Nathan’s Story

What are we, as Masons, thinking of in this day and age which will give us a better way of life?

Do we challenge ourselves with thoughts which broaden our outlook of mankind and of ourselves, or are we stagnated with quests for greater attendance, letter perfect ritual, candidates for concordant bodies, or the cost of fuel oil?

Freemasonry of the 18th century was pregnant with ideas which underscored the history of that century. While Freemasonry even then had its share of candidates who were only curious and those who were status seekers, it provided a congenial atmosphere to bring men together to seek out the developing ideas of the century.

The German dramatist and critic, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, born January 22, 1729, and died February 15, 1781, who has been called the Martin Luther of 18th century Germany, was drawn to Masonry by its profession in the universal brotherhood of man. It is a sad note that Lessing felt disillusioned in the Craft because of his initiation, and because of the actions of its members generally.

The Craft enjoyed a reputation which was not lived up to in practice.  Gotthold Lessing was known to the Masons of the second quarter of this century, for the grand lodge names in his honour, in Czechoslovakia. The Grand Lodge Lessing of the Three Rings was formed by thirty-one German speaking lodges in Czechoslovakia after the disintegration of the Hapsburg Monarchy following World War I.

This Grand Lodge went into darkness when it was crushed by Hitler’s Nazis following the appeasement which was supposed to bring peace to the world.

The purpose of this blog is to share with you a part of one of his writings which has been called perhaps on the of the noblest pleas for toleration ever written. The play, or rather dramatic poem “Nathan the Wise” was written in 1778-9, seven years after Lessing was made a Mason at the residence of Baron von Rosenberg in Hamburg, Germany.

“Nathan the Wise” is set in Jerusalem during the reign of Saladin, from 1187 to 1193. The three main characters are Nathan, a rich Jewish merchant of Jerusalem, the Sultan Saladin, and a young Templar whose life has been spared by Saladin after his capture during the fourth Crusade.

These three main characters represent the three great religions of the world – Jewish, Moslem and Christian.  Further, with Nathan and Saladin we have a confrontation between a man of wisdom and toleration of the ages, and a man whose temporal powers could be limited only by his death.

Lessing’s story of the three rings was not original with him, but rather was taken form the “Decameron,” written by the Italian Giovani Boccaccio, 1348 – 1353. The story briefly is that Saladin needs money for more wars, and he seeks to trick the Jewish merchant out of his great wealth. The Jew is called upon to tell which of the three great religions he considers the true one. If he names his own, he offends the Sultan; but if he names another, he denies his own. His response after due deliberation is the priceless story of three rings, the seeking of the difference between true and false religion.

Lessing’s pleas for toleration as expressed by the Judge in the story is but another term for brotherly love, the first tenet of the profession as Masons.

“By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family-the high and low, rich and poor who, as created by one Almighty parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise remain at a perpetual distance.”

Here we have the foundation on which Masonry can exist, bring together all men, and truly be a brotherhood of man!  The virtue of toleration, however, is not easily attainted. It must grow out of the successful resolution of conflicts. If we can have true brotherly love for those whose religious beliefs of existence and eternal salvation deny our own, then what other differences could be insurmountable?

I give you Nathan’s story as an oasis at which you may stop and rest from your daily toil. May its ideas be the waters which will refresh you. May you continue on to the east, using our gift of thought so that your way of life will make you a better man.  The prologue of the story shows Saladin trying to set a trap for Nathan.

SALADIN – Since so great your wisdom, I pray you tell me what belief, what law has most commended itself to you.

NATHAN – Sultan, I am a Jew.

SALADIN - And I a Mussulman. Between us is the Christian. Now, but one of all these three religions can be true. A man like you stands not where accident of birth has cast him. If he so remain, it is from judgment, reason, choice of best. Impart to me your judgment; let me hear the reasons I’ve no time to seek myself.

[Saladin then gives Nathan a few hurried moments to contemplate on this question along. After a soliloqhy by Nathan, Saladin returns to be told this story.]

