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Article # 260
The Spirituality in Masonic Teachings

Author: Bro.V.Raveender    Posted on: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
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[Sri Brahadeeswara Lodge (No.150) Grand Lodge of India celebrated its Golden Jubilee, a few months ago. As part of the Jubilee, an International Essay Competition was conducted. The topic was deliberately chosen as “Spirituality in Masonic Teachings”, since some incorrect assertion was made that there is nothing Spiritual in Freemasonry at one of the Grand Lodge Meetings, which assertion is contrary to our tenets and the views of very erudite, well learned Masonic Scholars, the world over. A panel of three eminent Masonic Scholars valued the essays and selected three essays for the award of the first three prizes. We are uploading them seriatim. The essay, which won the Second prize is posted hereunder. Please continue…]

 

“THE SPIRITUALITY IN MASONIC TEACHINGS”
Bro.V.Raveender, Lodge Asoka (No.93). CHENNAI

 

Who has not, at some time or other, wondered, “ What is the purpose of life on Earth? Is it really necessary to have so much suffering, so much hardship?” Actually, of course, it is necessary that there should be suffering and hardship and wars. We place too much store upon the things of this Earth, we tend to think that there is nothing so important as life on Earth. Actually, upon Earth we are merely as actors upon a stage, changing our clothes to suit the role that we have to play, and at the end of each act retiring for a while, to return to the next act perhaps in a different garb.

Wars are deemed necessary for without them the world will soon be overpopulated. Wars are necessary in order that there may be opportunities for self-sacrifice and for Man to rise above the limits of the flesh in the service of others. We look upon life as it is lived on this world as the only thing that matters. Actually it is the thing that matters least.

When we are in the spirit we are indestructible. We are immune to hardships and from illnesses. Thus, the spirit which has to gain experience, motivates a body of flesh and bone – a body which is but a lump of animated protoplasm – in order that lessons may be learned. 

 

A human being on Earth is as a child in a classroom. Think of it in terms of classrooms. A child is in a classroom with a lot of other children. For some reason a child, either does well or does not do so well, in mastering the lessons, and so at the end of the term he either makes a good or poor showing at the examinations. 
When someone does very well, he is acclaimed as a ‘good’ human being but to do good things one needs a stage to perform or at least learn how to perform good deeds. A majority of human beings interact with their fellow human beings in the society in which they live. They learn from these interactions and evolve into better human beings over a period of time. However, the length of this time period varies from one individual to another. Some are fortunate to be successful in their quest in a shorter duration while others may not have attained their full potential despite the passage of time.

However, if a person perchance, is introduced into Freemasonry, he has the opportunity of evolving to his fullest potential at a faster pace than others not so fortunate. For, Freemasonry affords a man extra-ordinary experiences in his life, to reach the zenith of his life.

Even though I have been a Freemason for the past 8 years, I often wonder and even ponder about “What makes a Man a Mason?” The answers have led me to an indelible belief that Freemasonry is rather unique. It transforms a normal person into a spiritual being. It endeavours to make him ‘whole, perfect and complete’. No other institution fills the bill that Freemasonry does. Indeed, I would go further and claim that Freemasonry is the acme of social institutions. For a Freemason there are no surprises or disappointments in life that sweep him off his feet or make him unbalanced.

WHAT MAKES A MAN A MASON?
What makes a man a Mason, O brother of mine?
It isn’t the due guard, nor is it the sign,
It isn’t the jewel which hangs on your breast
It isn’t the apron in which you are dressed.
It isn’t the step, nor the token, nor the grip,
Nor lectures that fluently flow from the lip,
Nor yet the possession of that mystic word,
On five points of fellowship duly conferred.

Though these are essential, desirable, fine,
They don’t make a Mason, O brother of mine.
That you to your sworn obligation are true-
'Tis that, brother mine, makes a Mason of you.

Secure in your heart you must safeguard and trust,
With lodge and with brother be honest and just,
Assist the deserving who cry in their need,
Be chaste in your thought, in your word and your deed.

Support he who falters, with hope banish fear,
And whisper advice in an erring one’s ear.
Then will the Great Lights on your path brightly shine,
And you’ll be a Mason, O brother of mine.

Your use of life’s hours by the gauge you must try,
The gavel to vice with courage apply;
Your walk must be upright, as shown by the plumb,
On the level, to bourn whence no travellers come,
The Book of your faith be the rule and the guide,
The compass your passions shut safely inside;
The stone which the Architect placed in your care,
Must pass the strict test of His unerring square.

