Monday, November 11, 2013

I Miss You

Being this far from you is no joke. I can't just fly off on a whim to see you any weekend I want. Unfortunately at this new stage of life, all I can do is bide for my time till I can go home and see you again. Night times are the worst - they remind me painfully of the minutes going by without your presence.

I still remember, every single night, after you have finished gobbling up your dinner, I would sit on the floor and you would be lying next to me, either chewing a bottle cap or a treat I bring along with me. You liked to rest your front paws on my legs while you chew and I would be gently stroking your smooth coat, at times telling you anecdotes of the day or my musings and thoughts. You're such a good listener - you let me tell you stuff at my own pace and time without cutting or judging me.

You loved to snuggle on my thighs and curled up there and doze off as if I was just a soft, comfortable pillow. There were never a night a mosquito did not feast on me just because you decided that it was a good place to nap.

When I came back after being away for a week, I was hurt and I felt really guilty seeing the pain in your eyes, as if asking me 'where the hell have you been??' I wanted to promise you I won't leave you anymore. But I could not.

It broke my heart when a few days later I had to go and this time, it will be for a year.

I am missing you so much, my dear favourite canine in the world.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Van Riper Story

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is an interesting book about our ability to make snap judgments. One of the stories that I like in this book is about Paul Van Riper and the war game he was involved in, called the Millenium Challenge, one of the largest and most expensive war games held by the US.

According to the Millenium Challenge scenario, a rogue military commander had broken away from his government somewhere in the Persian Gulf and was threatening to engulf the entire region in war. He had a considerable power base from strong religious and ethnic loyalties, and he was harboring and sponsoring four different terrorist organisations. He was virulently anti-American. In Millenium Challenge - in what would turn out to be an inspired (or, depending on your perspective, disastrous) piece of casting - Paul Van Riper was asked to play the rogue commander.

Millenium Challenge was not just a battle between two armies. It was a battle between two perfectly opposed military philosophies. Blue Team (the US) had their databases and matrixes and methodologies for systematically understanding the intentions and capabilities of the enemy. Red Team (Paul Van Riper) was commanded by a man who looked at a long-haired, unkempt, seat-of-the-pants commodities trader yelling and pushing and making a thousand instant decisions an hour and saw in him a soul mate.

On the opening day of the war game, Blue Team poured tens of thousands of troops into the Persian Gulf. They parked an aircraft carrier battle group just offshore of Red Team's home country. There, with the full weight of its military power in evidence, Blue Team issued an eight-point ultimatum to Van Riper, the eighth point being the demand to surrender. They acted with utter confidence, because their Operational Net Assessment matrixes told them where Red Team's vulnerabilities were, what Red Team's next move was likely to be, and what Red Team's range of options was. But Paul Van Riper did not behave as the computers predicted.

Blue Team knocked out his microwave towers and cut his fiber-optics lines on the assumption that Red Team would now have to use satellite communications and cell phones and they could monitor his communications.

"They said that Red Team would be surprised by that," Van Riper remembers. "Surprised? Any moderately informed person would know enough not to count on those technologies. That's a Blue Team mind-set. Who would use cell phones and satellites after what happened to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan? We communicated with couriers on motorcycles, and messages hidden inside prayers. They said, 'How did you get your airplanes off the airfield without the normal chatter between pilots and the tower?' I said, 'Does anyone remember World War Two? We'll use lighting systems.'"

Suddenly the enemy that Blue Team thought could be read like an open book was a bit more mysterious. What was Red Team doing? Van Riper was supposed to be cowed and overwhelmed in the face of a larger foe. But he was too much of a gunslinger for that. On the second day of the war, he put a fleet of small boats in the Persian Gulf to track the ships of the invading Blue Team navy. Then, without warning, he bombarded them in an hour-long assault with a fusillade of cruise missiles. When Red Team's surprise attack was over, sixteen American ships lay at the bottom of the Persian Gulf. Had Millennium Challenge been a real war instead of just an exercise, twenty thousand American servicemen and women would have been killed before their own army had even fired a shot.

"As the Red force commander, I'm sitting there and I realize that Blue Team had said that they were going to adopt a strategy of preemption," Van Riper says. "So I struck first. We'd done all the calculations on how many cruise missiles their ships could handle, so we simply launched more than that, from many different directions, from offshore and onshore, from air, from sea. We probably got half of their ships. We picked the ones we wanted. The aircraft carrier. The biggest cruisers. There were six amphibious ships. We knocked out five of them."

In the weeks and months that followed, there were numerous explanations from the analysts at JFCOM about exactly what happened that day in July. Some would say that it was an artifact of the particular way war games are run. Others would say that in real life, the ships would never have been as vulnerable as they were in the game. But none of the explanations change the fact that Blue Team suffered a catastrophic failure. The rogue commander did what rogue commanders do. He fought back, yet somehow this fact caught Blue Team by surprise. In that moment in the Gulf, Red Team's powers of rapid cognition were intact - and Blue Team's were not. How did that happen?

On Paul Van Riper's first tour in Southeast Asia, when he was out in the bush, serving as an advisor to the South Vietnamese, he would often hear gunfire in the distance. He was then a young lieutenant new to combat, and his first thought was always to get on the radio and ask the troops in the field what was happening. After several weeks of this, however, he realized that the people he was calling on the radio had no more idea than he did about what the gunfire meant. It was just gunfire. It was the beginning of something - but what that something was was not yet clear. So Van Riper stopped asking. On his second tour of Vietnam, whenever he heard gunfire, he would wait.

"I would look at my watch," Van Riper says, "and the reason I looked was that I wasn't going to do a thing for five minutes. If they needed help, they were going to holler. And after five minutes, if things had settled down, I still wouldn't do anything. You've got to let people work out the situation and wok out what's happening. The danger in calling is that they'll tell you anything to get you off their backs, and if you act on that and take it at face value, you could make a mistake. Plus you are diverting them. Now they are looking upward instead of downward. You're preventing them from resolving the situation."

