I was extremely gratified when I was introduced to the Lost Word in the completion of my Degrees. Whereas it might seem like unfulfilled suspense to some, it was a palpable representation of a concept I recognized from my own spiritual journeys long before I was a Mason.
"The way that can be told is not the Way."
Absolute Truth lay beyond both senses and conceptualization, in the realm of the Mystical. To give something a name is to kill it, or at least separate its reality from our knowledge of it. This linguistic mirage becomes a label, a placeholder, or "substitute" for the real thing at best. In a world of fingers pointing to the moon, we cannot help but err to fixate on the fingers, not the moon.
It's also why some faith traditions do not give G-d a name or even spell that word out fully. When Moses was asked who he shall say sent him, the Answer became a sacred acronym, the tetragrammaton. And yet, regardless of such answers that may be given in other degree systems, it is still a placeholder. It is a few steps forward toward an infinitely distant horizon. (I have to admit, the pretense of a definitive answer for the Lost Word in further rituals disappoints me, as it takes away the purpose I suggest here.)
This is why I have said you could not impart the secrets of Freemasonry even if you wanted to. They are not in the words and grips themselves. Knowing them does not make you a Mason. They are like a key to a door you do not know, and yet can pass simply by knocking, as it will be opened onto you. It is the Gateless Gate.
So how can a secret society impart such a secret to life, the universe, and everything? I have heard ritual wonderfully described as using inadequate words and symbols to show and say what cannot be shown or said. Our whole craft is a language designed to transcend not just operative, literal interpretations, but even themselves. The objects in our rooms and hands draw us beyond "this crude matter" to a thought-form. That much is easy, though many may not have an awareness of even that at first. But perhaps if we let go a little, it can be realized as an ungraspable truth. In a moment of timelessness and everywhere-ness, we catch a glimpse of light, not as seer and subject, but as an object — the Light itself.
And so we cannot be given the True Word, less we kill it, or worse yet, deceive ourselves to think we know, missing the transformation of true Knowing. We give ourselves titles and certificates and other accolades, all of which point to things that may or may not exist. We corporal beings are distracted by such things or derailed altogether.
Even the anchor of ritual, meant to steady oneself against moral relativity and nihilistic libertine-ness, can sink us under the water. A disciple of John was once admonished, "Scripture is like the messenger sent by the Rabbi; do not mistaken the messenger for the Rabbi." Such it is with ritual. Like a name or even a conceptualization, it does not exist for its own sake.
The loss of the Word is about the fall of Adam, and the search for it, the desire for redemption. It is the perfect ashlar we expend tremendous effort to become, even aware it can only be completed by transcending that horizon, that Level of Time through the profundity of mortal transformation. If we possess the Real Word, even a glimpse of it, our Perfect Ashlar awaits us.
If we get caught up in the idea, the concept, the knowledge, and intellectual prowess we achieve and are not willing to let go of it in favor of the Real Word, we are like those who reach the other shore but refuse to get out of the boat once its usefulness passes. And yet these are the things of this World. These are the tools we must work with because they are the things we CAN work with.
So when does one receive the Real World? Perhaps this is neither the time nor place, and the trials of being human are nothing more than the impetuousness of those who can't bear to wait until their Temple is finished. Perhaps that is the nature of suffering, and Masonry leads us out of it, to that Mystery which cannot be told.
Bro. Ken JP Stuczynski is a member of West Seneca Lodge No.1111 and recently served as Master of Ken-Ton Lodge No.1186. As webmaster for NYMasons.Org, he is on the Communications and Technology Committees for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, serving his second term as Sovereign Prince of Palmoni Council in the Valley of Buffalo, NMJ. He also coordinates a Downtown Square Club monthly lunch in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife served as Patron and Matron of Pond Chapter No.853 Order of the Eastern Star and considered himself a “Masonic Feminist”.
As a masonic speaker throughout New York State, he has also given presentations at town hall meetings regarding the use of technology in the Craft. His numerous Empire State Mason articles have been republished in Arizona and New Jersey. To aid in his outreach on these topics, he authored “Webmastering the Craft: Fraternity in a Digital World”, available worldwide in softcover and eBook.
Having lifelong interests far and wide across philosophy, world religions, and all the natural sciences, his degree is in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and a minor In Psychology. He has written articles and essays on the topics of science and religion, culture and politics, business and economics, technology and futurism, as well as various aspects of social psychology. Usually, with interdisciplinary contexts, many of these focus on the ideals of intellectual honesty and tolerance in all forms. Having edited and contributed to Books of Transactions by the Western New York Lodge of Research of which he is a member, he plans to formally publish some of his larger works, starting with the upcoming book, “Contemplations on Astronomy”, and a special Masonic edition will contain his “Astronomical Tour of the Lodge”.
He runs his primary business, Kentropolis Internet, from home where he lives with his wife and plenty of pets. In addition to various community service projects, he teaches Tai Chi to veterans at the VA Recovery Center. He is also an independent interfaith minister with hospital chaplain credentials who does weddings, funerals, memorials, and other services. His personal project is the “Earth 2 Mouth” program which connects farms, volunteers, and soup kitchens. He also enjoys carpentry and keeps bees with his daughter at an organic farm in East Otto, NY."