Monday, February 29, 2016

A Brother Asks... How are the Penalties Administered "Symbolically"?

 
 
A Brother Asks: How does a Brother say, "yes" to the Penalties of his Obligation?
 
My Response: A Brother says, "yes to the Penalties", whenever...
  1. His Words prove to have no Value thus Rendering his Tongue useless,  (EA WORK!)
  2. His Heart is shown not to be in what he is doing thus Rendering his Heart useless, (FC WORK!) and
  3. His Head and his Heart are shown to be torn in two different direction, thus Rendering him useless, (MM WORK!).
Although presented as only symbolic, the penalties are allegorical for the reality that is self-inflicted by the person violating his Obligations upon himself.

Let's make this personal.  They were revealed to you so that you would...
  1. Know what occurs by your own hand when you manifest the above conditions;
    • Your Words and Deeds are out of Integrity.  Your Words can no longer be trusted.
    • Your Heart is uninvolved in what you do.  Your Heart can no longer be trusted.
    • Your Head and Heart are in Conflict and you're Torn in two unsupportive Directions. You can no longer be trusted.
  1. Understand clearly that others shall...
    • No longer "listen to you" or "place any value in your words".  Your words shall have no weight and they shall not be taken seriously.  They shall know better than to listen to you.  The world shall shun you as a man unable to speak with Integrity.
    • No longer place trust in you.  Your Heart has been proven to not be involved in what you do.  Anything your might commit to or be involved in will clearly be done in a heartless manner.  They shall know better than to have you involved or take serious what you commit to.  The World shall shun you as a man whose Heart is not Involved.
    • No longer invest in you when you show the world that your Head and Heart are in conflict with each other and you're being pulled in two entirely different directions.  The world shall shun you as a man unable to be totally invested due to your lack of integrity and your torn being.
If it is not clear to you yet, let me say it more plainly:  When you violate your obligations, you self-impose any one of the three penalties upon your self.  No one else is involved.  They don't have to be.  You do all the work yourself. 

But, know this too.  Others are impacted negatively by your violations and will not want any part of your impact into the future.

It is most unfortunate that both insiders and outsiders to the Craft have no idea that these are what is meant by "Only Symbolic".  Far too many people are Symbolically Illiterate.  They take Allegorical things as Literal and not Figurative, as Allegory is meant to be taken.  As a result of this manner, you have entire cross-sections of society being swept away in ignorant conclusions and actions that have no basis in reality.

S&F,

Brother John S Nagy​


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Coaches Coach: Stepping Into the Light


 

So often we live believing everyone clearly sees us, and mistakenly judge others from that point of view.  Every once in a while we may be blessed by situations that provide startling shifts, conflicting insights and unanticipated reflections that may humble the proudest among us.
----------------
 
It was like any other spring day in Florida.  The sun was shining, the heat was unbearable and the humidity was disturbingly drenching.  I had just finished mailing a few packages at the local post office when I exited the building, stepped out from under the awning and into the bright Florida sun.  It was about half past eleven when, with the sun to my back, I came out from those shadows and into the crosswalk area leading toward the parking lot.

I’m typically a very brisk walker and usually cover the ground from the exit to my parked car in no time at all.  This day though felt different and it was as I was in midstride and half way through my path that I noticed a huge white utility truck pulling out into the crosswalk path and right toward me.  Alarmed, I stopped and backed up quickly, waving my raised arms wildly trying to get the driver’s attention as I did. 

It was where I was planning to step that the driver finally saw he was about to hit me and slammed on his breaks.  His widened eyes took a while to come out of that shocked look you get when you realize what you could have done.  On the other hand, I was dealing with my own racing heart and uncomfortably indignant thoughts all presupposing that I had the right of way coupled with an assumption that he was just a rude and inconsiderate trucker. 

The startled driver looked out his dirty sun-glared windshield and expressed what looked to be an exaggerated shoulder shrug as he hit the gas and continued on his way.

I worked my way back to my car, still nursing a fast paced heart and troubled mind.  The heat from the car blanketed me as I open the door and slid into its hot seat.  The sweat poured from my brow even though the blasting air conditioner blanketed me.  Engaging reverse, I backed out of my spot, put my car into drive and pulled forward into the crosswalk area that I had just walked through moments before.

And in that moment I found myself slamming on my breaks; just as I was about to hit a woman coming out of the post office shadows and into the crosswalk area light. 

She quickly walked past my stopped car, earnestly apologized for walking so fast and for skirting the crosswalk lines.  Still reeling from the jolt, I nervously smiled and just waved.  I was having a very difficult time forgiving myself all my previous crosswalk thoughts.

