OPERATIVE TO SPECTULATIVE
In the second section of the Fellowcraft Degree it is explained that "by Operative Masonry we allude to a proper application of the useful rules of Architecture, whence a structure will derive figure, strength and beauty, and from which will result a due proportion and a just correspondence in all its parts." This sentence furnishes us with a description of Operative Masonry as it is practiced today. By comparison with it Speculative Freemasonry teaches us how we may "learn to subdue the passions, act upon the square, keep a tongue of good report, maintain secrecy and practice charity." In one case a group of men makes use of a set of principles to erect a building, in the other another group uses the same principles to build character. The Art of Architecture means to construct according to design and purpose, to organize in proportion and symmetry; it continues to be architecture whether it is a building or a human life that is thus constructed. Operative Masonry is physical architecture; Speculative Freemasonry is human architecture.
During the first centuries of its existence both of these kinds of architecture were united within our Fraternity; every member was an Operative Mason, practiced the art as a trade and means of livelihood, and otherwise was not eligible to enter the Craft; at the same time, every member was in a real sense a Speculative Mason because he was equally concerned with the building of his own life, the construction of his own character. The chief difference between the Fraternity then and now is one of emphasis: in the early period the emphasis was placed on Operative Masonry, by which was dictated the form of organization, the Speculative side of the Craft being subordinate; in our period the emphasis is placed on Speculative Masonry, with Operative subordinate; but always through our history both kinds of Masonry have existed side by side. We must not therefore assume that because we today are Speculative Masons we have no use for Operative Masonry; on the contrary it remains necessary and very important to us.
Let us suppose that a young man twenty-one years of age comes into our membership eager to become a Mason in the real sense of that word. What do we tell him he is to do? We tell him that he is to build an upright character, to be a good man and true, and to learn how to live the brotherly life. Imagine that he agrees to this and replies that it is what he is most eager to do, but that he doesn't know how to set about it. His difficulty is not with the "what" but with the "how." What is the Fraternity's reply to this? It is of course that he is to observe how a building is constructed, not in detail but in principle, and to employ the same principles. There is nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this, for construction is always construction, building is always building, it matters not what is being constructed or out of what it is being built; the laws and principles apply everywhere and always. The art of architecture is the pattern he is to go by.
When he turns to study that pattern he will find it not at all difficult to understand or to follow. Let us examine this for ourselves:
Before an architect begins his actual work he must have a clear understanding of what it is he is to build, whether a dwelling, a store, a factory, a church, a school, a hospital, a bridge, a wall, a monument; every step he is to take will be dictated by that purpose. So is it with Speculative architecture. Our purpose is to build a certain kind of human life; in our ease this is the kind of life we call Masonic, that is, a life of sound moral character, to be lived in brotherly relations, and to be devoted to Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. If when our Operative architect has before him a goal he is to work toward, we call it his "ideal, " then we may say that our ideal is the Masonic life.
The operative architect's next step is to lay out a set of plans. Long ago the builder discovered that he could not work by hit or miss, by rule of thumb, because a building is too complex to be worked out as one goes along, and also such a method is extremely wasteful because it lacks foresight. We Speculative architects must also use a plan; we divide our time, we decide on the tasks we are to do, we know it is infinitely more dangerous to trust to luck, aimlessness, chance, or drifting in building a life than in building a material structure. We lay out our lives in orderliness and then we stick to our plan through thick and thin, not stopping every time we grow discouraged, or quitting every time we grow wearied. If a man succeeds in building a sound character and a successful life it is not because he had good luck, but because he planned it.
The Operative architect's third step is to select his materials. How Important this is there is no need to explain: unless the materials are what they should be the building may collapse, regardless of how well it was been planned or constructed. The Speculative architect finds his materials in his own nature; they are his facilities, his habits, his physical senses and organs, his feelings and emotions, his ideas, his knowledge and his experiences; from these he must select those that fit into his plan and discard all others.
