W.B. Jon Patrick Sage
In these dark and dreary days (and nights), of winter; we understand the value and importance of physical light and warmth. However, at times such as these, I also wonder if my “inner Light” is visible to others? Am I perceived as cold and uncaring, or warm and accommodating?
The answer, or rather– the explanation for the answer, is found in the 1st degree of Masonry, as the Candidate is brought from darkness to light, and with it, a never ending quest for self-improvement, and love of mankind. I believe that the correct “Masonic” answer must be that YES, we are Illuminating Light, even when we feel that we are not. However, when considering the definition of Masonic light, and “what does it mean”, let us refer to an article by W. Bro. Julian Rees.
“Consider for a moment the course of the Aspirant’s progress so far…
Now he has been instructed how to approach the East, by the three level steps. He has already been told, in the prayer, that he may ‘unfold the beauties of true godliness,’ and may have begun to perceive that as an increase of light, or enlightenment. He has already been told by the Master that Freemasonry possesses ‘great and invaluable privileges,’ and he may have a sense already that those privileges may encompass such enlightenment. He has made his vow. In it, he binds himself not to do anything whereby the secrets may become known to others by revealing them to the light, whereby they may be seen by others; since their true value may lie in being able to see them with the heart, rather than with the eyes.”1
The point of W. Bro. Rees entire article, as I understand it, has to do with this particular time in that the Candidate’s entire life- up until now, until his Initiation into Freemasonry. He is now kneeling west of the Altar, after having been continually in darkness (physically throughout our Ritual, and spiritually throughout Life). Yet, he has always knowingly or unwittingly, been in longing for, and moving towards light. In effect, the light refers specifically to the enlightenment and self-improvement, which Masonic allegory teaches and points towards. And so, the “light” to which the Master refers has very little to do with the physical blindness, caused by the blindfold, but rather to the Candidates entire life up to that point. After which, and if he studies and applies Masonic attributes to his daily life, others– even non-Masons, will in time determine that there has been some change in that man’s life. Indeed, if he has truly received Masonic light, he will nearly always strive for more and even more improvement and character building.
This– the enlightenment to the true nature of one’s purpose in life and enlightenment of the immortal nature of one’s soul, is the “Light” which I speak of. It is simply a metaphor, as Julian used it, to describe a higher and better understanding of a pure heart.
This concept of light is universal in the Masonic world, though it is interpreted differently, and certainly explained differently in different Jurisdictions. However, I do believe that, at the heart of the matter, the basic tenets and ideals are the same. In our country, many of these “finer points” are glossed over and replaced purely by the fellowship of the Masonic Lodge. A great many Masons ignore or are never made fully aware by their mentors of what I term “religious Masonry” (small “r”), in which one looks inward rather than outward for guidance through life.
Surely, a Mason’s “Light” is within, contained in the soul, the “Light” is essentially the conscience of man. It is always present, though not always acknowledged and/or adhered to. Masonic teachings help us to acknowledge, find, and build upon this already present directing force, reinforcing it with the Masonic allegory and pathway towards “Further Light”. This has much to do with my other favorite saying as “God within Man”. But, that’s another story… Until then Brethren, make sure your “Light” is visible to those who would see it. Through this, we will demonstrate the beautiful ideals of Masonry, and prove its good effects to the rest of the World.
- Julian Rees, “Light and Lights,” Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry, accessed February 15, 2015, http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/freemasons_light.html