Masonry Through my Eyes

 

A paper by Bro Clive Herron

Marine Lodge 627 I.C.

 

The human mind is quite a unique tool – it acts as a camera capturing what it sees and converts this into our perception. But often 2 people can have differing perceptions about the same thing.

To give you an example

The English 19th century poet, William Blake was standing on the shore one morning watching the

Sunrise.

He turned to a friend who was standing nearby and asked:

"What do you see when you see the sun rise?"

“I see a big round golden coin” his friend replied

There was an embarrassed silence. Then the friend said to    Blake:

 

"What, Sir, do you see?"

 

And Blake replied:

"I see an innumerable company of angels, crying Holy, Holy, Holy, the Whole earth is filled

with the Glory of God."

WAS THERE A DIFFERENCE? each man his own point of view and was correct

·    

 

A lumberjack eyeing a tree would probably estimate the average height and diameter of the trees, how much timber or pulp it could produce

Joyce Kilmer may have looked at the same trees and said I think that I shall Never See A poem as lovely as a tree

…………and so on

WAS THERE A DIFFERENCE?  No, each person had their own point of view which was personal and correct.

 Some see the doughnut others see the hole.

     Some see a glass half full others see it half empty. We are all free to choose.

 For us Freemasonry creates a point of view, an understanding, or a perception, that enables us to see things to which others are blind.

I would like to read to you an extract from the charge to a newly passed Fellow Craft in Irish Freemasonry.

 

…… you are entitled to offer your opinion on such subjects as are regularly introduced under the superintendence of the Master …..(it goes on)…..Thus you may improve your intellectual powers, qualify yourself to be a useful member of our Society, and eventually become a skilled Craftsman, by constantly striving to excel in what is good and great.

 

We are encouraged to form opinions and make these work as best suits us

The Craft means so many different things to each one of us and we are encouraged to establish our own point of view.

If it were not so I would not be able to stand before you and talk to you -  as you ALL experienced Freemasons in the craft.

So in this paper I am going to give a glimpse of Freemasonry through my eyes. Then tell you what I think makes a True Mason.

The English artist Turner  would not let a visitor go directly from the street into his gallery where his paintings were on exhibition. They first had to spend some time in a darkened room for he said that people could not see the beauty of his work with the glare of the street in their eyes.

·       Freemasonry gives us a new perspective of life as well

·       it takes from our eyes the glare of a harsh, materialistic world

·       It enables us to see life from the viewpoint of Brotherhood.

This gives us the freedom to discover for ourselves and take and adapt our lives accordingly. You will hear it said that Freemasonry means different things to different brethren

Some UnINFORMED believe that Masonry is a secret society WITH secret rites and condemn it.

When I first went through the candidate’s door. {Like most of you I am sure). I was confused and did know what I was letting myself in for. We have all felt the same. We all entered Freemasonry with a different purpose

Some entered out of sheer curiosity and still remain, finding great fellowship and drawing closer to our Creator and each other, thus becoming good Masons in every sense of the world.

Others refuse to join because they see Freemasonry as sinful and evil an organization with an alternative

agenda. I do not see it as such. For if it was, it certainly would not have stood the test of time.

In my opinion if Freemasonry has certain parts of the ritual that it wishes to keep confidential - it is not to hide the truth on the contrary – it is to teach the principals more impressively and to make a greater impact upon the candidate. The signs and grips serve as a kind of universal language, and a gracious cover for our practice of Brotherly love and charity.

SO IF WE ARE NOT EVIL THEN WHAT SETS APART?

It is, the fact that freemasons live by the lessons imparted to us during the so called veil of secrecy. But these lessons in no way conflict with the teachings of any religion nor with the rules of the State, yet we are being condemned by those seeking firstly to promote their individual dogma or political beliefs rather than recognize the aspirations of all men to be equal and universal. Had Freemasonry been false or subversive it would have perished long ago.

Freemasonry has no dogma or theology.

It offers no sacraments. On the contrary it teaches the importance for every man to have a religion of his own choice and to be faithful to it in thought and action.  The result is that men of different religions can meet in fellowship and true brotherhood under the fatherhood of God.

A good Mason is made even more faithful to the tenets of his faith by his membership in the Lodge.

As Freemasons we live by the VSL, complimented by the lesson of the working tools. In my eyes these are amongst the greatest lessons of morality we have; demonstrated in the ritual and passed on through the ages.

You cannot build a cathedral without working tools So it is true that you cannot build a life without working tools.

That is you cannot build a life without fulfilling the conditions for the building of a life.

Just reflect for a moment on the working tools

1. To spend time wisely – part in our usual vocation, part in rest and recreation and    part in the service of our creator

2. To divest our minds and consciences of all vices and impurities

3. To use the square as an emblem of proven morality

4. That all men in the sight of God are equal, subject to the same infirmities, hastening to the same goals and preparing to be judged by the same laws.

5. That we cannot sustain ourselves unless we live our lives in an upright manner

6. That all our words and actions are recorded and observed by the Almighty and that we will eventually be called upon to give account.

7. That we should live according to the VSL

8. That true happiness can only be achieved through the living of a virtuous life.

And this is the crux of Freemasonry ALL Masons must accept it and have a clear understanding

I SEE THAT:

·       A Freemason strives to be moral and ethical.

·       He strives to show justice, act honourably, and be loyal.

·       He cares for the less fortunate, and helps those in need. And all this is done irrespective of cultural or ethnic background or of religious beliefs.

·       And irrespective of any differences in social standing or education

Every Freemason learns while kneeling on the left knee on the first of a series of steps that at the centre of life there is obligation and the nerve center of that obligation is responsibility.

Obligation and responsibility go hand in hand.

