As I have already inferred in part one of this premise, that freemasonry and the mandala share similar commonalities, I would now like to continue with the comparisons, and add a few new thoughts.
As I have previously noted, at the center of the mandala rests the deity to whom the mandala is dedicated, in the case of freemasonry, here rests the VSL
“There exists no circle in the world which is not made from within a single point which is located in the center…and this point, which is located in the center, receives all the light, illuminates the body, and all is enlightened.”-Zohar
In its most common form, the mandala appears as a series of concentric circles, its deity housed in a square structure with four elaborate gates, sometimes described as a four-sided palace or temple. For those familiar with the layout of the lodge, the four gates are the East, South, West, and the North.
Most are already familiar with the symbolism of the four gates, but just for review, I thought I would review some of the basics. I would like to thank the DeMolay for there wonderful descriptions, taken from one of there rituals.
THE EAST: From the Sun worshipers down through the ages, the East has always been considered the most honored place because the sun rises in the East and is the region from which light rises. "As the sun rises in the East…”
The East in Freemasonry is the Symbol of the Spiritual World.
From the DeMolay: The East is emblematic of the rising sun and the morn of life. As the sun rises in the East, drifts over the meridian heights in the South and sets in the West, so is our life. In the morning years of life, we have youth, with cheery smile and sparkling eye, like this rosebud fresh in the morning dew looking upon life with all the hopes of future years before him. From cradle to the crowning years of manhood, we are taught the virtues of Fidelity, Reverence, Cleanliness, and Truth. Following these cardinal virtues and with the guiding hand of parents, school and country, youth can resist the temptations thrust upon him from every source and will, when the morn of life is over, be ready to face the meridian sun or the years of manhood and womanhood unafraid.
THE SOUTH: “As the sun in the South at meridian height is the beauty and glory of the day…”
From the DeMolay: The South is a symbol of the meridian sun or the noon of life, emblematic of manhood’s approaching years. It is that period of life when half our years lie behind us and half before, with opportunities remaining to do good or be better. The sparkle of youth is gone. The rosebud has emerged into a blooming rose. Those who have remembered their creator in the days of their youth and followed the precepts learned in the morning years of life have discovered that the world has the choicest places waiting for the young man and woman whose character fit them to take these places. Intelligence and industry, without integrity and fraternity, may seem to take some people far, but their apparent success will be found under close scrutiny to be unreal and will in the end bring disappointment and misery. It is integrity and fraternity as exemplified in our Orders added to intelligence and industry that leads us to real success and lasting happiness.
THE WEST: West (the Antipodes of the East) is the Sphere of the Material World.(Where there is Death - Darkness & Ignorance)
Thus - East = Life - Light - Wisdom West = Death - Darkness - Ignorance
Our Ritual tells us -The S.W. is in the West to represent The Moon, which governs the Night (Darkness). In the West he closes the Lodge as the setting Sun closes the Day. (He is the Representative of Darkness & Death) His Jewel of Office - The Level reminds us of the Great Leveler - Death.
From the DeMolay: The West is symbolic of the eve of life and I bring from the station of the setting sun, the consolation of a journey ended, the joy of life well spent. The rose has withered on the stalk. Its loveliness has vanished and the petals lie scattered on the ground. The search for the end of the rainbow is over for the sun has vanished from view. There is time for meditation and we are face to face with the realization that all that is born must die. If the journey from youth to age has been ill spent, there is doubt, uncertainty and confusion, but to those who knew the joy of looking back upon a life well spent, there comes to them this one great thought: It is not all of life to live. Tour soul, this truth applies, ‘tis not all of death to die.
THE NORTH: That part of the earth, which, being most removed from the influence of the sun at his meridian height, is in Freemasonry called “a place of darkness.” Hence, it is a symbol of the profane world.
From the DeMolay: The sun has set, the rainbow has vanished and the last faint ray of the sun has turned to darkness. In our journey from East to West, we have taken a survey of human life in all its thousand blended lights and shades and learned that all on earth is change, and now in the North we face the darkness. We have seen the rose withered and its petals scattered on the ground; the winter storms have left their trail of frost and snow and yet when the gentle breeze of springtime blew the deadest branches came to life and beauty. To those who have lived and planned each step of the journey from youth to age and to stand before the great white throne, is but to learn this lesson from the rose.