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THE NEW MOORISH WORLD (SITE 2)

ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK.......

HOME
THE FUTURE
THE ASIATIC

THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY or The Secret of Hiram Abiff by MANLY
P. HALL

foreword by robert e. blight, 33' degree, knight templar. 

Reality forever eludes us.  Infinity mocks our puny efforts to
imprison it in definition and dogma.  Our most splendid
realizations are only adumbrations of the Light.  In his endeavors,
man is but a mollusk seeking to encompass the ocean.

Yet man may not cease his struggle to find God.  There is a
yearning in his soul that will not let him rest, an urge that
compels him to attempt the impossible, to attain the unattainable.
He lifts feeble hands to grasp the stars and despite a million
years of failure and millenniums of disappointment, the soul of man
springs heavenward with even greater avidity than when the race was
young.

He pursues, even though the flying ideal eternally slips from his
embrace.  Even though he never clasps the goddess of his dreams, he
refuses to believe that she is a phantom.  To him she is the only
reality.  He reaches upward and will not be content until the sword
of Orion is in his hands, and glorious Arcturus glearns from his
breast.

Man is Parsifal searching for the Sacred Cup; Sir Launfal
adventuring for the Holy Grail.  Life is a divine adventure, a
splendid quest

Language falls.  Words are mere cyphers, and who can read the
riddle? These words we use, what are they but vain shadows of form
and sense? We strive to clothe our highest thought with verbal
trappings that our brother may see and understand; and when we
would describe a saint he sees a demon; and when we would present a
wise man he beholds a fool.  "Fie upon you," he cries; "thou, too,
art a fool."
    
So wisdom drapes her truth with symbolism, and covers her insight
with allegory.  Creeds, rituals, poems are parables and symbols.
The ignorant take them literally and build for themselves prison
houses of words and with bitter speech and bitterer taunt denounce
those who will not join them in the dungeon.  Before the rapt
vision of the seer, dogma and ceremony, legend and trope dissolve
and fade, and he sees behind the fact the truth, behind the symbol
the Reality.

Through the shadow shines ever the Perfect Light.

What is a Mason? He is a man who in his heart has been duly and
truly prepared, has been found worthy and well qualified, has been
admitted to the fraternity of builders, been invested with certain
passwords and signs by which he may be enabled to work and receive
wages as a Master Mason, and travel in foreign lands in search of
that which was lost - The Word.

Down through the misty vistas of the ages rings a clarion
declaration and although the very heavens echo to the
reverberations, but few hear and fewer understand: "In the
beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was
God."

Here then is the eternal paradox.  The Word is lost yet it is ever
with us.  The light that illumines the distant horizon shines in
our hearts. "Thou wouldist not seek me hadst thou not found me." We
travel afar only to find that which we hunger for at home.

And as Victor Hugo says: "The thirst for the Infinite proves
infinity."

That which we seek lives in our souls.

This, the unspeakable truth, the unutterable perfection, the author
has set before us in these pages.  Not a Mason himself, he has read
the deeper meaning of the ritual.  Not having assumed the formal
obligations, he calls upon all mankind to enter into the holy of
holies.  Not initiated into the physical craft, he declares the
secret doctrine that all may hear.
    
With vivid allegory and profound philosophical disquisition he
expounds the sublime teachings of Freemasonry, older than all
religions, as universal as human aspiration.

It is well.  Blessed are the eyes that see, and the ears that hear,
and the heart that understands.


INTRODUCTION

Freemasonry, though not a religion, is essentially religious.  Most
of its legends and allegories are of a sacred nature; much of it is
woven into the structure of Christianity.  We have learned to
consider our own religion as the only inspired one, and this
probably accounts for much of the misunderstanding in the world
today concerning the place occupied by Freemasonry in the spiritual
ethics of our race.  A religion is a divinely inspired code of
morals.  A religious person is one inspired to nobler livi ng by
this code.  He is identified by the code which is his source of
illumination.  Thus we may say that a Christian is one who receives
his spiritual ideals of right and wrong from the message of the
Christ, while a Buddhist is one who molds his life into the
archetype of morality given by the great Gautama, or one of the
other Buddhas.  All doctrines which seek to unfold and preserve
that invisible spark in man named Spirit, are said to be spirit
ual.  Those which ignore this invisible element and concent rate
entirely upon the visible are said to be material.  There is in
religion a wonderful point of balance, where the materialist and
spiritist meet on the plane of logic and reason.  Science and
theology are two ends of a single truth, but the world will never
receive the full benefit of their investigations until they have
made peace with each other, and labor hand in hand for the
accomplishment of the great work - the liberation of spirit and in
telligence from the three-dimensional prison-house of ignora nce,
superstition, and fear. That which gives man a knowledge of himself
can be inspired only by the Self - and God is the Self in all
things. In truth, He is the inspiration and the thing inspired.  It
has been stated in Scripture that God was the Word and that the
Word was made flesh.  Man's task now is to make flesh reflect the
glory of that Word, which is within the soul of himself.  It is
this task which has created the need of religion - not one faith
alone but many creeds, each searching in its own way, e ach meeting
the needs of individual people, each emphasizing one point above
all the others.

Twelve Fellow Craftsmen are exploring the four points of the
compass.  Are not these twelve the twelve great world religions,
each seeking in its own way for that which was lost in the ages
past, and the quest of which is the birthright of man? Is not the
quest for Reality in a world of illusions the task for which each
comes into the world? We are here to gain balance in a sphere of
unbalance; to find rest in a restless thing; to unveil illusion;
and to slay the dragon of our own animal natures.  As David, King
of Israel, gave to the hands of his son Solomon the task he could
not accomplish, so each generation gives to the next the work of
building the temple, or rather, rebuilding the dwelling of the
Lord, which is on Mount Moriah.