Van Riper carried this lesson with him when he took over the helm of Red Team. "The first thing I told our staff is that we would be in command and out of control," Van Riper says, echoing the words of the management guru Kevin Kelly. "By that, I mean that the overall guidance and the intent were provided by me and the senior leadership, but the forces in the field wouldn't depend on intricate orders coming from the top. They were to use their own initiative and be innovative as they went forward. Almost every day, the commander of the Red air forces came up with different ideas of how he was going to pull this together, using these general techniques of trying to overwhelm Blue Team from different directions. But he never got specific guidance from me of how to do it. Just the intent."

Once the fighting started, Van Riper didn't want introspection. He didn't want long meetings. He didn't want explanations. "I told our staff that we would use none of the terminology that Blue Team was using. I never wanted to hear the word 'effects,' except in a normal conversation. I didn't want to hear about Operational Net Assessment. We would not get caught up in any of the mechanistic processes. We would use the wisdom, the experience, and the good judgment of the people we had."

This kind of management system clearly has its risks. It meant Van Riper didn't always have a clear idea of what his troops were up to. It meant he had to place a lot of trust in his subordinates. It was, by his own admission, a "messy" way to make decisions. But it had one overwhelming advantage: allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv. It enables rapid cognition.

In Millennium Challenge, this is exactly the mistake that Blue Team made. They had a system in place that forced their commanders to stop and talk things over and figure out what was going on. That would have been fine if the problem in front of them demanded logic. But instead, Van Riper presented them with something different. Blue Team thought they could listen to Van Riper's communications. But he started sending messages by couriers on motorcycles. They thought he couldn't launch his planes. But he borrowed a forgotten technique from World War II and used lighting systems. They thought he couldn't track their ships. But he flooded the Gulf with little PT boats. And then, on the spur of the moment, Van Riper's field commanders attacked, and all of a sudden what Blue Team thought was a routine "kitchen fire" was something they could not factor into their equations at all. They needed to solve an insight problem, but their powers of insight had been extinguished.

"What I heard is that Blue Team had all these long discussions," Van Riper says. "They were trying to decide what the political situation was like. They had charts with up arrows and down arrows. I remember thinking, Wait a minute. You were doing that while you were fighting? They had all these acronyms. The elements of national power were diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. That gives you DIME. They would always talk about the Blue DIME. Then there were the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, and information instruments, PMESI. So they'd have these terrible conversations where it would be our DIME versus their PMESI. I wanted to gag. What are you talking about? You know, you get caught up in forms, in matrixes, in computer programs, and it just draws you in. They were so focused on the mechanics and the process that they never looked at the problem holistically. In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning."

"The Operational Net Assessment was a tool that was supposed to allow us to see all, know all," Major General Dean Cash, one of the senior JFCOM Officials involved in the war game, admitted afterward. "Well, obviously it failed."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Hiramic Legend

The first time I have ever heard of anything that is connected to Freemasonry was when I was watching Bones during one of the early seasons, where Bones and gang had to solve a case of the cannibal and it turned out Zach was helping the madman all along. I was mildly interested because of the story of the Widow's Son. Years later I came across Manly P. Hall's 'Secret Teachings of All Ages' book and found a story regarding the Hiramic Legend in one of the chapters.

When Solomon – the beloved of God , builder of the Everlasting House, and Grand Master of the Lodge of Jerusalem – ascended the throne of his father David he consecrated his life to the erection of a temple to God and a palace for the kings of Israel. David’s faithful friend, Hiram, King of Tyre, hearing that a son of David sat upon the throne of Israel, sent messages of congratulation and offers of assistance to the new ruler. In his History of the Jews, Josephus mentions that copies of the letters passing between the two kings were then to be seen both at Jerusalem and at Tyre.

Despite Hiram’s lack of appreciation for the twenty cities of Galilee which Solomon presented to him upon the completion of the temple, the two monarchs remained the best of friends. Both were famous for their wit and wisdom, and when they exchanged letters each devised puzzling questions to test the mental ingenuity of the other. Solomon madean agreement with Hiram of Tyre promising vast amounts of barley, wheat, corn, wine, and oil as wages for the masons and carpenters from Tyre who were to assist the Jews in the erection of the temple. Hiram also supplied cedars and other fine trees, which were made into rafts and floated down the sea to Joppa, whence they were taken inland by Solomon’s
workmen to the temple site.

Because of his great love for Solomon, Hiram of Tyre sent also the Grand Master of the Dionysiac Architects, Hiram Abiff, a Widow’s Son, who had no equal among the craftsmen of the earth. Hiram is described as being “a Tyrian by birch, but of Israelitish descent,” and “a second Bezaleel, honored by his king with the title of Father.”

The Freemason’s Pocket Companion (published in 1771) describes Hiram as “the most cunning, skilful and curious workman that ever lived, whose abilities were not confined to building alone, but extended to all kinds of work, whether in gold, silver, brass or iron; whether in linen, tapestry, or embroidery; whether considered as an architect, statuary [sic]; founder or designer, separately or together, he equally excelled. From his designs, and under his direction, all the rich and splendid furniture of the Temple and its several appendages were begun, carried on, and finished. Solomon appointed him, in his absence, to fill the chair, as Deputy Grand-Master; and in his presence, Senior Grand-Warden, Master of work, and general overseer of all artists, as well those whom David had formerly procured from Tyre and Sidon, as those Hiram should now send.” (Modem Masonic writers differ as to the accuracy of the last sentence.)

Although an immense amount of labor was involved in its construction, Solomon’s Temple – in the words of George Oliver – “was only a small building and very inferior in point of size to some of our churches.” The number of buildings contiguous to it and the vast treasure of gold and precious stones used in its construction concentrated a great amount of wealth within the temple area. In the midst of the temple stood the Holy of Holies, sometimes called the Oracle. It was an exact cube, each dimension being twenty cubits, and exemplified the influence of Egyptian symbolism. The buildings of the temple
group were ornamented with 1,453 columns of Parian marble, magnificently sculptured, and 2,906 pilasters decorated with capitals. There was a broad porch facing the east, and the sanctum sanctorum was upon the west.

