Latest Entries »

The Wind, Earthquake, and Fire

The Wind, Earthquake, and Fire

In the building of one of the great cathedrals, an apprentice raced to his master about a powerful experience he had while in prayer.

“Master!” he exclaimed, “I believe the True Word has come to me in my prayers! My body shook and trembled as if the foundations of the world were quaking. Many words of wisdom are now racing through my mind, and my soul burns with passion to serve my fellow man.”

“Oh, is that all?” the master casually asked.

The apprentice was surprised by his response. “Is that all?! What do you mean?”

The master replied, “Do you recall the story of Elijah in the cave?”

“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”

“Tell me the story.”

“It is written that Elijah was hiding in a cave on a mountain and Jehovah passed by, and a great wind rent the mountains, and the rocks were broken into pieces before Him. After the wind there came an earthquake and then a fire. But Jehovah was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Jehovah spoke to him as a still small voice, and then Elijah came out of his cave to be instructed by God.”

“Today you have felt the wind in your mind, the earthquake in your body, and the fire in your passion, but you came out of your cave and down from the mountain without having heard the still small voice that speaks the True Word.”

The Meeting Place

An old craftsman approached King Hiram of Tyre and said, “Right Worshipful King Hiram, I have studied the rituals of our craft for many years, meditated on light, contemplated the Lost Word, and though I have had many speculations about their meanings, I don’t really know anymore than I did when I was newly raised. Is there no more?”

King Hiram picked up a wooden setting maul and struck a stone forcefully. He then held the maul up to the craftsman. “What do you see?”

The craftsman observed that there were tiny grains of stone embedded in the maul.

King Hiram asked, “When the maul meets the stone, where does one begin and the other end?”

Solomon’s Jackal

There was a time when King Solomon delivered some Masonic lectures that an old man attended, unseen by the craftsmen. At the end of each talk, when the craftsmen left, so did he. But one day he remained after they had gone, and Solomon asked him: “Who are you?”

The old man replied: “I am not a human being, but I was a human being when Enoch preached in this world. I was a craftsman and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my apprentices asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: ‘The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation.’ Because this answer evidenced a clinging to absoluteness, I became a jackal for five hundred rebirths, and I am still a jackal. Will you save me from this condition with your Masonic light and let me get out of a jackal’s body? So I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?”

Solomon said: “The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.”

At the words of Solomon the old man was enlightened. “I am emancipated,” he said, paying homage with a deep bow. “I am no more a jackal, but I have to leave my body in my dwelling place behind this mountain. Please perform my funeral as a Mason.” Then he disappeared.

The next day Solomon gave an order for the craftsmen to prepare to attend the funeral of a brother. “No one was sick in the infirmary,” wondered the other craftsmen. “What does our master mean?”

Later that day Solomon led the craftsmen out and around the mountain. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old jackal and then performed the Masonic burial ceremony.

That evening Solomon gave a talk to the craftsmen and told this story about the law of causation.

King Hiram, upon hearing this story, asked Solomon: “I understand that a long time ago because a certain craftsman gave a wrong answer he became a jackal for five hundred rebirths. Now I would ask: If some modern craftsmen is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?”

Solomon said: “You come here near me and I will tell you.”

King Hiram went near Solomon and playfully slapped the master’s face with his hand, for he knew this was the answer Solomon intended to give him.

Solomon clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. “I thought a Persian had a red beard,” he said, “and now I know a Persian who has a red beard!”

Hiram and the Priest

Grand Master Hiram Abif was traveling through the borderlands of Tyre, trying to recruit more workmen for the Temple. In one town there lived a priest of Baal who was uncomfortable with his king’s fraternal bonds with the men of Israel, and was particularly doubtful of the wisdom of Masonry. He called upon Hiram so that he might test the illumination of this renowned Master Mason.

When Hiram arrived, the priest demanded, “Tell me of the Masonic light.”

Hiram replied, “You see it right now.”

The priest closed his eyes. “And now?” he asked.

“Yes, even now,” said Hiram.

“Then where is this light?” asked the priest.

“Where is it not?” replied Hiram.

The priest thought Hiram was playing him for a fool, and in that moment he imagined slapping Hiram for his insolence. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Hiram had already stepped back out of reach, and he was amazed.

Hiram said, “As we stand here speaking of the light, a dove is perched in the entryway, dogs run in the street, a merchant calls passersby to come see his goods. All of these things are happening in the light and can be seen by the mind, just like your desire and thought of violence.”

“Why then did I not see all these things when my eyes were closed?” the priest demanded.

Hiram replied, “Not only your eyes, but your mind was closed. Thinking light and darkness, right and wrong, imagining struggle and conflict, you put up walls and build a house in the midst of a beautiful garden, leaving yourself only one window through which to see.”

