In this episode, we discuss the 13th Degree - “Royal Arch of Solomon” as we continue our exploration of "Morals & Dogma: The Annotated Edition". Transcripts, Chapter Markers and Show Notes for all episodes are available from our website - WayOfTheHermit.com.
It is highly recommended that you read the chapter in order to fully follow our discussion. "Morals and Dogma" is available from these sites:
Gene: Hello Dave.
David: Hello Gene. How’s it going with you?
Gene: It is going good.
David: Good. Before we get started, I want to remind our listeners that Show Notes, Chapter Markers and a Transcript of this (and all episodes) are available on our web site - WayOfTheHermit.com. In the previous degree, we became a Master Architect and the successor to Hiram Abiff. In this degree, the Royal Arch of Solomon, a major character is the Biblical Patriarch Enoch. In the myth of this Degree, God communicates with Enoch in a dream. Gene, do you want to tell us about that dream?
Mythological Setting (01:49)
Gene: In Enoch’s dream, God revealed to him his “True Name”. God took him to the top of a mountain and showed him his name. Then he took him down to the depths of the earth, and he was shown a vault of nine arched chambers sunk vertically into the ground. The last vault contained a triangular plate of gold and the name was there as well.
David: So Enoch ascended into the Heavens and descended into the depths of the Earth and the name he saw written throughout Creation was YHVH or in Hebrew letters Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh. That name is also called the Tetragrammaton, which means “Four-Lettered Name of God”. It’s usually translated into English as either Jehovah or Yahweh. So what did Enoch make out of this dream?
Gene: Enoch took this vision as a sign from God and set out on a long journey to find the place to construct this chamber.
David: Enoch knew that the “True Name of God” was being forgotten. He’s also told that the world may be destroyed which is why he’s trying to protect this treasure for future generations.
Gene: Right. He found a place and constructed the vault as he had received it in his vision. In the innermost chamber, he placed an alabaster pedestal and put upon it a cube of agate. Into one side of it was sunk a triangular plate of gold with the name of God. On top of the vaults, he built a modest temple out of unhewn stones. Ages pass and the site of this place was lost to time. Much later, during the construction of Solomon’s Temple, there was a need of an administrative center. The site which was chosen was thought to be an old Pagan temple, but was actually Enoch’s old temple. Solomon charged Adoniram, and two of his assistants, Yehu-Aber and Satolkin. While clearing the site, they found a ring embedded in rock and they pulled on it and a secret passage was revealed. It was a dark vertical passage. They each took a turn, one being lowered by the other two, three vertical chambers each, with Adoniram reaching the final chamber and discovering the treasure left by Enoch. The next day they returned and removed the cube, which they brought immediately to King Solomon, who upon seeing the name of the Deity on the stone, recognized it… as his father David had conferred it to him. He then conveyed to the three, the name of the Ineffable and the title of Masons of the Ninth Royal Arch.
David: Solomon then confers this degree and the next degree of Perfection on the Elus and the other Master Architects. But some of the Masons aren’t very happy about being left out of the treasure… are they?
Gene: Right. There were some among the Master Masons who wanted the same titles and degrees as their fellows. They protested and were told - “Do the work and in due time rewards will follow.”
David: That’s the same story as Three Ruffians tried to get Master Hiram to reveal the “Word of Master Mason”. They were also told to wait until they’ve done the work that qualifies them to receive it. So, what happened next?
Gene: Most were satisfied but twenty or so were not. So they took it upon themselves to storm the vault. While some of them went in, others did not and observed flame and smoke and an explosion coming from the vault.
David: What happened?
Gene: The vault had collapsed.
David: What caused it to collapse?
Gene: In their insolence, they smashed the pillar in search of treasure.
David: Woh. So they smashed the alabaster pedestal that held the cube.
David: They definitely didn’t hold any of that place sacred. Before we move on into the chapter I wanted to mention the article that you sent me that compared some of the symbolism of this degree to the “Map Room” scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
Gene: That was from De Hoyos.
David: Yeah. It was called “The Secrets of Enoch in the Masonic Tradition” and I’ve linked to it in the Show Notes. Are you ready to start into “Morals and Dogma”?