And then you will meet with approval divine,
And you’ll be a Mason, O brother of mine!
(Reproduced from the New Zealand Freemason, March 1975)

How many of us really know the hidden potentialities of Freemasonry? Real knowledge undoubtedly is inaccessible to three kinds of people – the ignorant, the indifferent and the uncertain. This applies fully to Freemasonry. It is therefore imperative that for adequately appreciating the great truths enshrined in this “peculiar system of morality”, Freemasons should first rid themselves off all insincerity, scepticism, doubt and complacence. We must be genuine, earnest and actuated by a singleness of purpose to qualify ourselves for the right understanding of Freemasonry. The Seeker after this knowledge must be of a searching nature, eager to probe into our system to enrich his mind with all the valuable teachings that lie hidden in the mysteries of our ancient science.

Freemasonry has been defined as “a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”. It is an ancient and honourable institution subsisting from time immemorial, resting on the solid foundation of the practice of every moral and social virtue. It is a society widely extended over the four quarters of the Globe, being Universal. It has drawn members from every caste, creed and race. It has gained a reputation for itself all over the World as a Unifying Force. 

The more one contemplates the mystery of Freemasonry, the more the unfoldment, which afford valuable clues for the true understanding of the Universality of its tenets and principles. A devoted and repeated reading of the Masonic Rituals will reveal to any student of Masonry all the sublime ideas contained in it. The charm and the excellence of its teachings are quite singular in that it has broken all barriers of caste, creed, colour or race and has achieved the secular aim of establishing Universal Brotherhood of man.

It propagates love and sympathy between two persons, which lead to an understanding better than the one that is commonly found among casual acquaintances. The extent to which men understand each other, affinity develops to Universal Brotherhood. This link between love and knowledge is further made use of to strengthen the relationship between One God and Man. 

It is well known that controversies in religion revolve round names and descriptions. But, Masonic teachings exhort us not to be name-bound and dogma-bound. Creeds, cults, dogmas and philosophical disputations are all kept out of Masonic Order. Masonry preaches and practices secularism and spirituality. 

The duties of man enjoined in the Rituals are of Universal nature. Problems pertaining to life, individual as wells as collective, are solved in it on the basis of fundamental principles. Thus Masonic Ritual is an embodiment of life principles which are supremely above all cults and creeds. The influence that it leaves in the minds of its students, bear ample testimony to this fact. They teach just those laws and principles that govern human life; mankind in general. These laws and principles require no patron or defender. Even without the aid of propagators these principles ever propagate themselves in the scheme of Nature. 

As the same rising Sun provides scope for being viewed variously by different branches of Science, Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, Meteorology, Biology etc., so does the Masonic teachings give inspiration to all its students drawn from every creed or cult. The merits of the tenets and principles of Masonry however are rightly measured only with the yard stick of every Mason putting into practice all through his life, these sublime teachings. By translating the Masonic Principles into action, man becomes well equipped for life. It touches and transforms his life. They are a perfect guide to those who aspire to build a perfect personality.

The Universality of Masonry is also indicated in the plan and purpose of Masonic teachings which is to evolve out of man, a personality that is perfect from all points of view. The newly made Mason is told in the North East Charge that he is placed in the N.E. part of the Lodge to figuratively represent the foundation stone and is exhorted to raise a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to its builder. Efficiency therefore is the criterion of a powerful personality and it’s efficiency that makes character. To do good and to make others do good is possible only to the powerful in body and mind. 

At home are laid the foundations of some of the basic human virtues - Love, affection, consideration for other members of the family, helpfulness etc., But in the nature of things, the requirements of the family take precedence over the demands of the outer world. In school and college, the emphasis is, and has necessarily got to be, on the acquisition of knowledge and skills. 

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our Nation, during his days as a Teacher of boys and girls at the Tolstoy Farm, realized that the training of the spirit was a thing by itself. To develop the spirit is to build character and to enable one to work towards knowledge of God and Self-Realization. He held that this was an essential part of the training of the young, and that all training without culture of the spirit was of no use, and might even be harmful. Gandhi also came to understand that it was not through books that one could impart training of the spirit. Just as physical training was to be imparted through physical exercise, and intellectual through intellectual exercise, even so the training of the spirit was possible only through the exercise of the spirit. And the exercise of the spirit entirely depended on the life and character of the teacher. The teacher had always to be mindful of his p’s and q’s, whether he was in the midst of his boys or not.

