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Article # 282
The Esotery Of Masonry

Author: Bro.M.Narendran.    Posted on: Saturday, December 13, 2014
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The Esotery  Of  Masonry

Bro.M.Narendran

Freemasonry  is 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.

“A sage 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”.

 

Ramayana declares that enquiry into the truth of the Self is knowledge.

 

Bhagavad Gita expounds as follows.

                                       “ Wake up! Be thyself!

                         The glory of the Self is beheld by few.

    The Self 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 wisdom.” The 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  us.

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 God alone."

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.

I confess 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.

 

                                       

 

The Author is an advocate in Chennai and was initiated as a Lewis. He has presented papers in Masonic Retreats, which were well received.


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