Hysteria In Freemasonry

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Ronald D. Martin, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. Ronald D. Martin

    Ronald D. Martin Registered User

    These articles do not address Elitism in Masonry as much as they do another condition which seems to infect us every few generations:) The timing of the placement of the first article is interesting because it was written and published at the very beginning of the Builder at a time when they were arguably utilizing their very best authors and in the 4th issue where they begin to lay out the content of their national Masonic education plan. The second article, which appears two issues later, is rather telling relative to what they were experiencing in Masonry at that time period.

    The Builder Magazine
    April 1915 Volume I – Number 4
    BY BRO. WM. F. KUHN, P. G. H. P. (Missouri)

    THERE is a certain mental condition, as set forth frequently in our Masonic literature, especially in that great forum, the Masonic press, that gives strong evidence of what may be termed Hysteria. It has not attained to that solidarity that we can characterize it as hysterical Freemasonry; it has such a spasmodic, fantastic and grotesque manifestation, that the term hysteria in Freemasonry is more suggestive, and at the same time relieves the fraternity of the onus of the disease and places it on the individual.

    Freemasonry must not be held responsible for it, either by heredity or by environment; it is purely an exotic growth. Hysteria has been defined as, "Repressed Desire"; hence it is purely a mental state. We find hysteria in medicine, in religion, in law, in Pedagogics, in philosophy, in fact it abounds in all systems of thought. It should not, therefore, be thought strange that this mental quirk, this cerebration cut on the bias, should manifest itself in Freemasonry. The disease is not contagious in the accepted sense of the word, but it is transmitted by mimicry. If a circus comes to town and the boys succeed in attending it, the barns and woodsheds are filled for months, thereafter, by embryo rope walkers, contortionists and bare back riders. A transmission by imitation. It is equally true in Freemasonry; let some one expound something that looks, tastes, smells and sounds profound, imitators will spring up from all quarters. The more incomprehensible the seeming profundity, the greater the number of gymnasts in the Masonic barns and woodsheds. I have always believed that Freemasonry was a very practical thing; a something that manifests itself, chiefly, in a man's life; that it is a life and not a theory; practical living and doing, not dreaming and philosophizing. That it was a beautiful, everyday, practical system of morality veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols; not veiled to confuse or hide, but to make plain; not buried in symbols to obscure, but to fix indelibly some plain, possibly homely, truth. I have believed that the allegory and the symbol in Freemasonry stood in the same relation to the candidate that the parables of the "Great Teacher" stood in relation to the multitudes who heard Him. The allegory, the symbol and the parable are but different modes of expression to make clear the thought. But now comes the Masonic Philosopher and the Masonic Symbologist with eyes in fiery frenzy rolling, actuated and influenced by this "Repressed desire" and says: "It is all a mistake, Freemasonry is not such a simple thing, as everyday living and doing; no it is a sublime, profound system of metaphysics, that only the Ancient wise men understood and could explain; a philosophy so obstruse that the average Mason, and, possible, a Past Grand Master, is a mere babe and suckling in the comprehension of it. I once met a man in a lunatic asylum, who came to me with crude geometrical figures of a sphere, a cube, an equilateral triangle, and a right angle triangle, drawn on the bottom of a paste board box. He explained to me that the three sides of the equilateral triangle represented the three great forces of Nature, namely, the upsideness, the downsideness and the downupsideness or the upsidedownness; as long as the upsideness and downsideness maintain their proper relation and were greater in power than the third side represented by the downupsideness or the upsidedownness, everything would be harmonious; but should these three great forces ever become projected, so as to form a right angle triangle, so that the square of the downsideupness or the upsidedownness becomes equal to the sum of the squares of the upsideness and downsideness, then chaos and evil would reign, and as the cube, representing the universe, consists of many right angle triangles, there would be an endless disturbance in the cosmogony of the world. I admired his vast learning and profundity, and I was mere suckling to his theme and theory. I advised him to write it out in full and that I would give him the names of several Masonic papers which would be more than delighted to publish it. This man had been judged insane, he was not a hysteric.

