During all the discipline and labour involved in attaining this stability there has shone light on the path from the first moment that his Apprentice’s vision was opened to larger truth; light from the science and philosophy of the Order itself which is proving his “porchway” to the ultimate sanctuary within; light from friendly helpers and instructors; above all, light from the sun in his own “heavens”, streaming through the “dormer-window” of his illumined intelligence and slowly but surely guiding his feet into the way of peace.
But now the last and greatest trial of his fortitude and fidelity, one imposing upon him a still more serious obligation of endurance, awaits him in the total withdrawal of this kindly light. Hitherto, although guided by that light, he has progressed in virtue of his own natural powers and efforts. Now the time has come when those props have to be removed, when all reliance upon natural abilities, self-will and the normal rational understanding, must be surrendered and the aspirant must abandon himself utterly to the transformative action of his Vital and Immortal Principle alone, passively suffering it to complete the work in entire independence of his lesser faculties. He must “lose his life to save it”; he must surrender all that he has hitherto felt to be his life in order to find life of an altogether higher order.
”For of the soul the body form doth take, And soul is form and doth the body make.”
Meanwhile, until actual recovery of that lost secret, man must put up with its substitutions and regard these as sacramental of concealed realities, contact with which will be his great reward if he submits himself to the conditions upon which alone he may discover them. The existence of those realities and the regimen essential to their enjoyment are inculcated by Masonry as they have been by every other initiatory Order of the past, and it is for the fact that this knowledge is and always has been conserved in the world, so as to be ever available for earnest aspirants towards it, that gratitude is expressed to the Grand Master of all for having never left Himself, or the way of return to Him, without witness in this outer world.
But in confirmation of what has been indicated it may be useful to refer to the 23rd Psalm, in which the Hebrew Initiates speak of both the supreme experience of being passed through “the valley of the shadow of death” and the preliminary phases of mental preparation for that ordeal. Stripping that familiar psalm of the gorgeous metaphor given it in the beautiful Biblical translation, its real meaning may be paraphrased and explained for Masonic students as follows :—
It is restoring my soul (reintegrating it out of chaos and disorder).
Even when I come to pass through the valley of deadly gloom (my own interior veils of darkness) I will fear no evil; for It is with me (as a guiding star); Its directions and disciplines will safeguard me. It provides me with the means of overcoming my inner enemies and weaknesses; It anoints my intelligence with the oil of wisdom; the cup of my mind brims over with new light and consciousness. The Divine Love and Truth, which I shall find face to face at my centre, will be a conscious presence to me all the days of my temporal life; and thereafter I shall dwell in a “house of the Lord” (a glorified spiritual body) for ever.”