Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Brother Asks: The Masonic Marshmallow

 
Pursuing the Work

A Brother Asks: Why aren’t more Brothers pursuing the Work?
Coach: What Work is that?

Brother: The Work that makes good men better.
Coach: Why do you ask?

Brother: I see a lot of men joining, but I see very few improving.
Coach: I’ve observed the same thing, as have quite a few other Brothers.

Brother: What’s going on Coach?
Coach: We are our own worst enemies.


Temptation

Brother: How so?
Coach: Our system points the way to improvement, but it diverts wannabes with a temptation that few men can't resist.

Brother: Temptation?
Coach: Yes.  And it is in the form of a marshmallow provided by ritual itself.

Brother: Good Lord Coach.  Are you going to go down another rabbit hole with me?
Coach: Yes, but only if you want to.

Brother: Of course I do.  Let’s go!
Coach: Good.  I like your spirit.  Have you ever heard of “The Marshmallow Test”?

Brother: The Marshmallow Test?  What’s that?
Coach: It is a reference to experiments conducted by Stanford University during the late 1960s through the early 1970s on delayed gratification.

Brother: Okay.  Yes.  I remember reading about it a while back.  What does that have to do with Brothers not pursuing the Work.
Coach: That’s an important question my Brother.  Do you recall the Ruffians from the third degree tragedy?

Brother: Yes. I do.
 
Pursuit Goal

Coach: Do you recall what they wanted from our Grand Master?

Brother: Yes.  They wanted the secrets of the Master Mason, more specifically, “The Master’s Word”.
Coach: Indeed.  And when they requested it from the Grand Master, what was it that he told them?

Brother: He said that they would have to wait until the Temple was completed before they would to receive it.
Coach: Yes.  Were they willing to wait?

Brother: Of course not.  That’s the whole reason for them attacking him.
Coach: Which was?

Brother: They didn’t want to wait to complete the Temple.  They wanted to have what they wanted immediately; before the Temple was completed.
Coach: Yes.  Do you recall what the basis behind the Marshmallow Test was?

Brother: Yes.  It was to test whether someone was able to delay getting something so that they would get it and an additional reward for waiting.
Coach: Yes. And what were the findings?

Brother: Those who delayed gratification were found to be rewarded better in life than those who would not.
Coach: What would you say where the results of the Masonic Marshmallow Test?


Flunking the Test

Brother: I’d say they flunked it.
Coach: Why?

Brother: Because they were unwilling to wait until the Temple was completed, and while waiting, do the Work to actually complete the Temple. 
Coach: What happened?
Brother: They failed in both completing the Temple and getting what they thought they would get from completing the Work.  It brought about a double tragedy.
Coach: I like that you are using the word “tragedy” in your description.

Brother: Why?
Coach: Let’s come back to that later.  Please tell me first, what does “completing the temple” mean?

Brother: Okay.  I got this.
Coach: Are you sure?


The Temple

Brother: Yes.  The Temple represents two parts of a man’s personal Work?
Coach: Two?

Brother: Yes, two. 
Coach: What are they?

Brother: His Heart and his Mind.
Coach: And what must be done to complete the Temple?

Brother: A man must bring Order to the Chaos of his Heart and his Mind?
Coach: How does he do this?

Brother: He does the Work pointed toward by the first two degrees.
Coach: I agree.  And what occurs when neither is Worked upon?

Brother: When it comes to the heart, he does not have the necessary discipline over his body to bring about successes required by those challenges, problems and troubles his body faces.
Coach: Would you please name some of the things that need to be worked upon, as pointed toward by the first degree?

Brother: Sure.  Time management, Emotional management, Boundary and Standards management, Divestiture of Vices and Superfluities, Investiture of Virtue, to name just a few.
Coach: So, by Working upon these, a man brings Order to the Chaos of his heart?

Brother: Yes.  And it enables and empowers him to deal with the demands the physical world places upon him.
Coach: Agreed.  You mentioned a second part of the Temple.

Brother: I did.  It was the mind.
Coach: What occurs when the mind is not Worked upon?

Brother: When it comes to the mind, he does not have the necessary discipline over his thoughts to bring about successes required by those challenges, problems and troubles his mind faces.
Coach: Would you name some of the things that need to be worked upon, as pointed toward by the first degree?

