FREEMASONRY – A BEAUTIFUL IDEAL
As life slowly returns to a new normal, lodges of the British Federation are back at work and physical meetings are resuming. For me, after nearly two years without attending a lodge meeting, Freemasonry has become something almost odd and strange. But I don’t mean that in a bad way; on the contrary, lockdown and the impossibility of meeting in a lodge has brought back some of the mystery of Freemasonry. It has made me rethink what Freemasonry is and what it does or aims to do.
We are told to leave our metals outside the lodge, an idea which can be taken as far as each individual Freemason desires; from the temporary abandonment of daily pursuits to differing levels of gnosticism but, at the very least, we are in the lodge to do work which will not be measured materially. Comparisons are never entirely flattering or even accurate, but the work of the Freemason in the lodge is akin to a form of spiritual and intellectual karate. Karate, as an experienced Sensei once explained to me, is far more than a mere form of self defence: it is the search for perfection. The katas and techniques employed by the karate practitioner aim at much more than knocking out an adversary: each movement must have timing, grace and flow. And in Freemasonry the same can be said about the detailed, complex and at times even fastidiously exacting aspects of the ritual. It can take a lifetime to become a good ritualist (I speak not of myself of course, but of people I know). The devil is in the detail when it comes to Masonic ritual and yet it is a well-known fact that perfection is unattainable and that only glances of it are made available to us. And such is life; our expectations never fully meet reality. It is in those failed expectations and in our mistakes and those of others, that we learn to journey from darkness to light, since it is in the acceptance of darkness that our journey commences on the chequered pavement, from rough ashlars to cubic stones. ‘If something is worth doing, is worth doing well’, I have heard many brothers and sisters say. Masonic work parallels the work we do outside in the world, but educates us, teaching us that the reward is many times approaching some semblance of perfection in our endeavours – a job well done. This is all in reference to the internal work of Freemasonry, but of course Masonic ideals spill over into the world and affect it in some way or other precisely by inserting that rough ashlar free of excrescences, half way to being polished, within the temple of humanity.
We are privileged that our Order, the British Federation of Le Droit Humain, has been connected to institutions such as the Fabian Society, the Theosophical Society and the Liberal Catholic Church.
Tolerance, understood in universal terms, where neither creed, race, gender nor background are taken into account, is one of the most distinctive traits of Freemasonry, and in particular of our Order. It was the sterling and brave work of founders of the British Federation that Co-Masonry introduced in Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry a rebellious strain and a search for justice in the world.
‘The true basis of morality is utility; that is, the adaptation of our actions to the promotion of the general welfare and happiness; the endeavour so to rule our lives that we may serve and bless mankind.’ Annie Besant
In my opinion Freemasonry is above all a beautiful ideal – an ideal which Freemasons keep alive every time the RWM opens the lodge. We face new challenges in these uncertain times but new opportunities present themselves too. Our Order has much to offer and because it offers not metals but spiritual wages I am certain that Le Droit Humain will move onwards and upwards. Ideals are resilient. They don’t kill easily.
Lodge Human Duty No. 6
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