    A Masonic hysteric is a man with a wild imagination plus a symbol. The beauty about a symbol, is its flexibility; you can see more things in it and through it than were ever dreamed of by mortal man, and no man can say to you, nay. It is said that a Masonic hysteric one day saw some rabbit tracks in the snow and he immediately began to demonstrate the fact that the rabbit had a working knowledge of the Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipitence of Diety, because the tracks were triangular in outline.

    What I may have said may sound jestingly, but we need not go far to see the convulsions of these hysterics. I quote one from a leading Masonic Journal; listen to its profoundity:--"Therefore when we consider the profound truths, marvelous philosophy, and exact sciences upon which Freemasonry is founded, and which bear the ear marks of centuries of scientific research, such as the careful observer must admit is contained in the work, we must banish for all time the thought that the Craft was founded by any others than Masters of the Great School of Natural Science and Philosophy who permitted it to be known to the profane that the Guild or Craft was one of operative Masons, for the purpose only to hide the real truths and its true object from those hostile to the institution. This object was and has been for centuries to give to the human race TRUTH concerning the creation of the universe and the continuity of life after death, the immortality of the soul, and the relation which exists between this planet and the inhabitants of the whole universe. These truths are founded upon exact science, demonstrable by the Master in the possession of the knowledge, the whole being figured out on geometrical lines. Naturally this truth would come in conflict with orthodox and dogmatic religion."

    His first claim is, that Freemasonry did not spring from the operative Mason and the history of such an ancestry was used merely as a blind behind which the Masters of the Great School of Natural Science and Philosophy hid themselves from hostile foes. No one will deny that the so called philosophy was engrafted into Masonry with the evolution of the Royal Arch. Many of the symbols and emblems in the Lodge Ritual were added during the period of Ritualistic development by Clare, Dunkerly, Hutchinson and Preston, but to claim that the Great Masters stole the livery of the Operative Craft as a mask through fear of hostility is absurd and unworthy of consideration, and it is to be regretted that the simple philosophy of right living should be perverted into an occult science and paraded as Masonic.

    But the sum and substance of this "Repressed desire" is, that Freemasonry is a science plus a philosophy, which, when applied along "Geometrical lines," we may know the truth that will reveal to us immortality, the continuity of life after death, and the relation that exists between us and the inhabitants of Mars, Venus and Saturn and we may even greet the Jupterites. But he confesses that this wonderful science along geometrical lines, "Would come in conflict with orthodox and dogmatic religion." It is painful to think how many of us have been groping blindly and in darkness for many years under the delusion that the "Great Light" on our Altar reveal to us a merciful Father, the hope of immortal life and our duty to God and our neighbor, and have overlooked the great source of Truth revealed along Geometrical lines. Possibly we ought to replace the Holy Bible on our Altar with a copy of Euclid. But the author leaves a loop hole for our escape by saying farther along in his article:--"This is plain enough to one who is sufficiently interested and intelligent." I plead guilty to the last charge. These citations are given merely as an illustration of the kind of hysterical literature that is being written under the guise of Freemasonry.

    But Hysteria is protean in its nature; it appears suddenly in unexpected quarters and under various disguises. Several years ago it broke out in the etymological field when a new prophet arose who contented that the words "Free Mason" are derived from the Egypto-Coptic language, and mean "Children of Light." This was a brand new discovery and from an unlooked-for source. Immediately the Masonic barns and woodsheds were filled with etymological gymnasts but they have merely rehearsed the old stunt without any additional thrills. Listen: "If we are to believe that our words, 'Free Mason' are derived from the ancient Egypto-Coptic language in which 'Phree' means light, knowledge, wisdom, or intelligence, while 'Messem' was the plural of 'Mes,' signifying children; hence we were originally known as children or son of light, wisdom and intelligence. Then, considering this, the true conception of the word 'Free Mason,' it will be seen that everything else is consistent, placing in evidence not only the spiritual and philosophical teachings of the Craft, but also showing the oriental origin and great antiquity of our beloved Order."

