Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pride and Elitism

by Rudy Olano

 for those who long to sit where the Sun rises
and to those who hear the sound of silver trumpet at early dawn and eve of day,
 the glory is what was done for others not the jewel to show around

A story about pride, humility, arrogance and elitism. These words exemplify both extremes of human characters. Some people were born with these qualities as imbedded in their DNA and some learn to adopt it for their own reasons. In our Fraternity the idea of making a good men a better man has been the object of the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry.  The repetitive reminder of receiving others in a morally upright mindset, dealing fairly on an even ground, ensuring correctness of one actions or parting upon the square are not just an arcane mindless ritual but of a part of veiled allegories and illustrated by symbols of a moral system known as Freemasonry.  Every members of this Craft are thought that every symbols has meaning and that includes the mandatory requirement of reciting certain pledge as an metaphor of the importance of keeping ones word---it's a teaching tool or another symbol and not to be taken literally. These are just few of unique methods our Craft utilized to turn rough ashlar into a polished marble -- from good men to a better man.

     The story starts with two good men who the narrator remembered before they petitioned for degrees in Freemasonry. One was personally interviewed and the other was received upon the point of sharp instrument. Both of these Brethren went on to became Masters of their own Lodges. Invited at the Lodge installation of officers, naturally the narrator was full of pride in seeing the personal accomplishments of those he have some minuscule part of their labor. Although being away from the area for sometime, the old timers recognized the narrator and were reminiscing gone by days when a past master noted a Masonic pin on the lapel of the long lost brother. With a loud voice this PM invited other PM announcing that the narrator is wearing "their" pin ie past master pin. Red faced with unexpected drama, all the narrator did was to mumble that it is not a PM pin but of Cryptic Masons pin. Few years passed, the narrator was again invited by a PM on his re-installation to the Eastern chair. And like a bad dream that comes true, the scenario played out once again. However, this time the narrator evoked a Masonic teaching of counsel to ears to the grinning PM and pointed out that the same question was asked few years back and the same answer will be given. That the narrator was not and never claimed to be a past master of a blue lodge and that pin is a symbol of purple Council of Cryptic Masons. This time the now serious PM took time and a closer look of the lapel pin. With his own discovery, he noted the trowel instead of a letter G common to blue Lodge symbology.

     The feeling of accomplishment and the resulting pride in oneself are illustrated in both extremes, the narrator pride in seeing his minuscule part of someone accomplishment is different from the PM belief that only they can wear "their" pin. For humans who exerted so much to a certain endeavor, sometimes the feeling of self entitlement seriously clashed with a notion called humility.  Humility unchecked is arrogance and with arrogance comes the feeling of being cocooned within the protective walls of elitism. There are those within the walls of our Fraternity see themselves as the sole owners of Masonic symbols and non members who use such were treated as unequal or unworthy of the lessons of plumb, level and square.  For a moral system which encourage fairness, brotherhood, toleration, the proliferation of symbols and practices that suggest elitism such as colors, designs, titles, etc., are so prevalent that one has to wonder --- who we are now a days?  Despite of what we learned, it seems that the simple unblemished white apron is not enough for those who thought they worked harder than the rest therefore, entitled to a special symbol, group and titles. There is a lesson in Scottish Rite's thirty second degree which applies to all persons, Masons or not, York Rite or not, blue Lodge PM or not --- it is about finding, understanding, and maintaining balance in our life. It is about enjoying the feeling of being proud without the stigma of arrogance, of being humble without label of elites and ultimately being illuminated to see the darkness of our own soul.  

     Who am I, whence I came from and what I came here to do? These are the basic questions we learned to ask ourselves. We memorized the correct responses but internalized the real answers. Having sat in the East and tasted the power of the gavel, a different question applies to a now Past Master.  Like the basic questions which has two set of answers one official and one that really matters--- the answer that resides within the vault of our inner crypt that stores all our real consciousness --- what did I really accomplished, is it for my Brethren, my family or for myself? Response could be easy if we truly understand the difference between pride, humility, arrogance and elitism.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Not Looking For Apology

by RmOlano
27 April 2013
An edited compilation of several exchanges of opinions with a Brother of the Craft at League of Masons forum.
The elected leader of Roman Catholic Church issued a Papal Bull declaring Freemasonry is not compatible to Catholic Dogma. That ruling was never been rescinded, withdrawn, or even modified in since. The letter from the Judicial Vicar of Office of the Archdiocesan Tribunal, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, dated September 15, 2000, to the Masonic Service Bureau of North America of positive support to our Craft is a personal comment that went against the position taken by the highest possible leader of the RCC. It is obvious that even clergy knows who we are and what we stand for but for obvious reason they have to support their leader’s ruling. Let us not forget that the ex-Pope Benedict was the former Cardinal Ratzinger who used to be the head enforcer i.e. Prefect of the Congregation of Doctrine of Faith which was formerly known as Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition or simply Holy Office before his election to the Throne of Peter. He did not introduce an iota of change relative to status of Catholic men joining Freemasonry during his term. Before his predecessor Pope John Paul II passed away the popular Pope issued statement of apology to the victims of the excesses of the Church i.e. mistakes of the institution during the period known as Inquisition. He never ask for forgiveness for the injustice and suffering given to their own servants--- Knights Templar. Only history would tell if this new Pope will see different light and be bold enough to acknowledge that the Craft is not a threat to the Catholic Church. It is the myopic vision of those who are afraid to lose power and control of their fiefdom are the real threat to the soul of this Western ecclesiastical establishment.

