7 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Holding the Line...

A great deal of things has changed in our Society, since the 18th century, when Freemasonry became what it is today. Some of these things changed to the better, others to the worse, while others are still in the appraisal stage and will remain so for the centuries to come.

In the beginnings of the 18th century, feudalism was the “preferred” method of governance. Human and civil rights did not exist even as a notion, while superstition was the accepted method of “education” for the masses, aided by the official Church, to the benefit of the ruling class. In short, from birth to grave you belonged to someone higher in the food chain.

Freemasonry was a genuine product of Enlightenment and for that reason it harbored all the ideals and dreams that shaped our society to its present state. The Temples of Reason were the hospitable nurseries for the minds of many historical figures, throughout the world, who led people to achieve goals such as fraternity, equality and liberty for everyone, and for that reason we, as freemasons, should feel proud, no matter which particular rite we have chosen to follow.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, my dearest and sole Reader, more and more clouds seem to be gathering in the horizon of the human race. We managed to develop a very advanced legal, financial and political system, for our Western world; however we cannot help but feel sometimes that the social stability we strive for is nothing more than the calmness preceding the big storm.


Our modern societies have a lot in common with a pressure cooker and let me explain why:

At a personal level, very few people have achieved the mental and spiritual balance to face the numerous challenges posed by today’s social interactions. Each one of us is, most of the times, in dire need of a shrink, whether we know it or not. We go around performing everyday’s chores, with a growing sense of alienation from our fellow human beings, while we grow a stronger dependence on the advancements of pharmaceutical biochemistry, in order to keep a passable social picture.

The institution of the Family is not as functional as it used to be, for the majority of the population. Behind the peaceful façade of most modern families, one may see a progressing alienation between their members. We shouldn’t forget that most social adjustment problems begin in the family and spread to the rest of our circle.

Religious conformity seems to be incapable of providing solutions to the problems of our modern world. Furthermore, Religion has proved to be one of the main points of friction between societies, having caused more bloodshed than any other institution in History and this trait doesn’t seem to change in the near future.

The ideal of the Country and Ethnic identity grows more hazy every passing day. We have lost that sense of belonging to a defined society of common values, to the benefit of faceless corporations that aim to expand all over the world at any social or political cost. That Globalization, without sharing of common values and ideals is extinguishing local cultures and identities, much faster than any historically recorded conquest.

Greed has proved to be the main force behind all political, financial or social changes in the last 2 centuries. The young revolutionary student throwing stones at the police today, will become in a few years the next little gear to move a senseless, heartless machinery whose main objective is to amass as much wealth as possible. All that happening at the expense of the Little Man, most of the times.

Modern Man has lost his capacity to survive without the constant aid of Technology. Our societies would crumble to dust, should we experience a major power outage that would last more than a few days. Our existence is valid only through the memory banks of a computer, someplace. The next glass of water we drink, our transportation, our fighting of the natural elements can only be ensured through technology, us having lost all necessary skills that kept our forbearers alive through the ages.

We are slowly sawing the branch we sit on, by destroying the only environment that can keep us alive. Our planet is more than capable of surviving under a different ecology, but are we?

All these tensions, being much more pronounced in more vulnerable, populous and poor societies have caused a massive immigration wave, throughout our planet, that is threatening of further de-stabilizing our fragile societies, while the chance of this immigration to become aggressive in the near future is more than possible. However, our greed does not allow for viable alternatives, at the moment.

What is more frightening, is that in the era of Globalization, a local catastrophic economic failure will affect the entire planet, through a complicated and unpredictable domino effect, in which we shall be unable to determine which piece we should remove, in order to stop its rapid expansion.


In the 6th century A.D. the Byzantine emperor Justinian withdrew his forces from Western Europe, following a plague that annihilated more than half of the European population of his Empire. All the western territories of the mighty Roman Empire returned to the Dark Ages, as they have been named by modern historians. The peoples of these areas fell to the hands of barbaric warlords, lost all the culture of their forefathers and were limited to their villages, unable to determine their fate for the centuries to come. Everything had been lost and it took another 900 years for Civilization to re-establish itself at those areas, following the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans and the subsequent spread of its scholars to the West, a fact that instigated the age of Renaissance.

