Holding The Key Of Wisdom
By Brother Carel Cornelissen
24 July 2013
The message in the First Degree is ‘self knowledge’. As an Apprentice I was instructed to work at the rough stone and learn to know myself. In this, it is acknowledged that one can only really know oneself, and be true to yourself, when you are aware of your own strengths and shortcomings. It is especially important so as to not compromise the relationships one has with others – your relationship with your God, your family, your fellow brethren and society in general.
The theme of the Second Degree is ‘skill in action’. We are advised that skill, beauty, perfection, order, precision and simplicity should become manifest in our lives and we are encouraged to be active in intellectual effort, and to apply the lessons we learned as Apprentices to touch the lives of those around us.
During one such intellectual effort I was introduced to the symbols of the Craft – the seven liberal arts and sciences: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. By grammar man is taught to express in noble and adequate language his innermost thoughts and ideals; by rhetoric he is enable to conceal his ideals under the protecting cover of ambiguous language and figures of speech; by logic he is trained in the organisation of the intellectual faculties with which he has been endowed; by arithmetic he not only is instructed in the mystery of universal order but also gains the key to multitude, magnitude and proportion; by geometry he is inducted in the mathematics of form, the harmony and rhythm of angles, and the philosophy of organisation; by music he is reminded that the universe is founded upon the laws of celestial harmonics and that harmony and rhythm are all-pervading; by astronomy he gains an understanding of the immensities of time and space, of the proper relationship between himself and the universe, and of the awesomeness of the power driving the countless stars of the firmament through vast space.1
As a Master Mason, I am said to be a possessor of the key of wisdom. This key is to be used to unlock the knowledge to the seven liberal arts and sciences, and the master secrets of my inner-self. One such secret is that of the immortality of the Soul. However, it is said that, until we have learned to pray for ourselves, we cannot hope to unearth this secret because it is through prayer and through living that what the Craft portrays, that this secret will come to life. By knowing that the enemies to be feared by the Soul are always from within, and are nothing other than its own transgressions, its own ignorance, lust and passion, as a Master Mason, I am obliged to put into practice the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. In doing so, it will develop my character and enrich my personality.
By joining the Craft, I, unknowingly, took the first step from moving away from being a spectator in my own life to becoming master of myself, acquiring the strength to let my soul rise above the enemies from within. And, now that you have accepted me as Secret Master, by joining your Order, I hope to build on this strength by getting drunk on the wine of spiritual wisdom whilst labouring with you.
1 Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of all Ages, at 507