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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Its all about balance

Freemasonry teaches us, when speaking of the 24" gauge:
The Rule — directs the undeviating discharge of all our duties; that we should press forward in the straight path of right and truth without inclining to the one hand or the other; in all our doings having Eternity in view.
We are also directed to daily employ the compasses in our daily lives, circumscribing our desires and keeping our passions within due bounds toward all mankind, particularly our brethren in freemasonry. Of course, we are also taught to use the square to square our actions by the square of virtue. Balance. My credo for freemasonry as I see it was brought out by a realization about the purpose of freemasonry, one that is illustrated by the following short story posted on the Lodgeroom US by Br. At Peterson:
It was an exciting time at the building of King Solomon's temple for two fellows of the craft. Jethro and Saul, brothers from the land of Tyre had been selected to prove their proficiency to advance to the degree of Master Mason!

The task laid out to them was simple enough. ***** ***** presented them each with a rough ashlar, the tools of the craft, and a tresle board with the design they were to make. They were each given 6 days to complete their ashlar.

The brothers set to the task each toiling the best their skill would allow. On the third day Saul had made great progress. Jethro however, had made minimal. Saul with the best of intentions, insisted that Jethro allow him to assist. Jethro refused insisting that he was doing just fine in his labors.

On the fifth day Saul was close to being complete with his ashlar. Jethro was still far off, but working diligently.

That night Saul hardly slept. He wanted his brother to advance with him, but he would not accept any assistance. Saul had to find away to help his brother.

On the sixth and final day Saul quickly checked his ashlar and, finding it complete sped away to try one more time to assist his brother.

He found Jethro slowly chipping away at his ashlar and begged him to let him assist. Jethro staunchly refused yet again. Saul walked away vowing in his mind to help his brother whether he liked it or not.

That night as Jethro slept, Saul slipped away to the quarry and finished Jethros ashlar.

The seventh day ***** went to the quarry to judge the brothers work.

The first ashlar he judged was Jethro's. ***** was quite impressed with work. It was finished exactly to the specifications laid out on the trestle board. The Masters eye was keen though, and he noticed something was amiss. Some of the chisel marks were different in character than the majority. He said nothing and went to Saul's ashlar.

Sauls ashlar was perfect in virtually every respects. There was one crucial flaw that should not have been missed by a Master Mason who did a thorough inspection of his work. ***** also noticed something that made both works make sense. The odd chisel marks on Jethro's ashlar were the same as the one's found on Saul's

***** summoned the brothers to the lodge to hear his judgment.

Jethro, ***** said, your work indicates that you understand the fundamentals of Masonry, yet you have trouble applying them to our work efficiently.

Saul, your work indicates that you have much skill as a mason. Yet your focus on the imperfections of others work, causes you to miss the flaws in your own.

I therefore order you both to the quarry for another years time as fellows of the craft. Take with you the lessons of this trial, and perhaps you will indeed become Master Masons.
Jethro was more interested in making his brother succeed when he was not ready than in focusing on his own work, and therefore missed the point, and was sent back to think about it for another year. Its about balance, and its about self improvement. You cannot force a man to be something he is not, though you can share with him things that can help him along the way... you cannot do the work FOR him.

Freemasonry states that its goal is to take good men and make them better men. This is good, because these good men live in society, and by the very act of improving them, society improves. This is the balance that freemasonry teaches.
Its not about me changing them, its about me changing ME. At first blush, this sounds rather arrogant and self focused, but it seems to be the core of freemasonry. No one can change another fundamentally.

Oh, you can pass laws, and like pointing a gun at someone's head, you can force them to ACT like they are something they are not, but the core remains the same.
Freemasonry teaches, to each according to his willingness and ability, and of course, that is the beauty and glory of the craft. It is A Peculiar System of Morality, taught by allegory, illustrated by symbols. As freemasons, we inculcate the teachings of the craft in our private life, and then implement them in our public life.

We are Freemasons always, and that is how we should live our lives, never doing or saying anything that would cast a negative light on our ancient and honorable fraternity.
The Peculiar System of Morality that the craft teaches us is freedom, circumscribed by the boundary of what it right. With great freedom comes greater responsibility.

The responsibility for our actions is truly on our shoulders, for their is no one to blame but ourselves for the manner in which we employ our freedom.
Never loose sight of the use of that valuable instrument by which we are taught to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind, particularly our brethren in Freemasonry. Its all about balance.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the version of Mackey's Jurisprudence that I have, he defined Masonry just slightly differently. He said it was a "science of morality, hidden by allegory and illustrated by symbols." That slight difference, "science" vs "system" makes a grat difference. It means that we must continually research how improve ourselves, to learn more and more about the system of morality we follow. It also implies, just as in all science, that every new finding most likely leads to more questions. That is why it must be voluntary. Pointing the gun at ones head and saying "thou shalt live morally, and that means you must do this and not do that" implies that the system of morality is completely understood, cast in concrete, and ready for application. And we all know that is not true.

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