According to tradition, the various buildings and courtyards could hold in all 300,000 persons. Both the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies were entirely lined with solid gold plates encrusted with jewels. King Solomon began the building of the temple in the fourth year of his reign on what would be, according to modern calculation, the 21st day of April, and finished it in the eleventh year of his reign on the 23rd day of October. The temple was begun in the 480th year after the children of Israel had passed the Red Sea. Part of the labor of construction included the building of an artificial foundation on the brow of Mount Moriah. The stones for the temple were hoisted from quarries directly beneath Mount Moriah and were trued before being brought to the surface. The brass and golden ornaments for the temple were cast in molds in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredatha, and the wooden parts were all finished before they reached the temple site. The building was put together, consequently, without sound and without instruments, all its parts fitting exactly “without the hammer of contention, the axe of division, or any tool of mischief.”

Anderson’s much-discussed Constitutions of the Free-Masons, published in London in 1723, and reprinted by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734, thus describes the division of the laborers engaged in the building of the Everlasting House:

“But Dagon’s Temple, and the finest structures of Tyre and Sidon, could not be compared with the Eternal God’s Temple at Jerusalem, (...) there were employed about it no less than 3,600 Princes, or Master-Masons, to conduct the work according to Solomon’s directions, with 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountain, or Fellow Craftsmen, and 70,000 labourers, in all 153,600 besides the levy under Adoniram to work in the mountains of Lebanon by turns with the Sidonians, viz., 30,000, being in all 183,600.”

Daniel Sickels gives 3,300 overseers, instead of 3,600, and lists the three Grand Masters separately. The same author estimates the cost of the temple at nearly four thousand millions of dollars.

The Masonic legend of the building of Solomon’s Temple does not in every particular parallel the Scriptural version, especially in those portions relating to Hiram Abiff. According to the Biblical account, this Master workman returned to his own country; in the Masonic allegory he is foully murdered. On this point A. E. Waite, in his New Encyclopædia of Freemasonry, makes the following explanatory comment:

“The legend of the Master-Builder is the great allegory of Masonry. It happens that his figurative story is grounded on the fact of a personality mentioned in Holy Scripture, but this historical background is of the accidents and not the essence; the significance is in the allegory and not in any point of history which may lie behind it.”

Hiram, as Master of the Builders, divided his workmen into three groups, which were termed Entered Apprentices, Fellow-Craftsmen, and Master Masons. To each division he gave certain passwords and signs by which their respective excellence could be quickly determined. While all were classified according to their merits some were dissatisfied, for they desired a more exalted position than they were capable of filling. At last three Fellow-Craftsmen, more daring than their companions, determined to force Hiram to reveal to them the password of the Master’s degree. Knowing that Hiram always went
into the unfinished sanctum sanctorum at high noon to pray, these ruffians – whose names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum – lay in wait for him, one at each of the main gates of the temple. Hiram, about to leave the temple by the south gate, was suddenly confronted by Jubela armed with a twenty-four-inch gauge.

Upon Hiram’s refusal to reveal the Master’s Word, the ruffian struck him on the throat with the rule, and the wounded Master then hastened to the west gate, where Jubelo, armed with a square, awaited him and made a similar demand. Again Hiram was silent, and the second assassin struck him on the breast with the square. Hiram thereupon staggered to the east gate, only to be met there by Jubelum armed with a maul. When Hiram, refused him the Master’s Word, Jubelum struck the Master between the eyes with the mallet and Hiram fell dead.

The body of Hiram was buried by the murderers over the brow of Mount Moriah and a sprig of acacia placed upon the grave. The murderers then sought to escape punishment for their crime by embarking for Ethiopia, but the port was closed. All three were finally captured, and after admitting their guilt were duly executed. Parties of three were then sent out by King Solomon, and one of these groups discovered the newly made grave marked by the evergreen sprig. After the Entered Apprentices and the Fellow-Craftsmen had failed to resurrect their Master from the dead he was finally raised by the Master Mason
with the “strong grip of a Lion’s Paw.”

To the initiated Builder the name Hiram Abiff signifies “My Father, the Universal Spirit, one in essence, three in aspect.” Thus the murdered Master is a type of the Cosmic Martyr – the crucified Spirit of Good, the dying god – whose Mystery is celebrated throughout the world. Among the manuscripts of Dr. Sigismund Bastrom, the initiated Rosicrucian, appears the following extract from von Welling concerning the true philosophic nature of the Masonic Hiram:

“The original word םריח , Hiram, is a radical word consisting of three consonants ר ח and ם i. e. Cheth, Resh and Mem. (1) ח, Cheth, signifies Chamah, the Sun’s light, i. e. the Universal, invisible, cold fire of Nature attracted by the Sun, manifested into light and sent down to us and to every planetary body belonging to the solar system. (2) ר, Resh, signifies חיר Ruach, i. e. Spirit, air, wind, as being the Vehicle which conveys and collects the light into numberless Foci, wherein the solar rays of light are agitated by a circular motion and manifested in Heat and burning Fire. (3) ם, or מ Mem, signifies majim, water, humidity, but rather the mother of water, i. e. Radical Humidity or a particular kind of condensed air. These three constitute the Universal Agent or fire of Nature in one word, םריח , CHiram, not Hiram.”

Albert Pike mentions several forms of the name CHiram: Khirm, Khurm, and Khur- Om, the latter ending in the sacred Hindu monosyllable OM, which may also be extracted from the names of the three murderers. Pike further relates the three ruffians to a triad of stars in the constellation of Libra and also calls attention to the fact that the Chaldean god Bal – metamorphosed into a demon by the Jews – appears in the name of each of the murderers, Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. To interpret the Hiramic legend requires familiarity with both the Pythagorean and Qabbalistic systems of numbers and letters, and also the philosophic and astronomic cycles of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Brahmins.

For example, consider the number 33. The first temple of Solomon stood for thirty-three years in its pristine splendor. At the end of that time it was pillaged by the Egyptian King Shishak, and finally (588 B.C.) it was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the people of Jerusalem were led into captivity to Babylon. (See General History of Freemasonry, by Robert Macoy.) Also King David ruled for thirty-three years in Jerusalem; the Masonic Order is divided into thirty-three symbolic degrees; there are thirty-three segments in the human spinal column; and Jesus was crucified in the thirty-third year of His life.

