Monday, August 27, 2018

A Brother Asks: The Apprentice Claim

The Illusion

Brother:  Coach, what are your thoughts about Masters and Fellow Crafts claiming to be Apprentices too? 

Coach: It’s pretentious.

Brother: Wow Coach.  Don’t hold back.  Tell me what you really think.

Coach: What?!  Not enough?

Brother: Well, you usually start out responding to my question with your own line of questions.

Coach: And?

Brother: You cut to the punch line on this one.

Coach: It’s not rocket science Bro.

Brother: Yes, but that’s it?  You’re not going to get into it?

Coach: What’s there to say Brother?  The claim is not only wrong, it also exudes false modesty – a terrible illusion to put in front of those who want better and an affront to those who do know better.

Bread Crumb Techniques

Brother: Okay.  You see right there? You did it again.

Coach: Did what?

Brother: You’re planting the bread crumbs right in front of me to get me to go down another rabbit hole with you.

Coach: Am I?

Brother: You sure are.

Coach: How’s that?

Brother: You want me to ask you about all your statements.  This is even worse than asking me a series of questions. 

Coach: Worse? Brother, you know, we really don’t have to go there.

Brother: No.  That’s wrong Coach.  We now have to go there and you know it.

Coach: Well, okay, if you insist.

Brother: I do.

Going In

Coach: So, where do you want to start?

Brother: Let’s start with your statement about the claim being “pretentious”.

Coach: Okay. 

Brother: Isn’t that saying that they are attempting to impress others by affecting greater importance on what they claim than is actually possessed.

Coach: Yes.

Brother: But that doesn’t make any sense.

Coach: How so?

Brother: Wouldn’t it be just the opposite?

Coach: Would you please explain?

Brother: Apprenticeship is not more important as Mastery to a Master.

Coach: Yes, and?

Brother: By implying through their claim that it is, they are claiming lesser title and being than they actually are.

Coach: Yes.  They are doing just that, especially if they truly did the Work to earn the title they proudly, and hopefully rightfully, wear.

Brother: I don't understand this. 

Coach: And neither do those who falsely claim to be an Apprentice when they wear the title of Fellow or Master. By the way, this also goes with my false humility statement.

Brother: But I want to understand it. Would you lead me through it please?

Coach: Sure. They are claiming they are less than they actually are and are implying this is more important, all under the pretense that they are still learning.


Brother: Wow!  That’s pretty convoluted.

Coach: Yep.  And they get away with this claim most of the time.

Brother: Why?

Coach: Because it's also implying that you’re less important than them if you don’t buy into their illusion, that poorly portrayed false modesty, and the insane premise that to continue to learn, you must be an Apprentice. 

Brother: That’s a warped mind game, isn’t it?

Coach: Yes, and twisted heart game as well.

Brother: Heart game?

Coach: Yes. They’re playing on your shame, guilt and fear. 

Brother: Shame, guilt and fear?  I don't understand.

Coach: They're assuming that you’ll feel ashamed and guilty enough to claim the same, even though you aren’t what they claim they are.  All of this is banking on an additional belief that when you don't claim the same, they might confront you and embarrass you.  And they play on that fear as well.

Brother: Okay, that is unbelievably emotionally manipulative as well.

Coach: Indeed.  It’s an immature ego trip, mostly used by males who haven't matured emotionally.  And anyone who has any misgivings about the title they rightfully earned, may feel ashamed or guilty to say anything against this apprentice claim for fear of being attacked and shown to be arrogant or less than for doing so.

Brother: Yikes!

Coach: The simple fact is this, when you have done the apprentice Work and earned the titles of Fellow or Master appropriately, you are no longer what you were previously - an apprentice.  Fellow Crafts who have done the Apprentice Work will not buy into it in the least; they know better.

The Goal

Brother: Agreed. But do you think anyone ever stops doing the Apprentice or Fellow Craft work.

Coach: Why do you assume this?

Brother: It’s never perfected.

Coach: I don’t think this for a minute. 

Brother: Why?

Coach: You’re using the word "perfected” to denote "brought to flawlessness". Ritual does not agree with you in this use.

Brother: How so?

Coach: Perfecting, as in “making the work flawless” has nothing to do with earning the  title.  Maturing enough to have the title does.

Brother: Maturing rather than flawlessness?

