Living Freemasonry

This paper begins by defining Freemasonry in a manner which is easily understood by non-Masons. It describes my personal ‘Living Freemasonry’ journey, and then compares the strategies used by Freemasons to transmit their philosophies with the rituals employed in a traditional Indigenous Australian culture.  To conclude, the paper outlines the major moral lessons of the Masonic order, and hints at what the ‘Masonic secrets’ might be.

“So what’s this Freemasonry thing all about?”  I have been confronted with this question time and time again, usually posed by one of my non- Masonic friends at a social gathering.  For a Freemason the answer is simple, and concise: “Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”  That’s a perfect answer if you are sitting in a Lodge room, surrounded by the symbols, listening to a series of allegorical addresses, and in the company of a group of Freemasons who share your philosophy of life.  But in the context of a weekend barbecue with your mates, it just won’t do.  Nor does it pass the ‘pub test’.

Perhaps this response might work:  “It is a formal association of people with similar interests who have the ambitious goal of conducting themselves in a socially correct manner which is always consistent with justice and the law.  They follow a complex pattern of rules, which are taught through a series of lectures and stories about characters and events, some of which are fictitious.  The stories always clearly distinguish between right and wrong, and the characters always set an example of morally excellent behaviour. The members of the association are reminded of the rules by a number of objects connected with the ideas and events from the stories.”

Whilst this may well be an accurate interpretation of the first compact statement, it’s still far too long winded for a casual conversation.

I’ve had more success with this answer: “Freemasonry is a worldwide organization offering a recipe for spiritual contentment, for hope, and for love.  It tries to provide a formula for orderly, harmonious living. It transmits its messages in a variety of ways, some of which are secret.”  This reply opens up the subject in a user-friendly manner, and allows me to further the conversation, perhaps at a later date, exploring the topic in greater detail.  For me, the key to creating interest in Freemasonry is the use of the words ‘harmonious living’.  Isn’t that what everyone wants?

I have the greatest confidence in all the people I know, both men and women, who are connected with Freemasonry.  I know that they will treat me with respect, help me in case of need, act with honesty and integrity in all business dealings, and strive to live peacefully and harmoniously with others at all times.  I may not always agree with them, but if we argue I can be certain that our shared underlying philosophy of life will allow us to get past any surface divergence of opinion to reach a satisfying conclusion.  This is living Freemasonry.

And just how does the organisation known as Freemasonry achieve this happy state among its members and their families? Is it a secret?  Is it a slick and modernistic PowerPoint slide presentation?  Charismatic leadership? Religious fervour?  Fear of punishment? Brainwashing?  Thankfully, it’s none of the above.  To put it simply, Freemasonry invites men to embark on a journey.  It might be just a short trip, or it could last a lifetime.  The rewards will be commensurate with the time and effort outlaid.  But for all participants in the expedition of Freemasonry, for the short term or the long term, a major goal is ‘harmonious living’.

Life’s journey is an exciting adventure; a long and winding track.  And as we venture along it we are faced with many crossroads which challenge us in regard to the direction we should take. The wisdom of the Cheshire Cat reminds us of the importance of making the right decision.

By: RW Bro Robert Hughes PJGW