The efforts made to discover the origin of the Hiramic legend show that, while the legend in its present form is comparatively modem, its underlying principles run back to remotest antiquity. It is generally admitted by modem Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred Hiram is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris, whose death and resurrection figuratively portrayed the spiritual death of man and his regeneration through initiation into the Mysteries. Hiram is also identified with Hermes through the inscription on the Emerald Table. From these associations it is evident that Hiram is to be considered as a prototype of humanity; in fact he is Plato’s Idea (archetype) of man. As Adam after the Fall symbolizes the Idea of human degeneration, so Hiram through his resurrection symbolizes the Idea of human regeneration.

On the 19th day of March, 1314, Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templars, was burned on a pyre erected upon that point of the islet of the Seine, at Paris, where afterwards was erected the statue of King Henry IV. (See The Indian Religions, by Hargrave Jennings.) “It is mentioned as a tradition in some of the accounts of the burning,” writes Jennings, “that Molay, ere he expired, summoned Clement, the Pope who had pronounced the bull of abolition against the Order and had condemned the Grand Master to the flames, to appear, within forty days, before the Supreme Eternal judge, and Philip [the king] to the same awful tribunal within the space of a year. Both predictions were fulfilled.”

The close relationship between Freemasonry and the original Knights Templars has caused the story of Hiram to be linked with the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay. According to this interpretation, the three ruffians who cruelly slew their Master at the gates of the temple because he refused to reveal the secrets of his Order represent the Pope, the king, and the executioners. De Molay died maintaining his innocence and refusing to disclose the philosophical and magical arcana of the Templars. Those who have sought to identify Hiram with the murdered King Charles the First conceive the Hiramic legend to have been invented for that purpose by Elias Ashmole, a mystical philosopher, who was probably a member of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Charles was dethroned in 1647 and died on the block in 1649, leaving the Royalist party leaderless. An attempt has been made to relate the term “the Sons of the Widow” (an appellation frequently applied to members of the Masonic Order) to this incident in English history, for by the murder of her king England became a Widow and all Englishmen Widow’s Sons.

To the mystic Christian Mason, Hiram. represents the Christ who in three days (degrees) raised the temple of His body from its earthly sepulcher. His three murderers were Cæsar’s agent (the state), the Sanhedrin (the church), and the incited populace (the mob). Thus considered, Hiram becomes the higher nature of man and the murderers are ignorance, superstition, and fear. The indwelling Christ can give expression to Himself in this world only through man’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Right thinking, right feeling, and right action – these are three gates through which the Christ power passes into the material world, there to labor in the erection of the Temple of Universal Brotherhood. Ignorance,
superstition, and fear are three ruffians through whose agencies the Spirit of Good is murdered and a false kingdom, controlled by wrong thinking, wrong feeling, and wrong action, established in its stead. In the material universe evil appears ever victorious.

“In this sense,” writes Daniel Sickels, “the myth of the Tyrian is perpetually repeated in the history of human affairs. Orpheus was murdered, and his body thrown into the Hebrus; Socrates was made to drink the hemlock; and, in all ages, we have seen Evil temporarily triumphant, and Virtue and Truth calumniated, persecuted, crucified, and slain. But Eternal justice marches surely and swiftly through the world: the Typhons, the children of darkness, the plotters of crime, all the infinitely varied forms of evil, are swept into oblivion; and Truth and Virtue – for a time laid low – come forth, clothed with diviner majesty, and crowned with everlasting glory!” (See General Ahiman Rezon.)

If, as there is ample reason to suspect, the modern Freemasonic Order was profoundly influenced by, if it is not an actual outgrowth of, Francis Bacon’s secret society, its symbolism is undoubtedly permeated with Bacon’s two great ideals: universal education and universal democracy. The deadly enemies of universal education are ignorance, superstition, and fear, by which the human soul is held in bondage to the lowest part of its own constitution. The arrant enemies of universal democracy have ever been the crown, the tiara, and the torch. Thus Hiram symbolizes that ideal state of spiritual, intellectual, and
physical emancipation which has ever been sacrificed upon the altar of human selfishness. Hiram is the Beautifier of the Eternal House. Modern utilitarianism, however, sacrifices the beautiful for the practical, in the same breath declaring the obvious lie that selfishness, hatred, and discord are practical.

Dr. Orville Ward Owen found a considerable part of the first thirty-two degrees of Freemasonic ritualism hidden in the text of the First Shakespeare Folio. Masonic emblems are to be observed also upon the title pages of nearly every book published by Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon considered himself as a living sacrifice upon the altar of human need; he was obviously cut down in the midst of his labors, and no student of his New Atlantis can fail to recognize the Masonic symbolism contained therein. According to the observations of Joseph Fort Newton, the Temple of Solomon described by Bacon in that utopian romance was not a house at all but the name of an ideal state. Is it not true that the Temple of Freemasonry is also emblematic of a condition of society? While, as before stated, the principles of the Hiramic legend are of the greatest antiquity, it is not impossible that its present form may be based upon incidents in the life of Lord Bacon, who passed through the philosophic death and was raised in Germany.

In an old manuscript appears the statement that the Freemasonic Order was formed by alchemists and Hermetic philosophers who had banded themselves together to protect their secrets against the infamous methods used by avaricious persons to wring from them the secret of gold-making. The fact that the Hiramic legend contains an alchemical formula gives credence to this story. Thus the building of Solomon’s Temple represents the consummation of the magnum opus, which cannot be realized without the assistance of Hiram, the Universal Agent. The Masonic Mysteries teach the initiate how to prepare within his own soul a miraculous powder of projection by which it is possible for him to transmute the base lump of human ignorance, perversion, and discord into an ingot of spiritual and philosophic gold.

Sufficient similarity exists between the Masonic  Hiram and the Kundalini of Hindu mysticism to warrant the assumption that Hiram may be considered a symbol also of the Spirit Fire moving through the sixth ventricle of the spinal column. The exact science of human regeneration is the Lost Key of Masonry, for when the Spirit Fire is lifted up through the thirty-three degrees, or segments of the spinal column, and enters into the domed chamber of the human skull, it finally passes into the pituitary body (Isis), where it invokes Ra (the pineal gland) and demands the Sacred Name. Operative Masonry, in the fullest meaning of that term, signifies the process by which the Eye of Horus is opened.