Coach: Yes.  That’s the goal.  The Work we do was never about being flawless; it was always about maturing and becoming suitable for the Builder's use.

Proper Mindsets

Brother: Please explain.

Coach: Sure.  You cannot be a valid Fellow Craft until you bring Order to the Chaos of your heart.  This requires maturing from Youth to Manhood.

Brother: That’s the Apprentice Work, right?

Coach: Yes!  You bring Order to the Chaos of your heart by completing the Apprentice Work enough to do just that.   When you’re done, you’ve matured into manhood.

Brother: But what if there are storms that cause heart chaos afterward?

Coach: You mean to ask, “Will you be unable to deal with them?”

Brother: Yes!

Coach:  When you have done your Work you will. And you will deal with these "storms" maturely when you've already laid the foundation and matured.

Brother: What about Master Masons?

Coach: Likewise, you cannot be a valid Master Mason until you bring Order to the Chaos of both your head and your heart.

Brother: Both?

Coach: Of Course!  The two being ordered are what makes you a Master Mason.

Brother: How do you have them both ordered?

Coach: You do that by completing the Apprentice and Fellow Craft Work enough to do just that.

Future Storms

Brother: What about the storms occurring afterward?  Will you be unable to deal with them?

Coach: Of course, when you have completed your Apprentice and Fellow Craft Work you will.  In other words, you deal with life at a Master’s level, not at an Apprentice or Fellow Craft level.  But you appear to think that just because there are storms messing with the Order of either your head or heart, that somehow this raises a question as to your Fellow Craft or Master’s qualifications.  Right?

Brother: Exactly!

Coach: Brother, life brings forth storms that mess with our well-ordered minds and hearts all the time.

Brother: Exactly!

Coach: When you bring Order to your head and heart, you have learned how to do it and then do it as a matter of being.

Brother: Because it’s now who you are?

Coach: Yes!  Exactly!

Brother: Okay. And when storms hit, you have the skills well-developed to handle the chaos at a Master’s level?

Coach: Yes!

Brother: Okay, I understand.

Coach: Good! Give it back to me then.

Brother: Okay. Because you’ve matured and gained experience, you’re able to deal with what life throws at you more effectively, efficiently and maturely than someone with less maturity, experience and skill development.

Coach: You got it! Kudos!


Brother: But isn’t it like passing an exam?

Coach: How so?

Brother: Doing the work “enough” to get a pass; in other words, getting that pass or title.

Coach: Meaning?

Brother: There is still so much else to be learned about the degree.

Coach: Sure, but it’s not about learning more about either degree. 

Brother: It’s not?

Coach: Of course not.  It’s about moving from Youth to Manhood and then from Manhood to Age.  The degrees only show you the path; they are not the path!

Brother:  But much more work needs to be done to perpetuate and prolong the stability of that “Order from Chaos”. 

Coach: As I said before, the Work will never prevent life’s storms.

Brother:  Yes, but when doing that work the Brother is working as an Apprentice, he doesn’t need Fellow Craft or Master’s skills to progress it. Similarly he doesn’t need Master’s skills to continue with the Fellow Craft study or work.

Coach:  Only when you’re looking at it as an assembly line movement from one title to another. However, this is not an assembly line situation.  These are mental stages.

Brother: How's that?

Coach: Apprentices are Youths. They are by their very nature immature. They deal with life and its storms from an immature point of view and with immature skills.  The Apprentice Work is there to help them Mature and in doing it, it provides vital skill development to handle chaos effectively when it occurs – not if it occurs. 

Brother: Okay.

Coach: But more importantly, the Work helps them create a life of order which, when chaos occurs, they know how to bring it back into order.  When the Work doesn’t mature them, then the Work is incomplete.  When the Work matures them, then the Work is complete.  Get it?


Brother: Okay. I mean, I think so.  What about Fellow Craft?

Coach: Fellow Crafts are mature males; we refer to them as “men”. They are by their very nature mature in their outlook, manner and being. They deal with life from a mature point of view and they have the life skill development to handle chaos when it occurs. If they didn't, they would be Apprentices still. 

Brother: So, what does their Work do for them?

Coach: It cultivates their minds so that they can better help bring order to the chaos of the world around them, make sense of things that bewilder others who have not done the Work and prepare themselves for serious studies of things that are beyond most people.

Brother: Like?

