There is an old occult maxim which declares that—" Nothing is concealed from him who knows." No Mason is bound to conceal that which he has never learned in the Lodge. All else he receives as he learns any thing, places his own estimate upon its value, and becomes individually responsible for its use. It must be a matter of conscience, and be weighed in the balance of duty, and every one must abide by the result. If Masonry has lost the Royal Secret, or if it never possessed it, or if it was wrenched away in the very name of Religion little more than a century ago, all the same, it belongs to the Craft as the Heir-apparent of the Old Wisdom. But the time has come when no cable-tow can bind it. It now belongs to Humanity equally with the Mason. To this end has it been preserved throughout the centuries.

Monday, January 31, 2011

You Are Such A Star - I Am That I Am

I once heard this wonderful quote from the bible, “Be still and know that I am God“…Psalm 46:10, yet I wonder if the verse really should have been “Be still and know that you are God.”

With that in mind, please allow me to share a mini myth with you.

Once upon a time, not so far away, there resided the most beautiful star. What made this beautiful star so unique was that it was the only star existing in an infinite unknown alone. Not another star, comet, planet, or various form of space debris occupied the infinite space but the beautiful star.
Because this star was alone, the only one of its kind, it was perfect in every way. It could only be.
Being perfect in every way one day the beautiful star in it’s glorious state of perfection began to think, began to look, and began to question, “Here I am alone in the infinite nothingness, perfect. As I look in every direction nothing else exists, no light no dark, no up no down, no opposite of any kind. I am all, I am one. I am that, I am.”
During this internal dialogue the beautiful star asked, “How did I arrive to this realization, to this all perfect state?”
Because of the star’s perfection it took no time for the beautiful star conclude what must be done, it would blow itself into billons of pieces, each piece reflecting a certain aspect of the star, each piece working its way back towards unity, wholeness, the star.
We are the star!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Can A Buddhist Be A Freemason - One Man's Humble Opinion

Ouch…. Not long ago I received an email from an individual in Canada, he seemed sincerely interested in my opinion on a position that a certain group had taken; a position that could exclude certain religiously affiliated individuals from joining a group that’s uniqueness was its religious unity.
The belief held by the excluding group was that all Buddhists do not believe in “God”, and because of this held belief the possibility of entrance into the ancient mystery tradition that requires all initiates to verbally express a belief in a Supreme Architect is impossible.

It should also be noted that the God you must profess to believe in is the God of your choice, or your own interpretation.

I am pretty sure the reason I was contacted by this inquiring individual was because I had spent many years studying Buddhism, a religious order I have an affinity with, and am presently a member of the ancient mystery school that required the belief in the Supreme Architect.
His email was a very sincere inquiry into my humble opinion on the subject, one I am afraid that has no easy answer for those that haven’t spent time actually studying Eastern philosophical thought and its comparative religions, streams of thought which may seem so different in substance and symbolism but are just different paths up the same mountain.
It is of the utmost importance we realize that there is a big difference between one following a path (Buddhism) and one not (atheism), just because you may encounter Buddhists that do not see the Monad (God) as the ultimate truth that does not necessarily mean they do not believe in the One. In fact those that believe Buddhists should be excluded from entrance have not looked beyond the veil that is in front of them.
Not all belonging to the tradition believe that Buddhists should be excluded, and to these brothers I tip my hat, if it wasn’t for them I myself could have been excluded at that time. When I entered the tradition I had abandoned the religion of my childhood and brought my belief that everything was interconnected by an all pervasive consciousness, one which I now consider the Great Architect, the “point within the circle”.
But to add to this, I also understand why the Buddha remained silent (no affirmation, no denial) when asked about God, and the best part about this understanding, it came through the tradition that some believe Buddhists should not be admitted!

What is to follow is a small exploration into esoteric symbolism, an exploration that just might shed a little light on the discussion at hand. Because I belong to a tradition that holds Pythagoras in such high regard I have decided to approach this through numbers, a favorite of geometricians.