Gene: I think so.
Morals and Dogma (06:08)
David: What’s your first quote?
Gene: “Whether the legend and history of this Degree are historically true, or but an allegory, containing in itself a deeper truth and a profounder meaning, we shall not now debate. If it be but a legendary myth, you must find out for yourself what it means.”
David: You have to find out for yourself because it’s the process of looking that creates the conditions for finding. Pike points out that the so-called “secret name of God” revealed in this Degree appears hundreds of times in the Bible. So how can it be secret if it’s right there?
Gene: Because it is truly ineffable. It is beyond words.
David: Which is the subject of the next section.
The Ineffable Name of God (06:52)
Gene: “The Ineffable Name of God”.
David: We touched on this in the last degree when we were given the name Adonai in Solomon’s Seal, the “Ineffable Name of God” that we’re given in this degree, the Tetragrammaton, was not spoken by Jews reading the Torah.
Gene: It was customary not to pronounce quote-unquote “The Name of God”. They always just substituted Adonai.
David: But the legend is the true pronunciation of that name was forgotten or lost. It is a matter of reverence but also an acknowledgement of not knowing how to say it. The name is ancient Hebrew and it doesn’t specify the vowel placement. So maybe it’s just a matter of trying all the different vowel combinations until one makes the heavens open up?
Gene: Yeah. Is there just a word that you can whisper in someone’s ear and suddenly they’re enlightened? Technically, I would say… no. It doesn’t matter what vowels you cram inbetween it, it’s still ineffable and that is incorrect.
David: Right. Pike points out that this inability to express this core religious concept is a theme in many world religions.
Gene: Yeah, it’s a different expression in different cultures, but it’s the same idea. It is very similar to how the Chinese idea of the Tao is presented. “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao.”
David: And the Hindu Om shares much of the symbolism of the Tetragrammaton, too. Every religion has to somehow address the paradox that underlies existence. We can’t imagine something eternal, something that has no beginning or end, but that seems to be the case with how the universe is, somehow self-existent, self created. De Hoyos has a footnote in this section from an Egyptian text called “How Ra Came into Being” which says - “I am the creator of what hath come into being and I myself came into being under the form of the god Khepera, and I came into being in primeval time… I uttered my own name from my own mouth as a word of power.”
Gene: “I am that I am”.
David: Which was a name that God gave Moses. But all the names of God refer to this mystery. And you find this concept referred to in religions around the world.
Gene: Yeah. The mystery of existence and our place in it that transcends all cultures.
David: And even language itself. So what does it mean to communicate that name (that isn’t really a name) to someone else?
Gene: It’s kind of a nebulous thing because how does one transfer other than like taking someone with their eyes concealed standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and then they open their eyes and they can see it… and it overwhelms them.
David: That’s a good analogy. But what if someone just isn’t ready to receive the teaching.
Gene: You can take the horse to the water, but he has to be thirsty to drink.
David: Thirsty for what?
Gene: The truest sense of sacred because that is what we’ve been building all along is finding something sacred within.
David: Which is what the True Name refers to. But we get sidetracked because it’s so easy to confuse the symbol for the thing it refers to. To quote Confucious - “When a wise man points to the moon the ignorant look at his finger.”
Gene: Right. “So it has always been that allegories, intended as vehicles of truth, to be understood by the sages, have become or bred errors, by being literally accepted.”
David: Exactly. Symbols are our tools for knowing anything, but when you’re talking about a concept as slippery as “God”, which represents something eternal and infinite, symbols are obstacles to our rational mind. Which leads us to the subject of the next section.
Symbolism and the Name of God (10:50)
Gene: “Symbolism and the Name of God”. In this section, something that spoke to me was to lose or to forget the name of God is to lose your sense of the sacred and you lose your way or lose yourself. So, finding the “True Name of God” is finding the true sacred within.
David: And that symbol is personal to you. Here’s a quote that speaks to that - “The ancient symbols and allegories always had more than one interpretation... Thus the pronunciation of the word was a symbol; and that pronunciation and the word itself were lost, when the knowledge of the true nature and attributes of God faded out of the minds of the Jewish people. That is one interpretation--true, but not the inner and profoundest one.” I thought that was an interesting statement. That isn’t the most profound interpretation of that symbolism.