The fourth step taken by the Operative architect is to select and use the appropriate tools, which may be hand-tools, machines, or other devices. These are the practical means by which his materials may be given the desired structure, and each one is designed especially for the kind of materials it is to he used on, a hammer for nails, a saw for wood, a trowel for mortar, an engine for hoisting, a bit for drilling, etc.
The Speculative architect also needs tools, as we are reminded in each of the Degrees when the Working Tools are presented to the candidate, and those tools, or methods, also must be adjusted to the materials they are to be used on; they are not often material tools, like a saw or hammer, but in principle they are the same kind of thing. What are the tools to be used by the Speculative architect? Certain kinds of habits, such as the habit of controlling one's temper; certain kinds of practices, such as work in a Lodge, by which one learns brotherliness in a practical way; certain principles, such as justice, truthfulness, tolerance, charity; certain customs, such as prayer, visiting the sick, the practice of charity; certain kinds of work, such as study, assisting in the exemplification of the Ritual, serving on committees, etc. Suppose that a Mason is a victim of the habit of loss of temper; this makes for disharmony, loss of friendship, sacrifice of esteem, and therefore tends to defeat his effort to live the brotherly life; such a habit is like a knob or irregularity on a stone which prevents its use in a wall; to remove that excrescence the Mason must form a new habit, and that habit is a Working Tool.
The last step in Operative architecture is dedication, which may be informal or may signalized by ceremony. Up to this point the building has been under the control of the builder, beyond this point it is in control of those who will use it. The work of erecting the building is now completed; the work of employing the building for its intended purpose is now begun- this is what dedication means: setting a structure apart for its intended purpose. Our Speculative Fraternity makes much of this fact of dedication; the Fraternity as a whole is dedicated to the glory of God; a Lodge is dedicated to the Holy Sts. John; the candidate, standing in the northeast corner, is dedicated to the Masonic life; its Lodge-rooms, Centers, Halls and Temples are dedicated by solemn ceremonies to their use as a place of Masonic assemblies. When applied to the Speculative architect dedication takes the form of this question: Granted that a man has succeeded in building the kind of life he set out to build, what will this life now be used for? Freemasonry teaches that a man's life is not his own private and selfish possession, to be employed merely for himself, but that it belongs also to the Brotherhood and to all mankind, and if it is a right life it will be used and enjoyed by many others as well as by the man himself. A garage on a man's back-lot is used by the man himself, and by him only; Solomon's Temple was used by all the people of a nation for the greatest purposes of their existence. Both are buildings, the garage and the Temple, but in value how wide apart they are! The Mason 's dedication is to be like the dedication of the Temple-his life has value exactly in proportion to its number of uses, to the importance of its uses, and to the number of others who find in it pleasure, joy and satisfaction.
From all this you will see that the relationship between Operative Masonry and Speculative Masonry is very close. As a Speculative Mason succeeds in Speculative architecture it will be because he is also Operative. He has made a plan for his life, selected the materials with care, employed the tools with skill, and at the end dedicate himself to the greatest values and widest usefulness.
SPECTULATIVE TO APPLIED
As we prepare to go into the 21st Century, Freemasonry may enter a third stage called "Applied Freemasonry" as it begins to serve the human race, its true destiny.
Masonry has not yet achieved this goal partly because of complacent satisfaction in its superiorities and the atmosphere created by rituals and fraternal friendships. These are beneficial, but Masonry is not a secret society or a social club. The changes which will accompany Masonry's transition to the third stage when Masonic principles are put into practical and helpful use will not hurt the values which Masons hold so important and immutable.
Much of our Masonic secrecy is no longer needed. People today are not enchanted with secret societies. And there is nothing secret in what Masons do. The more the general public knows about Masonry the more useful the Fraternity will become.
Masonry must be more universally understood, both inside and outside as a way of life which has a helpful, practical, supporting purpose.
There are five stages of life in every organism: birth, growth, use, decay and death. This applies to life groups, to nations and races. It applies to religions and systems of government. The stage of usefulness should start during the stage of growth. Masonry is at the end of its growth stage and it must turn now to a state of usefulness.
