Category: P

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?”

Peter Gower’s Precepts

In addition to the usual teachings of Masonry, Peter Gower gave his apprentices 75 precepts or aphorisms to contemplate. Many seem on the surface to be simple common sense, while others seem quite bizzare and enigmatic. Have no doubt, all of them deserve careful contemplation and have meanings beyond what is apparent. Some of his followers even published their own interpretations, but they are presented here without commentary, just as they were to Peter Gower’s apprentices.

1. Go not beyond the balance.
2. Sit not down on the bushel.
3. Tear not the crown to pieces.
4. Eat not the heart.
5. Stir not up the fire with a sword.
6. When you are arrived on the frontiers, desire not to return back.
7. Go not in the public way.
8. Suffer no swallows about your house.
9. Wear not the image of God upon your ring.
10. Help men to burden, but not to unburden themselves.
11. Shake not hands easily with any man.
12. Leave not the least mark of the pot upon the ashes.
13. Sow mallows, but never eat them.
14. Wipe not out the place of the torch.
15. Wear not a straight ring.
16. Feed not the animals that have crooked claws.
17. Abstain from beans.
18. Eat not fish whose tails are black.
19. Never eat the gurnard.
20. Eat not the womb of animals.
21. Abstain from the flesh of beasts that die of themselves.
22. Abstain from eating animals.
23. Always put salt upon the table.
24. Never break the bread.
25. Spill not oil upon the seat.
26. Put not meat into a foul vessel.
27. Feed the cock but sacrifice him not, for he is sacred to the sun and to the moon.
28. Break not the teeth.
29. Keep the vinegar cruet far from you.
30. Spit upon the parings of your nails, and the clippings of your hair.
31. Make not water against the sun.
32. Speak not in the face of the sun.
33. We ought not to sleep at noon.
34. Stir up the bed as soon as you are risen, and leave in it no print of your body.
35. Never sing but to the harp.
36. Always keep your things ready packed up.
37. Quit not your post without the order of your commander.
38. Cut not wood in the way.
39. Roast not that which is boiled.
40. Avoid the two-edged sword.
41. Pick not up what is fallen from the table.
42. Abstain even from a cypress chest.
43. Sacrifice an odd number to the celestial gods, and to the infernal an even.
44. Offer not to the gods the wine of an unpruned vine.
45. Never sacrifice without meal.
46. Adore the gods and sacrifice barefoot.
47. Turn round when you worship.
48. Sit down when you worship.
49. Pare not your nails during the sacrifice.
50. When it thunders, touch the ground.
51. Regard not yourself in the looking-glass by the light of a torch.
52. One, two.
53. Honor the marks of dignity, the throne and the ternary.
54. When the winds blow, adore Echo.
55. Eat not in the chariot.
56. Put on your right shoe first, and wash your left foot first.
57. Eat not the brain.
58. Plant not the palm tree.
59. Make the libations to the gods by the ear.
60. Never eat the cuttlefish.
61. Stop not at the threshold.
62. Give way to a flock that goes by.
63. Avoid the weasel.
64. Refuse the weapons a woman offers you.
65. Kill not the serpent that chances to fall within your walls.
66. It is a crime to throw stones into the fountains.
67. Feed not yourself with your left hand.
68. It is a horrible crime to wipe off the sweat with iron.
69. Stick not iron into the footprints of a man.
70. Sleep not upon a grave.
71. Lay not the whole bundle of wood upon the fire.
72. Leap not from the chariot with your feet close together.
73. Threaten not the stars.
74. Place not the candle against the wall.
75. Write not in the snow.

A Plumbline

A Plumbline

Grand Master Hiram Abif overheard two craftsmen arguing about a plumbline. One said, “The plumbline is moving.”

The other replied, “It is the wind that is moving.”

Hiram said, “Not the wind, not the plumbline; mind is moving.”

It Will Pass

It Will Pass

An Entered Apprentice was waiting to enter the lodge. He sat down with the Tiler and said, “My life is in chaos! I feel so distracted, I cannot concentrate on my questions and answers, and I’m so tired that I keep falling asleep in lodge. This is just horrible! What shall I do?”

“It will pass,” the Tiler said matter-of-factly.

At the next lodge meeting, the EA came back to the Tiler. “You were right! Everything is great now! My life is in order once again, I can focus on the questions and answers, and I’m not too tired to pay attention in lodge.”

“It will pass,” the Tiler said matter-of-factly.

Peter Gower Brought to Light

Peter Gower was studying Masonry in Babylon. One night he came to the master and asked many questions. The master said: “The night is getting old. Why don’t you retire?”

So Peter Gower bowed and opened the screen to go out, observing: “It is very dark outside.”

The master offered him a lighted candle to find his way. Just as Peter Gower received it, the master blew it out. At that moment Peter Gower was brought to light.

“What have you attained?” asked the master.

“From now on,” said Peter Gower, “I will not doubt the master’s words.”

The next day the master told the other craftsmen and apprentices at his lecture: “I see one Mason among you. His teeth are like chisels, and his tongue is like a gavel. If you hit him hard with a setting maul, he will not even so much as look back at you. Someday he will travel to the farthest lands and carry the light of Masonry there.”

On that day, in front of the lodge, Peter Gower burned to ashes all of his notes on geometry and architecture. He said: “However abstruse the teachings are, in comparison with this light they are like a speck of dust in a great quarry. However profound the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this light it is like one drop of water to the great ocean.” Then he left the lodge.

Perfected Ashlars

An Overseer of the work came to Grand Master Hiram Abif while at his trestleboard and said, “Master Hiram, one of my hewers keeps cutting all of his stones to dust! What am I to do?”

Hiram said, “Let me see this.”

Hiram, seeing the pile of cuttings and dust, asked the worker, “What
are you doing?”

He answered, “When I remove one rough corner or impurity from my stone, I always find another that needs to be removed.”

Hiram turned to the Overseer and said, “The Eternal Temple in the heavens is built with such living stones,” and then returned to his designs.



A Worshipful Master noticed there was a newly proficient Master Mason who came to diligently practice the ritual every time the lodge was open. So the WM went to question him: “Dear brother, what are your intentions in practicing the ritual? What do you want?”

The MM said: “More light!”

The WM then picked up a tile and began to rub it very vigorously. Of course, the MM noticed this and asked: “What are you doing?”

The WM said: “I’m polishing it to make it into a mirror.”

The MM asked: “How can you make a mirror by polishing a tile?”

The WM said: “You’re absolutely right, polishing a tile will not make it a mirror. How can practicing the ritual give you more light?”

The MM scratched his head: “Then what am I supposed to do?”

The WM replied: “It’s like an ass pulling a cart. If the cart does not go, should you hit the cart or should you hit the ass?”

The MM had no reply.

The WM continued: “Do you think you are practicing ritual or do you think you are practicing Masonry? If you are practicing ritual, ritual is not degrees or opening and closing the lodge. If you are practicing Masonry, it is not a fixed form. In the midst of everything that is changing you should neither hold on nor push away. If you keep ritual in the lodge, this is dowsing the light. If you cling to the form of Masonry, this is not attaining its essence.”

Peter Gower’s Explanation

Peter Gower’s craftsmen asked him why he was so often silent when they asked questions: “Why does the master not explain himself?”

To which he answered: “It is not necessary for speech to come from the tongue.”