MASONIC INITIATION  by W.L. Wilmshurst
Chapter IV

THE PAST AND FUTURE OF THE MASONIC ORDER


THE FUTURE

In the fact that, amidst so much imperfect apprehension of its meaning and
intention, Masonry should not only have survived, but should continue to
make an ever-widening appeal to the imagination, exists the proof that,
inherent in it, however deeply veiled, is a vibrant, indestructible vital
principle which awakens a never-failing response, whether loud or feeble,
in its devotees . The Light is in the darkness, though as yet
that darkness comprehendeth it not. The modern Craftsman may not as yet
"have the Mason Word" in his own possession, like his earlier Brethren;
but, nevertheless, that Word itself abides within the Masonic system, and
he faintly hears and responds to its overtones; it is, for most, a Lost
Word, but it patiently awaits recovery; and many to-day are impatiently
seeking to find it.

That vital principle became implanted in the Order system by those wise,
far-seeing, now untraceable minds which, as we have said, some three
centuries ago conceived and inspired, if they did not directly devise, the
formation of the Order as a means of perpetuating in an elementary way the
ancient Secret Doctrine through a period of darkness and disruption, and
until such time as that Doctrine, and the Mysteries that once taught it,
can again be revived in a larger way.

The evidences of the presence in the Masonic system and texts of the
ancient arcane teaching are threefold. Firstly, the grading of the system
itself into the three traditional stages of spiritual perfecting, involving
in turn the discipline and purification of the body and sense-nature; the
control, self-knowledge and illumination of the mind; and, finally, that
entire abnegation of the will and death of the sense of personality which
lead to union with the Divine Will, beyond personality and separateness.
Secondly, the incorporation of the myths of the building of Solomon's
Temple and the death of Hiram, both of which are allegories and portray not
historic, but metaphysical, truth of profound importance. Thirdly, the
insertion into the texts of the Ceremonies and side-lectures of a number of
pieces of esoteric teaching common to all the Initiation-doctrine of East
and West, but not known to be such by the average Brother who is unfamiliar
with that doctrine, and so cryptically expressed and so interwoven with
more elementary moral teaching as only to be recognizable to the more fully
instructed observer. Examples of this esoteric teaching and of its
implications are given in the second section of this volume, dealing with
"Light on the Way."

The compilation of the text of the present Rituals and Instruction Lectures
is supposed to have been, and no doubt was, undertaken in or soon after
1717, by Dr. Anderson and others whose personality is now of no moment.(
Royal Arch Masonry was introduced into England in 1778 by a Jewish Brother,
Moses Michael Hayes ) Nor is it material to inquire how far those compilers were deliberately obscuring and crypticising occult  knowledge they personally possessed or, if personally lacking it, were unconsciously ' led into perpetuating greater wisdom than they knew. The subject has been ably and exhaustively discussed in a work of very high value to the Masonic student, Studies in Mysticism, by Brother A. E . Waite, who takes the view that the compilers did not for the most part know what they were doing, yet that they wrote as if guided by a blind though unerring instinct "which made even the foolish old scholars of the past see through their inverted and scoriated glasses something of what Masonry
actually is, and therefore, in the midst of much idle talk, they provided,
unconsciously to themselves, a master-key of the Sanctuary."

This is probably a true verdict, for from various evidences Anderson and
his colleagues show little signs of having been esotericists of any depth
or ability. But, be it accurate or not, the fact remains that our system
was so designed and devised as to be a true compendium of universal
Initiation; one that reproduces the salient features of every system that
has existed, or that elsewhere still exists, for advancing human perfecting.

In that fact lies the strength, the vitality, the attractive power, of the
Masonic system; the subtle charm that it casts over minds sensitive to its
implications, but as yet unable to interpret them or to understand their
own responsiveness to them. And in the demonstration and elucidation of the
doctrine concealed in the system lies the hope of the Craft gradually
educating itself and fulfilling its original design in the years now before
it.