The Mahatma was convinced that it would be idle for him, if he were a liar, to teach the others to tell the truth. A cowardly teacher would never succeed in making his students valiant, and a stranger to self-restraint could never teach his pupils the value of self-restraint. He saw, therefore, that he must be an eternal object-lesson to the students living with him at the Tolstoy Farm where he undertook the education of youngsters. They thus became his teachers, and he learnt that he must be good and live straight, if only for their sakes. 

Even though there were many cases of misconduct on the part of his students only once did he lose his temper and having picked up a ruler delivered a blow to the erring youngster, a stoutly built youth of seventeen. The boy cried out and begged to be forgiven. He cried not because the beating was painful to him; he could, if he had been so minded, have paid back in the same coin, but he realized Gandhiji’s pain in being driven to this violent resource. Never again after this incident did this youngster ever disobey. Yet, Gandhiji repented that violence. He was afraid that he had exhibited before his students that day – ‘not the spirit but the brute’, in his own self. Thereafter, Gandhiji never ever resorted to corporal punishment. Thus in his endeavour to impart spiritual training to the boys and girls under him, he came to understand better and better the power of the spirit!

An important factor in the formation of personality is love. It has the power to bind all things in affable unity. Love leads to a greater understanding and relationships between people and paves the way for Universal Brotherhood.

The final and more essential is the intellect that guides beings to right action. But for the intellect, the higher qualities of things remain unrecognised. To a person endowed with efficient hand, with a loving heart and with a clear head, nothing more remains to be added. He becomes complete verging on divinity. A harmonious development of the hand, the heart and the head is patent in such a personality. Such is the perfect man envisaged in Masonry. “Skill without exertion is of little avail; for the heart may conceive and the head devise in vain if the hand be not prompt to execute the design.”

The essential purpose of Freemasonry is to develop Character. Everything else flows from this. Spelt out in detail, many things may be said. Happiness is our ideal – to be happy one self, and to communicate happiness to others. It follows that a Freemason must always have a thought for others, and avoid saying or doing anything which mars that happiness. The ranks and riches of the outside world have to be left outside the Masonic temple. All are equal and all are Brethren while inside. At least for a brief while, we are made to realise the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. There is equal reverence to all religions. Every Mason is taught to live a busy and useful life, develop patriotism and a spirit of helpfulness, obey the laws of the country, make a favourable impression in the community and generally become known and respected as an ideal citizen. A Mason who falls on adverse and unfortunate days, may with confidence hope for comfort and relief from the fraternity. 

An awakening in the Brethren of a thirst for an intensive study and deep devotion to the Ritual and Ceremonials abounding in the valuable tenets and principles of Masonry, is the key to the acquisition of real knowledge of the Craft and better understanding of the Rituals, the “Treasure-trove” of Masonry. The laws of righteousness for everyone for all time are inculcated in our Rituals. They are immutable, they cannot be evaded and they do not cease to be effective by efflux of time. They have the character of a revelation, every time they are repeated, to a Brother yearning to realise the deeper connotation of its esoteric meaning. They are indispensable to Masonic Ceremonials, as Scriptures are to all Religions. They save the Masonic teachings from mutation and extinction. As Faith which has no Gospel for its guidance gets lost in a series of transformation, so will it become with Masonry without Rituals. Our Temples must therefore be transformed into a centre of research in Masonry to exhort every Brother to make the Liberal Arts and Sciences his future study for the achievement of daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.

Freemasonry is a progressive Science. Nowhere in the Rituals it is said,” thus far and no further”. Assisted by the secrets of the Masonic arts, the Entrant is enabled to unfold the beauties of true Godliness. He is charged to study more especially such of the liberal Arts and Sciences as may lie within the compass of his attainment and to endeavour to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. At a further stage, he is permitted to extend his researches into the hidden mysteries of Nature and Science, for nature holds for us a rich treasure. She has great lessons for us, but we must have spiritual vision to perceive what she offers. The Candidate’s attention is then directed to both points of the compasses implying that he is at liberty to work with both these points in order to render the circle of his Masonic duties complete. 

