Look a little deeper – vol 1
Some may regard the more esoteric or philosophical side of Freemasonry as something akin to jumping feet first into a very large rabbit hole. There is much to be learned from the men and Mason’s who came before. So this will be more or less and introduction to some of the more well known authors. In that many will have heard their names, but few have really read anything they have written. We’ll take a look at Hall, Oliver, Mackey and a few others in this series.
Manly P. Hall, 33º Scottish Rite Freemason, raised November 22, 1954, passed to the celestial lodge 1990.
The first to be highlighted wild be Manly Palmer Hall. Mainly because of a brief online conversation with a Lodge Brother a few weeks ago. So a bit of background on Manly P. Hall first. Born in March 1901 in Canada to William Hall and Louise Palmer Hall, moved to Los Angeles at 18 and within a year was elected a preacher of the Church of the People in 1919, at Trinity Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, where he read voraciously on “comparative religion, philosophy, sociology and psychology,” and “seemingly overnight . . . became a one-stop source of an astonishing range of eclectic spiritual material that resonates with the intellect, and the subconscious.” Hall was ordained a minister in the Church of the People on May 17, 1923, and “a few days later, he was elected permanent pastor of the church.”
Manly P. Hall, at 22-23 years old, seemed to have accomplished what may take a lifetime for most. It was in 1923 that his first book was published, “The Lost Keys of Freemasonry”, even though he does not join the Craft until 1954, some 30 years later.
This and his next book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, in 1928 encompassed much of Hall’s vast knowledge of a diverse esoteric subject matter.
Hall’s books are not without some controversy. Like Albert Pike, Hall is occasionally misunderstood and the meaning of what he wrote missed by many. The most famous of these from Hall is:
“When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands, and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly apply energy.” – Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry
If you wish a lengthy explanation of why the word lucifer shows up in Masonic texts and it’s Biblical inferences, etc. And how it’s been mistranslated for centuries, you can click HERE.
The short line on this is scholars have been trying to correct this translation error for many years.
So let’s look at his first book, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry, though not a religion, is essentially religious. Most of its legends and allegories are of a sacred nature; much of it is woven into the structure of Christianity. We have learned to consider our own religion as the only inspired one, and this probably accounts for much of the misunderstanding in the world today concerning the place occupied by Freemasonry in the spiritual ethics of our race.
A religion is a divinely inspired code of morals. A religious person is one inspired to nobler living by this code. He is identified by the code which is his source of illumination. Thus we may say that a Christian is one who receives his spiritual ideals of right and wrong from the message of the Christ, while a Buddhist is one who molds his life into the archetype of morality given by the great Gautama, or one of the other Buddhas.
All doctrines which seek to unfold and preserve that invisible spark in man named Spirit, are said to be spiritual. Those which ignore this invisible element and concentrate entirely upon the visible are said to be material. There is in religion a wonderful point of balance, where the materialist and spiritualist meet on the plane of logic and reason. Science and theology are two ends of a single truth, but the world will never receive the full benefit of their investigations until they have made peace with each other, and labor hand in hand for the accomplishment of the great work – the liberation of spirit and intelligence from the three-dimensional prison-house of ignorance, superstition, and fear.
You are the temple builders of the future. With your hands must be raised the domes and spires of a coming civilization. Upon the foundation you have laid, tomorrow shall build a far more noble edifice. Builders of the temple of character wherein should dwell an enlightened spirit; truers of the rock of relationship; molders of those vessels created to contain the oil of life: up, and to the task appointed!
Never before in the history of men have you had the opportunity that now confronts you. The world waits – waits for the illuminated one who shall come from between the pillars of the portico. Humility, hoodwinked and bound, seeks entrance to the temple of wisdom. Fling wide the gate, and let the worthy enter. Fling wide the gate, and let the light that is the life of men shine forth. Hasten to complete the dwelling of the Lord, that the Spirit of God may come and dwell among His people, sanctified and ordained according to His law.
THE ETERNAL QUEST
The average Mason, as well as the modern student of Masonic ideals, little realizes the cosmic obligation he takes upon himself when he begins his search for the sacred truths of Nature as they are concealed in the ancient and modern rituals. He must not lightly regard his vows, and if he would not bring upon himself years and ages of suffering he must cease to consider Freemasonry solely as a social order only a few centuries old. He must realize that the ancient mystic teachings as perpetuated in the modern rites are sacred, and that powers unseen and unrecognized mold the destiny of those who consciously and of their own free will take upon themselves the obligations of the Fraternity.
