“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”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Feeling A Little Sad Today

As I watched the events unfold in Mumbai the last couple of days, I felt ill. Do not get me wrong, I know that ignorance has been around as long a recorded history, but when are we going to look at ignorance as the disease it is and attempt to find the cure?
As I searched the web for answers, I came across this wonderful insight on the International Association of Sufism website:
"There is always someone who, desirous of power and craving bloodshed, actively manipulates others by fanning the flames of misdirected religious fervor. The only solution when this kind of virus attacks the body of the whole, is to rely on the immune system to return health to the body, which in this case is wisdom.
We must ask ourselves: what condition nourishes the anger, hatred, greed, and other harmful qualities of those who like conflict?

The answer, quite simply, is ignorance. They remain on the superficial level, allied to names, impressed by titles, and bound to inherited systems of belief, and can easily become trapped in a tower of preconceived ideas that's mortared by their own imagination. This tower becomes a strong fortress, which they feel a primal urge to defend. They think that what they believe is right and what others believe is wrong and they look for evidence to prove their "rightness." Yet anyone who is trapped in this tower is wrong, for the fortress is an illusion.
Do we want to live in peace? If so, we each must search beyond titles and inherited systems of belief - all those things which divide us - and begin instead to truly practice Islam: submission of the false ego to the One, the source of mercy, peace and love. In such a state of unity, a state which must be actualized within, internal and external fractures heal, labels lose their meaning and power, and divisive ideology melts away."

The International Association of Sufism

"War is as outmoded as cannibalism, chattel slavery, blood feuds, and dueling, an insult to God and humanity...a daily crucifixion of Christ." -- Muriel Lester
Muriel Lester accompanied Mahatma Gandhi on his tour of earthquake-shaken regions in Bihar on his anti-untouchables tour during 1934.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

There Is An Alien in Indra’s Net

(Image: Now this is what I call a checkered floor!)

As much as I try, I just cannot seem to get away from those darn conspiracy theorists. I am not kidding, it does not matter what subject I attempt to research on the web, they pop up everywhere.
Do not get me wrong, I do find most entertaining, especially the ones about Freemasons being controlled by the invisible Illuminati (6,410,000 hits located on Google), but please, how is a grown man suppose to research various philosophers’ when the web has become a haven loony tunes?
As one who believes we are all connected, and the only reason individuality exists is because of perception, I am perplexed why parts see the world as a mass conspiracy and base their intelligence on something somebody told them, which was probably erroneous and unverifiable in the first place.
Now I realize it is not my place to set the record straight as far as Freemasonry goes, even though I know it would be fun, it would be a fool’s game and only fall on deaf ears.
I enjoy a good fairytale as much as the next man, so much so I even bought some light reading by an author named David Icke (1,100,000 hits located on Google), now I no we are in trouble! Since I paid the money, I read the book.
I really do not think it would serve any purpose reviewing what I read, at least intellectually, and please do not buy it, it would be better to give your money away. Let me just say it was entertaining in a dumbing down way, if you actually believe in the alien domination.
I sure hope he donates some of his profits to doing some good on the planet (at least before the aliens take over).

Just the other day I had a young man sitting in my chair (I cut hair), and he started asking me questions about our impending doom. He was sure the Mayans had foretold the end of existence by 2012 (3,520,000 hits located on Google). I’m not sure, but for some reason this young lad seems to think I have some direct pipeline with the overlords and usually comes in with the strangest conspiracies.
As I reassured him that the world would still be around in 2012.
He had a tough time believing me. I told him I believed the only reason the Mayan calendar stopped in 2012 was because the calendar makers had to stop some where. Imagine spending a whole life making calendars, how boring.
After his haircut, I gave him my used David Icke book.

For all those crazies that actually believe that they are the center of the universe:
In an interview with Phil Donahue in 1984, Brother Norman Vincent Peale said: "It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine. ... I've been to the Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere." Donahue exclaimed, "But you're a Christian minister; you're supposed to tell me that Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, aren't you?" Peale replied, "Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere."
That a boy Brother Norman!
If Phil would have interviewed me I would of told him about the Avatamsaka Sutra
(Avatamsaka Sutra, Indra 2,190 hits located on Google)
Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net, which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it, stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a remarkable sight.
If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but also each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Climbing Jacob's Ladder - The Ladder of Freemasonry