 

The apparent repetition of the Ritual and witnessing of the Ceremonies, serve to remind us of the great truth and induce us to strive and dive deep into the hidden treasure. Each student of Masonry has to toil for himself, to realise Truth and gain Realisation. No one can force this “Realisation” on him, he must acquire it himself. Purity of mind, complete control of senses, desireless-ness – these qualities alone make one competent to gain Godhood. Where is the highest security? Not in our wealth or outer material resources. It is in the living connection with our Source. Our real safety lies in a spiritual Principle, so amply illustrated in Freemasonry wherein the Candidate during initiation is deprived of everything ‘valuable’ previous to entering the Lodge. Disciples seeking enlightenment in the task of probing into the mystery of life reverentially approach the feet of a Guru. They are made to undergo a strenuous period of probation and subjected to exacting tests by the Guru to estimate the suitability or otherwise of each one of them and assess their qualification to be entrusted with Divine Knowledge. The capacity to develop detachment and curb desires, are the crucial tests. The one that is mature for such initiation is selected and the Divine Truths are imparted to him by the Guru. Likewise, a Candidate for initiation into Freemasonry is “prepared” before admission for the participation in our mysteries. A peculiar feature of Freemasonry is the extensive use of symbolism to veil its truths and tenets. The Candidate is therefore symbolically divested of all Money and Metallic substances which represent the unreal fleeting illusions that distract his mind from the higher vision.

However, there is something more important than the repetition of rituals and witnessing of ceremonies. One has to go beyond and “see” the symbolism behind these rituals and ceremonies yet at the same time retain the innocence to learn new things like a small child. Just like this incident in the Bible....Jesus was standing in a marketplace; a crowd was standing around him, and somebody asked, a Rabbi, “You talk so much about the Kingdom of God, but who will be capable enough, pure enough, virtuous enough, saintly enough, to enter into your Kingdom of God? What will be the characteristics of the people who will be allowed in?” Jesus looked around. The Rabbi thought he would say, “People like you.” And the rich man of the town who had donated much to the synagogue and who had been a charitable man thought he would say, “Men like you.” And there was another who had practiced all that has been told down the ages, all the rituals, prayers. He had followed every rule and regulation. He was a virtuous man, known as a saint. He thought, “Certainly, he is searching for me. He will say, ”Men like you.” But they were all frustrated. His eyes  moved.......he stopped at a small child who was just standing in the crowd. He took the child up and showed the people that “Those who are like this small child, they will be able to enter into my Kingdom of God.”


It is innocence that falls in harmony with the divine, the spiritual. Knowledge is a jarring note. Knowledge is like the Great Wall of China. Knowledge is an armour, your defence against the mysterious. But that’s what happens. People who are knowledgeable start searching for the truth. And they have taken one thing for granted, that they already know what it is. Now it is only a question of searching. They will be able to recognize it, they know its characteristics. It is not so. Unless you know the truth, there is no way to know it. No scripture can describe it. There is no possibility of anybody giving you the knowledge of truth. A master never gives the knowledge of truth to you; he simply makes his truth available to you. If you are open, ready to take the jump, ready to die in the master, then you will know truth – not knowledge about truth but an experience of it. Truth always comes as an experience. It is always existential. 

 

Remember: these are the barriers. The man who has followed all the rituals thinks he knows. He is a great yogi. He is has not been missing a single rule in yoga. He thinks now he is capable. He is not. It is not ritual that prepares you. Ritualistic people are stupid people. They follow the ritual, but the ritual is followed unconsciously. And they will find ways and means to go on following the ritual and yet remain the same.

A doleful looking customer went to the bar and ordered six whiskies. The barman poured them out for him in six glasses. “Now line them up in front of me, will you?” asked the customer. He then paid for them and told him to keep the change. He swallowed down the contents of the first glass in line and then repeated the process with the third and fifth glasses. Then, saying, “Goodnight,” he turned to walk away. 
“Excuse me,” said the barman. “You have left three glasses untouched.”
“Yes, I know,” he said. “The doctor said he didn’t mind me taking the odd drink.”

You can always find a way. The ritualistic person remains cunning. He can always find a way out of a certain ritual, role, discipline. And he can remain untouched by it. And he can go on doing the ritual and yet remain untransformed by it. That’s why you see so many people in the world going to the synagogue, to the church, to the temple, to the gurudwara – and still remaining the same!  Millions of people are praying, but there seems to be no prayer in existence, there seems to be no fragrance of prayer in the world. There is but hatred and hatred. There seems to be no love! How is it possible that millions of people pray every day and there is no love flowing? So many people praying and no compassion! Something deep down must be wrong, fundamentally wrong.

The prayer is false. It is being done because it has to be done. It is a kind of duty to be fulfilled, but the heart is not in it. The cunning man always keeps his heart away from everything that he does; he only pretends. He goes through empty gestures. And he is so cunning that he can always find a loophole and escape through it. The basic problem of man is not ignorance: it is knowledge. Ignorance never makes a person cunning. But, how does one go about acquiring this ‘elusive’ knowledge?
The Bhagavad Gita says, “He who has conquered his senses and is ever undisturbed, to whom a lump of earth, as stone and gold are the same, that one is said to be a Saint of established wisdom.” 

