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Article # 246
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry-Chapters-2 and 3

Author: Manly Palmer Hall    Posted on: Monday, May 21, 2007
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[ Chapters 2 and 3 of The Lost Keys of Freemasonry are posted here. The other Chapters will be posted in due course.]


The Candidate



There comes a time in the growth of every living individual thing, when it realizes with dawning consciousness that it is a prisoner. While apparently free to move and have its being, the struggling life cognizes through ever greater vehicles its own limitations. It is at this point that man cries out with greater insistence to be liberated from the binding ties which, though invisible to mortal eyes, still chain him with bonds far more terrible than those of any physical prison.


Many have read the story of the prisoner of Chillon, who paced back and forth in the narrow confines of his prison cell, while the blue waters rolled ceaselessly above his head and the only sound that broke the stillness of his eternal night was the constant swishing and lapping of the waves. We pity the prisoner in his physical tomb and we are sad at heart, for we know how life loves liberty. But there is one prisoner whose plight is far worse than those of earth. He has not even the narrow confines of a prison cell around Him. He cannot pace ceaselessly to and fro and wear ruts in the cobblestones of His dungeon floor. That eternal Prisoner is Life incarnate within the dark stone walls of matter, with not a single ray to brighten the blackness of His fate. He fights eternally, praying in the dark confines of gloomy walls for light and opportunity. This is the eternal Prisoner who, through the ceaseless ages of cosmic unfoldment, through forms unnumbered and species now unknown, strives eternally to liberate Himself and gain self conscious expression, the birthright of every created thing. He awaits the day when, standing upon the rocks that now form His shapeless tomb, He may raise His arms to heaven, bathed in the sunlight of spiritual freedom, free to join the sparkling atoms and dancing light beings released from the bonds of prison wall and tomb.


Around Life that wondrous germ in the heart of every living thing, that sacred Prisoner in His gloomy cell, that Master Builder laid away in the grave of matter has been built the wondrous legend of the Holy Sepulchre. Under allegories unnumbered, the mystic philosophers of the ages, have perpetuated this wonderful story and among the Craft Masons it forms the mystic ritual of Hiram, the Master Builder, murdered in his temple by the very builders who should have served him as he labored to perfect the dwelling place of his God.


Matter is the tomb.

It is the dead wall of substance not yet awakened into the pulsating energies of Spirit. It exists in many degrees and forms, not only in the chemical elements, which form the solids of our universe, but in finer and more subtle substances. These, though expressing through emotion and thought, are still beings of the world of form. These substances form the great cross of matter which opposes the growth of all things and by opposition makes all growth possible. It is the great cross of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon upon which even the life germ in protoplasm is crucified and suspended in agony. These substances are incapable of giving it adequate expression. The Spirit within cries out for freedom,  freedom to be, to express, to manifest its true place in the Great Plan of cosmic unfoldment.


It is this great yearning within the heart of man which sends him slowly onward toward the gate of the Temple. It is this inner urge for greater understanding and greater light, which brought into being through the law of necessity the great cosmic Masonic Lodge dedicated to those seeking union with the Powers of Light that their prison walls might be removed. This shell cannot be discarded. It must be raised into union with the Life. Each dead, crystallized atom in the human body must be set vibrating and spinning to a higher rate of consciousness. Through purification, through knowledge and through service to his fellow man the candidate sequentially unfolds these  mystic properties, building better and more perfect bodies through which his higher life secures even greater manifestation. The expression of man through constructive thought, emotion and action liberates the higher nature from bodies, which in their crystallized states are incapable of giving him his natural opportunities.


In Freemasonry this crystallized substance of matter is called the grave and represents the Holy Sepulchre. This is the grave within which the lost Builder lies and with Him are the plans of the Temple and the Master's Word and it is this builder, our Grand Master, whom we must seek and raise from the dead. This noble Son of Light cries out to us in every expression of matter. Every stick and stone marks His resting place and the sprig of acacia promises, that through the long winter of spiritual darkness, when the sun does not shine for man, this Light still awaits the day of liberation, when each one of us shall raise Him, by the grip of the Grand Master, the true grip of a Master Mason. We cannot hear this Voice that calls eternally, but we feel its inner urge. A great unknown something pulls at our heartstrings. As the ages roll by, the deep desire to be greater, to live better and to think God's thoughts, builds within ourselves the qualifications of a candidate who, when asked why he takes the path , would truly answer if he knew mentally the things he feels, "I hear a voice that cries out to me from flora and fauna, from the stones, from the clouds, from the very heaven itself. Each fiery atom spinning and twisting in Cosmos cries out to me with the voice of my Master. I can hear Hiram Abiff, my Grand Master, crying out in his agony, the agony of life hidden within the darkness of its prison walls, seeking for the expression which I have denied it, laboring, to bring closer the day of its liberation and I have learned to know that I am responsible for those walls. My daily actions are the things which as ruffians and traitors are murdering my God."


