Wisdom, objective of Masonic initiation
Wisdom has always been an essential quest in all human civilizations.
Even today, this could still be the main objective that every human being, aware of the brevity of his existence, would seek to achieve.
We are convinced that the Masonic approach, freed of its deviances and enriched with contemporary knowledge, can be understood as a path towards Wisdom.
In the 17th century, when the terms apprentice, journeyman, master were chosen, it was a question of a logic of apprenticeship and knowledge of a trade; with the appearance of speculative Freemasonry, these words were enriched with a moral dimension and one could add citizen; then the deviation of the rites at more than three degrees introduced an esoteric or even mystical dimension.
Today, with the evolution of knowledge, these definitions raise two questions:
- The mysticism or occultism of masonic rituals now only interests a minority of freemasons; sectarian aberrations have completely discredited the gurus of the 19th century who wanted to make freemasonry an esoteric path; if today rites at more than three degrees continue to exist, who can honestly acknowledge their credibility?
- Social morality and citizenship appear to be pious wishes well out of step with the reality of daily life; everyone knows that lodges have no means of selecting candidates on ethical criteria and Masonic lodges have great difficulty in making moral and civic values prevail. Some of them take pleasure in cultivating a formal commitment that allows them to avoid dealing with the essential.
Nevertheless, the Masonic approach, which consists in welcoming human beings who wish to improve themselves and to associate them with others in order to bring together "high moral values", is beautiful and noble; it is still relevant today to offer an authentic and fraternal alternative to the societal disintegration of nations torn by multiple conflicts.
The question then arises of being able to redefine ritual terms to give them a credible meaning. Could we not draw inspiration from the reality of human experience?
Three major events, which do not necessarily form a chronological sequence, dominate our lives:
Learning, which corresponds to the acquisition of practical, operative or intellectual knowledge. Even if the time of learning is specific to the beginning of life and the cognitive function tends to blunt with age, there is always a possibility of learning!
Commitment, a process in relation to others whether professional, loving, religious, associative, social; it presupposes a certain degree of autonomy and maturity but we can see children capable of commitment and also adults incapable of doing so.
And finally, acceptance, a particular process that allows one to acquire a certain distance in the face of life's difficulties. It is not always present at the age when one expects it.
Two highlights in every life lived:
An extraordinary capacity for work during the few years after adolescence,
And a reduced space and time during the last years of existence where the individual finalizes the essence of his personal reflection.
Outside of these high points, most human activity is linked either to obligations to be assumed, or to more or less playful and hedonistic activities.
Throughout our lives, existential questions challenge us:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of my life?
Are my commitments induced or voluntary?
Am I object or subject?
What is my place in society?
What am I afraid of?
Do I need protection?
Is suffering an inevitability or a way to enjoy happiness?
What will become of me?
Today's rituals could be experienced as answers to these questions by projecting us into a legendary virtuality, the fruit of the imagination of 18th century writers; for many reasons, they have become more or less dogmatic obligatory frameworks that are difficult to reform.
The only freedom left to us is to go beyond their institutional formalism to reappropriate these three degrees by giving them another dimension.
In the first degree, the apprentice projects himself into dreams; first of all, there is the dream of initiation which opens a majestic door to imaginary worlds. There is also the dream of brotherhood where everyone "is beautiful! » .
In the second degree, the companion begins to travel and to discover other realities; at this stage he experiences revolt and commitment; it is a criticism of the secular world, its injustices and perversities.
In the third degree, the teacher begins to understand that a state of wisdom can exist even if many difficulties arise along the way; it is a question of one's own life, of the need to look at oneself in the mirror and to understand that it is first of all in us that everything is at stake. The evolution towards wisdom supposes reaching the stage of acceptance, which we could also call the stage of "full consciousness". This work is indispensable if we do not want to let death occur when we have not reached the end of the road.
It is clear that this stage of acceptance is only possible if our "mindfulness" has allowed us to eliminate all the turpitudes and other perversions of human functioning (especially egoism, possession, ambition).
Acceptance is emphasized in Buddhism as one of the conditions for reaching a supernatural level of consciousness. The Buddha said that the way to stop suffering is to let go, to stop clinging, to stop being attached. Attachment being a strong conditioning.
In psychology, we know that acceptance is the condition for a peaceful end of life. Marie Claude Haumont, Practitioner in helping relationships, author of "Le chemin de l'acceptation" states:
"The key to all healing is acceptance, whether from a physical, psychological or spiritual point of view.
- Acceptance means first of all acknowledging one's difficulties;
- Acceptance means not denying them and not going against them;
- Acceptance is the acknowledgement of responsibility;
- Acceptance means becoming aware that what happens to us is part of our history and is, therefore, necessary to our history;
- Acceptance also means taking responsibility away from others for the wrongs they do to us. It is not a question of excusing them, it is a question of considering them only as actors in our own scenario.
Acceptance has to be deeply rooted in the depths of oneself and invade the whole space. As a result, there is no more room for frustration, anger, remorse, regret and anything that brings pain. »
This re-appropriation of the three degrees to make initiation a path to personal wisdom having reached the stage of acceptance would also imply that the Lodge reconsiders its working methodology.
The most important degree which must justify the essential of the outfits is of course the 3rd degree. The 1st and 2nd degrees are the degrees of newcomers and could very well be satisfied with one outfit per month.
Debates in the dressing room are not necessary: they are formal exercises conducive to vocal impulses whose emptiness is known; the boards should be content to provoke internal debate.
The lodge has a raison d'être only if it can propose a maieutic allowing its members to find the way towards this state of wisdom that one seeks.
Thus, by restoring a meaning to words often pronounced in automatic mode we can give the initiatory process in these three traditional degrees a modernity that brings them closer to a lived authenticity.
The ultimate objective being to allow the initiate to die as a master in full consciousness.
Other approaches on
Wisdom and Freemasonry
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the Lights of Order
The Orders of Wisdom of the French Rite - The corpus of degrees and the specificity of the Fifth Order
The Foundations of Egyptian Wisdom
Quotes on Wisdom
True wisdom consists less in cursing than in hoping.
(Charles Baudelaire; La Fanfarlo 1847)
A man deserves to be called wise as long as he seeks wisdom; he is a fool as soon as he thinks he has acquired it.
(Persian Tales, Fables and Sentences - 1788)
Who in the morning has understood the teachings of wisdom, in the evening can die happy.
(Confucius; Interviews - 6th century BC)
L'homme sage doit souhaiter de voir dans son ennemi de la sagesse et des lumières ; ce n'est qu'alors qu'il peut en attendre de la justice et des égards. (Euripide ; Les fragments - Ve s. av. J.-C.)
La sagesse nait souvent du remords. (Eschyle ; Les Euménides - Ve s. av. J.-C.)