When I finally reviewed how those two minutes unfolded, I fell quiet.  I wondered… How many times have I been troubled by those who could not see me?  How often could I have caused trouble because I could not see others?  How does the Light in each of our lives blind us to those who are right before us? 

I wonder still.

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Kind of Library do you Have?



Many Brothers have no clue as to what kind of library they actually have in their home or office.  Most of these Brothers don’t care that they don't know.

Category One
Take a good look at the typical Brother’s library. 

On his shelves will likely be found code books that “letter out”, in some fashion or form, the Rituals of his Jurisdiction.  He will probably also have a book that is called a “monitor” that includes the non-esoteric portions of his Jurisdiction’s Rituals.  This book would include prayers, portions of lectures, and some aspects of his rituals that are not esoteric.  He may have more of the same from other jurisdictions.
When the Brother was properly mentored and instructed, his shelf may include booklets prepared by his Grand Lodge.  They usually include an introduction to his Fraternity, Glossaries of the words and symbols used within each Degree along with explanations that support the Ritual he went through.  It might include what to say to non-members when asked about the society and perhaps even something about how to join when interested.

If the Brother is a bit more involved in the organization, next to them may be the Digest of Law that is used to guide his membership. 
If he is a hard-core practicing member, included on his shelf may be handbooks categorized as “Masonic Etiquette”, “Masonic Law”, “Masonic Lore”, “Masonic History”, “Masonic Allegory”, “Masonic Tradition”, “Masonic Lexicon”, “Masonic Grand Lodges”, "Masonic Floor-Work (a.k.a. "Masonic Choreography")" and “Masonic Symbolism”. 

If he was interested in the Society some time before his petitioning, he will likely have other books in a section dedicated to his efforts to learn more about it.  Those books might include the many standard exposés and guides that can be found fairly easily by anyone desiring to find them.  They may also include books that describe the Society, its Rituals, and its supposed History.  Included in these may also be books about Famous or Well-Known Members of the Society and even historical events and political occurrences believed to somehow be connected with the Society and its members.
If he is hyper-enthusiastic about the organization and about other things, that are considered external to it by the majority of the members, he may have books that speculate upon the society’s origins and outside connecting interests.  They may include on their shelves books that show supposed connections between the society and Rosicrucianism, Cabbala, Alchemy, Mysticism, Biblical Characters, Knights Templar, Illuminati, Divinity, Religion, Underground Organizations, Secret Societies, Shadow or Off-World Governments, New World Orders, Shakespeare, Atlantis, Time-Travel, Ancient Astronauts and many others that have yet to be imagined or considered by the masses.

There are much more that could be added to this list.  Officer training manuals and guides for one.  Papers written about many of the above topics, some espousing past glories, some encouraging Brothers to reach out and reconnect and a few that delve into the minutest detail about some long forgotten organizational practice might also be added. 

Books, papers and articles proscribed by Grand Lodge as forbidden may also be there, proudly displayed but easily concealed when necessary. 

There is always something that can be added to the shelves when it comes to the Society.

Category Two
However, if the Brother takes what Ritual points toward, and directs his attentions toward what it espouses, his book shelves are filled with entirely different books.

You’ll see books on personal development and self-improvement.  He’ll have books covering finding one’s purpose and understanding what is most important in life and in business.  He’ll have books on emotional, personal and business management, and building strong relationships and creating new ones.  Time management and effective habit formation are also covered. 
Books covering Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic abound.  Dictionaries with word roots and etymologies are included.  Books covering archaic phrases, terms and obsolete words are also represented.  These books also cover understanding Symbols as they are represented in words, phrases, metaphor and allegory.  Encyclopedias covering symbolism, metaphors and slang are alongside them.  Books offering translations from one language to another may also be present.

Books covering Mathematics are there too, and this area includes statistics and probability theory.  Geometry, both classical and contemporary, are there too and include a strong presence of Trigonometric Studies.  Music theory, to include numbers in time and how each are represented through numbers and symbols are there as well.  Books on Physics and Astronomy are also represented.  These books cover understanding Symbols as they are represented in numbers, and numeric patterns.
On these shelves are also Classics.  These Classics cover a wide range of Philosophies, Theologies, Authors, Cultures and Histories (untethered to and untainted by “The Society of Free & Accepted Masons” literature and influences).  They each carefully and clearly is represented and they have well-worn pages showing much use. 

