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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Philosophy in Suburbia.

Los Angeles has a rich history. Sure its not quite the metropolis of New York, London, or any of the other juggernauts of urban development, and is the result of decades of suburban sprawl that has created a landscape of single family homes from Santa Barbara to San Diego, but it still has the drive to become a nexus of new ideas and promise that big cities often promise.

Its from that slowly waking giant that Manly P. Hall saw promise in and established the Philosophical Research Center in 1934. The center was the culmination of his life's work to that point in the exploration of the metaphysical/esoteric/occult philosophy that had to that point little codification into one mystery tradition of philosophy. But Hall didn't roll it into another tradition, instead he went the other way, he wrapped it all into his own philosophical research and made it available to the world through PRS.

Hall's most notable body of work is his book The Secret Teachings of All Ages which is his Magnum Opus of compiling all of the mystery traditions into one body of work. Originally written in 1928, it has since been published and republished for later generations and is one of the best books I can point to as a primer for the traditions of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and the host of mystery schools that populate the landscape today. The work is not without its questionable chapters, but it gives as broad an overview as possible to as many traditions as possible.

But at the core of the secret teachings was Hall's research. Besides his own travels around the world to explore the topics, he also collected a massive assortment of wisdom books on all topics from the then opening eastern traditions to the physiological explorations of the time. And, to this day, it has in its collection over 30,000 books. Though hall had little formal education, his analysis and contribution to the field is astounding, and within just a few steps into the library it is easy to sense his energy that still resonates in its walls.

Hall's library, and the Society he founded, are still in existence today. As Los Angeles has grown, so too has the Society and it continues to serve and teach those who find their way to its doors. Within certain circles, the library is well known, but to the broader Masonic community, few know of the oasis of knowledge that continues here in the Los Angeles suburbs.

Tonight on Masonic Central, we have the opportunity to talk to the caretaker of the library today, and provide a glimpse of its content and plan for the future to continue the vision of Hall and of the Society. I'm excited about it and am looking forward to the chance to spend some time talking about the collection, Hall's legacy, and the future for PRS. You can listen live by logging in to our talkshoe host at 6pm PST / 9pm EST or from the Masonic Central website. Or, if you can't make the live show, be sure to pull it as a download and catch up on what this important Society is up to.

I know it will be a great program.