    This is indeed a beautiful conception and we can only wish that Masons were children of the light, even if the etymology is very wabbly. The assertion that the words, Free Mason, are derived from the Egyto-Coptic language is another figment of fancy thrown out by "Repressed desire;" an effort to bolster up the flimsy claim that Freemasonry is founded upon the Egyptian mysteries. The facts are, there never was an Egypto-Coptic language. The Coptic language was spoken by the people of the Nile, until the Saracen conquest; it lives to-day only in Biblical literature, enriched with Greek and Hebrew words and embellished with a Greek culture of the Alexandrian School. The Egyptian language for the last twelve hundred years has been Arabic, and if there is or ever was a language known as Egypto-Coptic, it is a mongrel and not recognized by the best authorities.

    The English language is made up of words derived from the divisions and subdivisions of the great Aryan Race whose root language is the Sanskrit. Upon this derivation, the etymology of the English language is based. The word "Free" can be traced back through the six or seven different languages to the Sanskrit root word, "Priya," the original meaning being beloved or dear. Through the different languages in which it can be traced it has its present meaning, "Free."

    The word, "Light," comes from the Sanskrit word, "Ruch," meaning brightness. The root of this word is found in the language of all Nations, and means brightness or to shine. In the derivation of these two words can any one discover any relation whatever between the root "Priya" and the word "Ruch?" The wildest stretch of the imagination can not make them synonymous.

    The claim that "Messem" is the plural of "Mes" will not bear investigation because in the Coptic Language the plural of a word ending in a consonant was formed by adding the letter "I," hence if the derivation were true it should be "Mesi," not "Messem." Judging from the spelling of the word Mason in the several centuries, the Egypto-Coptic word "Mes" had a difficult course to travel to find its imaginary plural. In the 16th Century the word was spelled "Maisson," "Masones" and "Maison." In 1611 we find the expression "Frie men of Maissones;" in 1634 it appears as "Frie Masones;" in 1636 it was written "Frie Mason." But not until 1725 was the Fraternity known as a "Society of Freemasons."

    If the word Mason and the word Children, were ever synonymous we ought to be able to trace the root of these words. The word Child comes from the Sanskrit word Ga or Gan meaning "to beget." From this root word up through all the languages the word means child.

    The word Mason can be traced back through all the prominent languages to the Sanscrit root, "Mit," which means to cut. Can any one find even a possible relation between the words meaning to be born, and to cut? Will any one claim that they are synonymous? Unfortunately for this fancy of "Repressed Desire," the lexicographers and etymologists are all on the other side of the question.

    If "The spiritual and philosophical teachings of the Craft and the oriental origin and great antiquity of our beloved Order" depend on such flimsy and untenable arguments or hypotheses, then the Craft is in danger, both as to its teachings and its origin.

    If any Mason wishes to draw geometrical figures and lines, and evolve from them that life continues beyond the grave, and to demonstrate the relation between the planets and the inhabitants thereof, no one will deprive him of the pleasure; but the Book on our Altar declared many Centuries ago that: "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge." If any Mason wishes to amuse himself with the sacred triangles of Pythagoras, to demonstrate the unity of the world and the existence of Deity, well and good; but Freemasonry postulates the existence of God.

    If any Mason enjoys himself by delving into the mysteries of Egypt and the Kabalah, no one will gainsay his zeal in his efforts to prove immortal life, the evidence of the spiritual world and the perfection of the Divine nature. It is well; but, Freemasonry accepts all this as axiomatic and concerning which there can be no denial.

