Co-Freemasonry in the Eastern Order of International Co-Freemasonry affirms, in accordance with the ancient declaration of Freemasonry, the existence of a vital and creative Principle, under suggestive titles such as "The Great Architect of the Universe."
It maintains the open "Volume of the Sacred Lore" in every Lodge, when duly formed for Masonic Purposes. By 'Lore' we mean a 'body of knowledge', as there are many sacred texts, all of which descibe pathways to Truth. Candidates may choose the text which reflects their personal practice and belief.
It maintains the ancient landmarks of Freemasonry and withholds recognition from all irregular and clandestine meetings, or Lodges not holding proper Charter.
It is open to men and women, without distinction of race or religion, who are free, of good report, and of sound mind and strict morals. It imposes no restrictions on the search for Truth, and to secure that freedom expects tolerance from all its members. Its Lodges and Chapters work to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe and to the Perfection of Humanity, according to authorised rituals.
It pledges its members to obedience to the laws of the country, loyalty to the sovereign or supreme body, silence with regard to Masonic secrets, a high standard of honour, and a ceaseless endeavour to promote the welfare of Humanity.
Every Freemason belonging to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is bound faithfully to observe the decisions of the Supreme Council to which he or she owes allegiance.
The Nature of Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a design for living which, when followed, leads its initiates to a knowledge of their own inner divine nature and of their harmonious linkage with all life on the planet. It gives Freemasons a training that can eventually bring them to a gateway, opening upon the Path that all human beings can walk to self-knowledge and to mutual support and cooperation.
Freemasonry has its spiritual roots in the ancient Mysteries and is today the modern form of those mysteries. Throughout the ages, Freemasonry has preserved the Ancient Wisdom of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, which might otherwise have been lost to humanity during periods of darkness. The symbols by which that Ancient Wisdom is expressed have varied with time and place, as civilizations have come and gone, but the fundamental design of the work and its great truths have remained unchanged.
Some Freemasons are unaware of the depth of their heritage and of the spiritual power inherent in their ceremonies. They are satisfied with the ideal of brotherhood and the ethics and charitable work of Freemasonry. That is right and proper.
Masonic secrets became a way of talking about inner spiritual development. Today, the secrecy of Freemasonry is primarily symbolic. Many experiences of life cannot be put into words that will communicate them to others. That is true of quite simple and trivial experiences, such as biting into a lemon. If you have never had that experience, no one can tell you what it is really like. If you have had it, you know at first hand the taste of a lemon, which no words can express.
The ineffableness of experience is even truer of the great and moving experiences of life. No one can describe love so well as to put its essence into words.
Love can be experienced; it cannot be told. Similarly, the experience of spiritual discovery, of awakening to the Reality within each of us, cannot be put into words. Both love and spiritual discovery can be symbolized, but not expressed in ordinary words. So too, the experiences that Freemasonry is designed to evoke are beyond language. Those experiences are symbolized by the objects, actions, and legends of Freemasonry, but they cannot be expressed adequately and directly in words. Masonic secrets are symbols of what cannot be expressed—the Masonic spiritual experience. Masonic secrets are symbolic substitutes for the real experiences that await the Freemason in the course of the inner initiations that are the real content of Masonry.