Dear reader in the appropriate form of salutation!
The more I learn, the less I know: I think Goethe meant this when he said that “doubt grows with knowledge”, that doubt increases knowledge.
We live in a profane world ruled by the culture of certainties, almost always ephemeral and fallacious but considered as infallible, just as the Titanic was declared unsinkable. In this ocean of false truths, the compass of doubt helps us navigate through what we observe, what we think and what we live.
The challenge that every Freemason faces every day is a challenge of awareness, very difficult to take, when the pride of having started and progressing on a path of knowledge, a journey made of first-hand experiences and improvements paid at a high price, is opposed to the fear of looking out over the edge of the abyss of their own ignorance and incompleteness. The awareness of being ephemeral and fallacious, the acceptance of one’s limits and gaps requires a great strength: the strength to recognize that this is exactly what makes us divinely human.
This is how the Freemason, nourishing his doubts, nourishes his hunger for Truth.
The research of the Truth is the hardest task for all Freemasons because they know that it is a path that will never end. Each Freemason has been taught that it is not possible to possess the Truth, since it cannot be caught by deduction but only by intuition, and always in a partial and temporary way, never in its totality. We never possess the Truth; if anything, in those rare moments in which we catch glimpses of Light as flashes, it is the Truth that possesses us. And in this path of knowledge, doubt is not a veil in front of the Light: the doubt is courage, it is research, it is an engine. Doubt is a cure: the cure against the discomfort of the human being who tries to progress without clinging to certainties. To believe that a truth is already revealed (twice veiled) leads to the dogma, to the impossibility of calling into question what we have intuited: doubt is therefore highlighted as one of the elements that distinguishes Freemasonry from Religions. The latter in fact exhort to put trust in God, not in Man, while Freemasonry places trust in Mankind, because in it it recognizes both the human and divine nature.
So if at the base of Religion there is dogma, at the base of Freemasonry there is doubt: doubt is the antidote to dogma, it is the cure against a poison that has the effect of narcotizing free thinking by administering a convenient truth already revealed, in front of which we must no longer think but only believe. Dogma, after all, is a response to human frailty, or rather to our frangibility: we are frangible, and we are afraid. Doubt, on the other hand, is Man’s response to the fear of falling into the trap of easy, prêt a porter truths, available at low cost, already packaged and ready for use as a fast-food and therefore with the same need to be consumed quickly, before free thought can awaken from the torpor calling them into question.
Where Religion imposes us “Have Faith!”, the Freemasonry exhorts us: “Have doubts!”
In our path of elevation we must also learn to surrender to the wave of doubt. Sometimes we can be tempted to feel like we were trees; some magnificent, solemn, high trees rooted on solid and strong certainties that allow us to rise towards the sky and push our branches and our fronds higher and higher in search for the Light. And that’s when the doubt will come, like the flood of a river that has collected too much water. And if the wave will not be strong enough, then a dam will collapse, and if it will not be enough again, a Tsunami will hit our shores: the more we try to resist, the more devastating will be the wave that will overwhelm us, uprooting all the certainties we cling to, bringing us finally far, towards new horizons, towards a new knowledge and a new Light.
Because we are Men, not trees. We are Freemasons, and ours is not a path that has a starting and an ending point, but a path whose destiny is movement and whose essence is transformation, and whose ultimate goal is not to root new certainties, but rather discovering new Light in the territories where doubt will transport us and where we will always call “Home” our Temple, and “Family” our Lodge.
Doubt is courage, it is research, it is an engine. Doubt is the antidote and the cure.
In my experience of Freemason doubt has been also a tool, a daily tool for my work, which has been added to an already well-equipped toolbox that contains the perpendicular and the level, the square and the compass and so on. Tools that over time I am learning to use, being aware even in this case that as I learn to use them I discover new features, new uses, new unexplored and still to be learned possibilities.
But doubt is a tool different from all the others, because it is not a tool for construction, but a tool for destruction. And it does its job very well, because it is able to crumble my illusions, my comfortable convictions, the projections of my ego and all the false truths.
It is a tool unique in its kind, because it serves to open cracks and realize that, to use the words of brother Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything: that’s how the Light gets in”.
So said I…
Br∴ E∴ C∴