This is not ancient history, my friend. It is a very possible scenario that could happen over a period of our lifetime. Our mighty societies constitute an organism that preserves a large number of channels of communication between its members: Scientific research, Education, Religion, Economy, Political and Military affiliations, etc. Have you wondered how easy it could be for all these channels to be severed by a major catastrophic event, leaving our societies not only incapable of communicating but in an antagonistic mode? The New Dark Ages shall have arrived.

The myth of World Governance is just a myth, since it does not take the social centrifugal forces, into consideration. One has only to see what is happening in a modern society, with all political, racial, religious or monetary unrest and multiply it a thousand fold. The bonding material is not strong enough to hold such a huge organism as a World Government, together. Furthermore, one of the first principles of Quantum Physics is that the more energy you spend in order to determine the exact velocity and position of a particle, the higher the uncertainty of these properties shall become, thus altering your readings to a greater extent.

Religion cannot be a common ground in separated societies. From the time its Doctrine cannot be communicated in a uniform and consistent manner, it tends to be altered to suit the needs and beliefs of its conveyors as it has been proven in so many historical instances.

However, there IS an institution that has proved to be a viable common ground for people of different religious, cultural, political and social backgrounds and that is (yes, you guessed right, my friend) Freemasonry. This is, at last, my thesis in this post and I’ll be happy to explain it to you, provided you do not fall asleep in the next 5 minutes.

Freemasonry managed to survive as an institution, through weak administrative, but very strong fraternal bonds. All that is required is for each local fraternity to recognize the fact that its sister fraternity follows the same rite in its functions and sometimes even this requirement is not necessary in order to ensure fraternal bonds between Freemasons.

In short, Freemasonry has proven over the centuries that it is a system non-antagonistic to the 3rd Law of “Social Thermodynamics”, which would dictate a constantly increasing rate of entropy, capable of destroying the bonds of our Fraternity. The reason for that resilience is that we have excluded all those factors that could contribute to internal frictions, such as personal religious and political beliefs and we hold anthropocentricity and philanthropy as our main reason for existence. In its own unique manner, Freemasonry is a “post-modern” entity that is powered by the purest ideals of our human race.

These qualities may ensure that Freemasonry could act as a Guardian of our common values, even if our societies experience a long term or catastrophic crisis, pretty much like the monasteries of the middle Ages. It could be the only channel of communication between societies that have lost all other means to understand each other and this, my friend, would be the most important function our Fraternity could have for the years to come, if the poopoo really hits the proverbial fan.

Do you think that this proposition is worth discussing in our meetings?

18 Νοεμβρίου 2010

The Collective Soul of the Masonic Ritual

Many things have been said about the Masonic rituals in the lodges, some of them not particularly friendly. The enemies of Freemasonry claim that these secret activities are nothing more than satanic rituals; therefore, every Mason who will depart for the Eternal East will find himself in a huge pot full of hot tar, with all the demons poking him to make sure he is done.

In such a case, my dearest and sole reader, it would be rather futile  quitting smoking to avoid tar into our lungs, since we will be swimming in it for all eternity.

It would be very simple to give a credible answer to all these accusations made by every religious fanatic throughout the world, by inviting them into our lodges to witness by themselves our activities and realize that the virgins are not in danger of losing their most precious possession during one of our rituals.

However, my dearest and uninitiated friend, it is only natural to wonder why we, as Masons, are so protective of our secrets (which, by the way, are not secrets anymore, since all our rituals are readily available in the Internet) refusing to publish them, write them on video and show them in a reality show called “The Worshipful Brother”.

It all has to do, my friend, with what we call the “Masonic Collective Soul”.

There are brothers, much more eloquent and learned than myself, who would be capable of analyzing the philosophy behind this term in a way that you would either understand completely, or fall down awestruck, depending on the neural synapses you managed to develop since your mom was shaking the rattler in front of your eyes, wondering if you will react somehow, or she will have to send you to college after 17 years, cockeyed and drooling.

Your good friend (that is me) will attempt to analyze this term for you.

In the final game of the World Series, the coach of a team is priming his players in the locker room, so that they will come out on the field determined to bring the trophy back to Boston (fat chance!!). The same happens with the leader of a platoon in the eve of the battle, or the priest in your church. This is called “spiritual tuning”. It is the process of the spiritual and mental unification of a group of people into a solid set, whose powers are far greater that the collective powers of its constituents.

