Category Archives: Education

2nd Quarter Update

April

There was a Memorial Ceremony for Bro. Robert E. Ring, Past Master of MacArthur Lodge. His son and current Master of MacArthur, Ken gave the eulogy.

It was Bro. Augusto’s final meeting at Lodge Han Yang. He affiliated with the lodge a few years ago, and has now returned to the Grand Lodge of Cuba.

The District 10 Scottish Rite held their Palm Sunday observance.

Pusan Lodge held a Master Mason Degree for Bro. Joe.

Under the direction of a local charity group, Pusan Lodge also visited several retired and elderly citizens’ houses to provide required maintenance services for them.

Lodge Han Yang held an Entered Apprentice Degree for Bros. Remi, Georges, and Jacob.

Truman Lodge did a Mark Master Mason Degree for Bros. Nate and Jason.

The District 10 Shriners hosted one of their annual events on post.

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington held their annual Far East District Session in Okinawa, where District 10 was in full attendance.

May

Truman Lodge held a Fellow Craft degree for Bro. Gary.

Truman also held their annual Cinco de Mayo event.

Louis R. Solomon #112 and Lion of Judah #94 held a joint Master Mason degree.

The Seoul Bodies Scottish Rite held their spring reunion and conferral.

Lion of Judah hosted a Mother’s Day Brunch.

Truman Lodge held a Fellow Craft Degree for Bro. Jameson.

Lion of Judah also supported the Army Field Support Battalion’s Family Day.

Han Yang held their annual Mother’s Day BBQ

Han Yang held a Master Mason degree for Bro. Hoon, and also welcomed Bro. Simon Emilenelech, PM of Lodge Solomons Pillars #59, Eilet, Israel.

Pusan Lodge said farewell to Bro. Sam, and welcomed the Stark Brothers. Bro. Charles also returned to the lodge after 15 years.

June

Truman Lodge held a Master Mason Degree for Bros. Gary and Jameson.

Rose of Sharon Chapter held an acknowledgement and exaltation for Comps. Jason, Ben, and Ken.

Visiting Comp. Rob from the English Constitution also attended the meeting. Unfortunately he could not attend the Mark Affiliation and Excellent Master portions, since English Chapters do not work those degrees. But after taking a heling obligation not to reveal the passing of the veils, he was able to attend the Royal Arch degree.

Lodge Han Yang made their annual visit to Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery.

Seoul Shrine Club presented a scholarship check to SAHS graduate Juliann Patarini, winner of their essay competition.

The Widow’s Sons had a mini reunion at the lodge building in Pyeongtaek.

Guiding Light #95 held a Master Mason Degree for Bro. Doug and company.

The Seoul Bodies Scottish Rite held an education meeting.

Truman Lodge had a going away party for Bros. Harold and Ben.

Lion of Judah hosted a Father’s Day brunch.

Pusan Korea Lodge held an Entered Apprentice Degree.

And I also had a chance to present the traveling gavel to the Master of the lodge.

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The Historical Light Podcast

Recently I did an interview with Bro. Alex Powers, host of the Historical Light Podcast and Freemason from the Grand Lodge of Kansas. We discussed things like the History of Freemasonry in Korea, the activities of the Scottish Lodges, including our relationship with the Prince Hall Freemasons on the peninsula, and various other things as well. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

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Universality within the Rose Croix

The chapter degrees of the Rose Croix are not only consistent in teaching absolute truths to all those who receive them, but also reinforces the very notion of universality itself in its underlying themes:

All the emblems, forms and ceremonies of Masonry are symbolical of great primitive truths, which each one is at liberty to interpret in accordance with his own faith. (Pike, 1857) 

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Here in the Southern Jurisdiction, good men of every race and every religious faith can receive all the Degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry. All our Degrees illuminate the mind and inculcate the virtues with but one object in view: the fraternal union of all good men working together for the benefit of the human race. (Hoyos, 2009)

In the 15th degree, King Cyrus frees Zerubbabel and the Hebrews from their Babylonian captivity, and grants them liberty of passage to the West so they may rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. The bridge with the initials L.D.P. represent this, but also symbolizes freedom of thought and religion (liberté de penser), which a Knight of the East should always defend.

To freedom of thought, freedom of the conscience, political, and religious liberty, the Knights of the East of old were devoted. The eagle is the symbol of liberty as the bridge spanning the stream is a symbol of the passage of an individual or a people from slavery to freedom, from servitude and subjugation to independence and nationality, from spiritual bondage to spiritual liberty. (Hoyos, 2009)

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In the 16th degree, the temple is completed, but not without its frustrations. As Princes of Jerusalem, we’re not building a physical temple, but rather a symbolic one, not only in our hearts but also throughout the world as a universal philosophy.

WE no longer expect to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. To us it has become but a symbol. To us the whole world is God’s Temple, as is every upright heart. To establish all over the world the New Law and Reign of Love, Peace, Charity, and Toleration, is to build that Temple, most acceptable to God, in erecting which Masonry is now engaged. (Pike, 1872)

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The pursuit of Masonry is to build the Symbolic Temple all over the world. To follow the path of Masonic Truth is to understand that the action of life is the arena for spiritual and moral improvement because all of life and the world is spiritual and moral. (Hutchens, 2006)

The remaining chapter degrees are less historical and more philosophical.

In the 17th degree, the candidate, who is weary of existing philosophies, repents and is baptized as a Knight of the East and West in order to prepare for the apocalypse, and in the end conquers and triumphs over evil. We are taught that the ancient religions of the East and West all contain the same basic truths: God is great, and good will ultimately prevail.

All the barriers that had formerly kept the nations apart, were thrown down; and while the People of the West readily connected their faith with those of the East, those of the Orient hastened to learn the traditions of Rome and the legends of Athens.

The Apocalypse or Revelations, by whomever written, belongs to the Orient and to extreme antiquity. It reproduces what is far older than itself. It paints, with the strongest colors that the Oriental genius ever employed, the closing scenes of the great struggle of Light, and Truth, and Good, against Darkness, Error, and Evil; personified in that between the New Religion on one side, and Paganism and Judaism on the other. The ideas and imagery are borrowed from every quarter; and allusions are found in it to the doctrines of all ages. (Pike, 1872)

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The great truths comes from the Zend – Avesta of the Persians, the Vedas of the Hindus, the writings of Plato and Pythagoras, from the ancient countries of Phoenicia, Syria, Greece and Egypt and from the Holy Books of the Jews. Masonry gleaned the truth from the error in these ancient doctrines and continues to pass it on. They are very simple and sublime lessons: God is one, immutable, unchangeable, infinitely just and good; light will finally overcome darkness, good conquer evil, and truth be victor over error. (Hutchens, 2006)

Finally, in the 18th degree, in searching for the Lost Word, the candidate ponders how to reconcile the existence of evil, and discovers the New Law of Love. At this particular juncture, we already understand that the symbols and lessons presented to us are not only truths to those who originally perceived them, but as absolute truths can also be applied to our own beliefs. We are also reminded of those universal virtues first introduced to us as Entered Apprentices; that faith begins where reason ends, that hope enables us to overcome evil, and that charity teaches us to be tolerant of other’s beliefs.

If anywhere brethren of a particular religious belief have been excluded from this degree, it merely shows how gravely the plans and purposes of Masonry may be misunderstood; for whenever the door of any one degree is closed against him who believes in one God and the soul’s immortality, on account of the other tenets of his faith, that degree is no longer Masonry, which is universal, but some other thing, that is exclusive, and accordingly Intolerant. (McClenachan, 1884)

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If any see in it a type of the peculiar mysteries of any faith or creed, or an allusion to any past occurrences, it is their right to do so. Let each apply its symbols as he pleases. To all of us they typify the universal rule of Masonry,–of its three chief virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity; of brotherly love and universal benevolence. We labor here to no other end. These symbols need no other interpretation.

