Anglo-Saxon Masonry has strayed from
its original purpose and no longer teaches its
candidates the fundamental truths which
underpin the Craft. That is why I support
the initiative to start an Orator scheme to
provide well-written papers describing this
Masonic journey, for delivery in Lodges.
Educating our members about the purpose
of Masonry should be a priority regardless of
whether or not they wish to deepen their
understanding of it. Much continental
Masonry, which continues to thrive, and
Latin American Masonry, which is the
fastest growing Masonry in the world, insists
on the candidates becoming proficient in,
and having an understanding of, any Degree
they have taken, before allowing them to
They have to write papers and answer
questions on the ceremony they have
experienced before they are allowed to
move to the next Degree. Do we consider
the questions our candidates have to answer
before being passed and raised really give
‘proofs of proficiency’ in the former degree?
I think not.
However, as well as educating our
members, it is important also that we
educate the public at large. We need to
explain ourselves and what we do to non-
Masons who show a genuine interest in us.
We must explain in layman’s language the
lessons we are taught in our Lodges.
I do not believe we will be betraying any
trust by doing so, nor can we be exposing
the mysteries to the eyes of the profane.
What we will be doing is encouraging men
to join us in order to experience the
transformatory process for which
Freemasonry was created.
I strongly believe that the way forward for
Anglo-Saxon Masonry is for its members to
be encouraged positively to talk about the
rituals. There are many men who would join
us if they only realised what Freemasonry was
really about, and it is up to us to tell them.
Our teachings contain universal truths which
need to be promulgated to all those who are
interested. The days of reserving knowledge
for the benefit of a few are over.
I was invited two years ago to address
some of the senior boys and monks at
Downside, the Roman Catholic boarding
school. I spoke for nearly an hour on
Freemasonry, its symbols and its principles.
I quoted passages from the Charge after
initiation to give an idea of what a candidate
is taught in the rituals. I explained the
working tools and how we moralise their
uses in building our temple, not made with
I stressed that Freemasonry was just a
system without dogma and doctrine which
leads us through its three ceremonies on
a progressive path from ignorance to
I pointed out the benefits of the
psychological changes that happen to
a man as he passes from being an Entered
Apprentice through the various offices to
the Master’s chair – how he develops his
intellect, leadership qualities, self-confidence,
tolerance, kindness, compassion, service
to others, open-heartedness, social
responsibility, temperance and above
all self-awareness. By the time I had finished
and taken questions I left them in no doubt
that Freemasonry is a force for good in the
world. Even the headmaster remarked how
different my version of the Craft was from
what he had been led to believe it was like.
The only way we are going to dispel
ignorance is through education. If we all
made the effort to explain Masonry to
laymen in suitable terms we could really
make a difference to the way we are
perceived. Above all we must stress how
enjoyable it is. The brotherhood will surely
come to an end if it ceases to be fun.
I have read many booklets which have
been produced by different Provinces to
explain Freemasonry to their candidates.
So many of them, however, deal with the
form and etiquette of the Craft and do not
give any real explanation of its purpose and
content. As a result, they convey knowledge
but do not inspire the reader to want to
As Michael Walker, Past Grand Secretary
of Ireland, said in his address to our Grand
Lodge last year, there is nothing wrong with
the content of Freemasonry, but there is
definitely something wrong with the way
we package our product.
We keep hearing that men today are
searching for ‘spirituality’ in their lives free
from dogma and doctrine. Freemasonry
undoubtedly has an answer to that search
because it is one of the reasons it was
founded, but it fails to sell itself on the back
of its excellent credentials.
The truth is that the packaging of our
product has become jaded. Society is very
different to what it was even a generation
ago, but Freemasonry has changed hardly
at all. Is it any wonder that we appear
irrelevant to our young candidates and
so many of them subsequently leave us?
I repeat my conviction that the time has
come to talk openly and freely about our
rituals with anyone who is interested, the
only caveat being that we take care not to
dilute the effect the ceremonies will have
on future candidates.
If as a result we inspire our members
to make a daily advancement in Masonic
knowledge and attract men to join us
because of its exciting message, we will
be able slowly to turn the Craft in the
direction for which it was founded.
In a speech I gave during my recent visit to
the Grand Lodge of Chile in Santiago, I said:
We are all brothers on this same journey, a
journey leading to self-knowledge and ultimately
perfection. The American poet, Emerson,
described it as a journey of ‘ascending effort’.
And as we climb higher on the path we are
helped by those brethren who are ahead of
us and in turn encourage those who are behind.
Freemasonry is a system without dogma or
doctrine which signposts, through the interpretation
of its symbols, the journey we must all make. It is a
template for the evolution of human consciousness,
and as such is a progressive science of becoming –
becoming something greater than we are now.
It has various set stages for our development.
A high moral code of ethical behaviour is the
essential condition on which our journey is
founded, and that includes the need to be in
control of our emotions, our passions and desires.
This is followed by the importance of education
and the training of our reason and intellect as
a force for good in the world.
When these conditions are fulfilled and we are
truly centred as human beings, our hearts open to
the great potential which is at once the birthright
and destiny of the human race. For as we climb
higher we become wiser and can see further and
more clearly what is the purpose of our life, and
what the Great Architect has planned for us.
That is the great mystery of Freemasonry which
all of us are destined to rediscover.
The Cornerstone Society:
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