In the same manner and for the same objective, the Masonic Ritual foresees a procedure which aims into tuning the participants into a common target, which, in our case, is the elevation of the team on a higher spiritual level that will not include the everyday problems and worries of our lives. This spiritual tuning  of many people into a common objective is called the “Collective Soul”.

It would be very simple (and exceptionally effortless) for me to stop at this point, having covered a large portion of your questions, my good friend. However, the logic I mentioned to you is based on philosophical principles, which sometimes transcend the ability of the oral or written Word to fully explain them, and they emanate from the symbolic and mystic level of the human experience. Therefore, please be patient and I will elaborate further.

Every esoteric teaching is based on myths and allegories, so that its student or its researcher will be capable of de-symbolizing its messages, since the logical part of our experience is not always capable of achieving that. In short, the myths and allegories constitute the dramatic string of a purely initiating procedure, which leads the researcher through complicated paths, to the explaining of cryptic messages and esoteric meanings.

The Old Testament, the Holy Quran, the teachings of Jesus Christ, the ancient Greek Dodekatheism and so many other philosophies and religious teachings, present to us a plethora of additional messages by de-symbolizing their narrative. As Orthodox Christians we should not forget that the real theological and philosophical stature of Christianity is based on the explanations given to us by the Holy Fathers, the de-symbolizing of the allegories of the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Drama and not to the dry narrative of a number of historically questionable events and scriptures.

Every newly initiated student who enters the Masonic Fraternity and participates in the workings of his lodge is tuned with the existing collective soul. He is led into the existing energy reserves of the Masonic Fraternity in a purely experiental way, he tunes himself into the universal rhythm in order to participate in turn to the advancement and evolution of this process, through his individual work within the Fraternity.

Although I have not a high regard for Paulo Coelho, I fully agree with one of his writings: “If you really desire something, the Universe conspires to the fulfillment of that desire”. This exactly happens when the spiritual energy of many different people are tuned into the realization of a single aim. The tuned mental energy is creating something called by some theories as a “mental entity”, which is a mental structure which is created by the repeated thoughts of an individual or a tuned group of people. Based on this theory, the collective soul is a mental/spiritual entity which is created by the collective meditation of many brothers, which becomes autonomous from the constituent minds and constitutes in turn a spiritual reservoir which affects everyone who will come close to it with his thoughts. It is, in short, the collective soul of our Fraternity.

A lot of the opening and closing rituals aim into collecting and re-distributing that mental energy to the participating brothers. I shall not elaborate further, since it is not my intention to bring out all aspects of our Ritual.

That means, my dear friend and reader, that even if all our Rituals are readily available in the Internet, they are as useful to the non-participants and the uninitiated people as a space shuttle manual would be useful to you to qualify as an astronaut. However, bringing an uninitiated or hostile person into our lodge, as a witness, would be equal to throwing a metal rod into a high-voltage substation.

27 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Moral Development and Justice

I had the privilege to participate in a number of philosophical discussions between brothers, inside and outside the Temple, where we attempted to define the term “Conscience” and its relationship with the moral development of an individual.

It happened by accident to come to my possession, part of the research performed by one of the most notable psychologists of the 20th century, Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987), dealing with the Stages of Moral Development of the humans.

I am fully aware, my dear brother, that my analyses have made you fall asleep on many occasions, especially during  our notorious philosophical nights accompanied with something quite stronger than water. The combination of my boring and monotonous voice with hard liquor can be devastating. However, certain reference points must be established, if we want to determine the social behavior and moral development of our fellow humans, therefore, please pretend you are interested in what I say and hide your yawns, because I am constantly afraid that half of your head will plunge on the floor and roll under the couch.

Our pal, the late L. Kohlberg (who committed suicide in 1987, following bouts of severe depression caused by a tropical disease he contracted in Africa), explained to the rest of us, who cannot tell schizophrenia from runny nose, that there are six (6) distinct Stages of moral development and sense of Justice and each of us makes it up to a certain stage during his adult life.