When, lo, a voice, in the inconsiderable Roman Province of Judea proclaims a new Gospel–a new “God’s Word,” to crushed, suffering, bleeding humanity. Liberty of Thought, Equality of all men in the eye of God, universal Fraternity! a new doctrine, a new religion; the old Primitive Truth uttered once again! (Pike, 1872)

Men of all creeds can be accepted as Knights of the Rose Croix, equipped with these universal truths, to practice virtue in order to defeat evil.


Alleau, René: La science des symboles, Payot, 1976.

Arturo de Hoyos, Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor & Guide, 2nd ed., 2009

Rex R. Hutchens, A Bridge to Light: A Study in Masonic Ritual & Philosophy, 3rd edition, 2006

Koltko-Rivera, Mark E. (2009). Clue #18: The Christogram “INRI”New York.

Kulshrestha, Abhijita. (2013). The Mystical Tetractys. Karnataka, India

Lindgren, Carl Edwin, The way of the Rose Cross; A Historical Perception, 1614–1620. Journal of Religion and Psychical Research, Volume 18, Number 3:141–48. 1995.

McClenachan, Charles T. (1884). Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. New York: Masonic Publishing Co.

Pike, Albert: The Magnum Opus or Great Work, 1857 (reprint by Kessinger, Kila, MT, USA 1992).

Pike, Albert. (1872). Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Charleston, SC.

The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710, by David Stevenson (Cambridge University Press, 1988) xvii, 246 pages, index.

Zeldis, Leon. (2008). An Esoteric View of the Rose-Croix Degree. Herzliya, Israel.

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Crusty Ol’ Past Masters

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A certain Past Master had strolled over to the local pub to mentor a newly initiated brother. Being overly prompt as usual, he sat down at the bar and ordered a scotch to sip on while he waited for the apprentice. He actually didn’t really know the fellow all that well, but since no one else was willing to sign his petition it was left up to the Past Masters of the lodge as usual to do it, and to be perfectly honest he had grown quite tired of it.

He slowly took out one of his Havanas and cut the tip off, hoping the apprentice wouldn’t show. He had rather stayed at home in his den with a good text to study. Let the younger brothers take care of the lodge, he’d already had his turn. Becoming part of Grand Lodge certainly wasn’t something he was interested in. He joined the craft to improve himself in philosophy and esotericism, not become some big shot.

He reached into his pocket, grabbed his Zippo, and just as he was lighting up he noticed a long lost brother in the corner of his eye, sitting at the end of the bar. He wondered if he should go over and say hello. He hadn’t seen the fellow Past Master for a quite some time, and although he remembered him being extremely knowledgeable in the mysteries of the craft, he also distinctly remembered him being rather unapproachable. Not that it mattered anyway, for he had already been spotted and was being beckoned over.

The Past Masters greeted each other in the usual manner, sat down, clunk their glasses together, and shot the usual shit, inquiring into present affairs and reminiscing on days long past. Surprisingly, it was good to see each other again, and it seemed as though the two had much reverence for one another. Of course, the topic of Masonry eventually came up.

“So how’s your masonic journey coming along, Bert?”

The smile from Bert’s face gently faded. There was silence for a brief moment, as he stared into his 8 ball glass. “I’m finding it difficult to be involved with Freemasonry these days, Jim.”

This hadn’t surprised Jim in the slightest. He had heard the rumours. “Aw, I knew you weren’t happy with it. I’m feeling the same to be honest. Benign and without substance.”

More silence, as Bert finally took hold of his drink. He carefully swirled the scotch, intensely watching it, as if he were an alchemist on the verge of discovering the Philosopher’s Stone. “It could be something, if it had substance within its many members.”

Jim was somewhat intrigued by this. “Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Grand Lodge is a melting pot of petty politics and jealousy. Its whole district too.”

“Seems to have been infecting Freemasonry for a long time. Money and a committee of enquiry can get you anything these days,” Bert chuckled, as he finally took a sip. “Wrong members asking the wrong questions, and why? Because the lodge is dying for lack of funds. What else is to be expected?”

Jim knew all too well what Bert was referring to. “You’re spot on. Bums on seats, drop in quality of members. Seems like money is more important than quality.”

“Seems like..” Bert puffed on his cigar. “MacBride was spot on after all in his speculative Masonry.” He winked at Jim. “You and I are a part of those few PMs who know things and know what’s being discussed in ritual, yet we are the type that lodges filled with charlatans want to hush and force out once they get their hands on the reins.”

Jim realized this was turning into a bitch session, but he was so frustrated with the state of the craft himself, that he gladly welcomed it. “Absolutely. Like I say, Grand Lodge is a melting pot of Masonic hatred. Anyone who is actually a good Freemason and tries to understand the ritual is condemned.”

Jim wasn’t sure if Bert was really paying attention to him or not. He seemed more fixated on his scotch, continuously swirling it for a rather unnecessary amount of time. Finally a smirk popped up in the corner of his mouth while he closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. No sooner had he tapped his glass on the bar, than the remainder of the highland malt flowed down the hatch.

Having nothing to focus on anymore, Bert’s gaze finally met Jim’s. “Let them suffer the consequences that come from abuse of sacred things and their ignorance.” There was a strong sense of contempt in his voice. “Knowledge and practice of the spiritual mysteries requires that we, who know better, must withdraw to keep it sacred. Otherwise, we’ll also suffer heavily by continuing to be involved in those abuses.” He signaled the barkeep for a top up.

Lit Cigar resting on Glass of Whiskey and Ice cubes

Bert took his revitalized 8 ball in one hand, his stoked cigar in the other, leaned back in his bar chair and sighed. “Eventually, some will come to seek and find us out to rediscover what everything is supposed to be and why.” He winked at Jim once again. “Where was I first prepared to be made a Mason? In my heart, where it counts. Not in a Lodge surrounded by naive fools. Same as you. I’m still a Mason, but I’m offended to be called such by the sham of the human organizations that are becoming irregular and wrong. And hanging in there to ‘change them from the inside’ won’t work, it just corrupts us too. That be my thoughts on it,” he chuckled, as he puffed away on his stogie.

Jim couldn’t help but agree with Bert’s words. They both knew Masonry wasn’t original in many ways, from their copycat Noachite rituals to the likeness of the Druids and the constant references they made to the Knights Templar. After all, they were brothers of several other fraternities, including the Rosicrucians, Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. as well. Of course, Masonry was an amazing organization, but Jim and Bert both believed that brothers were told only half truths in the blue lodge. To them, being a part of those other orders helped them to understand why they did certain things in masonic ritual.

“It’s a habit,” Jim replied. “I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. We run a small study circle where we research forgotten orders and rituals. I get more from that than I do from Freemasonry.”

Bert nodded. “I did the same with my study of other Scottish rituals and comparisons. Found I didn’t want to go to lodge because I could predict everything,” he chuckled again. “Then again, study and practice of Kabbalah has a side effect of being able to instantly recognize and predict systems.”

Jim simply dismissed this notion. He really felt that despite being so wise, Bert could really be a pompous ass at times. He continued to try and make his point, “The thing that gets me, is that Freemasonry teaches us to look within. To assess our own faults and failings. ‘The internal not the external,’ that point within a circle – that’s us!”

Bert found it interesting that Jim had also woken up and was dissatisfied with the state of things within the craft. He could sense that his fellow Past Master was trying to figure out what to do. “Yep, yet you see everyone focused and discussing the crap on the outside, or dressed in their finery at their dumbass banquets, while faking the words of charity and remembering the poor,” he kept chuckling. “The outer actions defy and make liars of what takes place within the lodge.”

