Monday, September 23, 2013

The Spirit of Freemasonry: Recapturing the Masonic Experience by WB John L. Hairston, reprint from Working Tools Magazine, 9/2013 Issue

Philosophically speaking, the spirit of anything is the essence or core existence of a thing; it is the hidden power that makes something LIVING. The spirit of a thing, which is living or moving, makes it able to be engaged. It is a tangible force actively present beneath the surface of our immediate surroundings, eluding our human sensitivities. This active force is constantly progressing, propelling, pushing, and evolving.
The spirit of Freemasonry is an active force that renders the Speculative art a progressive science. It is this power that has been sought after in the lodge rooms since the dawn of the Speculative Grand Lodge system. Masonic scholars and philosophers have spoken regarding its existence and imperative necessity to attain its embodiment.

When we became Entered Apprentices, we were asked about our reasons for knocking on the door of Freemasonry, and one of the reasons cited is to IMPROVE OURSELVES IN MASONRY. The author of the Masonic Lecture, whether he intended to or not, gave hint to the initiates need to tap into a PROGRESSIVE SCIENCE embedded in the system of Freemasonry. Progressive Science is a term that encapsulates the function of the spirit of Freemasonry, which is the harnessing of the spirit of Freemasonry and its effectual operation in our human progress.

The Second degree, introduces the candidate to the 5 vital parts composing his connection to the world around him (Senses), which also brings him into contact and interaction with the spirit of Freemasonry. As a Master Mason we are charged to preserve the oneness and brotherhood which is the vehicle for the force and power that permeates the Craft.

The spirit of Freemasonry is universal, meaning that the due, and suitable, confines to encounter the spirit of Freemasonry is a lodge room; but this doesn’t mean that the spirit of Freemasonry is confined or restricted to lodge meetings. On the contrary, even in the allusion of the three lesser lights we can see that they represent the light gained IN THE LODGE out into the world; and so, we carry with us what we attain in the Lodge room.

The 3 tools needed to invoke the spirit of Freemasonry is the oneness of the Brethren, Proficiency in the Ritual, accurate and harmonious symmetry of movement in the ceremonies.

The Oneness

Despite the difference in religious creeds, doctrinal and philosophical features, spiritual or worldview, oneness of all things is a central and integral component of all modes of thought (i.e., religious, philosophical, metaphysical, etc.). In an article entitled, Immortality-The Circle, in the June 1915 issue of the Builder magazine, S.W. Williams G.H.P. (Tennessee) wrote:

There is an ONENESS in all things. Nothing is complete in itself-- but everything bears some relation to all else in Creation, without which kinship nothing would be complete and all things would be destroyed.

This is the basic premise of all human attempts to define a codified set of religious, philosophical, metaphysical, theosophical, and social beliefs despite the variation and array of vehicles in which this idea was carried. Oneness or brotherhood is the ground floor of attaining the spirit of Freemasonry. It is the most important component.

The Ritual and its Proficiency

There are many who believe that the ritual and ceremony is what connects us to the antiquity of Masonry, leading back to times immemorial, it isn’t. It is the spirit of Freemasonry that lies beneath the written words of the ritual ready to be released in the Proficiency and Symmetry of the Brotherhood in it working.

The written ritual can be memorized and quoted, but the candidate can still miss the power permeating the instruction. The ritual is the key to unlock the portals to the spirit and energy within the degree work. If we are proficient in the ritual, and all movements are executed in symmetry and harmony, there is an energy that is released that gives all present access to the depth of objects of the ritual, which is to IMPRESS upon the mind of the receiver the richness of the Masonic principles and truths.

The Symmetry and Execution of Lodge movement

This describes the actual movements, circumambulations, and rotations of the lodge during the work. Just as the movements of celestial and terrestrial bodies emit an energy, magnetism, and force, so the proper and accurate execution of the lodge movements produce an atmosphere and environment that elevates the participants into a mindset or frame of thought that makes accessible, the deep and ancient knowledge of Freemasonry. The ritual can achieve its object in this climate, which is the impartation of ancient wisdom.

The neglect on our part of any of these key and vital necessities will result in robbing the members of the fullness of the Masonic experience, and cause the meetings to be dull, uneventful and dead. Many members do not take the proper portion of their gauges to set aside time to become proficient in the ritual and learn the movements, and actually practice it. Lodges suffer, because brothers will have sat in lodge meetings for 20 years and will have never experienced the spirit of Freemasonry. It is robbery to neglect the importance of studying the ritual and instruction, perfecting the symmetry of movements and truly operating in a cemented composite of Brotherhood.

All of the geometry we learn isn’t just to have an intellectual understanding of a field of mathematics, but that we can apply that geometry to the perfection of the signs and ceremonies, in an assembly of like minds, which will release a dynamic in meetings that will birth a whole new perspective in the members and subsequently progress the members past the mundane repetition of mere recitation and routine. There is so much more to our meetings, ritual and proficiency, but we are missing a beautiful demonstration of the Craft; an absolute manifestation of the pulchritude of Freemasonry.
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