  1. The first Stage is defined by the behavior of infants. They have not developed any sense of justice and their decision-making mechanisms are fueled solely by their basic biological needs. The only inhibitive factors in existence are those of the negative stimuli (when an infant is burned by the candle flame once, he won’t touch it ever again).
  2.  In the Second Stage, the little child acquires a basic knowledge of what is “good” or “bad” entirely based on the reaction of his guardians and the possible punishment bestowed upon him.
  3. The Third Stage personality shows a blind obedience to certain Rules. He follows orders, unquestionably, just because these orders were given to him by certain authority figures (parents, teachers, officers, supervisors, priests, holy books, etc.). I suppose that most of the Auschwitz  guards, the Stalin-era NKVD executioners, the blind followers of a TV-evangelist or the Islamic Jihad bombers belong to that Stage and their motto to each accusation is always “I did it because I was ordered so”.
  4. A Stage-4 personality continues to follow rules; however he becomes conscious of the opinion of the Majority. Such a person is easily distinguished by holding torches or nooses in a Pogrom, asking for a vote to expel Jews, immigrants, coloreds or commies out of their neighborhood and in general by defining Good or Bad by the general consensus of his peers.  Whatever may be regarded as “good” by his community it becomes good enough for him.
  5. People belonging to the 5th Stage of Moral Development strive for the good of the entire population. They are aware of what may be unjust in the society and they try to make it better by introducing new rules and laws. They do not attempt to protect only their social class but they extend this protection to all their fellow citizens, regardless of social, racial or religious status. Such types become successful human rights lawyers and idealistic politicians.
  6. The 6th Stage defines humans who transcend the legal system and the various social acceptances and define Justice on a much larger scale, which is above any racial, national or religious norms, in order to achieve their moral standards. They are the moral leaders of our society, such as Dr. M. L. King, the great philosophers of humanity, the visionaries of dramatic political changes and some notable br.: Masons, whose wisdom opened new roads of thought for the rest of us.
Later in his research, L. Kohlberg defined two more stages, Stage-0 and Stage-7.

Stage-0 personalities are rare, and are characterized by a total lack of moral development. They are the psychopaths and sociopaths among us, those who are capable of killing a newborn baby, or a thousand of them, with the same ease and lack of emotion that they would pick their nose.

On the 7th stage, Kohlberg put those extremely rare people whose sense of Justice responds only on a Universal level, such as Jesus Christ, M. Gandhi, Buddha or Muhammad.  The problem with those super-humans has always been that their teachings are finally interpreted by people belonging to much lower moral Stages than them and eventually they are distorted beyond recognition, by time, to fit the ideas of those disciples.

Since the people belonging to the 0-Stage (do not think of your mother in law, I see the gleam in your eyes), as well as those of the 7th Stage are rarities and statistically inconsequential, I suggest we forget about them and try to understand some things about the other 6 stages that represent the 7 billions of humanity.

Let us recognize, to begin with, that the final Stage of Moral Development that will be achieved by a human being (and they are not only the 6 distinct stages I was telling you, while you were nodding off, but intermediate ones, as well), is a combination of hereditary and acquired capacities.

It goes without saying that we cannot do anything on the hereditary part of the equation, if we do not aspire to be called Little Hitlers. Furthermore, it would be quite stupid to act on that, knowing that some people who defined Western Civilization with their work, (e.g. L.V. Beethoven), were genetically compromised.

However, I hope you agree with me, when I support that a society can do a lot of things, with regard to the Education of its young members. With the term Education (with a capital E) I refer to the teaching process, sometimes by example, which will lead to the real moral development of the student and not only to the reproduction of dry knowledge that is not connected to his personality and his character.

Teaching is an initiation process, which cannot have any relationship to mediocre and lazy teachers. It is an Art, which unfortunately has been forgotten by the 3- and 4-Stage halfwits who abuse our system of education and our children and lead to a homogenized society that acts as a huge lawnmower, cutting anything that springs above the rest.

You see, my dearest and only reader, in essence it is not envy of the Have-not’s against the Have’s that will drive a fight between Classes, as Carl Marx wrote. Sometimes it is the insecurity of a less morally developed person against an individual with strong and advanced moral status that causes this clash. These are the hidden parameters of the equation which render the whole “Struggle of the Classes” issue erratic and thus obsolete, as Jesus Christ or Socrates can testify.

