Digital Series #5 – The Right Mind of Masonry by Wor. T.H, PM Consuelo 325

One of the more difficult, albeit fascinating things about Freemasonry is movingaway from traditional material world concepts and moving toward the subsurface concepts and teachings that blossom so brilliantly throughout the entirety of ourCraft; Freemasonry is consciously designed to promote this type of learning and free-thinking. To paraphrase – what may seem so clear and obvious on the surfaceto the novitiate – isn’t. But are all the lessons that Masonry teaches hidden? Generally, but not exclusively. One might consider Masonic teachings to be analogous to a submarine in the open sea. Submarines generally travel below the surface of the waves and are hidden from view, but on occasion one appears on the surface – there it is! Its existence and purport are rarely obvious to the uninformed.Similarly, with Masonry, most of the concepts are not readily apparent but some that are communicated through the ritual are obvious to the candidate – right on the surface – and are designed to pique one’s interest in what may still be below.

Here is an example of hidden concepts. In the Entered Apprentice Degree, we learn that the Master of the Lodge sits in the East, but why? Is it symbolic of something deeper? Of course, it is and we must look past the instruction given us in the perfectness of our ritualistic content to determine the answer. Succeeding degrees offer additional clues, but they also give us more information that seeminglyobstructs the path to clarity. Those obstructions are what we must look beyond to interpret and, not so incidentally, are what makes Masonry unique to all other groups!

Now, one of the things I truly enjoy is relating Freemasonry’s teachings to Biblical teachings. The Bible, as well as Freemasonry, is a bastion of cryptic teachings with a discombobulating array of interconnected lessons. Jesus Christ was the master ofthis type of teaching, his parables being perfect examples. So, how do we get to those deeper more meaningful lessons that both the Bible and Freemasonry are portraying? I ran across the following illustration which I believe will help.

Before I get to that, we need to recognize a little bit about our brain functionality. Psychology 101 tells us that the brain has two sides (hemispheres), left side and right side. The left hemisphere, provides functions in the areas of analytic thought, logic, language, reasoning, science & math, among others. The right hemisphere functions include creativity, imagination, intuition, insight, holistic thought, to name a few. A portion of these functions namely grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, of which Masons are familiar, make up the trivium and quadrivium and are pertinent to our topic.

“The trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) was always pursued first,” Dr. Jeffery Lehman of Hillsdale College says. “It’s commonly called the ‘Arts of the Word’ and focuses on different ways you can attend to words. Grammar is used in logic, which is used in rhetoric, for example. All of them move toward a proper presentation of the truth, which speaks to the mind and to the passions.”

In regard to the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy), Dr. Lehman continues, “Humans communicate with each other using words. Humans communicate with the natural order in numbers and in quantities. By discerning those natural relationships, we come to better understand the cosmos. It speaks to us, and we can talk to the greater universe.”

The trivium and quadrivium, both being left-brain functions, are prerequisites to transcending to the right brain realm – one must learn to walk before one can runand that ‘walking’ is what is presented to us in the first three degrees of Masonry.

Consider this – in the first degree of Masonry, we receive our initial instruction, our introduction into the system of Freemasonry, and we make an obligation on the weaker or left side of man as indicated in the lecture. This symbolizes that we are being introduced to the weaker side of our Masonic instruction (left brain realm) in which we begin our journey to higher thinking, which we probably don’t realize at the time. In the second degree we are introduced to left-brain concepts (trivium and quadrivium) that more obviously hint at the fact that there is much deeper meaning in that instruction – we are obligated with the right hand on the VSL in the FCdegree. And in the third degree, we are obligated with both hands on the VSL strongly symbolizing that we must transcend from the left brain concepts taught to us in the EA and FC degrees and that there are hidden right brain concepts in the MM degree that we must discover and experience if we are to truly realize and gain benefit from the ‘secrets’ of Masonry.

So, a basic concept, an exoteric concept, is perceived through the left hemisphere while a more abstract, deeper-meaning or esoteric concept can only be interpreted through using the functionality of the right hemisphere. 

Having said all that and bear with me here…

A popular gospel story about right brain function appears in the Gospel of John, when Christ appeared to his disciples after they had realized a failed fishing attempt in the Sea of Galilee. The story begins…

Simon Peter told them, ‘I am going out to fish’.

‘We will go with you’, they said. So, they went out, got in the boat but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (Note 1) He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

‘No’, they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So, they cast it there and were unable to haul it in due to the great number of fish.