Indeed, the Past Masters felt that Masonry had become nothing more than a service club, whose mysticism had been removed, partly due to its many interactions with either the law or its members facing death. They knew the history of the Vatican, Hitler, and other instances which aimed to kill members; and that other groups had sprung up in Masonry’s shadows, being more discreet – ignorant masons all the while flaunting their jackets, para, and light on their bumpers. Personally, Jim and Bert loved all fraternal organizations. As Masons, they knew the importance of realizing that they did not birth this train of thought, but rather that they simply glorified and advertised it best.

Jim was beside himself. Even after all that nagging, whining, moaning, bitching, and complaining, he didn’t really feel much better. Such was life he guessed, as he chuckled. “You know Bert, I think we’ve gone far beyond the stereotypical realm of ‘Grumpy Past Masterdom.'”

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“Actually, I prefer the term, ‘Crusty Ol’ Past Master.'” Bert winked again. “I say do the same as done in every age when the mysteries were profaned, get mad. It seems to work best until honest seekers come after it again. I’ll probably be happy if I decide to leave the lodge.”

This disheartened Jim. He felt that Masonry needed someone as knowledgeable as Bert. “You know Bert, to employ and instruct the brethren in Freemasonry is the job of a master. It doesn’t say to ‘rage quit.'”

“Use it how you wish Jim, but how can one not rage against the dying of the light?” Bert winked once again. “I suppose we can disagree on this.”

Of course there was no problem with the crusty ol’ Past Masters’ disagreement. After all, that’s how they learned new things. Disagree, reconsider, contemplate, reconsider, so on, and so forth. They knew that at the end of the day, even if they disagreed, they’d still be able to shake hands and call each other brother, and both go home understanding more than they started with.

“I gotta go. Good seeing you again. You gonna stay a bit?”

“Yeah, I’m mentoring an EA. Should be here soon.”

“Ha, good luck with that.”

“I hear ya bro, I’m just not sure if I want to waste my time sharing sacred things to kindergarten kiddies anymore.”

They chuckled. With that, the Past Masters clunk their glasses together one last time, finished their scotches, and shook hands.

The departing Past Master nodded with a smirk on his face and turned to go. He paused and looked back. “I want you to know that you’re my brother, with or without some piece of cloth or number.” He sauntered out, unknowingly passing the newly initiated brother who had just arrived.

Now this baby faced apprentice was kinda stumpy and nothing save a bag of bones; he looked like he still belonged in junior high. Just barely old enough to be a mason.

The remaining Past Master motioned him over, ordered a couple more scotches, and slid one over to the apprentice while also offering him a cigar. “So Ben, how’s the studying going?”

“Well,” Ben cleared his throat, “I kinda feel overwhelmed. There’s the ritual and its symbolism of course, but I’ve also been trying to figure out why the masons put certain things in there.” He sounded like such a pipsqueak when he spoke with his mouse like voice. But despite that, the Past Master couldn’t help but notice the light in his eyes.

“Well Ben, I suppose I could point you in the right direction. You could try checking out texts like the Zohar, Hermetica, Book of the Dead, and Nag Hammadi to start with.”

“Oh, sure – I’ve already been looking into those.”

“I see. Well, if there’s anything you’d like to know specifically you can always ask me. For instance, why we knock on doors, why we invoke deity, why we face East.. you know, stuff like that.”

“Thanks, but I’m good,” Ben bluntly replied. “You know sir..” He paused. He was a little apprehensive. “Our ancient Masters, the Egyptian Hierophants, displayed their symbols and let them speak for themselves, leaving the initiates to study out their meanings. This they did upon the principle, that what is learned easily is not valued; and that little care is taken to remember an explanation which one can at any time have repeated to him.”

The little smart ass. The Past Master smiled. “Well then, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned so far. And please Ben, call me brother.”

Ben was a little embarrassed. “Sorry. Of course I’d love to share with you, but first..” He looked down at his drink. “If you really want to help, I sure could use some advice with a personal problem that I’ve been having in my life, brother..”

The Past Master was speechless. Suddenly, a flood of memories had rushed through his mind of when he was but an apprentice. He had almost forgotten that mentorship meant much more than teaching ritual, history, science, and the like. He was touched that Ben would come to him for advice.

They conversed on this and many other subjects, losing track of time and ending up much closer to each other than they had originally expected. At the end of the evening, the crusty ol’ Past Master had forgotten all about his anger, and felt revitalized in his duty to the craft. To think he had almost considered leaving, when there was so much labor to be done. He thanked Ben for his time.

“No Brother Pike, thank you. I’m really glad you’re my mentor,” replied Ben, as they shook hands and parted ways.

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프리메이슨, 홍익인간!

Not too long ago, I learned about the ancient Korean concept of Hongik Ingan, which means “to live and work for the benefit of all mankind.” This caught my attention right away, as the aim of antient Freemasonry is also self-improvement for the benefit of society: “to build a better world by building better men to work in their own communities.” In researching more on this idea, the parallels I found between Hongik Ingan and Freemasonry were astonishing.

얼마 전에 저는 “널리 인간을 이롭게 한다”라는 뜻을 갖는 홍익인간이라는 고대 한국 이념에 대하여 배우게 되었습니다. 이는 바로 저의 관심을 끌었습니다. 왜냐하면 고대 프리메이슨의 목적이 “더 훌륭한 사람들을 만들어 그들이 자신들의 공동체 안에서 활동하여 더 나은 사회의 건설”이라는 사상으로 자기 발전을 통해 사회에 기여한다는 것이기 때문입니다. 이러한 사상에 대하여 더 알아봄에 있어서, 홍익인간과 프리메이슨 사이의 유사 관계는 저를 놀랍게 하였습니다.

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Throughout Korean history, despite all religion and politics, this universal principle of Hongik Ingan has survived as a foundation for the Korean people, much the same way Freemasonry has survived over hundreds of years – due to it also being neither religious nor political, but universal.

마치 수백년 간 프리메이슨가 종교나 정치적인 것이 아닌 보편 사상으로 살아남은 것과 같이. 많은 종교적, 정치적 변화가 있었음에도 한국의 역사에서 홍익인간이라는 보편 사상은 한민족의 중심 사상으로 살아남았습니다.

Objectives under the ideals of Hongik Ingan include helping all people perfect their individual characters, developing the self-sustaining ability to attain independent lives, acquiring the qualifications of democratic citizens, participating in the makings of a democratic state, and promoting the prosperity of all humankind. Similarly, Freemasonry is an organized society of men, symbolically applying the principles of operative masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building, while also being big promoters of democracy and charity.

홍익인간 사상의 목표는 개인의 기계 증진, 자립된 삶을 살 수 있는 능력 함양, 민주 시민으로의 자격을 갖추며 민주 국가를 만드는 것에 참여하는 것 그리고 모든 인류를 위한 공리 증진에 있습니다. 비슷하게 프리메이슨는 석공술과 건축학의 원칙을 건축물의 과학과 예술의 특징에 상징적으로 적용시키고 민주주의와 자선을 알리는 남성들의 조직입니다.

As Hongik Ingan helps those who seek to develop their individuality through a well-rounded and wholesome character development, so does Freemasonry place emphasis on the individual by strengthening their character, improving their moral and spiritual outlook, and broadening their mental horizons.

홍익인간 사상이 균형잡히고 총체적인 개성을 통한 자아실현을 강조하는 것과 같이 프리메이슨 또한 도덕적 영적 성장과 정신적 영역을 넓히는 것을 통한 개인의 개성 강화, 그리고 이에 따른 자아실현을 강조합니다.

Hongik Ingan demonstrates creativity with a solid foundation in basic knowledge in skills, and helps to explore opportunities based on an extensive intellectual knowledge and skills in diverse academic fields. Likewise, Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives, while also studying the seven liberal arts and sciences throughout the noontime of their life, when they have reached the zenith of their strength, and in the fullness of their powers are actively engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.