E. A. Wallis Budge has noted that in some of the papyri illustrating the entrance of the souls of the dead into the judgment hall of Osiris the deceased person has a pine cone attached to the crown of his head. The Greek mystics also carried a symbolic staff, the upper end being in the form of a pine cone, which was called the thyrsus of Bacchus. In the human brain there is a tiny gland called the pineal body, which is the sacred eye of the ancients, and corresponds to the third eye of the Cyclops. Little is known concerning the function of the pineal body, which Descartes suggested (more wisely than he knew) might be the abode of the spirit of man. As its name signifies, the pineal gland is the sacred pine cone in man – the eye single, which cannot be opened until Hiram (the Spirit Fire) is raised through the sacred seals which are called the Seven Churches in Asia.

There is an Oriental painting which shows three sun bursts. One sunburst covers the head, in the midst of which sits Brahma with four heads, his body a mysterious dark color. The second sunburst – which covers the heart, solar plexus, and upper abdominal region – shows Vishnu sitting in the blossom of the lotus on a couch formed of the coils of the serpent of cosmic motion, its seven-hooded head forming a canopy over the god. The third sunburst is over the generative system, in the midst of which sits Shiva, his body a grayish white and the Ganges River flowing out of the crown of his head. This painting was
the work of a Hindu mystic who spent many years subtly concealing great philosophical principles within these figures. The Christian legends could be related also to the human body by the same method as the Oriental, for the arcane meanings hidden in the teachings of both schools are identical.

As applied to Masonry, the three sunbursts represent the gates of the temple at which Hiram was struck, there being no gate in the north because the sun never shines from the northern angle of the heavens. The north is the symbol of the physical because of its relation to ice (crystallized water) and to the body (crystallized spirit). In man the light shines toward the north but never from it, because the body has no light of its own but shines with the reflected glory of the divine life-particles concealed within physical substance. For this reason the moon is accepted as the symbol of man’s physical nature.

Hiram is the mysterious fiery, airy water which must be raised through the three grand centers symbolized by the ladder with three rungs and the sunburst flowers mentioned in the description of the Hindu painting. It must also pass upward by means of the ladder of seven rungs-the seven plexuses proximate to the spine. The nine segments of the sacrum and coccyx are pierced by ten foramina, through which pass the roots of the Tree of Life. Nine is the sacred number of man, and in the symbolism of the sacrum and coccyx a great mystery is concealed. That part of the body from the kidneys downward was termed by the early Qabbalists the Land of Egypt into which the children of Israel were taken during the captivity. Out of Egypt, Moses (the illuminated mind, as his name implies) led the tribes of Israel (the twelve faculties) by raising the brazen serpent in the wilderness upon the symbol of the Tau cross. Not only Hiram but the god-men of nearly every pagan Mystery ritual are personifications of the Spirit Fire in the human spinal cord.

The astronomical aspect of the Hiramic legend must not be overlooked. The tragedy of Hiram is enacted annually by the sun during its passage through the signs of the zodiac.

“From the journey of the Sun through the twelve signs,” writes Albert Pike, “come the legend of the twelve labors of Hercules, and the incarnations of Vishnu and Buddha. Hence came the legend of the murder of Khurum, representative of the Sun, by the three Fellow-Crafts, symbols of the Winter signs, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces, who assailed him at the three gates of Heaven and slew him at the Winter Solstice. Hence the search for him by the nine Fellow-Crafts, the other nine signs, his finding, burial, and resurrection.” (See Morals and Dogma.)

Other authors consider Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius as the three murderers of the sun, inasmuch as Osiris was murdered by Typhon, to whom were assigned the thirty degrees of the constellation of Scorpio. In the Christian Mysteries also Judas signifies the Scorpion, and the thirty pieces of silver for which he betrayed His Lord represent the number of degrees in that sign. Having been struck by Libra (the state), Scorpio (the church), and Sagittarius (the mob), the sun (Hiram) is secretly home through the darkness by the signs of Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces and buried over the brow of a hill (the vernal
equinox). Capricorn has for its symbol an old man with a scythe in his hand. This is Father Time – a wayfarer – who is symbolized in Masonry as straightening out the ringlets of a young girl’s hair. If the Weeping Virgin be considered a symbol of Virgo, and Father Time with his scythe a symbol of Capricorn, then the interval of ninety degrees between these two signs will be found to correspond to that occupied by the three murderers.

Esoterically, the urn containing the ashes of Hiram represents the human heart. Saturn, the old man who lives at the north pole, and brings with him to the children of men a sprig of evergreen (the Christmas tree), is familiar to the little folks under the name of Santa Claus, for he brings each winter the gift of a new year.

The martyred sun is discovered by Aries, a Fellow-Craftsman, and at the vernal equinox the process of raising him begins. This is finally accomplished by the Lion of Judah, who in ancient times occupied the position of the keystone of the Royal Arch of Heaven. The precession of the equinoxes causes various signs to play the rôle of the murderers of the sun during the different ages of the world, but the principle involved remains unchanged. Such is the cosmic story of Hiram, the Universal Benefactor, the Fiery Architect: of the Divine House, who carries with him to the grave that Lost Word which, when spoken, raises all life to power and glory. According to Christian mysticism, when the Lost Word is found it is discovered in a stable, surrounded by beasts and marked by a star.

“After the sun leaves Leo,” writes Robert Hewitt Brown, “the days begin to grow unequivocally shorter as the sun declines toward the autumnal equinox, to be again slain by the three autumnal months, lie dead through the three winter ones, and be raised again by the three vernal ones. Each year the great tragedy is repeated, and the glorious resurrection takes place.” (See Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy.)

