Robert Lomas and the Da Vinci Code

Robert Lomas is a friend of best-selling author Dan Brown, a living Knight Templar, not to mention a scientist with some very radical theories. The Yorshire Evening Post interviewed Dr Robert Lomas, the man who inspired The Da Vinci Code's lead character. This is a transcription of the interview.

It's not every day you meet someone who tells you they have attended their own funeral but that's precisely what Dr Robert Lomas has just told me – and without even a glimmer of humour. And it was not even his most bizarre revelation.

As a freemason and Knight Templar he admits to having been part of some "seriously weird" ceremonies, not least of which was the freemason initiation ritual. This involved him baring his left breast, right arm and left knee, standing blindfolded with a noose round his neck and a dagger at his chest.

"The noose is so they can drag you back if you try to run, the knife is to teach you patience. The reason people do not talk about it is because it's seriously weird. It uses ritual myth and symbolism to teach you about yourself, society and your place in the world. You have to face up to fear and learn trust."

By day, the 62-year-old is a lecturer in technological management at Bradford University. In his own time, he is a long-standing member of the Masonic Lodge in Headingley, Leeds and has written widely on freemasonry, its origins and meaning.

The son of a Welsh mother and English father, he failed his 11-plus and was diagnosed with dyslexia and so opted for a career in maths – he says: "because it meant I didn't have to spell". He gained a first class honours degree in electronics, followed by a PhD in physics.

He became a freemason when he was 40.

The father-of-three and grandfather to one said: "Leeds is one of the areas where freemasonry took root in Yorkshire. It started in Scotland and quickly spread to York, then here, and Yorkshiremen took it to their hearts. "Stone masons carving myths into stone realised it might be possible to shape personality in the same way. Myth could inspire people to become better. The very first temple of King Solomon is a metaphor for forming a good society. Individual masons described themselves as 'living stones', part of a larger building. It teaches you to face up to fear of death – one of the rituals you literally attend your own funeral. Ultimately, it's about becoming a more productive member of society."

He is also a Knight Templar, one of the highest orders in freemasonry, an order which is based on the original Knights Templar and teaches initiates about self-sacrifice.

Freemasonry has almost made Dr Lomas something of a star. The organisation is the subject of The Lost Symbol, the latest page turner from bestselling author Dan Brown, of Da Vinci Code fame. (to be continued)