NATHAN - In gray antiquity there lived a man in Eastern lands who had received a ring of priceless worth from a beloved hand. Its stone, an opal, flashed a hundred colors, and had the secret power of giving favor, in sight of Good and man, to him who wore it with a believing heart. What wonder then this Eastern man would never put the ring from off his finger, and should so provide that to his house it be preserved forever? Such was the case. Unto the best beloved among his sons he left the ring, enjoining that he in turn bequeath it to the son who should be dearest; and the dearest ever, in virtue of the ring, without regard to birth, be of the house the prince and head. You understand me, Sultan?

SALADIN – Yes; go on!

NATHAN - From son to son the ring descending, came to one, the sire of three; of whom all three were equally obedient; whom all three he therefore must with equal love regards. And yet from time to time now this, now that, and now the third, – as each alone was buy, the others not dividing his fond heart, appeared to him the worthiest of the ring; which then, with loving weakness, he would promise to each in turn. Thus it continued long. Be he must die; and then the loving father was sore perplexed. It grieved him thus to wound two faithful sons who trusted in his word; but what to do? In secrecy he calls an artist to him, and commands of him two other rings, the pattern of his own; and bids him neither cost nor pains to spare to make them like, precisely like to that. The artist’s skill succeeds. He brings the ring, and e’en the father cannot tell his own. Relieved and joyful, summons he his sons, each by himself; to each one by himself he gives his blessing, and his ring – and dies. You listen, Sultan?

SALADIN (who, somewhat perplexed, has turned away) – Yes; I hear, I hear. But bring your story to an end.

NATHAN - ‘Tis ended; For what remains would tell itself. The father was scarely dead when each brings forth his ring, and claims the headship. Questioning ensues, strife, and appeal to law; but all in vain. The genuine ring was not to be distinguished; - (after a pause, in which he awaits the Sultan’s answer) As undistinguishable as with us the true religion.

SALADIN – That you answer to me?

NATHAN – But my apology for not presuming between the rings to judge, which with design the father ordered undistinguishable.

SALADIN – The rings? You trifle with me. The religions I named to you are plain to be distinguished – e’en in the dress, e’en in the food and drink.

NATHAN – In all except the grounds on which they rest. Are they not all founded on history, traditional or written? History can be accepted only upon trust. Whom now are we the least inclined to doubt? Not our own people – out own blood; not those who from our childhood up have proved their love; ne’er disappointed, save when disappointment was wholesome to us? Shall my ancestors receive less faith from me, than yours from you? Reverse it; Can I ask you to belie your fathers, and transfer your father to mine? Or yet, again, holds not the same as Christians?

SALADIN(By heavens, the man is right! I’ve naught to answer.)

NATHAN – Return we to our rings. As I have said, the sons appealed to law, and each took oath before the judge that from his father’s hand he had the ring, – as we indeed the truth; and had received his promise long before, one day the ring, with all its privileges, should be his own, – as was not less the truth. The father could not have been false to him each one maintained; and rather than allow upon the memory of so dear a father such stain to rest, he must against his brothers, though gladly he would nothing but the best believe of them, bring charge of treachery; means would he find the traitors to expose, and be revenged on them.

SALADIN – And now the judge? I long to hear what words you give the judge. Go on!

NATHAN - Thus spoke the judge: Produce your father at once before me, else from my tribunal do I dismiss you. Think you I am hear to guess your riddles? Either would you wait until the genuine ring shall speak? – But hold! A magic power in the true ring resides, as I am told, to make its wearer loved – pleasing to God and man. Let that decide. For in the false can no such virtue lie. Which one among you, then, do two love best? Speak! Are you silent? Work the rings but backward, not outward? Loves each one himself the best?  Then cheated cheats are all of you! The rings all three are false.  The genuine ring was lost; and to conceal, supply the lost, the father made three in place of one.

SALADIN – Oh, excellent!

