aving established the scope and aim of the outer, lesser rites of the Mysteries, the inner, greater teaching can be effectively delved into and understood. If the rites of the former concerned the incarnate condition of the soul upon its birth into the world, then the latter naturally depicts the liberation of the soul not necessarily from the world upon literal death, but from worldliness by means of the practice of philosophy which is the result of a figurative death. "The philosophic death and the philosophic resurrection are the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries respectively," says our prolific Brother, Manly Hall.

More often than not, we know more than we say, some information being reserved for various reasons. This has ever applied to metaphysics and mysticism especially throughout history. Prudence is exercised in determining whether we can share knowledge with particular people; only those who live upright and disciplined moral and ethical lives would not misuse it.
Upon being asked by his inner circle of disciples why he spoke to the masses in parables and allegories, Jesus of Nazareth responded in Matthew 13:11, "because the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." He had deemed them, his chosen inner circle, morally prepared and fit to receive the inner teaching, just as the Buddha also had his inner and outer teachings. Helena Blavatsky, arguably the most influential esotericist of the modern world, recalls the principle of the Chinese Buddhists to "refuse no one admission into the ranks of candidates for Arhatship [or initiation into the lesser tradition], but never to divulge the final [greater] mysteries except to those who had proved themselves, during long years of probation, to be worthy," (Collected Writings).

The word "mystery," as used by the both great Nazarene in the aforementioned verse and as found in Masonry and the Mysteries as a whole, is derived from the Greek "mysterion" which denotes a hidden or secret thing known only to the elect. These elect voluntarily take upon themselves solemn and sincere obligations to always hele, forever conceal and never reveal such knowledge to those unfit and unprepared to receive it. "Hele" is an Old English word which also means "to hide or conceal." One might wonder, then, exactly what it was that was being hidden and concealed, and why such preparation and secrecy was necessary.

Just as death is unavoidable in life, so is it unavoidable in the Mysteries. In virtually all the traditions of the Mysteries, there is a tale of a murderous betrayal, "a brother slain by his brethren," as Clement of Alexandria said in reference to the Cabirian Mysteries in Samothrace. In every case, this martyred figure is primarily the personification of the soul, or divine spark in man. Steadfast and perfect adherence to the moral and ethical demands of the Lesser Mysteries induces in the individual a certain phenomenon known as the philosophic death, the one to which Brother Hall refers to. Voltaire asks, "'who were these Hierophants, these sacred Freemasons, who celebrated their Ancient Mysteries of Samothracia, and whence came they and their gods Cabiri?" (A. Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry). As Socrates explains in Phaedo, the individual is deemed practically dead who so subdues his passions and self-will as to refrain from all improper desires, selfish actions, superfluous excesses and satisfaction regarding the service of the body and the preservation of the self. In other words, self-will is made to die by temperance to the divine will in the practice of what Socrates calls "true philosophy," or the systematic separation of the soul from the body. "When the body is separated from the soul, there is death. When the soul is separated from the body, there is illumination," writes Brother Hall. As Robert Lomas further explains in The Secret Science of Masonic Initiation, "to become Initiated involves dying - not a physical death, but a moral way of dying in which the spirit, loosened from the body and the sensitive life, becomes temporarily detached and freed to enter a world of Eternal Light." The Greater Mysteries outline the life of the soul once it is qualitatively removed from the body during life and before physical death. In the Christian Mysteries and as understood by Christian mystics, Christ (the soul) dies upon the cross (the body) by the hand of three distinct agencies (the church, the mob and the state), and is resurrected or raised after three distinct periods of time. Truly, it is our own improper actions, emotions and thoughts which, originally meant to serve the master, are responsible for his murder. The Greater Mysteries contain a metaphysical teaching and regimen concerning the resurrection of the soul from its bondage to the body. So profound and scientific is this philosophy that only those who have been tried and tried again may be worthy of receiving it. Some of the facts and practices regarding the willful and active unbinding of the soul from the body are the most closely guarded secrets of all religion and philosophy.




B. Tanner Willhite
Senior Deacon
Redmond Lodge #154
A.F.&A.M.