Freemasonry is not a material thing: it is a science of the soul; it is not a creed or doctrine but a universal expression of the Divine Wisdom. The coming together of medieval guilds or even the building of Solomon’s temple as it is understood today has little, if anything, to do with the true origin of Freemasonry, for Masonry does not deal with personalities. In its highest sense, it is neither historical nor archaeological, but is a divine symbolic language perpetuating under certain concrete symbols the sacred mysteries of the ancients.
Only those who see in it a cosmic study, a life work, a divine inspiration to better thinking, better feeling, and better living, with the spiritual attainment of enlightenment as the end, and with the daily life of the true Mason as the means, have gained even the slightest insight into the true mysteries of the ancient rites.
The noblest tool of the Mason is his mind, but its value is measured by the use made of it. Thoughtful in all things, the aspiring candidate to divine wisdom attains reality in sincere desire, in meditation, and in silence. Let the keynote of the Craft, and of the Ritual, be written in blazing letters: THINK OF ME. What is the meaning of this mystic maze of symbols, rites and rituals? THINK! What does life mean, with the criss-crossings of human relationship, the endless pageantry of qualities masquerading in a carnival of fools? THINK! What is the plan behind it all, and who the planner?
Where dwells the Great Architect, and what is the tracing board upon which he designs? THINK! What is the human soul, and why the endless yearning to ends unknown, along pathways where each must wander unaccompanied? Why mind, why soul, why spirit, and in truth, why anything? THINK! Is there an answer? If so, where will the truth be found? Think, Brothers of the Craft, think deeply; for if truth exists, you have it, and if truth be within the reach of living creature, what other goal is worth the struggle?
There comes a time in the growth of every living individual thing when it realizes with dawning consciousness that it is a prisoner. While apparently free to move and have its being, the struggling life cognizes through ever greater vehicles its own limitations.
It is at this point that man cries out with greater insistence to be liberated from the binding ties which, though invisible to mortal eyes, still chain him with bonds far more terrible than those of any physical prison. Many have read the story of the prisoner of Chillon who paced back and forth in the narrow confines of his prison cell, while the blue waters rolled ceaselessly above his head and the only sound that broke the stillness of his eternal night was the constant swishing and lapping of the waves.
We pity the prisoner in his physical tomb and we are sad at heart, for we know how life loves liberty. But there is one prisoner whose plight is far worse than those of earth. He has not even the narrow confines of a prison cell around Him; He cannot pace ceaselessly to and fro and wear ruts in the cobblestones of His dungeon floor.
That eternal Prisoner is Life incarnate within the dark stone walls of matter, with not a single ray to brighten the blackness of His fate. He fights eternally, praying in the dark confines of gloomy walls for light and opportunity. This is the eternal Prisoner who, through the ceaseless ages of cosmic unfoldment, through forms unnumbered and species now unknown, strives eternally to liberate Himself and gain self conscious expression, the birthright of every created thing.
THE ENTERED APPRENTICE
There are three grand steps in the unfoldment of the human soul before it completes the dwelling place of the spirit. These have been caged respectively youth, manhood, and old age; or, as the Mason would say, the Entered Apprentice, the FellowCraft, and the Master Builder. All life passes through these three grand stages of human consciousness.
They can be listed as the man on the outside looking in, the man going in, and the man inside. The path of human life is governed as all things are by the laws of analogy, and as at birth we start our pilgrimage through youth, manhood, and old age, so the spiritual consciousness of man in his cosmic path of unfoldment passes from unconsciousness to perfect consciousness in the Grand Lodge of the universe.
Before the initiation of the Entered Apprentice degree can be properly understood and appreciated, certain requirements must be considered, not merely those of the physical world but also those of the spiritual world. The Mason must realize that his true initiation is a spiritual and not a physical ritual, and that his initiation into the living temple of the spiritual hierarchy regulating Freemasonry may not occur until years after he has taken the physical degree, or spiritually he may be a Grand Master before he comes into the world.