홍익인간은 근본되는 지식에 기반한 기술에 의한 창조성을 강조하며 다양한 학문 분야에서 광범위한 지식과 기술 기반한 여러가지 기회들을 탐구하는 것에 도움을 줍니다. 마찬가지로 프리메이슨들은 진실을 위해 분투하고 높은 윤리성을 필요로하며 그들의 삶에서 높은 경지에 오르는 것을 목표로 합니다. 또한 중년시간 동안 인문학과 과학을 공부하며, 자신들의 전성기에 그들은 지식을 찾는 것에 모든 힘을 다합니다.

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The values of Hongik Ingan are firmly grounded on a sound understanding of culture, and in this way, Koreans also understand the importance of harmony. The ancient landlords and peasants of the Old Choson Dynasty also understood this, and as a result were also relatively harmonious with each other. Freemasons are men from every race, religion, and political belief. They come from all professions and walks of life, but are drawn together to support each other in the journey of self improvement. Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.

또한 홍익인간 사상의 가치는 문화에 대한 건전한 이해에 근본합니다. 그리고 이와 같은 의미에서 한국인들은 harmony의 중요성에 대하여 인식합니다. 조선 왕조 시기에 사회 각 계층들은 비교적 조화롭게 살아갔습니다. 프리메이슨들은 여러한 인종, 종교 그리고 정치적 믿음의 배경을 갖는 남자들입니다. 그들은 여러한 직업적 배경과 삶의 배경을 갖고 있습니다. 그러나 이들은 자기 발전을 향한 여행에 있어 서로 지지합니다. 모든 진정한 프리메이슨들은 타인의 의견과 행동에 관용과 존경을 보여주며 다른 존재들에게 친절함과 이해를 갖고 행동합니다.

With the help of a well-established, participatory democracy, people who follow the principle of Hongik Ingan contribute to the development of the community they reside in, much the same way Freemasons are taught to practice charity and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.

이것은 마치 프리메이슨들이 자신 뿐만 아니라 모든 공동체에 걸쳐 자선적인 기여와 봉사활동의 노력 그리고 개인들의 공여로 자선과 타인에 대한 관심을 갖도록 가르침 받는 것과 같이 성숙한 참여 민주주의 도움으로 홍익인간의 가치를 따르는 사람들은 자신들이 살고 있는 공동체의 발전 기여합니다.

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Chae, Jap. (2007). “Hongik Ingan” & Modern South Korean Society. Korean Historical Controversies. The George Washington University, Washington D.C.

International Bureau of Education. (2006). Republic of Korea: Principles and general objectives of education. World Data on Education. Geneva, Switzerland.

Kim, Jae-woong. (2011). The Practice of Hongik Ingan: Lives of Queen Seondeok, Shin Saimdang, and Yi Yulgok. Diamond Sutra Recitation Group. Seoul, Korea.

Lodge Han Yang #1048  S.C. (2004). A Masonic Introduction. Seoul, Korea.

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On Adoniram

It is interesting that Adoniram is such an important figure in the higher degrees, yet is never mentioned in the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, or Master Mason rituals.

In the Bible he is named as the overseer of the levy in the forests of Lebanon:

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He sent them to Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 men per month. They worked in Lebanon for one month, and then spent two months at home. Adoniram was supervisor of the work crews.

– I Kings 5:14

In the York Rite’s Royal Master degree, he has a conversation with his companion and mentor, Hiram Abiff, in which he is informed that in the event of Hiram’s death, the secret word can be found in the temple’s vault:

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Adoniram then said, “Suppose one of you three, even you yourself should be removed by death prior to that event, how then shall I receive it?” After commenting on the subject of death, Hiram Abiff with a significant gesture replied, “If I die, it will be buried there.”

Hiram Abiff informs Adoniram that his search is not yet complete, instructs him that in due time he will receive his reward, and returns him to the clay grounds to continue his labors. Not long after, Hiram Abiff is murdered.

In the Scottish Rite’s 5th degree, Perfect Master, Adoniram conducts Hiram Abiff’s funeral ceremony and recites some commemorative poetry:

Our ancient Brethren whelm’d in grief,
Lamented their departed chief!
Let us, his pupils long revere
A name to memory so dear – as Hiram Abif.

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In mystic rites our Lodge displays
its sorrows and its fadeless praise:
Long may the sweet acacia bloom,
And garlands fresh adorn the tomb – of Hiram Abif.

In the 8th degree, Intendant of the Building, he is appointed Superintendent of the Work, to help carry out the completion of the temple along with four other young and eager Intendants of the Building, to whom Hiram Abiff communicated the arts and sciences that he learned in Egypt and the East.

Adoniram is then made chief architect and successor to Hiram Abiff in the 12th degree, Master Architect, owing to his having gained superior knowledge and skill:

Also to assure uniformity in the work and to reward the superior skill of Adoniram, the son of Abada, Solomon appointed him to be Chief Architect of the Temple, with the title of Master Architect. Adoniram was invested with that office as sole successor and representative of the deceased Master Hiram. This, of course, created him a Grand Master, the equal, as such, of Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre.

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It should be noted, however, that even though Adoniram was now on equal ground with King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre, he did not yet receive the Master’s Word for it was agreed upon between them and Hiram Abiff that the word would never be given unless the three of them were present and the temple was completed.

In the 13th degree, Royal Arch of Solomon, Adoniram along with two Intendants of the Building not only discover Enoch’s crypt, but also the treasure he had left there:

Adoniram then descended. and passing through three more openings, reached the ninth apartment. As he reached it, his companions dislodged some rubbish above, which, falling upon him, bruised him and extinguished his torch; and he then discovered, in the center of the apartment, a luminous triangular pedestal of white alabaster, hollow, and lighted by an undying fire within;

13 and upon which sat a cube of agate, into one face of which was sunk a plate of gold, thickly encrusted with precious gems that glittered in the light; and enameled on the plate the Ineffable Name of Deity; as the same had been placed there by Enoch, the patriarch.

Adoniram is taught the meaning and pronunciation of the Ineffable Word and is made a “perfect mason”, a term which reappears in the installation ceremony of certain lodges, and refers to the time when he was presented by King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba:

Adoniram thereupon approached the illustrious monarch and his distinguished guest, and would have prostrated himself at his royal master’s feet, but King Solomon prevented him by taking hold of him, saying, “Rise, perfect mason.”

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Thus, Adoniram teaches us to remain content and that in due time we shall receive our reward; to encourage the timid, to repress the forward, and to reward the worthy; that the ablest, wisest, and best of every nation should be its leaders; and that we should seek knowledge from pure motives with zeal and devotedness. He is, in essence, the pattern and exemplar of all Installed Masters.

 


De Hoyos, Arturo. (2007). Scottish Rite Ritual: Monitor & Guide. The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction. Washington, D.C.

Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Iowa. (2001). Royal Master. Des Moines, IA.

Hutchens, Rex R. (1988). A Bridge to Light: A Study in Masonic Ritual & Philosophy. The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction. Washington, D.C.

Johnston, E.R. (1930). Masonry Defined. National Masonic Press, Inc. Shreveport, LA.

Jones, Edgar. (1994). Adoniram: A Hypothesis. From “The Ars Quatuor Coronati Circle of Correspondence Works Vol. 107.” London, UK.

Mackey, Albert G. (1873). Adoniram. Excerpted from “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Vol. I.” Philadelphia: Moss & Company.

McClenachan, Charles T. (1914). The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. New York: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co.

Newell, Barry. (2013). Adoniram. The Traveling Templar, Boise ID.

Unknown. (2001). York Rite. The Masonic Trowel.

