By W. Bro. Rob Lund – http://www.kilwinning565.com/
For a long time, the public has been told that Freemasonry is a secret organization. This, obviously, is not true. The fact that Masonic Temples are on display to the public, and Lodge websites abound on the Internet, is proof of that. How did this idea of a secret organization come about? Well, it once was actually a secret organization. Back in a time when Freemasonry was considered a heresy to the Roman Catholic Church, members could be arrested by the church and tortured. The Church did not want an organization that brought together men of different faiths. Even in more recent times, Masons in predominantly Catholic countries wanted to stay under the radar, since Catholic Freemasons could be excommunicated.
In more recent times, various Grand Lodges (the governing bodies), in wanting to change this perception of a secret organization, started using the phrase “Freemasonry is not a secret organization, it is an organization with secrets”. This, to me, was not a good thing as it gave rise to so many conspiracy theories, such as Freemasons trying to take over the world. Hopefully, you are aware that this is not the case. It could never happen, as, although Freemasonry exists around the world, there is no central group of control. Various countries and states or provinces, each have their own governing body (a Grand Lodge) which are completely autonomous. They take orders from no one. The leaders of these Grand Lodges are elected by democratic vote and serve a limited term of office.
Does Freemasonry have secrets? Yes, but not the kind of secrets you may imagine.
Firstly, the Degree ceremonies, or rituals, are kept confidential, even though these can be found on the Internet. So, they are not really secret. We keep them confidential so that candidates who undergo these initiatic ceremonies will gain the maximum benefit from them. They are meant to make a psychological impact on the individual, to make them think.
Secondly, we have secret handshakes and modes of recognition. Again, these can be found on the internet. We have these in order to keep out of our meetings those who are not qualified to be there.
But the most important secrets will not be found so easily in books or the internet. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? So, what are these secrets? I’m going to tell you. However, even after I tell you, you will not know them! Now you’re wondering what this crazy man is talking about!
It is actually difficult to explain, but I’ll give you a clue through the following quotes:
Aristotle said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. “
Pythagoras said, “Know thyself, and thou shalt know the Universe and God.”
Note that Freemasonry does not use the word God, we use the title of Great Architect of the Universe. This allows for each individual’s interpretation of a supreme being.
So, what does it mean: to know oneself? Here are some more quotes.
George Gurdjieff, a well-known spiritual leader, said “Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity of self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings about certain changes in his inner processes. He begins to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening.”
So, that is the start of understanding, and Freemasonry helps one to do this through contemplation of the allegories and symbols in our ceremonies. But, it goes deeper:
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you”. The scriptures have numerous similar sayings.
Krishna said, “God lies hidden within the hearts of all.”
Buddha said “The ultimate reality is that there is no separate self. If you believe that God is outside yourself, then you are … embracing ….. an inferior teaching.”
A Rosicrucian Manuscript states: “As mystics throughout time have found, the road to discovery, to peace and enlightenment is a journey into Self. There is more to our conscious being than we realize, and it is from within that we find the keys that unlock our inner wisdom. It is from within that we can connect with the source of knowledge that lies beyond the limits of our five senses.”
Now, we start to see what this means. In a nutshell, the only way to connect with the Divine, is from within.
But, that connection, and one’s experience with it, is never to be shared by those who will not understand. And that is the true secret of Masonry.
This final quote by Dr. Joseph Fort Newton sums it all up: “The secret of Masonry, like the secret of life, can be known only by those who seek it, serve it, live it. It cannot be uttered; it can only be felt and acted. It is, in fact, an open secret, and each man knows it according to his quest and capacity. Like all things worth knowing, no one can know it for another, and no man can know it alone.”
From the Sunday Masonic Paper Jan 26, 2020