One of the major threads in Dan Brown’s 2009 Freemason based thriller, The Lost Symbol, is an explanation of the work of fictional physicist Katherine Solomon, who in the book is a leading researcher in the field of Noetic Science. Sponsored by the Smithsonian, Solomon studies the untapped potential of the human mind.
Although we have not given it the same name, Noetic Science is a theme which repeats itself many times throughout the Degrees of Freemasonry.
The idea is that most of us have barely scratched the surface of our mental and spiritual capabilities. The Degrees of the Rite give us an understanding that the mind, like the logos, was with God in the beginning, is made in the image of God, and therefore has the potential to be accessed for remarkably metaphysical and powerful purposes. Noetic scientists envision their studies as explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing. They sometimes refer to it as “inner knowing,”–exploring the nature and potential of consciousness. We think of it as the “inner way” or the transformative art of Masonry. Whenever we have an insight or intuition relating to an allegory presented in our ritual that suddenly becomes clear to us for the first time; whenever we are enlightened by our ability to find clarity through reason to a problem we have never before been able to solve; or whenever our senses warn us of an impending danger, causing us to consciously divert our path away from it, we are experiencing the inner way.
Again, we call this work the transformative art of our fraternity. Our studious focus and meditation on the deeper nature of our teachings can literally transform or change us for the better. But the noetic part is that our collective discipline in working together toward perfecting our mind, soul and spirit can also change society for the better. Jung called this type of change as affecting the collective unconscious. Jung saw the collective unconscious as being the repository of all current and past religious, spiritual and mythological symbols and experiences. And these things are imbedded in the genetic dna of all of us. These things form the map of our psyche—the archetypes of all things which have pre-existed us—the thinking processes deep within us which we inherit even if we don’t know it.
The collective unconscious, then, is a kind of universal mind. Since it exists in all of us, it can be manipulated in the direction of good or evil. Dan Brown’s fear in The Living Symbol is that, if the forces for good in the world do not become aware of this metaphysical power of the mind and will, it can be captured and manipulated for evil purposes.
The hope of the Scottish Rite, as the enemy of all spiritual and mental tyranny, is that by projecting the balance of faith, logic, and reason into the minds of mankind, it can develop the wider human potential and creative capacities for good in the world.
By supporting individuals in the transformation of their own consciousness, we lay the cornerstone for a collective transformation in the world which is built on freedom, wisdom and love.