As you very well understand, my brother, the process of the perfection of our stone calls for us to reach a high stage of moral development and this is not based on some obscure theory but on some very strong scientific studies and data; and Freemasonry is an institution that is fully capable to offer such development to people who have completed their formal educational process and look for something more substantial in their lives.

Listen, Look and Learn and you will not lose..

20 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Fighting the Fear

I am an ardent supporter of fraternal bonding. I really like to see brothers opening out to Society, through Charity, Masonic cookouts, Masonic Motorcycle Clubs, social events, etc. It is the American Way, stating that Freemasonry is an integral part and a constituent of what is the American Nation today. A Nation fathered by enlightened brothers who wanted to let Liberty and Equality flourish in a new, fertile land.

However, my dearest and only reader, as you may already have suspected, I am, by nature, a devil’s Advocate. I constantly question myself, as well as my brethren, to ascertain that our path leads us always towards the Eternal Light. It would be futile for each one of us, to strive for more Light when we have taken the wrong path in our quest for it.

It would be useful, therefore, to examine some historical data, regarding the influence of Freemasonry to the development of our Western culture. However, given the fact that (after many technical publications I had in my career) I am a lazy bum who wouldn’t cite a bibliographical reference to save his life, I will have to exploit whatever has been hastily stored in my brain, right next to that killer Texas chili recipe and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

It all boils down to a simple statement: Freemasonry has been the Driving Force behind the Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries. It helped abolish the feudalism and the oppression of the peoples of the Western World and in that capacity instigated the great independence revolutions that took place in America and Europe. It has been the womb that gave birth to new, revolutionary ideas that helped shape the world as we know it. It was not the Lever, but the Leverage Point for these changes. And we, as Masons, have any right to feel proud of our predecessors and their deeds.

This pride, however, brings responsibility. Who am I to fill Benjamin Franklin’s or Voltaire’s shoes, if all I can do for my Fraternity is to organize a successful BBQ event, or ride a Harley with Freemasonry’s emblems stuck on its tailpipe? In short, the constant question to my conscience, as a Mason, is whether there is something more substantial that we can do, in order to justify our identity.

During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church utilized a fairly simple and straightforward message, which would be quite understandable by the illiterate masses: “If you are not obedient to the Church, the lords of your land and Authority in general, you will be condemned and blacklisted as a sinner. You will go to Hell, where thousands of demons will torture you till the end of time. Is that what you really want? Or you’d prefer to be silent and obedient and ensure a seat next to Abraham and Jacob?”

The message was very simple and exceptionally potent, especially with the “encouragement” of the Holy Inquisition, reserved for some skeptics. And that message’s influence continued undeterred up to the time of the birth of the enlightenment movements in Europe, most of which emanated by the ideals of Freemasonry.

The social structure of the 18th and 19th centuries was such that the same part of the society that had the biggest influence was at the same time the part that fed the structure of the Freemasonry organizations. Only the privileged and the literate could participate in our Fraternity and those were the same people who comprised the ruling cast of the society, at that time. It was, therefore, considerably easier to bring change, since that change was fought and decided at the top of the social pyramid.

What is happening today? My guess is that it’s always easier to convince the masses to adopt a revolutionary change that will ensure their human rights and civil liberties, than to bring change to a typically free and advanced society that has been buried underneath its own garbage. Furthermore, the movers and shakers of today’s society may be people which do not give a fart in a bottle about all these ideals and their only interest is to buy that 200-ft yacht they were invited at their buddy’s party (fully equipped with all those gorgeous ladies on the deck).

We do not strive anymore to bring change to a corrupt Constitution or bring down a totalitarian Regime. Our western republics have almost excellent constitutions and we live in democratic societies governed by elected fellow citizens. And still, some things seem to go totally wrong in our little Paradise.

Okay, most of my learned readers (you see, I am an optimist to use plural on the term “reader”) must have already suspected that I am trying to re-invent the wheel. I hope they show a little patience and not let me write all these in vain, since I am getting to the point in a while...

Man, according to Aristotle, is a Political Creature. This characterization includes the inborn tendency of every free-thinking man to utilize philosophy, in order to categorize and assimilate all the information he receives from his environment. It is the process that helps Man put this information at work in a greater ideological context, thus defining his position in Society and Nature. It is our descent to the depth of our Conscience and our watching of the natural phenomena, in order to find the Light.