Gene: What did that mean to you?
David: That even if we use the same name, our sense of the sacred isn’t the same, so we aren’t talking about the same thing anyway. I mean, if you and I both use the word God, do you think we’re talking about the same thing?
Gene: Theoretically yes, but in the actual, no. Even if we use the same language, even then it's open to interpretation. What I’ve learned in my language might not be what you’ve learned for your language… but in our heads, everything is different from everybody else’s head.
David: What about the opposite stance, could two different words actually represent the same thing, for example God and Allah?
Gene: No, not in my mind.
David: Why not?
Gene: What is your definition of what something is? Your “is”, is always going to be different from my “is”.
David: OK hold it right Bill Clinton. What do you mean by that?
Gene: What I’m saying is that even if we think we’re on the same parameters, it’s always going to be flavored by what’s in my head and what’s in yours.
David: So, you’re just saying that those terms could never mean the same thing to you, not that they might not ultimately refer to the same thing.
Gene: Right. It doesn’t matter what the symbol for that thing is.
David: It’s always just a symbol.
Gene: And that’s all we have.
David: So how many symbols for or names of God are there?
Gene: How many do you need?
David: Well, if God is the underlying unity, then in a sense every name is an aspect of God. Always, limited unlike what it refers to. I mean, isn’t Gene really a name of God.
Gene: In certain circles, yes.
Hebrew Monotheism (13:25)
David: Oh, is that right? Well, let’s cut right to the heart of that idea then. The next section is about idolatry.
David: It’s called “Hebrew Monotheism”. What did you get from this section?
Gene: It’s saying that the mass of Hebrews did not believe in the existence of only one God until a late period in their history.
David: Do you think he’s talking about the seemingly tribal nature of God as described in the Torah?
Gene: Tribal yeah.
David: I don’t know if that’s really true, because again, we’re talking about allegories and symbols, but the idea behind his criticism is the question of how big you see God as. Just big enough to look out for your specific group or one that runs everything.
Gene: The thing that condensed down for me was the statement of “Small minds have small gods.” That’s one of those… I don't know where it leaves me, it’s like - “I’m smarter! I have a better concept of God than you!” That seems very arrogant and very misplaced.
David: I know what you mean by arrogant because I think intellect can be as much of a hindrance as a help, especially when you’re dealing with things that aren’t purely rational. What do you mean by misplaced?
Gene: Well, I think he’s trying to point out that God is not out there somewhere, God is within each and every one of us.
David: Some people might hear that as you saying, not joking this time, that you are God. How would you respond to that?
Gene: That’s idolatry.
David: How so?
Gene: It’s confusing the symbol with what the symbol points to. Apparently it’s a very human thing to do.
David: It is and it goes back to a previous discussion about the greeting “Namaste” meaning “I bow to you” with the implied reference to seeing God in you or through you. That expression isn’t saying that that person is God, but that you see them as a living symbol of the transcendent.
Masonry Includes the Communication of Esoteric Knowledge (15:26)
David: That esoteric knowledge is part of the “Greater Mysteries” that Pike says Zoroaster, Mani, Confucius, Socrates, Plato and Masonry communicate to their respective initiates which is the subject of the next section - “Masonry Includes the Communication of Esoteric Knowledge”. So first, what is esoteric knowledge?
Gene: A secret that only you know. Knowledge of the heart.
David: That’s good. It’s a secret because it’s personal to you and also ineffable so it can’t be communicated… except indirectly. Pike implies that this mode of transmission goes back to antiquity.
Gene: Pike does this wonderful little dance of “Masonry is from the depths of time”. But the actual history that we can look at is like, you know, from 1700 on.
David: Do you have a quote from here?
Gene: Yeah. “By whatever name it was known in this or the other country, Masonry existed as it now exists, the same in spirit and at heart, not only when Solomon built the temple, but centuries before - before even the first colonies emigrated into Southern India, Persia, and Egypt, from the cradle of the human race.”
David: So, since there’s not much historical support for that statement, what do you think he’s saying?
