What is Masonry?
Masonry is not about giving back, although we give back, and we give a lot back. It is not about being a service club, but we provide a lot of service to society. It is not even about brotherhood and the feelings we have to wards each other, although my brothers are far closer to me, and far more of a family, than my biological family.
Masonry is about the betterment of man. It is about improving men, making good men better, and those men, once lifted above the level they were, when lifted to the sublime degree, become something more than they were before. After the transformation men learn to give more to society, because doing so makes them better men, they began to provide service to our communities, because we know this makes us better men, we form a brotherhood, because we know with support we are all better men. What the outside world sees of Masonry is entirely the side effects of what we do, they are not who we are.
Masonry teaches, and molds, good men into something better and stronger than they were before. It does this through the lecture and ritual. It impresses upon a man moral standards, absolutes, and requirements. It does not do so by leading a man with a leash (cable tow) there is something more powerful than any earthy restraint. It does so by molding the subconscious, by causing a man to think in a different way, by causing his subconscious mind to value moral obligations to a much higher degree. Without the ritual and lecture, there can be no Masonry, the lecture and ritual ARE Masonry, they ARE what changes the inner working of a mans mind, and with out, we are not Masons, we are simply men in the same room.
Once our sub conscious mind directs us to live as we have been taught, the value of living a moral life simply accrue to us. When our subconscious mind directs our actions (and our sub conscious mind is the ONLY thing that directs our actions) our actions become those that inspire success. This is why so many Masons have gone on to become the names history has recorded forever as leader, as crucial members of society, as the men our community looks to in trying times.
The world is a system, a beautiful system we only partially understand, but a system none the less. It is a machine, predictable and reliable, we need not understand the system to understand how it applies to us. If we put forth good thoughts, we will put forth good works, and if we put forth good works we will be rewarded. Ye shall know a man by his deeds is as truth today as it ever was.
To change a mans deeds you must change this thinking, to change his thinking we must change his subconscious mind, and the only thing that will change a sub conscious mind is the words and visual inputs it receives. Thus, the memorization and ritual are important parts of Masonry. They represent a beautiful and wonderful, and extremely strong, lessons that become imprinted on the subconscious mind. In doing so, the lessons train the sub conscious, which then drives thinking, which drives actions.
The sub conscious mind is like the soil of the earth, it simply gives back what it is given. If we plant flowers, we get flowers, plant corn, we get corn, plant nightshade, we get nightshade. We literally can plant what ever seeds we want into our mind, and it will return it in abundance. Masonry plants the seeds that, when returned, build strong character, moral lives, men of integrity and in turn, they are rewarded as such. But as well, if the soil is rotten, poisoned, or not fertile, planting seeds in that soil is wasted. In fact, planting seeds in that soil only contaminates the seeds, and may, in some situations, poison the farmer. Masonry is no different. If a man's heart is not fertile ground, if it is dark and poisoned, Masonry will have no effect, and having that man in our lodges can serve no good, and can infect our lodge with the disease that has infected that man. Masonry makes good men better, it can not make bad men good.
Masonry teaches the lessons of success, it teaches them not just at a "training" level, but at a sub conscious level, it changes a mans thinking, which changes his actions, which changes his life. And in doing so creates men who serve, who give, and who are bound to each other by stronger ties than any of this earth. Masonry only creates the men, Masons caries out the things society knows us by.
Dean Owen, MM, 32nd, Shriner
Paducah Lodge # 127
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