fled before the rays that poured like streams of living fire from his form divine.

 

From some Cosmos greater far than ours this mystic visitor came, answering the call of Divinity. From star to star,

he strode and from world to universe he was known, yet forever concealed by the filmy garments of chaotic night. Suddenly the clouds broke and a wondrous light descended from somewhere among the seething waves of force; it bathed this lonely form in a radiance celestial, each sparkling crystal of mist gleaming like a diamond bathed in the living fire of the Divine.

 

 In the gleaming flame of cosmic light bordered by the dark clouds of not being, two great forms appeared and a mighty Voice thrilled eternity, each sparkling atom pulsating with  the power of the Creator's Word, [The Creative Fiat, or rate of vibration through which all things are created] while the great blue robed figure bowed in awe before the foot stool of His Maker as a hand reached down from heaven, its fingers extended the benediction.

 

"Of all creation I have chosen you and upon you my seal is placed. You are the chosen instrument of my hand and I appoint you to be the Builder of my Temple. You shall raise its pillars and tile its floor; you shall ornament it with metals and with jewels and you shall be the master of my workmen. In your hands I place the plans and here on the tracing board of living substance I have impressed the plan you are to follow, tracing its every letter and angle in the fiery lines of my moving finger. Hiram Abiff,  chosen builder of your Father's house, up and to your work. Yonder are the fleecy clouds, the gray mists of dawn, the gleams of heavenly light, and the darkness of the sleep of  creation. From these shall you build, without the sound of hammer or the voice of workmen, the temple of your God, eternal in the heavens. The swirling, ceaseless motion of negation you shall chain to grind your stones. Among these spirits of not being shall you slack your lime and lay your footings, for I have watched you through the years of your youth, I have guided you through the days of your manhood. I have weighed you in the balance and you have not been found wanting. Therefore, to you give I the glory of work, and here ordain you as the Builder of my House. Unto you I give the word of the Master Builder, unto you I give the tools of the craft,  unto you I give the power that has been vested in me. Be faithful unto these things. Bring them back when you have finished and I will give you the name known to God alone. So mote it be." 

 

The great light died out of the heavens, the streaming fingers of living light vanished in the misty, lonely twilight, and again covered not being with its sable mantle. Hiram Abiff again stood alone, gazing out into the endless ocean of oblivion, nothing but swirling, seething matter as far as eye could see. Then he straightened his shoulders and, taking the trestle board in his hands and clasping to his heart the glowing Word of the Master, walked slowly away and was swallowed up in the mists of primordial dawn.

 

 How may man measure timeless eternity? Ages passed, and the lonely Builder labored with his plan with only love and humility in his heart, his hand molding the darkness which he blessed while his eyes were raised above where the Great Light had shone down from heaven. In the divine solitude he labored, with no voice to cheer, no spirit to condemn alone in the boundless all with the great chill of  the morning mist upon his brow, but his heart still warm with the light of the Master's Word. It seemed a hopeless task. No single pair of hands could mold that darkness, no single heart, no matter how true, could be great enough to project pulsing cosmic love into the cold mist of oblivion. Though the darkness settled ever closer about him and the misty fingers of negation twined round his being, still with divine trust the Builder labored; with divine hope he laid his footings, and from the boundless clay he made the molds to cast his sacred ornaments. Slowly the building grew and dim forms molded by the Master's hand took shape about him. Three huge, soulless creatures had the Master fashioned, great being, which loomed like grim specters in the semi-darkness. They were three builders he had blessed and now in stately file they passed before him, and Hiram held out his arms to his creation, saying, "Brothers, I have built you for your works. I have formed you to labor with me in the building of the Master's house. You are the children of my being; I have labored with you, now labor with me for the glory of  our God." 

 

But the specters laughed. Turning upon their maker and striking him with his own tools given him by God out of heaven, they left their Grand Master dying in the midst of his labors, broken and crushed by the threefold powers of cosmic night. As he lay bleeding at the feet of his handiwork the martyred Builder raised his eyes to the seething clouds, and his face

was sweet with divine love and cosmic understanding as he prayed unto the Master who had sent him forth:

"O Master of Workmen, Great Architect of the universe, my labors are not finished. Why must they always remain undone? I have not completed the thing for which Thou hast sent me unto being, for my very creations have turned against me and the tools Thou gavest me have destroyed me. The children that I formed in love, in their ignorance have murdered me. Here, Father, is the Word Thou gavest me now red with my own blood. O Master, I return it to Thee for I have kept it sacred in my heart. Here are the tools, the tracing board, and the vessels I have wrought. Around me stand the ruins of my temple, which I must leave. Unto Thee, O God, the divine Knower of all things, I return them all, realizing that in Thy good time lies the fulfillment of all things. Thou, O God, knowest our down sitting and our uprising and Thou understandest our thoughts afar off. In Thy name, Father, I have labored and in Thy cause I die, a faithful builder."