image by "A Son of the Light"
Long before I became a Freemason, I had always been fascinated by the esoteric symbolism of the ladder. In fact one the very first blogs I had ever written was about the imaginary ladder all sentient beings existed on.
Sadly, I erased the blog, so I'll try to give it another shot.
As I said, all of us are living on this imaginary ladder, let us call it an invisible magical ladder. Now just because you cannot see it, don’t think it does not exist, let me help you envision it.
This magical invisible ladder is made out of wood, natural and organic. It reaches high, and I mean really high, so high the builder of this ladder knew that in order to hold all of humanity this ladder would have to be designed with the maximum amount of support. To allow for the growing population, and just in case of stagnation by certain climbers, the creator decided the ladder would be larger at the bottom, and slowly narrow towards the top.
So here, we have this huge ladder, made of invisible wood, large and wide at the bottom, narrow at the top, reaching towards the symbol of the creator, who we will call the G.A.O.T.U. (Remember the symbol, the Sun, hot, radiant, and light.)
The reason the ladder exists, to climb. Where are we going? To merge with the ultimate (or you can call it Nirvana, Christ Consciousness, or whatever unity principle you decide to choose).
So here we have ALL of humanity on this invisible magic ladder, each and every one of us. Yet not all of us are on the same rung. Some have climbed closer to the Sun, while others have chosen to stay put. Some people like to climb, others don’t, and the truly spooky ones are the ones that think they have climbed to the top when they have really only climbed a few rungs. When you encounter these non-climbing individuals, watch out, they will try like Hell to convince you that where they stand is the path.
Sadly very few will ever make it to the top, the ladder assuredly gets narrower and steeper as you climb, there will be less and less helping hands as you climb, due to the fact too many individuals get hung up for various reasons on certain rungs.
Have you ever wondered why people say “I don’t get it.”, its because we are not always on the same rung.
Now let me tell you about something I fear.
Remember, our invisible imaginary ladder is made out of wood, climbing to the radiant heat of the Sun. What would happen if too many individuals are stuck on a certain rung of the ladder, say the ignorance rung? How would the Sun penetrate through the mass of ignorance, without the heat of the Sun the invisible magic ladder would surely rot?

The image on this blog was created by me, agree or disagree it is something to think about!

The following are ladder references from various Masonic sources.

LADDER. A symbol of progressive advancement from a lower to a higher sphere, which is common to Masonry, and too many, if not all, of the ancient Mysteries.

LADDER, BRAHMINICAL. The symbolic ladder used in the Mysteries of Brahma. It had seven steps, symbolic of the seven worlds of the Indian universe.

LADDER, MITHRAITIC. The symbolic ladder used in the Persian Mysteries of Mithras. It had seven steps, symbolic of the seven planets and the seven metals.

LADDER, SCANDINAVIAN. The symbolic ladder used in the Gothic Mysteries. Dr. Oliver refers it to the Yggrasil, or sacred ash tree. But the symbolism is either very abstruse or very doubtful.
LADDER, THEOLOGICAL. The symbolic ladder of the Masonic Mysteries. It refers to the ladder seen by Jacob in his vision, and consists, like all symbolical ladders, of seven rounds, alluding to the four cardinal and the three theological virtues.

In the Persian mysteries of Mithras, there was a ladder of seven rounds, the passage through them being symbolical of the soul's approach to perfection. These rounds were called gates, and, in allusion to them, the candidate was made to pass through seven dark and winding caverns, which process was called the ascent of the ladder of perfection. Each of these caverns was the representative of a world, or state of existence through which the soul was supposed to pass in its progress from the first world to the last, or the world of truth.

Among the Kabbalists. the ladder was represented by the ten Sephiroths, which, commencing from the bottom, were the Kingdom Foundation, Splendor, Firmness, Beauty, Justice, Mercy, Intelligence, Wisdom, and the Crown, by which we arrive at the En Soph, or the Infinite.
From the illustrated manuscripts of St. John Climacus — one of them shows monks climbing the heavenly ladder of virtues and welcomed at the top by Christ or by an angel, while winged demons try to pull them down and make them fall into the jaws of a dragon below, which represents hell.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beauty - The Active Principle - The Active Pillar

“The Masonic Lodge, bounded only by the extreme points of the compass, the highest heavens, and the lowest depth of the central abyss, is metaphorically supported by three great pillars, which are denominated WISDOM, STRENGTH, and BEAUTY: because there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings.” (General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, [1868])

That sounds about right at least that is what we are taught. However, what if wisdom, strength, and beauty had another elusion.
In this blog, I thought it would be fun to look at the pillar of “Beauty”, and maybe shed a different light on one of the three lesser lights.

“Beauty to adorn, all great and important undertakings”

I do not know about you, but the statement above seems a little vague, not all undertakings are beautiful. Why use the word “Beauty”?

For those who know me up close and personal, I bet you sense where I may go here, and you are right. Let us look towards the deeper meaning of “beauty”, and a good place to start is the *Kabbalah. In fact, we are heading smack dab into the center, the center of God’s chest.
If you’re not familiar with the Kabbalah, trust me, if you research carefully you will find many believe Freemasonry and Kabbalah share many common denominators. Check out this small description from The Kabbalah Center website:

Kabbalah is not a philosophy or theosophy. Kabbalah is work to be done. The kabbalists of the past were people of action, not people of theory or philosophy. They were constantly traveling from town to town, giving charity, and assisting people in creating better lives for themselves.
I am sure I’ll be addressing the similarities down the road, but for now, let’s take a look at the word beauty from the perspective of the Kabbalah and see if it could be applied to our understanding of the symbolic pillar of Beauty.
In Freemasonry, Mackey states:
Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty were honored by them as supporting pillars for the perfect accomplishment of the works; and thence they considered them symbolically as essential pillars for the support of the Lodge. Wisdom, which, established on science, gives invention to the artist, and the right arrangement and appropriate disposition of the whole and of all its parts ; Strength, which, proceeding from the harmonious balance of all the forces, promotes the secure erection of the building; and Beauty, which, manifested in God's creation of the world, adorns the work and makes it perfect."

