Over the years I've explained the journey of consciousness and sentience using the water cycle. We were created (evaporated) from the ocean of Universal Consciousness, live an individuated existence (as vapor and rain), and eventually, through Enlightenment, stream back to the Source. This is described variously in all the mystical traditions of humanity, theistically and non-theistically, from St. John of the Cross's Union with God to D. T. Suzuki's works regarding Satori. But all fingers point to the same moon. What finger does Freemasonry provide?
How do we, as a Living Stone, start our journey? We first became an individuated object when we were cut in the Quarry, where all stone is one united (universal) mass. In Masonry, our journey begins with a recognition of this separation in the form of duty to God. We cannot know Deity until we suffer the realizations of our separateness, after all.
The Lewis is one of the symbols associated with our Frist Degree, clearly visible on the tracing boards of old, but absent from our ritual, at least those versions I am familiar with. Operatively, the lewis is a tool by which a stone is grasped and lifted. At this point, it is clearly no longer within the bosom of Mother Earth, but ready to be worked upon.
In some jurisdictions, there is a "Lewis Jewel" that serves the purpose of recognizing a Brother whose son or father was a Mason (sometimes with allowance extended to grandparents, fathers-in-law, etc.). These jewels may even have multiple bars of names, signifying a line of many generations of Masons. The longest I have seen is six, tracing from well over a hundred years ago to a young gentleman at a neighboring Lodge. Such is the nature of humankind, ever lifting up new generations, yet each stone unique and in need of its own perfections.
The various tools we encounter on our path are all applied either to the drafting of the Stone's purpose or its shaping. The entire work of Masonry is to learn how to shape, and work to fit, each of our stones. What are we fitting it for? The Temple the Lodge is at least twofold in its representation. The first is an edifice brought together by many men, allegorically — the Lodge as a collective body. The second is the building of our personal existence, not just as the refining of an eternal soul, but a record of words and deeds that we shall leave behind.
The former is social; the latter is personal. And work on ourselves as both an Ashlar for its own perfection is intimately connected with how our stone fits into a bulwark of a band of Men and human society overall. We live an often conflicting dichotomy as individuals and as a member of something greater. This is because, as we are separate beings and yet cannot exist outside of Deity, the stone that once had no independent shape is now moved to and around the worksite, searching for its place within the plans of the Grand Architect.
How it fits (or doesn't fit) is a discussion that could never be exhausted, though we shall endeavor that another time. But the point here is that the ultimate goal is to be united in one mass, one existence. This is how we are, even in temporal form, a citizen of two worlds — one of solitary birth and death, and one of Oneness with what during our life can be no more than the "Divine Other".
The cement of Brotherly Love, unlike the mortar of the World that wears and decays, sets our interdependent fates into an intricate framework of time and space. The final result is beyond our human comprehension. However, each of us partakes fully upon the reality of the whole on a higher plane.
The journey ends where it began, to our Eternal Home from whence our eternal soul originally came, adding our journey's experiences to the limitless, yet united, divine existence.
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”.