Brother: Sure.  He will struggle with trivial thoughts.  His words, logic and rhetoric will fail him more times than support him. 
Coach: That’s the trivial aspect.  What about the more complex?

Brother: He will not have the necessary modeling to understand how the world works and therefore fail at effectively dealing with the challenges, problems and troubles the world hands him.
Coach: Are you saying then that the Ruffians did not complete the Work, as in, bringing order to the chaos of their hearts and heads?

Brother: Yes.  I guess I am.
Coach: Guess?

Brother: No.  I certainly am.
Coach: I thought so.


The Tragedy

Brother: You said we would come back to why you liked my use of the word “tragedy” in describing the Ruffians.  Would you explain why?
Coach: Of course, most men focus on the loss of the Grand Master and say that was the tragedy of the third degree drama.

Brother: Well, isn’t it?
Coach: Although it is in one sense, mostly due to the loss of the Master’s Word that so many focus upon, it was not the real tragedy.

Brother: Okay, I get it. 
Coach: Good!  Please explain it to me if you would.

Brother: The real tragedy is the losses the Ruffians suffered as a result of flunking The Marshmallow Test.
Coach: Which were?

Brother: They didn’t complete their Temples.
Coach: Which means what?

Brother:  They had chaos in the hearts and heads.
Coach: Which brought about?

Brother: The loss of vital life skill development which ultimately lead to their untimely deaths.
Coach: Yes.  They could not effectively deal with life and as a result, they lost everything they wanted and more.


Worst Enemy

Brother: So, why are we our worst enemies in this?
Coach: Think about it.

Brother: In what respect?
Coach: Why would every Grand Lodge have this specific Masonic Marshmallow Test before every member that wants to be a Master Mason?

Brother: Okay, that’s the second time you used the term “Masonic Marshmallow Test”, why have you stated it this way and what is it?
Coach: Nice catch Brother!

Brother: You’re delaying.  Come on Coach.  Let me have it.
Coach: Okay, sure.  But let me ask you please, what did the Ruffians want?

Brother: The Master’s Word.
Coach: And why did they want it?

Brother: So they could Travel, Work, and Earn Master’s Wages.
Coach: Yes.  And they wanted to do all this without having the skills of a Master.

Brother: What!?
Coach: Yes.  Think about it.  They didn’t complete their Temples.

Brother: So?
Coach: Completing the Temples would mean they had brought chaos to their minds and hearts; mastering them both...

Brother: Okay, I get it.  Mastery!  Completing the Temple means they would have mastered their hearts and heads!  Got it!
Coach: And not having completed their Temples would do what?

Brother: It would sabotage their work efforts and hence their results.
Coach: Meaning?

Brother: They would not be able to Travel, Work and Earn Master’s wages.
Coach: Why?

Brother: Because they would, through their non-masterful results, be known as Ruffians and not Masters.
Coach: Exactly! No one would pay them Master's Wages for shoddy work.  It would be looked at as rubbish.

Brother: Agreed.  But let me take it further.
Coach: Okay, go for it.

Brother: This is why The Grand Master could not give them what hey wanted.
Coach: Why?

Brother: Because what they wanted required them to do the Work that brought about Mastery.
Coach: Meaning?


The Naked Truth

Brother: You can’t get mastery from someone else.  It can't be handed over.  You have to develop it for yourself.  Wait!
Coach: Okay, I see it coming.

Brother: That’s the Master’s Word!
Coach: What is?

Brother: Masterful Skills!
Coach: And?

Brother: Making what you say happen and doing so Masterfully?
Coach: You think?

Brother: No, I know. That’s got to be it. No wonder it can’t be written or spoken.
Coach: Yes.  It protects itself.

Brother: It sure does.
Coach: I’m impressed you connected the dots. Kudos!

Brother: Thanks.  But what about this Masonic Marshmallow Test?
Coach: What about it?

Brother: What is it?
Coach: Connect the dots again Brother.


The Masonic Marshmallow

Brother: Okay, The Marshmallow Test is about delayed gratification and how you benefit by waiting.
Coach: And in the case of the third degree?

Brother: Well, it’s not just about waiting. 
Coach: It isn't?
Brother: It isn't.  It’s about making sure you finish the Work while you wait.
Coach: Is it any work?

Brother: No. It’s the Masonic skill development Work pointed toward by the first two degrees; the heart and head development.
Coach: So what’s the twist?