Shri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa says, ”He who is dead as it were when alive, that is to say, desireless as a corpse, becomes competent for Brahmajnanam.”
Till one is prepared to remain detached from the mundane and to curb desires, he is not qualified to be initiated into the Mysteries of Freemasonry. Unless his heart is purified, it is difficult to feel the presence of the Divine. To make the heart pure one must not listen to the voices of the World. He should cast away all desires of the mind and remain unattached, completely withdrawing the senses from their objects, for the turbulent senses do violently snatch away the equanimity of the mind of even a wise man. Conquest of the senses and sense objects is the means for the attainment of excellence here and the hereafter.

The noiseless tread of HIM who eternally abides in our Soul is heard only by those whose outer ears are closed. In short, we must live in the World and yet be not of the World thereby becoming slaves to the sensory organs. Such is the great philosophy enshrined in this symbolical ‘divesting’ of the Initiate before participating in our mysteries. This sublime truth may be elucidated by the following anecdote.
In India, a peculiar method is employed by Professional Monkey Catchers. They leave a narrow mouthed mud pots with groundnuts in them under trees frequented by monkeys and stay hiding. As anticipated, monkeys approach these pots and avariciously try to get at the groundnuts by putting both their hands into the pots. Then they find it difficult to extract their hands full with nuts and imagine that some monster in the pot is holding on to their hands. They raise a hue and cry and the Monkey-Catchers in hiding hasten and catch the monkeys with ease. If only the monkeys had discarded the nuts, they would have saved themselves. But, their attachment and desire to hold on to the nuts, cost them their liberty and freedom.

This mundane World of ours is the narrow-mouthed pot. The “nuts” in it are the worldly possessions. The Mind is the Monkey which, with the hands of attachment and desire is unwilling to withdraw the senses from those objects. If there is detachment and if the desires are curbed, Realisation is ensured. The Candidate for Initiation is therefore thus figuratively divested of Money to demonstrate his detachment and desirelessness to worldly possessions with senses controlled which otherwise are sure impediments to Liberation, and is thus rewarded with Masonic knowledge.

Such are the priceless treasures hidden in our Masonic Rituals and the Seeker is rewarded depending upon his capacity and devotional striving for knowledge of his Real Self. 

I am reminded of a beautiful story in the life of a great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore. He was continuously thinking of beauty and what it is.... A poet, naturally is interested in beauty. His mind was meditating on what beauty is...... One full-moon night, he was in his boat and the night was just majestic: the full moon in the sky and the silence of the river and the forest around. And he was alone in the boat. Just once in a while a bird might call – that was all – and then the silence would become deeper than before.

But Tagore was pondering over the question: What is beauty? And he was looking into an ancient scripture. He had only a small candle burning in the cabin. Tired, in the middle of the night, frustrated, because even in that old scripture he could not find something real about beauty, just words and words and words....he blew the candle out and Oh, my God, he could not believe his eyes. Suddenly as he blew the candle out, from the windows, from the door, the moonlight immediately flooded inside the boat and he was transplanted into another world! He rushed out. He looked at the moon, at the silence of the night, and the moon reflected in the river, and the whole river silvery, and the deep dense forest on the bank.....and this was beauty!
But he had been looking into the book – and beauty was waiting for him, just waiting by the door. But that small yellow candle-light was preventing the splendour of the night. And he had become so much engaged and occupied with the thoughts of the scripture that he had completely forgotten that this was a full moon night. He threw the scripture into the river, and that was the last day he ever thought about beauty. He said: Thinking won’t help. Beauty is there – we have to be available to it. He said: We have to blow out the candle, the small candle of the ego, then God comes in, in many ways, and the beauty penetrates you. “The only way to realise the light above you is to strike the spiritual light within you.” - Swami Vivekananda ( a Freemason)

Swami Vivekananda, after his voyage to Chicago, to attend the Parliament of Religions in September 1893, travelled all over America and delivered many addresses. While talking about Vedanta, the philosophy behind the Vedas, he told the Story of a lioness. This lioness, in search of prey came across a flock of sheep and as she jumped at one of them, she gave birth to a cub and died on the spot. The young lion was brought up in the flock, ate grass, and bleated like a sheep, and it never knew it was a lion. One day another lion came across this flock and was astonished to see in it a huge lion eating grass and bleating like a sheep. At the sight of him the flock fled and the sheep-lion with them. But the lion watched his opportunity and one day found the lion-sheep asleep. He woke him up and said, “You are a lion.” The other said, “No,” and began to bleat like a sheep. But the stranger lion took him to a lake and asked him to look in the water at his own image and see if it did not resemble him, the stranger-lion. He looked and acknowledged that it did. Then the stranger-lion began to roar and asked him to do the same. The lion-sheep tried his voice and was soon roaring as grandly as the other. And he was a sheep no longer. That is it. We are lions in sheep’s clothing of habit. We are hypnotized into weakness by our surroundings. And the province of Vedanta, akin to that of Masonry, is the self-dehypnotization.

