from the introduction to the Book titled "Symbolism of Freemasonry"
by J.D.Buck, 1896
In its ritualism and monitorial lessons Masonry teaches nothing in morals, in science, in religion, or in any other department of human knowledge or human interest, not taught elsewhere in current forms of thought, or by the sages of the past. In these directions it has no secrets of any kind. It is in the ancient symbols of Freemasonry that its real secrets lie concealed, and these are as densely veiled to the Mason as to any other, unless he has studied the science of symbolism in general, and masonic symbols in particular. In place of the term Mystic Masonry, the term Symbolic Masonry might have been used alone, but just here lies the whole secret, a profound mystery, and few Masons up to the present time have had the interest or the patience necessary to such investigation. This is a fact, and not intended as either a criticism or a reproach.
If lacking a knowledge of the profound meaning of masonic symbolism, and its transcendent interest and importance, Masons have allowed the whole organization not only to fail in all real progress, but to degenerate, that is indeed a reproach. The number of individuals admitted to fellowship in the various degrees cannot atone for such degeneracy, but on the contrary it rather emphasizes it.
The author of this book is perfectly well aware that such a treatise will not be popular with a certain class of Masons. They are almost certain to regard it with contempt and to undertake to frown it down. They will make the statement, which is perfectly true, that no such meaning has before been explained to them, and that no such philosophy is found in the monitorial instructions of the Lodge. The author can not, therefore, be justly accused of revealing any of the secrets of the Lodge unlawfully. The most profound secrets of Masonry are not revealed in the Lodge at all, They belong only to the few.
This again, if admitted as a fact, will seem an injustice. But these secrets must be sought by the individual himself, and the candidate is debarred from possessing them solely by his own inattention to the hints everywhere given in the ritual of the Lodge, or by his indifference to the subject. If he prefers to treat the whole subject with con-tempt, and to deny that any such real knowledge exists, it becomes evident that he not only closes the door against the possibility of himself possessing such knowledge, but he also becomes impervious to any evidence of its existence that might come to him at any time. He has no one but himself to blame if he is left in darkness.
On the other hand, there is a large and increasing number of persons among Masons who really desire more light; who are satisfied that there must be other and profounder meanings behind the ritual and ceremonies of the Lodge. Some of these have taken the hint and Journeyed Eastward in search of Light.
The play made upon the word, light, in the Royal Arch, and in almost every other degree; the three greater lights, and the three lesser, ought to teach every intelligent Mason that Light, and the trinity, or triangle of lights, have a profound meaning, or else that the whole ritual is a meaningless farce. Aside from all interest that any individual Mason may find in the subject for his own enlightenment, it is obviously his duty, while preserving unaltered the usages and land-marks of the order, to advance the interests and fame of Masonry itself by every just and benevolent means in his power.
The names that are honored in the traditions of the Lodge and in the history of the Order, belong to those who have thus achieved enduring fame, and they are held aloft in the ritual of the Lodge as worthy of all emulation. But, shall neither the present nor the future add anything to this roll of honor? or, if need be, to the list of martyrs? Are the days of noble deeds past with Masonry forever? and the need of self-sacrifice and devotion altogether a thing of the past?
There was never greater need than at the present time: never so great an opportunity as now for Masonry to assume its true place among the institutions of man and to force recognition by the simple power of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, based upon philosophy such as nowhere else exists outside of its ancient symbols.
If the majority of Masons do not realize the true significance and value of their possessions, there is all the more need for those who do to speak out, even in the face of discouragement and detraction, and do their utmost to demonstrate the truth.