Gene: I think it’s pointing out the true essence of Masonry and how it relates to ancient rites is the basics - who we are and why we’re here and how to live.
David: We touched on that common core of religions as being the unnamable unity which this section describes as “The Supreme, Self-existent… Creator and Preserver of the Universe (that) was the same, by whatever name he was called, to the intellectual and enlightened people of all nations.”
Gene: That quote continues with - “The name was nothing, if not a symbol and representative hieroglyph of his nature and attributes.”
David: Again, that defines idolatry. It’s not the symbol, it’s what it points to… what it means. Do you have anything else from this section?
Gene: There’s another quote there - “To communicate the true and correct ideas in respect of the Deity was one chief objects of the mysteries.”
David: How does Masonry communicate these esoteric ideas about the Deity?
Solomon’s Temple Represented the Universe (17:50)
Gene: The next section deals with that, “Solomon’s Temple Represented the Universe”. Solomon’s Temple is a teaching tool about God and the nature of the Universe.
David: So how does this section say it teaches those lessons?
Gene: Through the symbolic use of numbers.
David: Do you have a quote about some of the number symbolism of Solomon’s Temple?
Gene: Just a huge one in the middle about the Holy of Holies.
David: Go for it.
Gene: “The Holy of Holies of the Temple formed a cube; in which, drawn on a plane surface, there are…. 9 lines visible, and three sides or faces. It corresponded with the number four, by which the ancients presented Nature, it being the number of substances or corporeal forms, and of the elements, and the cardinal points and seasons, and the secondary Colors.”
David: The Holy of Holies is a cube as is the “New Jerusalem” in Revelation and in this degree the cube of agate that has the “True Name of the Deity” written on it. As that quote made clear, the cube incorporates the numbers 9, 4 and 3. Four is the number of Earth and Nature and Three is associated with Heaven and Deity. Here’s a quote - “The number three everywhere represented the Supreme Being. Hence the name of the Deity, engraven upon the triangular plate, and that sunken into the cube of agate, taught the ancient Mason, and teaches us, the true knowledge of God, of His nature and His attribute(s).”
Gene: That quote continues with “This knowledge of God, so written there, and of which Masonry has in all ages been the interpreter, is the Master Mason's Word.”
David: That says straight out that the “True Name of the Deity” is the “Master Masons Word”.
Gene: So this would be a good time to throw in what the meaning of “Enoch” was.
David: Enoch lived 365 years which associates him with the Sun. His dream symbolically shows the ascent of the Sun into the Heavens and its apparent descent underneath the Earth during the night.
Gene: The “Path of Ra”.
David: Right. His name is also significant. In Hebrew “Enoch” means “teaching” or “initiation”. We’re being told that Enoch, as a representative of the Sun, is the “Initiator of Masonry” and that the cube of agate contains the cornerstone of its philosophy. How would you interpret his dream in that light?
Gene: To reach ineffable you must reach for the stars and deep within yourself.
David: Yes. The vault built by Enoch represents a place inside yourself. Here’s a quote - “By the subterranean vaults you may understand the places of initiation, which in the ancient ceremonies were generally underground.”
Gene: And where do all initiations truly take place? They take place within you.
David: Very true. Real Initiations are esoteric events which are mirrored by the symbols of Masonic Lodge, which is the subject of the next section.
The Lodge Represents the Universe (20:53)
Gene: “The Lodge Represents the Universe”.
David: You described Solomon’s Temple as a teaching tool. How does the Lodge fit into that scheme?
Gene: It’s like a workroom for working out spiritual problems. The basic symbols are all right there in front of you to contemplate and to use for answers.
David: Our minds need symbols to manipulate to work out some types of problems. We’ve covered the symbols of the Lodge in previous episodes, so we won’t repeat all of that, but just for an example here… Gene, what do the Officers of the Lodge represent?
Gene: All of the Officers represent different aspects of yourself.
David: And as we’ve said, the Officers represent aspects of the Sun, too. Or you might even say, aspects of Enoch.
David: What else did you have from this section?
Gene: I’m just going to read the quote, “The Lion that guarded the Ark held in his mouth the key wherewith to open it, figuratively represents Solomon, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who preserved and communicated the key of true knowledge of God.” What have you got on the lion with a key in its mouth besides that?