Hiram is termed dead because in the average individual the cosmic creative forces are limited in their manifestation to purely physical – and correspondingly materialistic – expression. Obsessed by his belief in the reality and permanence of physical existence, man does not correlate the material universe with the blank north wall of the temple. As the solar light symbolically is said to die as it approaches the winter solstice, so the physical world may be termed the winter solstice of the spirit. Reaching the winter solstice, the sun apparently stands still for three days and then, rolling away the stone of winter, begins its triumphal march north towards the summer solstice. The condition of ignorance may be likened to the winter solstice of philosophy; spiritual understanding to the summer solstice. From this point of view, initiation into the Mysteries becomes the vernal equinox of the spirit, at which time the Hiram in man crosses from the realm of mortality into that of eternal life. The autumnal equinox is analogous to the mythological fall of man, at which time the human spirit descended into the realms of Hades by being immersed in the illusion of terrestrial existence.

In An Essay on the Beautiful, Plotinus describes the refining effect of beauty upon the unfolding consciousness of man. Commissioned to decorate the Everlasting House, Hiram Abiff is the embodiment
of the beautifying principle. Beauty is essential to the natural unfoldment of the human soul. The Mysteries held that man, in part at least, was the product of his environment. Therefore they considered
it imperative that every person be surrounded by objects which would evoke the highest and noblest
sentiments. They proved that it was possible to produce beauty in life by surrounding life with beauty.

They discovered that symmetrical bodies were built by souls continuously in the presence of symmetrical bodies; that noble thoughts were produced by minds surrounded by examples of mental nobility. Conversely, if a man were forced to look upon an ignoble or asymmetrical structure it would arouse within him a sense of ignobility which would provoke him to commit ignoble deeds. If an ill-proportioned building were erected in the midst of a city there would be ill-proportioned children born in that community; and men and women, gazing upon the asymmetrical structure, would live inharmonious lives. Thoughtful men of antiquity realized that their great philosophers were the natural
products of the æsthetic ideals of architecture, music, and art established as the standards of the cultural systems of the time.

The substitution of the discord of the fantastic for the harmony of the beautiful constitutes one of the great tragedies of every civilization. Not only were the Savior-Gods of the ancient world beautiful, but each performed a ministry of beauty, seeking to effect man’s regeneration by arousing within him the love of the beautiful. A renaissance of the golden age of fable can be made possible only by the elevation of beauty to its rightful dignity as the all-pervading, idealizing quality in the religious, ethical, sociological, scientific, and political departments of life. The Dionysiac Architects were consecrated to the raising of their Master Spirit – Cosmic Beauty – from the sepulcher of material ignorance and
selfishness by erecting buildings which were such perfect exemplars of symmetry and majesty that they were actually magical formulæ by which was evoked the spirit of the martyred Beautifier entombed within a materialistic world.

In the Masonic Mysteries the triune spirit of man (the light Delta) is symbolized by the three Grand Masters of the Lodge of Jerusalem. As God is the pervading principle of three worlds, in each of which He manifests as an active principle, so the spirit of man, partaking of the nature of Divinity, dwells upon three planes of being: the Supreme, the Superior, and the Inferior spheres of the Pythagoreans. At the gate of the Inferior sphere (the underworld, or dwelling place of mortal creatures) stands the guardian of Hades – the three – headed dog Cerberus, who is analogous to the three murderers of the Hiramic

According to this symbolic interpretation of the triune spirit, Hiram is the third, or incarnating, part – the Master Builder who through all ages erects living temples of flesh and blood as shrines of the Most High. Hiram comes forth as a flower and is cut down; he dies at the gates of matter; he is buried in the elements of creation, but – like Thor – he swings his mighty hammer in the fields of space, sets the primordial atoms in motion, and establishes order out of Chaos. As the potentiality of cosmic power within each human soul, Hiram lies waiting for man by the elaborate ritualism of life to transmute
potentiality into divine potency. As the sense perceptions of the individual increase, however, man gains ever greater control over his various parts, and the spirit of life within gradually attains freedom. The three murderers represent the laws of the Inferior world – birth, growth, and decay – which ever frustrate the plan of the Builder. To the average individual, physical birch actually signifies the death of Hiram, and physical death the resurrection of Hiram. To the initiate, however, the resurrection of the spiritual nature is accomplished without the intervention of physical death.

The curious symbols found in the base of Cleopatra’s Needle now standing in Central Park, New York, were interpreted as being of first Masonic significance by S. A. Zola, 33° Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Egypt. Masons’ marks and symbols are to be found on the stones of numerous public buildings not only in England and on the Continent but also in Asia. In his Indian Masons’ Marks of the Moghul Dynasty, A. Gorham describes scores of markings appearing on the walls of buildings such as the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid, and that: famous Masonic structure, the Kutab Minar. According to those who regard Masonry as an outgrowth of the secret society of architects and builders which for thousands of years formed a caste of master craftsmen, Hiram Abiff was the Tyrian Grand Master of a world-wide organization of artisans, with headquarters in Tyre.

Their philosophy consisted of incorporating into the measurements and ornamentation of temples, palaces, mausoleums, fortresses, and other public buildings their knowledge of the laws controlling the universe. Every initiated workman was given a hieroglyphic with which he marked the stones he trued to show to all posterity that he thus dedicated to the Supreme Architect of the Universe each perfected product of his labor. Concerning Masons’ marks, Robert Freke Gould writes:

“It is very remarkable that these marks are to be found in all countries – in the chambers of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh, on the underground walls of Jerusalem, in Herculaneum and Pompeii, on Roman walls and Grecian temples, in Hindustan, Mexico, Peru, Asia Minor – as well as on the great ruins of England,
France, Germany, Scotland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.” (See A Concise History of Freemasonry.)

From this viewpoint the story of Hiram may well represent the incorporation of the divine secrets of architecture into the actual parts and dimensions of earthly buildings. The three degrees of the Craft bury the Grand Master (the Great Arcanum) in the actual structure they erect, after first having killed him with the builders’ tools, by reducing the dimensionless Spirit of Cosmic Beauty to the limitations of concrete form. These abstract ideals of architecture can be resurrected, however, by the Master Mason who, by meditating upon the structure, releases therefrom the divine principles of architectonic philosophy incorporated or buried within it. Thus the physical building is actually the tomb or embodiment of the Creative Ideal of which its material dimensions are but the shadow.

