Since his raising three years ago, Adam had made an extensive study of the Emulation Lectures. He found he was particularly interested in the fourth section of the first lecture, which deals with Charity. He had long felt that the proper application of Charity did not imply simply collection of a lot of money, giving it to deserving causes, whether masonic or not. Charity, Sandeep had reminded him, came better from the heart than from the bank account. Adam and Sandeep had studied this lecture together, and one part Adam had found especially striking:
Happy is the man who has, sown in his breast, the seeds of benevolence; he envies not his neighbour; he believes not a tale reported to his prejudice, he forgives the injuries of men and endeavours to blot them from his recollection …
So in the interest of sowing harmony, it was not only necessary to do good, in charity and love, but also vital to refrain from injuring others. Freemasonry, if not his religion, had taught Adam not to believe unsubstantiated rumour and gossip. He had heard of a lodge where there had been a quarrel, in which one Brother had been said to have been guilty of malpractice. He felt that there was no room for enmity, mistrust, hostility and malevolence, especially in Freemasonry. Harmony was the thing.
But Sandeep had been reading Reason in Revolt on the subject of harmony and discord. ‘Everywhere we look in nature,’ he said, we see the dynamic co-existence of opposing tendencies, such as good and evil, harmony and discord. They are the creative tension that gives life and motion. This principle is present in Oriental religions, as in the idea of ying and yang in China, and in Buddhism. This is critical appraisal or logic in a mystified form. My own Hindu religion poses three phases: Creation, Brahma; Maintenance or Order, Vishnu; Destruction or Disorder, Shiva. The difference between the gods Shiva, “the Untamed”, and Vishnu is not the antagonism between good and evil, but that the two principles of harmony and discord together underlie the whole of existence.’
‘Does that mean that we must tolerate Evil alongside Good?’ asked Adam.
‘I’m not sure about the word “tolerate”, replied Sandeep, ‘but it is certain that the two co-exist. That doesn’t mean that we should allow Evil to wreak havoc in the world. Our survival depends on our ability, and our will, to combat Evil. If Evil had proved superior to Good in world history, we would already have destroyed ourselves. Thanks to humanitarian initiatives, chief among them Freemasonry, we have not done so.’ The two of them went on reading the section of the lecture. Another, earlier part proved to be quite poetic and very engaging:
What supports a Freemason’s
Three great pillars.
What are they called?
Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
Why Wisdom, Strength and
Wisdom to contrive, Strength to
support, and Beauty to adorn.
Wisdom to conduct us in all
our undertakings, Strength to
support us under all our
difficulties, and Beauty to
adorn the inward man.
This section went on to say that the Deity
… has stretched forth the Heavens as a canopy; the earth He has planted as a footstool; He crowns His Temple with stars as with a diadem, and with His hand He extends the power and glory. The Sun and Moon are messengers of His will, and all His law is concord.
Now Adam began to see that concord, otherwise known as harmony, was a God-given quality, as important as physical nourishment or spiritual sustenance.
But what about our access to the Deity Itself? Here too there were ample indications in the lecture, where the legend of Jacob’s Ladder is related:
Jacob … being weary and benighted on a desert plain, lay down to rest, taking … the canopy of heaven for a covering. He there in a vision saw a ladder, the top of which reached to the heavens, and the angels of the Lord ascending and descending thereon. It was then that the Almighty entered into a solemn covenant with Jacob …
So the ladder is a connection between earth and heaven, man and God, and indicates that we are in the end all One.
Sandeep was astonished. ‘But there is a similar legend related in the Bhagavad Gita. There we learn that
Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually climb the path that leads on high …
which is also an indication of the possibility of man’s nature attaining to oneness with God.’
Oneness, the ultimate harmony, thought Adam. That’s all there is necessary for true happiness and fulfilment.
This universal frame began;
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ranFrom harmony, from heavenly harmony