Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Speculative" Wisdom

Hearken Brothers...

""Ye cannot," said the Great Teacher, "serve God and Mammon." When the thirst for wealth becomes general, it will be sought for as well dishonestly as honestly; by frauds and over-reaching, by the knaveries of trade, the heartlessness of greedy speculation, by gambling in stocks and commodities that soon demoralizes a whole community. Men will speculate upon the needs of their neighbors and the distresses of their country. Bubbles that, bursting, impoverished multitudes, will be blown up by cunning knavery, with stupid credulity as its assistants and instrument. Huge bankruptcies, that startle a country like the earthquakes, and are more fatal, fraudulent assignments, engulfment of the savings of the poor, expansions and collapses of the currency, the crash of banks, the depreciation of Government securities, prey on the savings of self denial, and trouble with their depredations the first nourishment of infancy and the last sands of life, and fill with inmates the churchyards and lunatic asylums. But the sharper and speculater fattens. If his country is fighting by a levy en masse for her very existence, he aids her by depreciating her paper, so that he may accumulate fabulous amounts with little outlay. If his neighbor is distressed, he buys his property with a song. If he administers upon an estate, it turns out insolvent, and the orphans are paupers. If his bank explodes, he is found to have taken care of himself in time. Society worships its paper and credit Kings."

Albert Pike. "Morals and Dogma."

"But, to preserve liberty, another must be added: "that a free State does not confer office as a reward, especially for questionable services, unless she seeks her own ruin; but all officers are employed by her, in consideration solely of their will and ability to render service in the future; and therefore that the best and most competent are always preferred."

Albert Pike. "Morals and Dogma."

It's all rather relevant, isn't it, in this time of stock market bailouts, economic recessions, bank foreclosures ... oh... and Presidential elections.

We dare not forget or sully the remembrance of the great founts of wisdom of our Ancient and Illustrious Order. Those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it indeed. All too often I witness the degradation of the very foundation stones of our Order. The ignorant workers cast the most virtuous and noble stones into the pile.

Brother Ruffians...we must seize these honored artifacts and restore them to their rightful place in our Order. We are not the mere gathering stonemasons many would have us be in the spiteful illusions of so-called history. Our great Order is Speculative and our tools are tools of heart and mind, of myth, philosophy and metaphor.

What is the worthiest Art of a Freemason? It is nothing less than striking the David from the rough marble. We are the perfection of rough ashlar in that a man restores himself to that Divine Image he was fashioned in...cleaving away imperfections gleaned along the path of his long journey home. This is philosophy...this is the essence that the heart understands and the mercurial symbols that the mind itself is defined by.

Albert Mackey, A.E. Waite, Manly P. Hall and, finally Albert Pike are among thousands of Masonic voices interpreting this "Speculative" Freemasonry...and rightly so. For it is the interpretation of the world that defines the Masonic view and sets it aside, in character and wisdom, from the headless follies of so many other common ideologies.

In distinct opposition to this view, the modern noted Masonic scholar Chris Hodapp writes:

"In your research about Freemasonry you will doubtless come across the writings of Albert Mackey, Manley Hall, Arthur Edward Waite, and Albert Pike. These men and many others have filled reams of paper with scholarly observations of Freemasonry. They eloquently linked the Craft to the ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt and elsewhere. They wrote that Masonry was directly descended from pagan rites and ancient religions. Some wrote that Masonry was the stepchild of magick, alchemy, and the shadowy mystics who dabbled in the world of the Kabala (Jewish mysticism) and in mysterious ancient writings like Hermes Trismigestes and the Key of Solomon. The works of these men were filled with fabulous tales of beliefs and cultures and cryptic theories of the deepest and earliest origins of Freemasonry.

In short, they wrote a lot of crap."
Christopher Hodapp. "Freemasonry for Dummies."

And 'toss' goes the wise stone into the pile.

There can be no doubt that these Masonic writers wrote in terms of their current knowledge and their own personal religious views. Still, there is much to be learned therein. "Morals and Dogma" is a very fine example of Masonic wisdom. Of course, it was tossed out of the Scottish Rite some years ago following precisely these forms of unwitting prejudices.

What stands opposed to the common idea offends the common mind. It is free will and free thought that alone allows us to approach that Divine Ladder from Wisdom to Beauty, from Faith to Love. Dare we Freemasons renounce our rightful philosophies and cast them scorned into piles of burning books? In this, we audit and censor our vision, blinding ourselves to the jewels of our past and the reasoning minds of our predecessors.