NATHAN – Go, therefore, said the judge, unless my counsel you’d have in place of sentence. IT were this: accept the case exactly as it stands. Had each his ring directly from his father, let each believe his own genuine. ‘Tis possible your father would no longer his house to one ring’s tyranny subject; and certain that all three of you he loved, loved equally, since two he would not humble, that one might be exalted. Let each one to his unbought, impartial love aspire; each with the others vie to bring to light the virtue of the stone within his ring; Let gentleness, a hearty love pf peace, benefiance, and perfect trust in God, come to its help. Then if the jewel’s power among your children’s children be revealed, I bid you in a thousand, thousand years again before this bar. A wise man than I shall occupy this seat, and speak. Go! – Thus the modest judge dismissed them.

SALADIN – God!

NATHAN – If therefore, Saladin, you feel yourself that promised, wiser man -

SALADIN – (rushing to him, and seizing his hand, which he holds to the end). I? Dust! – I? Naught! Oh God!

NATHAN – What moves you, Sultan?

SALADIN – Nathan, Nathan! Not ended are the thousand, thousand years your judge foretold; not mine to claim his seat. Go, go! – But be my friend.

Brethren, so mote it be!

This essay was originally presented by Wor. Bro. Richard L. Rhoda at the March 16, 1981 meeting of the Maine Lodge of Research and served as his inspiration for the year long consideration of religious toleration by The Maine Lodge of Research through its several non-masonic guest speakers.

Are you a Professional Mason?

In my journey through the world of the Freemasons, I have identified three different types of Master Masons, which are as follows:

ANONYMOUS MASONS

These are the Masons who loyally pay their test fees but are never seen in the Lodge.  They are either unable to attending (perhaps living too far away or whose interest has waned), or they joined for the Order in the hopes that it might help their public or private avocations. Lodge Secretaries are familiar with the Brother’s name, but cannot place a face to it.

AMATEUR MASONS

This Mason may occasionally make an appearance in the Lodge, send in a donation for a worthy Masonic cause, or read a book or article pertaining to the fraternity. They truly like being a Mason but fail to make a major commitment to it, such as becoming an officer bearer or serving on a committee.

Most do not progress beyond the Blue degrees decrying the appendant orders as not true Masonry and they are the first to complain when the test fees are increased or if the Lodge doesn’t look quite right. Instead of becoming more active and finding out the cause of any problems in the Lodge, they find it easier to complain from the sidelines thereby disrupting harmony.

PROFESSIONAL MASONS

In every Lodge there is a handful of Brothers you can count on for leadership and to lend a hand when the chips are down. They are intimate with the mechanics of the fraternity and do not hesitate to step forward when needed, they help mentor younger and less experienced Brothers so they may grow and take their place in the Lodge hierarchy.

The Professional Mason is not a zealous control freak with a huge ego, but rather is unselfish and appreciates the power of teamwork and the tenets of Freemasonry. He rightfully understands that Freemasonry is more about  the overall Brotherhood as opposed to the glory of a single individual.

In order to be a PROFESSIONAL MASON he must posses these Six Masonic Virtues:-

Balance, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, Truth and Faith

To discuss the virtue of Balance we need only look to the mosaic pavement of a lodge, which is discussed in a lecture during the Entered Apprentice degree, where it is stated that it is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple and is emblematic of human life, chequered with good and evil.

Mackey’s Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry describes it as “The mosaic pavement is an old symbol of the Order. It is classed among the ornaments of the lodge along with the indented tessel and the blazing star. Its party-coloured stones of black and white have been readily and appropriately interpreted as symbols of the evil and good of human life.”

So the newly entered apprentice armed with this information, can see that the concept of duality has played a part in Masonic symbolism since the very beginning of the order. While this duality is not often discussed in blue lodge ritual, it is covered in the appendant order,  the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The AASR mentions this concept numerous times in its degrees and it  makes the ideas of dualism, or opposition, in the universe an important part of its degrees using elements and ideas from the Kabbala to discuss this concept in detail.

