Operative and Speculative and Spiritual Freemasonry

Question:  It has been said that “just as the Speculative Freemasonry emerged from the Operative Freemasonry, Spiritual Freemasonry will emerge from the Speculative Freemasonry.”  What are your views on this suggested evolutionary trend?

A deeper consideration of this question depends upon the understanding views that a Freemason may have about several interrelated factors, for instance, the nature of the Builders (who are they anyway?), what is being built, speculative Freemasonry, operative Freemasonry, spiritual Freemasonry, etc.

In AUM our view is the reverse of conventional Masonic thinking along these lines as to what came from what, and a consideration of this question must, of necessity and again, include a consideration of the Ancient Landmarks.  Viewing this phrase as a symbolic expression embodying the basic truths of Freemasonry, the most esoteric meaning closest to the origin of the idea is that of the precipitation on earth of certain cosmic and universal archetypal plans, which are to be found preserved for us in the “picture-book of the Heavens” where the pattern of things exists.  The Ancient Landmarks might therefore be defined as a reflection, externalization and symbolic form of those principles, purposes, techniques, methods and rules of order that govern the Lodge on High.  The recognized landmarks must have a relation and correspondence to a subjective reality.

The Landmarks associated with Freemasonry have been persistent throughout the ages, “since time immemorial,” and if a definition of the term, “Ancient Landmarks,” is to be consistent with the idea of precipitating archetypal patterns in the Heavens, it substantiates the proposition that Freemasonry, with its emphasis upon the building of the Temple of the Lord, is a reflection or the precipitation upon Earth of an eternal but similar activity of an inner and spiritual Lodge of Master Masons working under the Grand Master of the World, and further extended to the Grand Master of the Universe.  The very existence of Freemasonry itself is the result of this inner activity.

The Ancient Landmarks may therefore be regarded as originating in the recognition, by ancient humanity, of those divine impressions, precipitations and symbols, which were the guarantee to mankind of that which lies behind, over and above all manifested phenomena.  They spoke to him of that world of patterns, of archetypal forms and of originating powers, which is, to many, the only explanation of that which is seen.

Operative Freemasonry

The earliest forms that the Ancient Landmarks took were certain vast constructions found scattered about the earth, some few of which still remain today, such as in South America, Egypt and of Stonehenge in England, of the old Temples of Initiation.  They built huge Temples, but built them true to the symbolic designs in which they watched the rites and ceremonies enacted by the initiate-priests of old.  Across the ancient globe the sacred magnetic centers were marked by the erection of such Temples, thus creating a magnetic grid of light around the globe and between them, and they stood forth as planetary symbols of a divine purpose and will that was unalterable and fixed.

It is in these ancient temples and structures that we have, symbolically speaking, the origin of operative Freemasonry, but which must be understood to be in itself an external symbol of that inner and speculative Freemasonry, which is occupied (as is the Lodge on High) with the task of enlightening, educating and raising the consciousness of humanity towards the light of the Soul.

Our view in AUM is therefore a reverse of the exoteric and conventional Masonic view that regards the speculative to have grown out of the operative Craft.  We view it that the operative art is an external result, expression or effect of the inner, speculative science; the appearance in form of certain internal precipitating truths pertaining to solar, cosmic and universal archetypal plans and patterns.  Thus in our view the operative craft is but an external symbol of an inner spiritual reality, and that the speculative science therefore existed before the operative craft.

Speculative Freemasonry

One of the conventional definitions of “Speculative Freemasonry” is that “it is but the application of Operative Freemasonry to moral and intellectual purposes.”  This is useful to a point in applying symbols as such from the Aristotelian inductive philosophical mode of tracing things inwards from particulars to universals.  But in our view the sequence is reversed and engages more the occult views of the deductive reasoning of Pythagoras and Plato, plus the view of the Ancient Wisdom of the more esoteric understanding that all things proceed from the inner being to outer appearances, from within to without, from universals to particulars, and to the appearance of phenomena being a creative precipitation of inner impulses.

The work of the Grand Lodge on High is concerned with the revelation of spirit through the medium of the outer world of forms.  The work of the individual Freemason, within the Temple of his own heart, has the same major theme or plan.  The work that each Lodge is intended to demonstrate has basically the same objective—the revelation of divine quality in group form.

In this light, it is possible to realise and understand that the operative art or craft emerged from and is a precipitation into form of the speculative science.  That inner speculative science is occupied with the task of enlightening, educating and raising the consciousness of humanity.  The true builder in this enterprise, to which all the symbolism in Freemasonry alludes, is that of the soul within, the builder of the inner man, (in Sanskrit terms, the solar pitri), whose objective is to raise states of matter to approximate states of consciousness.  The primary working tool of this Entity is the mind factor in its triple divisions, through which it shapes and moulds—from the inner to the outer—and builds according to the inner pattern or design laid down upon the Tracing Board of the spiritual consciousness.  Therefore, rather than the building of an outer temple, it is the inner Temple of the Soul, the Temple of Light to which speculative Freemasonry directs our attention, illustrating the process, objectives and spiritual goals through the symbolism of the art of building, and as enacted in the symbolic, ceremonial rites and dramas of Freemasonry.  Speculative Freemasonry, in its truer sense therefore, is cooperating with the Grand Lodge on High in the work of the revelation of spirit through the medium of the outer form, and if we can understand that then we can understand the truer meaning of Operative Freemasonry.

The Creative Builders

On a much deeper or esoteric level, an understanding of the truer work of building and the theme of the builders—of which Freemasonry is but a symbol—must engage an understanding consideration and study of the Creative Hierarchies.  These are the active Builders constantly at work within the Mighty Workshop of the Lord; and since all that exists is essentially composed of Their being, and since, we, in all parts of our selves, are not only composed by and of them but in our deeper and spiritual essential Self are intrinsically a part of Them, then it will be appreciated that the emergence or development of what could be regarded as “occult” or “esoteric” Freemasonry—i.e., consciously working with and within these living Forces—lies far ahead of us at this time.  That is all a deep subject and beyond our scope here.

But since that type of esoteric or occult (applying the terms “esoteric” and “occult” here as it pertains to a knowledge of those mysterious energies and forces which are not always readily known to conventional man or to conventional science, but which are always present and causative nevertheless and have nothing to do with anything dark or forbidding [as is conventionally and ignorantly associated with such terms] but which are the forces and energies utilised and applied by the workers and servers in the Light for the benefit of mankind) to Freemasonry lies far ahead, then for the time being and in answer to the question pertaining to “spiritual Freemasonry emerging from the speculative,” we present another alternative view that is not so much seen in the triple sequence of emergence as outlined in the question, but to the necessity for the consummation of the blending of the inner and the outer, the subjective and the objective, the operative and speculative, in order to more truly understand the nature of the next evolutionary trend and need in Freemasonry.  Thus, through this blending and fusing the inner and spiritual Lodge can manifest upon the earth and the Lodges of earth can be raised up into heaven.

Thus, “Let that which is below be as that which is above” is our AUM “motto” and keynote.

As above, so it is below.  That which has been will return again.  As in heaven, so will be on earth . . .