For us our Masonic obligation should be more than an engagement we enter into with our Brethren in Freemasonry. It symbolizes the fact that every relationship be they in business or personal compels some new obligation and responsibility.

Failure to meet our obligations or responsibilities in life ALWAYS carries with it a penalty. This is symbolized in our ritual but is also true in real life.

THIS IS WHAT SETS US APART FROM ORGANISATIONS SUCH AS ROTARY ROUND TABLES, LIONS INTERNATIONAL AND OTHERS WITH WHICH WE ARE SOMETIMES COMPARED

 

I have been a member of some of these worthy service organizations. They do excellent work, but no other fraternity offers the lessons contained in our ritual.

Every word and act in our ceremonies carries a lesson for each one of us. If we just open our eyes, hearts and ears as we are instructed to do in the second or Fellowcraft degree

Another point that sets us apart - Freemasonry is about ourselves first, finding our place, our responsibilities, carrying out our own obligations and creating a better world and society, demonstrating, honesty, charity and brotherly love.

These are the qualities at the forefront of Freemasonry.

 In life there are some who are always trying to find ways to rid themselves of their obligations. We as Masons are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of our obligations.

Our Masonic obligation demands that our lives be the pledge of our fidelity. We should never forget that in life there are NO broken obligations without penalties.

There is nothing strange or peculiar about this. As a Freemason we are all conscious of it.

An example it is our obligation to pay tax – don’t pay and there is a penalty. Which leads me to ask is it OK to cheat on our tax.

I see around us a world where three kinds of honesty are practiced.

·       Cash register honesty,

·       Business or political honesty

·       Personal honesty.

The Master mason makes no distinction. He only knows one honesty. That is the lesson taught to us to DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.

 

This makes the Mason different from most people in this world and why those around him, respect him.

 

There is something inherently good about being a Freemason, for Freemasonry offers comfort to those in sorrow, hope for those in despair, counsel for those who err, and joy and contentment to all who genuinely practice it.

We are all familiar with the roll Freemasons have played in the past but What is the role of the Freemason in Modern Society?

Today, we have a greater choice of more and more things. The belief exists that we are living in an era of great freedom. Individuals are continually demanding more and more liberated rights. Politicians are implementing legislation which could directly impinge on our moral values. - Lobby groups ensure that their demands for these so called liberated rights become law. But just because they pass the test of democracy does not always mean that they are moral or even ethical. As Abraham Lincoln wrote “THE SHORTCOMING OF DEMOCRACY IS THAT IT COUNTS VOTES AND DOES NOT WEIGH THEM”

I quote Ayn Rand from her book “The Rights of Man” “THE CONCEPT OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IS SO NEW THAT MOST MEN HAVE NOT FULLY GRASPED IT”. - [And his is not confined to developing countries].  As Freemasons we must be aware of the changes that are taking place around us.

Moral issues greet us each morning in the newspaper and bid us farewell on the evening news. We are bombarded daily with questions about morality and ethics. Consider just a few that I have listed

·       Is euthanasia right or wrong or are there conditions?

·       Are same sex marriages acceptable

·        Drugs are bringing down our youth. Yet there are calls to legalise some

·        Alcohol and gambling are destroying family life. But governments take taxes and encourage the construction of Casino’s

·       Abortion is available on demand and is legalised – why do some oppose the death penalty and yet support abortion.

·        Child Abuse and wife bashing is prevalent  and we say it is caused by modern day stress.

·        Pornography is destroying our moral fibre but governments give us the right to choose

·        HIV and AIDS are destroying our future but prostitution is being decrimnalised

·        promiscuity is promoted in the daily soaps we see on TV Oppression and we discuss these over coffee

·        Slavery is still present and is being exploited and we buy the products

·       Poverty Still exists yet the food wasted in the United States alone is sufficient to alleviate hunger in the world

ALL evils are man made and must be cured by man alone, NOT a single evil is made by GOD.

This places new responsibilities on us as Freemasons. If we are expected to build the modern Temple , HUMANITY -  We will have to confront them and more. Recall the lesson of the common gavel – it is a symbol to admonish us of the duty of divesting our minds and consciences of all vices and impurities of life.

 Masons are compassionate and as good citizens we MUST have to have a point of view in order to deal with our changing society. Every Mason must continually review his obligation in relation to new issues.

The challenges that confront Freemasonry in the 21st century are a lot graver than they were in the 16th and 17th century. Freemasonry was bold then and took a stand. We will have to examine ourselves in the light of our obligation and take a stand today.

My Brothers, if you listen closely you will hear the good men in our society calling out: “Masonry where are you?” Freemasonry can help good men to withstand and deal with the pressures of our society. Freemasonry can help good men to renew the values that are needed to rebuild our society.  Freemasonry can help make good men better

This is my vision of Freemasonry, through my eyes and it clearly illustrates to me that Freemasonry is relevant today and has a message for the world, but a message alone will not solve the problems. We must once again become craftsmen and actively put right the wrongs as we see them. We must continually rededicate ourselves to the Craft and strive to make it relevant for all.

At the beginning of this paper I posed the Question what makes a TRUE mason

 

Brethren –through my eyes  is the fact that – Initiation alone never did nor ever can, make a man a true Mason. Initiation only lays the foundation, and without further labour the super structure cannot be raised. The additional labour is provided by the individual himself, applying the principles of Freemasonry to ALL things in his everyday life and conduct, by compliance with the laws and regulations, conventions and traditions of Freemasonry and civil society.  By active participation in the work of the Lodge and rendering service to his brother and fellow man. By doing unto others as he would have done to himself

 

SUCH A MAN CAN CALL HIMSELF A TRUE MASON