David: I think the lion is Isaac Luria and the key is the Kabbalah. He was called “The Ari” which in Hebrew means “The Lion” and his middle name, Ben Solomon means “Son of Solomon”.
Gene: He’s considered the “Father of Modern Kabbalah and the subject of at least one Madonna song, “Isaac”.
David: That’s right. And Madonna was married to Guy Ritchie who we’ve talked about in a previous episode. Anyway, I’ve linked to information about him and his writings in the Show Notes. One other interesting note here is that “Enoch” means “to teach” and “Kabbalah” means “to receive”. So, the lion with a key in its mouth is the Kabbalah as the key to opening the Ark and the key is found in the mouth, or in the words of “The Ari”, Isaac Luria. OK. Let’s move on to the next section.
Preserving Liberty (23:02)
Gene: “Preserving Liberty.”
David: What do you have from this section?
Gene: It’s very short but it’s pretty blunt. You can’t just have liberty, it’s an ongoing trust. The first statement - “It is not enough for a people to gain its liberty, it must secure it. It must not entrust the keeping, or hold it at the pleasure of any one man.”
David: Outwardly this section is about the Constitution, written laws and orders of succession. Here’s a quote - “The keystone of the Royal Arch of the great Temple of Liberty is a fundamental law, charter, or constitution; the expression of the fixed habits of thought of the people, embodied in a written instrument, … the same in war as in peace; that cannot be hastily changed, nor be violated with impunity, but is sacred, like the Ark of the Covenant of God, which none could touch and live.” The point here is that just like you should personally rely on principles and not just sentiment to guide your actions, societies need to write down laws and then abide by them to preserve liberty. In particular, Pike points out how dangerous it is to violate or compromise the Constitution for any reason whatsoever. Which should serve as a warning to our Age that seems perfectly willing to do that for short-term safety and personal security.
Gene: It’s truly the “Age of the Crowned and Conquering Child.”
David: It is. One more thing from this section, we’re told that Hiram symbolizes human liberty. So the esoteric reading of this section is that we’re actively participating in the preservation of liberty by passing through the Degrees which were written down in order for there to be a smooth succession to replace Hiram. Liberty shouldn’t die with Hiram and it shouldn’t be confined to the Lodge as we discuss in the next section.
The Religion of Toil, Life and Society (25:00)
Gene: “The Religion of Toil, Life and Society.”
David: Do you have a quote from this section?
Gene: Yeah. “(Referring to Masonry) It teaches that everything is beautiful in its time, in its place, in its appointed office; that everything which man is put to do, if rightly and faithfully done, naturally helps to work out his salvation.”
David: That is the theme of this section. Everything in life can teach us if we let it. Here’s a quote - “The appointed action of life is the great training of Providence; and if man yields himself to it, he will need neither churches nor ordinances, except for the expression of his religious homage and gratitude.”
Gene: Yeah. I thought one was profound. “The oracles of God do not speak from the pulpit alone.” You don’t do spiritual time as a down payment and then go on with the rest of your life. It is something that exists in your life at every moment.
David: Right. I think that artificial separation is sometimes a block for people. You know, you do your time at Church or wherever your spiritual happy place is and then go back to quote-unquote “real life”.
Gene: So, what do you think the phrase, “I’m a spiritual person, but I’m just not that religious.” What do you think that means?
David: I think that phrase is often said as a response to a sense of being manipulated or controlled by organized religion, but on a deeper level I think it often means that a person thinks and talks about spirituality but actually has no real religious beliefs or practices. So, in effect, it’s something people say to soothe their conscience.. I think. I’ve probably said that in the past, too. Masonry does push you though to put those principles into practice… which is the subject of the next section.
On the Religious Nature of Masonry (26:51)
Gene: “On the Religious Nature of Masonry.”
David: I thought Masonry was not a religion.
Gene: Well, what he tries to convey in this, I think, is that the heart of Masonry is the core of religion. Both rely on the core nature of the sacred. “This is the true religion revealed to the ancient patriarchs; which Masonry has taught for many centuries, and which it will continue to teach as long as time endures… A Mason's great business with life is to read the book of its teaching; to find that life is not the doing or the drudgeries, but the hearing of oracles.”