“Numbers rule the Universe.”…Pythagoras

Please allow me to introduce you to the “Zero”, the perfect circle drawn with the use of a compass, not to be confused with the “point within the circle“, also drawn with a compass but has a very definite point within the center, known as the Monad, the circle we are discussing has no point.
The circle is an ancient and universal symbol of unity (remember my brothers, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”).
Gnostic traditions linked the unbroken circle to the "world serpent" forming a circle as it eats its own tail, also a familiar symbol found on many esoteric symbols, and assuredly within our tradition. Known as the Ouroboros, or Uroborus, the ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail often represents the cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.
It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. The Ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist's opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism and Hermeticism.
Hopefully you see where I’m going, if not to put it simply the Monad, the One (point within the circle) comes from the Zero, the boundless infinite void. Most associate symbolically the Great Architect with the Monad (monotheism), but others may just look beyond the Monad to what many Buddhists may call "Śūnyatā" a Sanskrit word which is usually translated as "emptiness", it is the noun form of the adjective "śūnya" (Sanskrit) which means "empty" or "void", hence "empti"-"ness" (-tā), the zero.
Are you confused yet?
Try this one on for size, in the ancient Indian context the number zero did not originally refer to nothingness or nullity, the zero stands for emptiness suggestive of potentiality. The discovery of the mathematical zero concurred with the emptiness of “prajna-intuition” in India.
If your not familiar with the word prajna, another one of those old Sanskrit words, jñā can be translated as "consciousness", "knowledge", or "understanding". Pra is an intensifier which could be translated as "higher", "greater", or "premium". Prajna is central to Buddhist thought since it is through prajna/intuition that one arrives at anatman, or non-ego, which is sometimes misunderstood to mean that nothing exists, but this is not what Buddhism teaches. It's more accurate to say that there is existence, but that we understand it in a one-sided and delusional way. Thus the goal of the Buddhist is to lose one’s ego and unite with “ultimate reality“.
One could easily see how the goal of Buddhism and our goal of our tradition may be closer than you think, ours to seek union with the divine, the Monad, and theirs to seek union with that which can not be described, the Zero, which precedes the One.
Zero is that which contains all possible polarized pairs such as (+1, -1), (+2, -2), etc. It is the collection of all mutually cancelling pairs of forward and backward movements. Put it another way, zero is fundamental to all existence. Because of it, everything is possible. Zero is the additive identity, the focal point of all numbers; without it, numbers cannot be created.

If I have been able to capture your attention up to this point, and you haven’t turned away confused by the references to esoteric symbolism, please allow me to continue.
Before He gave any shape to the world, before He produced any form, He was alone, without form and without resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend how He was before the Creation? Hence it is forbidden to lend Him any form or similitude, or even to call Him by His sacred name, or to indicate Him by a single letter or a single point. . . . But after He created the form of the Heavenly Man, He used him as a chariot wherein to descend, and He wishes to be called after His form, which is the sacred name 'YHWH' “…from the Zohar
If one carefully reads the paragraph above, one can clearly see the parallel thought from this passage of the Zohar, the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought to that of the Buddhist concept of the “void”, yet we would never deny the petition of one from a Jewish non-dual perspective.
Although I am have certainly simplifying Buddhist philosophy with a little Jewish Kabbalah (the Zohar), I’m hoping the point is coming across, why would we exclude initiates on a spiritual path just because they see beyond the One, after all where did the one come from?
The fact is the Buddha never discussed the concept of what many may call God, the God commonly associated with the Judaic Christian religious thought, and because of this silence it is assumed that Buddha was an atheist. Wasn’t it Paul that said “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?”, if the Buddha spoke not of God how did you arrive at the conclusion of atheist? Maybe you read a few opinions by different individual Buddhists and came to the conclusion ALL Buddhists reject the belief in God, but you would be wrong, just as not all Christians believe in the virgin birth you can’t judge a religion from a limited vantage point, especially when the subject is one that was never discussed by the enlightened being’s philosophy, the Buddha.

In closing I have a secret to share, look up the word mandala. Once you understand the purpose of the design of the mandala think of the layout of the lodge room. I hope you get it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Raising the Master - Osiris

“Raising the Master” by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri

I make no bones to say that I tend to see the world through mystical eyes, eyes that enjoy looking behind the “veils”.
With that said, every once in a while I come across some little historical item or symbol that seems to draw my attention. This painting by II Guercino, whose real name was Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, really grabbed my eye.
Known as “Raising the Master”, this sketch resides with the Supreme Grand Royal Arch of Scotland. Interestingly historians do not believe the sketch has any ties to Freemasonry.
They are probably right...sure!
What is to follow I my playful attempt to play Dan Brown, of “Da Vinci Code” fame. As with his style it will be up to you to figure out what is true, and what is embellished.

Does this drawing actual exist? A most definite yes, and it is in the care of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch of Scotland.
Who was II Guercino? An Italian painter and draughtsmen, Barbieri Giovanni Fransesco (called Il Guercino), was born in Cento on February 2, 1591(?), and died in Bologna on December 2, 1666(?).
Guercino was an Italian Baroque painter from the region of Emilia, and active in Rome and Bologna. Guercino is Italian for squinter, a nickname that was given to him because he was cross-eyed, ouch.
He is especially noted for his many superb drawings. Guercino completed at least 144 paintings in his life. Most of his paintings were religious, and a vast majority of these were large altarpieces for churches. Was he a Freemason? Of course not remember Freemasonry dates itself to the early seventeen hundreds in England, certainly not the mid-sixteen hundreds in Italy.