Coach: Thoughts, writings and discourses presenting, discussing and examining theological and philosophical issues.

 Brother: Interesting.  What about Masters?

Coach: Masters are mature men with experience. They are by their very nature both mature and experienced with life skills. They deal effectively with life from a mature and experienced point of view. If they didn't, they would not be Masters.

When Enough is Enough

Brother: I don't disagree, but I still think a "youth" can progress the Apprentice work so much further than "enough", without necessarily becoming a Fellow Craft or Master. Sometimes we need to become childlike to see the Light.

Coach:  Yes, one can do the Work and never mature; this does occur unfortunately.  Not doing the Work though is a guarantee that maturity will never occur.  Yes, one can become childlike and in those times when becoming childlike it doesn't mean we become children again.  Or in this case Apprentices.

Brother: Indeed! But, we do need to be free from pride, covetousness, and ambition, and resemble them in humility, sincerity, docility, and disengagement of affection from the things of the present life, which excite the ambition of some FC and MM. Children do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their superiors. To complete, (as if it's ever completed), the EA work, then we should have that state of mind!

Coach:  Wow!  That’s a lot to take in. 

Brother: Yes, it is. It's what I believe though and I stand by it 1oo%.

Coach: As well you should.  That being said, I shall have to politely disagree with what you claim from what we need to be free.

Brother: Why is that?

Coach: Let me take every point you put forth; one or two at a time.

Brother: Okay.

The List

Coach: Pride is all about valuing something, someone or a situation.

Brother: Okay.

Coach: Being prideful can be foolish. 

Brother: Agreed!

Coach: However, it can also be wise. And with that being said, I opt for the latter pride and leave the former to those who have not done the Work.

Brother: Ah!  You’re referring back to the Work.  Sort of like “mature pride” is okay?

Coach: Yes.  I am indeed!

Brother: Okay, I see what you're driving at.  What about covetousness?

Coach: I have no problem with ownership either; when it is within due bounds.  That’s why we’re instructed, not taught, to subdue and circumscribe our passions and to divest ourselves from all excess – no matter how superfluous.

Brother: We're not taught?  I thought ritual says we are taught.

Coach: Yes, it does say that. However, there is a huge difference between being told to do something and being taught how to do something.  They are two entirely different things.  The former is instruction; being informed.  The latter is transforming with guaranteed results.

Brother: Yikes! I agreed! You’re right!  I see what you are saying and you’re spot on.

Coach: Thanks. And as far as ambition is concerned, once again, there is nothing wrong with strong desires to do or to achieve any rightful and useful thing.  In fact, it's vital to our personal and professional growth. 

Brother: Yes.

Coach: This especially applies when it requires determination, hard work, and it's earned with humility and sincerity.

Brother: I see your point here as well.

Coach: Thanks. 


Brother: What about docility?

Coach: Docility, as in “easily being taught”, comes directly from laying the foundation that the Apprentice Work entails coupled with what the Fellow Craft Work provides. 

Brother: How so?

Coach: The Apprentice Work prepares us to learn and in doing so, we are strengthened (with virtues) and we are released from unnecessary burdens (divesting vices & superfluities) that get in learning’s way.

Brother: This makes sense. Are you saying it's more difficult to learn as an Apprentice than as a Fellow Craft of Master?

Coach: That is exactly what I am saying!

Brother: This understanding didn't come to me until after we started talking about this.

Coach: You are not alone.

Brother: I'm not?

Coach: You are not.  Not many Brothers have thought this through.

Brother: What about the Fellow Craft?

Coach: That Work helps us learn how to learn. In doing so, it lays the pathways within our mind for learning easier those things which would perplex the less trained and disordered mind.

Brother: Wow!  I had not thought about it that way.

Coach: Many Brothers do not who have yet to consider what the Work does for the hearts and minds of those who do it.

Brother: What about attachments?

Coach: As I said initially, I disagree. I was blessed with this life and I have deep affection for all the good it has to offer. Being a Master Mason, I have engaged more in life than before I was one.  That is a good thing for all involved.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Brother: And authority?

Coach: As a Master Mason, I have no desire for any authority other than my own and that of God in my life. I've learned to see past outward distinction, but not be foolish enough to ignore them.

Brother: What about malice?

Coach: I know how to handle malice, even when it is of my own making.

Brother: Anything to add about being teachable?

