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Archive for Lodge Discussion

The Grim Reality

SPEAKING OF COWANS, last month we went to Las Vegas to attend my wife’s high school reunion.
I saw a guy wearing a baseball cap with a huge Masonic logo emblazoned on the front. So I asked him the easiest question every Mason knows pertaining to the master builder. He didn’t seem to get it.
I asked him again, this time with a very direct question: “I always see that logo everywhere I go, what does it represents?”
Credit him for being honest, this was his curt reply in Tagalog translated into English: “I really don’t know what this symbol means but this is a Mason logo. My friend gave this to me because he said this is what he wears when he wants to drive fast, as in really fast, in the Philippines so the cops won’t stop him.”
He added: “I’m wearing this because he said here in the U.S. I can get discounts in some stores if they see the logo and it’s true. The guy in the food court who works at Chipotle said he will become a Mason soon and he did not let us pay for our foods (him and his friends). Isn’t that great?”
I asked: “Your friend who gave you that cap, is he a Mason?”
He replied: “No he’s not but he knows some of their handshakes because his boss does that all the time with the other Masons. Hey, if they can get privileges at some point why couldn’t we…makes sense right?”
This is so sad but this is also the grim reality we are facing today.
When people learned our ways (good or bad, that’s up to you) through our indiscretions, and they’re clever enough to employ them to manipulate the system, soon the world will view us and our beloved Fraternity with disdain and great disfavor.
From erstwhile honorable, we will soon be looked at as purely a society of abusive and usurping fellows wielding unsparingly the hatchets of economic and social savagery — not exactly in the class of sheer banditry but somewhere a few rungs higher.
If we want to prevent this, change must begin in us. From within.
The ball is always in your court. It’s your call!
Masonic cap


Are we not taught to circumscribe our desires, to subdue our passions, to refrain from licentious acts, to square our actions, to act on the level and other systems of moral virtues?

And aren’t we as Masons, all good men turned better, supposed to heed what we’ve been taught?

Is this not the very purpose of why we joined the Freemasonry — to be an exemplary member of our society? To be virtuous, honorable and noble?

If we will say that Freemasons are but still humans, still entangled in the imperfections of his unrestricted primeval nature, then we ourselves are self-defeating the very essence why Masonry first and foremost exist.

With our unrestrained behavior and ill-mannered demeanor, we destroy the awesome edifice of Freemasonry in the eyes of those who behold us — those within and of those from without — and, in so doing, are committing the worst un-Masonic act ever: of self-defecating on that spotless lambskin girdled around our waste.


The Plumb

One reader asks: “I see a lot of artisan tools pictured in many Masonic murals among Masonic temples and I noticed among others the plumb. What does it mean in Masonry?”

The Plumb is an instrument used by Operative Masons to erect perpendicular lines, and adopted in Speculative Masonry as one of the working tools of a Fellow Craft. 

It is a symbol of rectitude of conduct, and inculcates that integrity of life and undeviating course of moral uprightness which can alone distinguish the good and just man.

 As the operative workman erects his temporal building with strict observance of that plumb-line, which will not permit him to deviate a hair’s breadth to the right or to the left, so the Speculative Mason, guided by the unerring principles of right and truth inculcated in the symbolic teachings of the same implement, is steadfast in the pursuit of truth, neither bending beneath the frowns of adversity nor yielding to the seductions of prosperity.

To the man thus just and upright, the Scriptures attribute, as necessary parts of his character, kindness and liberality, temperance and moderation, truth and wisdom; and the Pagan poet Horace pays, in one of his most admired odes, an eloquent tribute to the stern immutability of the man who is upright and tenacious of purpose.

 It is worthy of notice that, in most languages, the word which is used in a direct sense to indicate straightness of course or perpendicularity of position, is also employed in a figurative sense to express uprightness of conduct.

 Such are the Latin “rectum,” which signifies at the same time a right line and honesty or integrity; the Greek, όρδός, which means straight, standing upright, and also equitable, just true; and the Hebrew “tsedek,” which in a physical sense denotes rightness, straightness, and in moral, what is right and just. Our own word RIGHT partakes of this peculiarity, right being not wrong, as well as not crooked.

 As to the name, it may be remarked that “plumb” is the word used in Speculative Masonry. Webster says that as a noun the word is seldom used except in composition. Its constant use, therefore, in Masonry, is a peculiarity.

Fidelity to ‘Masonic Vows’ is the true gauge of a Mason

Funny how some people try to define Freemasonry in their own terms, supporting their so-called Masonic wisdoms with philosophical and biblical quotes which they cropped and fashioned to suit their sinister motives and justify their cruel acts.

What Masonry truly is and what makes us all true Masons are all embodied in our Masonic obligations, lectures, charges and Masonic codes.

Anything which contradicts them, twist their meanings or any teachings which are unincluded in our ciphers, codes and recognized Masonic books are simply fabricated Masonic nonsense aimed to serve someone’s ill motive.

How can someone proclaim that he’s a Mason, and preach about what Masonry is, when at the observance of his Masonic obligations — say respecting a brother, protecting his good name, relieving him of his distresses and soothing his afflictions — he, at that instant, fails.

The true gauge of a Mason is his fidelity to his Masonic vows.

Masonic Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

(John 13:34-35)

Love is the foundation of everything that is good — a true love, that is.

By love we are created, through love we are made into His image and likeness, and for love we are purposed to exist.

To love is the supreme and ultimate commandment ever handed unto mankind: “love God with all your heart, soul and mind; love thy neighbor as you love thine self.”