    Freemasonry is not a science of mental gyrations and abstractions, but it is the science of utilitarian thinking; it is not a philosophy of speculation, but it is the philosophy of doing; it is not a symbolism of Occult Sciences, but it is the mystery of the unfolding of a larger life; it is not so much as to origin, as it is to destiny; it is not so much as to the certainty of the past, as it is to the certainty and permanency in the future.

    The liberal arts and sciences are worthy of every Mason's time and zeal, but these do not constitute Freemasonry. The ancestry of Freemasonry through the operative Craft is noble, the teachings of Freemasonry are sublime. Strained symbolism, abstract philosophy and etymological hypotheses add nothing to its luster, but rather dim its radiance in the broad field of practical morality.
    Sentiment is the greatest thing in the world. Freemasonry is sentiment in action.

    **And then there is the rest of the story two issues later...

    The Builder Magazine
    June 1915 - Volume I - Number 6

    Some few Brethren seem to have lost their poise in their protest against the article in the April issue on Hysteria in Freemasonry, and there have been one or two acute cases of hysterics. To be sure, Brother Kuhn stated his case in a forthright and picturesque manner, as is his habit, but nothing was further from his mind than to belittle real Masonic scholarship, much less to depreciate the great and simple symbolism of Masonry. Indeed, the sharp point of his satire was in behalf of real scholarship and authentic symbolism as over against those who have so often made Masonry ridiculous by exploiting pseudo-learning and every hind of eccentric absurdity in its name. For too long the field of Masonic research has been a happy hunting-ground for the faddist, the hobbyist, the half-baked mystic, not to mention the inveterate crank who seems to think that Masonry is a mathematical puzzle instead of human fraternity founded upon spiritual reality. Against this sort of thing the keen thrust of Dr. Kuhn was timely and well-aimed, and it went to the mark.

    Judging from a number of letters in criticism of the review of The Great Work, the editor himself is in need of a thorough trouncing. Well, if Brother Kuhn and the editor have both earned a good thrashing, as some seem to think, by all means let us have it, and the pages of The Builder are open for that purpose. Neither of us, however, can be convinced by the man who takes refuge in the queer conceit of intellectual superiority and ponderous learning, the better to dodge the issue; we know the difference between argument and putting on airs. Face the issues squarely, bring forward the facts, flay us right heartily and in good spirit, nor forget the words of Carlyle describing a walk and talk with Sterling: - "We walked westward in company, choosing whatever lanes or quieter streets there were, as far as Knightsbridge where our roads parted; talking of moralities and theological philosophies; arguing copiously, but except in opinion not disagreeing."
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  2. Ronald D. Martin

    Ronald D. Martin Registered User

    When I first posted those articles elsewhere I received a fair amount of email traffic. Here was one response I made relative to make take on the situation. The first two paragraphs are in response to a sidebar question the brother asked me, however I left it included here for clarity.

    I like Waite and I own several of his books.According to Gilbert (1987, as cited in Wikipedia) "Waite's name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism — viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of proto-science or as the pathology of religion.â€
    Many people have tried to explain the similarities between the numerous systems all of which conclude with the same or similar results, but by different paths. Pike took on this monumental task and tried to explain the similarities of the different systems and subsequently he seemed to always find a sequence of three in everything. I believe that the study of all of these systems are positive when that study is engaged in for the pursuit of self-improvement, increased knowledge, and truth. I spent many of my younger years reading and studying these various systems and through a spatial lens I still utilize them every day of my life.

