The Lodge of Success No. 5486

Freemasons Lodge and Chapter in Chelmsford, Essex, UK


Reprint from The Freemason.
10th April 1937

Pythagoras and Science

By W. Bro. Herbert Dunnico, P.A.G.C
Banner Presented to Lodge of Success, 5486

The following interesting and instructive address was delivered on the occasion of the dedication of a banner at a meeting of the Lodge of Success No. 5486, at Freemasons' Hall, on 20th March. The banner, the gift of W. Bro. Andrews-Leipper, I.P.M., represents the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, elucidating the 47th problem of the first book of Euclid.

In the course of the address W. Bro. Dunnico submitted that Pythagoras, the distinguished teacher and scholar, was greatly venerated by his followers, who considered him to be superhuman, if not divine. Strangely enough, he left no writings embodying the doctrines, which he taught, and there was much divergence of opinion as to precisely what he did teach. The School of Thought or Society which he founded was from the outset both a religious order and a scientific school, and that difference of opinion as to what he actually taught was to some extent accounted for by the fact that some of his followers were attracted by the scientific side of his teachings, while others were attracted by his religious beliefs and practices.

There were a few things about him worth placing on record on an occasion like that. He was a Greek born at Samos, and the period of his active life fell in the second half of the 6th century, BC. He is said to have emigrated from Greece because he refused to submit to the dogmatism and tyranny of his contemporaries, and settled at Crotona, noted for its healthy climate. Here he lived for twenty years and established his Religious Order and School of Science. Then he left for Metapont, where he died. In such high esteem was he held that when Cicero visited Metapont four centuries later, he declined to go to the house of his host until he had visited the place where Pythagoras was buried. His religious teachings had only an academic interest for Masons, but his followers lived a life of poverty, wore a peculiar garb and went about barefooted. They lived almost exclusively on a vegetarian diet; taught the doctrines of transmigration of souls, and of immortality, and that self-denial and privation in this world would gain a privileged place in the world to come. All this was commonplace to them today, but such teachings 2,500 years ago justified Plato's declaration that he taught his followers a new way of life and that he won an unusual degree of affection from them. Pythagoras was certainly entitled to be called the. Father of Science, and what were equally important, all European religions and ethical systems, apart from those received through the Jews, could be traced back to him.

Athenian culture and philosophy of later centuries owed more to Pythagoras than Aristotle or Socrates was generous enough to acknowledge. Masonic interest, however, was centred in Pythagoras, because, to use Aristotle's description of him, “He busied himself in the theories of numbers.” He was the real founder of arithmetic and geometry, and was probably the author of the first six books of Euclid. The 47th proposition of the first book of Euclid was particularly associated with his name, but it was doubtful if the method of proof given to them was the one used by Pythagoras himself. One of the few sayings of Pythagoras that had come down to them was:-

All things are in numbers: the world is a living arithmetic, a realised geometry.

Pythagoras saw in numbers the signs and thought forms of the Eternal mind everywhere. It revealed to him and what they now termed the music of the spheres. That universal geometry told him of a great Geometrician whose divine compass measured all things. What Pythagoras dimly discerned, modern science had confirmed.

The great truth taught by Pythagoras was, therefore, this:-

That we lived in a world that is based upon law, order, design and measurements;

That throughout the universe there was knowledge, skill, accuracy and precision;

That nothing walked with aimless feet;

That everywhere there was intelligence, meaning, purpose; and

That even what they termed mystery was only mysterious because of the limitations of the human mind.

Proceeding to address the assembly on the subject of a banner, W. Bro. Dunnico said he had on many occasions pointed out that banners and flags had from time immemorial served as a rallying point for those sharing a common cause, pursuing a common purpose; though they became in the course of time moral and spiritual symbols exercising a moral and spiritual influence. They embodied the traditions of the past, and formed a link between the veterans of the past and the living present. That was the meaning and purpose of their Banner. The Lodge of Success was a young Lodge. In a few brief years those who founded it would have passed to the Grand Lodge above. It was, therefore, a wise provision, as well as a generous act on the part of their Immediate Past Master to provide the Lodge with a Banner. From now onwards, whenever that Lodge was opened, the Banner would stand in its place to keep alive old names, to keep fresh old memories, to be a perpetual witness of the ideals and aims of those who founded the Lodge, and of the sacrifice and service of those who sent it forth on its mission. It was in this spirit he dedicated the Banner. Let it be to them the symbol of all that was good and true. From now onwards they should salute it, look on it with pride and, with each year, hallowed memories and rich traditions. Might it ever witness for all those things that were ageless and timeless, the things that brought their noble Order into being, and without which Masonry would become but a vain show, sounding brass and a clanging cymbal.