In the new era Masonry should inspire all Masons to live a Masonic life. How a Mason lives outside the lodge is much more important than what he does in it. Taking another degree, another oath, learning a new sign do not necessarily evidence forward steps in Masonic living.
We need not change our rituals. What we need is a change in the understanding of them. We need not change precepts or doctrines or duties. What we need is to recognize their significance and how to apply them in practical and useful ways in our daily lives.
California Freemasonry has taken the first step in Applied Freemasonry with the adoption of an outgoing, aggressive program of support for the education of our children in the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Masons individually and collectively must lead the way in demanding higher standards of education, greater citizen participation in government, local, state and nation. Work for a cleaner environment, preservation of the Bill of Rights, morality in government and business.
Historically Masonry resists change. But humanity is changing and like it or not Masonry, consisting of human beings, cannot divorce itself from human life.
The change from Speculative to Applied Freemasonry will not harm Masonry any more than the change from Operative to Speculative. For Masonry to live on in the future, it must demonstrate its usefulness to mankind. Now is the time to start.
The above article by Ralph H. Head, Editor, of the California Freemason, was in the 1989 Spring Issue of that publication. There has been some movement in the direction of Applied Masonry by a few Lodges and individuals; nothing earth shattering however.
There are many ways of making "connections" between Masonry and the community so that the principles and concepts of Masonry can be "APPLIED."
First, and most important are our programs to promote the awareness of Substance Abuse and the training of CORE GROUPS of educators in the identification of AT-RISK children in the Public Schools. The majority of adults of families in the public school system are non-masons. This is an area where we could assist individual schools with projects of their choosing; supporting our Public schools by having fund raising breakfasts and dinners is and excellent method to meet non-Masonic family members and for those families to see Masons in action in our Centers, Halls and Temple buildings.
Second, it is possible to work with various civic-minded and other fraternal organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, Lions Clubs, The Rotary, Elks, Odd Fellows, Kiawanas, Knights of Columbus, etc., in community projects designated to benefit the community as a whole. There are many Lodges who have a membership in local a Chamber of Commerce. Again, most of the members of these organizations are non-masons; there is not a better way to meet such people than working together on a project.
Third, most City Fire Departments have programs organizing and teaching the community to prepare for emergency situations. One such program is called the N.E.A.T. program or Neighborhood Emergency Assistance Team. Local Fire Departments are under manned and over worked and welcome any assistance in this approach of community involvement. Once again, most of the people you will contact in working on these programs will be non-masons.
Four, The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America has published work-book manuals and video tapes to assist the Lodges in Membership Development and Management. Please feel free to write or place a telephone call to The Masonic Renewal Committee of North America, Lake Falls Professional Building, 6115 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21209; (410) 377-0588, (FAX) 410-377-0591.
"Applied Masonry" will reduce our concern, and rightfully so, in regard to our public image. It will also give us the answers to the following questions:
What does the community and non-mason think and know about us?
How are we regarded by the man on the street, both as individuals and as a group?
How can we gain the respect of the non-mason as long as we are unable to give a good account or a reason for our existence?
Where will he get his inspiration to become a Mason?
How can we expect any worthy and honorable man to join our ranks without any knowledge of what his application will lead him into?
An enlightened and vocal membership active in the community, as well as the Lodge, will provide the incentive for a favorable, enhanced and exemplary public image.
We can proclaim by our actions that Freemasonry, in its every effort and purpose, strives to do charitable work within its membership and for society. Through its teachings it seeks to make good men better men. We can proudly state that the basic ethical principles as exemplified in our ritual and Lodge work are such as are acceptable to all good men. All of these lessons based on the Golden Rule, tolerance toward all mankind, respect for the Family and charity toward all, will not be visible in our communities until displayed by taking a third step, that of "Applied Masonry."