Truth is not lost, yet it must be sought for and found.  Reality is
ever-present - dimensionless yet all-prevailing. Man - creature of
attitudes and desires, and servant of impressions and opinions -
cannot, with the wavering unbalance of an untutored mind, learn to
know that which he himself does not possess.  As man attains a
quality, he discovers that quality, and recognizes about him the
thing newborn within himself.  Man is born with eyes, yet only
after long years of sorrow does he learn to see clearl y and in
harmony with the Plan.  He is born with senses, but only after long
experience and fruitless strivings does he bring these senses to
the temple and lays them as offerings upon the altar of the great
Father, who alone does all things well and with understanding.  Man
is, in truth, born in the sin of ignorance, but with a capacity for
understanding.  He has a mind capable of wisdom, a heart capable of
feeling, and a hand strong for the great work in life - truing the
rough ashlar into the perfect sto ne.

What more can any creature ask than the opportunity to prove the
thing he is, the dream that inspires him, the vision that leads him
on? We have no right to ask for wisdom.  In whose name do we beg
for understanding? By what authority do we demand happiness? None
of these things is the birthright of any creature; yet all may have
them, if they will cultivate within themselves the thing that they
desire.  There is no need of asking, nor does any Deity bow down to
give man these things that he desires.  Man i s given by Nature, a
gift, and that gift is the privilege of labor.  Through labor he
learns all things.

Religions are groups of people, gathered together in the labor of
learning.  The world is a school.  We are here to learn, and our
presence here proves our need of instruction.  Every living
creature is struggling to break the strangling bonds of limitation
- that pressing narrowness which inhabits vision and leaves the
life without an ideal.  Every soul is engaged in a great work - the
labor of personal liberation from the state of ignorance.  The
world is a great prison; its bars are the Unknown.  And eac h is a
prisoner until, at last, he earns the right to tear these bars from
their moldering sockets, and pass, illuminated and inspired, into
the darkness, which becomes lighted by that presence.  All peoples
seek the temple where God dwells, where the spirit of the great
Truth illuminates the shadows of human ignorance, but they know not
which way to turn nor where this temple is. The mist of dogma
surrounds them.  Ages of thoughtlessness bind them in.  Limitation
weakens them and retards their footsteps. They wander in darkness
seeking light, failing to realize that the Eght is in the heart of
the darkness.

To the few who have found Him, God is revealed.  These, in turn,
reveal Him to man, striving to tell ignorance the message of
wisdom.  But seldom does man understand the mystery that has been
unveiled.  He tries weakly to follow in the steps of those who have
attained, but all too often finds the path more difficult than he
even dreamed.  So he kneels in prayer before the mountain he cannot
climb, from whose top gleams the light which he is neither strong
enough to reach nor wise enough to comprehend.  He l ives the law
as he knows it, always fearing in his heart that he has not read
aright the flaming letters in the sky, and that in living the
letter of the Law he has murdered the spirit.  Man bows humbly to
the Unknown, peopling the shadows of his own ignorance with saints
and saviors, ghosts and spectres, gods and demons.  Ignorance fears
all things, falling, terror-stricken before the passing wind.
Superstition stands as the monument to ignorance, and b efore it
kneel all who realize their own weakness; wh o see in all things
the strength they do not possess; who give to sticks and stones the
power to bruise them; who change the beauties of Nature into the
dwelling place of ghouls and ogres.  Wisdom fears no thing, but
still bows humbly to its own Source.  While superstition hates all
things, wisdom, with its deeper understanding, loves all things;
for it has seen the beauty, the tenderness, and the sweetness which
underlie Life's mystery.

Life is the span of time appointed for accomplishment.  Every
fleeting moment is an opportunity, and those who are great are the
ones who have recognized life as the opportunity for all things.
Arts, sciences, and religions are monuments standing for what
humanity has already accomplished.  They stand as memorials to the
unfolding mind of man, and through them man acquires more efficient
and more intelligent methods of attaining prescribed results.
Blessed are those who can profit by the experiences of ot hers;
who, adding to that which has already been built, can make their
inspiration real, their dreams practical.  Those who give man the
things he needs, while seldom appreciated in their own age, are
later recognized as the Saviors of the human race.
    
Masonry is a structure built upon experience.  Each stone is a
sequential step in the unfolding of intelligence.  The shrines of
Masonry are ornamented by the jewels of a thousand ages; its
rituals ring with the words of enlightened seers and illuminated
sages.  A hundred religions have brought their gifts of wisdom to
its altar.  Arts and sciences unnumbered have contributed to its
symbolism.  It is more than a faith; it is a path of certainty.  It
is more than a belief; it is a fact.  Masonry is a univers ity,
teaching the liberal arts and sciences of the soul to all who will
attend to its words.  It is a shadow of the great Atlantean Mystery
School, which stood with all its splendor in the ancient City of
the Golden Gates, where now the turbulent Atlantic rolls in
unbroken sweep.  Its chairs are seats of learning; its pillars
uphold the arch of universal education, not only in material
things, but also in those qualities which are of the spirit.  Up on
its trestleboards are inscribed the sacred truths of all nations
and of all peoples, and upon those who understand its sacred depths
has dawned the great Reality.  Masonry is, in truth, that long-lost
thing which all peoples have sought in all ages.  Masonry is the
common denominator as well as the common devisor of human
aspiration.

Most of the religions of the world are like processions: one leads,
and the many follow.  In the footsteps of the demigods, man follows
in his search for truth and illumination.  The Christian follows
the gentle Nazarene up the winding slopes of Calvary.  The Buddhist
follows his great emancipator through his wanderings in the
wilderness.  The Mohammedan makes his pilgrimage acro