Inquisition is persecution. When people were burned alive, tortured or thrown to dungeon for mere suspicion of being a Freemason, engaged in witchcraft, homosexual or believing such a blasphemous thought such as the world is round and rotates around the sun, the entity which allows, condones, sponsored such heinous acts ceased it legitimacy to claim that God is on their side. Anyone who tries to argue with those who believe that there is justification that Inquisition was a legitimate action against "...members committing acts contrary to its beliefs, doctrine, precepts and law..." and agree "that's regulation" should be forewarned of the futility so such exchange. Spanish Inquisition was blessed and carried out by members of the RCC. Though Jews and Muslims were the original targets, later on these purging activities specifically latched on any suspected or actual Freemasons. This far reaching cleansing action can be attributed to the executions of Freemasons in the Philippines notably to a fellow known as Jose Rizal.
Bro Kenneth Gibala, PM, Benjamin B French Lodge No. 15 once said that be careful of describing an organization that you don't belong for what you might hear are just hearsay. Truth is what an individual want to believe regardless of facts. When the RCC apologized for its abuses to humanity during Inquisition why it is those victims who were persecuted because of their membership to certain group such as Knight Templar or Freemasonry are not qualified for apology? There is no animosity between Freemasonry and Roman Catholic Church; there is animosity from RCC to our Fraternity--- big difference my dear Brother.

Freemasonry taught to those who would listen to refrain from accepting what seems to be obvious and be knowledgeable to discern that there are messages behind abstract ideas. Hiding in plain sight, seeing with eyes wide shut or squaring the circle are not just metaphors but could mean something to those whose attempting to reach the level of illumination where he truly see the darkness of my soul. “.... Veiled in allegories and illustrated by symbols,” many so-called learned members parroted the lectures without understanding the message they delivered, many candidates just sat there with glazed eyed trying not to sleep, some thought its show biz or Oscar award night, but some do think twice and tried to figure out what really is the Craft all about.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Defending to be a Freemason

by RmOlano

Taking a chance to join in beating up a very dead horse, this issue came up numbers of years ago in this forum. One of the wisdom imparted to the young man was a reminder that marriage is about partnership, about trusting and respecting other belief and opinion, making allowances to each other errors--- in short making the union work. If the other half is being force to "defend" something that the other half believe is important then, we could only speculate where this trend could stop. Defending why a 32" LED flat screen is better than 54" plasma or SUV rather than family van? There are things that a man could tell his wife, girl friend, or fiancée to just trust him and in the same token, there are things that she could say the same. If this fundamental ingredient is absent i.e. lack of trust then the young man has more important issue to resolve. Without doubt, that the Craft will still be around when he is truly ready to knock as all brothers and fellows have done who have gone that way before.

One lesson we can learn from Mosaic Pavement is the presence of opposite colors on a level plain. It could be interpreted as symbolized notion of the presence of opposite views or beliefs. They are out in the open and co-exist under the canopy of Heaven where all Masons work. The significance of tiles laid side-by-side, level, its placement, and usage during ritual work are well calculated to inculcate in the mind of novitiate that the ceremonies of Masonic Degrees are intended and hoped to make deep and lasting impression. It is unnecessary to recapitulate events that non-initiates would not understand. The point of this long-winded thought is the concept of agreeing to disagree. For those who are members of this group for sometime the subject is a very dead horse. I understand why some do not see it that way. Even a light from the same source when it passed through a prism of our choice would yield different shades of colors. If we substitute prism as experience then we can correlate “shades of colors” as opinions and/or beliefs. There is no right or wrong, just different view from different vantage point.

Not to belittle or offend the intelligence of uninitiated, even regularly made Masons could not come to agreement on how to define Freemasonry. Freemasonry can be defined in many different ways. It is like defining beauty--- it is in the eye of beholder. For some it is a good old boy network, some see it as social group, some it is a mystic circle and some perceived it as making good men a better man. As the definitions numbered as almost the same as its members world wide, how anyone can “defend” something he does not even experienced or even know yet?

If we subscribed with Brother Albert Pike definition of the Craft as “a system of morality, veiled in allegories and illustrated by symbols,” one need to know the symbols first before grasping what it mean to him, to his brethren, and to the world around him. This study as our young Brother is now embarked is a life long endeavor. The journey is bisected with trials and tribulations over the rough and rugged road—it is not always easy. It will take time therefore; it is wise to allow the time and patience to run its course. The journey is not for anybody else, it is always for the traveler--- to build his own temple not made by hands eternal in Heaven. The answer to the inquiries at the door can only truly answered by responses coming from the candidate’s heart. Am I duly and truly prepared? Of what I am in search of? If the object is to be able to wear a ring with square and compass to impress those who can, then just buy the ring and be done with it. If someone need permission or to “defend” himself to join a group of good men trying to be a better man—then someone need to think again as to why he wanted to be one. Freemasonry is not for everybody.