Three, five, and seven
3 5 7
By Stan Shapiro MD, Grand Lodge Education Officer G.L. of MN
“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.”- Charles Popplestown
“The sign of an intelligent people is their ability to control their emotions by the application of reason.”-Marya Mannes
To Learn to Subdue my Passions and Improve Myself in Masonry
By Bob Bowersox, P.M.
Sherburne Lodge #95
Elk River, Minnesota
What a wonder it is to see the equality of Masonry in action. Individually, we are Teacher, Banker, Businessman, Tradesman, Farmer, or Laborer. Together, we are Brothers. From the most highly educated to the illiterate, from the highest economic reaches to the lowest, we come together to learn and improve ourselves.
“To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.” This phrase from the opening of the First Degree gives cause to why we became Masons. “To learn to subdue my passions…” As an Entered Apprentice, I wondered on the meaning or intent of this phrase. To subdue: to restrain, to pacify, to subjugate our passions; our indifference, rage, anger, and fury, the passions of the darker side of our nature. Those passions lead us into the realm of uncontrolled and unbridled emotional response, which causes us to act in a manner opposite to our professed beliefs.
There is no room within the Lodge of Brothers for uncontrolled emotions. We cannot exist as a Society of Friends and Brothers and remain united in our great and good work if uninhibited passion governs our actions. We must learn to subdue these passions which cause us to act in an uncaring and hot-blooded manner. We are taught with this phrase, to listen to our Brother and respect his views. There is no requirement for agreement, only acceptance of his right to hold his beliefs. There exists, however, a requirement that we accept his right to believe as equally as our own right, to accept his truths to be as real and right as our own truths. This ability to subdue the passions allows us to all be Brothers under the same God that we may all worship and adore in our own fashion. This requirement, by its very nature, must expand beyond the Lodge. Each Brother must extend this same courtesy to everyone under the canopy of heaven. For all of mankind holds opinions, truths and beliefs and we as Masons are taught to and must give all peoples the right to hold their own special theologies and philosophies of life.
We are not asked to subdue the passions of the better angels of our nature. In fact, we are expected to expand the joy, the love, brotherhood, benevolence, and enthusiasm that we brought to Masonry. We treat with God for the wisdom to be the better enabled to understand the beauty of brotherly love, relief and truth to the honor of his Holy name. We ask for this boon to become better men. Better than we were before our entrance into the Craft. We must continually strive for this improvement. Our phrase”to learn to” carries an implication for study. We search for knowledge which we are all exhorted to pursue with vigor and zeal.
We understand the importance to learn and to subdue, but how do we improve ourselves in Masonry? We must apply ourselves to, and embrace the lessons we have learned through our study and application of the subjugation of our passions. We are not blind to the lack of control of passion. We see everyday what unrestrained passion and unbridled zeal does in the world. We see in our newspapers what intolerance creates among the people of the world. Yet the world wrings its collective hands in a futile gesture of sorrow not knowing the answer to these intolerant actions. If only the Principles of Freemasonry could be applied to the world, what a difference it would make.
This is how we, as Masons, can improve ourselves in Masonry. By the application of the lessons and practices inculcated within our ritual. But sometimes we don’t pay attention to the ritual. It has been recited and heard so often, the meanings of the words have been numbered in our minds. Listen to the work. Listen to the ritual. The hidden Mysteries of Masonry are all contained within. There is nothing within our labor that can cause conflict with our god, our neighbor, our country, or ourselves, yet within the work are the truths. We must all look within this ancient and time-honored ritual to discover its secrets.
This one phrase, given in one of the degrees, is a powerful and meaningful phrase. Look upon it with a different eye than before. “To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.” Apply this one lesson from this simple yet powerful expression and you will have taken the first step to change the world.
Words To Live By:
“Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.” – Islam Qur’an 39.10
“The degree of one’s emotions varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts.”–Bertrand Russell
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