MASTER MASON – Manly P. Hall ~
On the upper steps of spiritual unfoldment stands the Master Mason, who spiritually represents the graduate from the school of esoteric learning. In the ancient symbols he is represented as an old man leaning upon a staff, his long white beard upon his chest, and his deep, piercing eyes sheltered by the brows of a philosopher. He is in truth old, not in years, but in wisdom and understanding, which are the only true measurement of age. Through years and lives of labor he has found the staff of life and truth upon which he leans. He no longer depends upon the words of others but upon the still voice that speaks from the heart of his own being. There is no more glorious position that a man may hold than that of a Master Builder, who has risen by labor through the degrees of human consciousness. Time is the differentiation of eternity devised by man to measure the passage of human events. On the spiritual planes of Nature it is the space or distance between the stages of spiritual growth and hence is not measurable by material means. Many a child comes into this world a Grand Master of the Masonic School, while many a revered and honored brother passes silently to rest without having gained admittance to its gate. The Master Mason is one whose life is full, pressed down and brimming over with the experience he has gained in his slow pilgrimage up the winding stairs.
The Master Mason embodies the power of the human mind, that connecting link which binds heaven and earth together in an endless chain. His spiritual light is greater because he has evolved a higher vehicle for its expression. Above even constructive action and emotion soars the power of thought which swiftly flies on wings to the source of Light. The mind is the highest form of his human expression and he passes into the great darkness of the inner room illuminated only by the fruits of reason. The glorious privileges of a Master Mason are in keeping with his greater knowledge and wisdom. From the student he has blossomed forth as the teacher; from the kingdom of those who follow he has joined that little group who must always lead the way. For him the Heavens have opened and the Great Light has bathed him in its radiance. The Prodigal Son, so long a wanderer in the regions of darkness, has returned again to his Father’s house. The voice speaks from the Heavens, its power thrilling the Master until hi s own being seems filled with its divinity, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. “The ancients taught that the sun was not a source of light, life, or power, but a medium through which life and light were reflected into physical substance. The Master Mason is in truth a sun, a great reflector of light, who radiates through his organism, purified by ages of preparation, the glorious power which is the light of the Lodge. He, in truth, has become the spokesman of the Most High. He stands between the glowing fire light and the world. Through him passes Hydra, the great snake, and from its month there pours to man the light of God. His symbol is the rising sun, for in him the globe of day has indeed risen in all its splendor from the darkness of the night, illuminating the immortal East with the first promise of approaching day.
With a sigh the Master lays aside his tools. For him the temple is nearing completion, the last stones are being placed, and he slakes his lime with a vague regret as he sees dome and minaret rise through the power of his handiwork. The true Master does not long for rest, and as he sees the days of his labor close, a sadness weighs upon his heart. Slowly the brothers of his Craft leave him, each going his respective way; and, climbing step by step, the Master stands alone on the pinnacle of the temple. One stone must yet be placed, but this he cannot find. Somewhere it lies concealed. In prayer he kneels, asking the powers that be to aid him in his search. The light of the sun shines upon him and bathes him in a splendor celestial. Suddenly a voice speaks from the Heavens, saying, “The temple is finished and in my faithful Master is found the missing stone”.
Both points of the compasses are now lifted from under the square. The divine is liberated from its cube; heart and mind alike are liberated from the symbol of mortality, and as emotion and thought they unite for the glorification of the greatest and the highest. Then the Sun and Moon are united and the Hermetic Degree is consummated.
The Master Mason is afforded opportunities far beyond the reach of ordinary man, but he must not fail to realize that with every opportunity comes a cosmic responsibility. It is worse by far to know and not to do than never to have known at all. He realizes that the choice of avoiding responsibility is no longer his and that for him all problems must be met and solved. The only joy in the heart of the Master is the joy of seeing the fruits of his handiwork. It can be truly said of the Master that through suffering he has learned to be glad, through weeping he has learned to smile, and through dying he has learned to live. The purification and probationship of his previous degrees have so spiritualized his being that he is in truth a glorious example of God’s Plan for His children. The greatest sermon he can preach, the greatest lesson he can teach, is that of standing forth a living proof of the Eternal Plan. The Master Mason is not ordained: he is the natural product of cause and effect, and none but those who live the cause can produce the effect. The Master Mason, if he be truly a Master, is in communication with the unseen powers that move the destinies of life. As the Eldest Brother of the lodge, he is the spokesman for the spiritual hierarchies of his Craft. He no longer follows the direction of others, but on his own tracing board he lays out the plans which his brothers are to follow. He realizes this, and so lives that every line and plan which he gives out is inspired by the divine within himself. His glorious opportunity to be a factor in the growth of others comes before all else. At the seat of mercy he kneels, a faithful servant of the Highest within himself and worthy to be given control over the lives of others by having first controlled himself.