 

 The Master fell back, his upturned face sweet in the last repose of death, and the light rays no longer pouring from him. The gray clouds gathered closer as though to form a winding sheet around the body of  their murdered Master.

 

Suddenly the heavens opened again and a shaft of light bathed the form of Hiram in a glory celestial. Again the Voice spoke from the heavens where the Great King sat upon the clouds of creation: "He is not dead; he is asleep. Who will awaken him? His labors are not done and in death he guards the sacred relics more closely than ever, for the Word and the tracing board are his I have given them to him. But he must remain asleep until these three, who have slain him shall bring him back to life, for every wrong must be righted and the slayers of my house, the destroyers of my temple, must labor in the place of their Builder until they raise their Master from the dead."

 

The three murderers fell on their knees and raised their hands to heaven as though to ward off the light which had disclosed their crime: "O God, great is our sin, for we have slain our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff! Just is Thy punishment and as we have slain him we now dedicate our lives to his resurrection. The first was our human weakness, the second our sacred duty."

 

"Be it so," answered the Voice from Heaven. The great Light vanished and the clouds of darkness and mist concealed the body of the murdered Master. It was swallowed up in the swirling darkness, which left no mark, no gravestone to mark the place where the Builder had lain.

 

"O God!" cried the three murderers, "where shall we find our Master now?"

 

A hand reached down again from the Great Unseen and a tiny lamp was handed them, whose oil flame burned silently and clearly in the darkness. "By this light shall ye seek him whom ye have slain."

 

The three forms surrounded the light and bowed in prayer and thanksgiving for this solitary gleam which was to light the darkness of their way. From somewhere above in the regions of not-being the great Voice spoke, a thundering Voice that filled Chaos with its sound: "He cometh forth as a flower and is cut down; he teeth also as a shadow and continueth not; as the waters fail from the sea and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not again. Yet have I compassion upon the children of  my creation; I administer unto them in time of trouble and save them with an everlasting salvation. Seek ye where the broken twig lies and the dead stick molds away, where the clouds float together and the stones rest by the hillside, for all these mark the grave of Hiram, who has carried my Will with him to the tomb. This eternal quest is yours until ye have found your Builder, until the cup giveth up its secret, until the grave giveth up its ghosts. No more shall I speak until ye have found and raised my beloved Son, and have listened to the words of my Messenger and with Him as your guide have finished the temple, which I shall then inhabit. Amen."

 

 The gray dawn still lay asleep in the arms of darkness. Out through the great mystery of not being all was silence, unknowable. Through the misty dawn, like strange phantoms of a dream, three figures wandered over the great Unknown carrying in their hands a tiny light, the lamp given to them by their Builder's Father. Over stick and stone and cloud and star they wandered, eternally in search of a silent grave, stopping again and again to explore the depths of some mystic recess, praying for liberation from their endless search; yet bound by their vows to raise the Builder they had slain, whose grave was marked by the broken twig, and whose body was laid away in the white winding sheet of death somewhere over the brow of the eternal hill.

 

Temple Builders

You are the temple builders of the future. With your hands must be raised the domes and spires of a coming civilization. Upon the foundation you have laid, tomorrow shall build a far more noble edifice. Builders of the temple of character wherein should dwell an enlightened spirit, truers of the rock of relationship; molders of those vessels created to contain the oil of life up and to the task appointed! Never before in the history of men have you had the opportunity that now confronts you. The world waits, waits for the illuminated one who shall come from between the pillars of the portico. Humility, hoodwinked and bound, seeks entrance to the temple of wisdom. Fling wide the gate and let the worthy enter. Fling wide the gate and let the light that is the life of men shine forth. Hasten to complete the dwelling of the Lord,  that the Spirit of God may come and dwell among His people, sanctified and ordained according to His law.