Does the drawing “Raising the Master” have anything to do with Freemasonry? According to experts in the work of Guercino, the answer would be no.
Is it a coincidence that the drawing contains a compass, a familiar symbol connected to Freemasonry?
Why not, the compass was a common symbol in some medieval illustrations, the compass being used as a symbol of God's act of creation.
Now how about those three individuals above the wall, look familiar?
It's probably just another coincidence, especially that one individual to the left, what could he possibly be saying?
Please allow me to share a little myth, a myth that just may play a part in Guercino's thinking when he drew the “Raising of the Master”, and maybe not.

Once upon a time there was a Sun God named Osiris, the chief God of the old Egyptian mythology, the husband of Isis, and the father of Horus, who while making his circuit through the heavens is assassinated by the three inferior signs who had placed themselves west, south and east, the regions illuminated by the Sun. These inferior signs of winter were Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.
Sadly Osiris falls dead at the west door, i. e., the sun descends in the west, lying dead at the winter solstice.
Osiris's body is in a state of decay, having lain fourteen days, according to one legend; the body of Osiris was cut into fourteen pieces. To make matters worse for poor old Osiris, he was missing his penis.
But, according to other statements, the body was found on the seventh day; this would allude to the resurrection of the sun, which actually takes place in the seventh month after his passage through the inferior signs, that passage which is called his descent into hell. Who does the search party actually exist of?
None other than the twelve, the zodiac.
Hiram can only be raised by the lion's grip. It is through the instrumentality of Leo, the sign of the lion, the summer solstice, that Osiris is raised; it is when the sun re-enters that sign that he regains his former strength, that his restoration to full life takes place.

Now I'm not insinuating that Guercino had the myth of Osiris in mind when he drew the “Raising of the Master”, it just comes to mind.
But what about that forth gentleman, the one with the rod, or staff?
If we look at some of the various representations of the raising of Lazarus in the Roman catacombs, some show a risen mummy standing in the doorway of the tomb. The figure of the supposed Jesus Christ is in front of the sarcophagus calling upon Lazarus to come forth, whilst touching the mummy with a wand or rod which he holds in his hand.
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead coincidentally you will find, "by which the tomb is opened to the soul and to the shade of the person that he may come forth to day and have the mastery of his feet" (Rit., ch. 92) the deliverer Horus says, "I am Horus who lifteth up his father with his staff." This mode of raising Osiris by Horus with his staff or rod completes the picture of the resurrection of Lazarus. The rod that is waved by Jesus at the raising of Lazarus is the symbolic sceptre in the hand of Horus when he raises the Osiris.

Some may think I'm heading in the right direction, others may disagree, most won't know what the hell I'm talking about, but to this point we have a deceased man, three onlookers which I call the three dark months of winter, and Horus with his staff.
But what about that stone edifice located on the right of the drawing?
I must admit it looks an awful lot like an old burial monument I came across a long time ago, the burial tomb of the King of Tyre, Hiram.

Actual Tomb of Hiram, King of Tyre

Friday, January 21, 2011

Riding The Goat

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the “Goat”, the much maligned mythical God that symbolically once stood for something greater, only to find himself used to strike fear in the ignorant and used as comic relief in solemn initiate ceremonies by individuals that understand little of it's symbolic significance.
If truth be told, this symbol the “Goat” is not a goat at all, its actually a veiled symbol for a philosophy known as Pantheism.
Before you continue please understand that I am not preaching the philosophy of Pantheism, yet I do believe those on the initiate path should consider its principal teaching when unlocking meaning of esoteric symbols.

If we undertake to trace the original meaning of the word "Pantheism," we shall have to go back to Greek mythology. There we find that the ancient Greek shepherds used to believe in a god, whom they worshipped, and whom they called Pan.
They believed that that god Pan was the god of the flocks and the shepherds; that he was the guardian of the fishermen and of the bee-keepers; he was the patron of all persons occupied in hunting and in fishing. This god Pan has been described poetically as having the head and trunk of a man, with horns and goat's beard, pug-nose, pointed ears, and tail, and with goat's feet. He was very fond of music. He was the inventor of the shepherd's flute, which he used to play upon. This poetic description of the god Pan is nothing but the crude, imperfect symbolization of the conception of God which the shepherds of those days had. The picture is a symbol of the spirit of nature which exists in man, in beasts, in fishes, in birds, in insects, in plants. The shepherds thus understood the kinship which exists among all living creatures and things. Gradually this idea was changed, was extended. The god Pan became the god of the hills, mountains, rivers, etc., and afterwards he came to be identified with every personified object of nature.

Pan means all, and theism means belief in a god. Pantheism in its rudest forms was universal godism. It asserts the consubstantiation of God with nature.