Brother: The twist is not just waiting.  It’s about doing all the Work necessary to cultivate Mastery of one’s heart and mind while waiting!
Coach: So, The Masonic Marshmallow Test is what?

Brother: Good Lord! 
Coach: Ah!  The light is going on.

Brother: Blindingly so!
Coach: What do you see?

Brother: The Masonic Marshmallow!  It's the title of "Master Mason" being dangled in front of the Candidate.
Coach: Dangling?

Brother: Yes.  He usually accepts it never realizing it means very little in respect to his ability to truly Travel, Work and Earn Masterfully if he doesn't Work on developing what is necessary to do just that.
Coach: You mean, the candidate usually accepts the title before he earns it?

Brother: Yes.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I am thinking.
Coach: And his Brothers encourage him in all this?


The Tangled Web

Brother: Yes.  Very few members encourage candidates to complete their Temples.  Most everyone in charge of candidates coming through dangles that Masonic Marshmallow in front them.  And they say, "All you have to do to earn that title is memorize and give back".  There's no activities centered around cultivating the mastery the degrees point us toward.
Coach: And as a result?

Brother: The candidates get caught up on pursuing the title rather than the skills such a title denotes.
Coach: And what is the impact on the quality of our membership?

Brother: Every single member who flunks the Masonic Marshmallow Test is likely never to go on to develop heart and head mastery.
Coach: Why?
Brother: Because they got their Masonic Marshmallow.  No other Work is required of them!
 
Same Old Same Old
Coach: And who do such people attract?

Brother: Other people who are likely going to flunk the same test.
Coach: Why is that?
Brother: Because like minds and hearts attracts like more of the same.
Coach: So, what was the original question?

Brother: Why aren’t more Brothers pursuing the Work?
Coach: Why do you think this occurs?

Brother: Most members don’t even know the Work is there to do?  And even if they know, it's not required of them by the fraternity.
 
Fairness
Coach: I agree.  Do you think the test is fair?

Brother: The Masonic Marshmallow Test?
Coach: Yes.

Brother: Yes. In this respect…
Coach: Go ahead.

Brother: Those who come in expecting better, but who get distracted from the Work by the superfluities of titles, will do so in life as well.
Coach: And?

Brother: Those who come in expecting better and who keep focused upon for what they came in to do will likely leave soon after they receive the title?
Coach: You mean, what they came here to do?
Brother: Yes!  Exactly!
Coach: Why?

Brother: Because they soon realize the Masonic Marshmallow Test screens them out.
Coach: How so?

Brother: They soon realize the members are not focused upon developing better men. 
Coach: What?!  No!  Say it isn't so!

Brother: Seriously Coach, stop with the humor.  You see it too.  You can’t spend the amount of time in the Fraternity that you have without realizing the primary focus of lodge activities is making new members, not Masterful men.
Coach: Yes.  I see it as well.  So, you asked a question about members not pursuing the Work

Brother: I have…
Coach: What is the answer?

Brother: Brothers are not pursuing the Work because they flunked the Masonic Marshmallow Test.  They focus on obtaining the titles; not the skills that such titles denotes.
Coach: I’d have to agree.


Something Better

Brother: How do we change this?

Coach: We share the Light and hope members have eyes to see it, hoping too that they have hearts to embrace it as well.
Brother: But won't members get insulted by hearing this.

Coach: How so?

Brother: They're being told indirectly they flunked the Masonic Marshmallow Test. No?

Coach: Does it matter?

Brother: Good Question!  I'd have to say, "no".  Not really. 

Coach: Why?

Brother: Those who are insulted by it care more about their image than bettering themselves.  So, telling them what they already know will change nothing other than affirm what they already know to be true.

Coach: And?

Brothers: Those who are not insulted already know as well.  However, they might take this Light as a wakeup call to make necessary changes for themselves and the next generation.

Coach: We can only hope.  Well, that and continue to do the Work to assure that our Temples are finished. 


What To Do 
 
Brother: But there must be more that we can do.

Coach: Well, there is.

Brother: What is it?
 
Coach: Make sure you complete your Temple.

Brother: Other than me benefiting personally, how will that make the Fraternity better?

Coach: Are you not part of the Fraternity?

Brother: Well, of course.

Coach: By bettering yourself, do you not contribute to the betterment of the Fraternity.