If the room is dark, do you go about beating your chest and crying, “It is dark, dark, dark!”. No. The only way to get light is to strike a light, and then the darkness goes. The only way to realize the light above you is to strike the spiritual light within you, and the darkness of sin and impurity will flee away. Think of your higher self, not of your lower. (I.326-27, VIII.257)

When you are newly initiated into Freemasonry, it is but natural that in your mind, there is a lurking enquiry as to the significance of the various parts of the ceremony you had gone through, which at first must appear somewhat ludicrous. But every part of it has a deep symbolical meaning. 

You have been prepared internally as well as externally at the outset. Internally, you were prepared in your heart voluntarily to become a Freemason, holding a good opinion of the Order, prompted by a desire for knowledge and a sincere wish to be ranked amongst its Members. Externally, you were prepared in a peculiar manner. You were hoodwinked and therefore in a state of darkness, thus instructing you to keep the outside world likewise, till you were brought to Light. Thereby you were permitted to conceive by your heart before your eyes were permitted to discover. The Consciousness of the Living Being is originally pure, just as water is originally pure when it falls from the clouds. However, when it hits the earth the result is mud. Likewise, your original pure Consciousness has become muddied by contact with material nature of the outside world. Still, pure water can be extracted from mud by distillation. So also your original pure Consciousness is sought to be revived by keeping the outside world in a state of darkness to you symbolically. 

However, I must specially refer to the three Great, though emblematical Lights to which your attention was drawn on restoration of material light during your initiation. The Sacred Law is the Light of God shining through the Golden pages, the path that HE would have us tread in life. That path is the one declared by our Vedantic Literatures of which the Bhagwad Gita is the Supreme Knowledge. It is a way of life to be lived, if one is to derive any benefit at all. You are therefore to live in the world as others, but with a different attitude towards it, a different relationship towards it, so that you find the world worth living in. You have to examine your values and replace the wrong ones with the sound ones, develop a broader vision and upright attitude and start living in harmony with yourself and your environment. You certainly do not quit the world, but live IN the world, but not OF the world (i.e.,) you soar to the stature of GOD-MAN on Earth. The Square is the Light which shines brightest when morality and justice predominates you. The Compasses represent the Light within you – that knowledge of real  Self, which reminds you that we are all Sons of God, the Universal Father. These three Lights are needed to save us from the powers of darkness and set us on the road leading to better life. You are therefore to ensure that each of these three Lights burn brightly all through your life. Thus, Masonry, like Vedanta and other great philosophies, turns our attention inwards and teaches us to commune with our Soul or Spirit and acts as a catalyst in enhancing our spirituality by showing us the way or a path to become better, wholesome human beings.

“Living with the Himalayan Masters” is the embodiment of Swami Rama’s life, his spiritual journey, and his experiences with the masters of different traditions. He addresses the issues that all of us confront at least once or several times in our lifetime, in our journey through life, and shares his experiences in such a simple and loving manner that they become a part of us. In this wonderful book, Swami Rama illustrates many qualities one must cultivate in order to reach one’s goals in life – material or spiritual. I wish to share one such vital quality through an incident which occurred in his life in Swamiji’s own words.....
             “ Once when I was teaching about life and death, a Swami quietly

               came in and sat with my students. I thought that he was a beginner,

               so I treated him as I treated the others. I was annoyed because he

               only smiled, constantly smiled, while the others were very

               conscientiously taking notes. I finally asked, “Are you listening to me?”

 

He said, “You are only talking, but I can demonstrate mastery over life and death. Bring me an ant.” A large ant was brought. He cut it into three pieces and separated them. Then he closed his eyes and sat motionless. After a moment the three parts moved towards each other. They joined together, and the revived ant scurried away. I knew it was not hypnosis, or anything like that.

