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Learning to be Silent

Learning to be Silent

King Solomon asked an Entered Apprentice, a Fellowcraft, a Master Mason, and a Past Master to retire to a chamber for instructive meditation. They were given orders to sit silently and not to speak.

At evening time, a servant came in to light the lamps, and accidentally spilled some oil.

“Watch out!” cried the Entered Apprentice. “You’re spilling the oil!”

“Shush,” said the Fellowcraft. “We aren’t supposed to talk.”

“Fools,” said the Master Mason. “Why couldn’t you just be quiet?”

“It appears,” said the Past Master, sanctimoniously, “that I am the only one who did not talk.”

What Are You Saying?

What Are You Saying?

In modern times, a great deal is made of finding old books,  and adhering to this ancient tradition, or that traditional custom. Naturally, Masonry is learned in one’s heart, and in the past, Master Masons often worked quietly and intentionally, and it was often not until they had passed on to the Celestial Temple that others truly understood their teachings.

The Past Master of a small lodge was on his deathbed, and called a Junior Warden into his chambers.

“I expect to be passing into the Celestial Lodge any time now, and you are the only one I think will be able to carry on our teachings,” he said. “Here is a book of all the rituals, traditions, and customs; I have even made some notes in the margins that you may follow them better. I’m passing it along to you because you will soon be the Maser of this lodge, and this will symbolize your successorship.”

The Junior Warden pushed the book back into the Past Master’s hands. “This book sounds as if it’s very important to you; perhaps you should hang on to it,” he said. “I received the teachings of a Master Mason a little bit at a time, from mouth to ear, and I am satisfied to have done so.”

“Yes, but even so,” replied the Past Master, “this book has been passed on from Master to Master for generations. Please take it.”

At that, the Junior Warden took the book from the Past Master’s hands and shoved it into the fireplace. He had no desire for such representations.

The Past Master, who had always been known for his patience, yelled “What are you doing?”

The Junior Warden shouted back at him “What are you saying?”

The Silent Summons

A member of a certain Lodge, who previously attended meetings regularly, had stopped going. After a few months, the Worshipful Master decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening, and the Worshipful Master found his brother at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for the Worshipful Master’s visit, the brother welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The Worshipful Master made himself comfortable, but said nothing.

In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After several minutes, the Worshipful Master took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

His host watched all of this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow, and its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The Worshipful Master glanced at his watch and chose this time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember, and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately, it began to glow once more, with all the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the Worshipful Master reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your fiery summons, my brother. I’ll be back in our Lodge next meeting.”

— Author Unknown

The Trestle Board Cat

When Hiram Abif spent time in the evenings working on the designs for the trestle board of the next day, a cat that wandered around the building often made such a noise that it distracted him. He ordered that the cat be tied up in the evening.

After his death, the cat continued to be tied up during the evening planning. When the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the work site and tied up in the evenings. Centuries later, learned and experienced Past Masters wrote scholarly treatises about the significance of tying up a cat before planning the work of the next day.

A Discourse Among Masters

A Discourse Among Masters

Once in ancient times, the Master of a lodge called all his neighboring Worshipful Masters together for discourse on the highest truth. Once they had arrived, he stood and spoke: “Welcome, dear brothers! I have called you all here so that I might explain to you what it means to be brought to light.”

Immediately all the brothers burst into laughter, and for the remainder of the time they sat around telling such jokes and poking fun at each other.

Peter Gower’s Square

Peter Gower held out his square to a group of craftsmen and said, “If you call this a square, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a square, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call it?”

Looking For A Lodge

The Master of the lodge was working in his studio when a young Fellowcraft was brought to him. After offering him refreshment, the Master asked after the young man’s purpose.

“I have been traveling in search of work, and I stopped here when I saw the lodge.”

“How can we be of help, brother?” asked the Master.

“I would like to settle down someplace. Perhaps you can you tell me what the people are like here?”

The Master thought for a moment.  “What are the people like where you are from?” he asked.

The Fellowcraft snorted. “They are a most unpleasant bunch. They carp and complain, and are rarely helpful.”

“I see,” said the Master. “Well, I am afraid that you will find the people to be pretty much the same way here.”

The Fellowcraft nodded. “I expected as much. I thank you for your time.” He then picked up his tools and went on his way.

Some time later, the Master was working in his studio when a second Fellowcraft was brought to him. After offering him refreshment, the Master asked after the second young man’s purpose.

“I have been traveling in search of work, and I stopped here when I saw the lodge.”

“How can we be of help, brother?” asked the Master.

“I would like to settle down someplace. Perhaps you can you tell me what the people are like here?”

The Master thought for a moment. “What are the people like where you are from?” he asked.

The Fellowcraft beamed. “Oh, they are usually pleasant and friendly, and happy to help out a brother.”

“I see,” said the Master. “Well, I believe that you will find people to be pretty much the same way here.”

The second Fellowcraft nodded. “I expected as much,” he replied, “and if you would have me, I would like to join your lodge.”

Quitting Expectations?

A Master Mason approached Peter Gower and said, “I am not getting from Masonry what I expected. I am thinking of quitting.”

Peter Gower responded, “The ash can never again be firewood.”

True Enlightenment?