Are we so superior now that Aristotle was a fool? Certainly, this great sage conceived many aspects of the world in error. And yet, did he not offer us logical reasoning and scientific observation? Did not Aristotle peer into nature with that empirical modern eye? Are his ethics any less reasonable now...or his contributions to logic and refined thought?

We now walk together along a precipace with a bag over our shoulder, a trusted guide by our side and our eyes fixed on the sky. Do we not see that the edge is there and that the calamity of our ignorance awaits us? We cannot be the greater fools to follow impudence. We must open our eyes and dare to look to the path from whence we have come so far, as well as to the future just ahead.

We are the inheritors and so too the interpreters.


Prexy said...

Wow, my Brothers, you are on fire as of late! Excellent post. There is much of value to be found in the likes of Waite, Pike, Mackey and Hall. Those who deny the value of these works discard a great source of wisdom. By "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" the naysayers only contribute to the dilution of the essence of our Craft.

2 BOWL CAIN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
2 BOWL CAIN said...

from Williamhurst: "To state things briefly, Masonry offers us, in dramatic form and by means of dramatic ceremonial a philosophy of the spiritual life of man and a diagram of the process of regeneration. We shall see presently that that philosophy is not only consistent with the doctrine of every religious system taught outside the ranks of the Order, but that it explains, elucidates and more sharply defines, the fundamental doctrines common to every religious system in the world, whether past or present, whether Christian or non-Christian. The religions of the world, though all aiming at teaching truth, express that truth in different ways, and we are more prone to emphasize the differences than to look for the correspondences in what they teach. In some Masonic Lodges the candidate makes his first entrance to the Lodge room amid the clash of swords and the sounds of strife, to intimate to him that he is leaving the confusion and jarring of the religious sects of the exterior world, and is passing into a Temple wherein the Brethren dwell together in unity of thought in regard to the basal truths of life, truths which can permit of no difference or schism.

Allied with no external religious system itself, Masonry is yet a synthesis, a concordat, for men of every race, of every creed, of every sect, and its foundation principles being common to them all, admit of no variation. "As it was in the beginning, so it is now and ever shall be, into the ages of ages." Hence it is that every Master of a Lodge is called upon to swear that no innovation in the body of Masonry (i.e., in its substantial doctrine) is possible, since it already contains a minimum, and yet a sufficiency, of truth which none may add to nor alter, and from which none may take away; and since the Order accords perfect liberty of opinion to all men, the truths it has to offer are entirely "free to" us according to our capacity to assimilate them, whilst those to whom they do not appeal, those who think they can find a more sufficing philosophy elsewhere, are equally at liberty to be "free from" them, and men of honour will find it their duty to withdraw from the Order rather than suffer the harmony of thought that should characterize the Craft to be disturbed by their presence.

The admission of every Mason into the Order is, we are taught, "an emblematical representation of the entrance of all men upon this mortal existence." Let us reflect a little upon these pregnant words. To those deep persistent questionings which present themselves to every thinking mind, What am I? Whence come I? Whither go I?, Masonry offers emphatic and luminous answers. Each of us, it tells us, has come from that mystical "East," the eternal source of all light and life, and our life here is described as being spent in the "West" (that is, in a world which is the antipodes of our original home, and under conditions of existence as far removed from those we came from and to which we are returning, as is West from East in our ordinary computation of space). Hence every Candidate upon admission finds himself, in a state of darkness, in the West of the Lodge. Thereby he is repeating symbolically the incident of his actual birth into this world, which he entered as a blind and helpless babe, and through which in his early years, not knowing whither he was going, after many stumbling and irregular steps, after many deviations from the true path and after many tribulations and adversities incident to human life, he may at length ascend, purified and chastened by experience, to larger life in the eternal East. Hence in the E.A. degree, we ask, "As a Mason, whence come you?" and the answer, coming from an apprentice (i.e., from the natural man of undeveloped knowledge) is "From the West," since he supposes that his life has originated in this world. But, in the advanced degree of M.M. the answer is that he comes "From the East," for by this time the Mason is supposed to have so enlarged his knowledge as to realize that the primal source of life is not in the "West," not in this world; that existence upon this planet is but a transitory sojourn, spent in search of "the genuine secrets," the ultimate realities, of life; and that as the spirit of man must return to God who gave it, so he is now returning from this temporary world of "substituted secrets" to that "East" from which he originally came.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

As brother R stated in another post: " THOSE WHO HAVE GONE THIS WAY BEFORE US DESERVE BETTER" than being classified as "CRAP",

Freestyle said...

Outrageous indeed Brother 2 Bowl!

