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THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY
or The Secret of Hiram Abiff
THE ENTERED APPRENTICE
MANLY P. HALL
There are three grand steps in the unfoldment of the human soul before it completes the dwelling place of the spirit. These have been caged respectively youth, manhood, and old age; or, as the Mason would say, the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Builder. All life passes through these three grand stages of human consciousness. They can be listed as the man on the outside looking in, the man going in, and the man inside. The path of human life is governed as all things are by the laws of analogy, and as at birth we start our pilgrimmage through youth, manhood, and old age, so the spiritual consciousness of man in his cosmic path of unfoldment passes from unconsciousness to perfect consciousness in the Grand Lodge of the universe. Before the initiation of the Entered Apprentice degree can be properly understood and appreciated, certain requirements must be considered, not merely those of the physical world but also those of the spiritual world.
The Mason must realize that his true initiation is a spiritual and not a physical ritual, and that his initiation into the living temple of the spiritual hierarchy regulating Freemasonry may not occur until years after he has taken the physical degree, or spiritually he may be a Grand Master before he comes into the world. There are probably few instances in the history of Freemasonry where the spiritual ordination of the aspiring seeker took place at the same time as the physical initiation, because the t rue initiation depends upon the cultivation of certain soul qualities - an individual and personal matter which is left entirely to the volition of the mystic Mason and which he must carry out in silence and alone.
The court of the tabernacle of the ancient Jews was divided into three parts: the outer court, the holy place, and the most Holy of Holies. These three divisions represent the three grand divisions of human consciousness. The degree of Entered Apprentice is acquired when the student signifies his intention to take the rough ashlar which he cuts from the quarry and prepares for the truing of the Fellow Craft.
In other words, the first degree is really one of preparation; it is a material step dealing with material things, for all spiritual life must be raised upon a material foundation.
Seven is the number of the Entered Apprentice as it relates to the seven liberal arts and sciences, and these are the powers with which the Entered Apprentice must labor before he is worthy to go onward into the more elevated and advanced degrees. They are much mistaken who believe that they can reach the spiritual planes of Nature without first passing through and molding matter into the expression of spiritual power; for the first stage in the growth of a Master Mason is mastery of the concrete condition s of life and the developments of sense centers which will later become channels for the expression of spiritual truths.
All growth is a gradual procedure carried on in an orderly, masterly way, as exemplified by the opening and closing of a lodge. The universe is divided into planes and these planes are divided from each other by the rates of vibration which pass through them. As the spiritual consciousness progresses through the chain, the lower lose connection with it when it has raised itself above their level, until finally only the Grand Masters are capable of remaining in session, and unknown even to the Master Mason it finally passes back again to the spiritual hierarchy from which it came.
Action is the keynote of the Entered Apprentice lodge. All growth is the result of exercise and the intensifying of vibratory rates. It is through exercise that the muscles of the human body are strengthened; it is through the seven liberal arts and sciences that the human mind receives certain impulses which, in turn, stimulate internal centers of consciousness. These centers of consciousness, through still greater development, will later give fuller expression to these inner powers; but the Entered Appr entice has for his first duty the awakening of these powers, and, like the youth of whom he is a symbol, his ideals and labors must be tied closely to concrete things. For him both points of the compasses are under the square; for him the reasons which manifest through the heart and mind - the two polarities of expression are darkened and concealed beneath the square which measures the block of bodies. He knows not the reason why; his work is t o follow the directions of those whose knowledge is greater th an his own; but as the result of the application of energies, through action and reaction he slowly builds and evolves the powers of discrimination and the strength of character which mark the Fellow Craft degree.
It is obvious that the rough ashlar symbolizes the body. It also represents cosmic root substance which is taken out of the quarry of the universe by the first expressions of intelligence and molded by them into ever finer and more perfect lines until finally it becomes the perfect stone for the Builder's temple.
How can emotion manifest save through form? How can mind manifest until the intricately evolved brain cells of matter have raised their organic quality to form the ground-work upon which other things may be based? All students of human mature realize that every expression of man depends upon organic quality; that in every living thing this differs; and that the fineness of this matter is the certain indication of growth - mental, physical or spiritual.
True to the doctrines of his Craft, the Entered Apprentice must beautify his temple. He must build within himself by his actions, by the power of his hand and the tools of his Craft, certain qualities which make possible his initiation into the higher degrees of the spiritual lodge.
We know that the cube block is symbolic of the tomb. It is also well known that the Entered Apprentice is incapable of rolling away the stone or of transmuting it into a greater or higher thing; but it is his privilege to purify and glorify that stone and begin the great work of preparing it for the temple of his King.
Few realize that since the universe is made up of individuals in various stages of development, responsibility is consequently individual, and everything which man wishes to gain he must himself build and maintain. If he is to use his finer bodies for the purpose for which they were intended, he must treat them well, that they may be good and faithful servants in the great work he is preparing for.