The lecture pertaining to the 15th Degree, Knight of the East and West, discusses the idea of duality or good and evil as a conflict. Albert Pike, the famous 19th Century American Freemason wrote “God is great, and good, and wise. Evil and pain and sorrow are temporary, and for wise and beneficent purposes, Ultimately, Good will prevail, and Evil be overthrown.”

But while this idea of duality and the conflict between good and evil are cause for contemplation, it can be confusing to understand how they apply to our actions as Freemasons.

When thinking about the idea of duality and the concept of good and evil, black and white, sacred and profane, an image that immediately comes to mind is that of the Yin-Yang. While this symbol has become a pop culture icon in recent times, its symbolism is deep and its meaning applicable to this subject. While it has numerous interpretations, the yin-yang demonstrates the concept of duality and balance.

Balance is an important term because of the position of the mosaic pavement : the floor, where the foundation of the erect human body may be found. When a Entered Apprentice the Mason is taught to avoid irregularity and intemperance and to divide his time equally by the use of the twenty-four inch gauge. These lessons refer to the importance of balance in a Mason’s life. Therefore, the symbolism of the mosaic pavement could be interpreted to mean that balance provides the foundation for our Masonic growth.

Maintaining balance allows us to adhere to many Masonic teachings. By maintaining balance, we may be able to stand upright in our several stations before God and man. The Entered Apprentice is charged to keep balance in his life so that he may ensure public and private esteem. It is also very interesting that the concept of justice is represented by a scale which is balanced and that justice is described as being the foundation of civil society in the first degree of Masonry.

To discuss our next four virtues, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Truth – we need to find an answer to the following question

Which is the greatest  The strength of wine, the power of Kings, or the influence of women?

Those of us that have been received as a Knight of the Red Cross of Babylon will recognize this question. In the degree, King Darius asks this question and a discussion ensues between Zerubbabel and the other guards on the correct answer. This answer to this question brings some major concepts to light for all Freemasons.

“And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked. Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king’s body, spake one to another; Let every one of us speak a sentence: he that shall overcome, and whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall the king Darius give great gifts, and great things in token of victory! The first wrote, Wine is the strongest. The second wrote, The king is strongest. The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.” (1 Esdras 3:3-12)

Throughout the rest of the third and fourth chapters, the discussion relating to these questions take place. Not surprisingly, the man which states that “Truth beareth away the victory” is considered the victor.

For the Freemason, these four influences may be applied to the four cardinal virtues which are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice.

The strength of wine leads to disregarding the concept of temperance. This virtue instructs the Mason to “avoid excess, or contracting any licentious or vicious habit.”   However, the strength of wine encourages indulging in excess and creates vicious several vicious habits. The guard who claimed that wine is the strongest defends his thesis by saying:

“It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one – It turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt: And it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor governor; and it maketh to speak all things by talents: And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords” (1 Esdras 3:19-22)

The power of kings requires that the virtue of fortitude be considered. The virtue of fortitude is described in Masonic ritual as “that noble and steady purpose of the mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient.”

The Guard who claimed that the king is the strongest, postulates about the king:

“And yet he is but one man: if he command to kill, they kill; if he command to spare, they spare; If he command to smite, they smite; if he command to make desolate, they make desolate; if he command to build, they build; If he command to cut down, they cut down; if he command to plant, they plant.” (1 Esdras 4:7-9)

These sentences can describe only one thing: absolute tyranny. Fortitude is that virtue which admonishes the Freemason to resist the efforts of tyranny to influence him to forsake his own morals. The strength of kings does not refer only the power of monarchs, but the power of any person who may use their influence for unscrupulous purposes.

The influence of women mandates that the virtue of prudence be observed. Masonic tradition states that this virtue “teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present as well as to our future happiness.”  Does not the lust for women cause the Mason to momentarily consider forgetting the dictates of reason or sacrifice a happy future for a moment of pleasure?

