MASONIC INITIATION  by W.L. Wilmshurst

Chapter II

THE SUPERSTRUCTURE

The novitiate Mason is taught to regard his normal, natural personality as
but a foundation-stone upon which he is recommended to erect a
superstructure, perfect in all its parts and honourable to the builder.

To how many does this instruction mean anything more than a general pious
counsel to become merely a man of strong moral character and virtue ? It is
something, of course, to fulfill that elementary standard, which needs,
however, no membership of a Secret Order for its accomplishment ; but the
recommendation implies a very different meaning from that, as a little
reflection will show . It is not a recommendation merely to improve the
condition of the already existing foundation-stone (the personality), but to
erect upon that foundation something which which previously did not exist,
something which will transcend and outrange it, although built upon it. For
the reader who is unversed in the deeper side of Masonic significance, and
is unaware of the hidden nature of it as thoroughly known to the original
exponents of the science, the subject may prove difficult . It must
therefore be explained at the outset that the superstructure to be erected
is the organization of an ethereal or spiritual body in which the skilled
Mason can function in independence of his physical body and natural
personality .

The theory of Masonry presupposes that man is a fallen creature ; that his
natural personality is a transient and unreal expression of his true self
as conceived in the Divine Mind; and that, under appropriate tuition and
self-discipline, he may become rebuilt and reorganized into the original
condition from which he has fallen. The present natural personality,
however, is the basis or foundation- stone out of which that reorganization
'can proceed, and within it already exists, though in a condition of chaos
and disorder, all the material requisite to the purpose.

Building a superstructure upon one's present self involves much more than
merely improving one's moral character. It is not a novice's task, although
the advice to perform it is rightly given in the Apprentice-stage . It is a
work of occult science, only to be undertaken by those educated and skilled
in that science . It is the science to which 'the Christian Master referred
in the words : "Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down
first and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it ?
Lest, after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all
that behold begin to mock, saying, `This man began to build but was not
able to finish!"' Accordingly the Mason desirous of building a tower or
superstructure should "sit down first and count the cost" by acquiring a
thorough understanding of what is involved ; and before he is able even to
begin the erection of such a building, he will find a good deal of rough
labourer's work has first to be done upon himself in clearing the ground
for the intended structure.

There is an old Masonic Degree, not comprised in our present Constitutions,
devoted specially too this subject . It is called the Degree of Grand
Architect, and throws great light on the intention of those who, well
understanding the secret science, made reference in our Ritual to the
building of a superstructure .

In that Degree the reference is to "building structures in the air," and it
is taught that this is the: work only of grand architects, "being too
great fog inferior craftsmen, who only know by admiring theme at a distance
when done ."

"Structures in the air !" All structures, save subterranean ones, rise into
the air,-the average reader will say ; yet not buildings of brick or stone
are here meant. Again, building castles in the air is a familiar term for
indulgence in day-dreaming and fanciful speculation ; but, whilst all
thought energy is constructive and creates objective form upon the plane of
mind, we may be assured that the sages who perpetuated Masonic science were
innocent of recommending the practice of anything so futile and unpractical
. The airy structure to which they allude is the formation of a
super-physical ethereal body, a "body of mist" as Hesiod and other Greek
classics describe it, in which the adept Mason may consciously function in
the finer planes of life and apart from his gross physical organism, and in
which he will continue to live when the latter has become permanently
discarded . It is spoken of by Origen, the Christian Father of the second
century, as follows : "Another body, a spiritual and ethereal one, is
promised us ; a body not subject to physical touch, nor seen by physical
eyes, nor burdened with weight, and which shall be metamorphosed according
to the different regions in which it shall be . In that spiritual body the
whole of it will be an eye, the whole of it an ear, the whole serve as
hands, the whole as feet" ; implying that all the now distributed faculties
will be unified in that body into one, as was the case with man before the
fall and descent into matter and multiplicity .

Let us justify these observations by some pertinent references to the
subject in the great text-book of Initiation-Science, the Volume of the
Sacred Law ; though they might be abundantly supplemented from other
sources. Like the famous Orphic Hymns of the Pythagorean and Eleusinian
Schools of the Mysteries, the Psalms of our Bible are an anthology of hymns
of the Hebrew Initiates and are full of Masonic allusion and
instructiveness . In the 48th Psalm, the disciple of spiritual science is
directed to take a walk round the symbolic City of Jerusalem ; he was told
to mark well its bulwarks, to observe its palaces, and particularly to pay
attention to the great tower of the Temple, which, like a modern cathedral
spire, rose into the air above all other buildings, so that he might not
only himself appreciate the symbolism of what he saw, but might be in a
position to interpret its significance to "them that come after" ; that is,
to junior students of the science.

He thus received a striking object-lesson in the analogy of material
buildings to spiritual ones . In the massive defensive walls of the city he
was to recognize the strength, permanence and resisting power of the
spiritual organism or "holy city" which he must build for himself in
exchange for, but upon the foundation of, the frail perishable temporal
body. In the palaces of the mighty, with their gorgeous interiors and
stores of costly furnishings and precious objects of art, he was to
perceive that his own interior must become correspondingly beautified and
enriched with spiritual treasures . But in the great heaven-pointing tower,
to which his attention was specially directed, he was to see the symbol of
a structure as far transcending his present temporal organism as the
Temple-spire outranged the adjacent buildings at its feet . From this he
was to deduce the necessity of building and projecting upwards from his
lower organization, a "tower," a superior spiritual body, rising into and
capable of functioning in the "air" or more tenuous and ethereal worlds
than this physical one . This is the "structure in the air" which only
"Grand Architects" are competent to raise ; this is the "superstructure"
which our Entered Apprentices are enjoined to aspire to building .