THE FELLOW CRAFT
Life manifests not only through action on the physical plane, but through human emotion and sentiment. This is the type of energy taken up by the student when he starts his labors in the Fellow Craft. From youth with its smiling face, he passes on to the greater responsibilities of manhood. On the second step of the temple stands a soldier dressed in shining armor, but his sword is sheathed and a book is in his hand. He is symbolic of strength, the energy of Mars, and the wonderful step in spiritual unfoldment which we know as Fellow Craft. Through each one of us course the fiery rays of human emotion, a great seething cauldron of power behind each expression of human energy.
Like spirited horses chafing at the bit, like hounds eager for the chase, the emotional powers cannot be held in check, but break the walls of restraint and pour forth as fiery expressions of dynamic energy. This great principle of emotion we know as the second murderer of Hiram. Through the perversion of human emotions there comes into the world untold sorrow, which through reaction, manifests in the mental and physical bodies. It is strange how divine powers may become perverted until each expression and urge becomes a ruffian and a murderer. The divine compassion of the gods manifests in this world of form very differently than in the realms of light. Divine compassion is energized by the same influxes as mortal passions and the lusts of earth.
The spiritual light rays of Cosmos – the Fire Princes of the Dawn – which seethe and surge through the unregenerate man, are the impulses which he perverts to murder and hate. The ceaseless power of Chaos, the seething pinwheel spirals of perpetual motion, whose majestic cadences are the music of the spheres, are energized by the same great power that man uses to destroy the highest and best. The same mystic power that keeps the planets in their orbits around the solar body, the same energy that keeps each electron spinning and whirling, the same energy that is building the temple of God, is now a merciless slave-driver which , unmastered and uncurbed, strikes the Compassionate One and sends him reeling backward into the darkness of his prison.
THE MASTER MASON
On the upper steps of spiritual unfoldment stands the Master Mason, who spiritually represents the graduate from the school of esoteric learning. In the ancient symbols he is represented as an old man leaning upon a staff, his long white beard upon his chest, and his deep, piercing eyes sheltered by the brows of a philosopher. He is in truth old, not in years, but in wisdom and understanding, which are the only true measurement of age.
Through years and lives of labor he has found the staff of life and truth upon which he leans. He no longer depends upon the words of others but upon the still voice that speaks from the heart of his own being. There is no more glorious position that a man may hold than that of a Master Builder, who has risen by labor through the degrees of human consciousness.
Time is the differentiation of eternity devised by man to measure the passage of human events. On the spiritual planes of Nature it is the space or distance between the stages of spiritual growth and hence is not measurable by material means. Many a child comes into this world a Grand Master of the Masonic School, while many a revered and honored brother passes silently to rest without having gained admittance to its gate.
The Master Mason is one whose life is full, pressed down and brimming over with the experience he has gained in his slow pilgrimage up the winding stairs. The Master Mason embodies the power of the human mind, that connecting link which binds heaven and earth together in an endless chain. His spiritual light is greater because he has evolved a higher vehicle for its expression. Above even constructive action and emotion soars the power of thought which swiftly flies on wings to the source of Light.
The mind is the highest form of his human expression and he passes into the great darkness of the inner room illuminated only by the fruits of reason. The glorious privileges of a Master Mason are in keeping with his greater knowledge and wisdom. From the student he has blossomed forth as the teacher; from the kingdom of those who follow he has joined that little group who must always lead the way.
For him the Heavens have opened and the Great Light has bathed him in its radiance. The Prodigal Son, so long a wanderer in the regions of darkness, has returned again to his Father’s house. The voice speaks from the Heavens, its power thrilling the Master until his own being seems filled with its divinity, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Masonry is eternal truth, personified, idealized, and yet made simple. Eternal truth alone can serve it. Virtue is its priest, patience its warden, illumination its master. The world cannot know this, however, save when Masons in their daily life prove that it is so. Its truth is divine, and is not to be desecrated or defamed by the thoughtlessness of its keepers. Its temple is a holy place, to be entered in reverence. Material thoughts and material dissensions must be left without its gate.
They may not enter. Only the pure of heart, regenerated and transmuted, may pass the sanctity of its veil. The schemer has no place in its ranks, nor the materialist in its shrine; for Masons walk on hallowed ground, sanctified by the veneration of ages. Let the tongue be stilled, let the heart be stilled, let the mind be stilled. In reverence and in the silence, stillness shall speak: the voice of stillness is the voice of the Creator.