In 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at Rome for his Pantheistic opinions. When he was asked what he believed in, he said that he did not believe in creation, but he believed in the world as an emanation of the Infinite Mind. He said: "To realize God everywhere, to see God everywhere, and to realize that He alone Is, and all else is perishable phenomena and passing illusion; that there is one intelligence existing in God, in man, in beast, and in all that we call matter; this would be the aim of true philosophy."
Am I asserting that Pantheism is the path of the hoodwinked?
No, I tend to see our progression towards a more idealistic monistic philosophy, one described beautifully by physisist Amit Goswami, “Pantheism is very limited. When Westerners started going to India, they thought it was pantheistic because it has many, many gods. Indian philosophy tends to see God in nature—they worship rocks sometimes, that kind of thing—so Westerners thought it was pantheistic, and only later did they realize that it has a transcendent dimension. In fact, the transcendent dimension is developed extremely well in Indian philosophy, whereas in the West, it is hidden in a very few esoteric systems, such as those of Gnostics and of a few great masters like Meister Eckhart. In Jesus' teachings, you can see it in the Gospel according to Thomas. But you have to really dig deep to find that thread in the West. In India, in the Upanishads, the Vedanta, and the Bhagavad Gita, it is very explicit.

Now, pantheism sounds very good, but it's only part of the story. It's a good way to worship; it's a good way to bring spirituality into your daily life because it is good to acknowledge that there is spirit in everything. But if we just see the diversity, if we just see the God in everything, but don't see the God which is beyond every particular thing, then we are not realizing our potential. We are not realizing our Self. And so, truly, Self- realization involves seeing this pantheistic aspect of reality, but also seeing the transcendent aspect of reality.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Believe in God?

Veiled: covered with a veil, concealed or disguised as if with a veil.

I have a question, one I myself have been asked on many occasions, do you believe in God?

Now before you answer, allow me to elaborate a little on the God I am talking about, the adult God, the God that Pythagoras would call the Source of all things, the Monad. Not to be confused with the God of the child, the gentleman with the gray beard.
The God we are discussing is the number One or the Monad, the one that has been defined by the mathematician Theon of Smyrna as "the principal and element of numbers, which while multitude can be lessened by subtraction, is itself deprived of every number and remains stable and firm."
Hence as a number, it is indivisible, it remains immutable, and even multiplied into itself remains itself only, since once one is still one, and the Monad multiplied by the Monad remains the immutable Monad to infinity. It remains by itself among numbers, for no number can be taken from it, or separated from its unity. How’s that for a definition of God, granted we don’t perceive God to be a number, or do we?
Monotheism: the belief in the existence of ONE god.

In the world of symbolism the Monad is symbolized by the “point within the circle”, also known as the circled dot, circumpunct, or circle with a point at its centre. Interestingly some have even interpreted the point within the center as the singularity point before the big bang.

Of coarse when asked the question “if I believe in God” I don’t go through the symbolism of the Monad, I usually just say yes, you’re God.
After all, the Monad came by way of the Zero, the vast emptiness and grand totality of the Universe......we'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How About an Alchemical Riddle

How about an alchemical riddle, could you recognize the true Prima Materia?

Hint: It is to be found everywhere; but if you do not find it in your own house, you will find it nowhere. It is a living substance that can be discovered only in places inhabited by man. It is the only substance from which the Philosopher's Stone can be prepared, and without that substance no genuine silver or gold can be made. In thirty pounds of ordinary mercury, there is usually not more than one pound of the true substance; and a hundred pounds of ordinary sulphur usually contain not more than one pound of that which is useful. It can only be found above the earth, but not below it. It is before everybody's eyes; no one can live without it; everybody uses it; the poor usually possess more of it than the rich; the ignorant esteem it highly, but the learned ones often throw it away. The children play with it in the street, and yet it is invisible. It can be perceived by the sense of feeling, but it cannot be seen with the material eye.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why Would One be Purposely Hoodwinked?

I couldn't resist, this is the first time I have revisited my very first blog entree on "Purposely Hoodwinked", I'm amazed just how small it was. I guess I've become long winded.

“Why would one be purposely hoodwinked?”
It depends on one’s definition of hoodwinked. If you believe in the dictionary variety of hoodwinked, too be blindfolded, there is no need you already are.
For others the term hoodwinked is used as a symbol of the secrecy, silence, and darkness in which the mysteries of a very special art should be preserved from the unhallowed gaze of the profane.
Some would say it has a symbolic reference to the passage in Saint John's Gospel (and I agree) it shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."It also may mean, on a deeper level, that one purposely allows oneself to be blindfolded so one will not be distracted by the illusionary nature of the material world, it stands for that darkness which is due, not to accident, or to tyranny, but to a lack in the soul itself, which the darkened one alone has the means to remove, and once one finds that "light that shineth in darkness" one will comprehend the words of *Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we'll need no other light.”

*Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 - 1832, was a German poet, philospher, mystic, and Freemason. In his dying moments, his last words were, "More Light!"