ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Ken Wilber reminds us in his book Eye to Eye that medieval philosophers made a distinction between three kinds of light and three kinds of eyes. We have eyes of flesh which see with exterior light - lumen exterior - the physical world of sense objects and matter. Then we have an eye of reason, which sees with interior light - lumen interior - the truths of reason, mind and knowledge.
     Finally, we have an eye of contemplation, which sees with higher or transcendent light – lumen superius - the ultimate reality of oneness, the ground of Being. It is these three lights that we need to consider in Freemasonry and the rituals clearly differentiate between them.
     The exterior light of the body equates to the light of Nature, described in the First Degree with the words ‘restored to the blessing of material light’. This is distinct from the inner light of the mind which, in the Second Degree, is that of intellect.
     Emmanuel Swedenborg wrote:
     It has often been granted me to perceive and also to see that there is a true light that enlightens the mind, wholly distinct from the light that is called natural light. I have been raised up into that light by degrees; and as I was raised up my understanding became so enlightened as to enable me to perceive what I did not perceive before, and finally such things as I could not even comprehend by thought from natural light.
     Finally, in the Third Degree, the light of contemplation is described as that ‘Light which is from above’.
     The experience of enlightenment appears to be the sensing, feeling and knowing that the body, heart and mind are being infused, usually from ‘above’ with inner light of a spiritual nature. When talking about this illumination it is called ‘light from above’ as a way of describing the process by which it appears to come from a part of our being that is ‘higher’ than body or mind. Sri Aurobindo describes the process:
     Into the consciousness with a fiery ardour of realisation comes a downpour of inwardly visible light. There is also in this descent the arrival of a greater dynamic, a luminous ‘enthusiasmos’ of inner force and power which replaces the comparatively slow and deliberate process of the mind by a swift, sometimes vehement, almost a violent impetus of rapid transformation.
     With the coming of this inner light the recipient is initiated into a new and higher level of realisation. The light experienced in the different Degrees of Freemasonry is one and the same, only at different levels of the spectrum of consciousness. The experience of enlightenment often comes after an intense inner struggle, like a breakthrough between the opposites of good and evil; it brings an understanding which embraces both the polar opposites.
     It is often a struggle between fear and love. When the power of love finally prevails and light dawns in the heart, then the walls of fear dissolve and the heart opens. To lose any sense of fear, particularly that of dying, is to be free, and that of course is one important teaching in the Third Degree of Freemasonry. As Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass:
     Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself. It is not far, it is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know.
     It is self-evident that this is what the writers of our rituals had in mind when they developed the Freemasonry we know and love as a progressive science, leading from darkness and ignorance to light and knowledge and culminating in wisdom and enlightenment.
     So how does any of this help Anglo- Saxon Freemasonry in its present decline? The reasons why men persevere and enjoy their Masonry are complex and will be different for each of us. At one end of the scale there are those brethren who are looking for companionship alone, and Freemasonry provides them with a friendly and trusting environment.
     Then there are those who value the contribution the Craft makes to charity, and are motivated by a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves, both Masons and non-Masons alike.
     Some like the chance to perform the rituals and work hard to ensure high standards are maintained in our ceremonies; others make a study of Freemasonry from an historical or social perspective; then there are those who choose to explore the inner and more esoteric aspects of the ritual in order to discover more about Freemasonry and themselves.
     It is for the latter that we need to give a better understanding of the inner meanings of the Craft; partly to encourage a better study of Freemasonry and partly to increase the amount of revealed light in the Order as a whole. The success of such a venture will only be judged by the effect it has on those who are interested in the mysteries, and want to deepen their knowledge of the true nature of the Order.
   

External Bath Abbey – angels climbing Jacob’s Ladder. The ladder is featured in the First Degree tracing board and in its early Masonic format had three rungs depicting Faith, Hope and Charity


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