I was sent this video from a well intentioned Masonic Brother who thought I might enjoy its content. It is a 30 minute video presentation by Dr. Anthony Fels, who mentioned he was not a Mason. After some reflection, I thought the video could be a springboard for a discussion. Dr. Fels did a pretty good job of reflecting a period of Masonic history in California. However, because he is not a well versed Mason, and he was obviously not aware of gnosis, his views must be taken in such light. You see, unless you understand the basis of gnosis, one will never truly understand the principles of Masonry. Gnosis is a philosophy of religion, not a religion. I believe it is the basis of all religions – that is why any man who believes in God can become a member of the Craft.
Wikipedia defined gnosis as “the common Greek noun for knowledge (in the nominative case γνῶσις f.). In Christian, Islamic, or Jewish mysticism, mystery religions and Gnosticism gnosis generally signifies a spiritual knowledge or “religion of knowledge”, in the sense of mystical enlightenment or “insight”. Gnosis taught a deliverance of man from the constraints of earthly existence through insight into an essential relationship, as soul or spirit, with a supramundane place of freedom.” Furthermore, “Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun, which means ‘knowledge’. It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge (eidein), as with the French connaitre compared with savoir, or the German kennen rather than wissen.” With these definitions in mind, gnosis can thus be defined as ‘spiritual knowledge,’ a ‘personal knowledge,’ rather than an ‘intellectual knowledge.’ Gnosis could also be called ‘insight,’ or we Masons like to call it – Enlightenment!
If Dr. Fels understood this most basic concept, he would have realized why the Craft does not or will not ever adhere to itself as a religion. Masons are allowed to have their own faith because gnosis encourages such a belief. If one looks at gnosis as a basis for religion, it would make sense that Masonry could never become a competing entity of religion. Please watch the video, I really think the good Dr. did a great job of stating the general problem of competing interest, but his conclusion I respectfully disagree with.
So Mote It Be