If the Fellowcraft, climbing his three, five, and seven steps to a Middle Chamber of unknown proportions, containing an unknown wage, is overweighted with the emphasis put upon the spiritual side of life, he may here be comforted.
Freemasonry is not an ascetic organization. It recognizes that the physical is as much a part of normal life as the mental and spiritual upon which so much emphasis is put.
The Fellowcraft Degree is a glorification of education, the gaining of knowledge, the study of the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences and all that they connote.
Therefore it is wholly logical that the degree should make special reference to the five means by which man has acquired all his knowledge; aye, by which he will ever acquire any knowledge.
All learning is sense-bound. Inspiring examples have been given the world by unfortunates deprived of one or more senses.
Blind men often make as great a success as those who see; deaf men often overcome the handicap until it appears nonexistent.
Helen Keller [was] blind, deaf, and was dumb as well; all that she has accomplished – and it would be a great accomplishment with all five senses – has been done through feeling and tasting and smelling.
But take away all five senses and a man is no more a man; perhaps his mind is no more a mind. With no contact whatever with the material world he can learn nothing of it.
As man reaches up through the material to the spiritual, he could learn nothing of ethics without contact with the physical.
If there are limits beyond which human investigations and explorations into the unknown may not go, it is because of the limitations of the five senses.
Not even the extension of those senses by the marvellously sensitive instruments of science may overcome, in the last analysis, their limits.
Some objects are smaller than any rays we know except X-rays. If it were possible to construct a microscope powerful enough to see an atom, the only light by which it could be seen would be X-rays.
But the very X-rays which would be necessary to see it would destroy the atom as soon as they struck it.
In our present knowledge, then, to see the atom is beyond the power of human senses.
If anything is beyond the power of eyes, even if aided by the greatest magnification, then there must be truths beyond the power of touch and taste and smell and hearing, regardless of the magnification science may provide.
Except for one factor! Brute beasts hear, see, feel, smell, and taste, as do we. But they garner no facts of science, win no truths, formulate no laws of nature through these senses.
More than the five senses are necessary to perceive the relation between thing and thing, and life and life.
That factor is the perception, the mind, the soul or spirit, if you will, which differentiates man from all other living beings.
If the Fellowcraft’s five steps, then, seem to glorify the five senses of human nature, it is because Freemasonry is a well-rounded scheme of life and living which recognizes the physical as well as the mental life of men and knows that only through the physical do we perceive the spiritual.
It is in this sense, not as a simple lesson in physiology, that we are to receive the teachings of the five steps by which we rise above the ground floor of the Temple to that last flight of seven steps which are typical of knowledge.
Article by: Carl H. Claudy
Carl Harry Claudy (1879 – 1957) was an American author, magazine writer, and journalist for the New York Herald.
His association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a master Mason in lodge Harmony No. 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master in 1932 and eventually served as Grand Master of Masons in the District of Colombia in 1943.
His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The master mason, until 1931.
Under his leadership the service Association was brought to a place of predominance through his authorship and distribution of the short talk bulletin which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.
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