    Now, as to the articles: I would argue that a man is not a “hysteric†(as the term was utilized by Kuhn) because of what he reads, nor what questions he asks, nor his lack of comparative knowledge of seemingly unrelated things of bearing, nor even what he espouses, but by his ‘intent’ and ‘motive.’ One can argue that only the individual in question and G_d truly know what his ‘intent’ and ‘motive’ was/is, and that reasoning provides for a seemingly moral high ground which provides safety for all of us; however, therein lies the reasoned argument of who wants to tread on removing that time honored privileged safe-haven, where both truth and lies reside, when the remover himself realizes that he may no longer have access to a safe-harbor for himself. Therefore, we know that this safe-haven for another also provides for a safe-harbor for ourselves, in a time of need, when we spoke not a word to anyone else nor did anyone else witness our actions. In this country, especially, we fight to protect this privileged relational status between the vault of our minds and the eyes and ears of G_d, and the conclusion as to the reason, which we espouse around the globe, is our moral high-ground. However, that is arguably a fallacy as it begs the question as to our ‘intent’ and our ‘motive’ for the action and the claim. Do we fight to maintain this non-tangible right for ethical reasons and the protection of others so a travesty is avoided, or do we fight to preserve this right as an ‘out’ for self-preservation due to the realization of the evil that resides in our own minds?

    As Masons we seem to preemptively utilize this card quite often when there is any form of disagreement that arises, even in the case of one person asking another person for cited sources as proof of some nonsensical statement that is presented as fact, which results in the aggregated harm to both our individual pursuit for the truth and the diming of the light that shines on the white apron of our institution. In society at-large, although the moral high ground is acknowledged, there also exists a bar that is utilized and that bar is not the bar of the individual but the bar set by society. In our legal system ‘intent’ and ‘motive’ are at the heart of almost every decision that is made. According to The Legal Dictionary “Intent is a mental attitude with which an individual acts, and therefore it cannot ordinarily be directly proved but must be inferred from surrounding facts and circumstances. Intent refers only to the state of mind with which the act is done or omitted. It differs from motive, which is what prompts a person to act or to fail to act†(http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/intent). I would argue that every attorney has encountered a case(s) where they have witnessed the failure or at least the imperfection of our legal system. However, if there were not the setting of a bar for human judges and jurors to coalesce around our system would collapse.

    As stated in previous correspondence, the key players in The Builder Magazine were very intelligent and deliberate in what they did especially in the beginning. They had a plan and they utilized their best authors and were arguably calculated in every move they took as they had the eyes of the Masonic world upon them. What I would argue is that they knew there existed a problem within Freemasonry whereby certain people’s intent and motives were in question. As Masons, especially those of their intellect, they did not shine the light directly on the individual(s) in question and assign a term to him/them directly they called into question the phenomenon that had resulted from the actions of those in question, thus they utilized the term “hysteria†or “hysteric†in a loose sense, satirical in nature, to call into question the flawed reasoning for the masses to see as evidenced again in their response article “neither of us, however, can be convinced by the man who takes refuge in the queer conceit of intellectual superiority and ponderous learning, the better to dodge the issue; we know the difference between argument and putting on airs…†They then call through the masses to the person(s) in question by stating “face the issues squarely, bring forward the facts, flay us right heartily and in good spirit…â€. As previously stated in earlier correspondence, this was one of the great things about The Builder Magazine, and I would argue that it set a bar that separated out those that were presenting something with honorable intent and right motives (although possibly naively flawed in logic, reasoning or fact) versus those whose intent and motives fell short of the same.

    Bro Rev. A.F.A. Woodford stated “Freemasons especially are bound to be honest seekers after truth, and though the ascent to its great Temple may be difficult and tedious, approached by devious paths or fenced about by serious obstacles, we are bound to persevere, nothing daunted or misled until we reach its illuminate portals. We should always march in the front on all such questions and struggles†(Transactions of the Lodge Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, 1886, Volume 1, Freemasonry and Hermeticism).

    It is clearly not our job to question a brother’s ‘religious’ faith, which is different than friendly inquiry to the extent so as to better understand his faith which subsequently assists him in perfecting his articulation of the same; however, the courtesy of not questioning a brother relative to his faith is different than questioning a brother that might make the claim Moses was a Mason. The latter is a statement of reported fact which is different than faith. I will not take the time to more thoroughly argue the connotations and potential wordsmithing between the terms faith, trust, and belief as it would suite no purpose for this discussion.

