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

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I disagree…

I have participated in online masonry for the better part of six years, and the one phrase that I keep seeing over and over, the one that leads to more dissension, disputes and hard feelings among brothers is:

I disagree

These are two words that should be discarded among Masons. Now, on the surface, this seems a simple thing. We aren’t all going to agree on everything, no one expects us to, really. What is expected, however, is when we do disagree, that we display an excess of brotherly love.

Masons are humans, of course, and we are as prone to getting carried away with our own opinions and thoughts as any other human. What is important is that we keep in mind those compasses, whereby we are enjoined to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds.

Benjamin Franklin enjoins us to never contest, and to never come to the discussion with a mind set firm. You see, the purpose of discussion is to share and to learn, not proselytize. If you join a discussion with the intent of teaching, correcting, converting, you are approaching the discussion with a closed mind.

It’s a matter of intent. If you intend to learn, you have to listen twice as hard as you speak. As masons, we are taught there should be no contention among us, except that noble contention, or rather, emulation, of who can best work and best agree.

When we disagree with each other, we loose sight of brotherhood, and in doing so, we loose sight of the value that our brother brings to the discussion. When we disagree, we are no longer listening, we are instead formulating our responses, and we can’t learn, we can’t share if we are focused on our own wants, needs, desires.

Next time you are in lodge, or on a forum, consider discarding these two words.

I know I will.

G-d bless.


giovanni lombardo said...

In Italy this expression is absolutely banned, and on purpose.
We conduct business debating an article, which is mostly written by a Brother, so to say that would stress "I", one's ego, and this would be detrimental for the harmony of our lodge.
Man can obtain the same result by other means. For instance, if a Bro says that the chair is black, I can stand up and say that it is white.
The disagreement is in the content, but politeness and harmony will be kept safe.
Old Charges teach to us the courtesy is mandatory, "within and without the Lodge"; furthermore Freemasonry is an "order", not a club, so we need self-discipline to grow up mentally and spiritually.

Anonymous said...

I ponder what conditions should exist when this phrase is appropriate and actually needing to be stated.


Eisbär said...

I wonder if matters of fact apply?
Black chair/ white chair ... if there is no agreement, then the trouble is either with the fact or the observer.

I often wonder if such circumstances where words are banned comes about from not being focused where you should be.

This is just a passing though.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot depends upon your view of "harmony." If, as it seems, the purpose of doing away with any mention of "I disagree" is the harmony of the lodge, imo it fails the task. Harmony is not a song of unison, it is a tune made more beautiful by the blending of notes that are unlike each other. The earliest musicians who first tried to play in ensemble rather than solo, undoubtedly had to learn by trial and error which ones blend well together and which do not.

But that process could never have occurred if the conductor insisted that anyone playing a different note should keep it to himself for the sake of "harmony."

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