There are two Great Prohibitions in Freemasonry… Discussion of Politics or Religion in Lodge.
Why? There is nothing that can separate us from fellowship, courtesy, kindness and brotherly love faster than these two topics.
Feuds, Fights, and Arguments over these have destroyed good harmony among men – even men of good temperament and character – for centuries.
As a Brotherhood we are charged with and by, our obligation, to circumscribe our behaviors, and keep our passions within DUE Bounds, toward ALL mankind, Especially a Brother Mason. Everyone has their own preconceived ideas on both of these, either inherited or learned, and many are quite passionate about either – or both.
We, as Masons strive for justice, peace, harmony, kindness, charity, and amity toward each other and the world. We are guided by the tenets of our Spiritual Beliefs, in which these qualities are imbedded.
We are required, in order to become a Mason, to profess belief in a Supreme Being – a giver of life and all good. It is that profession that binds us. Nothing Else. To that end, we invoke the blessing of Deity to guide us in all our affairs.
This is no small thing. Our prayers are an homage, a supplication, a request and a reverent acknowledgement of the power of the Great Architect of the Universe to bind and shape us into the kind of men He would have us to be. Approaching this accomplishment in our lives here, recommends us to that Spiritual Building – that house not made with hands – Eternal in the Heavens…when our work is finished here.
Tonight we start a series on Masonic Spirituality.
We will delve into the difference between Religion and Spirituality, What the World has always thought or said that we are, Morality throughout history, What we actually Believe, and What we actually Practice.
Religion, That Formal practice of rules regulations, dogma and precepts, No matter what Faith, requires the adherent to follow strictly, just exactly what is set down – as Law – Truth – and – Correct…meaning all other religions have either missed the point or teach the wrong message. Oh, there may be some conciliatory admission that this faith is close, or that faith is nearly the same – BUT – . However, they simply insist that the adherent believe unquestioningly, that their path is the true path.
Interestingly enough, ALL religions have the same goal: To lead one to God.
Even more interesting is that all religions had the very same beginnings of thought, spurred by early Man’s understanding – or lack thereof – the things in their lives, good and not so good that impacted their survival.
I’m going to divert… just for a moment…to say that so, as well, does Spirituality.
We all know, have read, and understand that in the beginning, mankind worshipped, fire, rain, thunder, lightning, water, animals, crops, floods, volcanoes, and winds. They attributed human aspects and traits to these things – good and bad, as part of their morality code.
The concept of singularity – one “Great Spirit” – began to form very late in mankind’s development. At some point, teachers, sages, oracles and the like, began to attribute everything to a greater good, a power greater than we, a God above all gods. Why?
The questioning of “Is this all there is?” If HE is THERE, can we not GET THERE at some point as well?
Every religion had and still has at it’s roots, a belief in the afterlife…The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Hindus, all of them. They all built on those beliefs – Finding God, and getting to the afterlife.
Some were less than noble, and some still are, yet most claim to be the correct path and everything else is heresy….but every one is based on that system of morality…that innate code of right and wrong, good and bad.
There were some that didn’t follow prescribed tenets. Those people believed that yes, there is a God of our own understanding, yes He is Omnipotent, the Creator of all things, and yes He is a loving God who wants only to help us find the right path. Their moral code was the same, their belief in the eternal life hereafter was the same, but their intuition and inspiration told them that God was also within, all around, and in everything.
Interesting word – Inspiration. From the Greek Inspiros…In Spirit – from it we get inspired. Some early Gnostics, pre-Christian – like the Essenes, began to believe… that one could believe…without dogma. Even Jesus, in the time he traveled in his youth, found teachings relevant to this thought in other places in the known world, and spoke of God within.
Spirituality in simple terms, is a belief – a certain knowing, if you will, that based on personal experience, there is a God, He is loving, He is in Everything, and He wants all of us to find him through our own path…A God of our own Understanding.
It isn’t that those who practice Spirituality are negative types, and dislike dogma and rules, it is an understanding that they just aren’t needed.
God isn’t a Presbyterian, a Jew, a Catholic, or a Muslim. God is!
Where do we, as Masons fit in? Actually…in both worlds. We use a Holy Book of Law as the rule and guide for our lives. The written moral code to live by.
We may be practicing Jews, Catholics, Protestants, or Muslims as well, but we live by the great moral code in the teachings. To Masons, Humankind, as long as there is a deep and abiding faith in God, are all worthy. We may practice a religion, but we practice Spirituality. We know we will achieve eternal life, because our moral compass points us always to the correct path. We as Masons, are not about exclusion or condemnation. We welcome any man who practices these good qualities, and answers to the God of his understanding. It – and we – are totally compatible with it.
Next time we’ll look at who the World’s Religions think we are – and why.
But For Now, I… Am “In-Spired” to end here!
Thank You Worshipful Master!