A Past Master once addressed a newly raised Master Mason: “Brother, as a Master Mason you have thrice been brought to light, and each time encouraged to seek further light, have you not?”

The new Master Mason acknowledged these facts.

The Past Master responded, “Since you have thrice been brought to light, and you are now being set free to seek it beyond the lodge, it seems to follow that you must know something about it. Please share your knowledge with me.”

The proud Master Mason said, “Being brought to light is but an allegory for enlightenment, and each time this ceremony reminds us that the true enlightenment is what we seek.”

“I see,” said the Past Master. “So the true enlightenment is your goal?”

“Yes, brother, it is.” replied the Master Mason.

“What is the true enlightenment?”

“It is the lightning-flash transcendence of self, liberation from illusion, and realization of the essential nature of reality.”

The Past Master shook his head. “My brother, I think you are making up stories. If you have not yet experienced true enlightenment, then how could you possibly know these things?”

“It is said that…” started the Master Mason, but the Past Master interrupted.

“‘It is said’ or ‘It is written’ are at best only the recollections of others about their own experiences, and often they are only second or third-hand stories that someone else has also made up. From all these stories you have created a myth that you are trying to act out, believing that if your story is good enough, and if your acting is good enough, then you will create from yourself the truth that you hope exists beyond yourself. Now do you really think that is the way to Masonic light?”

Deflated, the Master Mason softly said, “No, my wise brother, it certainly seems foolish. But without a goal, how will I know what to do or not to do so that I might become enlightened?”

“My brother, do you know more now than you did just one minute ago?”

“Well,” said the brother, “I know that I don’t know what I thought I knew. I know that I don’t even know what it is that I am supposed to know.”

“So right now you have transcended some of your self-deceptions, and you are free of some of your old illusions. Do you not also feel closer to reality?”

“Yes, but I can’t say what that reality is.”

“Then is it not fair to say that you have indeed received more light, right here and now?”

The Master Mason grinned, “Yes, it’s clearly true.”

“Okay,” replied the Past Master, “but there is one more thing I’d like you to think about right now. You are still concerned about what it is you are ‘supposed to know.’ As long as you believe there is such a thing ahead of you, then you will continue to make up stories for yourself to act out. If you give up such notions, what is left to learn?”

“Nothing, I guess?”

“What? Was there anything about what you just learned that was part of your supposed goal?”

“No, at least not as I had imagined it.”

“But you did learn something?”

“Yes. OH! Yes, I get it. There is always more light to receive, but no particular form of it that we must go searching for. We get the light we need right here and now, if we would only see it!”

“Hmmm, very nicely said. Now why does our ritual teach us to ‘travel in foreign countries’?” grinned the Past Master.

Demanding the Word

One day after finishing his daily devotion in the S:. S:., Grand Master
Hiram Abif left the room by his usual route.

As he exited the South gate, he was confronted by a Fellowcraft Mason from the working site of the Temple, who demanded, “Grand Master Hiram Abif, I have been working on the Temple for some time and I now desire the Master’s Word.”

Hiram asked, “Why do you seek this Word?”

“So that I might receive the benefits of being a Master Mason,” the Fellowcraft replied.

“What are those benefits?” queried Hiram.

“The freedom to travel and to earn a Master’s wage,” the Fellowcraft answered.

“Fine. Come with me,” said Hiram and they proceeded to the West Gate.

Upon arriving, they met a confused and surprised second Fellowcraft Mason who made the same demand.

Hiram asked, “Why do you seek this Word?”

“So that I might receive the benefits of being a Master Mason,” the second Fellowcraft replied.

“What are those benefits?” queried Hiram.

“The freedom to travel and to earn a Master’s wage,” the second Fellowcraft answered.

“Fine. Come with me,” said Hiram and they proceeded to the East Gate.

Upon arriving, they met a surprised and agitated third Fellowcraft Mason who also demanded the Master’s Word. Hiram asked the same questions as for the other two, and received the same responses.

When he invited all three Fellowcrafts to follow him, the third, now even more irritated, said, “I am not sure why I should go with you. Why can’t you just give us the word here?”

“That Word can only be communicated in the presence of myself, King
Solomon and King Hiram,” replied Master Hiram. “Both Kings are at the port overseeing the offloading of several barges of important material for the Temple.”

So, Master Hiram and the three Fellowcraft Masons proceeded to the port.

“King Solomon, here are three Fellowcrafts who have worked on the
Temple for some time and have demanded of me to give them the Master’s Word. We are here to have that communicated,” Said Master Hiram.

“Why do you Masons desire this word?” King Solomon asked the three Fellowcrafts.

“So that we might receive the benefits of being Master Masons,” they replied.

“And what are those benefits?” queried King Solomon.

“The freedom to travel and to earn Masters wages,” they replied.

Walking to the closest ship in the port, King Solomon called, “Captain, when your ship is empty, take these three Fellowcrafts anywhere outside my kingdom they want to go.”

Turning to the three Fellowcrafts, King Solomon said. “Since you desire to be free, you have my permission to go. However, the guards of this port and all other entrances to my kingdom will henceforth have instructions to imprison you should you ever presume to return.”

The three dropped to their knees and said, “Oh Grand Masters! We are sorry to have troubled you and now desire nothing but to return to our work on the Temple.”

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