The point up to which these observations are meant to lead can now be
stated. It is that before the true spirit and inward content of Masonry
could be appreciated upon a scale sufficiently wide to constitute the Order
a real spiritual force in the social body (as one hopes and sees
indications that it will become), it has been necessary in the first
instance to build up a great, vigorous and elaborate physical organization
as a vehicle in which that spirit may eventually and efficaciously manifest
. In view of the importance of the ultimate objective aimed at, it matters
nothing that from two to three centuries have been needed to develop that
organization, to build up that requisite physical framework, or that the
material of which it has been constructed has not been so far of ideal
quality. With the larger prospect in view we can afford to look both
charitably and philosophically upon momentary matters that may be regarded
as regrettable and as falling far below the standard of even the surface
and letter of Masonic principle; we can be content that the Order has been composed so largely of men little understanding or capable of assimilating
its profounder purpose; that its energies have run off from their true
channel to the subsidiary ones of social amenities and charitable relief ;
that its higher ranks have been filled, not with adepts and experts in
spiritual science, capable of ministering wisdom and instruction to the
humbler ranks below (as the symbolism of our great hierarchical system
surely implies their doing), but with "great kings, dukes and lords" and
other social dignitaries, displaying no signs of possessing arcane wisdom
and placed in their complimentary or administrative positions (which they
nevertheless admirably and efficiently fulfill) merely to give the Order
social sanction and-as the nauseous doggerel runs" our mysteries to put a
good grace on ."

The growth of a great institution-a nation, a Church, a system of the
Mysteries-is a slow growth, proceeding from material apparently
unpromising, and involving continual selection, rejection, and refining,
before something becomes finally sublimated from it and forged into an
efficient instrument. To take the most appropriate analogy, the erection
of Solomon's Temple was a work of years, of diversely collected material
and engaging numerous interests ; but not until it was completed, dedicated
and consecrated as a tabernacle worthy of the Shekinah, did that Presence
descend upon it, illumining and flooding , the whole House and enabling the
earthy vehicle to fulfil a spiritual purpose.

So now, too, with the Masonic Order. As a physical vehicle, a material
organization, it is as complete, as elaborated and as efficiently
controlled, as perhaps it can ever be expected to be. It now stands
awaiting illumination. That illumination must come from within itself, as
the Divine Presence manifested within the symbolic Temple. The Order
awaits the liberation and realization of its own inner consciousness,
hitherto dormant and repressed by surface-elements now proving to be of no,
or of illusory, value. No sooner is the deeper and true nature of the
Masonic design revealed to Brethren than upon all hands they leap to
recognition of it and desire to realize it ; and, for such, there can be no
going back to old ways and old outlooks . The people that have sat in
darkness have seen glimpses of a great light; they will now cultivate that
light themselves, and be the means that others behold it also . In this way
the Craft throughout the world will become gradually regenerated in its
understanding and so fulfill the destiny planned for it by those who
inspired its formation three centuries ago. And it will become in due
course the portal to still higher and more important spiritual eventuations.

The coming change must be and will be worked out, not from anything
emanating from the higher ranks of the Craft the Grand Lodge and Provincial
Grand Lodges but from the floor of the individual private Lodge. For the
private Lodge is the Masonic unit. The higher ranks are but recruited
there from at present for complimentary or administrative purposes, although
when the time comes for those  hierarchies to realize their own symbolic
value, it  will be their members who will descend upon the Lodges of common
Craftsmen, no longer as makers of merely complimentary speeches, but as
real authorities upon Masonic wisdom and instructive missionaries and
purveyors of Masonic truth . The private Lodge is the point from which the
transformation must be achieved. One such Lodge in a town or district,
that applies itself to Masonic work upon the lines indicated in these
pages, will be as a powerful leavening influence and set up wholesome
reactions in neighboring Lodges. Some resistance, and even derision, may
be anticipated at first from those content with old standards and not yet
ripe to appreciate a higher one, for the "nations" of less refined
understanding may always be expected to "rage furiously together" at any
suggestion involving departure from habitual methods or implying a possible
reflection upon their wisdom. This, however, can be met with patience and
charitable thought, and will soon disappear before a quiet, resolute
adherence to principle. Moreover, the problem of the admission of
unsuitable applicants for membership of a Lodge will soon settle itself
when the standard of Masonic interpretation has been thus raised.

