Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Best Book on Masonic Philosophy Never Written by a Mason

Freemasons love to get enthusiastic about new books on Freemasonry, whether those are on the history of Freemasonry or on Masonic Philosophy. If you want some insight on whether that enthusiasm converts into sales for the authors, you'd better check in with a Masonic publisher. I know one or two, but am not one. That being said, I suspect they'll tell you that Freemasons are called that for a reason, they want it for free. 

Regardless of whether that is so or whether I am just being my usual cynical self, I have for a long time been fascinated by materials published with the Mason in mind. While my first love is books on ritual, followed by history, I also like books geared to masonic education and the philosophy of Freemasonry. 

You know the type;  titles that purport to substantiate claims that Freemasonry "makes good men better." Behind them all is the notion that an individual becomes a better person by become more self aware, and that, in some Dan Brownsian way, becoming truly self aware, we may become, if not gods, then at least somewhat more akin to them.

Although this post may sound, thus far,  to be dripping with sarcasm, it really isn't.  I happen to believe that perhaps the most significant thing we can accomplish in the realm of spiritual or self development is true and profound consciousness. I'm talking about the kind which is characterized by awakening from the trance of mundane life and the mindless pursuit of material existence which constitutes most people's awareness. That which is the point of Buddhism, the Tao, and even the Sufi. That is of course, the goal of Esoteric Freemasonry, and as much as most mainstream Masons manage to avoid it, it is also the main purpose of so-called "regular" Freemasonry.

I have been reading Masonic literature for years, and one thing that became clear to me a long time ago, was that there were quite a few authors who had learned how to talk about the subject, but precious few who seemed to understand what they were writing about. 

So, along the way, I began to examine literature about consciousness which was outside the Masonic tradition. From what I can see, many other Masons have in recent years done the same thing.  I plan on highlighting some relevant texts here from time to time, and will start with what is most likely the smallest and most unassuming one I have come across, but  which focuses intently on the subject of self awareness. It is not grounded in Masonic philosophy, but it speaks coherently on the subject which is at the heart of Masonic philosophy and is therefore a title I readily recommend to all.

This book does not make any pretense at being an academic text, nor of being grounded in a philosophical tradition of scholarship.  It is written in colloquial and intentionally simple language. Unlike Freemasonry, it does not rely on a peculiar system of morality, nor does it veil its message in allegory illustrated by symbols.  Unlike the traditional approach of Freemasonry, this text is as straight and as direct and as simple as the author could make a work dealing with such a weighty subject. That is one of the reasons I think most Freemasons who are interested in something more than cigars, whisky, and self congratulatory titles, should read this short work.

While I think that those who pursue the self-congratulatory titles are probably beyond hope, to the rest, I recommend you pour a single malt, light a maduro, sit back and read this book, as the author recommends, from cover to cover in one sitting. Don't worry, that's why it was written so that the average person can read it in an hour. It is worth the effort, and although I tend to avoid titles that seem to fit the genre we call "new age", this one is worth the read. It will, as the author suggests,"will turn your world inside out." It is a small book that makes a big claim. Unlike so much today, in "Lucid Living" Tim Freke keeps his word. This book lives up to the hype. 

Freke is able to do this because he casts an almost surgical glance at just what it is that we do with our brains, and just how we manage to fool ourselves most of the time. He dissects how we construct our understanding of experience, because he has been able to grasp how we are actually responsible for creating that experience, which makes it possible for him to help us deconstruct the illusions we have invented to trap ourselves.

It is a subtle process, this matter of uncreating our self illusions. For me at least, it has taken time. I agreed with most of the contents of this book for a long time before I began to "get" it. Perhaps you won't be as dense as I have been, but then I spent decades in an academic setting which causes us to become comfortable in the labyrinth we call the mind. 

This book has been one of the tools which has helped me shake myself free from the humbuggery of my own thought processes. I can think of no group of people in greater need of being shaken free from humbuggery than those who belong to the society of Freemasons. So go out and read it. 

PS: It should make your Freemasonic hearts pleased to know you can buy a digital edition for next to nothing!

Lucid Living: A Book You Can Read in One Hour That Will Turn Your World Inside Out

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