If you subscribe to the religious doctrine of the fall of man (OK-humankind), which is told across many different religious traditions, then that which was lost was a oneness with God, a perfect relationship with the Grand Architect of the Universe. The next question, logically, is then how do we restore that which has been lost? We will leave that question unanswered for awhile, but come back to it in the end.
From “Freemasonry And The Doctrine Of Reincarnation” on Masonic World we find this:
The great drama of the Greek Mysteries enunciates, as well as veils, two cardinal verities: the Fall, and Redemption from that Fall. Thus from the sad and woeful state into which Persophone falls she is finally rescued and restored to the supernal abodes; but not until the coming of the Savior, represented in the Hermetic parable under the name of Osiris (“the risen from the tomb”)- the Man Regenerate. This Redeemer, himself of divine origin; is in other allegories represented under other names, but the idea is always defined, and the intention obvious. Indeed, Osiris is the Jesus of our Christian doctrine, the supreme Initiate or “Captain of Salvation”; He is the reflection and counterpart in Man of the supreme Lord of the Universe (Greek – Dionysos, Hebrew – Adonai), the ideal type of humanity. He is represented as in all things “instructed” and directed by Hermes; famed as the celestial conductor of souls from the “dark abodes”; the wise and ubiquitous God in whom the student recognizes the Genius of the Understanding, or Divine Reason, the “nous” of Platonic doctrine – and the mystic “Spirit of Christ”.
One of the aspects of Freemasonry that needs not to be forgotten when we look at this question is its mystical nature and identification with the ancient mysteries, the Egyptian, Greek and Roman mystery schools, with the Kabbalah, alchemy, Gnostic thought et al.
They (students of the mystery schools) were further given instruction concerning the different levels and graduations of the Universe, some of them material and some ethereal, the planes and sub -planes, upon which the great scheme is being carried out; which levels and planes, all progressively linked together, constitute one vast ladder of many rounds, staves, or rungs, a veritable “Ladder of Life”. Candidates thus came to understand that the Universe consists of embodied consciousness, and that these embodied consciousness exist in a practically infinite gradation of varying degrees of perfection – a real “Ladder of Life” or “Stair of Life”, stretching endlessly in either direction, for our imagination can conceive no limits except a hierarchical one; and such hierarchical limitation is but spacial, and not actual, qualitative and formal. They were shown that the “Ladder of Life” is marked at certain intervals by landing places, so to speak, which the Mysteries called “planes of being” (different spheres of consciousness, to express the idea in alternative terms). Candidates in the old systems were given instruction in these matters before being admitted to. Initiation, and the knowledge gained served to explain to them their own nature and constitution, and their place in the World-system. Today, Freemasonry, perpetuating the ancient teaching, exhibits to the Brethren a simple ladder, a symbol which when properly interpreted is calculated to open widely the eyes of their imagination. It is true that the ladder portrayed on the T.B. of the First Degree is given a moral significance in the Instruction lecture, but, as students of Hebrew mysticism are well aware, “Jacob’s Ladder” is also a symbol of the Universe with its succession of step-like planes reaching from the heights to the depths. Indeed, we learn from the V. of the S.L., that the Fathers House has many mansions, many levels and resting places for His creatures in their different conditions and degrees of progress; and it is these levels, these planes and sub-planes, that are denoted by the rungs and staves of the symbolic ladder.(Masonic world).
There is a whole component here that is often overlooked. And the reason it is snubbed is that today’s poorly instructed, social Mason sees no application to his daily life that is plausible.
So that which is lost will not only remain lost but will be doubly deeply buried.
The last three articles on The Beehive about Lodge renewal has triggered some soul searching. Not one of these articles even remotely alluded to the importance of the mystical nature of Freemasonry.