What could happen, however, when the rate of the information provided to us, is far greater that our ability to ingest it? What might happen when these pieces of information are so overwhelming in their number that they pass “unfiltered” into our brain, since there is no more time available for us to analyze each and every one and include them in our personal system of ideas and beliefs?

In my discussions with many young people, I’ve heard them boasting that there is almost no information that they cannot find in the Internet. In order to save some time, I shall concur to that. However, I wonder, how many of these young people (and us, as well) have wondered, which of these pieces of information may be wrong, half-truths or belonging to the sphere of urban legends? Do we really possess the capacity to analyze all these, or our brain is already fried and we have reached the point that we have an anxiety attack, every time a Dairy Queen employee asks us whether we want vanilla, strawberry or chocolate shake?

Have we reached a point that Freemasonry has nothing more to offer to the enlightenment of people and it can now rest, in the role of a peculiar Gentlemen’s Club, with funny-looking aprons, handshakes and picnics? Not that I have anything against cookouts, I can pig-out with the best of them, but I still see all these activities as cheap filler for a very real Void.

So, Mr. Wise guy, what do you suggest we do?” I know this question comes naturally to your mind. Assuming that we are all intelligent people and utilizing Socrates’ methodology, I will have to ask you a few questions first:
  • Are you convinced that this information storm we receive, has increased our knowledge?
  • Do you believe that this multitude of information has rendered you more capable of distinguishing True from False?
  • Do you believe that all this information contains the tools that will help you utilize it for the benefit of your mental and spiritual advancement?
  • Do you suspect, sometimes, that some of this information may be “cooked” by Perception Management techniques, to lead you to pre-defined conclusions, to the benefit of certain people and/or organizations?
  • Do you sense that a lot of this unfiltered information aims at causing a sense of fear to its recipient, since fear is the best tool to direct the masses to certain decisions and conclusions? Is it possible that we have become a flock of sheep, directed by the stick of the shepherd?
  • Is it possible that this unbelievable mass and rate of information may hide large quantities of “toxins”, which your critical capacity is insufficient to isolate, anymore?
  • How can we characterize this process, if not “New Dark Ages”? Is it possible that Man escaped the old-time feudalism, only to fall into a new type of oligarchy, led by people who know in advance what is actually true and what is “glass beads”?
A goldfish may die if you feed it too little or too much and its memory lasts for about 3 seconds. How much can we become like a goldfish, without our knowledge?

A lot of businessmen will argue that “Information is Gold” and I shall agree to that, with the provision that this information must also be true, otherwise it becomes just another tool to direct the masses, as we have seen so many times, happening.

Therefore, we, as informed people, must look for those tools that will allow us to distinguish the Truth when we see it.

To attach ourselves to any kind of political or religious Dogma is as useful as to own a thermometer that shows only 97,6°F, regardless of the actual body temperature. These systems of belief are in dire need of free thinking, therefore they cannot be trusted in an ever-changing environment, except for peace-of-mind purposes.

On the other hand, accepting everything as True is the same as getting candies from strange men on the street, a habit your mom warned you sternly against.

Of course, rejecting everything as False shall lead you to wear peculiar black clothes and silver scull pennants and listen to Gothic Rock.

Therefore, the proposal of Freemasonry for Reason, knowledge of ourselves and examining of the natural phenomena may be a quite viable alternative.

What could be a bigger Liberty that our capacity to think freely and decide correctly within a tempest of misinformation?

What could be a bigger Equality than the equality of reasonable and well-informed people, communicating with each other?

Finally, how can we feel Fraternity if we cannot trust our brother that he is talking to us straight from his heart?

Therefore, if we really want to uphold the spirit of our predecessors in Freemasonry, we must re-direct our efforts to teaching Reason to people, all over the world. Education, free thinking and questioning of all types of doctrines will be the tools to avoid these New Dark Ages and we, as Freemasons, should be leading the way. On the other hand, these cookouts seem a good idea too...

14 Οκτωβρίου 2010

On Masonic Love...

