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Contemplative Masonry by Brother Chuck Dunning

I am often asked, not only by the public at large but even by some Masons, how does Masonry make good men better? A large proportion of Masons, after a lot of errs and ahs, will finally come out with something like, “Well we do a lot of charity.” A more sophisticated answer would be that Masonry has a peculiar system of morality which, if followed, cannot help but make good men better.

The problem is that after being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason many Brothers are left on their own to figure out how to exactly accomplish this improvement.

Has anybody set up a school to teach Masons on how to apply the virtues of Masonry to their daily lives? Maybe sporadically here and there, there is such instruction but nothing large enough or popular enough to be noticed by the majority of Masons on a nationwide basis.

Into that vacuum has exploded C.R. (Chuck) Dunning, Jr. with his book “CONTEMPLATIVE MASONRY,” Basic Applications Of Mindfulness, Meditation, And Imagery For The Craft.

Originally starting out as contemplative exercises or practices like prayer, meditation, breath work, chanting, and visualization, Dunning expanded his concept into a primer for those seeking to utilize Masonic symbolism and teachings in a way that is practical, accessible, inspiring, and profoundly transformative.

CONTEMPLATIVE MASONRY is a much-needed resource for Masons seeking to undertake the challenging and rewarding work of deep self-knowledge and self-improvement. Dunning provides Masons with a unique system of practices derived directly from the Degrees of Craft Masonry, without reliance upon other religious, spiritual, or esoteric traditions. He also shares the valuable wisdom and insights that come from decades of personal experience with contemplative practices.

 Chuck Dunning has been a Master Mason since 1988, and his mother lodge is Haltom City-Riverside #1331, in Haltom City, Texas. He is also a member of Albert Pike #162 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and also belongs to a number of Masonic research societies. In the Scottish Rite, Chuck is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor, Director of Education for the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma, and a Class Director for the Fort Worth Valley

in Texas. In 2012 he became the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection, which is a chartered organization for Scottish Rite Masons wanting to integrate contemplative practice with their Masonic experience.

 Chuck has been engaged in various forms of contemplative practice for over three decades. In his career in higher education and mental health, in Masonry, and with other groups and individuals, he facilitates and teaches mindfulness, meditation, and imagery to enhance peoples’ experiences of life in many ways. Chuck holds a master’s degree in counselor education and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from the University of North Texas.

Dunning tells us that Masonic ritual steers Masons into becoming contemplative.

He says early on in the book:

“Our tradition tells us that Speculative Masonry ‘leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of creation, and inspires him with the most exalted ideas of the perfections of his Divine Creator.’ It should be recognized that this passage distinguishes the contemplative Mason as one who is guided by the Craft to be more reverent, admiring, and inspired than one might otherwise be.”

“A true contemplative uses the faculties of the psyche as a collection of fine working tools. One learns to employ those tools with the proper measures of force and precision in order to more fully reveal the wisdom, strength, and beauty in whatever matter is chosen. One thus makes of oneself a true philosopher, a literal ‘lover of wisdom.’”

Later he goes on to explain the importance of contemplative practice in making good men better.

“There can be no doubt that a comprehensive and functional psychology is inherent to Masonry. We have seen that our tradition provides us with profound clues and useful information about the structure, dynamics, and health of the psyche, as well as guidelines for holistic maturation and rich rewarding relationships. All of this has been to expand upon the realization that Masonry’s greatest purpose is to assist its members in transforming their lives into wiser, stronger, and more beautiful reflections of the Great Architect’s designs for the human soul and society.”

Echoing my earlier complaint, and I am not the only one Coach John Nagy concurs, that Freemasonic Institutions need to take a bigger part in the life application of its virtues and peculiar system of morality, Dunning has this to say:

“It is one thing to grasp the philosophical basis of an esoteric approach to Masonry, but as with other esoteric pursuits, there should also be a practical dimension. In other words, in order to fully engage Masonic esotericism, we should include practices that are especially fitting in the Masonic milieu. It is therefore interesting, and perhaps frustrating to some of us, that our tradition encourages such things without offering much explicit technical guidance. This fact has undoubtedly contributed to the somewhat popular notion that Masonry is meant to lead to another system of esoteric thought and practice. However, it can be argued that there are elements of our ritual and its teachings that strongly suggest actual practices which require no special knowledge of other traditions or specific systems.”

