“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”

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.

4 comments:

Masonic Traveler said...

"...This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven"

GREAT PIECE, I have to admit the ladder has always been a tremendous influence on me as it has forever had a flavor of the mystical. It is, to me the literal envisioning of the path to the divine, and your analogy of our place on it, the rungs, the climbing (the descending) make it succinct.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

It is a symbols for those seeking progress.

it is not for the complacent.

seek well brother

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Humans are unique organisms in their use of symbols to convey meaning to one another. Since the development
of language, we have used symbols to manipulate and deceive one another in order to gain power and influence.
Symbol manipulation can therefore be seen as an evolutionary trait that confers an advantage to those who use
them effectively to control groups of others to serve the manipulators’ aims. However, this control is rarely
absolute. Some members of the group may secretly rebel, sometimes even at great personal risk, against the
consensus reality defined by those who control the symbols conveyed to the group at large.
Individuals are quite susceptible to adopting the identity of the groups to which they belong. These groups
sometimes clash violently over strategic resources or ideology. In these battles, individuals often pay the ultimate
price for the good of the group. Evolutionary theorists have studied the conditions under which such altruistic
behavior might emerge. Detailed analyses of this behavior reveal that it is complex and sometimes paradoxical.
Altruistic behavior might be legally sanctioned for some groups, or it might be left for individuals to decide the
extent to which they will sacrifice their own goals and well being for that of the groups to which they belong. It
has been suggested that the puzzle of altruism in humans may be explained, in part, by our learning ability and
the docility and openness to teaching that is required for members of species that are characterized by a relatively
extended period of parental care.
We are also unique among animals in that some of those among us occasionally achieve a perceptual unity with
the cosmos. Mystics that achieve this state find the experience difficult if not impossible to convey to others.
Therefore, these de facto secret or hidden experiences are often conveyed via symbolic analogy or mythology.
Mysticism as a way of knowing the gods can have an antagonistic relationship with state sanctioned, collectively
accepted religions through which people, in part, identify themselves.
A Gnostic movement, centered on the quest for individualized unity with the cosmos as a way of understanding
its design and fate, emerged around the time that Christianity took root in the Middle East and Southern
Europe. This movement distinguished itself in its acknowledgement of the feminine aspects of the human
experience and in its belief that the world around us was created not by a benevolent deity, but by a blind,
arrogant and self-centered deity. This belief, among others involving sexuality, and a heroic role for the serpent
that tempted Adam and Eve with Knowledge of Good and Evil, set the Gnostics at odds with the emerging
Christian Church. Considered heretical by the early Christian hierarchy, Gnosticism was ultimately forced
underground in order to survive.
However, it appears that this belief system did indeed survive to affect other mystical movements including those
within Judaism. The most famous of the Jewish mystical systems is called Kabbalah. It became a widely spread
and influential system, exerting its influence into the present day. This influence is seen in the rise of the
Theosophical movement in the late 19th century. The Theosophical belief system mutated as it spread across
space and time, giving rise to some anti-Christian (and in some cases, anti-Semitic) sects as well as the New Age
movement. The Gnostic current may also have influenced the founding members of the enigmatic Skull and
Bones fraternity at Yale University; an organization through which many of most influential governmental and
foreign policy opinion leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries have passed.
The reemergence of Gnosticism was enabled by the rebellion of Luther against the Church. His actions,
combined with the invention of the printing press, allowed alternative belief systems to spread throughout
Europe. Following the erosion of the Church’s authority, science, as a way of understanding the workings of the
world around us, achieved a certain dominance due to the practical benefits it concurred. At about the same
time, America emerged as an independent nation. Its founders created one of the most influential systems of
government observed to date, within which religious freedom was explicitly guaranteed in order to minimize the
influence of any one specific religious doctrine.
As science has progressed much has been discovered about the nature of the cosmos and human nature. Many of
these discoveries are disconcerting and in direct contradiction to the doctrines of some of the larger monotheistic
religions. Although scientific advances have been impressive in some areas, the underlying physical basis of the
mystical states sought by the Gnostics remains almost a complete mystery. Alternatively, for some areas of
scientific inquiry, such as population ecology and climatology, the lack of knowledge is not as important as the
lack of application of the knowledge that has been obtained. This trend of willful ignorance and complacency
may ultimately have disastrous consequences for the human family and may have at its root our evolutionarily
derived propensity for the supremacy of self-interest over altruistic tendencies. This trend may be universally
ubiquitous. If so, it would explain the lack of evidence of intelligent life in the cosmos. In light of this
pessimistic assessment, sympathy for the Gnostic belief in an uncaring, imperfect and perhaps even evil creator
deity is perhaps understandable.
The strategy of secrecy that the Gnostics adopted in order to survive has been used strategically in times of
warfare and rebellion and remains pervasive today. Whether this is desirable is unclear. Recent secret conspiracies
at major corporations have left thousands of investors significantly poorer than they would have otherwise
expected to be at this time. Just as some level of governmental and corporate secrecy is legally sanctioned, the
individual right to privacy and secrecy is slowly being eroded by homeland security and marketing initiatives. In
light of this trend, taking place as it is, within a context of cultural orientation toward increasing self-interest,
perhaps our best strategy, as relatively powerless individuals, is to view the symbols and language of those in
control of our collective identity with a skeptical eye and instead carefully evaluate the implications of their
actions.
Self-sacrifice for a noble cause and group remains an admirable trait that we should continue to celebrate: it too,
is a uniquely human attribute. Self-sacrifice and the sacrifice of yet unborn generations in order for a few to
realize an ephemeral short-term benefit is, perhaps, the greatest of all possible human folly.

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