I felt very small before that Swami. And I was embarrassed before my students because I only knew the scriptures without a first hand understanding and mastery of life and death. I asked, “Where did you learn that?” He said, “Your Master taught me. At that I became very angry with my Master and immediately went to him. Seeing me he asked, “What happened? Why are you once again allowing anger to control you? You are still a slave to your violent emotions.” I said, “You teach others things which you don’t teach me. Why?” He looked at me and said, “I have taught you many things – but you don’t practice. This is not my fault! All these achievements depend on practice, not just on verbal knowledge of them. If you know all about the piano but don’t practice, you will never create music. Knowing is useless without practice. Knowing is mere information. Practice gives direct experience, which alone is valid knowledge.”

Likewise, in Freemasonry, a new Initiate is given ample opportunities to participate in various rituals leading from an Entered Apprentice to a Fellow Craft and finally to become a Master Mason. And by putting in constant and continual efforts as well as practice of its tenets and principles, a Master Mason becomes a “Master” in real life! At least he’d strive to become a “complete” and a “spiritually evolved” human being.

 

Finally, Freemasonry teaches a Mason to contemplate his inevitable destiny and guides him to reflect on that most interesting of all human studies, the knowledge of the Real Self. Thus Masonry discloses the clue to the hidden treasure for us to reflect and advance. We are led to the Sanctuary Door and it shall be opened to those who knock. Hence, passing through the Degrees is only the beginning for advancement.
Many things in our life matter, but only one thing matters absolutely. It matters whether you succeed or fail in the eyes of the world. It matters whether you are healthy or not healthy, whether you are educated or not educated. It matters whether you are rich or poor – it certainly makes a difference in your life. Yes, all these things matter, relatively speaking, but they don’t matter absolutely. There is something that matters more than any of those things and that is finding the essence of who you are beyond that short-lived entity, that short-lived personalized sense of self. You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level. Reincarnation doesn’t help you if in your next incarnation you still don’t know who you are.

All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are. When you are unaware of that inner sense, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.

Many expressions that are in common usage, and sometimes the structure of language itself, reveal the fact that people don’t know who they are. You say: “He lost his life” or “my life,” as if life were something that you can possess or lose. The truth is: you don’t have a life, you are life. The One Life, the one consciousness that pervades the entire universe and takes temporary form to experience itself as a stone or a blade of grass, as an animal, a person, a star or a galaxy. Can you sense deep within that you already know that? Can you sense that you are already That?

For most things in life, you need time: to learn a new skill, build a house, become an expert, make a cup of tea....Time is useless, however, for the most essential thing in life, the one thing that really matters : Self-Realization, which means knowing you are beyond the surface self – beyond your name, your physical form, your history, your story.

You cannot find yourself in the past or future. The only place where you can find yourself is in the Now. Spiritual seekers look for self-realization or enlightenment in the future. To be a seeker implies that you need the future. If this is what you believe, it becomes true for you: you will need time until you realize that you don’t need time to be who you are.

When you look at a tree, you are aware of the tree. When you have a thought or feeling, you are aware of that thought or feeling. When you have a pleasurable or painful experience, you are aware of that experience.

These seem to be true and obvious statements, yet if you look at them very closely, you will find that in a subtle way their structure contains a fundamental illusion, an illusion that is unavoidable when you use language. Thought and language create an apparent duality and a separate person where there is none. The truth is: you are not somebody who is aware of the tree, the thought, feeling, or experience. You are the awareness or consciousness in and by which those things appear.

As you go about your life, can you be aware of yourself as the awareness in which the entire content of your life unfolds? You say, “I want to know myself.” You are the “I.” You are the Knowing. You are the consciousness through which everything is known. And that cannot know itself; it is itself.

There is nothing to know beyond that, and yet all knowing arises out of it. The “I” cannot make itself into an object of knowledge, of consciousness. So you cannot become an object to yourself. That is the very reason the illusion of egoist identity arose – because mentally you made yourself into an object. “That’s me,” you say. And then you begin to have a relationship with yourself, and tell others and yourself your story.

By knowing yourself as the awareness in which phenomenal existence happens, you become free of dependency on phenomena and free of self-seeking in situations, places, and conditions. In other words: What happens or doesn’t happen is not that important anymore. Things lose their heaviness, their seriousness. A  playfulness comes into your life. You recognize this world as a cosmic dance, the dance of form – no more no less.

When you know who you truly are, there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being – of being who you truly are. Just as water can be solid, liquid, or gaseous, consciousness can be seen to be “frozen” as physical matter, “liquid” as mind and thought, of formless as pure consciousness.