Moreover, the Hiramic legend may be considered to embody the vicissitudes of philosophy itself. As institutions for the dissemination of ethical culture, the pagan Mysteries were the architects of civilization. Their power and dignity were personified in Hiram Abiff – the Master Builder – but they eventually fell a victim to the onslaughts of that recurrent trio of state, church, and mob. They were desecrated by the state, jealous of their wealth and power; by the early church, fearful of their wisdom; and by the rabble or soldiery incited by both state and church. As Hiram when raised from his grave whispers the Master Mason’s Word which was lost through his untimely death, so according to the tenets of philosophy the reestablishment or resurrection of the ancient Mysteries will result in the rediscovery of that secret teaching without which civilization must continue in a state of spiritual confusion and uncertainty.

When the mob governs, man is ruled by ignorance; when the church governs, he is ruled by superstition; and when the state governs, he is ruled by fear. Before men can live together in harmony and understanding, ignorance must be transmuted into wisdom, superstition into an illumined faith, and fear into love. Despite statements to the contrary, Masonry is a religion seeking to unite God and man by elevating its initiates to that level of consciousness whereon they can behold with clarified vision the workings of the Great Architect of the Universe. From age to age the vision of a perfect civilization is preserved as the ideal for mankind. In the midst of that civilization shall stand a mighty university wherein both the sacred and secular sciences concerning the mysteries of life will be freely taught to all who will assume the philosophic life. Here creed and dogma will have no place; the superficial will be removed and only the essential be preserved. The world will be ruled by its most illumined minds, and each will occupy the position for which he is most admirably fitted.

The great university will be divided into grades, admission to which will be through preliminary tests or initiations. Here mankind will be instructed in the most sacred, the most secret, and the most enduring of all Mysteries – Symbolism. Here the initiate will be taught that every visible object, every abstract thought, every emotional reaction is but the symbol of an eternal principle. Here mankind will learn that Hiram (Truth) lies buried in every atom of Kosmos; that every form is a symbol and every symbol the tomb of an eternal verity. Through education – spiritual, mental, moral, and physical – man will learn to release living truths from their lifeless coverings. The perfect government of the earth must be patterned eventually after that divine government by which the universe is ordered. In that day when perfect order is reestablished, with peace universal and good triumphant, men will no longer seek for happiness, for they shall find it welling up within themselves. Dead hopes, dead aspirations, dead virtues shall rise from their graves, and the Spirit of Beauty and Goodness repeatedly slain by ignorant men shall again be the Master of Work. Then shall sages sit upon the seats of the mighty and the gods walk with men.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Four hours later: I'm in the middle of the line of people rushing out of the physics classroom fifth period when I see Tiny walking past the window. He stops, dramatically pivots toward the door, and waits for me.

"We broke up," he says matter-of-factly.

"So I heard. Thanks for letting me know - after telling everyone else."

"Yeah, well," he says. People weave around us like we're a blood clot in the hallway's artery. "Rehearsal's gonna go late - we're gonna do a run-through after dress - but you wanna get some late-night dinner? Hot Dog Palace or something?"

I consider it a minute, thinking about the unsent email in my drafts folder, and the other Will Grayson, and Tiny up onstage telling me the truth behind my back, and then I say, "I don't think so. I'm tired of being your Plan B, Tiny."

It doesn't faze him, of course. "Well, I guess I'll see you at the play then."

"I don't know if I can make it, but yeah, I'll try."

It's hard to read Tiny's face for some reason, but I think I've gotten a shot in. I don't know exactly why I want to make him feel like crap, but I do.

I'm walking to Jane's locker to find her when she comes up behind me and says, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"You can talk to me for billions of minutes." I smile.

We duck into an abandoned Spanish classroom. She spins a chair around and sits, the chair's back like a shield. She's wearing a tight T-shirt underneath a peacoat, which she presently takes off,  and she looks awfully good, good enough that I wonder aloud if we can't talk at home.

"I get distracted at your house." She reaises her eyebrows and smiles, but I see the fake in it. "You said yesterday that we were not not-dating, and like it's not a big deal, and I realize that it has been one week and one week only, but I actually don't want to not not-date you; I want to be your girlfriend or not, and I would think by now you're qualified to make at least a temporary decision on the topic, because I know I am."

She looks down for a second, and I notice her hair parted in the middle has an accidental zigzag at the top of her head, and I inhale to talk, but then she says, "Also, I'm not going to be devastated or anything either way. I'm not that kind of person. I just think if you don't say the honest thing, sometimes the honest thing never becomes true, you know, and I -" she says, but then I hold up my finger, because I need to hear the thing she just said, and she talks too fast for me to keep up. I keep holding up my hand, thinking if you don't say the honest thing, it never becomes true.

I put my hands on her shoulders. "I just realized something. I really really like you. You're amazing, and I so want to be your boyfriend, because of what you just said, and also because that shirt makes me want to take you home now and do unspeakable things while we watch live-action Sailor Moon videos. But but but you're totally right about saying the honest thing. I think if you keep the box closed long enough you do kill the cat, actually. And - God, I hope you won't take this personally - but I love my best friend more than anyone in the world."

She's looking at me now, squinting confusion.

"I do. I fucking love Tiny Cooper."

Jane says, "Um, okay. Are you asking me to be your girlfriend, or are you telling me that you're gay?"
"The first one. The girlfriend one. I gotta go find Tiny."

I stand up and kiss her on the zigzag and then bolt.

I call him while running across the soccer field, holding down 1 to speed dial. He doesn't pick up, but I think I know where he thinks I'm going, so I go there.

Once I see the park to my left, I slow to a fast-walk, heaving breaths, my shoulders burning beneath the backpack straps. Everything depends upon him being in the dugout, and it's so unlikely that he would go there, three days before the opening of the play, and as I walk in, I start to feel like an idiot:  His phone is off because he's in rehearsal, and I ran here instead of running to the auditorium, which means that now I am going to have to run back to the auditorium, and my lungs were not designed for such rigorous use.

I slow further when I hit the park, half because I'm out of breath and half because so long as I can't see into the dugout, he's there and he isn't. I watch this couple walking on the lawn, knowing that they can see into the dugout, trying to tell from their eyes whether they see a gigantic someone sitting in the visitors' dugout of this Little League field. But their eyes give me nothing, and I just watch them as they hold hands and walk.

