The Lodge System is Broken and Needs a Philosophical Renewal
By JC Collins
The much studied transformation from Operative Masonry to Speculative Masonry in the 16th Century should hardly be referenced as a “reformation” in the traditional sense of the word. It was more of the assimilation between parallel and complimentary centralized governing mandates which were meant to spread the ideals and advantages of a self-professed system of fabricated elitism.
The evidence to support such a statement is found in the very nature of the lodge system itself. Pulling the baby out of the bath water we can see that modern masonry serves as a fraternal “benefit” society or order which is more prone to attract those with selfish interests as opposed to those with selfless interests. This is the left over bath water.
As a young man getting involved in the lodge system it quickly became apparent to me that the majority of those involved as Masons were really just looking for some comradery and laughter with likeminded friends with whom they would share the lodge as a place of commonality. A smaller minority was more focused on joining the lodge for selfish reasons and after a few months to year of attendance and participation they would realize that there was no shortcut to success and they would have to earn their spurs before anything of value came about.
This caused many to stop attending the lodge meetings and remain in the background as Masons so they could continue to wear the ring and pound handshakes when needed.
Those that progressed past the blue degrees had to work even harder at ritual and practice and be expected to be participating on multiple levels in the lodge system. With each step the personal commitment and time required increased, and so it should.
The self-professed elitism becomes even more pronounced and amplified the further one progresses, as it does in any company and organization. But to make a broad statement that Freemasons control everything is somewhat misleading and not altogether accurate. Even within the higher degrees Masonry and the lodge system as a whole has self-corrupted into perpetual disarray and misguided entanglement. They can hardly manage themselves, let alone the whole world.
The lodge system works under a centralized governance framework with the Grand Lodges serving as the apex of ceremony and regulation. The system itself has become broken and is unable to move past and threw the very self-professed elitism which it harbors as a method of protectionism and relevancy.
When we consider the broader origins of the Masonic theology and decipher the rituals as the clear extension of esoteric thought which they were clearly meant to communicate, we can, with a high level of authority and accuracy state that the lodge system has utterly failed at maintaining the teachings of the ancient mystery schools.
How can I say this?
It’s easy. Take a look at the world. Does it feel like it is being managed by those with illuminated minds? Of course not, but to truly understand the extent of the failure of the lodge system we must have a full and reflective understanding of what the schools were attempting to accomplish.
This is where the divergence from the ancient philosophy and the modern pseudo-philosophy takes place. Those who wished to enter the ancient mystery schools as adepts had to prove themselves as worthy and strong enough to stay true to the teachings at every step of the way. You could not become an adept or entered apprentice simply because you knew someone or your father was previously an adept. Each individual was considered and put through a serious of tests to ensure suitability and perseverance so that the process itself would not self-corrupt and lead to the sort of degenerate and destructive thought-forms which have savaged the lodge system and the modern world.
This also prevented the sort of generational elitism which we see in the world today where the mechanisms of cultural control are passed on within families who control wealth and the purse strings of government.
Those who took on the responsibility of the ancient teachings had the responsibility of the whole world on their shoulders and any thoughts or feelings of self-empowerment and greed were vile enemies which required great learning and encouragement to resist. These things were learned through the proper application of the teachings and by maintaining the integrity of the school or lodge system.
These students would evolve and become what Plato and others referenced as the Philosopher Kings and the fishers of men. Can anyone today honestly state that the lodge system produces such human beings? It does not?
The hidden teachings are all around us and within us but require a method or system of extraction and awareness. The ancient mystery schools, from which the Masonic lodges evolved, succeeded in accomplishing this and providing a process where those with the strength and perseverance to develop the ability to extract these truths could master their craft for the betterment of humanity and not for selfish reasons.
The very fact that our world has been overrun with selfishness is a testament to the failure of the lodge system to maintain and transfer this wisdom down through the ages. The centralization and spread, or saturation, of the lodge system is a contributor to this degradation. Every town and city has a lodge with a full body of officers and members. There is not that many people in the world who would qualify to meet the strict admittance standards of the ancient mystery schools.
Even if we considered that the general lodge system is used as a tool, like a labor pool is used to identify talent for apprenticeship; we still can’t expect that the numbers would add up. Though that may have been the intention in the beginning, but the rise of materialism on the back of the industrial revolution corrupted the lower and larger bodies of the lodge system. This caused the talent pool to shrink with each passing generation until the qualities of character which were expected no longer existed and the incremental degeneration, or devolution, of the teachings caused the lodge system to drift in the shadows of what it wanted to become.
Freemasonry as it stands today is in need of a reformation and complete overhaul of the lodges. The lodge system can remain but there needs to be a clear and honest communication of what its objectives are and how it intends to accomplish those objectives. It must once again attract the most philosophically abstract of minds and mold those minds to implement the sharp application of politics through a philosophical filter. – JC