I had the fortune to participate in the presentation of a Masonic Piece, given by a very dear and learned brother and I hope that I shall be able to publish it, one of these days, in this blog, so that you'll be able to read something much more interesting than my boring comments.

The subject of that speech was that of Love, as it is perceived by the Masonic Ideal. If I may summarize that presentation in one sentence, I would say that its thesis supported that real Love is never targeted at a certain person or society but it is Universal, emanating from the divine spark within, our Soul.

With so many learned and wise Masters who have preceded my humble existence and have spoken on this particular matter, it would be rather futile for me to attempt to add one more stone to the enormous philosophical structure that has been built over the last 2000 years. I am in dire need of both, eloquence and spiritual capacity, to perform such a task, without running the risk of being embarrassed in the process.

However, an engineer (like me) is a very peculiar creature. Without him being a real scientist (I regard myself as a noble grease monkey), he is the one who takes a brilliant scientific theory and puts it to work. This is the only way we (the engineers) know how to be useful to Society. As an old and dear professor used to say, “an engineer must be smart and lazy. Smart, to find the solution of a problem and lazy, to find the easy solution”.

Therefore, what's left for me in this particular philosophical matter, is to define it through simple, sociological observations, since I was always interested in understanding (and explaining) how each thing or system really works. It must be a genetic thing, since I remember myself as a little boy, tearing apart all of my toys and playing with their spare parts.

A long time ago, I had a client who could be characterized as a model of family man. He adored his wife and his children, he was doing everything for them, he had secured an enviable quality of life for them. At the same time he was a very religious man. At that time he was building a very large residence for his family and he also built a whole church at his backyard, inviting on a very frequent basis the local bishop to perform Mass. He was also a philanthropist of sort, donating money for charity. Pretty good and loving man, wouldn't you agree?

At the same time, that same person was one of the biggest loan sharks in Greece, with profits well exceeding $1.5 mil. every month (18 years ago). He had a small army of lawyers, henchmen, police officers, judges and bank managers on his payroll and he had driven to bankruptcy and suicide a lot of our fellow citizens. Later, riding the wave of the stock market “boom” of the late 90's he was transformed into a big-time investor, filling the market with “soap bubbles” and leading even more people to disaster.

I am sure that I do not have to reach a moral conclusion, out of respect for your intelligence my dear and sole reader. My example is so extreme as to state that Adolf Eichmann, the Commandant or Auschwitz, was an excellent and loving family man.

During the opening of the works at the level of Entered Apprentice, the Worshipful Master says: “My brothers, we are not anymore in the uninitiated world. We left the metals in front of the gate of the Temple. Let us ascent our hearts in brotherhood and let our eyes turn to the Light” (free translation of the Ritual from the Greek language, I'm afraid, please excuse my discrepancies).

Is it possible that the targeted love is another metal? Something that defines us socially but not morally? Something that we must leave behind, when we enter the Temple?

From courtrooms to eulogies and to everyday newspaper articles, a “good” fellow citizen is defined by his quality as a family man. How good a husband and a father he was, how much he was adored by his children and wife, how good a son he was to his parents, etc etc etc. Widening that circle, the deceased/defendant/award recipient is noted for his heroism and self-sacrifice for his country, his fellow citizens, his trade union, his Church or his Party.

Would you be, therefore, justified, my dearest and sole reader, to say that I am writing gibberish, by devaluing great heroes of your country's History, such as (if you're American) George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Thomas B. Jefferson, just because their love for their country was a targeted one? Is it possible that a young medical doctor who gives tetanus shots to little children at a remote African village, is more justified to the eyes of God, than Benjamin Franklin, Dwight Eisenhower or (Lord have mercy on us!!) our mother???

What sort of (unheard of) morals are you trying to impose on us, buddy?

However, the extreme examples are useful, to the extent that they can define the frame of our thinking. Beyond our love for our family, our country or our religious doctrine, we, as Masons, must sense, “through our descent to the depth of our conscience and the observation of natural phenomena”, another dimension, much larger and universal, where all God's creatures are included, and through that dimension we must connect with the Divine.

All Doctrines, my dearest reader, are useful as road signs for somebody who trusts third parties to show him the road to the Light and never searches by himself. That's why, my friend, the Masonic path is such a lonely and difficult one.