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Masons & Social Media

At the Regular Communication of the Grand Lodge of Scotland held on Thursday, 14th June, 2012, the Grand Master Mason in his Report to Grand Lodge referred to the misuse of E-Communications:

Recently, the attention of Grand Lodge has been drawn to a number of instances where misuse has been made of various forms of E-Communication, such as E-mails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Inappropriate and offensive material has been sent via these systems. In such cases, Brethren who are responsible for the circulation of the aforementioned material, may be subject to disciplinary procedures as set out in the Constitution and Laws of Grand Lodge. There may also be legal implications involved in sending out inappropriate or offensive material.

Only recently last year has the Grand Lodge of Scotland stepped onto the social media stage, creating both a Facebook page and Twitter account in an effort to attract more members. This is an excellent way to pass on education and information about upcoming events. However, referring to the quote above, we as Freemasons always need to exercise the utmost prudence in what we post and share while we represent the craft online.

One example of this would be posting photos from a masonic meeting or event. If someone doesn’t want to be tagged or have their picture posted online you should respect their wishes. A few years ago when Lodge Han Yang launched its Facebook page, several brethren from the lodge stayed away from it because they wanted to keep their membership secret. Being in a country like Korea where Freemasonry is often misunderstood by the public, their wishes were quite understandable. However, even if Freemasonry were fully accepted in this country they’d still be entitled to their privacy. Even several older, traditional brothers (especially in the UK) would prefer that the whole organization be kept private, and refuse to engage in any social media related to the craft.

Candid shots are another thing to take into consideration. If you’re constantly posting photos of lodge brethren drinking alcohol instead of doing charitable works, perhaps the public would assume the lodge is simply nothing but a drinking club. Essentially the idea here is to remember that we are associating whatever we post online with the fraternity, so there can be great potential to either help it or to hurt it.

And then there is what we post as individuals, within the world of masonic social media – whether that be in a forum, group, page or tweet. If you have a masonic symbol as your profile picture, or it’s of you in regalia, and you begin posting your political and religious opinions, a non-mason might think that opinion is representative of the fraternity in some way.

I’m not saying you can’t talk about politics and religion on social media, of course you can. It’s not a tyled lodge. Such a thing simply doesn’t exist online. This is also why you should never engage in an online conversation that will violate your obligation (even if it is labeled as “tyled”). There’s no way to know whether whoever it is you’re talking to (or whoever is reading) is a recognized brother or not, so it’s best just to stay away from those conversations altogether.

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Another thing to consider is language and conduct. There are many times when we engage in debate online, and with brothers as well. The key thing to remember here is to maintain harmony and refrain from making personal attacks. On the masonic Facebook page that I manage there was one recent incident where a brother was upholding the constitution of his Grand Lodge and everyone else was ganging up and bullying him. This situation could have been avoided if everyone just used a little more professionalism and rhetoric.

I think a good rule of thumb is that we must all subdue the three ruffians that are buried within our hearts – the priest, the politician, and the mob. Yes we have opinions and we are entitled to them, and I will fight to the death to defend a brother’s right to express those opinions. But somewhere a line needs to be drawn between harmony and discord, because after all – we are not warriors, but laborers:

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

– Joseph Joubert

 Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota. (1986). Standard of Masonic Conduct. Short Talk Bulletin.

Creason, Todd E. (2014). Freemasonry and the Pitfalls of Social Media. Illinois, USA.

Gross, Jeremy (2012). The Necessity of Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic. Massachusetts, USA.

Johnson, Robert (2015). Social Media is Killing Freemasonry. Illinois, USA.

P.G. Secretary (2012). E-Communications. Regular Communication of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Ratcliff, John W. (2008). What’s this $#!+ about Masonic Harmony? Lake St. Louis, Missouri.

Stewart, Kirsty (2015). Scottish Freemasons Join Facebook and Twitter. Deadline News, Scotland.

Unknown (1927). The Ruffians. Short Talk Bulletin, Masonic Service Association.

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The Noahchite Legend

In learning about the birth of the “High Degrees” I found it very interesting that the first mention of a raising actually wasn’t the Hiramic legend that most masons are familiar with.

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In fact, in an old masonic manuscript dated back to 1726, commonly referred to as the Graham manuscript, it is the body of Noah that is raised by his three sons, who were in search of a valuable secret:

We have it by tradition, and still some reference to scripture for it caused Shem, Ham and Japheth to go to their father Noah’s grave for to see if they could find anything about him to lead them to the valuable secret which this famous preacher had…  For I hope all will allow that all things needful for the new world was in the Ark with Noah.

Now these 3 men had already agreed that if they did not find the very thing itself, that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret…  They not doubting, but did most firmly believe that God was able and would also prove willing, through their faith, prayer and obedience, to cause what they did find to prove as valuable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God Himself at its headspring.

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So [they] came to the grave, finding nothing save the dead body almost consumed away. Taking a grip at a finger, it came away…so from joint to joint…so to the wrist…so to the elbow…so they reared up the dead body…and supported it…setting foot to foot…knee to knee…breast to breast…cheek to cheek…and hand to back…and cried out ‘Help, Oh Father’…  As if they had said ‘Oh Father of Heaven, help us now, for our earthly father cannot’…  so laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do…  so one said:  ‘Here is yet marrow in this bone’ and the second said:  ‘But a dry bone’ and the third said: ‘It stinketh’.   So they agreed to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day…so went to their undertakings, and afterwards works stood. Yet it is believed that the virtue did not proceed from what they found, but from faith and prayer.

– Graham Manuscript, 1726

After further study, I discovered that the early masons even considered Noah as a masonic patriarch of sorts. He is mentioned in passing in the Regius manuscript of 1425-50, and again in the Cooke manuscript of 1450 which makes reference to the “Sons of Noah” discovering two pillars after the flood, on which were inscribed the arts and sciences:

Kindly knowing of that vengeance, that God would send, whether it should be by fire, or by water, the brethren had it not by a manner of a prophecy, they wist that God would send one thereof, and therefore they wrote their sciences in the 2 pillars of stone, and some men say that they wrote in the stones all the 7 sciences, but as they had in their minds that a vengeance should come. And so it was that God sent vengeance so that there came such a flood that all the world was drowned, and all men were dead therein, save 8 persons,

 And that was Noah, and his wife, and his three sons, and their wives, of which 3 sons all the world came of, and their names were named in this manner, Shem, Ham, and Japhet. And this flood was called Noah’s flood, for he, and his children, were saved therein. And after this flood many years, as the chronicle telleth, these 2 pillars were found, and as the Pilicronicon saith, that a great clerk that was called Pythagoras found that one, and Hermes, the philosopher, found that other, and they taught forth the sciences that they found therein written.

– Cooke Manuscript, 1450

Probably the most prominent reference to Noah would be in the Constitutions of 1738, which refers to all masons as “Noahchida”, the ark as a masonic building, and Noah and his three sons as grand officers:

A Mason Is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachida..

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..NOAH, the ninth from Seth, was commanded and directed of God to build the great Ark, which, tho’ of Wood, was certainly fabricated by Geometry, and according to the Rules of Masonry. NOAH, and his three Sons, JAPHET, SHEM, and HAM, all Masons true, brought with them over the Flood the Traditions and Arts of the Ante-deluvians, and amply communicated them to their growing Offspring.

– Anderson’s Constitutions, 1738

The old constitutions even mention the seven Noahide laws, but actually there is no connection between Noahides and Noahchida. One is a Jewish philosophy and the other is a poetical reference to Freemasonry. Of course, the Noahchite legend eventually succumbed to the Hiramic one, but I found it interesting that the earlier masons used Noah as an attempt to create an older lineage.