Finally, the dugout comes into view. And damned if he isn't sitting right in the middle of that wooden bench.

I walk over. "Don't you have dress rehearsal?" He doesn't say anything until I sit down next to him on the cold wooden bench.

"They need a run-through without me. Otherwise, they may mutiny. We'll do the dress a little later tonight."

"So, what brings you to the visitors' dugout?"
"You remember after I first came out, you used to say, instead of like saying, 'Tiny plays for the other team', you'd say, 'Tiny plays for the White Sox.'"

"Yeah. Is that homophobic?" I ask.

"Nah," he says. "Well, probably it is, but it didn't bother me. Anyway, I want to apologize."

"For what?"

Apparently, I've uttered the magic words, because Tiny takes a deep breath before he starts talking, as if - fancy this - he has a lot to say. "For not saying to your face what I said to Gary. I'm not gonna apologize for saying it, because it's true. You and your damn rules. And you do get tag-alongy sometimes, and there's something a little Drama Queeny about your anti-Drama Queenyness, and I know I'm difficult but so are you and your whole put-upon act gets really old, and also you are so self-involved."

"Said the pot to the kettle," I say, trying not to get pissed. Tiny is awfully talented at puncturing the love bubble I felt for him. Perhaps, I think, this is why he gets dumped so much.

"Ha! True. True. I'm not saying I'm innocent. I'm saying you're guilty, too."

The couple walks out of my view. And then finally I feel ready to banish the quiver Tiny apparently thinks is weakness. I stand up so he has to look at me, and so I have to look at him, and for once, I'm taller. "I love you," I say.

He tilts his fat lovable head like a confused puppy.

"You are a terrible best friend," I tell him. "Terrible! You totally ditch me every time you have a boyfriend, and then you come crawling back when you're heartbroken. You don't listen to me. You don't even seem to like me. You get obsessed with the play and totally ignore me except to insult me to our friend behind my back, and you exploit your life and the people you say you care about so that your little play can make people love you and think how awesome you are and how liberated you are and how wondrously gay you are, but you know what? Being gay is not an excuse for being a dick.
"But you're one on my speed dial and I want you to stay there and I'm sorry I'm a terrible best friend, too, and I love you."

He won't stop it with the turned head. "Grayson, are you coming out to me? Because I'm, I mean, don't take this personally, but I would sooner go straight than go gay with you."

"NO. No no no. I don't want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It's so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a fuck about sex?! People act like it's the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around something slugs can do. I mean, who you want to screw and whether you screw them? Those are important questions, I guess. But they're not that important. You know what's important? Who would you die for? Who do you wake up at five forty-five in the morning for even though you don't even know why he needs you? Whose drunken nose would you pick?!"

I'm shouting, my arms whirling with gesticulations, and I don't even notice until I run out of important questions that Tiny is crying. And then softly, the softest I've ever heard Tiny say anything, he says, "If you could write a play about anybody…" and then his voice trails off.

I sit down next to him, put my arm around him. "Are you okay?"

Somehow, Tiny Cooper manages to contort himself so that his massive head cries on my narrow shoulder. And after a while he says, "Long week. Long month. Long life."

He recovers quickly, wiping his eyes with the popped collar of the polo shirt he's wearing beneath a striped sweater. "When you date someone, you have the markers along the way, right: You kiss, you have The Talk, you say the Three Little Words, you sit on a swing set and break up. You can plot the points on a graph. And you check up with each other along the way: Can I do this? If I say this, will you say it back?
"But with friendship, there's nothing like that. Being in a relationship, that's something you choose. Being friends, that's just something you are/"

I just stare out at the ball field for a minute. Tiny sniffles. "I'd pick you," I say. "Fuck it, I do pick you. I want you to come over to my house in twenty years with your dude and your adopted kids and I want our fucking kids to hang out and I want to, like, drink wine and talk about the Middle East or whatever the fuck we're gonna want to do when we're old. We've been friends too long to pick, but if we could pick, I'd pick you."

"Yeah, okay. You're getting a little feelingsy, Grayson," he says. "It's kinda freaking me out."

"Got it."

"Like, don't ever say you love me again."

"But I do love you. I'm not embarrassed abouit."

"Seriously, Grayson, stop it. You're making me throw up in the back of my mouth a little."

I laugh. "Can I help with the play?"

Tiny reaches into his pocket and produces a neatly folded piece of notebook paper and hands it to me. "I thought you'd never ask," he says, smirking.

Will (and to a lesser extent Jane),
Thank you for your interest in assisting me in the run-up to Hold Me Closer. I would greatly appreciate it if you would both be backstage opening night to assist with costume changes and to generally calm cast members (okay, let's just say it: me). Also, you'll have an excellent view of the play.
Also, the Phil Wrayson costume is excellent as is, but it'd be even better if we had some Will Grayson-ish clothes for Gary to wear.
Furthermore, I thought I would have time to make a preshow mix in which the odd-numbered tracks are punk rock and the even-numbered tracks are from musicals. I will not, in fact, have time to do this; if you do, it would be truly fabulous.
You are a cute couple, and it was my distinct pleasure to set you up, and I do not in any way resent either of you for failing to have thanked me for making your love possible.
I remain…
Your faithful matchmaker and servant…
Toiling alone and newly singly in an ocean of pain so that some light may be brought into your lives…
Tiny Cooper

I laugh while I read it, and Tiny laughs, too, nodding his head, appreciating his own awesome.

"I'm sorry about the other Will Grayson," I say.

His smile folds in upon itself. His response seems directed more toward my namesake than me. "There's never been anybody like him."

I don't trust the words as he says them, but then he exhales through pursed lips, his sad eyes squinting at the distance, and I believe him.

"I should probably get started on this, eh? Thanks for the backstage invite."

He gets up and starts nodding like he sometimes does, the repetitive nodding that tells me he's convincing himself of something. "Yeah, I should get back to infuriating the cast and crew with my tyrannical direction."

"I'll see you tomorrow then," I say.

"And all the other days," he says, patting me too hard between the shoulder blades.