All There is to Know About Masonry
The Rest is Commentary
|Grand Master Lindsey told a
famous Masonic story that relates how a prospective candidate for
Membership in the Craft asked the old lodge tiler to teach him all about
Masonry while standing on one foot.
The tiler answered that one must fulfill the commandment of love of oneís fellow Man, and that the rest written of Masonry is commentary. (He followed with the less known conclusion, "Go learn!)
In the Masonry there are two categories of instruction. One group governs interpersonal relations, prohibiting theft, gossip, falsehood, etc. Another category deals with matters between Masons and God, such as, observing the Sabbath, etc.
We are immediately struck with an obvious question. "love of oneís fellow Man" will ensure fulfillment of the first category, since love for an individual means that one would not do anything to harm the individual. However, "love of oneís fellow Man" does not seem to include all of the other "duties", which are between the person and God. How could the tiler claim that it is the entire secret of Masonry?
"Love of oneís fellow Man", in and of itself, is also difficult to understand. Proper fulfillment of this duty requires feeling for every single Man, regardless of how he might behave and how undesirable his personality might seem. "Love of oneís fellow Man" must be felt even for a person on the other side of the world, whom you have never seen. This seems to be an impossible task. One cannot feel love unless one feels something positive and attractive about the other person. How can one develop a feeling of love without having seen anything desirable in the personís character or even seen him at all? The answer is that one must look to the essence of his Masonic heritage, that which makes him a Mason.
MORE TO THE POINT
The sole element which spans all variants of time, philosophy, language and culture is the possession of a Masonís soul. Regardless of his level of Masonic commitment or knowledge, the Mason possesses a unique Masonic soul. This soul, the irrevocable inheritance of every single Mason, is pure and unsullied, holy and powerful.
To truly have "Love of oneís fellow Man", one must be able to ignore the outer trappings of physical appearance, the niceties of personality and etiquette, and the vestiges of an imperfect upbringing. One must penetrate to the core, and sense the existence of the soul within.
Grand Master, David Lindsey, a profounder of the Grand Lodgeís philosophy, explained that, "the basis and root purpose of the entire book of scared Law is to elevate and exalt the soul high above the body." This spiritual dimension of "Love of oneís fellow Man" is what makes it the entire volume of sacred Law, for spiritual elevation is what the Volume of sacred Law is all about.
LEARN TO LOVE
Actually, every Masonic duty has a spiritual dimension. Eating proper food, for example, is tantamount to saying that there is an existence beyond the physical which is also significant. The Masonic laws proclaim that it is not sufficient to merely consider the taste, nutritional value, and price of the food. One must also think of the food's spiritual value, and its effect on the soul.
However, a person might keep the laws even without giving much thought to its spiritual importance. He might be following the laws because his ancestors did so, for example, or because he finds it culturally satisfying.
True, he is fulfilling the duty of keeping following the law, and this duty will lead him to do others, but the manner in which he does the duty limits its ability to enhance his spiritual progress.
"Love of oneís fellow Man", on the other hand, cannot be done merely out of habit. Although some people have a nature which enables them to tolerate, and even love, a wide range of individuals, there always comes a point at which love becomes impossible.
The only way to feel love for every single Man, without exception, is to relate to his spiritual existence, his soul. Therefore, it is specifically "Love of oneís fellow Man", from among all the duties, which is the paradigm of the entire Volume of sacred Law. Its proper fulfillment brings with it the spiritual elevation which is the basis of the entire Volume of sacred Law.
The two Volume of sacred Law portions, Acharei and Kedoshim. Acharei, begins by mentioning the death of Aaron's sons, and continues with a discussion of the sacrifices. Finally, it ends with a list of prohibited sexual relations. The portion of Kedoshim is a summary of many of the essential principles of the Volume of sacred Law. Included among them is the famous dictum, "Love your neighbor as [you would love] yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).
To the average person, this commandment seems utterly detached from reality. How can one possibly be expected to love another person as much as he loves himself? Masonic teachings suggest that one view all Masons as if they were one complete person. Some Masons correspond to the head, others the body, and still others, the feet. If youíve ever had a headache, youíll readily admit that the pain affects not just your head, but your entire body. And an ingrown toenail can cause an inability to think or concentrate. The body, with all its organs and limbs, is a totally integrated system.
Masons are an integrated body. Every Mason has a part of himself within his fellow man. In loving another a Mason is actually showing love for himself. Grand Master Lindsey once related a story that the Masonic sages said:
We call as our witness heaven and earth that when the Heavenly Court was judging a case involving a man having against him a serious charge, a man who was so simple that he only knew how to pray and recite Psalms, yet was exceptional in his love of fellow Man with all the faculties of his soul: in thought always thinking thoughts of love of fellow Man; in speech speaking of love of fellow Man; in deed benefiting everyone to the best of his ability; sharing the sorrow of every Mason, man and/or woman, and rejoicing in their joy; that the verdict handed down by the Heavenly Court was that he is to have a place among the righteous scholars whom our Sages said were lovers of Masonry." The sigh of a Mason over the suffering of another person breaks all barriers, and the joy and blessings which one rejoices in anotherís happiness, is as acceptable by God as the prayer of the High Priest in the Holy of Holies. A beautiful custom and practical way to foster love of a fellow Man is to say each morning: I take upon myself the positive commandment of "Love your fellow like yourself." What a way to start the day!