Are we to disparage our Brothers and Fellows as they reach in earnest to the Light...with reason and faith as their guides?

Can we not ourselves follow the paths of old left to us and simply sidestep the pitfalls we might discover along the way?

To condemn our own Body is surely self-destruction. Perhaps this modern 'disease' has swept silently into our Ancient bloodstream almost going unnoticed until, over time, it has begun to waste us away from the inside out.

We must be immune! We cannot tolerate these forms of fear and weakness. We cannot stand idle as our philosophies are stripped bare and our Order is laid at our feet, headless and heartless, a corpse.

We Ruffians must resist by our refusal to deny the Old Ways and the sancrosanct impetus for our Order's very existence. We are Speculative Masons! There would be those men today who would like to see us only in light of some mythic Operative fraternity with its roots in the unknown recesses of arbitrary guesswork. By our very nature our Tools and our Work exists Within the human panoply and not on some coarser stage to rot in time under harsh, literal, scrutiny.

Who dares to tell us how we must be as men!? Countless hammers cleave our individual Ashlar into their own image, forsaking our right of self definition. Whether through someone elses religious lens, political ideology or same such we are each beaten down and 'conformed.'

We are 'Free Born Men.' We are 'Free' Masons. We will give and take from our own resources as we choose so long as we serve Light and the betterment of all men.

I for one do not want to hear of another Brother denigrating our philosophical tools. These are the algorithms or our conscience and the width and breadth or our intellectual reach into those very Mysteries at the heart of our Order.

I will shake the hand of a Mason...not a Cowan.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Or deal with one who steps on the corpse of our long dead brothers for profit and prestige!

Shame on you Hodapp!
Those gone before us deserve better than YOU labelling their Masonic Labor as CRAP!

That can only be supported by those wishing Esoteric Freemasonry dies!
Which is the mainstream Grand Lodge systems!

It used to be unmasonic to be in possession of another states ritual book in Ohio!?
Why would our masonic leaders not want us in possession of another recognized bodies ritual?

They want us to be Veals in a pen.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

"To escape the cycles of reincarnation in this infernal world, man must detach himself from everything that attracts him to matter as well as disengage himself from the slavery of material sensations. He also has to elevate himself morally. The fallen entities, however, constantly fight man's tendency towards perfection by tempting him constantly so as to make him stay in this world where they can maintain their rulership over him.

Individual man must constantly fight against these entities by unmasking and rejecting them from his domain. He will achieve this partly through initiation, which attaches him to the elements of the Archetypes already reunited and which constitute the exoteric "communion of Saints"-and secondly by the liberating knowledge which teaches him the faster means of helping the rest of blind humanity as well as enhancing his personal work."

From above:"man must detach himself from everything that attracts him to matter"

Titles, Hats, Chains, Profit, Praise, Control, Jurisdiction, Territory, Chairs, Prideand much much more......... are all tied to matter!

Freestyle said...

An interesting missive 2 Bowl. I think the question of enlightenment would make for a fascinating post here in the future.

Conditioning and attachment certainly determine the state of being. This state can be changed under the application of will.

I think there are easier forms of 'detachment' or the Buddhist variable of 'non ado.' If you read selections from the Bhagavad Gita (from the Hindu Mahabharata) you will find differing methods of achieving this positive state without turning your back on material things. Ram Dass has written some excellent material on this subject.

At any rate, Bhakti Yoga is the method of loving and accepting all things. It may take a form of devotion or it may encompass a more generalized acceptance.

Ram would say...'Be Here Now.'

Most of us are 'Be Here Now What?'

Of course, it is one thing to simply Be. From the Jungian perspective, it is quite another to 'individuate' and be something outside the single minded collective nature.

I think it is all a matter of perspective really and what matters is how healthy and happy you are in your particular state of being.

Can we climb the ladder all the way up to the Light? If we are looking for a destination then we are already lost.

R said...

"Hence the Initiate knows no doubtful hopes, no absurd fears, becuase he has no irrational beliefs; he is aquainted with the extent of his power, and he can be bold without danger. For him, therefore, to dare is to be able."

Bro.: Alphonse Louis Constant


We observe that The Rituals of Masonry are full of fearsome trials.

The canddate was made to contempate both his own darkest fears as well as the Masonic bugaboos of immanent danger, impending doom, bloody sacrifice and vengeful Teplar ghosts.

In all Rites and Degrees he is solemnly warned, given ample oppurtunity to turn back, and should he persist, he is told that it would be better to quit the Lodge than to disturb the Harony of the Brethren.

We now live in a time when great moral fortitude and integrity are so rare and so needed. Those who would deal dishonestly with themselves and the Order perhaps have never been tried.