Coach: Yes.  As a Master Mason I am more teachable than most who have yet to clear and strengthen the paths for learning. As a result, I learn better and quicker than I have ever done before.

Brother: But you are dependent upon superiors still?

Coach: I can be, when appropriate to my end-in-minds.  More importantly though is that is I am appropriately interdependent with the right superiors, because I have become independent through my Work.  I realize and know the benefits of working with others in harmony. Those with whom I work believe as I, and we have no father save the One True God.

Brother: Wow!  That’s deep.

State of Mind

Coach: Yes, thanks. My point is this, we complete the Apprentice Work when we have a mature heart and are ready for cultivating a Fellow Craft state of mind; that is, a mature mind. Likewise we complete the Fellow Craft Work when we have both a mature heart and mind and are ready to cultivate a Master’s state of mind; that is, mature and experienced.  The minutia of the Work itself is to get us to the next level of maturity, experience and skill level.

Brother: So, it's not about the Work; it's about what the Work transforms within us that matters most!

Coach: Absolutely!

Brother: But there is a term in Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“.

Coach: Okay.  Where are you going with this?

Brother: It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. Like an Apprentice.

Coach: And?

Brother: The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says the following about the beginner’s mind, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Coach: Yes. Please continue.

Brother: As a Masonic leader, if you assume an attitude of a beginner and believe something can be learned from everyone you encounter, you begin to experience the power of other positive leadership qualities. 

Not a Beginner

Coach:  "If" being the operative term. 

Brother: Of course, but what do you say to that “if”?

Coach: As a leader, you are not a beginner. You are an experienced mature player and you are expected to play that role without wavering. That is the reason you were put in the position of leader. And good leaders look for opportunity to learn to become better leaders. But, in truth, they are not beginners in doing so.  They have prepared themselves to learn and they have learned how to learn.  These are not achievements of an Apprentice and a leader doesn’t fain a lesser role or title, this especially when all who look up to him who have any self-respect would think less of him for his false modesty.

Brother: Okay. So what you are saying is when a Fellow Craft or Master is learning new stuff he is merely "assuming" the role of an Apprentice, (as stated above), not "being" an Apprentice?

Coach: No.  I'm saying that when you are a Fellow Craft, you have the Fellow Craft state of heart and mind.

Brother: So you're seeing through the eyes of a Fellow Craft and not an Apprentice?

Coach: Yes! And when you're a Master, you have the Master’s state of heart and mind.

Brother: Got it! You learn at the level your heart and mind are at. |

Coach: Exactly!

Brother: So, there's truly a major difference between being a student and being an apprentice.

Coach: Yes!  But just to make sure you got it, please explain it to me if you would.

Brother: Sure! When you're a Master, you have prepared yourself to learn and to be that student you need to be...

Coach: And?

Brother: ...and you have also learned how to learn as a student should learn.

Coach: So, you are a student and you are a teacher as well?

Brother: Yes!  When you are an apprentice, you're not yet a student, even though you're learning to tame yourself.  You're only preparing to learn (Apprentice Work) and you have yet learned how to learn (FC Work).

Full Circle

Coach:  Yes!  Furthermore, claiming you are at a lower state of heart and mind than you actually are, or at least should be, is false humility; it’s pretentious and beneath you. When you've done the Work, you're more teachable and you have all the skills and maturity to make that occur swiftly and easily.  You'll not get this from apprentices unless they have already done some of the preparation Work already.  Most are simply too immature, too inexperienced, too burdened and too weak to learn as a Master.

Brother: Okay, I see what you are saying and I agree. Apprentices aren't prepared to learn and are nowhere near being students.  They're simple too rough to be put into that role.  Fellow Crafts are smooth enough to learn how to learn and Masters are the true students...

Coach: Why?

Brother: ...because they've laid the foundation to learn!  Apprentices haven't done this yet.
Coach: You got it!

I truly appreciate you walking through this with me.

Coach: And I appreciate you walking beside me in this.  It means a lot to me.

Brother: How so?

Coach: It keeps me sharp.

Brother: Like steel sharpening steel?

Coach:  Indeed!  Behold!...

Brother: …How good and pleasant it is…

Coach: …for Brothers to dwell in unity.

Brother: Amen!
NOTE: A very special and sincere thank you to Bros. Peter Taylor, Nick Adair and RJ Gleason for their collective role in helping me in developing this discourse.