Freemasonry and Religions
Since its creation, Freemasonry has faced violent opposition from the Catholic Church, whereas the Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish religions have not shown any opposition!
Today, if the Catholic Church maintains the incompatibility, the virulence comes mainly from certain Muslim brotherhoods!
Can we not try to depassionate the debate?
If some religions are afraid of Freemasonry, Freemasonry accepts the religious fact while demanding that it should not be a source of division!
In a Western world shaken by the practice of Islam, one should be inspired by the role that certain European Masonic lodges had from the 19th century to facilitate the socialization of the populations of Jewish faith.
The Masonic approach is not in opposition to the religious vocation which it respects, just as it respects freedom of conscience even in atheism and unbelief.
Mysticism in Freemasonry
As freedom of conscience allows each person to evolve autonomously within a framework of respect for others, the question of mysticism, which is sometimes "valued", deserves reflection because it intrigues.
The vast majority of initiations are part of a religious process that has a logic with recourse to one or more Gods as a justification!
Freemasonry, known as liberal Freemasonry, is one of the rare schools of thought that conceives of an initiatory process outside of a deist or theosophical reference.
All this explains why we find in the Masonic lodges a very wide variety of personal paths!
Whether in certain historical studies or in everyday language, the reference to mysticism in Freemasonry is still a subject of divergence!
To try to understand, let us quote this reference:
"A mystic is one who cannot stop walking and who, with the certainty of what he or she is missing, knows from every place and every object that this is not it, that one cannot reside here nor be satisfied with it. Desire creates excess. It exceeds, passes and loses places. It makes us go further, elsewhere. "(cf. the Mystical Fable by Michel de Certeau, historian, religious and psychoanalyst - 1925-1986).
Mysticism is essentially defined as a personal experience which brings about a direct relationship between a person and an irrational entity called in different ways according to cultures and times; for Christian mystics, it is of course God or Jesus Christ, for Muslims, Mohammed, for animists, a particularly important spirit of the village, for the followers of Voodoo, a Lwa, for others, Satan or Lucifer, etc.
Mysticism thus has the originality of constituting a total commitment on the part of the individual who no longer "lives" in anything other than his mystical relationship.
If the great religions "tolerate" their mystics, they wage an implacable war against any mystical expression that does not fit into their logic and that they often describe as "satanic"!
On pourrait d’ailleurs expliquer l’anti-maçonnisme virulent par le fait que la Franc-Maçonnerie est souvent assimilée à une pensée qui conduit au mysticisme !
For simple minds, there is often an assimilation between the mystical approach and the ability to hold the "powers" of the "mysteries"! This may explain the favour enjoyed by spiritism that can be glimpsed in certain rites and particularly in Martinism!
True mysticism is something else!
What is intriguing is the capacity for "body and soul" devotion in an irrational relationship; this exclusive relationship explains the capacity to somatize what could be called "elements of transference" (cf. the stigmata of Padre Pio, the various "miracles" or experiences of levitation, etc.)!
From a psychoanalytical point of view, Michel Demangeat in his book "Mysticism and Psychoanalysis", states :
"Both of them (Jacques Lavan and Michel de Certeau) have helped us to re-establish the relationship of language with this Beyond around which the "conversar" (Michel De Certeau) seems to unfold in a parabolic movement; what Agamben would also specify in "Stanze" (2): "The Ainos of the Aignigma is not simply obscurity, but a more original way of saying. Like the labyrinth, like the Gorgon and like the Sphinx that utters it, the enigma belongs to the domain of the apotropaic: a protective power that repels the worrying by attracting it to itself and by assuming it. The dance path of the labyrinth, which leads to the very heart of what it keeps at a distance, is the model of this relationship to the disturbing as it is expressed in the enigma".
If mysticism, as an individual experience, deserves respect and reflection, which some religions use to strengthen faith, it can be a perverse temptation to believe that it can be a recourse to solve existential problems!
The difficult identification of the initiatory process explains a good number of excesses and knowledge of Masonic rituals clearly shows that they allow for more or less delirious interpretations.
In mysticism, the body is an essential element of the lived experience. Jean-Daniel Causse, in his article "Le corps et l'expérience mystique. Analyse à la lumière de Jacques Lacan et de Michel de Certeau" specifies:
"In mystical experience, the body is both the intimate and the foreign. The body finds itself as "expropriated" from itself and situated in an Other place. »
The relationship between mysticism and Freemasonry has been ambiguous since the 18th century and the interpretation of the Bavarian Illuminati movement of Adam Weishaupt and Adolf von Knigge. Then there was Jean-Baptiste Willermoz and the "mystics" from Lyon. Today, the illuminati movement claims to be "mystical" and its theme is used to justify the accusation of "Satanism" applied to Freemasonry.
When we see that in 2016 the "Masonic University" (dear to the GLDF) has programmed a subject on "Mystical and Masonic Poetry with Leili Anvar & Joël Grégogna", we can wonder about the seriousness of this kind of "university"!
All in all, a great confusion persists on the subject of mysticism in Freemasonry and the term is either misused to speak of a spiritualist approach, or is discredited as an expression of a sham intended to create manipulations of gullible subjects.
Yet the universality of mystical experiences shows that it is a particular capacity that the human being possesses: to be able to devote all his energy in an exclusive thought process!
In a way, mystical experience is another proof of the strength of human thought and in this it corroborates the new knowledge on the biology of the brain.
In the Lodge, the body is supposed to "disappear" to give way to a "depassionate" reflection; if we can admit a spiritualist interpretation of the Masonic approach, it is clear that Freemasonry has never been at the origin of a mystical experience!
Could we not say that the Masonic initiatory process is first of all a societal act and that mysticism remains essentially an individual experience?
This "unbridled" use of the term mysticism in Freemasonry is, on the one hand, inappropriate and unfounded and, on the other hand, at the origin of a perversion of the very meaning of the Masonic process; in so doing, we are stirring up anti-Masonism, which feeds on apocryphal texts to accuse us of Satanism, and we are attracting weak minds who are looking for magical pseudo-powers!
How can certain obediences accept this deviancy that is the source of so much confusion?
Other pages connected
Atheism and Freemasonry
Secularism and Freemasonry
Taoism and Freemasonry
Freemasonry & Spirituality Forum
Other sources of information
Oswald Wirth's Commentary on Buddhism
Variation on an itinerary: Zen monk & freemason
Jews and Freemasonry
Freemasonry and Islam