 

The Eternal Quest

Chapter –1 

The average Mason, as well as the modern student of Masonic ideals, little realizes the cosmic obligation he takes upon himself when he begins his search for the sacred truths of Nature as they are concealed in the ancient and modern rituals. He must not lightly regard his vows and if he would not bring upon himself years and ages of suffering he must cease to consider Freemasonry solely as a social order only a few centuries old. He must realize that the ancient mystic teachings as perpetuated in the modern rites are sacred, and that powers unseen and unrecognized mold the destiny of those who consciously and of

their own free will take upon themselves the obligations of the Fraternity.

 

Freemasonry is not a material thing: it is a science of the soul; it is not a creed or doctrine but a universal expression of  the Divine Wisdom.   [This term is used as synonymous with a very secret and sacred philosophy that has existed for all time, and has been the inspiration of the great saints and sages of all ages, i. e., the perfect wisdom of God, revealing itself through a secret hierarchy of illumined minds. of rays descending from the cosmic hierarchies.]

The coming together of medieval guilds or even the building of Solomon's temple as it is understood today has little, if anything, to do with the true origin of Freemasonry, for Masonry does not deal with personalities. In its highest sense, it is neither historical nor archaeological, but is a divine symbolic language perpetuating under certain concrete symbols the sacred mysteries of the ancients. Only those who see in it a cosmic study, a life work, a divine inspiration to better thinking, better feeling, and better living, with the spiritual attainment of enlightenment as the end and with the daily life of the true Mason as the means, have gained even the slightest insight into the true mysteries of the ancient rites.

 

The age of the Masonic school is not to be calculated by hundreds or even thousands of years, for it never had any origin in the worlds of  form. The world as we see it is merely an experimental laboratory in which man is laboring to build and express greater and more perfect vehicles. Into this laboratory pour myriads of rays descending from the cosmic hierarchies [The groups of celestial intelligences governing the creative processes in cosmos] These mighty globes and orbs which focus their energies upon mankind and mold its destiny do so in an orderly manner, each in its own way and place, and it is the working of these mystic hierarchies in the universe which forms the pattern around which the Masonic school has been built, for the true lodge of the Mason is the universe. Freed of limitations of creed and sect, he stands a master of all faiths, and those who take up the study of Freemasonry without realizing the depth, the beauty, and the spiritual power of its philosophy can never gain anything of permanence from their studies. The age of the Mystery Schools can be traced by the student back to the dawn of time, ages and aeons ago, when the temple of the Solar Man was in the making. That was the first Temple of the King and therein were given and laid down the true mysteries of the ancient lodge, and it was the gods of creation and the spirits of the dawn who first tiled the Master's lodge.

 

The initiated brother realizes that his so called symbols and rituals are merely blinds. The groups of celestial intelligences governing the creative processes in cosmos, fabricated by the wise to perpetuate ideas incomprehensible to the average individual. He also realizes that few Masons of today know or appreciate the mystic meaning concealed within these rituals. With religious faith we perpetuate the form, worshiping it instead of the life, but those who have not recognized the truth in the crystallized ritual, those who have not liberated the spiritual germ from the shell of empty words, are not Masons, regardless of their physical degrees and outward honors.

 

In the work we are taking up it is not the intention to dwell upon the modern concepts of the Craft, but to consider Freemasonry as it really is to those who know, a great cosmic organism whose true brothers and children are tied together not by spoken oaths but by lives so lived that they are capable of seeing through the blank wall and opening the window which is now concealed by the rubbish of materiality. When this is done and the mysteries of the universe unfold before the aspiring candidate, then in truth, he discovers what Freemasonry really is. Its material aspects interest him no longer for he has unmasked the Mystery School, which he is capable of recognizing only when he himself  has spiritually become a member of it.

 

Those who have examined and studied its ancient lore have no doubt that Freemasonry, like the universe itself, which is the greatest of all schools, deals with the unfolding of a three fold principle, for all the universe is governed by the same three kings, who are called the builders of the Masonic temple. They are not personalities but principles, great intelligent energies and powers which in God, man, and the universe have charge of the molding of cosmic substance into the habitation of the living  king , the temple built through the ages first of unconscious and then conscious effort on the part of every individual who is expressing in his daily life the creative principles of these three kings.

 

The true broader of the ancient Craft realized that the completion of the temple he was building to the King of the Universe was a duty or rather a privilege which he owed to his God, to his brother, and to himself. He knew that certain steps must be taken and that his temple must be built according to the plan. Today it seems that the plan is lost, however, for in the majority of cases Freemasonry is no longer an operative art but is merely a speculative idea until each brother, reading the mystery of hi s symbols and pondering over the beautiful allegories unfolded in his ritual, realizes that he himself contains the keys and the plans so long lost to his Craft and that if he would ever learn Freemasonry he must unlock its doors with the key wrought from the base metals of his own being.

