Knowledge and Truth
It is one of the functions of the lodge to examine a candidate for admission into Freemasonry. The criteria has always been that a candidate be of good character and enjoy a good standing in his community and have a desire to know more and to develop and improve one's character.
Like stone taken from the quarry, a candidate is selected, not because he is flawless, but because the lodge of Masons sees potential in him.
Freemasonry from a metaphysical point of view, does offer candidates a philosophy that will provide "more light" on the physical world that surrounds them and can take them on a journey to the world behind and beyond the physical world. This is the part of Freemasonry that separates it from other beneficient organizations.
Aristotle has said: "All men naturally desire to know." There is an aspect of Metaphysics that is concerned with the nature of Knowledge, and the relationship between things known and that abstract state of knowing which we term Truth.
Sir Francis Bacon, in his famous work, The New Atlantis, describes a philosophic empire, ruled over by enlightened men which is some day to be established upon the earth. According to Bacon, within this empire is the "City of Wisdom" and within this city, a university of the arts and sciences named Solomon's House. The master of this house thus describes the true purpose of knowledge: "The end of our foundation is the knowledge of Causes, and the secret motions of things, and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible."
Lord Bacon declares that the end of all science is the knowledge of causes, that we may perceive not only things themselves but the reasons for them.
As Freemasons our quest for reasons must inevitably lead us to philosophy, especially that branch which we call Metaphysics. The Cause and reasons behind all natural phenomena exist in the invisible and subjective part of nature. It is here that we mustsearch for them if we are to become truly wise Masons.
Knowledge enlarges the bounds of the human empire because it is an metaphysical principle that man's own nature extends to the circumference of his understanding. As we grown in knowledge we truly enlarge ourselves, becoming in fact, part of everything that we know. We flow outward along the radiations of our appreciation until at last, according to the old Mysteries, we know everything and become a part of everything.
It is through this growth that we are able to accomplish all things that are possible. Metaphysically speaking "possible" refers to" consistent with the laws of being." Among "possible" things, the final perfection of man and the releasing through his organisms all of the spiritual, intellectual and physical powers which are latent within him.
While we may say there are may forms of knowledge, (i.e., the seven liberal arts and sciences), we can never say there are many forms of Truth, for Truth infers a fundamental, unchanging, unconditioned reality--the fact per se.
An old philosopher once said: "Truth is a divine light, invisible to mortal eyes, but all penetrating. Matter is a prism. The light of Truth, striking this prism, breaks into a spectrum--a spectrum of intellectual colors. These colors considered separately are the departments of knowledge.
Thus, knowledge is Truth conditioned and broken up, but all real knowledge contains within it some element of Truth.
Some part of the whole is in all of the parts, even as some part of God is in every part of nature.
The rational principle in man ascends by aseven-runged ladder from the darkness of its material condition to the luminance of its spiritual state.
In terms of knowledge, the seven rungs of this ladder represent seven sequential stepsin the apprehension of fact.
The lower step is perception, which is possessed by even the most primitive types who abide in unquestioned acceptance of things seen. The intellect rises on the second step from perception to examination, from examination to reflection. What we call education today, is merely the things seen, examined and reflected upon.
From reflection the reasoning part (commonly called the mind) rises to knowledge which is a synthesis of the three form er processes. Knowledge rises to understanding, the fifth step and from there to wisdom and finally to Truth.
You will notice that the fourth step is knowledge. Knowledge, like man, occupies a neutral position between the inferior and superior worlds. Below knowledge lies instinct and the physical perceptions. Above knowledge rises intuition and the spiritual perceptions. Thus knowledge unites the two worlds. Conversely, knowledge also divides them.
Knowledge, is an instrument by the possession and proper use of which an enlightened individual can come gradually to perceive in the elements of life, the invisible forces at work behind the visible. Knowledge, illumined by spiritual purpose, lifts the soul to understanding.
Knowledge, unillumined and undirected, depresses the soul into a sphere of criticism and skepticism.
In the old Mystery dramas, candidates wandered a chamber of initiation (sphere of experience) and were always accompanied by an ancient man, sometimes called "the kindly or venerable guide." This aged person, (i.e., Gurnemanz--in the opera "Parssifal, or Merlin in the Arthurian Cycle) represents the spiritual emotion of veneration. This power is reperesented as aged and kindly because it is born of suffering and experience and has traveled long on the road of life.
No one who approaches the mysteris of nature without veneration can find his way through the tortuous passageway of uncertainties.
The uninformed man fears life, the informed man comes to respect life, but only the wise man, enriched with understanding loves and venerates life.
Man is capable of containing knowledge or of accumulating it, storing up in himself facts out of experience. But no man is capable of containing Truth in himself, of collecting it or storing it up. Thus the lesson: "The individual absorbs knowledge, but Truth absorbs the individual."
Truth, was called by the alchemists, Mercury, because it was a common solvent which bound all things together. It recognizes no boundaries or divisions, but penetrates all existence so universally that it can never be captured or limited by any organism.
To know Truth, one must know God, and to know God man must have discovered divinity in all of its manifestations, and have become one with that divinity.
"God, in terms of time or extension, is Eternity.
God in terms of emotion, is Divine Love.
God in terms of morality, is absolute Virtue.
And God, in terms of fact, is absolute Truth."
The search for Truth is life. The realization of Truth is illumination. The practice of Truth is virtue.
In some old drawings of the roof of the ancient temples of wisdom there are three columns or supports. According to the old Mysteries, theses column are integrity, loyalty and appreciation. These three columns are know in Freemasonry, by other names, but they too, must uphold the temple of philosophy within Masonry.
It is through the metaphysics of Freemasonry that not only the creation of the world is described, but it also reveals the mystical anatomy of God.
In the midst of the great body of the Eternal One is the luminous heart, the everlasting house, and universal temple. Those who are seeking for Truth are seeking the heart of God. Those who discover Truth and who are possessed by it are one with the heart of God.
May Freemasonry find its life in the "heart of God."