References

Colavito, Jason (2015). Tubal Cain and the Musical Pillars of Wisdom. Albany, New York.
De Hoyos, Arturo (2007). The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide. The Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction. Washington, D.C.
Eddie, A.R. (2014). Two Pillars. The Masonic Trowel.
Jeffery, R (1990). Noah and Freemasonry. Booval, Queensland.
Mackey, Albert G. (1878). Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Vol. II. Philadelphia: Moss & Company.
Madhavan, Chakravarthy Sampath (2012). The Hiramic Legend: Whence & Wherefore. Grand Lodge of India.

So Mote It Prevail

The conclusion of a 16 part series regarding morals and conduct.

 So there you have it, the things we must do as Freemasons in order to make men better. I know it’s a lot to take in, but that’s okay – it can take a lifetime to be able to practice all the virtues of the craft with poise and balance. And some of them aren’t easy for a lot of people, which is why the true Freemason will remain diligent in his labors:

These are the standards of Masonry. It is not easy to apply them to ourselves. But then, being a master of any craft is never easy, and being the Master of oneself is perhaps the most difficult of all.

– Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota, 1986.

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Is it possible to be able to practice every virtue at every moment? After all, we are not supermen. Maybe it’s not about the times that we falter, but rather about the times we remain steadfast and upright in our actions, so that others can see how a Freemason is:

If “every” Freemason lived up to “all” these teachings, what an Utopia the world would be!

But what is remarkable is not how many Masons fail, but how many succeed!  That they do succeed is evidenced by the reputation of the Fraternity in Non-Masonic circles.  Were Masons as a class false to their teachings, lax in their conduct, forsworn as to their obligations; Freemasonry would not posses the fair reputation she has. (Unknown, 1930)

Indeed, Freemasonry has maintained that reputation of being an ancient and honorable society among men under the fatherhood of God. It’s true, there have been many a Freemason who has failed to live up to the teachings of the craft – but that is only because we are human, and it is only natural for us to do so. If everyone was always upright in their actions, there would be no need for Freemasonry:

It is expected of men that they will fail, otherwise they are not men, but Gods!  If no man ever failed, Freemasonry would be unnecessary.  When a building is completed, the workmen depart.  When the House Not Made With Hands is perfectly erected, the Craft is no more use. (Unknown, 1930)

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That being said, it’s even more important that we strive to live up to those standards, and be perfect ashlars. We are building that temple not made with hands right up until the day we die, therefore these lessons must be etched into our minds and the minds of our brethren through education and example. Probably the most difficult part of all is to be able to act as a Freemason should in the world of the profane. It’s easy to remain moral and upright in the lodge room, where peace and harmony prevail and we are surrounded by like-minded men. It’s a completely different story when we go out into the world on our own. It’s at that point that Freemasonry becomes not just a science, but a way of life for us, as we work in improving ourselves, our brethren, and the world:

Freemasonry is one of the great moral forces remaining in the world today. But if Freemasonry is to achieve its honorable purpose—that of building a better world—it must first build better men to work at the task.

No man has any right to claim to be a Freemason unless he has endeavored to put into practice the lessons received when he was Entered, Crafted and Raised. A Mason should never entertain the thought that he must go to a Lodge Room to practice his Masonry. Masonry must be practiced in daily life where human kindness and helpfulness and honesty are so much needed. The surest way to make Freemasonry useful, is to make use of Freemasonry. Every Mason is charged with the responsibility of keeping the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied. (Carpenter, 1984)

If we are to go out into the world and wear a square and compass on our finger, it is our duty to represent Freemasonry in a manner that is exemplary and true. It’s a cardinal rule that we cannot solicit membership into our order. How then, can we attract men to our fraternity? Simply put, it’s our conduct in our dealings with business, professional relationships and non-masonic friends, and how we raise our families in the public’s eye. What’s the point in talking about morals and ethics within a lodge if that’s the only place where they’re going to be used:

Until the tenets of the Craft are demonstrated in our daily life we are but Ritualists only and not Freemasons. (Wright, 1924)

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I’ve been a Freemason for 8 years now, and I’m not afraid to admit that for more than half that time I was a just a ritualist and Freemason in name only. It’s only within the past few years that I’ve begun to grasp the true importance and value of the craft’s teachings. And I can safely say that yes, in applying these precepts in everyday life I have had an effect on those around me. Some brethren are a little embarrassed to identify themselves as Freemasons, and that’s okay. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to explain to someone who has little or no knowledge about it. But personally, I’m proud to be a Freemason, and I’m not afraid to represent the craft in my everyday life:

We must constantly remember that in every moment of our life – in public – at work – at pleasure – with our families – even when you are alone – You are a Mason!

The non-Masons who know us will judge each of US, and Masonry itself, by the way in which we conduct ourselves. We have in trust the reputation of Masonry. Let us not betray that trust! Masonry will flourish if we follow these precepts.

– Grand Master Donald J. Flood at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, 1985.

In some constitutions a newly installed Master is usually charged to teach and encourage the brethren of the lodge to “practice out of the Lodge those duties [they] have been taught in it”, so that they can prove to the world the “happy and beneficial effects” of Freemasonry. Also, as Freemasons we should show others that we are men who have big hearts, “to whom the Burdened Heart may pour forth its sorrow”. Benevolence and charity may start with a brother, but it shouldn’t end there. How else are we to grow and expand our hearts:

We should always remember that the good name of Masonry is not the result of what we do not do, but instead is the result of the good things that have been done in practicing outside of the Lodge those great moral duties which are inculcated in it, and with reverence studying and obeying the laws which the Supreme Grand Master has given us in His Holy Word. (Hemphill, 1999)

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In closing, I’d like to remind that the Freemason may have rank in life, but in the lodge, whether it be Masonic, symbolic or celestial, we are all on the level and how we truly see each other is by the way that we act – right here, right now. To be able to take someone at face value, to know that they too, share the same morals and values that we do – is what true beauty is, and enables us to labor away together, and build something greater than anything we could possibly dream of:

For these things endure.  Material things pass away.  The Temple of Solomon is but a memory.  Scattered are the stones, stolen is the gold and silver, destroyed are the lovely vessels cast by Hiram Abif.  But the memory, like the history of the beauty and the glory which was Solomon, abide into this day.  So shall it be with our “house not built with hands,” so be it  if we build with the Beauty which Masons teach. (Unknown, 1930)

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Carpenter, William A. (1984). They Lied on Their Knees. Short Talk Bulletin. The Pennsylvania Freemason.

Chatterjee, P. C. (2005). Self-immolation in Freemasonry. Grand Lodge of India.

Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota. (1986). Standard of Masonic Conduct. Short Talk Bulletin.

Gauthamadas, U. (2012). An Exploration of Moral Virtues as Applicable to Freemasonry. Lodge Prudentia No.369, Grand Lodge of India.

Grand Lodge of Texas. (2001). Masonic Virtues. The Masonic Trowel.

Hemphill, Kenneth, L. (1999). The Boundary Line of Our Conduct. Southern California Lodge of Research.

Hodapp, Christopher L. (2006). Figuring Out What Freemasons Believe In. Indianapolis, Indiana.

King, Edward L. (2006). What Masons Believe. Scottsdale, AZ.

Kumar, K. Jyothindra. (2007). Morality and Freemasonry. Lodge Ananthapadmanabha.(No.280), Grand Lodge of India.

Levitt, Jack R. (2003). Masonic Ethics. California Freemason Online.

Levitt, Jack R. (2009). Are We Truly Masons? San Francisco, California.

Newton, Joseph F. (1923). The Spirit of Freemasonry. Short Talk Bulletin, Masonic Service Association.

Unknown. (1930). The Reputation of the Fraternity. Short Talk Bulletin. Masonic Service Association.

Ward, J.S.M. (1926). The Moral Teachings of Freemasonry. London: Baskerville Press.

Wright, Dudley. (1924). Why Are We Freemasons? Excerpted from “The Ethics of Freemasonry.” Masonic Service Association.