David: That’s a great quote. I only have one from this section - “Ever the soul reaches outward, and asks for freedom. It looks forth from the narrow and grated windows of sense, upon the wide immeasurable creation; it knows that around it and beyond it lie outstretched the infinite and everlasting paths.” That quote made me think of Blake and Huxley and the “Doors of Perception”.
Gene: Break on through to the other side.
David: Yeah. Or in this case, to the last section.
On the Law of Retribution (28:03)
Gene: “On the Law of Retribution.”
David: What do you have from this section?
Gene: Oh man… the quote - “The law of retribution presses upon every man, whether he thinks of it or not. It pursues him through all the courses of his life, with a step that never falters nor tires, and with an eye that never sleeps. If it were not so, God's government would not be impartial; there would be no discrimination; no moral dominion; no light shed upon the mysteries of Providence.”
David: What does that say to you?
Gene: You can’t cheat Divine Providence. It is the All-Seeing Eye that follows you always. It’s again, “Natural Law” - for everything you do, there’s a cost. I mean, it’s straight and to the point - “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap.”
David: That “Law of Retribution” is at work within us, too, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to trust our Conscience as a basis for Judgment. Here’s my last quote - “Our moral, like our mental character, is not formed in a moment; it is the habit of our minds; the result of many thoughts and feelings and efforts, bound together by many natural and strong ties… each thought, each feeling, each action, each event; every passing hour, every breathing moment; all are contributing to form the character, according to which we are to be judged.”
Gene: “Every breath you take. Every move you make.”
David: That what you are doing at every moment contributes to what you will be is uncomfortable to think about, but as a Master Architect, you’re supposed to take responsibility for all of your actions. The truth is that your actually sacrificing your time on the altar of the thing you think, talk and do the most and you will receive the fruits of that labor.
Gene: “Bow down before the one you serve. You’re going to get what you deserve.” Trent Reznor.
David: We’ll let that quote serve as a summary of “The Law of Retribution”. That’s all for the Chapter in “Morals and Dogma”. Let’s end with a discussion of the Symbols of the Degree.
Symbols of the Degree (30:07)
David: I’ll start off here with a quote - “In this Degree you will witness a symbolic descent into the earth, where the remains of a temple are discovered… it may represent the self-exploration each of us must make in our quest for Truth. Self-discovery was the purpose of all true ancient initiations; hence the Greeks adorned their temples with the words “Know Thyself”.” So, the dream of Enoch is an allegory of self-discovery. Let’s go through its symbolism in detail. Gene, would you start us off?
Gene: Enoch went to the top of the mountain and to the depths of the Earth and he saw the same name written across all of it.
David: Enoch engraved that word on a triangular plate, embedded it in a cube of agate, and hid it deep within the Earth because he knew the name of God was going to be lost and wanted to preserve it.
David: We’ve explained how the word inscribed on that cube is the “name that isn’t a name” that symbolizes the unnamable unity at the core of all religions. In this Degree, we’ve called that word the “True Name of God” and “The Master Mason’s Word”. Do you remember waiting to be initiated into the Scottish Rite? There was something written on the wall there. Do you remember?
The Philosopher's Stone (31:24)
Gene: Are you talking about V.I.T.R.I.O.L? On the wall in the Chamber of Reflection.
David: Yes. That’s an acronym for the Latin phrase.
Gene: It translates out into “Visit the interior of the earth and by rectifying what you find there, you will find the hidden stone.”
David: And that “hidden stone” is the cube of agate.
Gene: That’s the Philosopher’s Stone or the Ashlar?
David: It’s both. Listen to these lines from “The Emerald Tablet of Hermes” that describes the Philosopher’s Stone, “That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of the one thing.” That’s the unnamable unity.
David: “It ascends from the earth to the heaven and again it descends to the earth.” There’s Enoch’s dream. He saw the name written in the Heavens and he saw it written in the depths of the Earth.
David: And “The Emerald Tablet” ends with “That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.” Enoch is associated with the Sun and its movements.
Gene: That’s good.