There are many legends of the Holy Sepulchre which for so many centuries had been in the hands of the infidel and which the Christian worlds sought to retake in the days of  the Crusades. Few Masons realize that this Holy Sepulchre, or tomb, is in reality negation and crystallization, matter that has sealed within itself the Spirit of Life, which must remain in darkness until the growth of each individual being gives it walls of glowing gold and changes its stones into windows. As we develop better and better vehicles of expression, these walls slowly expand until at last Spirit rises triumphant from its tomb and blessing the very walls that confined it, raises them to union with itself.


We may first consider the murderers of Hiram. These three ruffians, who, when the Builder seeks to leave his temple, strike him with the tools of his own Craft until finally they slay him and bring the temple down in destruction upon their own heads, symbolize the three expressions of our own lower natures which are in truth the murderers of the good within ourselves. These three may be called thought, desire, and action. When purified and transmuted they are three glorious avenues through which may manifest the great life power of the three kings, the glowing builders of the Cosmic Lodge manifesting in this world as spiritual thought, constructive emotion and useful daily labor in the various places and positions where we find ourselves while carrying on the Master's work. These three form the Flaming Triangle which glorifies every living Mason, but when crystallized and perverted they form a triangular prison through which the light cannot shine and the Life is forced to languish in the dim darkness of despair, until man himself through his higher understanding liberates the energies and powers which are indeed the builders and glorifiers of his Father's House.


Now let us consider how these three fiery kings of the dawn became, through perversion of their manifestation by man, the ruffians who murdered Hiram, the energizing powers of cosmos which course through the blood of every living being, seeking to beautify and perfect the temple they would build according to the plan laid down on the tracing board by  the Master Architect of the Universe. First in the mind is one of the three kings, or rather we shall say a channel through which he manifests. For King Solomon is the power of mind which, perverted, becomes a destroyer who tears down with the very powers which nourish and build. The right application of thought, when seeking the answer to the cosmic problem of destiny, liberates man's spirit, which soars above the concrete through that wonderful power of mind, with its dreams and its ideals.


When man's thoughts rise upon the wings of aspiration, when he pushes back the darkness with the strength of reason and logic, then indeed the builder is liberated from his dungeon and the light pours in, bathing him with life and power. This light enables us to seek more clearly the mystery of creation and to find with greater certainty our place in the Great Plan, for as man unfolds his bodies he gains talents with which he can explore the mysteries of Nature and search for the hidden workings of the Divine. Through these powers the Builder is liberated and his consciousness goes forth conquering and to conquer. These higher ideals, these spiritual concepts, these altruistic, philanthropic, educative applications of thought power glorify the Builder, for they give the power of expression and those who can express themselves are free. When man can mold his thoughts, his emotions, and his actions into faithful expressions of his highest ideals, then liberty is his, for ignorance is the darkness of Chaos and knowledge is the light of Cosmos.


In spite of the fact that many of us live apparently to gratify the desires of the body and as servants of the lower nature, still there is within each of us a power which may remain latent for a great length of time. This power lives eternities perhaps and yet at some time during our growth there comes a great yearning for freedom, when, having discovered that the pleasures of sense gratification are eternally elusive and unsatisfying, we make an examination of ourselves and begin to realize that there are greater reasons for our being. It is sometimes reason, sometimes suffering, sometimes a great desire to be helpful, that brings out the first latent powers, which show that one long wandering in the darkness is about to take the path, that leads to Light. Having lived life in all its experiences, he has learned to realize that all the manifestations of being, all the various experiences through which he passes, are steps leading in one direction; that, consciously or unconsciously, all souls are being led to the portico of the temple, where for the first time they see and realize the glory of Divinity. It is then that they understand the age  old allegory of the martyred Builder and feel his power within themselves crying out from the prison of materiality. Nothing else seems worthwhile and regardless of cost, suffering, or the taunts of the world, the candidate slowly ascends the steps that lead to the temple eternal. The reason that governs Cosmos, he does not know, the laws, which mold his being, he does not realize, but he does know, that somewhere behind the veil of human ignorance, there is an eternal light toward which step by step he must labor. With his eyes fixed on the heavens above and his hands clasped in prayer he passes slowly as a candidate up the steps. In fear and trembling, yet with a divine realization of good, he raps on the door and awaits in silence the answer from within.


The Entered Apprentice.



There are three grand steps in the unfoldment of the human soul before it completes the dwelling place of the spirit. These have been caged respectively youth, manhood, and old age or, as the Mason would say, the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Builder. All life passes through these three grand stages of human consciousness. They can be listed as the man on the outside looking in, the man going in and the man inside. The path of human life is governed as all things are by the laws of analogy, and as at birth we start our pilgrimage through youth, manhood, and old age, so the spiritual consciousness of man in his cosmic path of unfoldment passes from unconsciousness to perfect consciousness in the Grand Lodge of the universe. Before the initiation of the Entered Apprentice degree can be properly understood and appreciated, certain requirements must be considered, not merely those of the physical world, but also those of the spiritual world.


