The Worshipful Grand Orator, Lon Woodbury proclaimed something I believe very much worth repeating. In his wonderful article "Three Steps to Clarity," in The Idaho Freemason, (April, 2007): 6, he noted that "the highest meaning of the term Master Mason is finding spiritual light." He used an interesting little ditty from the 1960's (for those of us who can remember those times!), "If it feels good do it!" Now what are we as Masons supposed to find in parallel with that comment? Isn't that just permission for a free for all? No. He explains it within Masonic terms that I found powerful. "This mantra from the 1960's is suggesting we should satisfy and feed our emotional desires, rather than discipline and control them. As became evident to the survivors of the 1960's, it is impossible to achieve a good life or do anything significant if we spend our energy feeding our desires and following our emotions wherever they may take us." And with all the
worldly temptations we are faced with (as we were in the 1960's, 70's, 80's, etc.), It is Masonry which teaches us the direction we can and should go so "we can accomplish this emotional discipline." And this direction is work. No we as Masons do not demand absolute perfection in each degree before the next one is added, but we do strive for it. Setting goals is work. Making them serious, and our intents and efforts willing to try to achieve the goals, honestly, is work. And it is satisfying, worth all the efforts, and gives us growth.The self-discipline in the First degree of Masonry (mainly learning), is then expanded in the Second Degree to learning and watching our actions as well. Step by step, we improve, which thus improves absolutely everyone around us in our lives.
The working tools of the second degree are "the Plumb, Square and Level. The Plumb admonishes us to act upright before God and man, testing our actions by the Square of Virtue and remembering, by the Level, that all men are created equal." (p. 7) Quite frankly, if men in the world would simply do these simple things, how vastly different would our world be, truly?
And the third degree takes us past our own learning and actions, into a higher and holier realm of realizing that death is all of our lots, no matter how rich, good, mean, arrogant, disgusting, enlightened, etc., one becomes. Death occurs, period. There will be an end of this mortality, period. We are taught to realize this, and recognize that the immortality of the soul clarifies our lives even more powerfully than just in the first two degrees. "the issue is not so much the end of life as it is how we can prepare ourselves in the here and now. What can we do now that will not only make us a better person, but will prepare us for the afterlife?" (p. 7)
Masonry gives us the keys for this. Masonry properly teaches us focus, personal power, responsibility, and goodness, caring for others, in order to care for ourselves, and glorify God. This, done here and now, whether with big acts or small, is a proper preparation for the afterlife as well. "All of the evils of this world can be traced back to ego, or vanity. So, the Master Mason can do his part to be a better man by disciplining or eliminating his egotism." The tool of the trowel, which symbolizes spreading the cement of brotherly love throughout the world, is a powerful symbol for the process. "The final step to clarity is he learns to treat all men on the level, as his equal. None are to be treated as better or worse than he, all are brothers. When he can truly believe in brotherly love without reservation, he has conquered his ego."(p. 7) We use all the tools with liberality, and without holding back, so far as is possible. As Dave Savage, P.M., noted in Transactions of the Idaho Lodge of Research No. 1965, speaking of the trowel of the Master Mason, it is "the working tool most symbolic of the highest plane to which a mortal man can expect to ascend; the spiritual plane, whereby a man is able to look outside of himself in the interest of all humanity. By the use of this instrument we learn to apply that cement which binds us together as a society in humble imitation of the way our creator binds the universe by his immutable law... in it [the trowel] is concealed the equilateral triangle which from time immemorial has been a symbol of the divine." (Transactions, The Idaho Lodge of Research, Vol. 27/4 (December, 2005): 3).
The world direly needs this information and practice the attitude of these principles. It will make the world a better place. Want proof right here and now? Try it, for just one day with ALL people you interact with. Go ahead and prove it to yourselves, here, now.