Of the three pillars, wisdom, strength, and beauty, beauty according to the description above
“adorns the work and makes it perfect."

If we use wisdom and strength in our endeavors, the result should be beauty, but I contend “Beauty” is actually an active principle. (As is Wisdom & Strength)If we look at the Kabbalah, the sixth sefirah, Tiferet represents beauty and is associated with the center of God's chest.
Tiferet (tiferet -- which literally means "beauty" or "glory”) is the force that integrates the sefirah of Khesed ("Compassion") and Gevurah ("Overpowering"). These two forces are, respectively, expansive (giving) and restrictive (receiving). Either of them without the other could not manifest the flow of Divine energy; they must be balanced in perfect proportion (by sharing), and this is the role of Tiferet, wherein the conflicting forces are harmonized, and creation flowers forth.
As you can see, Beauty as in the Tiferet is the active principle.

“as harmony is the strength and support of all institutions”

Chesed has an innate "ideology" of goodness (loving-kindness). It wants to give for the sake of giving. It sees in this the ultimate goal, and the more one gives -- regardless who is deserving -- the greater and better things.
Gevurah, on the other hand, sees giving as poisonous (judgment) . Only things earned by equal and fair labor are "good." Thus, it has a powerful ideology of "quid quo pro" and "no free lunches." It sees the ultimate goal of creation as every creature earning its own way.
Tiferet comes along creating a synthesis of both of these approaches. It includes both these approaches because it has a broader goal in mind, and therefore makes use of both. Its goal is "the development of the human being to his greatest potential." (Kabbalah 101 Aish.Com)

I have almost finished reading a real good primer on the Kabbalah, “Nano: Technology of Mind over Matter” by Rav PS. Berg. I recommend it highly!

*Kabbalah — the world’s oldest body of spiritual wisdom — contains the long-hidden keys to the secrets of the universe as well as the keys to the mysteries of the human heart and soul.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Walt & June Cleaver Are Dead

There can be no denying Freemasonry has to change, as does the Republican Party. Before you go off in a tangent thinking I am linking the Freemasons with Republicans, I am making the case they both suffer from “trying to bring back” a bygone time.
For the Republicans, it seeks the days of white picket fenced homes, Ozzie and Harriet, and Walt and June Cleaver.
For the Freemasons, it was a time when the who’s who all joined the fraternity.
Both seemed to have lost sight of what there true intention was.
At its founding, the Republican Party was hardly a conservative party in the typical sense. Abraham Lincoln led a party that smashed the institution of slavery, waged all-out war, suspended and amended parts of the U.S. Constitution, launched a hugely ambitious social program known as Reconstruction, imposed a short-lived progressive income tax, as well as creating a national banking system, a Department of Agriculture, and a system of land-grant colleges. Here is how Lincoln himself, in his Second Message to Congress, characterized his party's governing philosophy: "As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew."Lincoln once described the difference between the Democrats and Republicans of his day as follows: Democrats, he wrote, "hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar; but in cases of conflict, the man before the dollar." Lincoln, of course, was referring to the slavery debate and the claim of Southern Democrats to hold a property right in their slaves.
Is this the Republican Party of today?
That is not to say they have to look back, on the contrary, "As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew."
As for the Freemasons, I ask what our true intent was. Was it all about our numbers?
Was it all about charity and morals?
Do I know the answers, no, but I do know we have to change, or die.
We have become a more diverse society; does your lodge reflect this diversity? By some estimates, when the year 2040 arrives the white population will be a minority in America, shouldn’t Freemasonry also reflect this shift?
These are all questions we need to address, questions very few are willing to confront.
We are Freemasons, builders of a better temple, recently on Masonic Central I heard a speaker discussing Masonry of the past, a time when all the who’s who were masons, a time this gentleman thought we should return. It was his opinion that we needed to throw more black balls. I respect his opinion, but I fear this elitist attitude is dangerous. (By the way, I highly recommend the pod-casts; they are extremely insightful and fun.) We are creating a better temple, not a temple for a select group.
Our original masons were philosophers, theologians, scientists, and thinkers. At the time the world was masculine, women could not break through. Today we have women philosophers, theologians, scientists, and thinkers, why are we excluding a group because they bare children? (Talk about a hotbed issue!) What is it we are so afraid of?

"Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled." -- The Kybalion.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Six Blind Men & Freemasonry

What is Freemasonry” is the question I am often asked by newly made masons, and by others outside the fraternity seeking answers, a question not so easily answered considering most Freemasons actually don’t know.
When I am asked the question I usually tell them the parable of “Six Blind Men and the Elephant”, the elephant represents Freemasonry and the blind men are Masonic brothers. For those that haven’t read the parable:

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village.
One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."
They had no idea what an elephant is.
They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway."
All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no, it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no, it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated.
A wise man was passing by and he saw this.
He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like."
Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like.
The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."
"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

I must admit, I am also one of the six blind men, and my slant on Freemasonry borders on what freemasons would call “fringe masonry”, a label I wear proudly.