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The Esotery Of Masonry
founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue and it teaches us great and
valuable truths, which are veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. At the
time of initiation, entry into the temple is sought for on behalf of the
initiate, as a poor candidate, in a state of darkness…humbly soliciting to be
admitted to the mysteries and privileges of freemasonry. The mysteries of
Freemasonry are not either fully or in part explained in the rituals. Most of
the scholars are of the opinion that Esotericism constitutes the mysteries of
freemasonry. Time and again there had been introspections as to whether
Freemasonry all over the world is unfolding its mysteries to its members and
whether any effective steps are being taken to enlighten the brethren on that
aspect or whether the brotherhood is moving away from that responsibility or
whether that aspect is being progressively ignored. An introspection was made
and published in The American Freemason in July 1912, followed by many Masonic
scholars expressing their opinion that adequate importance is not being given
to the study and propagation of the Esotery of Masonic teachings almost
throughout the world.
"Where shall I
find the mysteries of Masonry and how shall the same be understood?" is a
frequently raised question by many brethren. That question has been put forth
sincerely and with the understanding of its importance. Many feel that if
Masonry offers no more than the rituals and its outward ceremonies, it is not
worth the attention of any thinkers. It has often been urged that the secret
content and esotery of Masonry, are rarely explained, giving rise to the
inference that the propounders may not have clear or adequate conception of the
institution. The initiate from the information received or the facts apparent,
finds nothing in his initiation deserving of more than a passing interest.
Regular and continued attendance at Lodge does not enlighten him as to the real
meaning of the Craft. Mere repetition of the rituals in the Regular proceedings
in the Lodge without any explanations does not help or enable the brethren to
understand the esotery of Freemasonry. Very little efforts are being made in
Lodges to explain the Esotery in Freemasonry. Some rituals mention that,
"Freemasonry consists of a course of moral and philosophical instructions,
illustrated by hieroglyphics and taught, according to ancient usage, by types,
emblems and allegorical figures." Masonic instruction would be a very valuable
addition to the education of brethren, if the course of moral and philosophical
instructions are actually explained. Masonic Seminars and Retreats help us to
certain extent to have glimpses of the esotery of Freemasonry. It is not
possible to completely cover all aspects of the esotery of Freemasonry in a
single paper. I have ventured to share with you my little knowledge on a very
important aspect of esotery.
The charge after raising consists of very important and esoteric instructions.
The relevant portion is, “ Let the emblems of mortality, which lie before
you lead you to contemplate on your inevitable destiny
and guide your reflections to that most interesting of all human studies, the
knowledge of yourself.” No further elucidation has been provided in the rituals.
This teaching, which is universal, can be understood only from the esoteric
teaching of the religions.
The knowledge of self has been referred to in almost all the ancient religious
texts. The Epics Ramayana and Mahabharatham contain discourses about knowledge
of self. Kathopanishad mentions “ The Self lies beyond the senses and can only
be understood by him who knows It
and that, those who realize the Self are forever free from the jaws of
death.” It further explains as follows.
withdrew his senses from the world
Of change and, seeking immortality,
Looked within and beheld the deathless Self.
The Self is
the goal of life; attain this goal”.
declares that enquiry into the truth of the Self
Bhagavad Gita expounds as follows.
up! Be thyself!
The glory of the Self is beheld by few.
is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change.
This is true knowledge
To seek the Self as the true end of wisdom always.
To seek anything else is ignorance.”
Confucianism had observed that “
When we see men
of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.”
The expression “Gnothi
Seauton” was inscribed by the seven sages and the philosophers of ancient Greece
in the lintel of the forecourt of the temple of Apollo in Delphi, where the
Oracle of Delphi was rendered. Its meaning is “Know Thyself”. Subsequently Greek
Philosophers elaborated on the adage “Know Thyself”. Socrates and after him
Plato had emphasized that “The essence of knowledge is self-knowledge”. Thales,
a Greek Sage, when asked as to what was the most difficult thing, replied, “To
know thyself.” When asked what was easiest, he replied, “To give advice.”
Aristotle had pointed out that “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all
Holy Bible and Holy Quran emphasize the importance of knowledge of self. Quran
specifically mentions that,
Knowledge of oneself is the only real knowledge .
How do we obtain the knowledge of self ? As I premised, the Charge instructs
that the “Emblems of Mortality” should lead us in the contemplation. The Natural
Law is that every living thing should at some time or other perish. So one has
to commence with the basic postulate of death. One basic concept of Freemasonry
is the immortality of the soul. That makes it clear that the soul does not die
and that it is only the physical body that dies. At this stage, we have to
remember that Freemasonry also teaches that even in the perishable frame
“resides a vital and immortal principle”. What exactly is this vital and
immortal principle ? Bible affirms that, the Kingdom of God is within all of
St. Paul beautifully extends the idea in one of his Epistles to the Corinthians,
in the following language: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that
the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" And again, in a subsequent passage of the
same Epistle, he reiterates the idea in a more positive form: "What, know ye not
that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of
God, and ye are not your own?" Dr. Adam Clarke, while commenting on this latter
passage, observes, "As truly, as the living God dwelt in the Mosaic tabernacle
and in the temple of Solomon, so truly does the Holy Ghost dwell in the souls of
genuine believers and as the temple and all its utensils were holy, separated
from all common and profane uses and dedicated alone to the service of God, so
the bodies of pious persons are holy and should be employed in the service of
Kathopanishad teaches us that, "This body of ours is a temple of the Divine."
Saint Thirumoolar has proclaimed in Verse 1823,
The heart is the sanctum holy,
The fleshly body is temple vast
The Great Saint, sage and poetess Avvaiyar has said:-
"The Summum bonum of Human Existence is
To realise the Supreme Personality of God in one's own person."
Prophet Muhammad has
observed that Whoever knows himself knows God.
All the said
golden words establish that in every human body there is a spark of divinity and
that our body is the temple of the Divine. Therefore, we all have the
responsibility, rather a sacred duty to keep it sacred and worthy for the
Divine to continue, guide and reign in our hearts. Masonic teachings cover that
aspect as well. Even at our initiation, we have been advised that the Volumes of
the sacred law are the unerring standard of truth and justice and that we have
to regulate our actions by the Divine precepts contained therein and that we
have to have to observe the awe and reverence due to our creator and that we
have to implore His aid only in our lawful undertakings. The gamut of the moral
truths revealed to us should govern all our actions and we should be guided only
by those truths and that by such a well regulated course of discipline, preserve
our corporeal and mental faculties in their fullest energy and exert the God
given talents to HIS Glory and to the welfare of our fellow creatures. We were
also taught to bend with humility to HIS will and to dedicate our heart
purified from every baneful and malignant passion to HIS Glory.
that it may not be possible to comprehend all those high teachings in the modern
set up of life and actions in which most of us function like machines and are
always hard pressed for time. It is also difficult to concentrate and
contemplate the moral truths. We have been taught that the truth is covered and
enveloped by unreality referred to as Maya, which is also described as a
mysterious veil, which can not be penetrated or lifted up, unless assisted by
that light from above. That Grace can be obtained only by prayers, the
importance of which has been impressed on us as not to enter upon any
undertaking without first invoking the blessings of the Great Architect of the
Universe. Let us therefore pray to Most High to lead us from unreality to
reality, in the original words Asathoma Satgamaya.
Thank you brethren for
your rapt attention.