13 Οκτωβρίου 2010

The Written Word (or, "Scripta Manent")

Each one of us, who have joined a Masonic Order, has his preferences with regard to the parts comprising the Masonic Ritual. Each of these parts is targeting into achieving an advanced state of concentration, helping the participants escape from their everyday lives and see themselves as integral parts of the Masonic symbolism and drama, by descending to the depth of their conscience.

For many of us, the most favorite part of the activities in a Lodge is the presentation of the Masonic Piece, as it is presented by a brother. It is the ritual of the propagation of Knowledge and Ideas to the participating brothers, as well as the cause for the production of some very fertile (and sometimes emotionally charged) discussions. Furthermore, it is the written History of each Lodge, indicative of the unrestrained Spirit born in it.

From the moment Man began to produce sounds in order to communicate, he attempted, at any cost, to immortalize his thoughts. Maybe that urge came from our inborn laziness to repeat what we already said once, or from a selfish temptation to immortalize our wisdom (that's why I'm keeping this blog, in the first place). Thus, the Written Word was born.

However, as many people can testify, the Written Word is something much more than a mere schematic reproduction of the spoken word. In essence, it has such a relationship with the spoken word, as to using a GPS device to get somewhere, compared to getting instructions from my aunt Betsy, whose brain has become like Swiss cheese (actually I have not so many aunts, however, in order to make some literary impressions, I invent some, which later fade into the mist of History, along with GPS devices and Swiss cheese).

The Written Word is something living and breathing and immediately after its birth and propagation, it alienates itself from its creator, to the extent that he (the creator) has just another opinion about it, among the multitude of opinions created from reading of the text. It has become a small or large reference point and much like the Fine Arts, the intelligent and persuasive Written Word creates a multitude of ideas and emotions to other people, some of which are totally different than the original thoughts of its creator.

The fact that some writer achieved a notable mental creation, may be an honor for him, however, that creation cannot be controlled by him, anymore. It is a spiritual path that leads men into uncharted territories. When you drive to Chicago, you never wonder as to who designed the Interstate, as far as it is modern, well-built, safe to travel and it gets you through some interesting landscapes (well, not many to find on your road to Chicago). Therefore, the Written Word incorporates the wisdom of its creator, but it de-personifies it, makes it its own and spreads it to other people making them co-owners of that wisdom.

The built-in Anarchy of the Written Word, meaning its power to create a multitude of different thoughts and emotions, is the foundation of human Freedom, given the fact that nobody, not even its creator, has the right to impose some particular path of thought, an action that would lead to Dogma, a state which by its nature is constrictive to the Freedom of thought. Nobody can know in advance the shape of the tree that will spring from the seed we have dropped, except if our purpose is to create a bonsai which, regardless of its beauty, is an abomination against Nature.

Jesus Christ existed only through the writings of the (much later) evangelists, as Socrates existed through the writings of Plato and Homer through the writings of a much later generation of bards who put on papyrus or clay whatever they could remember from the oral tradition, handed down to them. The oral Word of all the above great men, no matter how enlighted and wise it may have been, would be lost in the mist of Time, if somebody else had not immortalized it on a tablet, for the generations to come. Much later, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, fully appreciated that fact and took care to leave his Written Word by himself, thus maintaining a much closer spiritual relationship to his philosophy, than the previous great men. However, all the problems emanating from these two large Religions, started when some “wise” men decided that they were the sole holders of the Truth behind the Word...

The Written Word is the Power that can modify Reality in ways that not even its writer can imagine. Since “Scripta Manent”, therefore, that Power is capable of acting in our society many years after the physical demise of its creator.

All the above, my dearest friend, brother and sole reader, are indicative, I believe, of the spirit that should govern the Speaker of the evening. Freemasonry is possibly the last shelter of free thinking, imposing no obstacle to the search for the Truth. We, therefore, must honor the privilege given to us to speak in front of our brothers and we can honor it only by ignoring all these repetitive references to bro.: Albert Pike's work and allow our Spirit to roam freely, with a sense of “anarchy” and love for our listeners, so that we may produce something that (if possible) could alter the way they see Life itself.

And this, my brother, shall be accomplished only if we allow our Psyche to speak.

I was extremely fortunate to listen to 1-2 speeches of this nature, so far.