To erect temples to virtue and dig dungeons for vices
by Athos A. Altomonte
© copyright 2007 by Esonet.it – Esonet.com
Metaphors shouldn't be considered as truths carved in the stone but as representations to be discovered by lifting the cover that re-veils (veils twice) their hidden meanings. This penetration can only be done through intuition (mental sensitivity) or through empathy (sensitivity of the heart). The first instrument that the aspirant initiate should develop is the sensitization of intellect and feelings.
The Mason is told over and over again ‘to erect temples to virtue and dig dungeons for vices'.
The gist of this metaphor is the invitation to ‘work for the benefit of the humankind by digging dungeons for ignorance', which is the greatest vice of the man who opposes light. The first thing to do is to use the light of the soul to illuminate the reason and then the conscience.
This happens through an active and transmuting process (see transmutation of metals) not comparable with the religious feminine.
When I was a ‘pupil' I was impressed by the teaching of the so-called adverse tactic . It means not to fight bad habits, but develop their antagonists.
We must start from the postulate that a ‘faulty' mind can hardly compete with the vice that controls its emotions. That vice must be ignored and we must develop the opposite aspect; by expanding it, the antagonist will obscure it and imprison it in the depth of unconsciousness (this is the dungeon).
I remember that when I heard the Eastern teaching ‘improve your inner champion to defeat the demon that rules you' I thought that I could perhaps develop more than one ‘champion'; experience showed that I was right.
Our champions are latent faculties, which Freemasonry represents in the shape of tools. As an entered Apprentice first, a Fellow craft later and finally a Master, any Mason can find more and more refined philosophies linked to those symbols. If he missed them, those tools would remain silent witnesses of his failure and instead of an initiate, he will stay a trainee.
Of course man is not condemned to live with his vices if he is able to erect his mind and conscience above them. Once the mind is enlightened, it becomes a palace built on the top of the ‘mountain of Initiation' (see Ars regia), which rises on the miseries of the world. When the initiate will feel ready he will descend from the top to become one of the guides that show the aspirants the paths that lead to the top.