Monday, December 6, 2010

The Craftsman

Can we brothers better our natures? Can we brothers improve ourselves in Freemasonry?

There are a good many self help systems out there. You can find 'Unlimited Power' through Tony Robbins. You can learn the 'Power of Intention' under the tutelage of Dr. Wayne Dyer. You could try manifesting and attracting your wealth, security and happiness via 'The Laws of Attraction.' Perhaps Kevin Trudeau has that 'Natural Cure' you've been looking for? Learn to see with 'The Teachings of Don Juan' by Carlos Castaneda. Allow Eckhart Tolle to show you 'A New Earth,' or Norman Vincent Peale to guide you with 'The Power of Positive Thinking.'

Religions are something like self help systems as well. Perhaps you can find your personal answer in one of them. Christianity sacrifices the ego. Judaism is an enlightened path. Islam submits man's will to a Higher Authority. Hinduism contains a rare beauty of ideas. Buddhism harnesses desires through compassion.

Are the answers there?

It really doesnt matter if there are answers in the myriad self help tomes and systems available to the general public. And here is not the place for religious discussions; beliefs all too subjective to the believers.

What Freemasons really want to know is whether or not Freemasonry actually 'can' help a man improve himself. Many Freemasons even want to know exactly how it can. Most Masons are seekers on the path. They have followed that first step with many after. But they want to know...in the end...where that path is leading them.

Does the Masonic Path...do those steps up the ladder lead to the York Rite?; perhaps the Scottish Rite and Albert Pike's opus 'Morals and Dogma of the Scottish Rite?; or is it into those halls of fellowship and frivolity found in the Mystic Shrine?

I have followed the Path from its beginning in the Blue Lodge and continued my journey through each of these Masonic 'systems'. And so like Alice moving through the dreaming depths of Wonderland I have met brothers and friends along my travels and faced dangers, challenges and even an enemy or two.

We men who seek to learn to improve ourselves in Freemasonry must begin with the belief that Masonry is a system of ideas, symbols and even instructions. But we must go fearless onto that Path and begin first at the side of the Angel of Faith. Soon enough we will have Hope. And if we toil long enough...and learn well enough...perhaps we shall rectify ourselves at that higher plane where alone waits the Angel of Charity...Love.

If you are indeed a Freemason then you should already be aware that atop that stairway to heaven is the Light. And before that Light is the Angel of Charity...the Angel of Love. This is a symbol...the most profound of Masonic symbols. The author Ram Dass recently released his third book in his trilogy of enlightened works entitled 'Be Love Now.' Love is a state of Being he insists. It is the key to the true mastery of the self and the revelation of the infinite Light. Call that what you will.

Where have we many Masons misplaced our Brotherly Love? I have still found waiting daggers in the hands of Brothers. Men set foot on the Path and lose their way...discouraged because the Light is unclear to them for all the secrets we keep...even from ourselves. Unworthy men have set foot on that same True Path. These men did not come to that place to learn to improve themselves...these men only came to empower themselves. These men are brothers but to themselves.

Worthy Brothers, discarded Ruffians, keep your heads along the way...and Pay Attention! It is true that you will find what you are looking for. Certainly we Masons are all looking for brothers in the Order...friends...family. But Do Not take that first step of Freemasonry and shame yourself and your Order along the Path because you are content that Masonry is a means to a social end...or empowerment in business or something else.

Freemasonry is a Light in the Darkness. But so long have men clouded the way with their own preconceptions, desires and prejudices that you will likely find the Path a perilous one...with little reward for your undertaking.

If you are daring you will cast aside your preconceptions, remove the hoodwink and cable tow to stand at last on the edge of a yawning precipice. Your world, the self you were, lies behind you. The Angel of Faith awaits you and you must walk where the ground is uncertain...where the familiar is no more.

There are many answers for the true seeker in Freemasonry. How many Masons, too afraid, cast aside the teaching in 'Morals and Dogma'? How many Masons know the Order's teachings save the Lodge procedures and degree rituals?

So many brothers have I spoken with who were yet lost along the way and simply disgusted because they have learned to improve themselves only in fellowship. There is more...much more. But most either do not know, pay attention or dare to look into or apply those most relevant of Masonic teachings.

To learn to improve yourself in Freemasonry is not simply a call to learn the motions of the Order. It is an Oath to apply the teachings of the Order...teachings obscured because many Masons are afraid to face that most fearful of all things...themselves.

Wait in the chamber of reflection and look well at what you see. Mortal man, alone and weak enough before the tides of time and fate. The other Angel waiting...Death.

Are we not all rough ashlar, so like an unfinished cast out corner stone? Each day we live, our character is revealed as that coarseness is chipped away. What is the Image of the Man we will each find inside once we are finished? Man in the Image of God?...or simply so obscured by passions, jealousies, hatreds and small mindedness that what remains is too awful to look upon?

Masonry is artistry. It is a profession with tools and labors. And we are each the Craftsmen of our own likeness. In its teachings and through its admonishments, our works - and that final 'self portrait' - is often tried by that Great Architect. Only a worthy work...only an Image revealed at last beneath the ashlar to be as beautiful as the Original can stand before the Light.

Take up your work not without care then. Safeguard your tools and learn your Master's teachings well.

To make a Good Man a Better Man...is a Craft.

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