What comes to your mind when you see a large yellow “M” letter on a red background? And a shinning bitten apple? What does a Swastika – with a genuine fear of the answers, given the beauty of her real meaning – remind you? What do we remember when we see a cross? What about a black rearing horse on a yellow background? What comes to your mind if you see a lowercase letter “F” in white on a blue background? What can symbols do that hardly would texts do integrally? They can talk to our subconscious! They awaken what is in the depths of our minds!
I was once told that the Rooster represents self vigilance in the Masonic context, but for me it meant absolutely nothing. Perhaps because of a strong characteristic of mine of hardly accepting what is exposed to me without plausible arguments. This symbol was only a sign. It was! Once, I was having an informal conversation with a great friend – who prides himself on having an extensive CV. He has never ceased to detail for me his own deeds, achievements, commendations, medals, honors and everything else that my ears and patience could bear. A great “ego masturbation”, with the license for such terms. He felt as if he had an enormous need for self-assertion, which I was exposed for endless ten minutes. In my mind there was only judgment: “Vanity is a s***!”, “I believe he wants to make up for something from which he was deprived,” “Freud explains what you are going through, my friend.”
When it comes to judgment, the one who writes you has a PhD. On this same occasion, a few hours later, I was surprised by a homage addressed to me in the presence of dozens of others. At that moment I felt as if all the spotlights on the world were pointing at me. My chest filled up as if taking a deep breath before a great dip. All of a sudden I faced the image of a Rooster on the western wall of the Room, opposite to the one I was at. At that moment, all the fingers I used to point to a Brother’s vices pointed back to myself, revealing the great conceited, self-righteous hypocrite I am. All through the image of that Rooster; silent, flashy, yet discreet. Only then he “spoke” to me and came to life. Precisely in this way I discovered an addiction which I had hitherto projected in others, when in fact it was part of myself: vanity.
This is the power of a Symbol! However, certain Symbols will remain lifeless for many, as they just do not convey anything to some people. I compare them with recipes for Enlightenment that the great Avatars of history have passed us: Siddhartha Gautama, the Budah, lit up and gave his recipe to the world, but that was the way it worked for him! Muhammad was Enlightened and showed his modus operandi for his followers, but that was the effective way for him. Jesus was Enlightened and did the same process, yet that was how he found the Truth, not me. Who guarantees that the same will happen to anyone else? The same happens to Symbols “taught” on books. Those were the ways some ineffable teaching worked for the authors; their personal experiences and opinions are codified and scattered, but nothing guarantees this is a shared truth. When they tell you a Symbol means something, ask, think, philosophize, expose a thesis, and listen to the likely antitheses, then come – or not – in a synthesis. The absorption and understanding of a Symbol are directly intertwined with the practice of dialectic, rhetorical speech, and the sharing of ideas in a mature and honest way.
Symbols give us the unique opportunity to deconstruct ourselves, to leave a zone of comfort, to know ourselves, to internalize what words fail to try. Risking to make an analogy, I see the feeling, the ineffable message to be passed, like water. This can not be passed from one place to another in a precise and integral way without a container. It will still adopt the shape of the container in which it is inserted. Thus do the Symbols work at my point of view; in an abstract but objective way. Enigmatic, but revealing when understood. However, in the right time and in the right way, they are talkative and alive.
This is just my half-truth. Now friend reader, please disagree with me …