Brother: Yes, I would.  Okay, I get it.  The Fraternity only gets better one Brother at a time.
Coach: Yes, and?

Brother: ...and furthermore, I become a role model for betterment for other members as well. 

Coach: Yes.  And you also become a leader.

Brother: How So?

Coach: You show others what's possible when you apply yourself toward completing your Temple.

Brother: Okay, I get it. 

Coach: You do?

Brother: Yes I do.

Coach: What do you "get"?

Brother: To make a better Fraternity, I need to focus on making a better me.

Coach: I agree.  It all starts with you, doing the Work. No?

Brother: Yes.  My Mastery starts by my completing my Temple.

Coach: Yes.


Never Completed

Brother: But, there's a problem with that.

Coach: What's that?

Brother: I've heard Brothers say you never complete your Temple; not until you're dead.

Coach: Yes, I have heard that nonsense claim.

Brother: Nonsense?

Coach: Yes.  It's just an excuse to cover up the fact that they are not applying themselves toward doing both the Apprentice and Fellow Craft Work pointed toward by Ritual.

Brother: So, it's a red herring?

Coach: Exactly!

Brother: Please explain. 

Foundation

Coach: The Apprentice Work matures a male from Youth to Manhood.

Brother: But I've heard Brothers claim that they are forever Apprentices.

Coach: More nonsense.  That's a good indication that they don't understand Ritual and what it's intended to do.  They are likely throwing in a bit of their personal faith into it too.

Brother: So, what you are saying is the Apprentice Work can be completed in our lifetime?

Coach: Not only can it, it has to be completed before one starts on the Fellow Craft Work.

Brother: Why?

Coach: Because an ordered heart is required to properly focus upon the Work that brings order to the chaos of the head.

Brother: Okay, I get it.  It's foundational Work and it must be completed before one starts to build the building, I mean, Temple walls.  Wait!  Isn't completing the Temple also preparing the matured male for Age?

Coach: Indeed it is.


Staged Learning

Brother: Wow Coach, that's pretty messed up?

Coach: What's messed up?

Brother: Brothers claiming to be forever Apprentices.

Coach: Yes. What does all this say about the claim of the forever Apprentice?

Brother: They have yet to finish their foundation Work.

Coach: Yes and some have yet to even begin that Work.  That's exactly what they are bragging about proudly and with great zeal.  It truly is false humility based upon the mistaken belief that learning only occurs at the Apprentice level.  It's only a starting point for learning and it has to be completed to learn at a mature level.

Brother: Isn't the Apprentice level where you prepare to learn?

Coach: Yes.  You're clearing debris, firming up what needs to be firmed and smoothing out things that need to be smooth.  You're creating a mature base on which to build further. 

Brother: I see that.

Coach: Good!  So, what are you doing at the Fellow Craft level?

Brother: You're learning how to learn.  As a result, you Build a house of learning!  That's what you are doing by completing the Temple. 

Coach: What's that?

Brother: Finishing up your base level schooling so that you get started learning for real.

Coach: But aren't you learning through each stage?

Brother: Yes, but the first two stages are preparing to learn and learning how to learn.  When you complete the Temple, that house not made by hand, you set the stage to learning what you prepared yourself to learn.

Coach: What's that?

Brother: Philosophy and Theology!  You cannot possibly study these two subjects seriously without completing the heart and head Work first.

Coach: Agreed!  Then what can you say about these forever Apprentices?

Brother: They are certainly not good role models, especially for setting the standards for serious learning.

Coach: Yes, they have yet to complete their house - that Temple of learning.  Unfortunately, they speak with such confidence at times that newbies who do not know better believe their nonsense without question.

Brother: Yes.  I've seen this more times than I can recall. 


Building the Temple

Coach: Me as well.  It is only after the Temple's foundation is laid, that the Temple walls above the foundation can be started.

Brother: That's the second phase, the head Work?

Coach: Ah!  You've been paying attention.

Brother: Yes.  It's all very interesting and I want to make sure I take it all in. 

Coach: Why?

Brother: I have a Temple to build and I do not want to skip any of the Work that will complete it.

Coach: That's good to hear.  So, I take it you're not complacent with your Masonic Marshmallow?

Brother: You mean, that "title"?

Coach: Yes.

Brother: No way! I've a Temple to complete.

Coach: Good!  Have at it then!

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