Gotta love graduate school. It really hasn't given me adequate time to post to this blog. I have had some time to keep up with what's going on and I came across this on The Sanctum Sanctorum Education Foundation's forum. It was written by WBro. Roger Tigner and it is reproduced here with the gracious permission of the author. Hopefully there will be more original stuff coming shortly. Enjoy!
Freemasons, like everything in nature, have experienced ebb and flow like the swing of the pendulum. Our most famous mantra from the 20th century was the concept of “Making Good men Better”, but what do we really mean? We point to the famous masons of our past with both awe and reverence in the work they accomplished in changing the world, but what about today or more importantly – tomorrow?
Our great Masonic leaders were not great simply because they were members of the fraternity. Some were great men before they ever became masons, while other became so after having joining the fraternity, but probably would have succeeded without our influences. What made them famous then is what we should be looking at today for the benefit of our future, not just the future of the fraternity, but of our country and all who inhabit planet earth. Many would argue that the American landscape has changed to drastically to be compared with the quaint colloquialism of our colonial past, or even the America of 60 years ago, but I would argue that is why the teachings of freemasonry are so great, its teachings are timeless and they gave our country the ability to have different views of social problems and taught us to keep the common good in sight while we discussed the merits and downfalls of solving a problem. That made our forefathers relevant to their friends and countrymen and created a nation envied for its freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. But what is relevant?
Merriam-Webster defines it thus: RELEVANT
1 a : having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand
b : affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion
c : having social relevance
Medieval Latin relevant –, relevans, from Latin, of relevare to raise up – First Known Use: 1560
Relevant today means that we care about what is happening around us, and most importantly that we try to do something about it. Freemasonry today has seen one of its lowest ebbs ever, in membership, in education, in having lost sight of what a centuries old fraternity was meant to be. Freemasonry today is almost schizophrenic in the multitude of directions its energies drive our members. Our lust for membership drives many to say “Freemasonry is for dummies and idiots” supposing that all we need to do is pander to the profane and we will be perfect in no time. Others demand that we collectively agree to calm the fears of the profane, that “we have no secrets and everything you ever wanted to know about us is on the Internet”. While still others throw themselves against the ramparts of history trying to prove the un-provable, that our Freemasonry goes beyond 1717 that the roots of our fraternity make us descendants of the actual Knights Templar, Solomon’s builder, Egyptian Priests or beyond.
While these are entertaining educational exercises they serve to do no more than distract brethren from more important endeavors. Becoming good men and relevant in their homes and community. I can be honest in saying that I had no idea why I joined freemasonry. I did know that the person who asked me to become a brother was someone I did (and still do) deeply respect as being relevant, his grasp of philosophy made him a good businessman, a good husband and father, and a great man in the eyes of many, me especially.
I will be brutally honest that the good being promoted by the fraternity through our philanthropy is equally offset by something well within our control – ourselves. By allowing unworthy feet to pass the threshold, bigotry, clashes of economic classes, generational divides and all the while the pretentious demagogue rails within our sanctum. What effect does this struggle have? I would answer that the best way to evaluate your image is not to ask those within the fraternity, but to listen to how those outside the fraternity view us. Mr. Victor David Hanson was being interviewed on about the future of the European Union his answer was sad, "Well there will always be a European Union, it just won’t do anything. It will be sort of like the Masonic Lodge today in small town America. It’s still going to be there, but nobody is going to belong or do much to it.” If we are seeking to be better men and relevant is today’s society; that statement would demonstrate how really far we have fallen and how far we still have to go.
So where do we go from here?
Many would say, “who cares about him, we just be need to be nice to everyone, they can be our new members.” There is a reason we have called people outside the fraternity “profane” through our history, we do not do this to be degrading to others, profane means to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contemp. I cannot speak for others, but my Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite and York Rite are very sacred meeting places and none but a Mason can begin to understand why, nor treat them with the proper respect. The fraternity cannot prove a negative, we cannot prove we do not worship Baphomet any more than we can prove that Freemasonry was actually created by the Egyptian priesthood, what we can do is guard ourselves as if anyone may be profane and study the best parts of all ancient mystical traditions and see how each of them, from time immemorial, has taken good men and made them better.
Recent events in Tucson, Arizona and other places have shown the desperate need for men of deep philosophical understanding to become engaged in their community and their countries affairs. The birth of Freemasonry developed in the Age of Enlightenment as the path by which uncaring monarchs where forced from power and inspired democracies and republics based on freedom and equality were born. To these same efforts we should focus our own energies in becoming relevant masons.
To this end we must make ourselves intimately acquainted with all the principles and obligations of our fraternity, and practice in our lives outside the lodge all its duties and requirements inculcated within it. We cannot be so preoccupied with our past that we ignore the present or the future. We must divest ourselves brethren, of coldness and apathy, so fatal to the best interests of Freemasonry – our nation – our world. Shun those affections and groveling passions unworthy of a soul that claims affinity with the “Sons of Light,” and put forth all your energies to grasp whatever is noble or elevating in thought, deed and action. Study the esoteric work of Pike, De Hoyas, Hogan, Hall and all who say greatness can be found in the philosophy of every age. Seek out what is good in everyone, not to try and be better than others, but to try and be better than ourselves, to learn how we can joins hands with those outside the fraternity and treat with them squarely, rather they allowing them always to remain at a perpetual distance. Seek daily whatever can reveal new and sublime ideas pertaining to our lofty destiny, not seeking to elevate ourselves beyond deserved greatness to date, but remembering each who did his duty as a Mason and seeking to emulate them in all our thoughts, words and actions. Guard against dissentions among ourselves that we may be united in the work we do, let no root of bitterness spring up to trouble you, we are all workmen in the quarries and each performs the duties he is best suited to perform, according to the designs laid out by the Supreme Architect of the Universe on his eternal trestlboard. Use all your exertions to preserve your Lodge pure, and prevent the introduction of vice or error in its thousand forms. Seek to practice true brotherhood, and if, in the frailty of mortality, a brother falls under the influence of unholy feelings and wanders into forbidden paths, seek the wanderer out, bring him back to the fold, and show him the superior loveliness of virtue, remember that deceit and hypocrisy should be unknown among us and frankness and fair dealing distinguish us, more especially with our brethren in masonry. For if we cannot speak plainly and affectionately to those we call brother, we will never be able to speak truthfully to our God, our neighbor or our country, thence we and they will all suffer. Much may be accomplished by the force of good example, and by offering good counsel in a friendly spirit, ever remembering that err is human, to forgive divine. Finally, brethren, be of one mind; live in peace. Let nothing disturb that pure, warm and holy love which our precepts enjoin.
When we begin to live our ideals, because only by living them will people outside begin to take note that Freemasonry has indeed made you a better man and more importantly making you a Relevant Mason.
Therefore the master goes about doing nothing, teaching no talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing, Working, yet not taking credit, Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.
From the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Chinese Philosopher 6th Century BCE
Legend says Lao Tzu traveled from the East to the West after having attained light and knowledge.
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