    If one were to review the articles that were published starting with the first issue of The Builder Magazine one would see that they address many esoteric topics and their national education program was filled with the same. In the article in question they clearly called out for clarity for the reasons stated by Woodford some thirty-years prior. That clarity puts an end to the all too commonly utilized fallacies of composition, appeal to consequences of a belief, relativist, and special pleadings, that are utilized by those who are brought into question for their statements of fact without support. If we do not begin to utilize a bar and seek for the truth in the spirit and ‘action’ that Woodford suggests we will be left with a broken system. Save the protection of the mind vault for those subject to our legal system and apply the tools of Freemasonry, reason and logic to those brothers that wish to claim Moses was a Mason – for if not, in Masonry Moses will have become a Mason and one day that brother believer and acceptor of unquestioned fallacies might just be sitting as a juror at your trial:)
  3. Ronald D. Martin

    Ronald D. Martin Registered User

    I assume that on this forum one can have an opinion that may not mirror the Administrators, I hope that is the case. Unfortunately there appears to be a few self-proclaimed Transitional Leaders for Freemasonry going around the internet and announcing to everyone their anointing and what they have in store for us Freemasons. I say self-proclaimed because I have not received from my Grand Lodge, the Supreme Council, or any other Masonic body a notice that there has been established a Transitional Team for all of Freemasonry to bring us to some new transmuted state of being. In addition, those notices I have received from grand bodies are in stark contrast to what these brothers are reporting and actually seem to be moving toward the direction of Black Print Freemasonry, those things actually contained in our ritual, lectures, charges and obligations – those things in Black Print that define who and what we are as Freemasons. In addition, the constant degrading of Freemasons and our charities I personally find deplorable.

    It would appear that history repeats itself as described in the Articles I posted here from the Builder Magazine. As I have previously suggested, besides a good study of logic, I recommend that people read The Cult of The Amateur by Andrew Keen to see how small but overly loud and dogmatic presentations on the internet are eroding our logic and reasoning skill sets.

    Keen states, “Truth, to paraphrase Tom Friedman, is being ‘flattened,’ as we create an on-demand, personalized version that reflects our own individual myopia. One person’s truth becomes as ‘true’ as anyone else’s. Today’s media is shattering the world into a billion personalized truths, each seemingly equally valid and worthwhile. To quote Richard Edelman, the founder, president, and CEO of Edelman PR, the world’s largest privately owned public relations company:

    In this era of exploding media technologies there is no truth except the truth you create for yourself.

    This undermining of truth is threatening the quality of civil public discourse, encouraging plagiarism and intellectual property theft, and stifling creativity. When advertising and public relations are disguised as news, the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred. Instead of more community, knowledge, or culture, all the Web 2.0 really delivers is more dubious content from anonymous sources, hijacking our time and playing to our gullibility.”

    In addition, I think Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason (2008) is worth a read as she points out that the Internet allows for the promulgation of junk thought as much as it promotes junk science. Jacoby states "The defining characteristics of junk thought, which manifests itself in the humanities and social sciences as well as the physical sciences, are anti-rationalism and contempt for countervailing facts and expert opinion. It cannot be stressed enough that junk thought emanates from both the left and the right, even though each group in academia, politics, and cultural institutions thrives on accusing the other of being the sole source of irrationality" (p. 211). We as Freemasons are suffering from this same promulgation of junk thought and junk science just as the rest of the world is outside of our order.

    If you look at Jacoby’s webpage: http://www.susanjacoby.com/index.html retrieved 8/31/2008 you will find the following:

    According to Jacoby "This impassioned, tough-minded work of contemporary history paints a disturbing portrait of a mutant strain of public ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism that has developed over the past four decades and now threatens the future of American democracy [Freemasonry]. Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a culture at odds with America's [Freemasonry’s] heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern knowledge and science. With mordant wit, the author offers an unsparing indictment of the ways in which dumbness has been defined downward throughout American society [Freemasonry] on the political right and the left. America's [Freemasonry] endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have been exacerbated by a new species of semiconscious anti-rationalism, feeding on and fed by a popular culture of video images and unremitting noise that leaves no room for contemplation or logic. [Freemasonry can be inserted throughout the next two paragraphs in place of…].