The man who makes this assertion says: “Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes. Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women (1 Esdras 4:26-27).”

Certainly, the lure of peculiar form and beauty will influence a man to disregard the virtue of prudence.

However, the third guard who asserts that the influence of women defeats the strength of wine or kings also states that truth is the victor over all of these influences. This is consistent with the Masonic view of justice, which the ritual states “is the very cement and support of civil society.” For justice to be served, the truth must be ascertained. The man who introduces this argument to the conversation says that:

“As for the truth, it endureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth for evermore. With her there is no accepting of persons or rewards; but she doeth the things that are just, and refraineth from all unjust and wicked things; and all men do well like of her works. Neither in her judgment is any unrighteousness; and she is the strength, kingdom, power, and majesty, of all ages. Blessed be the God of truth.” (1 Esdras 4:38-40)

Truth leads to justice and to overcoming the vices presented by the strength of wine, the power of kings, and the influence of women. Only through truth can the problems created by the influences be identified and corrected. It provides the support of civil society and is even symbolically represented by the feet, the foundation of the body. Therefore, truth is certainly the victor.

To discuss the virtue of Faith let us examine the following passage, which will more than likely spark the interest of those who have been consecrated as Knights of the Temple

The LORD said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.  and I will call in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 8:1

The name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is defined in the New International Version of the Bible as

“quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil.”

Considering the last part of the piece of scripture quoted above, this definition does not seem odd. But when considering its place in the Order of the Temple, this meaning does not seem to make much sense.

However, this passage from scripture is actually referring to information found in the seventh chapter  of the book of Isaiah. In this chapter, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah, son of Ramaliah King of Israel, have decided to fight Jerusalem and overtake the city. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is troubled by these events, but God sends Isaiah to tell Ahaz:

“It will not take place, it will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Isaiah 7:7-9

These pieces of scripture are relevant to the period during the Order of the Temple when the candidate is symbolically serving his three years as a pilgrim warrior. A pilgrim is a person that is on a spiritual quest, a religious journey. He is a traveler who has humbled himself and whose piety has urged him to seek a holy destination. As a warrior, he is engaged in a cause or conflict. Therefore, the ninth verse of the seventh chapter of Isaiah couldn’t be more applicable: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

But what is faith? Is it that blind belief of something that can not be proven? The eleventh chapter of Hebrews says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

However, this makes the word faith, as found in Isaiah, seem rather worthless. Considering this definition, without an irrational belief in something with no empirical evidence, you will not stand at all. But what if faith is something more?

The Knight of the Temple should exhibit wisdom, strength, and beauty in all that he does. If you have no faith in God, you have no wisdom; if you have no faith in yourself, you have no strength; if others have no faith in you, you have no beauty. Therefore, if you have no wisdom, strength, or beauty, you will not stand at all.

Perhaps the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz really means that without this wisdom, strength, and beauty your life will be easily plundered and spoiled.

Once the PROFESSIONAL MASON has demonstrated these six virtues I finally contend that these are the seven mistakes he must avoid making:-

1. Ritual Without Meaning

Far Too many ANONYMOUS or AMATEUR MASONS are more concerned about performing the ritual perfectly without a true understanding of what it means!

Ritual for the sake of tradition is worthless. Ritual for the sake of enlightenment is valuable.

An understanding of the ritual’s meaning is far more important than and ability to just memorizing it.

2. Fellowship without Frivolity

Whenever Masons decide to hold a function for fellowship, a discussion typically ensues about how to make the function have the smallest impact on the lodge’s finances and the wallets of the members. This results in paper plates, meager meals, boring and less well attended events. To spend money wisely in order to make fellowship a grand time is wise for the lodge that wants to be successful.

Also we do not have to be slaves to form, endlessly repeating the same toasts and replies – we should reward individuality and creativity in order to keep our meetings alive and fun!

