|Lodge of Living Stones No 4957
in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding
|OUR FOUNDER -
W.L. WILMSHURST (1867-1939)
was born in Chichester but moved to Huddersfield to become a solicitor.
Wilmshurst was a modern Christian mystic as he frequently indicated in his writings. For instance he wrote:
'At the centre of ourselves, deeper than any dissecting knife can reach or than any physiological investigation can fathom, lies buried the "vital and immortal principle" the "glimmering ray" that affiliates us to the Divine Centre of all life.'His prime purpose was to achieve union with God through Christ.
|Wilmshurst believed passionately that the masonic ritual had a
deep basis in mysticism. He was sure that its fellowship, its charitable works
and even its promotion of a basic morality were entirely incidental to its
primary purpose. He was convinced that behind all this: 'there exists the
framework of a scheme of initiation into that higher path of life where alone
the secrets and mysteries of our being are to be learned.'
He thought that this deeper and more vital arcana of the Craft had been 'deliberately veiled' in a mass of superficial moral teaching. 'Brethren,' he wrote, 'it is just this elusiveness, these intentional enigmas, this purposed puzzle language, that are intended to put us on the scent of something deeper than the words themselves convey.' He felt that: 'part of the purpose of all initiation was, and still is, to educate the mind in penetrating the outward shell of all phenomena.'
He was convinced that the majority of masons have no idea of the true purpose of the masonic ritual and are degrading it by performing it in a perfunctory manner as some form of entertainment before a convivial meal, rather than using it as a vital tool for spiritual regeneration. He lamented that: 'The modern mason, however high in titular rank is as little qualified to understand the subject as the man who has never entered a lodge.' He felt that most of us, although we have been through the ceremonies of Initiation, Passing and Raising remain, to all intents and purposes "uninitiated Initiates" since most of us do not have a deep understanding of what we have gone through at all and it has made no lasting change to us.
He ridiculed the belief that Masonry is just a simple system of basic morality. He wrote:
'It is absurd to think that a vast organisation like Masonry was ordained merely to teach to grown up men of the world the symbolic meaning of a few simple builders tools or to impress upon us such elementary virtues as temperance and justice the children of every village school are taught such things; or to enforce such simple principles of morals as brotherly love which every church and every religion teaches.'He compared the three Degrees of Craft Masonry to the three stages of philosophical mysticism:
'my whole purpose is to indicate what is so little recognised, that our ritual has a deep basis of occultism and that beneath the weft of ethical teaching and the often simple allegory and symbolism which alone meet the ear and eye of the average Mason, there lies a warp of much deeper scientific teaching and references to matters that form, and have always formed, the province of the mystic and the occultist, using the latter word in its best and worthiest sense'He went on:
'The real lodge referred to throughout our rituals is our own individual personalities, and if we interpret our doctrine in the light of this fact we shall find that it reveals an entirely new aspect of the purpose of our Craft.'
J.S.M. Ward wrote in his obituary for the Masonic Study Society in 1939:
'It is as an exponent of the mystical meaning of Freemasonry that he will ever be remembered [ ] Masonic scholars and students sometimes allow their zeal for their pet theories to out-run the brotherly affection they should feel for their fellow masons, but not so Wilmshurst. I never remember him saying a harsh or unkind word about any other masonic authority, however much his opinions might differ, and it was remarkable how he managed to win the affection of all who truly knew him.'
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