Let us turn next to the further pertinent information on the subject given
by the Apostle-Initiate to his Corinthian pupils . He instructs them on
this subject of superstructures . How is it possible to rear them ? "How
are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?" (He is not
speaking of the physically defunct, but of that condition of atrophied
spiritual consciousness characterizing the normal animal man, which is
always described as a state of "death" in the biblical and other writings
on the subject) . He proceeds to explain that the physical body itself
cannot be raised, since corruption cannot inherit incorruption, but that
nevertheless there can be a "resurrection from the dead" through a
sublimation of its vital essences, which can be reorganized and
reconstituted into a new body of subtle matter on a supra-physical level .
First comes the natural body we all wear to -begin with ; but out of it can
be evolved a psychical body. The former is an entirely earthy vesture
exhibiting an illusory unreal self to the world ; the latter is the body of
our true spiritual self (or "lord from heaven") which hitherto has remained
masked and buried within that temporal vesture ; "sown" in it as a seed,
but capable of bursting its sheath and being raised from its former
impotence to "power" (activity and conscious function). He properly speaks
of it as one of the secrets and mysteries of Initiation, and his familiar
words may thus be paraphrased : "I am expounding to you a mystery, one of
the arcana of Initiation. We are not designed to remain always asleep in
this drugged, deadened state of consciousness in which we are plunged,
where we suffer the illusion that we are really alive, but are not . In the
course of our evolution the due time comes for each of us to awake out of
that sleep, and to become changed, transmuted ; for our consciousness to be
transposed to a higher level. We have borne the earthly human image ; we
have now to exchange it for an ethereal one of finer texture and purer
quality . The change, the transposition of consciousness from the old to
the new centre, comes suddenly (though it may take long to prepare and
purify ourselves for its coming). When it occurs it comes with an inwardly
heard crash, like a trumpet-blast, as the nervous system and
brain-structures react to the stress upon them involved in the transition ."
( It must be explained that the "trumpet" and "last trumpet" are technical
terms among Initiates for the spiral, trumpet-shaped, whorls or vortices
occurring in subtle matter under stresses, audible to those in whom the
change occurs . The reference to the "sound of the last trumpet" stands for
a physiological experience as the last fine physical strands of the old
nature are, as it were, snapped and the nervous system re-electrified . In
the East this experience is called the "end of the world," since for the
Initiate it means the termination of his old worldly consciousness and its
replacement by one of a much more vivid and intense quality .)

The Apostle further explains that for this newly evolved Ego or conscious
centre there is an appropriate body, for there are celestial as well as
terrestrial bodies. There cannot be consciousness apart from a formal
vehicle for it, and as the old earthy body has served (and will so continue
to serve) for ordinary mundane purposes, so will the newly -evolved
consciousness possess its own separate appropriate psychic or spiritual
body for function upon supraphysical levels . The Initiate of this high
degree, therefore, will possess a twofold organization ; his
ordinary physical one (the "companion of his former toils") and his
supra-physical one, and will be able to utilize and function in each . He
will have built The his "tower" ; his "superstructure in the air ."

The superstructure must be perfect in all its structure parts and so be
honourable to the builder. What are its parts?
Man, even in his natural, unregenerate, imperfectly evolved state, is a
highly composite creature . Blended with his purely physical frame are
three other supra-physical, but quasi-physical, bodies ; his etheric body
(the "double" or wraith), his emotional or desire body, and his mental
organization or body ; whilst over and beyond these, and not necessarily,
in functional alignment with them, exists his ultimate spiritual self which
distinguishes him from the sub-human creatures . These are his "parts," and
they are but too often extremely ill-organized, uncoordinated and
unbalanced . If they be imperfectly organized in the lower natural man, how
can they be expected to be able to contribute requisite sublimations of
themselves for the up-building of a body upon a higher level ? All bodily
and mental disease and infirmity originates in disorder in these inner
bodies, which disorder thereupon becomes reflected forwards and manifested
in the physical husk. Unless the inner natures be disciplined and organized
before the gross mortal vesture is shed at physical death, how can one
enter the ethereal kingdoms otherwise than "maimed," without a
"wedding-garment," and in a distorted shape, not perfect in all its parts,
and anything but honourable to the builder ?

But, as we have long since seen, the first duty of every spiritual
Craftsman is the purification and discipline of these bodies, and the
elimination from himself of all base metals therein of which he has himself
been an artificer.  Only in proportion to the achievement of this arduous
task can he hope to bring these "parts" into order, into subjection to his
will, and into coordinated function and alignment, and so in the fullest
sense stand erect, a just and upright man and Mason.  He need not trouble
to know how his superstructure will develop or to what extent or measure of
perfection he may have built it.  For it will become automatically built in
his heights proportionately as he schools himself in his depths and tests
his work by the continual application to it of the cross (which is the
square, level and plumb-rule in combination).  When the time comes for his
consciousness to be raised to that superior level and he hears the call
"Friend, come up higher!" he will find the superstructure he has been
building in the darkness below, perfect in all its parts and honourable to
himself. He will have climbed a section of the life-ladder; he will
himself have built, dedicated and consecrated King Solomon's Temple; and,
through the result of his own labour upon himself, that resplendent body
will appear to him more like the work of the Great Architect of the
Universe than that of human hands .

There are, however, farther sections of the infinite ladder to be climbed,
even when this high level has been won. From thence there remains still
further building to be done, a body to be fabricated manifesting still
loftier wisdom, strength and beauty . For was not the first symbolic Temple
to be destroyed and become replaced by a second, of which it is written
that "the glory of the former house is not to be compared with that of the
latter ?"

But this still loftier work need not now be treated of. Let it suffice if
what has already been said assists any reader to the building of his first
superstructural Temple.

 

 

         

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