What Is Counter Initiation?
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Freemasons are bound together through their shared experience of Masonic initiation and through the morals of the fraternity, which is taught during the initiation. It is then, too, that he learns to orientate himself away from the petty distractions of life and toward what is essential to a healthy soul. Most especially, he is orientated towards the Great Architect or God.
Yet, according to the Traditionalist school of thought, there is also the phenomenon of “counter-initiation.” Founded, during the first half of the twentieth century, by French metaphysician René Guénon, and shaped to a large extent by Sufi, spiritual teacher, author, and artist Frithjof Schuon, Traditionalism has had a small but significant impact on culture, subtly influencing Prince Charle’s book Harmony, for example.
For the original Traditionalists, a decline in human consciousness has taken place over the millennia. At first, in the Golden Age (or what Hindus call the Satya Yuga), man lived in harmony with nature and with God. Yet, as millennia passed, man became less connected to nature and God and more and more self-centered and materialistic. In the final age (the Iron Age or Kali Yuga), often associated with our own time, man will face the worst of challenges. According to ancient Greek, Norse, and Hindu accounts, in the final age, religion will no longer be of any importance, brother will fight brother, families will be torn apart, a man will be admired for his wealth rather than for his character, and leaders will be greedy, and, regardless of how much they already possess, they will want more. In the Kali Yuga, man is out of balance with himself, his society, nature, and God. We might say, then, that initiation attempts to restore to the initiate a consciousness that is akin to that of the Golden Age -- to restore harmony to his intelligence and life and, as we have noted, to reorientate him towards God.
Counter-initiation orientates him in the opposite direction -- towards the consciousness of the materialism, the world, and the self. Such an experience can have all of the trappings of an initiation: ritual, symbols, teachings, a fraternal camaraderie, and so on. Yet, rather than directing the “initiate” towards Deity, it channels and misdirects his seeking -- his search for the truth, and for something beyond him -- into non-spiritual and even anti-spiritual pursuits. We can see this very clearly in religion itself. Many “houses of worship” are now only so in name, with their sermons largely or perhaps entirely political.
The result might be activism, street protests, and voting for a particular candidate, or it might be politically-motivated, “religious” extremism, intolerance, and violence. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's,” Matthew 22:21 records Jesus as saying. Regardless of whether one is a Christian or not, the sentiment is that we should neither confuse politics and religion nor this life and the next.
Initiation -- including Masonic initiation -- orientates us towards God and to the “temple not made with hands.” Counter-initiation orientates the individual towards Caesar; towards the political, the worldly, and the self. And while the initiate finds an inner-peace, harmony, and connectedness in his life, the individuals that have gone through a counter-initiation find themselves often consumed by anger, a sense of disharmony, and disconnectedness.
By Angel Millar
To read more about counter-initiation please see
The Art and Science of Initiation
Edited by Jedediah French
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