Category: T

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.

True Enlightenment?

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.

Two Lodges

Two Lodges

Long ago there were two neighboring lodges run by Masters with great reputations. One lodge met on the top of a mountain, and the other lodge met in a deep valley. One day, a craftsman came down from the mountain lodge to the valley lodge in search of teaching. The Master of the valley lodge said to him, “This lodge is no better than the mountain lodge.” The craftsman did not know how to reply.

When he returned to the mountain lodge, the craftsman told his Master what had happened. The Master said, “You should have told him that I am ready to enter the Celestial Temple any day.”

To See for Himself

A well known and widely respected Past Master heard about another Master Mason’s reputation for radically different ways of communicating the wisdom, strength, and beauty of Masonry. He knew this Master Mason had not held many lodge offices or done the usual things to earn a name in the fraternity, so he decided to go meet the brother and see for himself.

When they met in the brother’s home, the Past Master introduced himself and shared all of his fraternal credentials, including that he was a former member of a Grand Master’s administration, and had been a high-ranking member of both the Scottish Rite and York Rite. The Master Mason then asked to what he owed the honor of the visit. The Past Master said, “I have heard that you are a teacher of Masonry, though somewhat unorthodox in your methods, and I have come to see for myself.”

The Master Mason then invited him to sit down, saying that he would return in just a moment. As he walked back into the room he asked the Past Master what in particular he wished to discuss.

The Past Master began to speak, but as the brother sat down, he held up a mirror between their faces so that the Past Master could only see his own reflection. The Past Master quickly became irritated and said, “Stop that! What are you doing?”

The Master Mason replied, “Respected brother, please be patient with me. Now what do you see?”

“Nothing but my own reflection being held up by a very insolent fellow.” grumbled the Past Master.

The Master Mason replied, “Dear brother, you came here today under the pretense of seeing things for yourself, but the truth is that you only wanted to see things of yourself. I have given you both.”

The Temple in His Hands

Grand Master Hiram Abif was walking through the quarry to observe the progress of the work. As he passed one Apprentice who was busy with his gavel and chisel making a stone ready to be shipped to Jerusalem, the Apprentice called out to him.

“Master Hiram!” the Apprentice said, “Since my initiation, I have been working hard in the quarries. I have been contemplating the lessons and symbols of my first degree. Yet, I still don’t feel that I have gained understanding. Can you help me?”

Hiram responded, “How can a man who holds King Solomon’s Temple in his hands need my help?”

And the Apprentice was brought to Light.

A Traveling Man’s Enigma

One of Peter Gower’s newly raised Master Masons approached him and said: “Master, we stand on the summit of the highest peak and demons and outsiders cannot know us. We walk on the bottom of the deepest sea and even Jonah’s whale cannot catch sight of us. Even if our eyes are like shooting stars and our intellect is like flashing lightning, still we won’t avoid being like the spirit tortoise dragging his tail and leaving traces. At this point, what is proper?”

Peter Gower responded with this story:

“Returning from Joppa, Hiram Abif appeared before King Solomon. Solomon said, ‘So you have arrived, you old dog.’ (Check a probing pole, or a reed shade. Where should you look to see the obscurity?)

“Hiram spoke, ‘Tomorrow there’s a great fraternal feast for the workers. Are you going, wise master?’ (In Israel they blew horns and in Tyre they danced. The arrow is sharp to no purpose.)

“Solomon relaxed and lay down. (The arrow got him. Where will you see Solomon?)

“Hiram immediately walked out. (He’s gone. He saw the opportunity and acted. How will you understand this?)”

Then Peter Gower finished by saying: “Riding a bronze horse he entered the palace. The edict came down that the seven cities were at peace. Still holding a golden whip he questioned the returning traveler. In the depths of the night, who will go along to walk the royal road?”

A Teaching Never Given

A craftsman asked Peter Gower, “Is there a teaching no master ever gave before?”

Peter Gower replied, “Yes, there is.”

The craftsman inquired, “What is it?”

Peter Gower said, “It is not geometry, it is not the Lost Word, it is not light, it is not things.”

Three Cubits

Three Cubits

Once Grand Master Hiram Abif was carefully measuring a stone. A craftsman thought he might use the opportunity to catch Hiram off guard, so he quickly asked, “What is the Word of a Master Mason?”

Hiram instantly replied, “This stone is three cubits long.”

Tools and Instruments

An Entered Apprentice asked his instructor, “How does a Master Mason use all those tools and instruments?”

The instructor answered, “Just like a man in the middle of the night reaching behind his head for his pillow.”

The EA said, “I understand.”

“What do you understand?”

“The whole body is a tool and an instrument.”

“Well said, but it’s just a little off.”

“How would you say it, elder brother?”

“Throughout the body, the tool and instrument.”

Taking Wine

Taking Wine

At a Festive Board, the Worshipful Master was taking wine with the brethren when he noticed that he had drained his glass halfway, he arose and called to the Junior Warden, “Brother Junior Warden, is this glass half empty or half full?”

“Half empty, Worshipful Master.” responded the Junior Warden.

“Brother Senior Warden,” continued the Worshipful Master, “What is your answer?”

“It is half full, Worshipful sir,” answered the Senior Warden.

“Worshipful Brother Immediate Past Master, we should always hear what you have to say. What is your answer?”

“It is both.” he answered with a wry smile and the Brethren responded heartily.

“Ah-ha, very good.” said the Worshipful Master.

Noticing the Tyler nodding off in the corner, the Worshipful Master thought he would challenge him and said, “Brother Tyler, what say you to all this? Is my glass half empty or half full?”

“There is room for more.” he answered.