3. Quantity without Quality

A lodge with seven PROFESSIONAL MASONS that believe in the Masonic ideals and actively strive to improve  themselves and their lodge is far better off than a lodge with one hundred ANONYMOUS or AMATEUR members.

4. Education without Philosophy

Many Masons tend to think of Masonic education as being a lesson on the local lodge’s history, a famous Mason, the history of the world wide fraternity, or how to do the ritual properly. But if no philosophy is covered in Masonic education, then little self improvement will be accomplished.

Discussing Masonic lessons in terms of philosophy, ideas, and a man’s conduct is what truly transforms men into Masons. It is important to discuss topics that are foreign to a lodge’s membership and it is sometimes even necessary to challenge our preconceived ideologies through Masonic education.

Not every valuable lesson can be taught in the craft lodges and many others are spread throughout the Appendant Orders – The purpose of the Craft lodges is to inspire Men to seek the Royal Arch and to take up the sword of the Templars!

5. Charity without Connection

Big charities often require that fund raisers be conducted and large checks written to the people that actually perform the charity. This type of charity offers no self improvement because it has no real connection to us or our life.

If we extend our hands to our needed Brethren and devote our own skills and time to their problems, then we are engaging in true, meaningful charity.

6. Frugality without Discretion

Frugality is not a tenet of Freemasonry, a cardinal virtue, or a Landmark. It is acceptable for the lodge to spend its funds on worthwhile activities that will enhance the Masonic experience of its Brethren.

Not everything should be done in the cheapest way, a habit to which we have become accustomed.

7. Leadership without Competence

A man does not deserve to be master of the lodge, chapter or preceptory solely because he has spent a certain amount of years attending meetings or because he is next in line. We elect our leaders without any regard for the skills that they possess in order to function in that capacity.

In the Craft Lodge,  80% of the work is performed by the PROFESSIONAL MASONS, and the remaining 20% is squeezed out of the AMATEUR and ANONYMOUS Masons.

Many Lodges suffer when they lose too many PROFESSIONAL MASONS and another danger is when an AMATEUR MASON rises and is elected to the East. This type of person is more interested in obtaining a Past Master’s apron, than doing anything of substance.   We must take care to ensure that only competent and qualified men are elected to preside over us.

Throughout this Blog I have referred to Craft Lodges as Blue Lodges, here is the colour scheme for all Freemasonry

BLUE the colour of the Symbolic Masons who were Initiated, Passed and Raised to construct the Temple of the Lord,

RED the colour of the Capitular Perfecters of the Temple who were Advanced, Acknowledged and Exalted with true knowledge,

GREEN the colour of the Cryptic Royal & Select Guardians who were Honoured. Chosen and Greeted to preserve the true knowledge for all the ages,

PURPLE is the colour of the Rosicrucians who Illuminate the hidden mysteries of science, nature and art,

BLACK the colour of the Chivalric Knights who were Received, Created and Consecrated to defend the Temple,

WHITE the colour of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests who tend the lord in the Temple.

A ANONYMOUS MASON will almost always be BLUE, a AMATEUR MASON will rarely advance above RED or GREEN but a PROFESSIONAL MASON will be ultimately driven through all the colours of Freemasonry, aiming one day to join the White Lodges.

So, the question arises, “What kind of Mason are you?”

I guess it ultimately comes down to why you joined the fraternity. If you are truly seeking further light, then you are on the right path and if care is taken to avoid the seven mistakes you will make a great and valuable Freemason.  If not, you will probably be nothing more than an AMATEUR or worse an ANONYMOUS Mason, and we have too many of them in the craft already.

The Seven Greatest Mistakes

In my blog today I want to write about what I consider to be the Seven Greatest Mistakes made by both Mankind and Freemasonry.

First the Seven Greatest Mistakes of Mankind

 1. Wealth without Work

We don’t not value something which comes to easy, such as a child that receives a toy as a gift will quickly lose interest in it and toss it to the side. But the child that does chores to earn his allowance in order to buy the toy that he wants will cherish it for an extend period of time.

