Tag Archive: Tao


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.”

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.