From the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International Education Committee
The Symbolism of the Square
By Illustrious Companion Benjamin Williams
Photo Credit: Grand Encampment
Knights Templar (knightstemplar.org)
Illustrious Companion Benjamin Williams is a Past Master, Past Excellent High Priest, Past Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Colorado, and serves as the Department Commander for the Northwestern Department Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America and and the Grand Encampment Education Development Committee.
The square teaches us, as Royal Arch Masons, that God has made all things square, upright, and perfect.
When the Excellent High Priest delivers this line in the lecture of the Royal Arch Degree to at least three newly made Companions, it is easily overlooked. After all, it is just one sentence – a relatively short one compared to the majority in that lecture – and just one of so many salient points made by the speaker. And yet interpreting the square in this manner is exceedingly important, and a distinction of Royal Arch Masons.
In the Blue Lodge, we are taught that the square is a emblem of morality, the rule and guide of our conduct. We are taught that the “square of virtue should be the rule and guide of my conduct in my future transactions with all mankind, but more especially among my Brethren in Masonry”. But here, in the Secret Vault where the discovery of the Book of the Law has once again been made, we learn that the square teaches us that God has made all things square, upright, and perfect. That means there is no error in God, nor is there any error made manifest in His creation – everything moves together right-angularly for the completion of the times. All things come to be, for the Glory of God.
And yet, somehow, evil exists in the world.
This seeming paradox is readily traversed, however, when we accept that evil, as a state of its own, does not necessarily exist in creation – rather, evil comes into existence through the intent and actions of man. Humankind alone has the propensity for the knowledge of good and evil, thereby to make manifest all the abnormalities and absurdities that God, in His shining perfection, would otherwise not countenance in creation.
God is perfect righteousness, perfect truth. Perfect love. God cannot, therefore, be evil – nor countenance evil, for to do so, God would cease to be perfection. Therefore, evil can only exist where God is absent. Yet God cannot be absent – one of the three essential attributes of Deity is Omnipresence. The doctrine of Omnipresence requires Him to be, literally, everywhere. So how can God be everywhere, and yet also be absent? How can evil exist if God be perfect and true, and yet perfectly fill His creation without limit?
There is but one place where God can appear to be absent, and therefore His absence may be known, even while he is, in fact, Omnipresent. For God has made man with the propensity for a knowledge of Good and Evil. Man must be the only creature able to deny the existence of God, and choose not to find Him everywhere! Man alone can look inside his own heart, and find it wanting.
Creation appears to man as matter, and man’s five senses enable a witnessing of material creation that conceals God even while it reveals Him. So it is that, God can be discovered, even while He himself is Omniscient.
The Glory of God is to conceal the Word!
As everyone knows, God has invested man with “free will”, the freedom to choose between “good and evil”. But this choice is better put, perhaps, as a choice between “God and not-God“. For man alone can choose “not-God” and, embodying such a choice, co-create through the ravages of time an emergent suffering and intendant “evil”. Evil, then, is a lack. Good is the fullness.
To the Royal Arch Mason, the square symbolizes this fullness.
This new symbolic interpretation is nonetheless a logical extension of the symbol of thesquare of morality as presented in the first three degrees, not least because the square, as employed by the Lodge, leads to man’s perfection.
We must remember, of course, that God has made man. And man, therefore, must be perfect in spite of his imperfections. Indeed, perhaps man is made perfect because of his imperfection. For man, in enabling an apparent negation of the existence of what is Omnipresent (and therefore what must be de facto illimitable); by lacking knowledge relative that which is Omniscient (and what therefore must be completely aware of its own existence); and by being subject to a creation amidst what is entirely Omnipotent, maintains limitlessness and, by extension, the illimitability of God, by enabling creation of what, in essence, is imperfect, unrighteous, limited, ignorant, and inexact.
That which is already complete in and of itself is nonetheless completed in man!
So, it is that man can move towards God. So it is that man can discover God, and God be made known, unto His own, to whom He reveals Himself.
This is the secret of the revolution of the times and the perfection of the ages.
For all things must come to pass.