    The book surveys an anti-rational landscape extending from reality TV and infantainment videos for babies to a pseudo-intellectual universe of junk thought. This vast kingdom of junk thought reaches from semiliterate blogs of all political persuasions to institutions of so-called higher education that offer courses in fat studies and horror films but do not require students to obtain a thorough grounding in American and world history, science, and literature. Throughout our culture, disdain for logic and evidence is fostered by the infotainment media from television to the Web; aggressive anti-rational religious fundamentalism; poor public education; the intense politicization of intellectuals themselves; and above all a lazy and credulous public increasingly unwilling or unable to distinguish between fact and opinion.

    Finally, the author argues that anti-rational government is not the product of a Machiavellian plot by Washington but is the inevitable result of an overarching crisis of memory and knowledge that has left many ordinary citizens and their elected representatives without the intellectual tools needed for sound public decision-making. The real question is not why politicians have lied to the public but why the public was so receptive and so passive when it heard the lies. At this crucial political juncture, The Age of American Unreason challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what our descent into intellectual laziness and our flight from reason have cost us as individuals and as a nation.”

    As Freemasons we need to start shedding light on these areas. We have a beautiful system of rituals, lectures, charges, and obligations whereby if we apply that which is found in the Black Print (as in Applied Freemasonry - praxis) we will get to experience ‘The’ Masonic Esoteric Experience that Freemasonry offers. Arguably, Freemasonry holds a place in history for leading men away from the darkness of the thoughts held in the Middle Ages. Today, we need to keep moving forward and expand our efforts to break the chains of mental bondage by the study and practice of the seven liberal arts and sciences and all of the virtues of Freemasonry, and come to the realization that it is the individual who must study plus practice to create change in himself. As a fraternity we need to come to better understand what fraternity means. When we get together in our local lodges and valleys it should be as if we are getting together with family and as such we should be enjoying ourselves by whatever Masonic means best works for our immediate family. I know that when I go to visit my second cousins, although they receive me as family and we interact as such, they don’t (nor do I expect them to) find enjoyment in the same exact things my immediate family does. However, it sure is nice to be able to travel a couple of thousand miles and know that there will be a friendly hand outstretched to greet me when I arrive and a place to refresh myself, amongst family, from my tiresome travels.

    One who is truly happy with what they themselves believe and enjoy do not feel compelled to make everyone else become a mirror image of the same. Freemasonry is a fraternity and any attempts to transmute it into something else should be thwarted at every turn. It is not a religion or a substitute therefore, under any guise, and if that is acceptable to my brothers then I gladly great you.
  4. Ronald D. Martin

    Ronald D. Martin Registered User

    The Builder Magazine
    May 1930 - Volume XVI - Number 5


    HAS Freemasonry any specific objects? According to some people it has - very definite ones. Among them we may note the destruction of all religion and overturning of every government, the establishment of a state of anarchy and the downfall of civilization and the final triumph of the powers of hell and the kingdom of Satan. For further details, General Ludendorff, Leo Taxil, Col. Gustav Wolf, Mrs. Nesta Webster and many others may be referred to. But setting aside the assertions of our friends the enemy, who may or may not believe what they say, has Masonry any objective aim or purpose as a reason for its existence?

    One of our contemporaries has raised the question and has answered it by saying that "Freemasonry has always existed for its own sake" and that a man "becomes a Mason in order to be a Mason."

    While it is perfectly true that the Fraternity does not exist for the purpose of furthering any specific cause, whether religious, political or charitable, yet is it, as an institution, entirely self-centered? It certainly was not instituted, nor do men become Masons, in order to further the cause of universal education in a particular country, or universal peace between all nations or any such aim or purpose; but is it true that it has no interest in the welfare of humanity That universal benevolence is a characteristic of every true Mason has always been understood; that a society of men individually benevolent may not exercise benevolence collectively is paradoxical indeed.