And personal journals and workbooks that track thoughts, frustrations, successes and overall progress are likely to be splattered among all the other books, placed carefully next to that work's focus.


Library Assessment
If you’re interested in determining what dominates this Brother's focus, count the number of books that fall into Category One and then count those that fall into Category Two.  Ask yourself: Which of the two dominates the shelves?

As you do this, keep in mind that:

1.      The first category focuses upon the organization and upon being a good organizational member.  It covers everything you need to know about the Organization, how to support it, how to share it, how to maintain it, who was and is in it, what happen within the organization when, where and to whom, what words and phrases to use and how to participate.
2.      The second category focuses upon the person.  It covers what has to be learned by that person to become Better.  This focus includes supporting that person in doing so and shows and cultivates awareness, incentives, actions and skills within that person that contribute to making that person and the world a better place.
As you might have guessed, the overall focus of these books says a lot about the person owned by them.

Suffice it to say, you'll find by your assessment that the majority of the books on the shelves that fall into the first category to be essentially Freemasonic in focus. Why Freemasonic?  Because each of them is all about some aspect of the Organization which bears its name and those who are members to it
You'll find too that the majority of the books that fall into the second category to be essentially Masonic in focus.  Why Masonic?  Because each of them is all about Building both men and what they influence in the world as a whole.


Why Draw these Distinctions? 

Great Question!  Ask yourself the following questionWhat is it that actually Makes Good Men Better? 

Is it...
  1. Having one title after another bestowed upon you for merely showing up? 
  2. Memorizing things you'll never take the time to understand?
  3. Serving a system whose main objectives are to Perform Ritual, Recruit and Retain but not actually Support what it Espouses?
Or is it...
  1. Cultivating you toward Knowing and Ordering your Heart and Head?
  2. Directing your Attention toward what is most Important in life?
  3. Unburdening you from vice and superfluity?
  4. Building you strong and doing so in virtuous ways?
  5. Showing and Teaching you how to better relate to yourself and others - both known and unknown?
  6. Providing you maps, legends and tools along with Instructions and Skill Development on how to Apply them effectively to navigate any territory you may encounter - both known and unknown?
  7. Learning how the universe functions and ultimately commanding the very elements of God's creation - not through some superstitious non-sense, magic or mystical words - but through Wisely Applying the Laws God has laid out for you to Use? 
So, what does your assessment show you and the world?  What kind of Library do you have?  Better yet... what kind of Library has you?

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy 

 

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Brother Asks: What Challenge Do Many Not See?



A Brother Asks: What Challenge is offered by Ritual that many don't see?

My Response: The Challenge Freemasonic Ritual presents to all Brothers who Seriously Perpend what it offers is this: it's Fundamentally a "What To Do" rather than a "How To Do" series of Road Maps and therefore requires men to think beyond just viewing or experiencing it if they are going to benefit from it.

This design is Purposeful.  It takes a Proactive Heart and Engaging Mind to take the Necessary Steps to figure out "How To Do" what it directs us toward and thus make "What To Do" occur once figured out.

Those who fail to meet this Challenge may never begin to realize on what they are missing out.

The Challenge also Distinguishes engaged Builders from passive Members.

Which are you?  Don't tell us.  Show us!

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Sunday, February 21, 2016

...In The Spirit of Critical Truth...



"It is the opprobrium of Freemasonry that its history has never yet been written in a spirit of critical truth*; that credulity, and not incredulity, has been the foundation on which all Masonic historical investigations have hitherto been built; that imagination has too often "lent enchantment to the view;" that the missing links of a chain of evidence have been frequently supplied by gratuitous invention; and that statements of vast importance have been carelessly sustained by the testimony of documents whose authenticity has not been proved.

"And this leads me to the important question: How is the history of Freemasonry to be written, so that the narrative shall win the respect of its enemies, and secure the assent and approbation of its friends?

"In the first place, we must begin by a strict definition of the word Masonry. If we make it synonymous with Freemasonry, then must we confine ourselves closely to the events that are connected with the Institution in its present form and organization. We may then say that Masonry received a new organization and a restoration in the beginning of the eighteenth century. We may trace this very Institution, with an older but not dissimilar form, in the Masonic gilds of Europe; in the corporations of Stone-masons of Germany; in the travelling Freemasons of the Middle Ages, and connect it with the Colleges of Architects of Rome. Such a history will not want authentic memorials to substantiate its truth, and there will be no difficulty in conferring upon the Institution an enviable antiquity.

