Masonic Articles and Essays
Our Work in the Craft of Freemasonry
The Very Ills..... Bro... Louis Goaziou 33o
Is the aim of Universal Freemasonry to aid all Masons in their search for more Light, in order to advance the whole of the human race?
I have been asked, on a number of occasions, to name the activities in which our Lodges and the Federation could participate. The best way to answer will be, no doubt, by stating first what they must not do and then state what is the real work ahead of us.
Neither our Lodges nor our Federation may participate in dogmatic creeds or in partisan politics. Each individual member must be free to decide for himself on these subjects. An organization that dictates to its members in matters of creed or politics ceases to be Masonic.
The sole purpose of our Lodges and Federation should be to assist the members in their search for more Light in all Masonic subjects, on all subjects pertaining to the welfare and advancement of the human race. Each individual member must decide his own beliefs and his own course of action from the Light he has received.
The Lodge room is a school of orderly procedure. Members should carry out into the Profane world, wherever they can, the lessons learned in the Lodge. Masonry is a way of life to be applied in the outer world as well as in the Lodge room.
Had the millions of influential men who have become members of Masonic Lodges throughout this country become real initiates instead of mere members, and had they practiced in their private, social, and political lives the teachings and ideals of Masonry, we would not today be confronted with the sad and dangerous state of affairs which endanger the rational progress of our Country. There is no comparison between the average Mason in government positions today and those great Masons who a little over a hundred years ago made possible a free United States.
To the extent that the members of the Co-Masonic Order will learn what Masonry really is, what Masons should be, and will try to live in accordance with the simple teachings of our rituals, to that extent will our Order grow in value and be an example and a stimulant of the Masculine Fraternity. To that extent, also, will fraternal recognition and cooperation be hastened.
Every individual member of our Federation should grasp the opportunities offered us as citizens of the United States and apply Masonic ethics and ideals in public and semi-public matters, as well as in private affairs. If everyone initiated made a special effort to practice in all activities of life the practical systematic order of the Lodge room as well as the spiritual teachings of the ritual, the results would be of much value not only to the individual but to the community as a whole.
In all of its teachings, Masonry warns us against utopias. It does not teach to build in the sky but on the solid ground of practical realities.
Masonry teaches us to master ourselves. That is something we can do and must do to succeed. We are here to transform ourselves from rough into polished Ashlars.
In our enthusiasm, we may want to change the whole of the human society; so many things are not to our liking. There may be no limit to our dreams and idealistic aspirations, but we must remember that our means of action are very limited. Our own individuality is the only domain upon which we have power of command and realization.
Before we begin to attack collective defects upon which we can act but indirectly, we need examine our own conscience. Let us lay bare our individual rough Ashlar and examine it carefully. It is on this rough Ashlar that we must work if we want to progress in the Royal Art. The Kingly power promised us is over ourselves. It will be time to want to master something greater when we have realized complete mastery over ourselves. The world will obey us when we ourselves have learned to obey the rules applying to our own personalities.
No soul enters life without a purpose and a work to do. Many never seem to learn why they are here, and they just move across the stage of existence because they are being acted upon as if they were mere pawns in the game of life.
We are told by insurance companies that more than sixty percent of the people are quitters. Men and women will start out on a project; they will join this or the other organization, but six out of ten will fail to carry out the thing they had set out to do. The greatest thing in life is to have a vision of something you would like to be, or of some work you would like to do, and then use all your powers to be the man or woman you saw in your vision. Or to do to your satisfaction the thing you had aspired to accomplish.
Many of us here have, to our credit, years and years of pioneer work in the International Co-Masonic Order. We started out against prejudices and obstacles of all sorts to make it possible for women to enjoy the advantages of initiation into the Masonic Fraternity. Today, the trail is smoother than in the past, but there are yet many obstacles ahead to be conquered. Let all of us be courageously the four out of each ten that have the quality of the stamp. Let all of us be the quality to stick to the end, and to stick until we have accomplished the task we have to do, smoothing daily our own rough Ashlar, while building on an ever-larger scale. Building an Order that will, in days to come, bring to greater numbers the privileges we are enjoying while dedicating our lives to the realization of that noblest of all ideals, the Universal Brotherhood of Man. That realization shall not come until men and women in sufficient numbers have brought to the surface all that which is Divine in them.
In our work toward that goal, our members need to be careful in their public statements concerning Masonry and Co-Masonry. We need to speak in language easily understood and avoid controversial statements. We have an abundance of undisputed facts and figures to present to the public, and therefore, we can well afford to avoid making doubtful statements.
There is nothing dogmatic in what I am about to say. The privilege I take of expressing my humble opinion is also yours, and you are welcome to use it.
We must differentiate between Masonry as an organized body and Masonry as an expression of moral and spiritual truths.
In its organized form, modern Masonry is but little over two hundred years old. As an expression of moral and spiritual truths, Masonry dates from time immemorial and can be readily traced back even to the Ancient Mysteries. Those organizations or schools of ages past which served, in a different way no doubt, the purposes of present Masonry. However well the Mysteries may have served the needs of their time, we could not revive them, and if we could, it is doubtful that they could serve any useful purpose in this day and age. The teachers of ancient civilizations used a form of speech we could not understand today. The Red Man of a civilization not so long past, wonderful traces of which are yet to be seen in this or other southwestern States, had signs, symbols, and pictorial writing all understandable to his own people. If we try today to give them any meaning. we generally succeed in giving them a meaning based on our own conception of things: a meaning never intended.
The Mysteries of Ancient Civilizations served most useful purposes. In their pure form, they represented the loftiest conception of man's moral duties of which the ancients were capable, and they also represented a theory of resurrection after death very similar to our own. However, most, if not all of them, degenerated in turn into idolatrous worship or even into unnamable debaucheries. An example of the degeneration of the most sublime teachings of ancient initiates can be found everywhere among illiterate and idolatrous Christians.
Whatever may have become of the Mysteries, we know that they had an exoteric and an esoteric meaning. The later, an inner veiled meaning, was taught but to a select few: to those able to understand it. The Mysteries were common to many races. They varied in detail, but in the essentials, they taught the same language. Modern Freemasonry follows a similar line, with exoteric and esoteric meanings and variation of details in different countries, but yet, with the same fundamental teachings.
The possible line of descent of the esoteric teachings has been the Druids, the Dionysian Artificers, the Roman Colleges of Architects, the Comacine Masons, and the French Compagnonage members of which brought the esoteric teachings of their organization to select groups of Operative Masons in England. Speculative Masonry, organized in 1717, was the result.
The legend of the Craft, as well as the legend of King Solomon's Temple, have little historical basis. They are allegories antedating the formation of the first Grand Lodge.
We can then claim, without fear of successful contradiction, that the real Light of Masonry, the esoteric teaching, has been kept burning throughout the ages in organizations of various names and forms. We can claim that: while Freemasonry, in its present organized form, has but a couple centuries to its credit, the esoteric teachings of Freemasonry have come to us from a dim past. We are not trying to revive that past, but we are trying to preserve in their purity the teachings we have received. And, to successfully do it, we need an organization and a language adapted to the age in which we life. With such an organization and language, we shall be standing on solid ground of practical reality and need have no fear of the future.
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