 2. Pleasure Without Conscience

There is nothing wrong with enjoying life. While every person has a right to pursue what will

make him happy, a lack of conscience in his dealings will only lead to suffering.

 Pleasure without conscience leads to alcoholism, adultery, gambling addiction, and other personal injuries.

 3. Knowledge Without Character

 A wise man may be able to benefit society, but if he lacks a character worthy of emulation he will never have an audience.

If a man has knowledge, but is conceited because of it or uses it immorally or for his own gain then he is worthless and his knowledge will be lost.

4. Commerce Without Morality

The man that cheats and defrauds his customers may initially make some money, but he will lose everything when the truth about his actions is revealed.

5. Science Without Humanity

Scientific discovery used for the destruction of humanity rather than for its benefit, is a waste of man’s reasoning skills. Technology such as nuclear power offers incredible benefits for those who use it properly, but has caused great anxiety because it was first used for violent purposes.

6. Worship Without Sacrifice

 It is good to worship, but if worship is unaccompanied by sacrifice no self-improvement is made.

 This does not mean that lambs must be slain and burned as an offering, but that divesting ourselves of some of the unnecessary aspects of life—which is a sacrifice—produces the fruit of worship.

7. Politics Without Principle

A firm understanding of politics will allow a man in office to accomplish anything he pleases.

However, if it is used without principle it only serves to corrupt the government and enslave the masses.

In a similar vein to the above I would know like to discuss the Seven Greatest Mistakes of Freemasonry. 

1. Ritual Without Meaning

Too many times, we are more concerned about performing the ritual perfectly without understanding what it means. Ritual for the sake of tradition is worthless. Ritual for the sake of enlightenment is valuable.

An understanding of the ritual’s meaning is far more important than just memorizing it. 

2. Fellowship without Frivolity

Whenever Masons decide to hold a function for fellowship, a discussion typically ensues about how to make the function have the smallest impact on the lodge’s finances and the wallets of the members. This results in paper plates, meager meals, boring and less well attended events. To spend money wisely in order to make fellowship a grand time is wise for the lodge that wants to be successful.

Also we do not have to be slaves to form, endlessly repeating the same toasts and replies – we should reward individuality and creativity in order to keep our meetings alive and fun! 

3. Quantity without Quality

A lodge with seven great men that believe in the Masonic ideals and actively strive to improve  themselves—and therefore the lodge—is far better off than a lodge with one hundred men that show up to lodge  just to be seen.

4. Education without Philosophy

Many times, we think of Masonic education as being a lesson on the local lodge’s history, a famous Mason, the history of the world wide fraternity, or how to do the ritual properly. But if no philosophy is covered in Masonic education, then little self improvement is accomplished.

Discussing Masonic lessons in terms of philosophy, ideas, and a man’s conduct is what truly transforms men into Masons. It is important to discuss topics that are foreign to a lodge’s membership and it is sometimes even necessary to challenge our preconceived ideologies through Masonic education. 

5. Charity without Connection

Big charities often require that fund raisers be conducted and large checks written to the people that actually perform the charity. This type of charity offers no self improvement because it has no real connection to us or our life. 

If we extend our hands to our needed Brethren and devote our own skills and time to their problems, then we are engaging in true, meaningful charity.

6. Frugality without Discretion

Frugality is not a tenet of Freemasonry, a cardinal virtue, or a Landmark. It is acceptable for the lodge to spend its funds on worthwhile activities that will enhance the Masonic experience of its Brethren.

Not everything should be done in the cheapest way, a habit to which we have become accustomed. 

7. Leadership without Competence

A man does not deserve to be master of the lodge, chapter or preceptory solely because he has spent a certain amount of years attending meetings or because he is next in line. We elect our leaders without any regard for the skills that they possess in order to function in that capacity.

We should only elect competent and qualified men to preside over us.

I propose that by living our life’s according to these 14 principles we would be well on the way to perfected ourselves as Human beings and as Freemason’s.