It seems like forever since I wrote a blog, in fact I still haven't, what follows is actually a rough draft of a chapter of a book I've been writing. Granted I'm writing for an audience that is mostly Masonic, but fear not, anyone can get the drift.
The ladder can be a wonderful symbol when explaining levels of consciousness, awareness, and even symbolic interpretation. Allow me to share a tale with you, the story of a craftsman that decided to give humankind the ultimate gift.
Our craftsman was a master ladder maker, tried and true. With the dusk soon approaching our master ladder maker decided it was time to build humankind the ultimate gift a ladder to the divine.
As any master ladder maker would do our craftsman drew out his plans upon what he called a trestle board, a blueprint of sorts which would be followed to construct the perfect ladder.
Now you may think that building a ladder to the divine would be simple, but I promise you that's not necessarily the case, because our master ladder maker has decided to give the gift to all humankind he must estimate the height, width, and payload of each and every rung.
He must estimate how many will actually climb the ladder, how far they will climb, and who will actually ascend to the top.
Humanity was large, yet our ladder maker knew not all would would climb, gravity and the world of the senses was strong, many are afraid of heights.
With that in mind our ladder maker knew the first rung would have to be very very wide, most would assuredly take the first step, not all, but most.
As for the second step our master ladder maker realized that less would ascend, again the pull of gravity, materialism, would impede the progress of many.
As the master ladder maker contemplated his ladder he now realized that by looking at the human condition and the pull of materialism, gravity, his ladder would have to be very wide at the bottom to accommodate a large number and slowly narrow because with every step less would ascend, he also knew of the be pitfalls on the way up. Ladder climbing is not always an easy task, one must firmly establish his or her footing before proceeding to the next step, which is not always easy if one does not proceed firmly with the right intent.
Danger awaits each and every step, as one climbs higher there is less help to ascend, less individuals on the level ascended to.
One of the most dangerous and inherent dangers of ladder climbing is that of the inevitable encounter with other individuals that believe they are at the top, so convincing, they are able to stop the progress of certain individuals from ascending to the top by making them falsely believe they have reached the summit when in reality they still have a way to go.
After the master ladder maker had thought out all the possible scenarios the climbers could encounter he new how his ladder to the divine would be constructed. Taking into consideration the sheer number that would begin the journey he knew the first step would have to be one easy step up, and incredibly wide. Because of the pull of gravity many will not take the next step, this step would not have to be as wide.
You may find it hard to believe but the master ladder maker knew he only needed seven steps to reach the divine, each step would be narrower than the last, each step would be a further height than the last making it harder to ascend but doable.
In almost all spiritual traditions, ladders have been used to symbolize transformation. Not all ladder makers agree on how many levels, yet upon a close look you'll find more often than not its all about leaving the world of egocentric belief, darkness, Unity, illumination.
Years ago in Freemasonry, before the ritual was changed, for reasons I can't figure, it was said; “Masons met on the square and hoped to part on the level”, now we say “meet on the level and part on the square.”
My personal opinion, which I will share with you, is that it took away the original meaning when it was changed.
Symbolically, the square, as we will surely discuss in the future, is actually symbolic of Matter. Freemasons meet on the square of Matter, not to mention we are Matter.
Least we not forget the square shape of our apron, symbolic of Matter.
I understand how one could misunderstand the symbolism and change it, thinking that all brothers should meet on the level, kings equal to subjects, but with the square actually symbolic of Matter why would we depart on Matter, it doesn't make sense.
Now if we go back to our story of the master ladder maker, and use his ladder to the divine where each rung is symbolic of expanding consciousness, we could say that we as Freemasons meet on the square of Matter, the ladder itself, and hope achieve the same level of consciousness.
I can hear it now, where is the seven rung ladder symbolized in the Lodge Room? The answer is in the East, the seven steps to the Master, each and every step smaller and higher than the next, all symbolic of the levels of consciousness required to ascend.
It's not in my pay grade to return the veiled teaching to its original structure, but you can see why some things should not be changed.
Lets return to our master ladder maker, and his ladder to the divine. The ladder maker did not build his ladder just for Freemasons, he built it for all humankind. You could say that each and every individual of every spiritual path, no matter what creed or denomination, is own the ladder at this time. That certainly doesn't mean we're all on the same level, the fact is, as our ladder maker knew, very few will actually finish the ascent in this lifetime. I'm not saying its impossible, but climbing this symbolic ladder is no easy task, there is a certain amount of work that must be done. Just because one sees the ladder, reads of the ladder, and professes to know the ladder, you still have to climb it.
My early Sunday morning television is filled with individuals that know there sacred law backwards and forward, but still haven't gotten beyond the first rung. They have diminished highly symbolic thought and brought it down to a level that makes no sense, preaching fear, sin, and retribution. Many of these individuals believe that all humankind must stand on the same rung, a disaster waiting to happen in the world of ladders.
Chances are, as many others, you think your close to the top. If so, congratulations your a realized Buddha, or a Jesus, or a Krishna, but if you have an inkling that maybe your not there, yet you wonder what rung your own, I'll give you a clue; if you think God's somewhere up there and your down here, you have a lot of climbing to go, if you still have an ego, climb, and if your still in the grip of dualistic thought, you might need a boost.
There is what I call ladder etiquette, something not always followed by climbers, trust me you know them. Ladder etiquette is realizing that we are all on the ladder, many of us on different rungs. Assisting each other on his or her ascent is commendable, but before you attempt to persuade someone to relocate to your rung, respect the persons level, its all the same ladder, my way or the highway is definitely one of the lowest rungs. The more you judge the lower your rung.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded “I don't understand what you mean”? All this means is one is on a different rung, not a big deal, just a different level. If your level fears punishment from a God that sits in judgment, you might just want to seek a new rung.
I am about to share with you a very high rung insight, if you get it, awesome, if not, we are not yet on the same level, yet.
When you get to the top you just might find, the proof is in the pudding, that when you reach the summit all those individuals climbing the ladder were actually YOU.