From the Venerable Master (March, 2012)

posted May 23, 2015, 3:57 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 3:57 PM ]
Chuck Cowden
I thank everyone who helped make our Valentine’s Day and Sweetheart Recognition Night a great success. It was a very special evening.
This month, I am going to reflect on Brother Walter Leslie Wilmshurst’s thoughts on the initiatic process. This process is virtually universal regardless of the mystery school one might consider. In his book, The “Masonic Initiation” written in the early 1920s he contends that most masons would be surprised to hear that our ceremonial ritual as performed then and I contend still today does not constitute or confer real initiation at all. In the original sense of the initiation ceremonial it was the process of admitting a man to the solemn mysteries of the human soul and to a practical experience in the divine science. Today, the words initiation and mysteries have become so misused and devalued that they are now used in relation to familiarizing someone with the stock market or the business cycle.
Nevertheless, the degrees our gentle craft do give us an outline and a partial picture of what the real process involves. We are then left much to ourselves to seek out the deeper meanings of our teachings to discover the real meanings of the lessons of our ancient masters; or, treat the process as just so much ceremony by the experience.
That said, every system of real initiation, whether ancient or contemporary is divided into three clear-cut phases. Before one can pass from the darkness to the light and discover the “Blazing Star or glory” of one’s own center (temple) he must accomplish three tasks.  First, he must turn away from the attractions of the outer world by detaching his self from the “allurements” of all that is meant by “money and metals”. Further he must subdue and purify the bodily and sensual tendencies. This work is accomplished in the Entered Apprentice Degree.
The second phase of the initiation process deals with analysis, discipline and gaining control of your inner world – the mind, your thoughts, your intellectual and psychic faculties. This is the work of the Fellowcraft Degree. 
The third and final phase is the “last and greatest trial”. This is the breaking and surrender of the individual will, the lessening of the personality and selfishness so that the petty things are subordinated and merged with the Divine Universal Will. Thus only can the illusion of a separate independent existence give way to the conscious realization of unity with the one Life that permeates the universe. To achieve this is to attain mastership which results in complete domination of our lower nature and the development in oneself of a higher order of life and faculties. This is the work of the Master Mason degree.
The Masonic degrees give the earnest mason, the diligent pursuer of real light, a clear path or chart of the process of spiritual self-development. Further, he is directed to a most valuable key which can unlock the “central truth and discover the hidden secrets and mysteries of his own being”.
I hope this provides some food for thought. The serious nature of our degrees deserves our full respect and honor. The next time you are involved in a degree take the time before, during and after the ceremonies for silent reflection on what the degree means to you and the candidate. 
Mark your calendars for the Maundy Thursday celebration on April 5. I look forward to seeing you at our stated meetings and dinners. Still looking ahead plan to attend the Spring Reunion starting on April 10 with the conferral of the 4th Degree. Full details on the reunion and Maundy Thursday will be found in your Rite Word and on our website at  www.sanjosescottishrite.org.     

Fraternally,
Chuck Cowden, 32⁰,  KCCH
Venerable Master