True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Its not about me changing them...

Masonry: Its not about me changing THEM, its about ME changing ME.

This came about as a result of a conversation I was having with my wife about a man who USED to be in my lodge and the brethren who brought masonic charges against him which resulted in his no longer being a mason.

I was concerned about the brother being charged, about how the brothers had not whispered good counsel to him to seek to bring about a reformation, but instead immediately proceeded to the Grand Lodge to prefer charges against him. She noted that I can't change them, and like a light going on, I suddenly realized what seemed to me to be a significant truth: Masonry is about me changing ME into a better man. This is an internal struggle, to inculcate into my life and being the tenets and teachings of the fraternity.

Of course, a significant portion of that internalizing comes from the example set by my brothers, those I see every day and those that came before me, so in that sense, they change me. However, that is a passive process. I cannot CHANGE anyone by direct action. Can I change them by my example? I hope so, but if I do change myself, an ongoing process to be sure, and one that is as I noted, significantly affected by my brothers in my lodge, on the internet, and in books and other ways, then that change will effect everyone with whom I come in contact.

Therefore, Masonry: Its not about me changing THEM, its about ME changing ME. Its not selfishness, because masonry's mission statement is that we take good men and make them better. We do that by encouraging contemplation and inculcation of moral tenets, which bring about action by my breaking off the rough and superfluous parts of my rough ashlar. I may, in a small way, SHOW a brother how to chip off a superfluous part of HIS rough ashlar, but HE must decide and HE must act to make that change.

Each of us changes ourselves through education and contemplation. Its about ME changing ME.

You know, part of the change in a man is wrought BY the initiatory process of the ritual. Being in blindness/Darkness has a way of opening the mind to other... possibilities. And that opening is the beginning of change, for the door is pried open and new thoughts and concepts can therefore sneak in past the guard of "what you already know" and experience.

This is one reason I have always opposed the one day degree conferral, not because it defies tradition, but because a significant part of becomming a mason comes from the initiation which begins the change. Another BIG part of the change come from the unspoken expectations of the brethren, and frankly, from peer pressure to conform to the teachings of the fraternity.

Once the door is opened via initiation and repetition, one must assiduously struggle to keep the door propped open, which is where the internalization of the teachings come from. Masonry is a philosophical fraternity, and philosophy is not just assimilating what others think and say and write, but taking in those things and making that a part of yourself, through contemplation.

Robert Heinlein created a word in the 1970's which really defines this process: GROK. To Grok something is to completely understand it, to make it part of yourself, in all ways. However, to grok something also requires you to understand YOURSELF and how that thing you are contemplating fits you, and to make the changes to yourself to subsume that thing.


From Wikipedia:

Grok (pronounced grock) is a verb roughly meaning "to understand completely" or more formally "to achieve complete intuitive understanding". It was coined by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land, where it is part of the fictional Martian language and introduced to English speakers by a man raised by Martians.

In the Martian tongue, it literally means "to drink" but is used in a much wider context. A character in the novel (not the primary user) defines it:

"Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because we are from Earth) as color means to a blind man."

Using the broad meaning above, the term gained real-world currency as slang among counterculture groups including hippies. A popular t-shirt and bumper sticker slogan for 1970s Trekkies was I grok Spock (often showing the Star Trek character using the Vulcan salute). Today it is chiefly used by science-fiction fans, geeks and some pagans, particularly those belonging to the Church of All Worlds, but is attested and understood more widely.

To GROK Masonry is a lifetime endeavor.


Mike said...

"Masonry: Its not about me changing THEM, its about ME changing ME."

So it's not about you changing them, if so how do you explain how masonry has changed over the years? Who did that? Non-Masons?

Fact of the matter is Masons did some major changes in the British Colonies aka to "THEM". These Mason where surely not true to their county.

Change is inevitable except from the vending machine --get use to it

Theron Dunn said...


I appreciate your taking time to comment on my words. Let me see if I can shed some light on my perspective.

Freemasonry changes us, and, as we are taught in each of the degrees, we symbolically work on perfecting our own ashlars, to build a Masonic edifice.

Necessarily, as we change, we affect what is around us. Masonry itself has changed very little over the "ages", though it has, of course, been affected by the men who come through the doors.

My statement reflects the inner work we are doing as masons. I can't change YOU one whit. What I can do is change me, to become a better man.

Sometimes, becoming a better man means that we take on injustice where we see them instead of ignoring them. In the case of the British colonies, many Masons, seeing evil and injustice, even in their own country, struggled to correct that and right those wrongs.

Today, we have the United States of American because some Masons, seeing the injustice of the British system, fought to change it. As a result, the colonies became a new country.

The same is true for the state of Texas, primarily formed by Masons, who, seeing the injustice of the Mexican government, fought to change it and correct it. Many of these Masons died at the Alamo, fighting against the oppression.

As for fighting change? My friend, where in my words do you find any objection to change? Change is good, change is our friend. The only constant in life, besides the purity of the teachings of freemasonry, IS change.

Once more, I thank you for your words and for reading mine.

Theron Dunn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Taylor said...

"Masonry: Its not about me changing THEM, its about ME changing ME."

As you know this statement has had a profound affect on how I have approached my Masonry since you first coined it.

You know? By changing ME, I will change them! But I have to change ME first!

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