Show your light and your power to men, but before God what have you to offer, save in humility? Your robes, your tinsel, and your jewels mean naught to Him, until your own body and soul, gleaming with the radiance of perfection, become the living ornaments of your Lodge.
THE PRESENCE OF THE MASTER
The Mason believes in the Great Architect, the living keystone of creation’s plan, the Master of all Lodges, without whose spirit there is no work. Let him never forget that the Master is near. Day and night let him feet the presence of the Supreme or Overshadowing One. The All-Seeing Eye is upon him. Day and night this great Orb measures his depths, seeing into his innermost soul of souls, judging his life, reading his thoughts, measuring his aspirations, and rewarding his sincerity. To this All-Seeing One he is accountable; to none other must he account.
This Spirit passes with him out of the Lodge and measures the Mason in the world. This Spirit is with him when he buys and sells. It is with him in his home. By the light of day and by the darkness of night it judges him. It hears each thoughtless word. It is the silent witness to every transaction of life, the silent Partner of every man. By the jury of his acts, each man is judged. Let every Mason know that his obligations include not only those within the narrow Lodge, bordered by walls of stone and brick, but those in the Great Lodge, walled only by the dome of heaven. The Valley of Jehoshaphat waits for him who is false to any creature, as surely as it waited for the breakers of the Cosmic oath.
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A TRUE MASON
Every true Mason has come into the realization that there is but one Lodge – that is, the Universe – and but one Brotherhood, composed of everything that moves or exists in any of the planes of Nature. He realizes that the Temple of Solomon is really the Temple of the Solar Man -Sol-Om-On – the King of the Universe manifesting through his three primordial builders. He realizes that his vow of brotherhood and fraternity is universal, and that mineral, plant, animal, and man are all included in the true Masonic Craft. His duty as an elder brother to all the kingdoms of Nature beneath him is well understood by the true Craftsman, who would rather die than fail in this, his great obligation.
He has dedicated his life upon the altar of his God and is willing and glad to serve the lesser through the powers he has gained from the greater. The mystic Mason, in building the eyes that see behind the apparent ritual, recognizes the oneness of life manifesting through the diversity of form. The true disciple of ancient Masonry has given up forever the worship of personalities.
With his greater insight, he realizes that all forms and their position in material affairs are of no importance to him compared to the life which is evolving within. Those who allow appearances or worldly expressions to deter them from their self-appointed tasks are failures in Masonry, for Masonry is an abstract science of spiritual unfoldment.
Material prosperity is not the measure of soul growth. The true Mason realizes that behind these diverse forms there is one connected Life Principle, the spark of God in all living things. It is this Life which he considers when measuring the worth of a brother. It is to this Life that he appeals for a recognition of spiritual Unity. He realizes that it is the discovery of this spark of Unity which makes him a conscious member of the Cosmic Lodge. Most of all, he must learn to understand that this divine spark shines out as brightly from the body of a foe as it does from the dearest friend.
Your creed and your Craft demand the best that is in you. They demand the sanctifying of your life, the regeneration of your body, the purification of your soul, and the ordination of your spirit. Yours is the glorious opportunity; yours is the divine responsibility. Accept your task and follow in the footsteps of the Master Masons of the past, who with the flaming spirit of the Craft have illumined the world. You have a great privilege – the privilege of illumined labor.
You may know the ends to which you work, while others must struggle in darkness. Your labors are not to be confined to the tiled Lodge alone, for a Mason must radiate the qualities of his Craft. Its light must shine in his home and in his business, glorifying his association with his fellow men. In the Lodge and out of the Lodge, the Mason must represent the highest fruitage of sincere endeavor.
The preceding was small excerpts from The Lost Keys of Freemasonry or The Secret of Hiram Abiff by Manly Palmer Hall. If what is printed here makes you think or excites you to learn more; then “light” is within reach. There are hundreds of such books available and contain the ideas and thoughts of many an enlightened thinker.
Get more from Freemasonry by understanding all sides of Freemasonry not just the parts you can touch or see with your own eyes. Your journey, as well as your toil, as a Master Mason continues….