Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Metaphysics 101

"The beginning of wisdom is the beginning of supernatural power."
--Paracelsus
Freemasonry can and must teach an enlightened way of living. Its metaphysical philosophy can transform knowledge into wisdom, and a life directed by wisdom is an enlightened life which will naturally fulfill its destiny.
A civilization built upon wisdom will advance and grow. A civilization built upon ignorance and perpetuated by ignorance will collapse under the weight of ignorance. Metaphysical Freemasonry helps the earnest Mason find the enlightened courage with which to face the day. And those who have light within themselves will pass triumphantly through the difficult days and years which lie ahead.
Among the many gifts of Freemasonry are the tools for prefecting oneself through the development of the intellect and the taming of the passions of the lower nature.
So let us begin with the study of "Metaphysics"---plain and simple.
Aristotle use the term "Metaphysics" at one time as synonymous with wisdom and at another time as synonymous with theology.
The study of the visible universe is called "Physics" and the study of the invisible universe is called "Metaphysics." All visible effects are suspended from or supported by invisible causes and Metaphysics is that branch of learning which seeks to discover and understand the unseen causes at work behind visible nature.
Metaphysics includes the following areas of study:
The nature of Being.
The nature of God.
The nature of knowledge.
The nature of truth.
The nature of energy.
The nature of creation.
The nature of divine and human relationships.
The purpose of Metaphysics is to move the mind from the consideration of forms and bodies to an understanding of the principles which animate these forms and bodies. The intellect which has discoverd the divine essence in all things has the metaphysical viewpoint.
From the metaphysical viewpoint, "Being" is an eternal unchanging principle and is often referred to as "First Cause."
Pythagoras defined God as an immeasurable and inconceivable Being whose soul is composed of the substance of truth and whose body is composed of the substance of light.
Being is termed also "Essence" and "Existence" every effort being made to discover a term appropriately impersonal with which to designate this eternal energy.
The three aspects of Being are "Unmoved", or God; the second kind of Being is called "Self-moving", or the gods, chief of which are the intelligences of the celestial bodies; and the third aspect of Being is called "Moved" and includes all bodies and forms to which life is imparted by spirit, soul or mind--the chief of such creatures is man.
Metaphysics teaches us that God is not a personality but rather that Divine Life upon which all things subsist, and that this One Life manifests attributes which are also divine principles. These attributes are often called "the gods." These secondary gods or attributes are the agencies by which all physical life is supported.
Before we go too much farther, a reminder that Freemasonry speaks of "Wisdom, Strength and Beauty," which represents attributes of the "Great Architect of the Universe", a symbol of the Metaphysical "First Cause."
If we are to become truly enlightened metaphysical Freemasons we must be prepared to accept the presence of God in every element of nature and in every aspect of existence. Like the pagans of old, we must conceive of the universe as full of intelligent principles.
In the mystical tradition of the Cabala, it bestowed upon the creative principle ten Innefable Names, by which it qualities might be made known to the wise. One of these names was El Shaddai which means the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, while divinity in its absolute essence is one and indivisible, man is not permitted to perceive Being in this absolute state. To mortal perception the creating power must always be the Lord of Hosts.
This simply means that deity is so immersed in its creating processes that we perceive not its unity but its absolute diversity. As surely as it is appropriate to worship its unity, so also is it appropriate to reverence its diversity.
As metaphysical Masons, it is our philosophic privilege to worship and seek to understand the Lord of Hosts, and sense the Creator as an innumerable army of intelligent building agencies. Space is filled with the individualized aspects of divinity. The suns, moons, and stars which populate the heavens are divine beings, radiant sons of the Infinite. Man is part of the divine host of gods, and all creatures great and small share divinity in common.
We all desire to achieve security---spiritual, mental and physical. We know that security is conferred only by wisdom and only a wise man can rise above the ills "the flesh is her to." Heraclitus of Ephesus said: "Character is fate." This is probably one of the most significant statements ever uttered by man. Our destiny is measured by what we are. And if we would come to a good end we must possess a character which justifies that end. Character is a compound of several factors. The chief of these is our philosophical perspective. We live upon the level of our thoughts and ideals.
If we are to elevate ourselves to a philosophical level, our first lesson is to seek to understand, at least in part, the origin of the universe and our own place therein, and to sense the sublimity of the divine path.
The ancient mystery schools, like Freemasonry hold within their tradition the ability to instruct those who are earnest and willing to pursue this kind of understanding.
Contemplation of the transcendent beauties of this mystical theology will elevate our minds above those narrow and unworthy concepts which bind us to an ignoble state. It will give us a spiritual perspective by which we can live more usefully, happily, intelligently and completely.
We cannot consider lightly, or merely speculatively, the old metaphysical philosophies, for what can be more practical or more useful than a discipline which directs our attention to the nobler aspects of life and invites us into a mystical communion with that eternal Spirit which dwells in the furthermost and innermost part of us?

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