 

 True Freemasonry is esoteric. It is not a thing of this world. All that we have here is a link, a doorway, through which the student may pass into the unknown. Freemasonry has nothing to do with things of form save that it realizes form is molded by and manifests the life it contains. Consequently the student is seeking so to mold his life that the form will glorify the God, whose temple he is slowly building as he awakens one by one the workmen within himself and directs them to carry out the plan that has been given him out of heaven.

 

So far as it is possible to discover, ancient Freemasonry and the beautiful cosmic allegories that it teaches, perpetuated through hundreds of lodges and ancient mysteries, forms the oldest of the Mystery Schools.[ This is a term used by the ancients to designate the esoteric side of their religious ceremonials. The candidate passing through these mysteries was initiated into the mysteries of Nature and the arcane side of natural law.]  and its preservation  through the ages, has not depended upon itself as an exoteric body of partly evolved individuals, but upon a concealed brotherhood, the exoteric side of Freemasonry. All the great mystery, Schools have hierarchies upon the spiritual planes of Nature, which are expressing themselves in this world through creeds and organizations. The true student seeks to lift himself from the exoteric body upward spiritually until he joins the esoteric group, which without a lodge on the physical plane of Nature, is far greater than all the lodges of which it is the central fire. The spiritual instructors of humanity are forced to labor in the concrete world with things comprehensible to the concrete mind, and there man begins to comprehend the meaning of the allegories and symbols, which surround his exoteric work as soon as he prepares himself to receive them. The true Mason realizes that the work of the Mystery Schools in the world is of an inclusive rather than an exclusive nature and that the only lodge, which is broad enough to express his ideals is one whose dome is the heavens, whose pillars are the corners of  creation, whose checker-board floor is composed of the crossing currents of human emotion and whose altar is the human heart. Creeds cannot bind the true seeker for truth. Realizing the unity of all truth, the Mason also realizes that the hierarchies laboring with him have given him in his varying degrees the mystic spiritual rituals of all the Mystery Schools in the world, and if he would fill his place in the plan he must not enter this sacred study for what he can get out of it but that he may learn how to serve.

 

In Freemasonry is concealed the mystery of creation, the answer to the problem of existence and the path the student must tread in order to join those, who are really the living powers behind the thrones of modern national and international affairs. The true student realizes most of all that the taking of degrees does not make a man a Mason. A Mason is not appointed; he is evolved and he must realize that the position he holds in the exoteric lodge means nothing compared to his position in the spiritual lodge of life. He must forever discard the idea that he can be told or instructed in the sacred Mysteries or that his being a member of an organization improves him in any way. He must realize that his duty is to build and evolve the sacred teachings in his own being: that nothing but his own purified being can unlock the door to the sealed libraries of human consciousness, and that his Masonic rites must eternally be speculative until he makes them operative by living the life of the mystic Mason. His karmic responsibilities increase with his opportunities. Those who are surrounded with knowledge and opportunity for self-improvement and make nothing of  these opportunities are the lazy workmen who will be spiritually, if not physically, cast out of the temple of the king.

 

The Masonic order is not a mere social organization, but is composed of all those who have banded themselves together to learn and apply the principles of mysticism and the occult rites. They are (or should be) philosophers, sages and sober-minded individuals who have dedicated themselves upon the Masonic altar and vowed by all they hold dear that the world shall be better, wiser, and happier because they have lived. Those who enter these mystic rites and pass between the pillars seeking either prestige or commercial advantage are blasphemers, and while in this world we may count them as successful, they are the cosmic failures who have barred themselves out from the true rite whose keynote is unselfishness and whose workers have renounced the things of earth.

 

In ancient times many years of preparation were required before the neophyte was permitted to enter the temple of the Mysteries. In this way the shallow, the curious, the faint of heart, and those unable to withstand the temptations of life were automatically eliminated by their inability to meet the requirements for admission. The successful candidate who did pass between the pillars entered the temple, keenly realizing his sublime opportunity, his divine obligation and the mystic privilege, which he had earned for himself through years of special preparation. Only those are truly Masons who enter their temple in reverence, who seek not the ephemeral things of life, but the treasures which are eternal, whose sole desire is to know the true mystery of the Craft that they may join as honest workmen those, who have gone before as builders of the Universal Temple. The Masonic ritual is not a ceremony, but a life to be lived. Those alone are truly Masons who, dedicating their lives and their fortunes upon the altar of the living flame, undertake the construction of the one universal building of which they are the workmen and their God the living Architect. When we have Masons like this the Craft will again be operative, the flaming triangle will shine forth with greater lustre, the dead builder will rise from his tomb, and the Lost Word so long concealed from the profane will blaze forth again with the power that makes all things new.