Half of the book is devoted to the philosophical foundation for contemplative Masonry and the other half is actual contemplative exercises Masons can perform. These exercises are the basis for the life application of Masonry, that sought-after explicit technical guidance.  And they are transformative.

But what really sent me into contemplative bliss was the conclusion that Dunning comes to. That is the answer to the question where does this all lead. What will be the end result of this transformation?

It all starts with one of the best quotes from the book:

“It is the position of this book that the Lost Word is indeed the deepest and most profound mystery of the Masonic art, as well as the greatest wage of a Master Mason.”

And then the conclusion:

“Through the practice of Freemasonry, and particularly through a contemplative practice of Freemasonry, we can become more aware of the presence of the Divine within ourselves, and in our lives and around us and become a more capable servant because of that awareness.”

“The most important way that this manifests in the life of a Mason is in how loving he becomes once he recognizes that the Divine is in himself, the Divine is all around him, that the Divine is in his Brothers, that the Divine is in every human being. That is one of the most powerful catalysts for a life transforming experience of love.”

“Love is at once the prime motive force, the most desirable sentiment the most admirable action, and the worthiest product of our work.”

Chuck Dunning founded the Academy of Reflection within the Scottish Rite and is its first leader. This newest addition to Scottish Rite practice was chartered by the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma and is now spreading to other Valleys throughout the United States. It is a place for the formal practice of contemplative Masonry.

The Book CONTEMPLATIVE MASONRY is published by Stone Guild Publishing -

Available for sale at:

And the book can be ordered here:

Anyone interested in contacting Chuck about speaking engagements or contemplative workshops may do so at


"Finding El Dorado"

Authored By Worshipful Brother Mason Pratt

This novel is a careful attempt to introduce Freemasonry, in an indirect way, to people that normally would not entertain something attached to our fraternity. Whether it is from a generational prejudice or a false impression of Freemasonry, it is meant to portray our order as worthy of consideration.

Looking back on your life, have you ever wished there was a path laid out to help you grow as a person spiritually, morally and philosophically into a better person. Most people are surrounded by mixed messages of what is needed to make them happy. Most are false and empty promises. What if there was a path that would lead you to an unbelievable richness of growth and self-fulfillment as a member of the truly gifted. On a mission to make the world, and yourself, better.

Searching my entire life to find this place, I finally have seen the path that was there all along. So I wrote a book that tells a story. This story is a fiction novel, with underlying truths. It was written to pass along to those who really want to find this path and are willing to read into the novel the message there that will find the inner treasure that is El Dorado.

Synopsis:  Drew Wyatt wanted to help make the world a better place. Unfortunately, he saw himself as an average person with an average life. After his father’s death, he encounters a secret society called the “Strykers,” a network of like-minded people that possess seemingly amazing abilities, the basic elements of which can alter the course of society. Their direction is accomplished by forming new leaders using several ancient arts and sciences that move their initiates past the petty struggles of money and power. In this knowledge, Drew discovers a "worldwide"' unity of humanity which is held together by these constructive ideals. Who are these people? Where did they get the ability to do these mystical events? Lastly, why are they inviting him to join their ranks? Follow Drew on his journey of growth and discovery while pursuing enlightenment. Be a witness to his introduction into the mysterious world of "Finding El Dorado"....


Available for sale at:


The Blue Lodge and Holy Bible Reference Guide

Compiled by Herbert M. Ware, PGM

The Hour Glass

Authored By Ezekiel M. Bey

Read the Book Review by Worshipful Fred Milliken

Available for sale at:

On Holy Ground

Authored By Karen Kidd

Read the Book Review by Worshipful Fred Milliken

Available for sale at:

The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

Authored by Julia Suits

Read the Book Review By Worshipful Brother Fred Milliken

Available for sale at:

Haunted Chambers

by Karen Kidd

These women aren't supposed to have existed.