David: So the cube of agate is the “Philosopher’s Stone” of alchemy and as the “Master Mason’s Word”, it’s the foundation of Masonic Philosophy.
Gene: The cornerstone.
Finding the Stone (32:36)
David: Yes. So, what do we need to do to find this “Hidden Stone”?
Gene: You start digging. Well… they didn’t dig, they found the secret entrance.
David: That’s right. They knew where to start looking and we do, too. You don’t need to go to “Oak Island”... it’s inside ourselves. But to find it, they did have to clear a path.
Gene: They had to move the debris to find the hidden way.
David: For this analogy, let’s say the debris represents the accumulations of all the things that have happened to you during your life that have hidden the sacred from you. It’s things about yourself, some that you’ve hidden from yourself. Some that you really, really may not want to know. Have you ever heard that old saying that “God will never give you more than you can handle?”
David: My friend Ed Francisco used to say that the graveyards, prisons and insane asylums tell a different story.
Gene: That’s very Irish.
David: Yeah. The point there is that people can become overwhelmed and lose their way, their minds and even their lives. It relates to this discussion because if you’re seriously trying to know yourself and what reality is, you can end up in some dark places if you don’t have a good foundation to start with. Which is the allegory of the Masons who stormed the vault and were killed when it collapsed.
Gene: A cautionary tale of ignorance. Something that you find that your mind cannot handle. Literally a mental breakdown.
David: Seeing something about yourself or others that’s difficult to integrate is one cause of calamity. The one described in the story though sounds more like they were trying to skip past the work they needed to do to authorize them to the esoteric knowledge… and part of that work was to understand what sacred means. Their own actions showed they weren’t qualified. They smashed the alabaster pedestal looking for material treasure. So what were they lacking?
Gene: That sense of awe. That sense that everything is sacred.
David: Do you ever have those kind of feelings?
Gene: Brief moments.
Childhood & The Flood (34:44)
David: I think there was a time when we all felt like that, but we just don’t remember it. It was before we became who we are now. We were innocent and open to experience. Everything was mythic, which was both good and bad… but anyway something happened that washed that innocent world away.
Gene: You’re talking about puberty.
David: I am. Because our entire focus changes. You might say you get kicked out of Eden.
Gene: Yeah. Suddenly they “realized they were naked”.
David: Exactly. And that longing paired with shame and all the things that happen as a result are the debris that keep us from finding that light. It’s in there. It’s just clouded by our years of association with the world.
Gene: It’s literally your soul before the world.
David: It is. You’re trying to recover a connection to the untainted, innocent part of you that doesn’t feel unworthy, is still capable of feeling awe and has an instinctive connection to life.
Gene: Trying to find our way back home. “You must become like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The Perfect Ashlar (35:48)
David: Amen Brother. I have just one more thing… the cube of agate, which we’re saying now is the “Philosopher’s Stone”. It’s a perfect 10-inch cube. What does 10 represent?
Gene: 10 fingers. 10 toes. Completion.
David: So it’s the completed and Perfect Ashlar. Do you remember the De Hoyos footnote that confounded us earlier… about the Perfect Ashlar?
Gene: It was found not made.
David: And here in this Degree, we’ve found it. And because it’s the Perfect Ashlar, it’s the standard to compare yourself against. It’s the pure you, not corrupted by the world. The triangular pedestal that the stone sits on is white.
David: Right. But the cube is of agate, so even if it was white, it isn’t purely white.
Gene: So you’re saying that the agate is a mixture of stones?
David: It’s a mixture of colors. It has striations, so even if it is white, it’s not pure white. That seems significant to me and ties back to the idea that it needs to be rectified. So maybe the concepts we have here need to be purified before it becomes the white stone. Anyway, Gene, will you close us out here with a passage by one of the Patron Saints of Masonry, Saint John of Patmos?
Gene: Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
David: That’s it. What are we doing next time?
Gene: In our next episode, we discuss the 14th Degree - Perfect Elu.
David: So, I’m David.
Gene: And I’m Gene.
David: Join us next time as we continue our exploration of “Morals and Dogma: The Annotated Edition”.
Gene: As we walk the Way of the Hermit.