"But if we confound the term Masonry with Geometry, with Architecture, or with Moral Science, we shall beget in the mind, equally of the writer and the reader, such a confusion of ideas as can never lead to any practical result. And yet this has been the prevailing error of all the great English writers on Masonry in the last, and, with a few exceptions, even in the present century. At one moment they speak of Masonry as a mystical institution which, in its then existing form, was familiar to their readers. Soon afterwards, perhaps on the same page, a long paragraph is found to refer, without any change of name, under the identical term Masonry, to the rise of Architecture, to the progress of Geometry ( or perhaps to the condition of the moral virtues.
...

  "No greater honor could accrue to any man than that of having been the founder of a new school of Masonic history, in which the fictions and loose statements of former writers would be rejected, and in which the rule would be adopted that has been laid down as a vital maxim of all inductive science, — in words that have been chosen as his motto by a recent powerful investigator of historical truth:

'Not to exceed and not to fall short of facts — not to add and not to take away. To state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.' "

Source: OCR from Bro. Albert Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1917 edition pages 333-335

* that is, until 2014 when "The Craft Unmasked: The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry and its Practice" was published.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Brother Asks: How can I Spot Craft Ruffians?



A Brother Asks: Coach!  I'm a bit frustrated and hurting.  I'm not liking what I'm seeing in and getting from some of my brothers. Could you give me a quick guide?  How can I spot Craft Ruffians?

My Response: Let me respond by providing you a quick and easy to use list of behaviors you can use to assess your Brothers should you want to identify them as Ruffians.

The Short List* for "You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he…"
  1. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he inaccurately and purposely misrepresents a Brother.
  2. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he bears false witness and intentionally misquotes a Brother’s words so that they reflect poorly upon that Brother.
  3. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he maligns, misrepresents or vilifies a Brother’s intentions.
  4. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he indignantly condemns a Brother’s Work.
  5. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he sabotages a Brother’s pursuits and endeavors and the support that others might provide him.
  6. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he attacks, belittles and berates the institutions and faiths with which a Brother is associated.
  7. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he dismisses a Brother’s education as being suspect and not what he would choose for himself.
  8. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he misleads others about a Brother based upon his own conjectures.
  9. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he silently and continuously endorses the assassination of a Brother’s character.
  10. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he purposefully deals with a Brother indirectly, deceitfully so and with malicious intent masked in righteousness.
  11. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he encourages and endorses social pressures intended to sway Brothers toward his will and pleasure by manipulating those who surround and influence his target.
  12. You might be dealing with a Ruffian when he assures Brothers, by what he says and through what he does, that he mean others harm and he does so beyond any shadow of a heartfelt doubt.
F&S,

Brother John S Nagy
 

(*Based upon the Extensive Lists, Instructions and Works found within:
Building Ruffish - Uncommon Field Guide for Uncommon Masonic Education - Volume 6)



 

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Brother Asks: What's Missing?



A Brother Asks: I see so many men coming in to our organization with no clue as to what to expect from their membership.  Coach!  What's missing?

My Response: Great observation and a truly awesome question!

It's a front end preparation issue and in it is the flaw that you have detected.  The missing component in far too many Masonic Investigations is not having the petitioner disclose verbally and in a concise and revealing way what he Perceives to be "Betterment" and how that Applies specifically to him!   These two things are the Vision and Intent behind his joining!

Think about it.  What's Prescribed based upon Ritual?  If we take it for granted that he actually did come to the organization to truly improve himself, shouldn't that be the target to shoot at in all his future involvement?  Shouldn't that be what we focus upon in our investigation and later on in our support of him?  Shouldn't that be what he shares with us upfront so that everyone is on the same page as he goes through our Freemasonic process? 

When these two things are not disclosed upfront, he is likely to blindly wander the Freemason Landscape unknowingly bumping into one Improvement Opportunity after another without taking advantage of them in any way. His focus will be elsewhere and so will most all those who direct him.

To Improve Improvement Opportunities, Investigation members would do well to have the potential Brother-Member lay out this Strong Foundational Intent and Vision during the Interview.  What does he Visualize Betterment to be and how would that apply to him!  Force the interview to come to a complete stop if necessary and return to it when the petitioner has had time to give these things worthy consideration and contemplation.  These are not worth dismissing or skipping past.  They ARE the reason all candidates have come through the West Gate, at least, according to Preston-Webb Ritual.

Yes, his Vision and Intent may and shall rightfully change with Further Light and that's not the point or an issue here.  Giving him opportunities to pro-actively think is!  And especially upon the very things that Ritual Espouses!

A Purposeless Quest is non-hunger driven eating; it serves no good purpose.  Make sure his Quest starts out with the best of intent and clearest of vision!