The Mason must realize that his true initiation is a spiritual and not a physical ritual and that his initiation into the living temple of the spiritual hierarchy regulating Freemasonry may not occur until years after he has taken the physical degree, or spiritually he may be a Grand Master before he comes into the world. There are probably few instances in the history of Freemasonry where the spiritual ordination of the aspiring seeker took place at the same time as the physical initiation, because the true initiation depends upon the cultivation of certain soul qualities, an individual and personal matter, which is left entirely to the volition of the mystic Mason and which he must carry out in silence and alone.


The court of the tabernacle of the ancient Jews was divided into three parts, the outer court, the holy place and the most Holy of Holies. These three divisions represent the three grand divisions of human consciousness. The degree of Entered Apprentice is acquired when the student signifies his intention to take the rough ashlar, which he cuts from the quarry and prepares for the truing of the Fellow Craft.


In other words, the first degree is really one of preparation; it is a material step dealing with material things, for all spiritual life must be raised upon a material foundation.


Seven is the number of the Entered Apprentice as it relates to the seven liberal arts and sciences and these are the powers with which the Entered Apprentice must labor before he is worthy to go onward into the more elevated and advanced degrees. They are much mistaken, who believe that they can reach the spiritual planes of Nature without first passing through and molding matter into the expression of spiritual power. For the first stage in the growth of a Master Mason is mastery of the concrete conditions of life and the developments of sense centers, which will later become channels for the expression of spiritual truths.


All growth is a gradual procedure carried on in an orderly, masterly way, as exemplified by the opening and closing of a lodge.

The universe is divided into planes and these planes are divided from each other by the rates of vibration, which pass through them. As the spiritual consciousness progresses through the chain, the lower lose connection with it when it has raised itself above their level, until finally only the Grand Masters are capable of remaining in session and unknown even to the Master Mason it finally passes back again to the spiritual hierarchy from which it came.


Action is the keynote of the Entered Apprentice lodge. All growth is the result of exercise and the intensifying of vibratory rates. It is through exercise that the muscles of the human body are strengthened. It is through the seven liberal arts and sciences, that the human mind receives certain impulses, which in turn, stimulate internal centers of consciousness. These centers of consciousness, through still greater development, will later give fuller expression to these inner powers. But the Entered Apprentice has for his first duty the awakening of these powers and like the youth of whom he is a symbol, his ideals and labors must be tied closely to concrete things. For him both points of the compasses are under the square. For him the reasons which manifest through the heart and mind, the two polarities of expression are darkened and concealed beneath the square, which measures the block of bodies. He knows not the reason why, his work is to follow the directions of those whose knowledge is greater than his own; but as the result of the application of energies, through action and reaction he slowly builds and evolves the powers of discrimination and the strength of character, which mark the Fellow Craft degree.


It is obvious that the rough ashlar symbolizes the body. It also represents cosmic root substance, which is taken out of the quarry of the universe by the first expressions of intelligence and molded by them into ever finer and more perfect lines until finally it becomes the perfect stone for the Builder's temple.


How can emotion manifest save through form? How can mind manifest until the intricately evolved brain cells of matter have raised their organic quality to form the ground  work upon which other things may be based?  All students of human mature realize that every expression of man depends upon organic quality, that in every living thing this differs and that the fineness of this matter is the certain indication of growth, mental, physical or spiritual.


True to the doctrines of his Craft, the Entered Apprentice must beautify his temple. He must build within himself by his actions, by the power of his hand and the tools of his Craft, certain qualities, which make possible his initiation into the higher degrees of the spiritual lodge.


We know that the cube block is symbolic of the tomb. It is also well known that the Entered Apprentice is incapable of rolling away the stone or of transmuting it into a greater or higher thing; but it is his privilege to purify and glorify that stone and begin the great work of preparing it for the temple of his King.


Few realize that since the universe is made up of individuals in various stages of development, responsibility is consequently individual, and everything which man wishes to gain he must himself build and maintain. If he is to use his finer bodies for the purpose for which they were intended, he must treat them well, that they may be good and faithful servants in the great work he is preparing for.