Let it here be emphasized that nothing in this volume is intended to
advocate the least departure from or alteration of current ' Masonic
working, or any deflection from loyalty to established usage or the
governing authority. Those forms are so efficiently contrived, so
perfectly adapted to the work of the Order, that, save perhaps in a matter
of detail here and there, they can be altered only to their disadvantage
and at the peril of disturbing ancient landmarks fixed where they are with
greater wisdom than is perhaps at present recognized. Even as things are,
in the haste to get through - ceremonial work as quickly as may be, there
is an unfortunate tendency already in official quarters to clip and curtail
certain ceremonies, thereby depriving the Brethren of some valuable and
significant pieces of ritual which, if continued to remain unworked, will
soon become obsolete and forgotten.

Nevertheless, a little flexibility in matters of Lodge procedure would be
permissible and is even desirable when Degrees are conferred . Merely to
reel off a memorized ritual in a formal, mechanical way too often results
in but mechanical effects, and the subject of the Ceremony goes away
perhaps unimpressed or bewildered. There is nothing 'to prevent the
delivery of the official rite being supplemented by unofficial words of
explanation and encouragement such as would lend that rite additional
impressiveness, a more intimate and personal bearing, and awaken in him who
undergoes it a more deep and real sense of becoming vitally incorporated
into living truth and into a Brotherhood to whom that truth is no mere
sentiment but a profound reality. Moreover, with a view to inducing
favorable atmosphere and conditions for the conferment of a Ceremony,
before the candidate enters, the assembled Brethren should always. be
notified from the Chair that they are about to engage in a deeply solemn
act which claims the concentrated thought and aspiration of each of them,
to the intent that what is done and signified ceremonially may be realized
spiritually in  both themselves and him to whom they desire to minister .
Further, the ceremonial preparation of the candidate before being brought
into the Lodge should be treated, not with levity or as a mere incidental
formality, but as a profoundly sacramental act, in the significance of
which both the officiating deacons and the candidate himself should be
instructed.  Let all Brethren be assured that there is no detail of Masonic
ceremonial but is charged with very deep purpose and significance ; this
will appear to them more and more fully and luminously in proportion to
their faithful endeavor to realize the intention of even simple and
apparently unimportant points of ritual.

Sundry other matters may here be mentioned as deserving the consideration
of the Craft.

The first is the co-ordination of the Rituals with a view to securing
uniformity of working and instruction throughout the Craft, coupled with a
certain but slight amount of desirable revision.

An official standardized Ritual would be beneficial and would no doubt be
widely adopted even if its adoption were left optional to Lodges preferring
to continue their present form of working. Upon all new Lodges,
constituted after the date of standardization, the official working should
be imposed, so that, in course of time, virtual uniformity of procedure
would be achieved. The present divergences in the working of Lodges are
not great and are easily capable of adjustment so as to secure a common
footing of work throughout the Craft. Some Lodges use points of working
not used in others and which they are rightly jealous in desiring to
conserve; for example, many Lodges neither work nor know of the
traditional five signs connected with the Third Degree, and merely
communicate three of them, omitting two which are of great significance. On
the other hand, some Lodges retain details brought over from the Operative
bodies, details now obsolete and without moment to Speculative Masonry and
which nowadays might well be dropped. The "Ancient Charge" delivered to
Entered Apprentices on their reception, is an instance of an Operative
tradition, for which, if it be not abandoned altogether, an alternative
Charge, more suited to present conditions and more in consonance with
Speculative Masonry, might well be substituted. For a Charge that was
intended for, and that was delivered to, youths upon entering an Operative
Building Guild is unsuited to men already immersed in civic, family, and
business responsibilities, and seeking now to acquire knowledge of a purely
mystical character; it is absurd and grotesque . to counsel a middle-aged
experienced man to perform elementary duties of citizenship, or to express
to-perhaps an ecclesiastical dignitary who joins the . Order, the hope that
he "will become respectable in life"!

