In January, we had our first “lodge of education.” Our brother junior warden coined the phrase to distinguish the new format from a lodge of instruction and from a table lodge, both having traditional formats.
A lodge of instruction is conducted within a tiled lodge. Historical or instructional lectures are presented to a lodge in silence with no discussion while the lodge is tiled. Lodge of instruction presentations are then discussed over a feast of agape afterwards, which is in itself another traditional format. The formal discussion is facilitated by the worshipful master and his wardens and interjected by a series of toasts.
A table lodge is scheduled in our trestleboard in March. Table lodges, like lodges of instruction, follow a prescribed format. Table lodges are celebratory feasts with a series of toasts meant to raise the bonds between brethren. Come to our table lodge to see a tradition which our lodge began within our district. Come see why the tradition has caught on.
In January’s lodge of education I continued a discussion started in the February “From the junior deacon” column. We resumed the search for the parts of our triune self that have been temporarily lost to us in the temporal world. The symbols I used to demonstrate our triune self and triune journey were the three degrees of freemasonry. As an entered apprentice, the doer begins to do what is necessary in the physical body to prepare for the self’s journey of remembering, and eventually, of knowing. The fellow craft aligns his thinking with what is learned in the physical plane, and with this knowing tries to connect the physical thinking, ground to this temporal body, with the knower which the thinker has lost. The thinker has forgotten all its past knowing, which the knower knows on its plane. The master mason must remember what it knows, and think how it will communicate with the thinker, and wake the doer to reunite with its self. In simpler terms, we might refer to the doer as the being in the physical plane. The thinker is the mind, which depends on the physical being to exist and function in the temporal plane. The knower is perhaps the spirit, the part of the self which is separate from the physical plane but depends on the physical body to exist in the temporal plane. The knower has separated many, many times from the doer and the thinker. Very, very few of us thinkers remember anything that the knower has come to know. This is what the master mason must seek.
Sleepers awake in the degree of master mason more often than not. The memory is jostled, and the inner self awakens. If the heart and organs of reception are all aligned with spinal cord and brain, the mind receives the light contained in the words, postures, and movements of each ritual.
More often than not, we will step away from the rituals of the degrees thinking nothing of them. Those who go on to travel, to visit other lodges, to support other brethren experiencing the degrees, may come to see the further light. Experiencing the degrees over and over, hearing and repeating the words, repeating the movements and actions, and experiencing the masonic myth you are repeatedly placed in a different plane of existence. Dramas, liturgies, initiatic ceremonies place us in a different space. When we speak of the masonic myth, we are not referring to legend or fairy tales. Myth, from the Greek “mythos,” is a set of assumptions, foundational beliefs, or underlying story basic to a belief system, forming its culture and values. The myth of Buddhism is the life and teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, a noble sage of the Shakyans in India. His primary teaching was the attainment of enlightenment in this physical plane or the exaltation of the human in this body.
Freemasonry is a journey of the self through three degrees of remembering this myth. The myth is one of building a temple not made of stone. The rough ashlar must become perfect and the cement that binds it pure. This is the myth of freemasonry. Let us live it, my brothers.