in Freemasonry we Masons are given tools with which to work. While it is said that these tools were originally for building actual buildings by actual stone masons, they were ascribed symbolism at some point (“John, I see that you are telling me that this gavel is for smoothing out stone, but when I think of the work I do, I meditate on how I am the stone, and the gavel is chiseling away unnecessary aspects of me! Brilliant!”) but while every US state uses the same tools, countries around the world consider different tools all with one goal: Encourage membership to improve morally. My writing here is concerned with the US working tools.
In the Entered Apprentice degree we are given the 24Inch Gauge and Common Gavel that we use to remove superfluities from our lives. We use them on ourselves. This is the starting point. And while I am encouraged to assist other EA masons should they ask, the primary focus of this degree is on me.
Again as an Fellow Craft we are given the Level, Plumb, and Square which we use again on ourselves. I am to use them only on myself to determine if I am shaping up rightly with the use of my Gavel and 24 Inch Gauge. Only after effective use of the Gauge can the ashlar be considered even enough to fit seamlessly with other stones, and now we have a Plumb, Level, and Square to determine if further smoothing is necessary. EA and FC tools are given to be used on ourselves Once we are proficient in these tools on ourselves, the Master Mason is given his Trowel. Interestingly enough, this is not a tool we use on ourselves, but on others. We are to spread the cement or mortar binding ashlars together in to a building. A Master is also given the other working tools which grant him to continue his slow perfecting of himself over time, but as a Master he can also assist other Masons now with good council, and stretching out his hand when he sees a falling brother instead of waiting for somebody to ask. It is said that only a mason can judge himself a Perfect Ashlar or Rough Ashlar, but a Master using his Trowel must determine if the Ashlar he is cementing with the others will leave the temple off kilter due to imperfections in the stone. He must also determine the correct mixture for his “cement”, or the building will develop cracks, and fail. In most US juridictions, we have determined that alcohol is not an appropriate Cement for the brotherhood, while in Europe there is little concern (I would imagine the JR Warden works hard in those lodges) Only the Master can truly work on other stones, all others develop themselves, their proficiency with their tools is exemplified by the life a mason leads.
There are many times I stop considering helping others in my lodge so I can focus on the first two degrees. I spend a month writing on things I wish to change, and developing plans to change them. I consider the vices and superfluities that make me a little rough. Is my ego such that I think myself better than others? Does my conduct stand straight in the face of G-d, or at least good men?
Do you have any vices? Any superfluous thoughts, habits? Are you Mastering your life?