“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Lily Work on the Porch of Solomon's Temple
For those familiar with a number of my previous posts there can be no doubt, I see very strong similarities with many of the symbols of the East. I must also reiterate it is not my intent to insinuate the roots of Freemasonry lie in the East; I will leave that to the historians of Freemasonry, my intent is to show the esoteric similarities, and the symbolic meaning.
So small of a symbol, so full of meaning, that was exactly how I felt when I was first directed to the lilies adorning the pillars.
I have no doubt that many of my brother masons, except the Senior Deacon, even gave much thought to the symbolism of the lilies, yet, here was one of the most universal symbols of the East high upon the pillars of our fraternity.
The lily work which is described as a part of the ornamentation of the two pillars in the porch of Solomon's Temple is said to be, from the whiteness of the plant, symbolic of purity and peace. Properly, it is lotus work.
The plant so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament under the name of lily, as an emblem of purity and peace, was the lotus lily of Egypt and India. It occupies a conspicuous place among the ornaments of the Temple furniture. The brim of the molten sea was wrought with flowers of the lotus; the chapiters on the tops of the pillars at the porch, and the tops of the pillars themselves, were adorned with the same plant.
The lotus was the sacred plant of the Brahmin rites of India, and was considered as the symbol of their elemental trinity, earth, water, and air. Because, as an aquatic plant, it derived its nutriment from all of these elements combined, its roots being planted in the earth, its stem rising through the water, and its leaves exposed to the air.
“ God is the Sun and when His rays fall upon your heart, not impeded by the clouds of egoism, the lotus blooms and the petals unfold.” Sri Sathya Sai Baba
The Egyptians, who borrowed a large portion of their religious rites from the East, adopted the lotus, which was also indigenous to their country, as a mystical plant, and made it the symbol of their initiation, or the birth into celestial light. They often on their monuments represented the god Phre (Sun God), or the sun, as borne within the expanded calyx of the lotus.
The lotus bears a flower similar to that of the poppy, while its large, tongue-shaped leaves float upon the surface of the water. As the Egyptians had remarked that the plant expands when the sun rises, and closes when it sets, they adopted it as a symbol of the sun; and as that luminary was the principal object of the popular worship, the lotus became in all their sacred rites a consecrated and mystical plant.
One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.
In the Buddhist tradition, the lotus represents purity of body, speech, and mind, as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. The Buddha is often depicted sitting on a giant lotus leaf or blossom. According to legend, he was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.
“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world”
Buddha (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)
I, personally, believe it is our duty to understand the symbols of our fraternity, yet if we do not embrace and integrate them into our being, they serve no purpose.