    Let us recall a question that most American Masons will remember ?

    Do you seriously declare . . that you are prompted to solicit the privilege of Masonry by . . a sincere wish of being serviceable to your fellow creatures?

    Consider too the old charge at the closing of the lodge. After rehearsing the duties and obligations Masons specifically owe to each other it is said:

    These generous principles are to extend farther. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. "Do good unto all."

    And again:

    .... by liberal benevolence and diffusive charity; by constancy and fidelity in your friendships, discovered the beneficial and happy effects of this ancient and honorable institution.
    In the instructions given to the Apprentice it is stated that the tenets of a Mason's profession are brotherly love, relief and truth, and we are told that:

    By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family; the high and low, the rich and poor, who as, created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other …..

    This statement is remarkable in that it is said that it is by the exercise of brotherly love that we come to know these things.

    Under the head of relief it is said:

    To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent upon all men, but particularly on Masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affections. To soothe the unhappy; to sympathize with their misfortunes; to compassionate their miseries and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view.

    It is highly probable that many who hear these words assume without much thought that they apply only within the limits of the Fraternity. But this was not the original intention. This passage in our Monitors appeared first in Preston's Illustrations of Masonry in a context which shows conclusively it was intended as of universal application. Preston says:

    The bounds of the greatest nation or the most extensive empire cannot circumscribe the generosity of a liberal mind.... A mutual chain of dependence subsists throughout the animal creation. All of the human species are, therefore, proper objects for the exercise of charity.

    The next section to that in which this appears. is headed "The Discernment displayed by Masons in the choice of objects of charity," and it contains some very excellent remarks on the subject of the relief of the poor and needy and it is concluded thus:

    From this view of the advantages which result from the practice and profession of Masonry, every candid and impartial mind must acknowledge its utility and importance to the state; and surely, if the picture here drawn be just, it must be no trifling acquisition to any government to have under its jurisdiction a society of men, who are, not only true patriots and loyal subjects, but the patrons of science and the friends of mankind.

    This was the conception of Masonry that was held by the intellectual leaders of the Craft when our ritual was still in a formative state, and there could be collected a multitude of instances to show that it was accepted and put into practice. Not perfectly, not universally, yet there is no doubt that it was held to be a proper activity for Masons, both individually and collectively. The idea that Masonic lodges should be restricted to self-centered objects is of quite recent appearance, and the positive prohibition of external benevolence is to be found only in the United States, and fortunately, not yet in very many of our jurisdictions.

    A study of the ritual will show, once the language used is appreciated in its full meaning and in all its implications, that a Mason's duty and obligation is first to those to whom he is bound by natural ties, second to those to whom he is bound by the voluntary ties of the Fraternity, the duty to whom includes also all who are united by natural ties to each member, that is those who are dependent on him; and finally to all mankind.

    What any one can do to help others is limited, often very limited. But the limits are set, or should be set, only by external circumstances and not by a self-centered view. Priority of claims comes properly into effect only when claims clash. That we are unable to aid a brother because of some material obstacle is no reason why we should not help our neighbor whose need is at our door.
    No man lives to himself alone, and the same is true of institutions To become self-centred is the beginning of moral deterioration - and on that road finally lies dissolution and death. It was said once "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" What shall it profit the Craft if it counts its adherents by millions, and has unlimited wealth and power, if it has forgotten the law of its being? It may be true that the average Mason has never thought much of these things, and it may not be his fault, but it is a condition that should not be acquiesced in, or regarded as normal and proper. Though in truth the problem of amending it seems almost hopeless. Probably those who see it had best begin by looking for what needs to be reformed in themselves. For it is in the practice of moral and social virtues that we learn.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010

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