 

 In the pages that follow have been set down a number of thoughts for the study and consideration of temple builders, craftsmen and artisans alike. They are the keys which, if only read, will leave the student still in ignorance but, if lived, will change the speculative Masonry of today into the operative Masonry of tomorrow, when each builder, realizing his own place, will  see things which he never saw before, not because they were not there but because he was blind. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.

 

Thoughtlessness

The noblest tool of the Mason is his mind, but its value is measured by the use made of it. Thoughtful in all things, the aspiring candidate to divine wisdom attains reality in sincere desire, in meditation, and in silence. Let the keynote of the Craft, and of the Ritual, be written in blazing letters, Think Of Me.

What is the meaning of this mystic maze of symbols, rites and rituals? Think!

What does life mean, with the criss-crossings of human relationship, the endless pageantry of qualities masquerading in a

carnival of fools? Think!

What is the plan behind it all, and who the planner? Where dwells the Great Architect, and what is the tracing

board upon which he designs? Think!

What is the human soul and why the endless yearning to ends unknown, along pathways where each must

wander unaccompanied? Why mind, why soul, why spirit, and in truth, why anything? Think!

Is there an answer? If so, where will the truth be found? Think, Brothers of the Craft, think deeply; for if truth

exists, you have it, and if truth be within the reach of living creature, what other goal is worth the struggle?

Manly Palmer Hall was born on March 16 th , 1901 in Ontorio in Canada. His maternal grand mother brought him up and took him to the United State, when he was very young. From an early age, Mr. Hall studied the full range of the world’s ancient wisdom traditions. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, he concluded that wisdom was not to be found on only one path or in only one religion. Instead, he saw wisdom as the highest realm, where philosophy, religion and science come together without boundaries. His first public speech was delivered in 1920 in California on the subject of reincarnation. Next year he conducted a lecture program in Los Angeles and continued teaching and writing during the next six decades. He showed thousands how universal wisdom could be found in the myths, mysteries and symbols of the ancient Western Mystery teachings and how to embody this wisdom in their own lives. While giving his autograph, he wrote the following, “To learn is to live, to study is to grow and growth is the measurement of life. The mind must be taught to think, the heart to feel, and the hands to labor. When these have been educated to their highest point, then is the time to offer them to the service of their fellowman, not before.” Mr. Hall always felt that before the student could embark on an esoteric career, he must first build a sound and sane personality from which to launch such an endeavor. His first publications were two small pamphlets, The Breastplate of the High Priest and Wands and Serpents now found in the booklet Symbolic Essays. He wrote in the early 1920s, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry and The Ways of the Lonely Ones. His most famous work is The Secret Teachings of All Ages, which is an Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy and it was published, when he was 25, He was a widely recognized great scholar in the fields of religion, mythology, mysticism and the occult and he was himself a great mystic. He founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, in 1934,dedicating it to an idealistic approach to the solution of human problems. As its Founder President , he was a seeker and lover of wisdom, the very definition of a philosopher. He had the courage and the raw intellectual energy to look for wisdom in places most men had long since forgotten about, or never knew existed. Manly Hall spoke and wrote extensively, of the wisdom found in all ancient traditions. In an age when serious study of "other religions" was anathema to most, he found deep cross cultural threads and revealed many interconnected roots of modern religious expression. His books are exceedingly rare in their grand scope, detail and synthesis. He embraced the wisdom of every tradition and, with a great command of their obscure and complex contents, proclaimed their unifying truths. His legacy of over 200 printed volumes, 8000 lectures, constitute a hand picked library, being one of the finest in the field, that continue in his spirit of universal exploration. The Society’s Library is a public facility devoted to source materials in obscure fields, has many rare and scarce materials now impossible to obtain elsewhere. He had extensively traveled and spent considerable time in the study of the books kept in the British museum. These travels strengthened his convictions about the importance of comparative religion and deepened his understanding of significant contributions made in the interest of human spiritual evolution. Immediately upon his return, he set seriously to work on his encyclopedic outline of the Western esoteric tradition, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, which describes in some detail the most ancient theory of education, which was in the keeping of the Mystery schools.


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