If a Pre-Mason's attention is not focused upon the very reasons Ritual espouses for what he should be coming here to do as a future member, how can we honestly expect him to focus upon that activity if we don't?

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Thursday, February 18, 2016

On the Square: Is your Foundation Strong?



Just as the Points of the Compasses Represent the Work Goals of the First and Second Degree – the Cultivation of the Heart and the Head respectively – by Extension, the Left and Right Legs of the Square Represent the Work actually Done to Cultivate one’s Heart and Head respectively.

When you have not yet done this Cultivation Work upon yourself, but earnestly want to, you can get a Leg up on It by examining to what Ritual alludes.

Better yet, make it a Point to do the Work that Transforms each side of you from an Oblong Square to a Perfect Square.

Here's the Point to Perpend: Have you actually done what it takes to Build the Strong Foundation that shall support your future? 

And one more: What must you do further?

Your current results speak volumes to those who know better.

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Raising a Point: What's it going to take?



The Points of the Compasses Represent the Work Goals of the 1st and 2nd Degree -- the Cultivation of the Heart and the Head respectively.

Examining these two specific Target Goals as Alluded to within the first two Degrees brings to Light why each Point moves for a Brother (from the Below to the Above) once the Foundational Work of each Degree is supposedly Completed.

A Brother's Raised Point indicates a Foundational Cultivation has occurred, Raising it above Physical governance (Below) and into Spiritual governance (Above).

You might want to ask yourself at this Point, which side do you Work upon for each Degree and how does that Cultivation Work correspond to any specific Raised Point?

If you have not yet started that Cultivation Work yourself, you might want to ask what's the Point of your membership? Better yet, ask yourself what it would actually take for you to Raise a Point, or two?

F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy


Monday, February 15, 2016

Masonic E.D.: Cure Found!



Flaccid Peaks UT – In an unusual twist to most Freemasonic communications, the Grand Lodge of Utah has announced today that it has discovered a cure for what is referred to as, “Masonic E.D.”, an embarrassing and rarely discussed condition found within far too many Freemasonic circles.  In a most unfortunate and painful revelation, the Grand Lodge’s Masonic E.D. was unzipped and put on display for public scrutiny by the Grand Lodge itself.
“Yes, we have indeed discovered a cure for this dreaded placid condition that has plagued the Craft from its inception”, stated Grand Lodge Spokesperson Imperial Potentate Eric Shun.  “It became unbelievably clear to us and hard to dispute once we began to examine the causes behind our Lodge’s Dysfunction over the last fifty plus years.  We were birthing fewer and fewer members during this time and the cause was staring us right in the face.”

As one disgusted Brother put it, “Part of the reason behind our reduction in membership is due to stiff competition from other organizations and distractions.  We’re simply not up to bringing new members in as we once did before.  Our Masonic E.D. has not helped in any of this.  It's effected the overall performance of every lodge suffering from it.”
“We need to bone up on[i] what we offer to our current members”, said one frustrated member.  “Masonic E.D. should be discussed openly by all members concerned about its effects upon all our Masonic building efforts.  After all, you’re not going to erect anything worthwhile without proper preparation.”

Regrettably, the cure for Masonic E.D. is not being embraced by many though.  Some find the pill hard to swallow.  Others read up on the cure, but are soon turned off by what is required to put it into play.   Still more have turned a blind eye to it claiming it somehow cheapens the Freemasonry they have come to know and love.
The results are a mixed blessing too. The few who have taken it have shown some outstanding results.  Unfortunately, such individuals are soon shunned by those exposed to their improved performance.  Some are even attacked because of it.

Some old timers were not impressed with the cure announcements. Past Master Worshipful Brother Baron Temples had this to say. “We never talked about these things in my day.  We just recited Ritual harder and longer and none of it was ever cut.” He took a deep breath and continued with, “We just kept going at it, day in and day out.  Eventually it produced the results we wanted.”  He added with a sigh, “These wussy millennials want a magic pill for everything.  If they can’t perform, it’s not the Lodge’s fault!  They need to Mason up and just learn to repeat things back without complaint or getting bored.”
In commemoration of the good news, the Grand Lodge has asked that all Lodge flags be flown at half staff on this date into perpetuity.

For more information on Masonic Educational Dysfunction (M.E.D.), please get a hold of a Brother who has worthwhile books and start reading and discussing what you read with Brothers not suffering from this unfortunate malady.
F&S,

Brother John S. Nagy



[i] http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/70800.html