Ill. Rudyardo V. Bunda, 33
Sovereign Grand Commander
Supreme Council of the Philippines

The teachings of the ancient sages as embodied in Freemasonry are even more relevant today than in previous times.

Freemasonry is not merely an organization of people. It is an institution that carries a profound philosophy or teaching that has existed since time immemorial. The essence of its teachings does not change, for it is rooted upon a transcendental understanding of the nature of man, society, and the cosmos around him. These teachings are embodied in symbols transmitted from generation to generation. These symbols permit multiple levels of interpretation by different individuals. But as a core of veiled teachings, they do not change.

These teachings constitute the essential insights of the greatest sages, whether of the East or West, since ancient times. Not only do they throw light upon the problems of human life, but they also offer a basis for a nobler and more peaceful society.

Our Present Society

We have seen that in the past centuries and millennia, leaders and governments have attempted to bring about social progress. While there is obvious advancement in technology and economic productivity, it is extremely doubtful if we can say that human society in general has become nobler, more ethical, or more spiritual. Crimes today are incomparably worse than those of centuries past. In ancient times, people killed each other by spears and swords. Today man has developed weapons that can annihilate whole populations. Senseless poisonings of innocent peacetime civilians with the help of irresponsible scientists is a phenomenon never seen before in the history of humankind.

Social degeneration is compounded by the introduction of new social values that are insensitive to the welfare of future generations. Natural resources are needlessly consumed and toxic substances needlessly generated. We are, in effect, enjoying life today at the expense of our childrenís children. Witness the destruction of the Earthís forest cover, the exhaustion of non-replaceable fossil fuel, the destruction of the life-protecting ozone layer, the accumulation of nuclear waste, and countless other destructive acts that can be avoided or minimized.

The present global structure makes it extremely difficult to reverse the trend in the foreseeable future. Economies compete with each other through higher and higher productivity and gross national products, thus racing towards more accelerated destruction of our resources. We know we are facing a future of gloom, we know that only the decisive action of mankind can prevent it, and yet we are unable to come together and agree to prevent it.

The Philosophy Of Freemasonry

What is the role of Freemasonry in the current human situation? What message does it bring? Is its message something which is practicable?

The teachings of the ancient sages as embodied in Freemasonry are even more relevant today than in the older times.

Freemasonry makes good men better. It seeks the transformation of man from selfishness to selflessness. Without these transformed men, no noble and ethical society can be constructed. It is not in economic or technological progress, not is legislation or treaties, that people will learn to live with one another. The laws and the structures may be noble and ideal, but if the human heart is evil, then human ingenuity will always find means to circumvent laws, constitutions, agreements, or treaties.

Self-transformation entails the development of a character that recognizes the need to subjugate self-interest in the interest of the common welfare. It entails the death of selfishness, or destructive competition, of tendencies towards violence. It entails the awakening of compassion and genuine care in individuals-towards themselves, their families, their communities and humanity in general.

Until self-transformation on a massive scale can be carried out, the economies of the world will continue in their violent and destructive direction.

Freemasonry holds the key to self-transformation. The key is the awakening of the inner character of all individuals by awakening each personís higher self, his spiritual nature.

The lessons of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry are meant to pursue, in graded steps, the gradual and full awakening of the higher self in each Brother Mason. Our Orderís goal is the emergence of deeper principles and spiritual values in the individual. These, in turn, will influence his outward social behavior. Such a person will be equivalent to what modern psychology calls a Self-Actualized Person.

A Two-Phase Self-Transformation

The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry can, therefore, take the lead in undertaking a two-phased self-transformation program to help in the establishment of a nobler society in the future. First, it should implement a program addressed to the members of the Scottish Rite and, if acceptable to them, to Grand Lodge Masons. Let each Supreme Council:

-Lead in establishing a curriculum for self-transformation;

-Plan a continuing program for the education of Freemasons, including the training of trainers who will be qualified to teach;

-Let the same program be introduced to Grand Lodges in general, if they wish, after a period of trial, say two years, among Scottish Rite Masons;

-Let there be an international exchange of ideas on Masonic Education so the efforts of the different Supreme Councils are enriched. Also, reaching out to the general public, every Supreme Council can undertake a public dissemination and education program to help people realize self-transformation in their daily lives. Here are some possible approaches to start with.

-Publish pamphlets, newsletters, books, or periodicals that will disseminate the principles of the mature life as gleaned from Masonic wisdom;

-Launch newspaper columns or radio programs that will discuss practical steps in self-transformation and the awakening of the higher potentials in a human being;

-Organize training modules addressed to the public on self-transformation;

-Let there be an international concerted effort to popularize the ethical way of life of Masonry, thus achieving synergy of efforts; and

-Let Masonry take part in the global effort towards the lessening of the present culture of violence, of racial and religious intolerance, of narrow nationalism, and of non-sustainable economic progress.

In the past century, many Freemasons have been involved in fighting oppression and injustice. Many have led revolutions that changed the destiny of their nations.

Today Masons are challenged to take part and even lead in another kind of revolution-one that will lay the basis for global change and the attainment of a just and noble society in the future. This work will not bear visible fruit in our generation, or even in the next generation. But the work of transforming the character of large masses of people will bear lasting fruits of peace and justice. And it must be started now. We as Freemasons must not be passive while the signs of doom are clearly seen in the horizon. We must act together as a global Fraternity, no longer as separate Councils or Grand Lodges. We must join hands with all other organizations who are working towards the same goals and ideals. The agenda is too urgent for an isolationist attitude.

With firmness of purpose, the foundations of a noble, ethical, and spiritual society can be laid. And the principles of Freemasonry can be a guiding light amidst the confusion of values in the world today.

The above article is reprinted with permission from The Scottish Rite Bulletin (May 1996) published by the Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Republic of the Philippines.