Approaches to Knowledge and the Question of Truth
Novus Veteris Lodge – May 13 , 2017
Alan Gatlin, Orator
We have today reached the point world-wide where man seems to know everything and understand nothing! – Stephen Arryo
Stephen Arryo is a psychotherapist in Orange County who has written several books discussing the nature of symbols and their relationship to how people and societies behave. While not reported to be a Mason, the ideal’s he purports are consistent with many of the issues and questions we face as a Masonic body in today’s world. The short talk today will briefly discuss the issues raised by the words “truth & knowledge” and how we can move beyond the narrow perspective that permeates many in their world view. We will also briefly cover the symbolism related to the astral formation of Gemini and how that relates to the Lodge and its officers.
One of the important aspects of Masonry is the worldview of our inner and outer space as a whole or combined experience rather than the exclusive focus on the individual elements. An example of this the initiation process of a candidate. We seek to create an event focused on experience and sensation combined with the “facts” related in the accompanying lectures. As the candidate is denied use of his visual senses, his worldview broadens into hearing, kinesics, and olfactory sensations while his guide verbally and physically leads him through the Degree experience. This is meant to “open” his world and set the stage for future degrees. Stating this another way, we are focusing on the whole experience rather than individual parts leading to different expressions and sensations, a new way of thinking and beginning the process of transformation with the individual. It can be said we are “treating the whole man” and opening the door to another way of living that the candidate has not before experienced. The Degree work does not separate the spiritual nature of man from the physical as many of our other life experiences attempt. This is reflected in the first section of a Degree through prayer, instruction, and the physical positions assumed by the candidate. This is a total experience combining all the aspects of a man’s “nature” in one event. This integrated experience allows for the total man to be better prepared for what life may bring and not to “fear what man can do unto you.” When you had an important life decision, what were the underlying influences that shaped your response? Was the decision made from a combined spiritual and knowledge perspective? Too many today would limit the decision process to a personal, materialistic influence with passing regard to the moral or spiritual aspects that affects more than the one party. L. L. Whyte in 1948 wrote. “Man can only fully understand himself by fusing the objective knowledge which is gained by observation of the whole organic nature with the subjective knowledge of the individual experience.” This could be, and believe that this is one of the ways that Masonry makes “good men better”, by actively guiding the integration of the spiritual experience with knowledge of the world. At the root we seek a balance of reason and intellect with feeling experience and institution. Meaning in life is something that which is generated from within a man not without. The analytical approach to life alone can never help a man fulfill his deepest needs. We need both the internal thoughts and outward experiences to be a total person.
Many in our world have over-emphasized the use of objectivity as a guiding light which restricts our perceptions and leads to an often limited response. Conflict is often based on misunderstandings related to “facts” presented outside of the context of its wider experience of the totality of mankind. Carl Jung’s theory of personality states that there are four primary ways of “knowing”; we can think, feel, or have sensation, and intuition. Thinking and sensation can be grouped together since analytical thought is based primarily upon data from the outer world received through the senses. Intuition and feeling can be grouped together since the functions arise from within the individual and are not totally conditioned by the socio-cultural milieu of the time. Also, knowledge gained through intuition and feeling is subjective and personal, in the sense that it cannot be proved or objectively verified. The thinking faculty functions through the systematic classification and discrimination of facts which are arranged in certain patterns according to the type of logic employed. The faculty of intuition reveals to the individual an immediate insight into, and perception of, the workings of the whole system being considered. Intuition is basically man’s power of direct perception and immediate knowledge which circumvents, transcends, or penetrates through the slower working of the logic bound intellect. The Masonic use of symbols and myth can be the bridge where the candidates, and masons as a group, are moved from the logic of their learning to the addition of the spirituality of their experience. The building of character is often more insight then the learning of facts and can guide the Mason to better understand how best to act and agree regardless of circumstances and conditions. The study of the esoteric aspects of Masonry and ancient symbology opens the corridors of the subjective experiences leading to a more balanced life and approach to this experience we call living. As we hear and integrate the ancient stories and legends both within and without our fraternity, we can grow and better act as men and Masons.
The Astral Sign of Gemini
The astral body next in our study is the third member, Gemini or more commonly called the Twins. Most ancient cultures have a myth related to twins often associated with their society’s founding such as that of Rome and the brothers Romulus and Remus. The Romans regarded the heavenly Twins as exerting a special power of protection over them. The Greeks also had a similar founding story with Castor and Pollux and because Gemini relates to travel, thought and oratory skills the Twins were frequently pictured with steads and Grecian temples thus retain them, riding side by side, armed with spears, on snow-white horses. The Romans, adopting the idea, struck a coin in their honor. The pence coin of the Good Samaritan was such a silver piece, on which the two horsemen were shown. You may have heard the expression, “By Jiminy” which was part of a sacred oath by Gemini. Gemini is associated with the planet Mercury, the messenger, who also represents the Junior Warden and his role in announcing the “will and pleasure” of the WM.
The Little Bear is the 1st deaconate, Ursa Minor.
The Little Bear, exemplifying that section of the Sun’s warm path from May 21 to May 31, coming first, reveals something of import regarding the unconscious mind. Much like the mind which is ever the same, changing not, but immovable, and which like the Pole Star is the best of all guides, is Truth. It is the Rock of Ages, upon which any lasting group must have foundation. Thus to the Greeks was the Pole Star known as Mount Olympus, the abode of the gods; a mountain so high that birds could not fly to the top of it, nor clouds collect upon its summit. Truth is never cloudy, nor can the thoughts of men ever soar to its utmost height.
The Second deaconate is represented by the Bear, Ursa Major
The Big Bear in the sky, by means of its pointers, represents the way to Truth, but the tail of the Little Bear actually touches it. As the Pole Star is reached by the Little Bear’s tail, so are there faculties of the Unconscious Mind by which Truth can directly be apprehended. The touch of the two images represents the duality of Reason and Intuition being joined together. This is another aspect of truth, when these two points “touch”
The last deaconate is that of the Dog, Canus Major with the brightest star in the sky Sirius
That star, like thought and like the hound, has a rapid proper motion. That is, relative to other stars it is moving at tremendous speed. And it is not one star, as to the naked eye it appears, but Twin stars, united, or married, by the mutual pull of gravity, and thus revolving around a common center; bound together by a tie as inseparable as that which held Castor and Pollux. This stellar formation is ever tied to Egypt as it was the indication as to when the rising waters of the Nile were set to flood alerting the people to prepare for the next season. This great dog in the sky portrays the character of man, which warns him when the emotional tide runs high enough to bring him peril; and leads him back again to moist and fertile ground when there is safety.
The question of knowledge and truth are presented to us in many forms. Through our ritual, lectures, knowledge, and experiences we gain information and insight into our actions. Adding to this our intuition and the ancient symbols we build our lives and code of conduct to become those men who can and do make a difference in the world.