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Harmony & Conduct

Part 15 of a 16 part series regarding morals and conduct.

In our monitor it talks about how we are to treat our brethren, and we are charged to “view their interests as inseparable from [our] own.” We should never dismiss another brother’s view, no matter how differing it may be. This should also be prevalent between lodges. Different lodges have different traditions and methods, which is part of the beauty of Freemasonry. We should respect and even embrace those differences when dealing with other lodges. We should also remember that birds of a feather flock together, and certain lodges will also have particular views on society. Naturally they’ll keep religion and politics out of the lodge room, but that doesn’t stop them from acting a certain way based on those particular views.

For example, some lodges remain secular while others prefer to be religion specific. Some will wear their religion on their sleeve while others are simply unchurched. Some will pray to a specific Deity, while others will have several holy books on the altar. Some will have strict dress codes, some are monolingual, and some let others use their lodge space. Some permit alcohol, while others don’t even allow the handicapped in. Some prefer to use the Masonic Trial system, while other lodges simply expel without due trial. It’s also interesting to note that some Grand Lodges have more control over the lodges than others. The differences can even get down to the color of one’s skin when it comes to admittance.

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These differences have often divided the craft and caused each lodge to adopt a “tribal mentality”, which of course is only human to do so. We naturally feel more comfortable around those who share the same views as we do. However, as Freemasonry is universal and knows no creed, race or rank, we are thus charged to take that extra step and examine the mentality of the lodge. Do we really profess the morals of the craft by exploring and developing the lodge consciousness, or would we rather subject outsiders to our views and pass judgement if they have differing opinions?

Yes, it’s okay to uphold the traditions of a lodge that is rich in history. Always be proud of your Mother Lodge. Freemasonry allows for many things; we just need to remember that it’s a big world out there and we should always respect each and every lodge that we visit and hold communications with.

Things like strife, discord, ill feelings and unmasonic conduct do exist in Freemasonry. This often leads to rivalries and lack of cooperation. Lodges should share commonality and reduce opposition, but at the same time they should also allow each lodge to maintain full control of their own affairs. It’s important to be able to bridge the gap between different lodge mentalities, so that we can properly promote the Freemason way of life and embrace free thinkers, creative minds, principles and virtues as well.

When we have harmony we are able to share knowledge and work together to raise the level of our society. As Freemasons, it’s our job to be pillars of the community. But how can we hold up a community if there are disagreements, bitter feuds and refusal to change methods? Discord will prevail, the pillars will crumble and there will be no hope for an enlightened society.

Of course, in the long run history won’t remember all the little arguments and discords we may have. So then, would all the disagreements even be worth it? Freemasons in the future will be too busy reaping the benefits of what we can build for them to notice any schisms there might be presently. Honestly speaking, not many people actually care about petty squabbles other than the few who happen to be directly involved. It is simply better to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than dwell on any discord.

Moreover, it is vital to not let any news of discord within a lodge to get out. Dirty laundry is not meant to be viewed in plain sight, and it is our responsibility to fix problems at the lowest possible level. There’s a big difference between simply whispering good counsel in a brother’s ear and holding a Masonic trial, and the latter is to be avoided unless deemed absolutely necessary. Every lodge needs to maintain a good reputation:

It is one thing to fail in any Masonic duty; it is another to fail so publicly that the reputation of the Fraternity is hurt – that reputation of which we are taught that its preservation is of vital importance.  Occasionally, more’s the pity, it is necessary for a Masonic organization to take practical steps in regard to some brother who has failed to live up to the Masonic teachings.  Masons are only men who have solemnly agreed to do certain things; sometimes they are foresworn.  Sometimes our committees do not do their work aright and we are given cracked stones to work upon.  Sometimes a good man changes as he grows older, and even the sweet and gentle influence of the Craft cannot hold him in the straight and narrow way.

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The lodge in which someone holds membership may well be advised to do little rather than much.  There are times when something must be done; when the reputation of which we think so much is hurt by failure to do.  Then we have all the misery and pain of a Masonic trial; the sad washing of dirty linen in the lodge; the grief of seeing our good and great Order dragged to some extent into public notice; when ever a Mason receives the worst Masonic penalty – expulsion, or Masonic death – the world at large usually hears of it.  Few are the Masons who have no friends!  Hence a Masonic trial is very apt to create tense feelings in a lodge, if not worse, and the harmony which is “the strength and support of all well regulated institutions” is made into a discord. (Unknown, 1930)

There’s different things that draw men towards Freemasonry, one of which is that it provides a platform where we are all “on the level” and treated fairly. Isn’t there enough contention in the world? Do we really need to add to that contention? It’s true that politics do exist within our Masonic system and that it can indeed affect membership and attendance as well. It would be nice if there were no politics within Freemasonry, as it ought to exist well above such superficial things. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But that’s okay because we’re only human after all, and politics only play a natural part of our lives. The real key is to follow rules and regulations that we can all agree upon in order to be more effective in our labor as a whole.

Lodges need to unify, rather than separate. Constant bickering and dissension will only lead to disharmony and discord, and no one will want to be a Freemason after that. Although, you have to really think about the term “harmony” and what it can mean in some situations. For example, lodge harmony can often be used to exclude people. How many times have we seen or heard tell of a prospective member getting black balled for the “harmony of the lodge”? And not because he was a bad man, but because he simply didn’t “fit in”:

We know a man we dislike. He has different ideas from ours. He belongs to a different “set.” He is not the type we admire. Our dislike does not amount to hatred, nor is it predicated upon any evil in the man’s character. He and we are antipathetic; we rub each other the wrong way. When he applies to our lodge we must decide this question: will the unpleasantness to us, in having him as a member, be greater than the good to him which may come from his reception of the Masonic teachings? Are we sure that we cannot accept him as a brother merely because we “have never liked him?” (Claudy, 1929)

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And then there are those brothers who choose to leave the lodge simply because they can’t stand all the bickering and squabbling; in my opinion, those brothers give up way too easily. They would rather turn their backs on the lodge than work together to come up with a viable solution, and that’s not how Freemasons should act. Yes, heated arguments can be a bit unsettling at times; however there should be some leeway for such noisy debates during those times. Sometimes in order to keep the harmony within the lodge, we need seek out the cause of the discourse and try to fix it. There may likely be some ruffled feathers in the process, but if we are sincere enough in our actions we can avoid any desertion:

At times it is necessary to stand pain to get rid of a cancer.  But the best surgeon does not use a knife until all other means fail.  That lodge, that Master and those brethren who seek to compose differences, win the erring back to the path their feet should never have left, do a real service to their lodge, to their offended brother, to their erring brother and to the Fraternity whose reputation “should be our constant care.” (Unknown, 1930)

So what does real harmony mean anyways? Causing some brethren to simply “go with the flow”? Disregarding any rights or justice that is due? Shunning or even expulsing those who would go against the grain in order to keep what some would believe to be harmony within the lodge? Trust me brother when I say, that is not real harmony.

To be perfectly honest, it can be a real tricky thing at times. Here’s another way to look at it: we have the world of the profane outwith the temple, and then we have the world of Masonic light within. Outside the lodge we are separated by things like politics, religion, rank, status and wealth. However, inside the sacred walls of the lodge all those things are left at the entrance. Remember that when we pass through the entrance of the lodge we are “purified by the divine presence”, otherwise we cannot truly meet on the level.  One of the reasons we don’t solicit membership is because it might result in a clique or cliques within the lodge. If we are to experience the true spirit of the craft, we have to be reborn into a world where selfishness and ego don’t exist:

 The lodges of Freemasonry are not political organizations; they are not business syndicates; they are not social cliques. (Frazer, 1915)

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And what of discord? Can it be completely avoided? Probably not. Although from an optimist’s stand point, conflict can also be seen as an opportunity for growth. Let’s think for a minute about the twin pillars at the entrance to the temple. One of their great lessons is the “equilibrium of the opposites”, where the “ferocity of hate is counterpoised by the tenderness of love” and “hope tunes anew the broken notes of despair”. Without discord, we would have no conception of the value of harmony. Conflict is a natural part of human life. It’s how we choose to deal with that conflict that determines whether a lodge will flourish or collapse.

