New Page 1
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
when I was teaching about life and death, a Swami quietly
came in and sat with my students. I thought that he was a
so I treated him as I treated the others. I was annoyed because
only smiled, constantly smiled, while the others were very
conscientiously taking notes. I finally asked, “Are you listening
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
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.
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