The priest thought he understood, and so he praised Hiram. “You are a wise man indeed, and I have learned something of the light from you. But how can a man of Tyre bind himself to those Israelites who do not worship Baal?”

“If I would not divide my mind into dark little rooms and say ‘I am in this room and not the others,’ then how much more foolish would it be for me to try dismembering the One God and say ‘He is here and not there,’ or ‘He is with me and not them?’ Is my mind worthy of more reverence and love than I would give to God?”

The priest was so taken by Hiram’s instruction that he too joined the mystic band of Masonry, became a workman on the Temple, and remained a faithful priest of Baal.

Stolen Treasure

Stolen Treasure

The Worshipful Master addressed a lodge of EAs, “Tell me why you were hoodwinked.”

The first EA stood and said, “So I couldn’t see the lodge and brethren until I had taken the obligation.”

The Master said, “That is true, and is certainly something that any dutiful EA should know. But if Masonry is a system of allegories, what else might be a meaning of being hoodwinked?”

Another EA replied, “Without sight we were forced to rely upon our ears, so this teaches us to always listen carefully.”

“That is a good lesson indeed, and one might think you had just stepped out of the Middle Chamber. Is there anything else?”

A third EA said, “We are all blind in one way or another, yet one is strong where another is weak. Thus through brotherly love we help, aid and assist each other.”

The Master smiled. “Very good. You are only an apprentice, and yet you hold the trowel like a master. What else can be said of being hoodwinked?”

A fourth EA answered, “When hoodwinked we see nothing, yet we see everything. The light of the mind flashes, and movement and forms appear in the void of pure awareness.” Then he looked at his companions and grinned.

The Worshipful Master shook his head. “For a moment you played with the jewel of Grand Master Hiram Abif, but a thief has stolen what should have been treasured.”

How Will You See?

In the days of the great cathedral builders, a student of Masonic philosophy came to study under a renowned master architect. When he was departing a few years later, the master warned him: “Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting material for books and lectures. But unless you meditate constantly your Masonic light may go out, and then how will you see that which you are studying?”

Myriad of Stones

Myriad of Stones

Hiram King of Tyre was walking through the Temple on his way to a meeting with King Solomon. Along the way, he passed through a
particular hallway and noticed all the stones in the walls.

“What are you?” King Hiram asked of the stones as he walked by.

“I am a perfect Ashlar, of course!” a myriad of stones answered, and there was surprise and indignation in their voices as he passed.

But, here and there, a lonely stone answered, “We are this Temple.”

And there was neither surprise nor indignation in their voices, but just a quiet certitude.

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.”

One Single Question

One of Peter Gower’s craftsmen asked, “Master, you teach us to meditate on the symbols, allegories and myth of Masonry, your own mysterious aphorisms, and even upon silence itself. Is there one meditation that is truer than all others””

“Yes,” Peter Gower replied.

“Will you give it to us?” asked the craftsman.

Peter Gower said: “It is to make breathing, eating, working, resting, motion and repose, words, thoughts, feelings, good and evil, wealth and poverty, right and wrong, everything, into one single question.”

The craftsman asked: “What is that question?”

Peter Gower was silent.

Waves, Spray, and Foam

Having found passage on a boat delivering goods from Tyre, a craftsman sat pensively at the bow, the eyes under his furrowed brow looking out over the indigo waves and into the blue sky beyond the clouds. The captain approached him and asked, “Brother, what is that so occupies your mind?”

The craftsman looked at him and said, “Once when I was in the forests of Lebanon I met an old hermit who taught me that all things are illusions, that the only reality is oneness, and that two-ness is the foundation of all illusions. He said that we must strip away all these illusions by meditation and only then could we see this one truth as a great light shining within. It reminded me of the light of Masonry.”

The captain asked, “Is there something that troubles you about this?”

“Yes,” replied the craftsman. “How can I reject all I experience as nothing but illusions? Does seeking more light, as we are taught to do in Masonry, mean that I must reject the world, and even my own life? I have meditated as he taught, and there have been times when the world and my thoughts seemed to slip away. There was no thought of past or future, no thought of this or that, or even of myself, yet I know there was still a singular awareness of some kind. But it troubles me that even after accepting the truth of oneness, I cannot deny that here I still am in a world of too many things to count. Am I just too weak? Should I become a hermit like him?”

The captain pointed out over the surface of the water. “What do you see on the surface of the water?”

“Waves,” said the craftsman.

“And coming up from the bow of the boat?”

“The spray.”

“And when we get to the port, if you look where the water meets the rough sands of the shore, what will you see?”

“Foam.”

“Yes. Waves, spray, and foam. Each of them is here and then soon gone, and yet the sea remains.”

At these words the craftsman’s face relaxed, and he nodded, chuckling to himself, “Today this sea is the light of Masonry.”