The following article was created for Episode 6 of Three Distinct Knocks. That episode can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BlPZJG1
If you’ve listened to our previous podcasts, you will have heard me say that Freemasonry is a progressive science — that is, a body of knowledge in which one makes progress through study, effort, and exploration. While the moment of initiation is important and should be life-changing for any man, it doesn’t magically confer a knowledge of the system of morality, illustrated by symbols and veiled by allegory that is Freemasonry.
Symbols are used by the Craft to teach its lessons because it is, possible for a symbol to convey layers and nuances of meaning in a way that more direct methods of teaching cannot. Each Mason should work to develop his own relationship with the symbols of the Craft, to find the layers of meaning that speak to his experience, to discover how those symbols change in their meaning as his life progresses.
The symbols, as expressive as they are, do not reveal their lessons at once. They require study, thought and consideration. Think of the symbols of the Craft as people — you meet them in the degree, over time, you come to know them, your relationship with them changes and deepens. In time, you get to know each other better. Aspects of them that were not obvious at once become apparent. Eventually, perhaps, you begin to finish one another’s sentences and, having known them, your life is changed in unexpected ways.
Many esoterically-inclined Masons (and some day we’ll do a whole show on how much I dislike that designation and all its variants) read many books on the symbolism and philosophy of Freemasonry. I would be the last to discourage this. If you really want to see the light of pure avarice in my eyes, show me a really good book about Freemasonry that I have yet to read.
Freemasonry, however, is not a purely intellectual exercise. It is experiential. It is emotional. It is relational.
For developing a personal relationship with the symbols of the Craft, and thereby to develop a personal understanding of Freemasonry, meditation is a powerful tool — perhaps as useful as regular attendance at Lodge.
Speaking of good books about Freemasonry, tonight’s guest is Bro. Chuck Dunning, the author of Contemplative Masonry.