Taken literally, there is no reason for such a narrative to be included in the Gospel of John, unless you want to believe that Jesus had an uncanny knack for knowing where to catch fish. But there is a deep lesson in this simple story.

The disciples are disheartened after Jesus’ death (this story occurs after Jesus’ resurrection). They have lost their way, their faith is diminished and they have returned to their old habits, that is, allowing their left brain to dictate their actions. Left brain thinking – analysis, logic, reasoning – is not the way to higher consciousness. There is no love, as in their love for Jesus, no right brain realminvolved!

To clarify, Michael Schiavello, from his book Freemasonry’s Hidden Brain Sciencewrites, ‘It is not suggested that we do away with our left brain thought process. We need our left brain thinking to navigate through life. But the functions of the symbolic right brain hemisphere need to be tapped into for progression into the higher, spiritual realms.’

Jesus tells the disciples, who haven’t caught a fish all night, to go back in the water and cast their nets to the ‘right’. As soon as they do this, their nets become so full of fish they struggle to pull them into the boat. There it is – symbolism!

While fishing at night (darkness/symbolic of the carnal mind {Note 2}) the disciples catch nothing. Christ (wisdom/light/illumination) appears to them in the early morning (Sunrise/the East) and instructs them to cast to the right (change their thinking from their carnal mind to their spiritual mind). As soon as the disciples change their way of thinking and use their spirit instead of their logic, they catch a boat load of fish.

The disciples could only see the material world – the fish – and lost their way because they could only focus on the things they could see. We must move to that higher consciousness (Christ) to reap all the rewards of it. 

From the lecture of the Entered Apprentice degree we hear that the right hand has always been considered the seat of fidelity; another allusion to the ‘right’. One might define ‘fidelity’ as the state of being faithful. Being faithful to one’s mate or one’s political viewpoint, for example, is not in the material realm (left brain). We must then transcend from the left to the right brain, to the spiritual realm, to be a faithful human being by making use of that symbolic right hand.

For another example & directly related to the Craft as well – In the third degree of Masonry, King Solomon moves to his higher consciousness to raise the body of the GMHA through the aid of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Jesus Christ). The physical grips of the Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft are in the left-brain realm. Solomon then resorts to prayer before making his decision as to the raising – he has moved to his right-brain realm. He then proceeds to raise the GMHA with his ‘right’ hand – Solomon is demonstrating his fidelity to the trust that was established between himself, HKT and the GMHA by using his right hand rather than his left – more symbolism!

The Bible has countless illustrations of the “right’ being a spiritual realm. Solomon himself wrote in Ecclesiastes, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left.” What he is relating in that statement is that the wise use their spirituality or right brain thinking to become wise. However, those that can’t get past the left-brain realm of materialism are foolish and will never dwell at the right hand of God, the Dextera Domini, the acquisition of spiritual immortality (Note 3).

There are many examples of this throughout our Masonic work as well – theexamples above are but a select few. One must turn to his own higher consciousness to achieve that transcendental state through which we can glean the true meaning of our Masonic teachings through Jesus Christ. In other words, get in your right mind!

To sum up the bigger picture, J. Alan Gatlin writes: “Masons carry a great responsibility to ourselves, our families, and the world, especially in times of confusion and struggle. As we come together in both action and thought we are able to instigate a positive influence on our lives and the world. Let us aspire to this noble calling and seek further light grounded in our traditions and challenged by the process of seeking that light for the benefit of all.”

We must therefore move to our spiritual side to make the most out of our Masonic experience and that will ensure that we properly pass on those lessons to our Masonic heirs as men have done from time immemorial.

Sources

John R. Heisner, Meditations on Masonic Symbolism, AME LLC, 2013

Schiavello, Michael, Freemasonry’s Hidden Brain Science, Lewis Masonic, 2019

https://www.hillsdale.edu/hillsdale-blog/academics/understanding-trivium-quadrivium/   date accessed 3/16/20

Holy Bible, John 21: 1-6, Ecclesiastes 21:2, New International Version

https://www.emeryhorvath.com/what-is-carnal-mindedness-and-why-is-it-deadly/ date accessed 3/12/20

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_hand_of_God        date accessed 3/16/20

Gatlin, J. Alan, Neuroscience and Masonry, oration, 2020, Novus Veteris Lodge #864, Oceanside, CA

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