The symbol of the pyramid has always been linked to Freemasonry, and for good reason. “To all members of the Masonic fraternity the Great Pyramid is a structure of profound significance, as it establishes “ the true principles of all that is plumb, level and square." Masonic lodges are planned after it, and it symbolizes some of the most important esoteric truths of the Order. The lesser lights of the Blue Lodge are arranged in triangular form about the altar, and in Royal Arch Masonry the triangle is the symbol of " I Am that I Am," and in the communication of the “Ineffable Name," a royal arch or pyramid is raised.”...Brother Harry Evans
By looking carefully at the design of the Masonic lodge room we should be able to expand the our understanding of the symbolism of the pyramid.
Allow me to introduce you to the pyramidal structure of the Masonic Temple. Just like the pyramid we have been discussing to this point we need to change our perspective to see the pyramid symbolized as the Masonic Temple. We need to view the lodge room of the temple from above.
When viewed from above the Masonic lodge room is in fact a mandala, a fact I realized the very first moment I entered through what is called the western gate. For those unfamiliar with the mandala, pronounced mahn-DAH-la, meaning 'house' or 'palace', the mandala represents a divine place of residence.
As I am writing this all over the world are traveling Buddhist monks creating and sharing these wonderful two dimensional sand mandalas as a way to hopefully bring more compassion into the world by sharing the wisdom of the mandala.
What may appear as a type of colorful blueprint too most esoterically the mandala serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment, just as the Masonic lodge room if understood correctly does.
In the case of Buddhism monks meditate upon the mandala, imagining it as a three-dimensional palace. Just like looking at a blueprint, where you envision a three dimensional structure, the case of Buddhism it may be a palace, and in Freemasonry it may be the cosmos, or what you may see is a seven story pyramid, or even yourself.
As you will see the mandala's and the Masonic lodge room's symbolic purpose if understood correctly is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones.
Look carefully at this definition of the mandala and picture the layout of the Masonic lodge room;
Maṇḍala: (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point.
If we were able to look down upon the Masonic lodge room from above we would ideally see an oblong floor; its length from east to west, at least one third greater than its breadth from north to south, for symbolic reasons.
I believe the reason may be found in one of the symbols bored by the Masonic tradition, the 47th Problem of Euclid, 3 squared plus 4 squared equals 5 squared. The oblong square, which is two 3, 4, 5 triangles sharing a common diagonal, may express a reflective relationship between the celestial and the earthly, such as that embodied in the Hermetic theosophy that the earthly plane is a reflection of the Divine. "That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above." is a extremely popular phrase in early Freemasonry, and if understood correctly a perfect teaching of the mandala.
In many Masonic Temples the lodge room floor is also black and white checkered, some in the center in the form of a square, and others the whole floor. Sadly today many of the lodge room are not, a removable of a very important symbol.
The black and white symbolism is easily seen as representative as Spirit and Matter, a seeming dualistic principle that states that over and beyond the physical reality there is a psychic or spiritual reality, and that our beings are not limited to the body alone. But before you rush off to judgment an think we're heading down the road of Descartes, I assure you the mandala of Freemasonry may just be heading in the opposite.
Now that we have discussed the floor of the Masonic Temple, and some of its symbolic significance lets go back to a little more of comparison to the mandala, a sacred circle or circular diagram, also occasionally oblong as in Japan, having mystical significance. Although we have started with the oblong shaped floor, symbolic of Matter, after all it the earth we stand on, most eastern mandalas begin with the circle, symbolic of Spirit. Yet if we look towards the western book we find in Isaiah 40:22 ”He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,”...some might say the “square circle”.
“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth”...Proverbs 8:27
If you have a hard time looking at the bible for references to the circle, think heavenly canopy. If you were to stand upon the highest point you could access and look skyward, what would you see stretching out as far as you could see all around you 360 degrees? The circle of heaven, a boundless circle reaching out to what we call infinity. Here we find the symbolic Spirit now respresented as the circle. The circle of Spirit above, the square of Matter below, a common theme you'll see played over and over again in the symbols of Freemasonry. So important the most widely recognised combined symbol of the order, the compass and square, if understood correctly the compass is symbolic of Spirit and and the square symbolic of Matter.
"He took the golden compasses prepared,
In God's eternal stores, to circumscribe
This universe and all created things."...Milton
**The photo above is of King Khufu's actual burial chamber in the Great Pyramid, and oblong square.
The form of a Lodge is an oblong square, or a rectangle. It extends from East to West (horizon to horizon) and between North and South. The covering of the Lodge is the canopy of heaven. It is not a coincidence that the two major patrons of the Masonic Lodge have their birthdays near the Summer and Winter Solstices where the sun reaches its most northern and southern limits. Although the floor of the lodge is not divided in two as I have illustrated it, I have done this to show how the 47th Problem x 2 could also refer to the solstices amongst other allusions .White signifies pure Light, or Spirit, black is symbolic of darkness of Matter. In Freemasonry the Entered Apprentice begins his journey in the northeast corner, and ends it as a Master Mason in the southeast, the solstices.