Masonic Education

Dimensions of the Soul
Presented by Rev. Dr. George Richardson at True Britons on 12/03/2007

What are you referring to when you say or think “I” as in. “I am glad, I am sad, I am hopeful, I am discouraged, I am angry, I will or I won’t”  You don’t mean your hand, your elbow or any physical part of you is angry or sad or happy.   Not even your mind.  My mind processes information and advises me, but we all know that we can do what the mind tells us is unwise. My mind does the research, but I make the decisions.  This command centre we speak of as “I” cannot be seen or located, but we know what we mean when we say “I”. For communication purposes it has been called soul.

Concepts like colour, weight or shape do not apply to soul. However, the concept of dimension can be, and helps us think about soul.  A floor plan of a building has two dimensions – length and width…To build a house on that plan, adds a third dimension –height.  This dimension does not eliminate length and width, but height makes a structure that holds more and is more useful that the two dimensional flat one.  Similarly, extra dimensions of soul do not eliminate the former ones but enhance and give shape to them.  The first dimensions are still significant part of what is now a much bigger whole.

The first dimension of the soul is attention to obtaining what my life needs and desires for survival and enjoyment.  This is the basic dimension. The child learns to feed herself, then learns how to obtain what is needed, and eventually how to earn money and handle it to ensure supply.  At every age, attention to the economic base is essential for a satisfactory life.  Any philosophy of life that ignores this dimension will be inadequate, but a soul that restricts its attention to this one dimension will be very narrow.

Think wanting a box to carry stuff in.  How much could you carry in a flat box like the one made for a pizza or a long narrow one like one like one made of flowers?  To hold any amount, you need a box which has significant dimensions in length, width and height…Souls are like that.  To hold very much they need more dimensions.

The second dimension is relationships with people.  A child begins with a closeness to mother father and any other family, but eventually must pay attention to developing other relationships and belonging in some group.  This is obvious in the teen years, but we never outgrow this need.  The soul may seek it in a lodge, a club, or any of the groups we work or play with.   This does not replace the need for attention to what we need or want, but the social dimension expands the soul.  Life has much more to it.    

The third dimension is knowledge.  The more you know about the world, the greater your capacity to deal with it and enjoy it.  We encourage children to get education, because we know it will make a big difference in their first dimension capacity to gain more of what they need or desire.  At any age there is a joy in learning something.

It expands our appreciation of everything we encounter and provides skill to deal with many aspects of life.  Personal relationships are enriched by sharing what we know, and seeking to learn together.  This dimension opens up much richness of life, and expands capacity for economics and social life.

The fourth dimension involves vision – paying attention to the possibilities that could be. Doing a job or getting involved in any enterprise has an extra dimension when your soul has a vision of where this could lead.  Having a goal in any venture, be it to raise children, build a house, get promotions at work, build a business, or make a difference in a community adds a dimension of vision that changes the way we can handle the demands involved.  What we know, our contacts with people and our economic resources now have a channel in promoting our vision.  Dimensions enhance one another.

The fifth dimension is concern to do what is right – not for any hope of reward or fear of consequences, but because that is who you are.  The moral dimension involves more than keeping the rules or laws, it is grounded in feeling responsible for how your actions may affect others.  It means avoiding what may cause harm, and willingness to do good, such as volunteering for community services and contributing to the welfare of individuals.  It contributes to the stability of society by its effect on the tone of business and social relationships.  It shapes and disciplines the first four dimensions.

There is also a sixth dimension of love or compassion -  This is caring about people we encounter whether or not we like them.  Loving them without any expectation that they will appreciate it or love you in return.  Compassion means feeling with individuals – sensing how life feels from their point of view, focusing on their well being.  It brings a new dimension to the situation when we serve because we care with generosity in attitudes as well as actions.  It dissipates resentment and makes forgiveness possible.  The soul that loves in this way brings warmth to doing what is right, and expands the soul’s sense of self in all its dimensions.

Finally, a seventh dimension that is spiritual – a relationship with GOD. This is a spiritual or religious dimension, and there are many kinds of religion that can generate this dimension, but religion that focuses on expecting GOD to adjust the world for me is not seventh dimension.  Continually asking GOD to give me comfort and safety is first dimension of soul.  Seventh dimension is religion and can be detected in the spirit of a famous prayer you may have heard:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me show love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, hope,
Where there is sadness, joy,
Where there is darkness, light,
Grant that I should not so much
Seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.

The seventh dimension soul seeks to live for GOD, and senses GOD in everything. The world looks different when you see it as GOD’S world.  You feel differently about yourself when you sense yourself as GOD’s personThe other six dimensions of soul get enhanced and directed.

6…Knowing GOD loves you enriches your sixth dimension of love.  Your caring about peoples gets enriched by GOD’s love living through you, resentment and hostility fade away, making forgiveness a reality.

5…Your responsibility for the effect of your actions on others is felt as a trust from GOD, so the fifth dimension of moral goodness is a sacred law.

4…Your visions get shaped by GOD’s purpose for your life.

3…Your mind can learn about this world because your mental processes have a kinship with the intelligence that organized it all.  Serious thinking is exercising the element in you that is divine.

2…Relationship with GOD may bring you into belonging with people in a congregation, and mutual ties with people.

1…Anxiety about what you need dissipates in faith that GOD will see you through.

WHY sort out dimensions of soul?  It provides a framework for appreciating what is most valuable for people.  The more dimensions of soul your organization or activity can nourish, the more valuable it will be for the participants.

  1. Food, comfort or entertainment can help, but it is only one dimension.
  2. Providing opportunity to develop friendships and sense of belonging with others.
  3. Information and learning opportunities stimulate a third dimension.
  4. Projects or goals can generate involvement in a vision.
  5. Encouraging integrity and responsibility promotes stability and self-worth.
  6. Love demonstrated among the group and caring for others encouraged.
  7. Cultivating awareness of GOD promoting living for and with GOD.

Freemasonry has the potential for cultivating all seven dimensions.