Pure consciousness is Life before it comes into manifestation, and that Life looks at the world of form through “your” eyes because consciousness is who you are. When you know yourself as That, then you recognize yourself in everything. It is a state of complete clarity of perception. You are no longer an entity with a heavy past that becomes a screen of concepts through which every experience is interpreted.
When you perceive without interpretation, you can then sense what it is that is perceiving. The most we can say in language is that there is a field of alert stillness in which the perception is happens. Through “you” formless consciousness has become aware of itself.

Most people’s lives are run by desire and fear. Desire is the need to add something to yourself in order to be yourself more fully. All fear is the fear of losing something and thereby becoming diminished and being less.

These two movements obscure the fact that Being cannot be given or taken away. Being, in its fullness is already within you........ Now!

It is now time to call attention to a retrospect of those Degrees in Freemasonry through which a Candidate passes, so that one may be better enabled to distinguish and appreciate the connection of its whole system, and the relative dependency of its several parts.

A person is admitted into Masonry in a state of helpless indigence which was an emblematical representation of the entrance of all men on this, their mortal existence. It inculcates useful lessons of natural equality and mutual dependence. It instructs the candidate in the active principles of universal beneficence and charity – to seek the solace of his own distress, by extending relief and consolation to his fellow creatures in their hour of affliction. Above all, it taught the initiate to bend with humility and resignation to the will of the Great Architect of the Universe: to dedicate his heart thus purified from every baneful and malignant passion, fitted only for the reception of truth and wisdom, to His Glory and the welfare of his fellow-mortals.


Proceeding onwards, still guiding his progress by the principles of moral truth, he is led to the Second Degree to contemplate the intellectual faculty and to trace it from its development, through the path of heavenly science, even to the throne of God himself. The secrets of Nature and the principles of intellectual truth were then unveiled to his view. To his mind, thus modelled by Virtue and Science, Nature, however, presents one great and useful lesson more. She prepares the candidate by contemplation, for the closing hour of existence, and when by means of that contemplation she has conducted him through the intricate windings of this mortal life, she finally instructs him how to die.

Such, are the peculiar objects of the Third Degree in Freemasonry; they invite him to reflect on this awful subject and teach him to feel that, to the just and virtuous man, death has no terrors equal to the stain of falsehood and dishonour. Of this great truth the traditional annals of Freemasonry afford a glorious example in the unshaken fidelity and noble death of one of the brightest characters recorded in the annals of Freemasonry, namely our Master H.A., the Principal Architect, who lost his life in consequence of his unshaken fidelity to the sacred trust reposed in him. 

I wish to conclude with the words, “The Spirituality in Masonic Teachings illustrate and elucidate that Masonry is a great fellowship of Men of all Countries and all ages, who are capable of discovering in the religious teachings of all humanity, the fundamental truth common to all of them, that God is Father of all Mankind and all Men are Brethren; that the principle is worth dying for and that he who remains steadfast in the service of this ideal may well hope for and expect eternal life by ascending to those immortal mansions whence all goodness emanates. However, for this to happen, we need to heed Tagore’s words of wisdom: “ Blow out the candle, the small candle of your ego, then one gets started on the journey of spirituality and God comes in.........!” And, what Tagore has said, Freemasonry echoes. 

Bibliography :
1. Lodge Asoka’s archives
2. Newzealand Freemason, March 1975
3. Mahatma Gandhi’s “My Experiments with Truth”
4. The Perfect Master, The Way of the Sufi. Talks on Sufi Stories by Osho.
5. Vedanta –Voice of Freedom by Swami Vivekananda.
6. Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama.
7. You-Forever  by  Lobsang Rampa
8. Stillness  Speaks by Eckhart Tolle

Bro.V.Raveender is an Engineer cum Advocate, running his own Business. His qualifications are B.E (Mech)., B.L., M.L (IPR)., M.B.A., M.I.E. Happily married to Mrs. Meena. His daughter Miss. Varalaxmi holds M.S. degree in Comp. Science obtained from S.U.N.Y, Buffalo and is now working in California, U.S.A. His son Baba Skandar is in the 12th Standard. His hobbies are Reading, Writing Poetry, Numerology, Research, Transcendental Meditation, Social Service. He spends considerable time on Masonic Research. He is a Past President of Rotary Club of Madras North East and the Current Chairman of Happy Village Project. The other offices held by him are Treasurer & Trustee in Pasumpon Educational Charitable, Research Public Trust, Managing Trustee Annai Educational Trust, Managing Trustee Sathyanarayana Educational & Charitable Trust. He was Initiated in Lodge Asoka (No. 93) in November 2004. At present he is the Senior Warden of the Lodge. He is also Member of Chapter Engineers, Mark Om Vigneshwara and R.A.M. Lodge Chennai.


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