Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Rose Immortal - Chapter 2 - The Goal

from the book "The Rose Immortal"
by A. Bothwell Gosse

"Only the bird of the morning knoweth the worth of the book of the rose; for not everyone who readeth the page understandeth the meaning." HAFIZ.

THE "Rose on the head" points to the Path, that path which finally leads to the rose enshrined, for ever in the heart; the reflection in each fragment of humanity of the Rose of the World. Narrow is the way and straight is the gate leading to this inmost sanctuary, and it is reached by going within. That is why it is so difficult to find, and when found so hard to follow, so full of hindrances and obstacles. The without, the external attracts us, while we fain would turn within to the internal. Like Mr. Facing-both-ways the position is impossible; one way or the other must be relinquished, to choose either will bring peace, because with definite choice the struggle ends, but between the two kinds of peace, there is no comparison, one is temporal and the other leads to life everlasting.

The external belongs to the three dimensional world of form, the internal belongs to another plane. Between them is a boundary, all exoteric teachings lead up to this boundary where the true Path begins. When this line is reached and overpassed all outward forms seem secondary, for the goal, although far off, is clearly seen. Form belongs to the physical and is no longer necessary when that is transcended. The rites and ceremonies of various religions are external aids only, and being realized as such, become matters of indifference. They are merely the signposts pointing out the way, the gateways in the barrier between the unreal and the real, and are no longer needed when the gate is entered and the frontier crossed. In this unknown land man's spirituality asserts itself, he enters into his own kingdom, into the empire of the spirit; reality is touched for the first time, and with it comes the realization of the nearness of the Master.

Companionship with others who have embarked on the same high endeavour keeps the holy fire alight in the heart and, where possible, association with those who are further advanced or who have already attained the goal, is a great stimulation to spiritual growth. In a very literal sense is it good for the novice to be with the disciple, and for the disciple to sit at the feet of the Master! Saadi, who was a great mystic, expresses this subtle influence very beautifully: "One day a piece of scented clay was handed to me. I addressed it thus, 'Art thou ambergris or musk, for I am charmed with thy delicate perfume?' It replied, 'I was but a worthless piece of clay, but for a while I associated with the Rose and so partook of the sweetness of my companion.'"

But there is no vicarious attainment; hard work in character-building alone ensures progress, so, pressing on towards the goal of his high calling, the postulant now replaces exoteric observances by an inner ritual of prayer, contemplation, meditation and above all devotion. Valuable indeed are the first, for the practice of them gives one-pointedness and steadiness to the mind and thus makes it an efficient instrument. The fire of devotion burns up the dross of self; in loving he gives himself, so love alone frees him from himself. "Only in its love has the heart its life; only in its love has the soul its felicity" ; and the sole end of meditation is to love evermore perfectly. Therefore by devotion, meditation and contemplation the pilgrim on the Path abstracts himself from the external, frees himself from space and time and so passes into the centre of his own being, where, offered upon the altar of his heart, his adoration and oblations of praise continuously ascend to the throne of the Most High.

In this secret realm within himself take place those mystic experiences of the soul which are caned initiations.

From the outer court of this temple of the heart, receding ever further within, veil after veil is Penetrated, until the shrine is reached, where is consummated the final ineffable mystery of the union of the spirit with the Supreme. To adore Him, to commune with Him in spirit, to approach near to Him in this life is the supreme object of the devotee; more even than the object, it is the destiny of the aspirant and to this alone he consecrates his life. To attain union with God, that is the goal of the mysteries of the Sacred Heart, the mysteries of the Rose.

The Rose Immortal - Chapter 1 - The Path

from the book "The Rose Immortal"
by A. Bothwell Gosse

"Take a leaf from my rose-garden.
A flower endures but five or six days,

But this rose-garden is always delightful."


WHAT rose do you wear? That is the strange question frequently addressed to the traveller to-day, when wandering among the palm trees by the blue waters of the Nile or when travelling over the scorching sands of Arabia, he is met by a Sheikh, who, thinking he is destined perhaps for the same goat, falls into converse with him. The reply is awaited with suspense, for this question is not what it seems; it is no mere enquiry about a flower, but is indeed fraught with a deep significance. The hoped for answer is a password to confidence, for it declares the goal and at the same time indicates the road by which it may be reached.

"What rose do you wear" is the occult form of asking, To what Esoteric school do you belong? What Path do you tread?

The goal the travellers strive to reach is not of earth. The way thereto has divers names, varying with the land and the people; some call it the quest for God, others know it as Initiation; but to all, finally, it is Union with the Supreme. The schools are many, the paths are various, endless adaptations for the convenience of the wayfarer, but the end is ever the same, "for the path men take from every side is Mine."

This ineffable consummation is typified by the Rose. A hieroglyph which is universal is intelligible whatever the language and the race, so the "flower of flowers" became the symbol of Union, understood of all who beheld it. It became the symbol of the Mysteries by which the goal is attained, and likewise of the different schools or roads on which the disciples travel towards the Divine.

Further subtleties of meaning arose in the form, the number and arrangement of the petals, the beautiful colours, the essence and the intoxicating perfume, each bore a definite significance and had its own interpretation, until the system of the symbolism developed into a veritable language of flowers understood by the mystics of all lands. Used in its most elaborate form by the Sufis in the East, the Persian saint and the Arabian poet comprehend it; none the less it belongs to no one age or clime. In infinitely remote times, thousands of years before our era, the Egyptian Initiate kneeling at the shrine of Isis knew the Rose as symbol of her Mysteries and her power. In the Middle Ages the pious cathedral builders of Europe wrought the Rose symbolism into carved stonework of most exquisite perfection, for tbe Church had taught them that Mary the Mother of God was the Rose Queen of the World.

In the imagery of the Orient, combined with the Rose symbolism is found that of the Cup; very often indeed the terms are synonymous, or again the many uses and meanings of the "Cup" are woven (as it were) into a parallel allegory, wherein the same high teachings are revealed to those who have 'ears to hear.'

On the other hand. in the divine wisdom of the West, the Cross is inseparable from the Rose; both play a prominent part in the ritual of worship which conveys by these symbols a profound belief in many mysteries, and this faith is reflected in the form and ornamentation of ecclesiastical architecture.

To-day and yesterday, in countries far and near, those who "have taken the Rose" have the emblem enshrined for ever in their hearts; so East and West, partaking of the same knowledge, in the possession of the same symbol at once beautiful and profound, can join hands as "comrades of the Rose." Cloistered monk and frenzied dervish both see in it a pledge of the devotion of their lives, and know that the "Rose on the head honours the wearer - it points to the Path."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Masonry: the reality, not the ideal

by Albert Pike

It is the motionless and stationary that most frets and impedes the current of progress; the solid rock or stupid tree, rested firmly on the bottom, and around which the river whirls and eddies.

The Masons that doubt and hesitate and are discouraged; that disbelieve in the capacity of man to improve; that are not disposed to toil and labor for the interest and well being of general humanity; that expects others to do all, even of that which they do not oppose or ridicule; while they sit, applauding and doing nothing, or perhaps prognosticating failure.