Revision of the Rituals would, of course, be a delicate task; one not to
be undertaken at haphazard or to meet the chance whims and uninstructed
notions of this or that Brother, but one calling for the enlightened
guidance of minds conversant with Initiation-science; otherwise the Craft
may lose more than it may gain, and good plants may be pulled up and thrown
away in mistake for weeds. As an example of a point needing revision and
excision, let me instance those passages in which a candidate is enjoined
to extend charity and relief to those needing it "if he can do so without
detriment to himself or connections." These qualifying words surely vitiate
the whole spirit of "Charity" If Charity means anything-and mere
financial help is not charity, but only one form of its practical
manifestation it involves a wise but unstinted selflessness, a
self-sacrifice at whatever personal cost. To hedge round that supreme
virtue with a cautious verbal reservation in one's own favour is a
limitation entirely unworthy of Masonic magnanimity and the words come as a
shock to one's moral sensitiveness.

To come to the next point the Festive Board. In previous pages it has been
indicated that the customary practice of refreshment and social
conviviality is not only practically useful, but has a deep sacramental
value. It is, of course, technically extra-Masonic and non-official, or
perhaps quasi-official; but it provides real and useful opportunities for
fraternizing, and intellectual opportunities for enlarging upon Masonic
matters not dealt with in the Lodge sanctuary itself ; whilst, in its
symbolic and higher aspect, it illustrates that relaxation from labor, and
that refreshment derived from the inter-communion of those united in a
common work, which in the providential order are arranged for us both in
this life and hereafter .

The value, or otherwise, of the Festive Board, depends, therefore, upon its
good use or its abuse. If it be regarded and used as the natural extension
of the more formal work of the Lodge, it can exercise a ministry of great
service; if, on the other hand, it be but an occasion for junketing and
social frivolity under the cover of Masonry, but with little or no Masonic
relevance, it is apt to become a thing of reproach; the sublimities of the
Lodge-work are falsified by it and any good issuing from that work is
forthwith neutralized. The test of true Masonic devotion and sincerity
would be the honest answer each Brother can give to the question: "How far
would my interest in Masonry extend and continue, if the practice of the
Festive Board did not exist and Masonic proceedings were confined to the
formal work of the Lodge?" With this reflection the matter may be left to
the good judgment of the Craft.

There must also be mentioned a question which has already rankled as a
thorn in the side of Grand Lodge and will doubtless become still more
troublesome- the "Women's question"; and if I approach it, it is not with
the idea of presuming to offer suggestions to the governing authority of
the Craft, but of defining the position for the guidance of the average
Brother.

As things stand, Grand Lodge is the trustee of a system which it has
inherited, which it is pledged to continue upon established lines, and
which it has no power to alter if it wished, save at the request and by the
common consent of those whose interests it exists to conserve. It has no
power to sanction the admission of women into the order, nor is there any
desire in its ranks that it should; indeed the fact that women can to-day
take elsewhere precisely the same degrees as the Craft confers is a fact
unknown to the majority of Brethren.

Whether Grand Lodge should extend official recognition to societies
professing to be Masonic and admitting members of both sexes is another
matter, and depends upon the view to be taken of the regularity or
irregularity of the societies in question. Can such societies produce
satisfactory evidence of their regularity and right to recognition, or have
they sprung into existence through the treachery or disloyalty of members
of the Craft? That is not a question falling to the present writer to
determine, nor has he sufficient material before him to do so. The only
conclusion he can come to for himself, and the only advice he can offer to
others, is to abide loyally by the existing ordinances of the duly
constituted authority. The Craft so far has been the "Men's House," and
must so remain until such time as circumstances-which do not now exist and
for a long time to come are unlikely to exist-clearly warrant a departure
from the present position. It may be that the "Men" do not make the best
use of their "House"; it may be that the now banned societies have sprung
into existence because of that fact; it may be-and there are grounds for
supposing it that in those societies Masonry is worked with greater
decorum, a far fuller understanding, a deeper reverence and appreciation of
what it implies, than in the orthodox Craft. But the fact remains that we
are committed and pledged to our own Constitution for the present and we
shall do neither it nor our individual selves a service by departing from
strict loyalty to it.