The imaginary trials of the Lodge represent real trials of the spirit, just as the wisdom teachings are represented under the guise of occult superstitions intended to freighten away the naieve child of low intelligence and ability.

Such men are of little use to the Order who can not judge for themseles the value (or lack of value) in the enigmatic sayings of the Sages.

The only excuse for admitting them is to be led about by the nose by those dishonest spokesmen who desire more participation, for the end result of more candidates, for the end result of more revenue.

Brethren, this is not Masonry but its antithesis. it is not even good buisness let alone a fitting use for a benevolent Order dedicated to the improvement of Man and Society.

Above all it is bad history. The Gothic Constitutons of the operative forebearers of Speculative Freemasons are full of myths and legends. They placed the society in the earliest ages of the world and classed Biblical Heroes along side ancient sages as keepers of the Masons' Secret Art.

The eighteenth-century Fraternity delighted in all this. For Masons of the so-called 'Revival' the Masonic Lodge was both daughter and the Mother of Philosophy.

Of Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Metaphysics and Alchemy.

These old speculations along with those of 'the New Science' found an immediate home in the Lodges of the Enlightenment.

The Pilosophy of the 'Ancients' (Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras) and the Philosophy of the 'Moderns' (DesCartes, Hume, Kant)were discssed at the Fstive Board.

Philosophy 'the Queen of the Sciences' was contemplated in the study of Masonry (or Geometry, synonymous terms)becuase serious men...are concerned with the most pertinent questions of Life!

Need every Mason be a Philosopher?

He need not be an authority, but he must ask himself some serious questions.

Why then fear the opinions of others?

Why fear the thoughts of the ancient philosophers, Christian or Pagan?

Is there not wisdom in the sacred Writtings of the World's Cltures in all ages?

Every Mason need not be in possession of a formal education but he should be in pursuit of one.

Our Lodges should be concerned with congregating serious men, men of integrity, inteligence and ability.

We should not be concerned with the pitiful charity provided us by dues, but rather with dispensing charity to those who do not yet possess the attributes of a Mason.

Then again if one has been freightened by the bugaboo of "Masonic Power," it would probably be better for them to remove the Landmarks, the Penalties, the Constitutions, the Obligations, the Investigations the Rituals and the Instruction.

That would make more sense and be less worrisome.

While we are at it why not just dispense with the ceremonies all together, retire the Tyler, say a prayer and sit down to a nice hot dog.

Happy Halloween


R said...

P.S. Damn spelling, typos and grammer... How serious am I? I expect a chastising lesson in humility soon. Its Ruff but you Brothers get the point and should sense my earnest sincerety.

Freestyle said...

Greetings Brother R!

Your words are sound indeed!

IF ONLY every Mason thought as you do on this matter then, perhaps, the true nature of the Order would flourish and the lodge seats would fill once more with Masters of the Craft.

Too many Masons are all too content with that hot dog you mentioned.

There are those, however, whom I have met along my own personal Hiramic journey, who extoll every virtue of the Order and embody the very best of human character. They do not despoil their ancestral Masonic Brothers. They are true Craftsmen.

The Heart of the Order still beats. But the Body needs to shape up and trim the fat!

Damn hot dogs!

R said...

Thank you Brothren and Ruffians,

Is this not the best Masonic web-ring in cyber-space?

I am aware that my hurried comments are not the most articulate (i.e. I would never get a passing grade in college without 'spell check')

however it is exciting to meet Masons out there who take our Ancient and Honorable Profession seriously.

How wonderful is this technology?

and yet how great were those Brethren 'who have gone this way before us' to have travelled leagues on horseback to accomplish what we can today with the click of a little bottun?

(I wonder if the weary travellers, upon entering the Temple of the Masonic Mysteries, were served a nice hot dog?)

Countless are the cabals, and Orders within Orders, in the annals of Masonry but I am especially hopeful as to what these Ruffians may accomplish.

If some of my comments are a bit scathing, I still profess my loyalty to all Regular Masons Where So-ever Dispersed Over the Face of the Globe...

It is my sincere conviction, from my studies and the evidence before me, that we have lost our way.

Though we have accomplished greatness, I sincerely believe we are on the path of ruin in forsaking our Masonic heritage,

and a little "Ruff" criticism and satire is both waranted and healthy for the future Good of the Order.

my sincere apology to those Brethren who disagree and are just as sincere in their own convictions.

Ruffians may find me on 'myspace' under 'friends' by the name 'Fraternitas' for direct communication.

Fraternally Thine

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