In fact, the greatest testimony of one’s willingness to love his Creator is by first genuinely loving his ‘brother.’

“For how can he love God whom he has not seen and not his brethren whom he had seen,” asked Jesus.

Fittingly, this is also true in Freemasonry. Thus, we are all tasked to practice Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth amongst brothers, fellows and people around the world — irrespectively!

Paraphrasing Jesus now, we ask: “how can we love those who are from without with whom we have not drawn a pledge from and not love those from within with whom we have made an oath for?”

If we will try to notice quite keenly the 3 Masonic virtues above, all three make up the impeccable forms of ‘love’ .

Just as water could morph itself into ice and vapor, so could love be translated into other states of selfless and lustless exemplifications.

By loving our brother like our self (Brotherly love), by relieving him of his distress and soothing his afflictions (Relief), and, by being truthful and faithful to him at all times against the impulse of envy, lust and the prodding of covetous earthly allure which comes with every act of betrayal (Truth) — we accomplished magnificently the task to love.

Love is what forms Freemasonry: “to defend the weak from its oppressor, to enlighten those imprisoned by ignorance and to emancipate mankind from the tyranny of the wicked few.”

Love is what yokes us all into one band of noble brothers under the fatherhood of one loving God: “to spread the cement of Brotherly Love.”

To be a Mason, therefore, is to breathe true love. For everyone.


Far from perfect

Sometimes in the heat of a moment, lost in the exchange of ideas during a debate or an argument, we tend to forget who we are, what we are and that ties which mystically bind us together as better men.

Not that we are “unworthy” or because we are “fake,” “unreal” or “bad.” It’s because we are humans, still, and for as long as we remain this way up till the day we die, no matter how much knowledge we’ve acquired during our lifetime, the fact remains that we are continuously vulnerable to the many sudden outbursts of our old selves.

Thus, it will not always be rainbows and butterflies. Specific switches inside our complicated and highly powerful brain will self activate periodically, thereby causing our old dark self to resurface anew. All it takes is just one right button to ignite the bomb, and — bingo! — our rottenness is back with a vengeance.

That’s why learning is a lifetime process and we can’t afford to be complacent. That’s why we need admonishing to remind us of our missteps and to guide us back to the straight path.

That’s why we need to be understanding, and forgiving, of other’s faults as others do the same of ours.

I, to be honest, have had several fierce skirmishes with several Brethren as we disagreed on certain things. Most reasons are actually trivial, but because of poor communication, or perhaps the lack of it, plus our tendency to take things in the wrong way, the trouble starts to brew.

When it happens, hurt is planted on each other’s hearts and feelings begin to darken, prompting us to turn to the attack mode and pushing us towards the ugly realm of madness.

This is human nature, the impulsion to jump to conclusion and the compulsion to seek retribution for a cup of heartache acquired. It’s the evil that we are trying to defeat since the beginning of time. It’s the battle we all have yet to win.

Thus, to expect holiness and perfection from everyone on the account of us simply becoming a Mason is not only a misguided thought but likewise illogical.

So, too, to afford each other with exceeding expectations would only result to disappointment, sooner or later, as we see our flaws glaring at our faces mockingly.

For though we learn so many extraordinary things from our esoteric teachings and philosophies, truth is that such can not guarantee our complete emotional and psychological makeover.

Time will still come when our imperfections will rear their ugly heads, surprising, or even shocking, their hapless victims.

Moreover, we reside in an imperfect world, an environment teeming with temptations and rich in adversity.

So, how then do we differ from the rest and the unenlightened? Is there really a difference, or are we only fooling ourselves?

No, we are not deceiving ourselves. Yes, there is a big difference.

In countless attributes we are different. We could disagree on many things but could also agree on even more reasonable aspects with dignity and mutual respect; as quickly as our tempers flare, that fast also is our ability to forget the damage and forgive our aggressor; our compassion for the underprivileged and our passion to defend the weak are unparalleled; our endless quest for the advancement of equality, freedom and respect for human life are relentless, timeless and paramount; our unpretentious devotion to the Almighty is also a cut above the ordinary.

And the list goes on and on.

It is in the actual knowledge of our flaws, our willingness to accept, correct, and make up for our mistakes, and our peculiar ability to render each other the highest respect affordable in spite of some hurtful acts done that we are set apart from the rest of the human species.

This, and this alone, can the world behold us in great amazement and splendor. That in the roughness and rubbles of ourselves we can, as builders, erect human milestones, so perfect they not only changed the course of history but set a new direction for the whole new world.

Yes, it’s true. We are indeed Masons, but we aren’t saints.

“Brotherly Love”

Brotherly love has been the lesson of every major religion since recorded time. It is the easiest, and yet the most difficult of all God’s assignments to man.  Easy if we would but do it and, yet,  most difficult because we are a self-centered people forever concerned with what WE want.

By doing what we want without regard to others, we close the door to kindly considerations for others, which is the first step of Brotherly Love.

The individual who would truly exemplify Brotherly Love comes closest to heaven on earth.  He has no passion for greed, intolerance or hate. He suffers not from unhappiness, because he has no time for it. He is forever interested in doing something for someone else. It is his mission in life. He has no time to belittle others, because he fully understands that all are his brothers.

He cannot hate for long, for he knows that he alone must carry the heavy weight of hate. He cannot  disparage alone because God forever walks with him.

Yes, Brotherly Love is the easiest thing to do in the world, because it helps the giver more than the receiver. Brotherly Love is easy because it is enjoyable. It is easy to do nbecause it frees us from tension.  It is easy to do because it is the right thing to do.