The quarries represent the limitless powers of natural resources. They are symbolic of the practically endless field of human opportunity; they symbolize the cosmic substances from which man must gather the stones for his temple. At this stage in his growth, the Entered Apprentice is privileged to gather the stones which he wishes to true during his progress through the lodge, for at this point he symbolizes the youth who is choosing his life work. He represents the human ego who in the dawn of time gathered many blocks and cubes and broken stones from the Great Quarry. These rough and broken stones that as yet will not fit into anything are the partially evolved powers and senses with which he labors. In the first state he must gather these materials, and those who have not gathered them can never true them. During the involuntary period of human consciousness, the Entered Apprentice in the Great Lodge was man, who labored with these rough blocks, seeking the tools and the power with which to true them . As he evolves down through the ages, he gains the tools and cosmically passes on to the degree of Fellow Craft where he trues his ashlar in harmony with the plans upon the Master's tracing board. This rough, uncut ashlar has three dimensions, representative of the three ruffians who at this stage are destroyers of the fourth dimensional life concealed within the ugly, ill-shaped stone.
The lost key of the Entered Apprentice is service. Why, he may not ask; when, he does not know. His work is to do, to act, to express himself in some way - constructively if possible, but destructively rather than not at all. Without action, he loses his great work; without tools, which symbolize the body, he cannot act in an organized manner. Consequently, it is necessary to master the arts and sciences which place in his hands intelligent tools for the expression of energy. Beauty is the keynote to h is ideal. With his concrete ideals he must beautify all with which he comes in contact, so that the works of his hand may be acceptable in the eyes of the Great Architect of the Universe.
His daily life, in home, business, and society, together with the realization of the fundamental unity of each with all, form the base upon which the aspiring candidate may raise a greater superstructure. In truth he must live the life, the result of which is the purification of his body, so that the more attenuated forces of the higher degrees may express themselves through the finer sensitivity of the receiving pole within himself. When he reaches this stage in his growth, he is spiritually worthy to consider advancement into a higher degree. This advancement is not the result of election or ballot, but is an automatic process in which, having sensitized his consciousness by his life, he thereby attunes himself to the next succeeding plane of expression. All initiation is the result of adjustments of the evolving life to the physical, emotional, and mental planes of consciousness through which it passes.
We may now consider the spiritual requirements of one who feels that he would mystically correlate himself with that great spiritual fraternity which, concealed behind the exoteric rite, forms the living power of the Entered Apprentice lodge:
1. It is essential that the Entered Apprentice should have studied sufficiently the subject of anatomy to have at least a general idea of the physical body, for the entire degree is based upon the mystery of form. The human body is the highest manifestation of form which he is capable of analyzing. Consequently, he must devote himself to the study of his own being and its mysteries and complexities.
2. The Entered Apprentice must realize that his body is the living temple of the living God and treat it accordingly; for when he abuses or mistreats it he breaks the sacred obligations which he must assume before he can ever hope to understand the true mysteries of the Craft. The breaking of his pact with the higher Life evolving within himself unfailingly invokes the retributive agencies of Nature.
3. He must study the problem of the maintenance of bodies through food, clothing, breathing, and other necessities, as all of these are important steps in the Entered Apprentice lodge. Those who eat immoderately, dress improperly, and use only about one-third of their lung capacity can never have the physical efficiency necessary for the fullest expression of the higher Life.
4. He must grow physically and in the expression of concrete things. Human relationships must be idealized at this time, and he must seek to unfold all unselfish qualities which are necessary for the harmonious working of the Mason and his fellow men on the physical plane of Nature.
5. He must seek to round off all inequalities. He can best do this by balancing his mental and physical organisms through the application and study of the seven liberal arts and sciences.
Until he is relatively master of these principles on the highest plane within his own being, he cannot hope spiritually to attract to himself, through the qualities of his own character, the life-giving ray of the Fellow Craft. When he reaches this point, however, he is spiritually ready to hope for membership in a more advanced degree.
The Mason must realize that his innermost motives are the index of his real self, and those who allow social position, financial or business considerations or selfish and materialistic ideals, to lead them into the Masonic Brotherhood have thereby automatically separated themselves from the Craft. They can never do any harm to Freemasonry by joining because they cannot get in. Ensconced within the lodge, they may feel that they have deceived the Grand Master of the Universe, but when the spiritual lodge me ets to carry on the true work of the Craft, they are disqualified and absent. Watch fobs, lapel badges, and other insignia do not make Masons; neither does the ritual ordain them. Masons are evolved through the self-conscious effort to live up to the highest ideals within themselves; their lives are the sole insignia of their rank, greater by far than any visible, tangible credential.
Bearing this in mind, it is possible for the unselfish, aspiring soul to become spiritually and liberally vouched for by the centers of consciousness as an Entered Apprentice. It means he has taken the first grand step on the path of personal liberation. He is now symbolized as the child with the smiling face, for with the simplicity of a child he places himself under the protection of his great spiritual Father, willing and glad to obey each of His commands. Having reached this point and having done th e best it was possible for him to do, he is in position to hope that the powers that be, moving in their mysterious manner, may find him worthy to undertake the second great step in spiritual liberation.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014