Upon the general question of the fitness of women to receive the Masonic or
any alternative form of Initiation, I must record an affirmative conviction
of the same strength-as the negative one I make to the suggestion that
women should be admitted to the Craft or that visiting relations between
the latter and the unauthorized societies should be sanctioned; for, in
existing conditions, such relationship is undesirable and might prove
disastrous to both. Although the sexes meet upon a common footing in the
field of both religious and secular affairs, and - although the whole modem
tendency is towards equality of rights, function and responsibility,
Masonry at present stands outside both the religious and the secular
categories, and by the majority of its members is viewed merely as a social
luxury and a casual appendage to other activities of life. Until it is
accorded a far higher appreciation than this, until it can be viewed from a
standpoint not merely of ordinary morality -but from one involving a high
standard of personal sanctity; until the mental conception of it is
sufficiently lofty and compelling to neutralize emotional frailty and the
chances of moral lapse, Masonry is far better reserved as the "Men's
House," even though that House be, in the prophet's words, one "of
untempered mortar" and lacking the advantage of feminine association .

The human soul is essentially sexless, yet to the feminine side of humanity
is notoriously credited exceptional intuitive power and capacity for the
finer apprehension of truth, and upon this account, in the days of the
Eleusinia, women were never excluded from initiation into the Mysteries,
but were allotted special rites of their own, and, in the processions of
the Thesmophorim, passed along the  public street bearing upon their heads
the volumes of the Sacred Law,-an eloquent symbolic tribute and testimony
to the superior power of the feminine understanding to intuitise the finer
sense and implications of that Law. It was to a woman-the mysterious
Diotima of Megara-that the amazed Socrates owed his supreme initiation into
that last Mystery of Love about which he speaks in the Symposium with such
awe and moving eloquence; yet a woman with whom stands exhibited, in
purposed contrast, that opposite pole of womanhood the futile, mindless
Xantippe whom he had wedded. There have been Egerias, Aspasias and
Hypatias, besides those known to history; and Dante's hierophantess,
Beatrice, -but types that "eternal womanly" which, Goethe truly divined,
always exists with us to lead the male intellect ever upward and on. It is
almost needless to point to the mass of work done by women still living in
the exposition of mystical philosophy and religion, or to say that such
great mines of instruction in matters of Masonic moment as Isis Unveiled,
The Secret Doctrine, and A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery,
have come from the pens of women learned and enlightened in things
pertaining to the Craft to a degree seldom evidenced by its own members.

In every interest, then, it is desirable that the "women's question" should
rest where it is. Nothing can prevent those, of whichever sex, who are
really builders in the spirit, from privately fraternizing in that spirit.
To such, formal collaboration, however agreeable it might be were it
permissible, can be dispensed with, for their work is not dependent upon
facilities of a formal character, and they will be the first to recognize
the wisdom of Order accepting and the expedience of conforming to current
technical necessity. When the time and conditions arrive for present
barriers to be removed, it will be because the Craft itself will have
removed them by entering into a fuller realization of its purpose than now
obtains, and because Grand Lodge will have been influenced to alter its
laws by an authority higher even than itself-the Grand Lodge Above.

To pass now from these considerations of things of the moment to the larger
vista towards which those things are leading, what is the prospect before
the Order?