But they did.

"Haunted Chambers", for the first time ever, presents not only the most complete list of early women Freemasons but also as much detail about their lives as can still be found. Here are their stories, long suppressed, ignored and marginalized. They include medieval women stone cutters; so-called "adoptive" women Freemasons; an aristocrat; a countess; an early New Brunswick settler; a war hero; a writer of women's rights; an immigrant Irish girl; the famed sculptress of Abraham Lincoln's statue in the US Capitol Rotunda and many whose names are now lost.

Some will find this book a challenge. Some would rather it never had been written, let alone published. "Haunted Chambers" is highly recommended to anyone who wants the actual history of these early women Freemasons and aren't afraid to read it.

Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers.

Dictionary of Masonic Terminology

Edited and Compiled by

W. Bro. Ravinder S. Channey

This wonderful little book is packed full of Masonic definitions and terminology to aide the Brethren in their understanding of Freemasonry.  It can be ordered in bulk purchases of 25 books minimum for your Lodge and you'll receive a 25% discount.  The book is priced at $18.00 US, but is offered at a 25% discount to brethren at the price of $13.50 which includes shipping and handling by Airmail.  To get your copy please contact W. Bro. Channey at his e-mail address:

God Loves Masons Too

The First Defenders of Human Rights

By David A. Roach

Click on the back cover above to read the Authors Bio

This is one book that needs to be in every Masonic library!  Brother David does a wonderful job of defending Freemasonry against the claims of many anti-masonic ministers and layman who are intent on destroying the reputation of our Fraternity.  This book is intended to give the Christian Freemason information to use as ammunition to defend his membership in our gentle Craft.  To get a copy for yourself and one for your Lodge please contact the author David A. Roach at:


Confessions of a Born Again Fundamentalist, Freemason

by Nelson King, FPS

I confess that I am a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason.

Now before you have a cardiac arrest, or a stroke, let me explain what a Born Again, Fundamentalist, Freemason is.  I used to be a very [for want of a better word] liberal Mason.  I am now a very Conservative or Traditionalist, Freemason. Therefore, I am Born Again.  By Fundamentalist, I mean that I believe that no one has a right to be a Freemason. 

I believe those who want to be Freemasons must be good and true men, free born and of a mature and discreet age and sound judgment, no bondsmen, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, only men of good report. 

I believe that a man who wants to be a Freemason must believe in the existence of God, and take his Obligation on Volume of The Sacred Law of his choice and that he owes a duty to that God and to his fellow man no matter what their creed, color, or religion. 

I believe that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral and civil law. 

I believe that a man's religion or mode of worship should not exclude him from the Order of Freemasonry, provided he also believes in the existence of a Supreme Being, and that Supreme Being will punish vice and reward virtue. 

I believe that a Freemason is bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience. 

I believe that Freemasonry is the center of union between honest men and the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. 

I believe a Freemason"s Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter this Lodge which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits. 

I believe all preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, therefore no Brother should be passed chair to chair, whether it is in a Lodge or a Grand Lodge, just because he knows the right people or has held the previous office for one year, no Grand Master, Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but only for his merit . 

I believe that there is nothing wrong with Freemasonry, as laid down for our instruction in our Ancient Charges. 

I am a Born Again Fundamentalist, Freemason.

Nelson King was born June 13, 1945 in Montreal, received his primary education in Perth Ontario, and graduated from Banting Institute, University of Toronto, 1967. Married to Ellen, and has two children, Christopher, and Victoria and two granddaughters. Nelson was appointed Assistant Editor in 1992 and Editor in August 1994 of The Philalethes Society Journal of Masonic Research and Letters, the first non-United States Citizen to hold these positions.

This book is available through Anchor Communications for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. 

You can order one at this link:





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