You can read the ritual – but, as a candidate, you experience the degrees. And that is Hiram's key. The secrets are learned through a process of experiencing understanding. You have to seek within yourself for a path to enlightenment and to seek the understanding of Deity. That is the great object of Masonic study. And, if you attain it, no description can be adequately placed in words – because is experiential only. It is a process of becoming through a spiritual journey on your own path – not that of
another. You have to search within yourself to find the understanding of your relationship to God and Man. In the words of the ancient mystery schools, "Know Thyself, and Thou Shall Know the Universe and God."
So what are the "secrets" that we cannot tell our spouses, children and friends and acquaintances? It can't be the degree work or words of the
ritual, because you can find those in any good public library, and now on the internet. Get a copy of Duncan's Monitor – everything is in plain
English, and it shows the grips and signs, as well as the words given in full. It can't be the history or philosophy of Masonry, as those are the subject of many, many books available to the general public. Much has been the subject of PBS programs for the viewing public.
So what is left to be a "secret"? The secrets that you cannot communicate are those which are beyond speech. We can only allude to them and attempt to illustrate them by use of symbols – such as the implements of architecture, most expressive, or sacred geometry. For the real secrets are secrets of the heart and spirit that only take place when you begin to follow and understand the spiritual path that Masonry attempts to point to through our ritual and mythology, and emphasized by the way in which we confer the degrees. The underlying teachings of the degrees are a spiritual path – first, by discipline of the material aspect of your nature, secondly by the discipline of the psyche through aspiration to knowledge and virtue, and lastly by participation in the ritual of the Hiramic myth...that symbolic death to your material aspect and rebirth as a spiritual being. We learn that time is encompassed by the eternal. As recorded in the Gospel of Thomas – Jesus said heaven all around us, we just cannot see it. We have to learn to step to one side and find it.
I urge you to study, to question, to learn and to teach. We are brothers of the light – the light of understanding, tolerance and compassion. We are the seekers on the journey toward light, and seek knowledge in order to better understand the meaning of the oldest known prayer for initiation – which appears above the door of our preparation room and is first viewed by the candidate when he is being prepared to knock at the West Gate:
Lead me from the unreal to the real.
Lead me from darkness to light,
Lead me from death to immortality.
---- From the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, circa 800 B.C.
As recently stated by Bro. Greg Sudmeier in his recent talk on sacred geometry, we are spiritual beings on a human journey of discovery, rather than human beings on a spiritual journey. We are seeking to discover that spark of deity within each of us which is a microcosmic reflection of that Great Creator which spoke us into being. That spark which is the point within the circle – the deathless, immortal part within us, which only may be discovered by a transcendent understanding for which there are no words – only glimpses of the divine through the dark glass of our material senses – those are the secrets which we cannot express, but which are the goal of every Mason, and our passport to travel in the foreign countries of the GAOTU.
So to those who have an ear, let them hear -- anything that you can tell them about Masonry – educate yourself in order that you can be an ambassador for the Craft and disseminate information, especially true Masonic light – so that when a good man whose questions you have tried to answer knocks on the door of Freemasonry, it will be because he has conceived a favorable opinion of our venerable Institution, has a desire for knowledge, and has a sincere wish to be serviceable to their fellow
creatures. Be both a student and a teacher of the Craft. Remember:
Teachers Open the Door. You Enter By Yourself.
John D. Nelson, PM