The quarries represent the limitless powers of natural resources. They are symbolic of the practically endless field of human opportunity. They symbolize the cosmic substances from which man must gather the stones for his temple. At this stage in his growth, the Entered Apprentice is privileged to gather the stones, which he wishes to true during his progress through the lodge, for at this point he symbolizes the youth, who is choosing his life work. He represents the human ego who in the dawn of time gathered many blocks and cubes and broken stones from the Great Quarry. These rough and broken stones that as yet will not fit into anything, are the partially evolved powers and senses with which he labors. In the first state he must gather these materials and those who have not gathered them can never true them. During the involuntary period of human consciousness, the Entered Apprentice in the Great Lodge was man, who labored with these rough blocks, seeking the tools and the power with which to true them. As he evolves down through the ages, he gains the tools and cosmically passes on to the degree of Fellow Craft, where he trues his ashlar in harmony with the plans upon the Master's tracing board. This rough, uncut  ashlar has three dimensions, representative of the three ruffians who at this stage are destroyers of the fourth dimensional life concealed within the ugly, ill-shaped stone.


The lost key of the Entered Apprentice is service. Why, he may not ask, when, he does not know. His work is to do, to act, to express himself in some way constructively, if possible, but destructively rather than not at all. Without action, he loses his great work; without tools, which symbolize the body, he cannot act in an organized manner. Consequently, it is necessary to master the arts and sciences, which place in his hands intelligent tools for the expression of energy. Beauty is the keynote to his ideal. With his concrete ideals he must beautify all with which he comes in contact, so that the works of his hand may be acceptable in the eyes of the Great Architect of the Universe.


His daily life, in home, business, and society, together with the realization of the fundamental unity of each with all, form the base upon which the aspiring candidate may raise a greater superstructure. In truth he must live the life, the result of which is the purification of his body, so that the more attenuated forces of the higher degrees may express themselves through the finer sensitivity of the receiving pole within  himself. When he reaches this stage in his growth, he is spiritually worthy to consider advancement into a higher degree. This advancement is not the result of election or ballot, but is an automatic process in which, having sensitized his consciousness by his life, he thereby attunes himself to the next succeeding plane of expression. All initiation is the result of adjustments of the evolving life to the physical, emotional and mental planes of consciousness through which it passes.



We may now consider the spiritual requirements of one who feels that he would mystically correlate himself with that great spiritual fraternity which, concealed behind the exoteric rite, forms the living power of the Entered Apprentice lodge.


 1. It is essential that the Entered Apprentice should have studied sufficiently the subject of anatomy to have at least a general idea of the physical body, for the entire degree is based upon the mystery of form. The human body is the highest manifestation of form which he is capable of analyzing. Consequently, he must devote himself to the study of his own being and its mysteries and complexities.


2. The Entered Apprentice must realize that his body is the living temple of the living God and treat it accordingly, for when he abuses or mistreats it, he breaks the sacred obligations which he must assume before he can ever hope to understand the true mysteries of the Craft. The breaking of his pact with the higher Life evolving within himself unfailingly invokes the retributive agencies of Nature.


3. He must study the problem of the maintenance of bodies through food, clothing, breathing, and other necessities, as all of these are important steps in the Entered Apprentice lodge. Those who eat immoderately, dress improperly and use only about one-third of their lung capacity can never have the physical efficiency necessary for the fullest expression of the higher Life.


4. He must grow physically and in the expression of concrete things. Human relationships must be idealized at this time, and he must seek to unfold all unselfish qualities which are necessary for the harmonious working of the Mason and his fellow men on the physical  plane of Nature.


5. He must seek to round off all inequalities. He can best do this by balancing his mental and physical organisms through the application and study of the seven liberal arts and sciences.


Until he is relatively master of these principles on the highest plane within his own being, he cannot hope spiritually to attract to himself, through the qualities of his own character, the life-giving ray of the Fellow Craft. When he reaches this point, however, he is spiritually ready to hope for membership in a more advanced degree.


The Mason must realize that his innermost motives are the index of his real self and those who allow social position, financial or business considerations or selfish and materialistic ideals, to lead them into the Masonic Brotherhood have thereby automatically separated themselves from the Craft. They can never do any harm to Freemasonry by joining because they cannot get in. Ensconced within the lodge, they may feel that they have deceived the Grand Master of the Universe, but when the spiritual lodge meets to carry on the true work of the Craft, they are disqualified and absent. Watch fobs, lapel badges, and other insignia do not make Masons; neither does the ritual ordain them. Masons are evolved through the self-conscious effort to live up to the highest ideals within themselves; their lives are the sole insignia of their rank, greater by far than any visible, tangible credential.


Bearing this in mind, it is possible for the unselfish, aspiring soul to become spiritually and liberally vouched for by the centers of consciousness as an Entered Apprentice. It means he has taken the first grand step on the path of personal liberation. He is now symbolized as the child with the smiling face, for with the simplicity of a child he places himself under the protection of his great spiritual Father, willing and glad to obey each of His commands. Having reached this point and having done the best it was possible for him to do, he is in position to hope that the powers that be, moving in their mysterious manner, may find him worthy to undertake the second great step in spiritual liberation.


Please peruse Article No.245 for the write up about the learned Author.

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