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The Real Freemasonry

A Master Mason was sitting in the shade of a large old tree when he was approached by three travelers dressed in jewels and fine robes. He heard them bickering among themselves as they walked along the twisty path in the hot sun. They stopped as they reached the tree under which he sat, and regarded him with curiosity.

“I am the Grand Master of Freemasons,” said the first traveler, who wore a purple apron with many ribbons and gold jewels, “and I have ten thousand masons serving at my will and pleasure. We raise millions of dollars, we march in parades, and our brotherhood spans the globe. Come and join with me, and we will be the greatest fraternity in the world.”

“Feh, you call that Freemasonry?” scoffed the second traveler. “Your group is nothing but a shadow of our Freemasonry. I am the Grand Master of the real Freemasons; we acknowledge the importance of thinkers and philosophers, and we respect the origins of our craft!” And with that the second Grand Master, in his apron decorated with various insignia, proceeded to recite the rituals of the degrees without missing a word.

“Oh please, that is so tiresome!” said the third Grand Master, a woman wearing a robe embroidered with esoteric sigils and symbols, “Only we truly understand the real Freemasonry. We have studied the Wisdom of the Ancients and have divined their hidden meanings.” Waving her ceremonial athame, she magically lit three burning tapers around herself and asked “What does your Freemasonry have to compare to ours?”

The Master Mason shook his head and said “I am sorry, but my own Masonry has nothing so grandiose, nor anything so esoteric, nor anything so mystical.” He rose to his feet and pointing to his 24 inch gauge and his gavel said, “Please excuse me, but my time for rest is almost finished, and I have a long way to go before I have smoothed my ashlar.”

And with that, he picked up his tools and went back to work, ignoring the bickering of the three Grand Masters as they walked away in the hot sun on the twisty path.

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Categories: Freemasonry, koans, tao, taoism, zen
  1. August 6, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    The Freemasonry that can be described
    is not the eternal Freemasonry. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name.

    The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth. The named is the mother of creation.

    Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery. By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.

    Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source. This source is called darkness.

    Darkness born from darkness. The beginning of all understanding.

    [a paraphrase of Tao te Ching, 1]

    Widow’s Son


  2. August 6, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    I know that some people dont’ care for the Stephen Mitchell translation because he wrote it to be somewhere to between prose and poetry. I like it because it bridges that gap – it’s pleasnt to the ear without sounding contrived.

    It might interest you to know that I had the Mitchell translation on the altar for my own obligations. My new lodge brothers never batted an eye, and a few did ask me about it later on.

    I guess after the Wiccan, a Taoist must seem pretty tame.


  3. August 7, 2006 at 12:54 am

    Excellent and True piece, brother.
    I wonder if the regalia grandiose members of the fraternity could learn from that short quip?


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