Next we must ask the question of how do we make good men better? Most Masons will tell you that it is simply a matter of adhering to the virtues and morality of Freemasonry. But how do the virtues and ethics of Freemasonry differ from most religions one might choose to practice? What, then, is so special and superior about Freemasonry? How can a society that purports all kinds of lofty development of character reveal that its secret is to follow a morality readily available in any house of worship? What is so Gnostic about that? And where does Freemasonry’s mysticism fit in? Is it just some sort of occult offshoot of troubled and hallucinogenic minds?
Too many Masons today regard the mystical traditions of their Fraternity as heretical and a corruption of the Craft. But if you read somebody like Wilmshurst in The Meaning Of Masonry, you can see how he sees symbolism on top of symbolism on top of symbolism and meaning behind meaning behind meaning.
The problem with today’s Freemason is that he refuses to look beyond his nose, wants everything cut and dried and handed to him on a silver platter, and refuses to apply any contemplation and meditation as to how Freemasonry might help him get back what has been lost.
Another religious concept we need to throw into the mix here is that of reincarnation. In its general application, not associated with any particular religious tradition, we have in this concept reliving life experience over and over again with the purpose of attaining a higher and higher plane, nearer and nearer to the Creator. If reincarnation is heretical to your belief system, if we only live one life, then we can squeeze that higher plane attainment into a shorter span, one lifetime. Perhaps we can say that a man who works at it at 70 years old is on a higher plane than he was at 60, and at 60 higher than when he was 50, and at 50 higher than when he was 40 and so forth.
The general hypothesis of pre-existence (under which the special doctrine of reincarnation falls) does not, it is true, solve the fundamental problems but it pushes back some of the initial difficulties. It furnishes an ampler ground for the development of the individual than the cribbed, cabined, and confined area of one short earth-life, and by providing a stage or series of stages for the acts and scenes of the age-long drama of the man-soul prior to the present existence, permits us to entertain the notion of a law of moral causation conditioning our present relation to circumstances in a way that does not clash with our innate sense of justice. (Masonic World)
If Freemasonry is really unique, if it really has something to offer no one else has, then let’s find out what that is and elevate ourselves from being just another mundane society. Let’s dig deeper, think harder, meditate stronger and search longer.
Ásk and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.”
A deep thinker in Freemasonry recently told me that what a Mason should endeavor to gather from his fraternity is WISDOM. But that’s not the complete answer. And the reason that more do not come up with the full complete answer is because there is such a prohibition, such a fear of turning Freemasonry into a religion that the mystical experience has to be denied. Thus, today, Masons can only think in terms of individual, earthly improvement. WISDOM is as high as we can go.
So what is the real secret of Freemasonry buried under symbolism on top of symbolism on top of symbolism? The answer is the solution to the question, how do we get back that which was lost, oneness with God.
The answer we are now ready to give is SOUL DEVELOPMENT. By incorporating Freemasonry’s mysterious, mystical ingredient into our awareness and conduct we rise to a higher and higher plane, closer and closer to the “I am that I am.” Whether we do it over many lives or just one is immaterial.
Again from Masonic World:
To enable us to grasp clearly the Ancient Wisdom teaching, it is essential to bear in mind the distinction which is made between the individuality and the personality, between life and form, spirit and body. The Secret Doctrine presupposes that man is a spiritual Being or Ego, with the triple powers of WILL, WISDOM and CREATIVE INTELLIGENCE, and that he enters into relationship with matter in order to shape for himself a succession of bodies which constitute his successive personalities, and by means of which he gains the experiences that are essential for mental, moral and spiritual growth, until gradually his real nature shines out in all its Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Accordingly, the personality is deemed to include the soul (as this is understood in our modern terminology) as well as the body, or, stated alternatively; the personality embraces expression as well as the form. The soul, then, being the reflection of the three-fold nature of the Spirit necessarily has also three attributes (modes of express ion), and these are the familiar thoughts, feelings and actions of the human personal consciousness.
So what should a Lodge be doing and what are the Masonic steps to greater spiritual attainment? It looks like this:
Now go forth and govern yourself accordingly.