If a brother says something we disagree with, we remain tranquil. Escalation never solved anything. Things like ganging up, belittlement, abuse of power and strong tactics are unmasonic and only leads to more contention. We are not warriors but laborers, and thus must use our thoughts, words and actions as tools – not weapons. Instead of focusing on winning an argument, what we should really be doing is putting our energy towards whatever common goal is shared. If there is no goal, and all you’re trying to do is get your point across then perhaps resignation wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Is all the discord even worth it?

Always remember that the tenets of the craft should be our constant care. We can’t lose sight of them, otherwise we lose perspective. Simply avoiding discord doesn’t really help. A rough ashlar requires some destruction in order to become a perfect one. If all you’re going to do is try and maintain harmony at whatever the cost, then you’re not much of a laborer are you? As Freemasons we need to build a better world, and we can’t do that without moderation and stability:

“Our life is full of discord; but by forbearance and virtue this same discord can be turned to harmony.”

— James Ellis

 Nobody likes being in a situation that is uncomfortable, that much is certain. It’s a lot easier when everyone is in agreement, and nobody argues. But there’s a clear difference between remaining silent and being silenced. It’s true that if you don’t have something nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all, but you can still make an argument in a civilized manner so that whatever is on the table can go forward in the right direction. A lot of lodges tend to have inner circles, where things are discussed and agreements are reached, after which they bring forward to open lodge and force those opinions onto others. Anyone daring enough to oppose that inner circle would be deemed “unmasonic” and accused of causing discord. Who could blame those people for leaving? That kind of activity should never be condoned, yet it happens more often than a lot of us would like to admit.

What if the other side is correct? Then the rest of the lodge has to choose between rational thought or being labeled “unmasonic”. Actually using the word “unmasonic” is unmasonic in itself. The last thing a Freemason wants to hear is that he is “unmasonic”, whether that be in open lodge or even mouth to ear. It’s tricky, learning how to be a gentleman and at the same time having constructive arguments. The important thing is to be constructive, and not focus on trivial things that really don’t matter in the end.

So true harmony then is actually an atmosphere where discussions can take place without resorting to derailments or attacks, where disagreements are not frowned upon but welcome, and where we can still stand at the end and call each other brothers, whether or not an agreement was reached. If we open our hearts to the reception of another’s thoughts and opinions, we will gain more perception, wisdom and truly learn to understand one another. Remember that above all else, brotherly love must prevail:

That unhappy Brother whose “proposal for the good of the lodge” has been rejected by an overwhelming negative vote – has anyone realized the taste of ashes in his mouth and tried to lessen the hurt and embarrassment to his feelings? To soothe the unhappy is not only incumbent on Masons in charitable programs; it is a necessary chord in the harmony of the lodge. It is not enough to reject a Brother’s well-meant but undesirable proposal. He must be helped to understand that his zeal for the lodge is truly appreciated, but that his suggestions are presently unwise or impossible of achievement. In this sense it can accurately be said, “Relief begins at home.”  (Hahn, 1964)

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It’s no wonder that Freemasons prefer the company of other Freemasons. There are times when we are troubled and going to lodge helps to soothe the soul, as we are in a place where there is no discord but only peace and harmony. If there is such discord in your lodge you have one of two choices: either leave and go elsewhere, or stay and try to overcome said discord, which will lead to having a stronger, more harmonious lodge in the end. Obviously the latter is the better decision, but many a brother will choose the former because they simply lack the fortitude. And there’s nothing wrong with that, really there isn’t. Maintaining peace and harmony can be one of the most daunting tasks as a Freemason. I think as long as effort is put in, we can only go forward from whatever situation we may find ourselves in:

“Harmony being the strength and support of all well regulated institutions, especially this of ours.” This phrase, or one similar, is familiar to all Masons. Harmony–oneness of mind, effort, ideas and ideals–is one of the foundations of Freemasonry. Anything which interferes with Harmony by so much hurts the Institution. Therefore it is essential that lodges have a harmonious membership; that no man be admitted to the Masonic home of any brother against his will. (Claudy, 1929)

The last thing anybody wants is to make a brother feel uncomfortable or even cause him harm. A lodge is a sacred place where we come to feel safe, and loved by our brothers. A brother should never be subjected to things like berating, slander, cursing, vulgarities or racism. Maintaining peace and harmony is also the reason why the topic of religion and politics is forbidden within the walls of the lodge room, when the master has banged his gavel to indicate the opening of the meeting:

There are probably no other topics of discussion that have caused as much ill will, alienation and contention as have politics and religion. In the interest of harmony among Brothers, it is considered un-Masonic to introduce any religious, political, or other divisive topic into a Masonic discussion.

– Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota, 1986.

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Anything that might cause discord within a lodge is left at the door. We’re free to believe what we want and to have our own opinions, but in the spirit of brotherly love and peace we need to check whatever argumentative attitude we may have, and suppress the urge to correct brothers in a manner that is undignified. In order to make the world we live in a more peaceful society, we have to start at home, in the lodge room. The lessons we teach and learn are to be practiced within the lodge, so that each and every brother can see that universal societies can exist – where peace and harmony are a means and not just an end, and where everyone is accepted no matter what:

The “camaraderie” of the social hour of the Lodge cannot be equaled elsewhere.  Within these portals where men upon the level and part upon the square, the “good time” is not confused by questions of “who is he?” or “what does he do?”  Men enjoy Lodge functions not only because of the “innocent mirth” which the Old Charges enjoin, but because of the freedom and happiness; one must accept all others in the Lodge at face value. (Unknown, 1934)

The old prayer that often accompanies the closing of a lodge is there for a reason. We are to remain harmonious with our brethren not only within the lodge but outwith as well – “May the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us” – cement meaning that we should carry that spirit of Freemasonry with us until it’s time for the Master to rap his gavel once more.

As Freemasons, we should remember that without discord, there cannot be harmony. A lodge needs to be balanced, and peace cannot be forced. Sometimes things may present themselves in a way that is unknown to us. If we remember the dictates of the craft, we can get through any storm that may surprise us – so let’s not turn away from problems, but rather embrace them and see them as opportunities to grow:

All nature is but art unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.

— Alexander Pope

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Claudy, Carl. (1929). The Black Cube. Short Talk Bulletin, Masonic Service Association.

Clevenger, Michael D. (2010). Leading with Masonic Values – Brotherly Love. Worthington, Ohio.

Committee on Masonic Research and Education of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota. (1986). Standard of Masonic Conduct. Short Talk Bulletin.

Frazer, E. (1915). Problems in Masonic Charity. The Builder. National Masonic Research Society.

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Milliken, Frederic L. (2012). Blue State – Red State Freemasonry. Rowlett, Texas, USA.

Milliken, Frederic L. (2012). The Ultimate Masonic Lesson. Rowlett, Texas, USA.

Pursley, George W. (2012). A New Masonic Year Begins in Lancaster. Lancaster, Ohio.

Ratcliff, John W. (2008). What’s this $#!+ about Masonic Harmony? Lake St. Louis, Missouri.

Unknown. (1930). The Reputation of the Fraternity. Short Talk Bulletin. Masonic Service Association.

Unknown. (1934). Gifts of the Magi. Short Talk Bulletin, Masonic Service Association.

Weinberg, David. (2006). Harmony Isn’t What It Used to Be. Knights of the North Masonic Dictionary.

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