Following the address, the Master of the Lodge, W. Bro. A.T. Hornsby, who resumed the Chair, which he had vacated in favour of W. Bro. Dunnico accepted the Banner from its donor, W. Bro. Andrews-Leipper, I.P.M., and placed it in position behind him, and the ceremony of dedication was completed.

The subsequent proceedings were held in the Connaught Rooms, when the customary toasts were honoured by W, Bro. Dunnico, responding on behalf of the Grand Officers, humorously contended that they were long-suffering and bore each others’ burdens as well as they could. (Laughter.) Life was full of crosses and temptations. They came into it without being asked, and they left it with a great deal of reluctance. The trip between the two was sometimes a stormy one. To some few people it was like a Midsummer Night's Dream. To others it was more like a Tempest, and to almost everybody it was a Comedy of Errors. Still, take it As You Like It, in the, long run everybody received Pleasure for Measure, and All's Well that Ends Well. If one went to church every Sunday regularly they said he was a bit of a hypocrite. If one stayed away and played golf they said he was an ardent sinner. When one was little, big girls wanted to kiss him, and when big, little girls wanted to. If one made plenty of money they called him a grafter, and if he did not make any they called him a fool. So the only thing was to pack up their troubles and go on smiling. Continuing Bro. Dunnico said they owed a great debt of gratitude to Grand Officers, especially those on whose shoulders rested the responsibility of carrying on Grand Lodge. There was no institution in the world which included men so varied in religious views, political creeds, race, colour, habits of life and moods; and yet there was no institution, in spite of those differences, where there was so much unity, where men could meet round a common altar and pursue a common purpose, as that old institution of theirs. Freemasonry today was more widespread, more influential than ever it had been. That was something to he proud of, and they owed a great deal to Grand Officers for it. He was never tired of emphasising that the future of Freemasonry depended not so much on the great ones at the head of the Craft, but on the efforts and fidelity of the ordinary Freemason who pulled and did his duty. The real heart of England, the real force of this great Empire, was not due to those who ruled them. It was due to the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the ordinary person. In their lives, let them not trouble so much about the trimmings of Freemasonry. It was not a ritual only to be recited, but a life, to be lived. He did not think the world was ever so ready to accept their message as today, because it had tried everything-commerce, religions, politics, diplomacy and machinery and armaments were being oiled up so that the spirit of peace seemed as remote as ever. The peace of the world would never come about until the things Freemasonry stood for were accepted by the nations and by the peoples of the nations. That was where peace lay. It was a good thing to be a Freemason in these days. They stood for things money could not buy. They were living in a strenuous, materialistic age. The best things were not bought with money. Money could build a house, but it could not create a home. Money could corrupt a politician, but it could not bribe a statesman. It could stifle a preacher, but could not silence a prophet. The things Freemasonry stood for were the things which moth and rust did not corrupt. They were the great fundamentals of the age. He believed the coming twenty-five years would determine the history of civilisation for the next five hundred years, as they stood at the end of one great epoch and were on the verge of another. They were standing between two worlds the one dead and the other waiting to be born. The nature of that world depended on them. If it were to be an improvement on the old one they had to make it a world built on goodwill, brotherhood and mutual understanding. Freemasonry had a chance now it never had before. The real test would be whether they were going to do the things they stood for. They could do it. Bro. Dunnico ended with expressing every happiness and prosperity for the Lodge and its members.

Responding, the Master thanked W. Bro. Dunnico for his services as Dedicating Chaplain, and went on to say he had gathered from the latter it was not so much the procedure that mattered as that the spirit of Freemasonry was in their hearts. He had tried to inculcate that spirit himself, and he thought it was permeating the Lodge. They were a young Lodge, but they tried to emulate their Mother Lodge, Proceeding, on behalf of the Lodge and himself he extended the most hearty thanks to W. Bro. Andrews-Leipper for the gift of the banner. It was a beautiful gift, which all highly appreciated.

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