Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Purpose of Ritual - is it an enlightening process?

What is the purpose of ritual within Freemasonry?, why do we as human beings need a seemingly repetitive system?. 

Ritual is described as "A set of actions performed for their symbolic value".  Ritual can be created through religious directives or social traditions.  But it should be clear that meaningful ritual has a serious and beneficial content behind the rich symbolism. 

As Julian Rees states in regards to Freemasonry:

"If we examine the ritual forms which we have inherited, we discover that much of the Spiritual content remains.  We discover that all the way through our ceremonies we are encouraged to research our inner selves.  Wherever we look in masonic ritual, the constant theme is one of knowing who and where I am, and knowing  my true relationship to my fellowman and the universe I inhabit"

Recently I have been confronted with several Brethern and non-brethern who dont think there is any real significance to what, we as Masons do in lodge. This can be easily countered by pointing out everything that we do in lodge has tremendous significance - from the fraternal friendship displayed, to the giving of alms, the dedications to the G.A.O.T.U. displaying the practical values of faith, hope and charity.

However delving into the ritualistic aspects of Freemasonry, I do believe there is great significance to the individual participating and watching within the lodge.  Tracing the possibility that Freemasonry comes from the ancient mystery schools, Julian Rees continues -

"The Mysteries were schools, which provided the gateway to the non-material realms, and to the knowledge of the natural laws operating in them.  They existed for the satisfaction for those who wished to know more, those who wished to understand divinity, directly for themselves.  How did they do this? Incorporated in the practice of ancient Mysteries were a process of initiations, a process directly comparable with Masonic initiation"

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