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Temple Builder, Craftsmen and Artisans alike, will find much for study and consideration within these pages. Here are keys which, if only read, will leave the reader still in ignorance but, if lived, will change the speculative Masonry of today into the operative Masonry of tomorrow, when each builder, realizing his own place, will see things which he never saw before, not because they were not there, but because he was blind. And there are none so blind as those who will not see.
A book for the Mason and non-Mason. As a contribution to Masonic idealism, revealing the profounder aspects of an ancient Fraternity which has always wrought for the benefit of mankind, the book is one to be read over and over again. The Egyptian Initiate has been added to this edition and readers will find it intensely interesting and enlightening. Reality forever eludes us. Infinity mocks our puny efforts to imprison it in definition and dogma. Our most splendid realizations are only adumbrations of the Light. In his endeavors, man is but a mollusk seeking to encompass the ocean. Yet man may not cease his struggle to find God.
There is a yearning in his soul that will not let him rest, an urge that compels him to attempt the impossible, to attain the unattainable. He lifts feeble hands to grasp the stars and despite a million years of failure and millenniums of disappointment, the soul of man springs heavenward with even greater avidity than when the race was young. He pursues, even though the flying ideal eternally slips from his embrace. Even though he never clasps the goddess of his dreams, he refuses to believe that she is a phantom.
To him she is the only reality. He reaches upward and will not be content until the sword of Orion is in his hands, and glorious Arcturus glearns from his breast. Man is Parsifal searching for the Sacred Cup; Sir Launfal adventuring for the Holy Grail. Life is a divine adventure, a splendid quest Language falls. Words are mere cyphers, and who can read the riddle?
These words we use, what are they but vain shadows of form and sense? We strive to clothe our highest thought with verbal trappings that our brother may see and understand; and when we would describe a saint he sees a demon; and when we would present a wise man he beholds a fool. "Fie upon you," he cries; "thou, too, art a fool." So wisdom drapes her truth with symbolism, and covers her insight with allegory. Creeds, rituals, poems are parables and symbols. The ignorant take them literally and build for themselves prison houses of words and with bitter speech and bitterer taunt denounce those who will not join them in the dungeon. Before the rapt vision of the seer, dogma and ceremony, legend and trope dissolve and fade, and he sees behind the fact the truth, behind the symbol the Reality.
Through the shadow shines ever the Perfect Light. What is a Mason? He is a man who in his heart has been duly and truly prepared, has been found worthy and well qualified, has been admitted to the fraternity of builders, been invested with certain passwords and signs by which he may be enabled to work and receive wages as a Master Mason, and travel in foreign lands in search of that which was lost - The Word. Down through the misty vistas of the ages rings a clarion declaration and although the very heavens echo to the reverberations, but few hear and fewer understand: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
Here then is the eternal paradox. The Word is lost yet it is ever with us. The light that illumines the distant horizon shines in our hearts. "Thou wouldist not seek me hadst thou not found me." We travel afar only to find that which we hunger for at home. And as Victor Hugo says: "The thirst for the Infinite proves infinity." That which we seek lives in our souls. This, the unspeakable truth, the unutterable perfection, the author has set before us in these pages.
Not a Mason himself, he has read the deeper meaning of the ritual. Not having assumed the formal obligations, he calls upon all mankind to enter into the holy of holies. Not initiated into the physical craft, he declares the secret doctrine that all may hear. With vivid allegory and profound philosophical disquisition he expounds the sublime teachings of Freemasonry, older than all religions, as universal as human aspiration. It is well. Blessed are the eyes that see, and the ears that hear, and the heart that understands.