Much is said concerning the loss of the Master’s Word and how the seekers go out to find it but bring back only substitutes. The true Master knows that those who go out can never find the secret trust. He alone can find it who goes within. The true Master Builder has never lost the Word but has cherished it in the spiritual locket of his own being. From those who have the eyes to see, nothing is concealed; to those who have the right to know, all things are open books. The true Word of the three Grand Masters has never been concealed from those who have the right to know it nor has it ever been revealed to those who have not prepared a worthy shrine to contain it. The Master knows, for he is a Temple Builder. Within the setting of his own bodies, the Philosopher’s Stone is placed; for in truth it is the heart of the Phoenix, that strange bird which rises with renewed youth from the ashes of its burned body. When the Master’s heart is as pure and white as the diamond that he wears, he will then become a living stone-the crown jewel in the diadem of his Craft.
The Word is found when the Master himself is ordained by the living hand of God, cleansed by living water, baptized by living fire, a Priest-King after the Order of Melchizedek, who is above the law.
The great work of the Master Mason can be called the art of balance. To him is given the work of balancing the triangle that it may blaze forth with the glory of the Divine Degree. The triple energies of thought, desire, and action must be united in a harmonious blending of expression. He holds in his hands the triple keys; he wears the triple crown of the ancient Magus, for he is in truth the King of heaven, earth, and hell. Salt, sulphur, and mercury are the elements of his work and with the philosophical mercury he seeks to blend all powers to the glorifying of one end.
Behind the degree of Master Mason, there is another not known to earth. Far above him stretch other steps concealed by the blue veil which divides the seen from the unseen. The true Brother knows this, therefore he works with an end in view far above the concept of mortal mind. He seeks to be worthy to pass behind that veil and join that band who, unhonored and unsung, carry the responsibilities of human growth. His eyes are fixed forever on the Seven Stars which shine down from somewhere above the upper rung of the ladder. With hope, faith, and charity he climbs the steps, and whispering the Master’s Word to the Keeper of the Gates, passes on behind the veil. It is then, and then only, that a true Mason is born. Only behind this veil does the mystic student come into his own. The things which we see around us are but forms-promises of a thing unnamed, symbols of a truth unknown. It is in the spiritual temple built without the voice of workmen or the sound of hammer that the true initiation is given, and there, robed in the simple lambskin of a purified body, the student becomes a Master Mason, chosen out of the world to be an active worker in the name of the Great Architect. It is there alone, unseen by mortal eyes, that the Greater Degrees are given and there the soul radiating the light of Spirit becomes a living; star in the blue canopy of the Masonic lodge.
Masonry is eternal truth, personified, idealized, and yet made simple. Eternal truth alone can serve it. Virtue is its priest, patience its warden, illumination its master. The world cannot know this, however, save when Masons in their daily life prove that it is so. Its truth is divine, and is not to be desecrated or defamed by the thoughtlessness of its keepers. Its temple is a holy place, to be entered in reverence. Material thoughts and material dissensions must be left without its gate. They may not enter. Only the pure of heart, regenerated and transmuted, may pass the sanctity of its veil. The schemer has no place in its ranks, nor the materialist in its shrine; for Masons walk on hallowed ground, sanctified by the veneration of ages. Let the tongue be stilled, let the heart be stilled, let the mind be stilled. In reverence and in the silence, stillness shall speak: the voice of stillness is the voice of the Creator. Show your light and your power to men, but before God what have you to offer, save in humility? Your robes, your tinsel, and your jewels mean naught to Him, until your own body and soul, gleaming with the radiance of perfection, become the living ornaments of your Lodge.
THE PRESENCE OF THE MASTER
The Mason believes in the Great Architect, the living keystone of creation’s plan, the Master of all Lodges, without whose spirit there is no work. Let him never forget that the Master is near. Day and night let him feel the presence of the Supreme or Overshadowing One. The All-Seeing Eye is upon him. Day and night this great Orb measures his depths, seeing into his innermost soul of souls, judging his life, reading his thoughts, measuring his aspirations, and rewarding his sincerity. To this All-Seeing One he is accountable; to none other must he account. This Spirit passes with him out of the Lodge and measures the Mason in the world. This Spirit is with him when he buys and sells. It is with him in his home. By the light of day and by the darkness of night it judges him. It hears each thoughtless word. It is the silent witness to every transaction of life, the silent Partner of every man. By the jury of his acts, each man is judged. Let every Mason know that his obligations include not only those within the narrow Lodge, bordered by walls of stone and brick, but those in the Great Lodge, walled only by the dome of heaven. The Valley of Jehoshaphat waits for him who is false to any creature, as surely as it waited for the breakers of the Cosmic oath.