That prospect is perhaps sufficiently indicated by the familiar words
written at the head of this paper: "First, that which is natural; after,
that which is spiritual." For nearly three centuries the Craft has been
developing from a small germ to a great robust body characterized by
tendencies of a purely natural kind, manifesting natural human weaknesses,
and displaying the inexperience, the irresponsibility, and the limitations
of outlook common to all youth. It has meant well, even when it has
misconceived its purpose. If it has provided a field in which numbers of
men, blind to the Order's real significance, have sought merely social
amusement and personal distinction, it has also proved a source of light
and guidance to many obscure souls not subject to those vanities and who
have realized and profited by its implications, and some of who from the
portal of the Craft, have passed on in silence to more advanced methods or
colleges of spiritual instruction. A sacramental system is not invalidated
by the default of those accepting its jurisdiction; and as saints often
flourished in the Church amid most unsaintly conditions, so not a few
Masons have won to the Light despite the surrounding darkness of their
Brethren.

But now is coming 'a change, and it is significant that it comes not from
the higher ranks of the Craft where, with all desire for the Craft's best
interests, every tendency is towards conservatism and the sufficiency of
old standards, but from the rank and file, from the younger, newer blood
now - flowing into the veins of the Order. It is, of course, not a
movement even remotely resembling disaffection, but now, as never before,
Brethren in numbers are asking from Masonry bread of life; they are caring
less and less for ceremonies and ancient usages unless these can be shown
to have supporting justification; they look to the leaders and 'teachers
of the Craft for, not a perpetual reiteration of complimentary but
unsatisfying speeches, but for instruction in real Masonic light and wisdom.

The future of the Order cannot be appraised without reference to the
general social life surrounding it; for it is not something apart and
detached from that life but an integral element of it, and between the two
there is perpetual interaction and reaction. The gradual disintegration of
the Churches affects the- Craft, tending both to increase it numerically
and to advance the exploration of its concealed spiritual resources.
Religion will not die-the religious instinct -can never die-nor will "the
Church" in some form cease to exist and to fulfill a certain ministry . But
today a supplementary form of ministry is required and Masonry can provide
it. A regrouping and redistribution of energy is taking place, in the
course of which we may come to find that that powerful psychological
phenomenon, a new group-consciousness-the Masonic consciousness- has been
in process of formation; a consciousness which may become in time as
potent a factor as was the Church-consciousness of mediaeval days, or as
was the moral power of the Delphian Mysteries during the seventeen
centuries of their great influence.

When the time ripens, the Mysteries-as a science of life and an art of so
living as to qualify for- attaining ultra-natural life-will come to be
restored. For long past, both within and without the Church, the tide of
human persuasion and events has been deadest against the tradition of
regeneration into that ultra-natural life, as originally taught and
practiced. But that which has been is that which, in the course of cyclic
recurrence, shall be again, and upon a higher level of development than
before. It is not that the Christian Church is not a steward of the
Mysteries-or at least that portion of it which does not reject the
authentic sacramental signs and channels through which those Mysteries may
be realized, but, from reasons too complex and lengthy here to detail,
there has been failure -on the human side to realize them. as they are now
presented, with the result that the Christian Ecclesia has degenerated into
a state analogous to that into which the pre-Christian Mystery-systems had
fallen when the new  era began. To the clear-seeing eye the narrative in
the Gospels, apart from all questions of historicity, is a drama of
Initiation written for that time, for every eye to see, and for every mind
to profit by ; for what previously had been but adumbrated and approached
by a few individuals in the concealment of the Mystery-schools, became, at
the Incarnation, objectified, universalized and made generally accessible
;- in other words the Gospels became a manual of Initiation-instruction to
the whole world according to the measure of individual capacity to receive
it, notwithstanding that large tracts of knowledge remained unproclaimed in
those Gospels but were reserved for more private communication. The
recurrent cycle of the Church's year, with its feasts and fasts, its
'symbolic seasons pointing to inhibitions and expansions of the soul's
consciousness, is a true chart of the path to be followed by those who
themselves seek initiation under the mastership of the Great Hierophant and
Exemplar of regenerative science; while in the Sacrament of the Altar is
portrayed, albeit under different symbolism, the actual process of
Initiation and the same transmutative changes in the body and mind of the
recipient as are emblematized to the- Masonic candidate in the Craft Degrees.

