Freemasonry is an initiated order. The term initiation refers to an age-old universal custom, which has been dealt with in several studies, but about which we cannot possibly go into further details here. However, if we don't want to overlook one of the most important objectives of freemasonry, it is necessary to take a closer look at what freemasonry tries to realize with initiation.
To initiate has, of course, several meanings, which are complementary, for that matter. It means in the first place to put someone on his way, to lead to a new departure.
Initium novae vitae, the beginning of a new life. We mentioned before that the Masonic initiation is not so much a transmission of knowledge. The aim is rather to urge the one who is admitted to the order, to personal labor. The initiated rite of freemasonry, as in numerous traditional cultures of which it is a variation, aims at making the initiate die within himself in order to start a new life. Thus the rite spurs the candidate to liberate himself from psychological, ideological and other obstructions. Thus the way to the spiritual realization can be opened.
It is naturally a spiritualistic action to arouse the latent powers in man through rituals and symbols. Seen from this point of view to initiate means admitting man to a spiritual adventure, urging him to discover and to use his inner strength via the long way of labor to himself, a path which is trodden for the first time with the help of the Masonic rite.
It is evident that the initiate has a long way to go : to the freemason it is clear that the initiated rite is not a magic spell and that, in spite of its symbolic and psychic richness, it does not give the person who undergoes it new strength and properties right away. The initiation spans a man's life. Ritual and symbolism keep inspiring the initiate as long as he wants to excel himself.
Rituals tie the community executing them, but above all they stimulate in every individual such an affective urge that the strength of the subconscious is liberated.
On the other hand symbolism also plays an important role in the initiated process; the Masonic symbolism is multifaceted (the building symbolism, stemming from the tradition of the operative freemasons, the symbolism of liberation, of the search of the sacral element, of the ethical progress), but it is not meant as a subject-matter, but rather as an incentive to meditation, to the formulation of a personal interpretation of the symbols.
Yet, symbolism is neither arbitrary nor chaotic. The slow decoding process teaches the freemason to discover man and the world as he is himself. The way to the Light, the construction of the Temple are indefinable concepts which, however, all point at the same direction and to which the freemason will, in the seclusion of his meditation, attach the meaning which comes closest to his deepest self.
The Masonic symbolism invites us to build up the man inside us, rather than to ignore him, to take the way to the Light, rather than step into the void, always to act as a creative, honest and persevering craftsman. This symbolism simply says - and that is the spiritual option it offers - that the Light IS and that man must not make a greater effort but to go to it via the initiated way.
From this it appears clearly that initiated freemasonry, facing such sublime objectives, cannot possibly strive after cultural, political or social aims.
To many of our contemporaries who, on account of the spirit of the times and the demands of professional life in the way of precision and efficiency, such an objective will probably seem obsolete, useless and even incomprehensible.
Yet - and this can be confirmed by numerous freemasons who are not at all dreamers, mystics or simpletons - spiritual freemasonry offers to the initiates more than they had ever dreamed of. Rather than cutting them off from reality, it has helped them to face it better, with a clear vision, a freer spirit and more aware of their existence and their inner strength.
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