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As we know, Freemasonry is concerned with the evolution of a brother’s soul, and the Masonic teachings of the lodge are orchestrated in such a way to ensure a man can live a virtuous life in the eyes of the Grand Architect of the Universe.
What makes Freemasonry so inclusive is the fact that the fraternity does not subscribe to a particular religious belief. Instead, brothers are admitted to the lodge upon the condition that they believe in the Supreme Being. No religious affiliation is required.
As such, Masonic Lodges across the world are inclusive and diverse spaces. Within the lodge, emphasis is placed on teaching Masons about the importance of personal and spiritual development, as opposed to elevating a particular religious doctrine.
This post will examine the soul’s evolutionary trajectory through Masonic rituals and teachings and understand how Masons seek truth and enlightenment through various activities and practices.
The Supreme Being
As we have alluded to, religious belief is not a pre-requisite to becoming a Mason. Indeed, Freemasonry does not attempt to replicate or replace some of the world’s most popular religions and instead exists alongside religious authorities and preaches a different message.
The fundamental reason why faith in the Supreme Being is required of Masons is that to believe in God is to believe in creationism, an imperative tenet of Freemasonry. Interestingly, to believe in creation is a concept known as teleology, which is derived from the Greek word Telos. Telos means ‘reason, purpose, or end.’
Read more: Understanding What Freemasons believe in
We know that Masonic teachings focus on educating brothers about the reason for their existence. A Mason must seek to learn the Universe’s Absolute Truth throughout their journey, and a large part of that is focusing on the development of their soul.
To this end, the connection between a soul and a higher power is significant. Freemasonry encourages brothers to live their lives in a way that seeks the purity of soul and reflects the benevolence of the Supreme Being.
The competing facets of Telos
While brothers are united in their belief in the Supreme Being, their individual opinions regarding the teleological purpose of life often differ significantly. A Mason must be respectful of the belief systems of his fellow brothers.
Our belief systems, particularly those of a religious nature, depend upon how we conceptualize God or the divine. In cultures where Freemasonry is prevalent, the most common teleological differences are between the Abrahamic religions and theologies from the East.
We know by studying history that much conflict has arisen due to sectarian differences between the Abrahamic religions alone, but a brother must welcome the diversity of fellow Masons if he is to achieve purity and sanctity of his soul.
The Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, tend to focus their teachings on preparing followers for the afterlife. At the same time, it’s generally believed that our overarching objective in life is to worship God.
In the Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, it is believed that the soul evolves over many lifetimes and is even reincarnated after death. Such belief is in stark contrast to the Abrahamic teachings, and it’s easy to see why conflict develops as a result of theological misunderstandings.
Freemasonry unites believers
Freemasonry welcomes men into the fraternity regardless of their teleological beliefs. Through the Masonic teachings, brothers learn the value of inter-connectedness, and they are taught specific values that will nurture the purity of the soul.
Many of the virtues taught within Masonry, such as discipline, honor, universal brotherhood, charity, and justice, are universally relatable and are not segregated upon teleological lines.
Regardless of a brother’s belief in the afterlife, Freemasonry encourages them to universally accept the process of living a virtuous, values-based life, through which they contribute widely to their families and communities.
When you consider the vast religious fissures that have been prevalent across the world since time immemorial, Freemasonry’s ability to unite men of contrasting teleological perceptions has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Freemasonry perhaps doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in this respect, and many religious bodies even regard it as an unwelcome distraction and a threat to some of the world’s most established religions.
The most prevalent example of this mistrust from the religious community is the Catholic church’s perception of Freemasonry. Since the Papal ban of 1738 issued by Pope Clement XII, Catholics have not been permitted to become Freemasons, and the ban still stands today.
While many Catholics have joined the fraternity, particularly in recent years, it is not permitted by their church. Catholicism’s unwillingness to embrace Freemasonry as a unifying body is as much a reflection on the insecurities of the church as it is on their misunderstanding of the overarching purpose of Freemasonry.
Conclusion: the evolution of the soul through Freemasonry
As we have explored, Freemasonry is concerned with educating brothers about the importance of living a virtuous life, throughout which they can nourish their souls and become better individuals that can contribute to building the broader fabric of society.
From a teleological viewpoint, Masons across the world harbor different belief systems, where one of the only unifying truths is their belief in the Supreme Being. Depending upon how they conceptualize God or the divine, they would ordinarily seek to explore life’s most pressing questions through different lenses.
Yet Freemasonry acts as a unifier and encourages men from different backgrounds to search for meaning in life and develop their souls’ purity through the Masonic rituals and teachings, without getting too caught up in the individual teachings of their specific religions.
When a Mason reaches the end of his life, he should be content in the knowledge that his journey through Freemasonry has allowed him to seek the Absolute Truth of the universe, and he should go to the grave with his virtuous soul intact.