by David Echhart
From Algemeen Maconiek Tijdschrift - AMT
(General Masonic Journal) Issue 48, Number 6 - June 1994
Grand East of the Netherlands.
Translated by W.Bro. Hank F. van Tongeren, P.M.
Having been raised to the degree of a Master Mason, the freemason does not lose his earlier qualifications of Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft. Thus, as a freemason, he can express himself in three different ways. Similarly, it is a well-known phenomenon that in our daily life, a functionary also can wear more than one hat. It can be said that he wears the hat which goes with a position. Such a functionary then has a number of hats to wear.
A Roman of the classical period would have expressed himself differently. In his time, actors would wear a mask to represent various characters. Thus to a certain role belonged a fitting mask, and one who played more than one character needed access to a number of masks.
Just as they did with so many other cultural elements, the Romans borrowed their word for mask from the Etruscans: they called it a persona.
We can immediately recognise our word person therein. But for us this has the meaning of an individual and certainly not a mask. Thus, when translating certain texts, this can lead to a confusion of ideas. Even in ancient Rome, a number of meanings developed around persona as a stage- or character mask. Quite soon it was also used for the actor's role, and to point to the character he was to play. A further natural development was to personality and finally to person in the sense of an individual.
Well-known, but often not understood, is the religious dogma of the Trinity, of the Triune God. Although on the one hand we state that we believe in only one God, on the other hand we state that this one God embraces three persons, that is, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
He who keeps the Latin word persona in mind, will immediately understand that it concerns three roles or parts, three aspects, three faces or guises of the one God. But those who are not conversant with Latin this very 'literal' translation is not so easy to grasp and thus becomes a source of misunderstandings.
The Statement of Principles (beginselverklaring) states the starting point of our Order (under the Grand East of the Netherlands) is based on a firm belief in the reality of a spiritual and virtuous world order which strives for the advancement of men and humanity.
Is this reality a persona, a mask? No, of course not. Only when we, in the Lodge Room, name this reality the G.A.O.T.U., then for us this expression becomes the associated persona: the mask chosen by freemasonry to speak about this reality. The selection of this specific mask is in harmony with its use within the symbolism of building.
It matters little if it is a qualification, a hat or a mask; they are words which must be understood in context. They help us to discuss and handle human experiences and are therefore of great value. The personal God in religious context and personal Reality in the framework of our Order: they are masks for that which only through personal - in this case individual - experience can be intuitively understood as reality.
Contained in Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the
Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands.
1. Freemasonry is a spiritual orientation born out of an inner urge, which reveals itself in a continued striving to develop those qualities of mind and spirit which can raise man to a higher spiritual and moral level. It finds its application in the practice of the highest art of living.
2. The Order, an independent part of the brotherhood of Freemasons spread over the surface of the earth, aims to be a common centre for the practice of that art of living, and strives for a manysided and harmonious development of man and humanity.
3. The starting point is a firm belief in the reality of a spiritual and moral worldorder which propels man and humanity upwards.
4. Moreover, it accepts as a foundation the acceptance of:
the great value of the human personality;
everyone's right to seek independently for truth;
man's moral responsibility for all of his actions;
the equality of the nature of all men;
everyone's duty to work with dedication for the wellbeing of the community.
1. The Order attempts to reach its goal by ensuring its organisation and the mutual relationships in its midst are in accord with the principles described in Article 2; and by continually informing the community of these principles.
2. It accomplishes this by its own method, with the assistance of symbols and rituals as an interpretation of ideals and concepts, expressions of its greatest spiritual essence on the one hand; and by promoting everything that can change spiritual poverty, moral and material wretchedness into spiritual and moral riches and material prosperity on the other hand.
3. It fosters endurance, practices justice, promotes charity, seeks for that which unites men and peoples, attempts to remove that what divides minds and hearts, and it raises the all uniting brotherhood to a higher level of unity by making it a living reality in everyone's consciousness.
4. It demands obedience to the laws of the land (in which one resides).
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Updated: 15 May 2006