Meditation’s connection to Freemasonry. The Supreme Council of AASR of Latvia have ardently devoted its attention to this subject. 

Why meditation? 

Our two year experience which has resulted in five findings:
  1. Firstly, we feel that meditation, in the most straightforward sense, poses similiar questions as does freemasonry. For example, the notion of getting aquainted with, and understanding oneself.
  2. We find that regular meditation allows us to better understand the essence and nuances of freemasonry. This understanding is not only applicable within the confines of the Temple, but also transcends into daily life.
  3. We have formed a freemason meditation group, whose task is to explore the relationship between freemasonry and meditation.
  4. We have briefly tested to include and apply certain meditative techniques and aspects into the Ritual.
  5. Meditation has provided us new opportunities for productive dialog and understanding of different spiritual traditions and religions. 

‘Look within yourself’ and other similarities 

‘Look within yourself!’ – This is one of the first challenges that a freemason candidate addresses as he begins his journey into the Craft. Searching into oneself and self-development is a never-ending process, one which is apparent in every degree. At first, this idea is symbolized by the polishing of a rough stone and later other metaphors and symbols are used to describe this idea. Through self-discovery freemasons adopt their own personal view of their place in the Universe. With that comes a whole slew of questions – who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? 

Admittedly, we can, of course, answer the above questions theoretically and on a rational level. However, in reality, the answers to these questions are much, much deeper. If we take only the rational approach we risk not fully understanding the true meaning of freemasonry. Freemasonry teachings may become only an intellectual exercise, filled with bare words, and therefore meaningless ideas. To avoid this pitfall, we need to delve outside the arena of rationality and into the realm of consciousness.  
Here is where meditation can come into play. The technical objective of meditation is the expansion of the consciousness. This requires the calming of emotions and the mind in order to contact our unconscious. 
Current understanding of the unconscious is primarily based on the teachings of the well-known psychiatrist Karl Gustav Jung. In essence, Jung said that our individual unconscious is that part of our psyche which we are not aware of on a daily basis, but which does play a significant role in our behavior and view of the world. For example, this would include specific events in our lives that we have, for one reason or another, forgotten about on a conscious level. What is important for us, is the self-awareness, or true ‘self’ as a part of the total conscious. The collective unconscious is also known as ‘a resevoir of the experience of our species’, which links us to all of humanity, and is the product of our ancestral heritage. This would include the knowledge and experience brought down from our previous generations, that is innate in all of us, but which we cannot recognize rationally. Keeping this in mind, allows us to re-examine the notion of ‘the truth is within yourself’. 
In one of our Perfection Lodge texts, we encounter a direct link with meditation: ‘When one is not capable of closing his eyes, how can one discover what is that that is not to be instinctively found?’. Meditation is but one way to approach the truth within oneself, to go into one’s unconscious.   

Meditation Group 

In 2009, we founded a meditation group. Its objectives and goals are:
  1. Personal growth through meditation. Members of the group share in their meditation experiences. Seminars are held, where members of the group are provided new insights by invited special guests.
  2. The development of freemason meditation methodologies: a) for individual meditation, b) for meditation as part of the ritual.
  3. Develop a dialog between different spiritual 
The meditation group meets monthly. Attendance is also open to selected individual non-SC members. The reason for this is to expand the potential intellectual prowess of the group as well as to generate a dialog between different spiritual beliefs. 

Individual meditation 

We believe that it is important to dispel the notion and practice that a freemason’s personal self-understanding and development only occurs within the confines of the Temple and solely through ritual. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, self-growth, self-awareness and personal development requires consistent, daily work. Secondly, our work in the Temple and our everyday life cannot be two different and completely segregated worlds. Unfortunately, this segregation, or separation, is a very big challenge for many spiritual beliefs, including the philosophy of meditation.   
‘Meditation is not to be grabbed out of everyday life, don’t go into a corner of a room to meditate for ten minutes, and come out and once again be a butcher, in both the real sense and metaphorical sense.’  
This is Jiddu Krishnamurti’s  view on meditation. Here, do we not feel a deep similarity with freemasonry? We gather for work in the Temple, where we experience the ritual, view symbols, express nice words. Then, after a couple of hours, we return to our everyday life and our life does not have the slightest relationship with the values of freemasonry. In the worst case, we even become subservient to a life that is in complete contrast to freemasonry’s expoused values. 
Specific recommendations for individual meditation are to connect meditation with freemasonry’s symbols, whilst thinking about the ritual. Jung teaches us that our unconscious revelations ar through symbols. This is exactly the language of freemsonry. Meditating is training to understand the language of symbols. Meditation assists in understanding the meaning of freemasonry. And this, of course, is relevant to our everyday lives. 
One of the main questions in psychology is: can a person in his/her formidable years, change their personality? The most common answer is ‘no’, because personality is developed during childhood. Therefore, it is hopeless for a mature age-wise, individual to become a better person, or a better freemason. Studying a book will not change one’s personality. 
Jung, however, provides us hope: one can change one’s personality when one changes something in the relationship between one’s ego and unconscious. But there is little opportunity to reach one’s unconscious. It turns out that meditation is one opportunity. 

Meditation in the Temple 

Is meditation possible during the ritual? 

A frequently used synonym of the word ‘meditation’ is ‘contemplation’ which means ‘to be in the temple’. References of meditation as ‘being in the temple’ are found in the text of the Ritual for the Lodge of Perfection. 

‘...The key symbolizes the entry into the Temple of Solomon’s holiest place, where Hiram prayed to God before he began to labor. The east in the lodge of the Secret Master symbolizes this holiest place. That is a quiet place of meditation, where conscience, intellect and responsibilty act as a whole. The key to this holy place has been entrusted to us...’ 
Our experience allows us to speak about the possibility to combine meditation with occasional works in the Temple. One appropriate opportunity is during the reading, whereby 15 – 20 minutes can be allocated for meditation. For the meditation’s introduction and conclusion, appropriate feemason texts could be recited. Our meditation group is developing special meditations for each of the higher degrees. 
During regular works, it is possible, to meditate individually for 2 -3 minutes, during the musical interludes. 
Each degree has a distinct meditative (contemplative) aura. The ritual in each degree can be strengthened with a goal-oriented, organized meditative component which will allow for brethren to better appreciate the unconscious symbolic aspect of freemasonry. Another advantage is that a meditative component can potentially bond brethren even closer than they were before. 

Dialog with different spiritual beliefs 

From its very beginnings, meditation can be found in all spiritual traditions (religions). Meditation can also be found in those sources that are associated with the beginnings of freemasonry. Firstly, there are the antiquated mysteries of the Universe. Meditation holds a significant role in Christian mysticism and in the works of Master Ekhardt, both of which are considered reliable sources for the beginnings of freemasonry. 

The teachings of the AASR hold a deep respect towards Bhudism and other Eastern religions, where meditation plays a significant role. 
Meditation in freemasonry is a dialog and connecting element between:

  • different global spiritual traditions
  • between freemasonry and other spiritual traditions
  • between different rituals and systems internal to freemasonry 
This dialog is self-explanatory and possible because all of these traditions have one and the same questions. Who am I? Self-awareness. Self-improvement. My place in the Universe. Meditation affects an individual’s spiritual growth, not the outside or the appearance of behavior. We are not speaking about inventing a new synthesized religion. We are speaking about understanding, unification and multiplicity.

Bro. Ilmars L. Jung