The Meaning of Secret Ceremonies
It has been often said that Freemasonry is a secret order and that initiation is efficient only if it is kept secret, hidden from the mundane world. Because of this most people still believe all the myths and legends that surround our initiatic structure. It seems that, to be efficient, an initiation should be an experience that has to be discovered gradually through different ceremonies in different degrees and that its efficacy lies in the very process of discovery. But why does the said process of discovery play such an important part in the unfolding of truth?
I must make the proviso that the views I'm about to present in this article are mine and I am not speaking on behalf of Freemasonry in general. These views are an attempt to answer the question above with a careful study based on observations and logic so that those myths, legends and superstitions which exist in the public imagination regarding Freemasonry can be challenged and hopefully avoided.
If we observe our condition as humans, we can realise very easily that in life, or at least at this level of reality, the only thing that is permanent is the non-permanent state where we evolve. We start our life with the body of a baby and then later on we have the body of an adult, and then we grow old and we die and as a result of this process our body is transformed. The same applies with non-animated matter: monuments are refurbished and when our car ages it breaks down more often, and when we clean the dust, the dust always returns.
As a result we can easily determine that life is a flow, characterised by a non-permanent state and articulated by a cause and effect relationship. It's actually the cause and effect relationship that creates this non-permanent state. Once we determine that fact, it's easy to suggest that any flow in the universe has a source, but if the flow is the result or consequence of that cause and effect relationship, we can also determine that the source of the flow is an effect without a cause and if that is the case then it's also a place where nothing is determined because we are determined by our previous causes, and as a result the universe is a place where everything is possible.
At this level of reality, which I personally think is the essence of our beings, we are not necessarily in the chronology of time, because an effect without a cause outside of determinism is not taken by the flow of cause and effect relationship. We are not in a linear and quantitative temporality. As a result, I would call this level of reality ‘Eternity’. Now we all know the history of the world throughout the centuries chronologically, so it would be tempting to think that Eternity is located at the beginning of time but in doing so we give it a date and insert it in time. I would suggest then that Eternity is not located in the past, but rather in our depth and in the depth of everything that exists, within a vertical perspective that respects the chronology of time.
If Eternity is, indeed, located in our depth or within ourselves it is interesting to observe how in the tracing board of the 1st degree a circle with a centre is depicted. This symbol suggests to me that we live on the surface of a cone and when we reach the centre of the surface by certain processes we collapse into eternity.
I know by experience that an initiation is one of the processes which can allow that to happen. How? I believe this process takes place by different means.
So, what about secret ceremonies?
I said previously that the source of the flow of life is an effect without a cause outside of determinism, that is to say outside the flow. If we are not contained within this cause and effect relationship, there is no subject and object, no chronology, no quantity. It is all mindfulness, a state of consciousness without object.
Because we don't know what will happen in the degree ceremonies as initiates, our minds cannot anticipate or foresee the outcome. We live these degrees as events that leave their impression upon us and as a consequence there appears to be a merging of subject and object, so from a cognitive perspective, we are at the source of the flow of life, the source of creation.
Based on these observations we can conclude that the Masonic initiation places us in a very specific state of consciousness. In life we always do something for a reason or in order to obtain something in exchange, as we live in a world ruled by a cause and effect relationship; people often pray to God because they love him or perhaps decide to help a perfect stranger because they feel touched by her or his situation. We always do something for a reason. In a cognitive perspective without object, we are not doing anything, we ARE. That's why I've mentioned above that this is the essence of our being. I would even suggest that this essence is permanent or eternal because not taken by chronology. There is a something akin to immortality in us and it's our essence.
Masonic ceremonies unfold in time but from a place and space which is not ruled by a chronology as a result. That's why any initiation implies a death and a rebirth. There is no, continuity; we collapse and then we resurface in time in the ceremony as a different, new person. We are Freemasons. The ceremony is the ladder that brings us back to the surface.
Without a Masonic initiation at our disposal and brotherly love in action, it would be a lot more difficult to find ourselves in that state of consciousness even though this is not impossible.
If we think about it more carefully, we can see this state of consciousness as the intensity of the eternal present moment. As an example to illustrate that point, we all have had conversations with friends and we commonly consider these talks to be happening in the present, but what is the present? After all, during these talks it takes a certain time to deliver our speech – micro seconds after micro seconds time is passing by. We see then that it's not very often that we have the opportunity to experience such a form of bliss.
Such a state of consciousness is what is happening to the mystics when they sacrifice the self through humility towards their deities, or when we don't have words to describe what we feel in front of a beautiful scenery or a piece of art. It's also what is happening when we fall in love. I'm not talking about love for a reason based on the emotion of the ego, but rather I'm referring to pure unconditional love, an effect without a cause based not on emotion but on energy. And I say energy because on a cognitive level we are at the source of creation. And of course we can say that we are created from love.
We can see from these various examples the relevance and importance of both Freemasonry and the initiatic method. The initiatic method is therefore, in my humble opinion, the most efficient way to help people to discover who they are and to discover their true nature.
One can only hope for the future that, once armed with that knowledge, humanity will be able to build a world in accord with its true nature and not based on tales we tell ourselves to sustain the lack of knowledge regarding this very true nature.
This is how, in my view, Freemasonry can contribute to promote a better world.
Bro∴ Philippe Di Crocco, Lodge Mercury No 706