Truth remains static, although temporal expressions and ministries of it
follow the temporal order, and are born and die. When this form of the
Mysteries becomes neglected or abused, or that steward of them decrepit or
ineffective, another- in the Divine providence and patience-stands ready to
carry forward their torch; truth becomes "fulfilled in many ways lest one
good custom should corrupt the world." The Masonic system was devised
three centuries ago, at a time of general unrest and change, as a
preparatory infant-school in which once again the alphabet of a world-old
Gnosis might be learned and an elementary acquaintance made with the
science of human regeneration. However misunderstood and misapplied,
however materialistically conceived, have been its rites, the soul and
consciousness of every voluntary participant in them stands imperishably
impressed with the memory of them. The maxim "Once a Mason, always a
Mason" expresses an occult truth not realized by those who are unaware of
the subjective value and persistence of one's deliberated objective actions; though the Church implies the same truth when it deems the act of
sacramental baptism to bring a given soul within the fold of Christ for
ever.  In each case, and especially so when the deliberate will of the
neophyte assents to the act, a new addition is made to the group-soul of
the community into which the individual becomes incorporated ; and, in the
case of the Masonic initiate, the aggregate and volume of what we have
termed the Masonic Consciousness is enlarged . Reactions and consequences
follow of a nature perhaps too abstruse to dilate upon here, but to which
the Roman Initiated poet referred in the well-known words:

Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo .
Iam redit et Virgo ; redeunt Saturnia regna ;
Iam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto .

Meanwhile, tinctured and affected by this metaphysical influence from the
subjective world, the work of the Craft proceeds within this bourne of time
and place; beginning, as we have shown, crudely and following the
grosser tendencies of the natural order, until a moment is reached when a
new birth becomes possible. Then the natural gives way to the spiritual,
and the great material organization, a "body prepared," becomes the
requisite physical vehicle for a correspondingly great office as a minister
of real Wisdom.

Operative Masonry preceded and became spiritualized into Speculative, and
the gross beginnings of the latter are now becoming sublimated into a more
subtle conception and tending to a scientific mysticism at once theoretic
and practical. We may look forward to the gradual increasing
spiritualization of the Craft and to its becoming-in a future the nearness
or distance of which no one can presume to indicate-the portal to a still
more advanced expression of the Sacred Mysteries. For, foretold the Great
Master, the time will surely come when in the present ways of neither this
"mountain"- neither this Church nor that Craft-nor any Jerusalem that now
serves as a place of peace, will men worship the Universal Father, but
after another manner and mystically, that is, after the manner of the
eternal Mysteries. "For salvation is of the Jews," He added, and it has
previously been explained that by "Jews" is implied the Initiates of those
Mysteries, acting under the Grand Mastership of Him who was named "the King
of the Jews."

The Churches, therefore, may be left to continue to discharge their proper
ministry, whilst those who feel the need of a larger science, an
alternative and perhaps richer fare than the Churches provide, may find it
in the ancient Gnosiss to which Freemasonry serves as a portal of entrance
. By following the path to which that portal leads, they may be brought to
a deeper knowledge of themselves and of the mysteries of their own being ;
to which end, and which end alone, the Masonic Craft was designed . That
Craft will only become what its individual members make it. If they see in
it only a ceremonial procedure, at such it will remain, and their
initiation will be but one in name and not in fact. But if they strive to
realize and make their own the living spirit and intention behind the
outward rites and formal usages, the dramatized quest of Light and of the
Lost Word may result for them in a blessed finding of that which they
profess to seek, and what they find themselves they will become able to
communicate to other seekers, until the Craft is justified of all its
children, and itself becomes-as it was intended to become-a great light in
a dark world .

 

 

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