THE TEACHINGS OF MASONRY
Masonry's method of teaching is unlike that of the schools. Instead of employing teachers and textbooks and lessons in didactic form-instead, that is, of expounding and enforcing its teachings in plain words-it uses the method of ritual, symbol, emblem and allegory. This is not as easy to follow as the school-room method, but over that or any similar method it has this one great advantage: it makes a Mason study and learn for himself, forces him to search out the truth, compels him to take the initiative, as a grown man should, so that the very act of learning is itself of great educational value. The purpose of secrecy is not to keep a candidate in the dark, but to stimulate him to seek the light; the symbols and emblems do not conceal the teaching, they reveal it, but they reveal it in such a manner that a man must find it for himself; and it is only when a man finds the truth for himself that it can be or remain a living and permanent possession. I can only suggest to you what you will find by your own efforts, how you will find it, and where you will find it. Necessarily there cannot be any exhaustive exposition of Masonic truth, because in its nature it is something each man must discover for himself.
Freemasonry has three tenets, or great teachings, which are presupposed throughout; these are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. By Brotherly Love is meant that the relationship of blood brothers is a type of the relations of Masons with one another. By Relief is meant the principle of benevolence and charity. By Truth is meant, not only that which satisfies the mind, but also sincerity of conscience and soundness of character-truthfulness in act as well as in thought and speech.
Freemasonry is a Fraternity devoted to Brotherhood, exists to furnish opportunities to its members to enjoy it, for its own sake and not as a means to something beyond it; but this Brotherhood must be understood in a special sense. Freemasonry 's position is that Brotherhood rests on a religious basis; we are all Brothers, or should be, because God is the Father of us all; therefore religion is one of the foundations of Masonry.
Masonry is dedicated to God, the Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe. It keeps an Altar at the center of every Lodge-room. The Holy Bible lies open upon it. It begins and ends its undertakings with prayer. When it obligates a candidate he must be upon his knees. Its petitioners must believe in immortality. All this is genuine religion, not a formal religiousness; it is sincerely held and scrupulously upheld, and without this basis of faith the Craft would wither and die like a tree with roots destroyed.
But this religion of Masonry, like all else in its teaching, is not set forth in written creeds, or in any other form of words; the Mason must come upon it for himself, and put it in such form as will satisfy his own mind, leaving others to do likewise. This is Masonic tolerance, which is one of the prime principles of the Craft, and one protected by the Ancient Landmark that forbids all sectarian discussion in our assemblies.
Along with religion, Masonry teaches the necessity of morality, requiring of its members that they be good men and true, righteous when tried by the Square, upright when tried by the Plumb, their passions kept in due bounds by the Compasses, just in their dealings with their fellows, patient with the erring, charitable, truthful and honorable. Nor are these the words of a high-sounding but empty aspiration; a candidate must possess such a character to be qualified for admittance, and a Mason must persevere in it to retain his membership.
Of the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity our Craft says, as did the Apostle, that "the greatest of these is Charity." Through the agency of the Lodge and of the Grand Lodge each of us is to give support to the charities maintained by the Jurisdiction, District or Lodge; but at the same time, and over and above this, each of us must stand ready at any and all times privately to extend a helping hand in relief of an unfortunate Brother, or of his dependents. Masonry, however, unlike some of the sects and cults, does not advocate a charity carried to the limits of fanaticism; there is such a thing as a Cable Tow, the extent of ability and opportunity, and we are not asked to give relief beyond the point where it would work damage to ourselves or hardship to our families.
Another of Masonry's great teachings is Equality, symbolized by the Level. This does not represent that impossible doctrine which would erase all distinctions, and holds that in all respects all men are the same, for it is evident that in many respects men are very unequal, as in physique, in talent, in gifts, in abilities, and in character; it is, rather, the principle that we owe goodwill, charity, tolerance, and truthfulness equally to each and all, and that within our Fraternity all men travel the same road of initiation, take the same obligations, pay the same dues, and have the same duties, rights and privileges.
A like importance is attached to the need for enlightenment. The motto of Masonry is "Let there be light"; almost the whole of the Second Degree is a drama of education; the Work of Masonry is called the Royal Art, and it is expected that our candidates beginning as Apprentices shall study to learn its practice, consulting with well-informed Brethren and making use of the Working Tools. Truth is one of the tenets. There is a Masonry of the mind as well as of the heart and of the hand. To reverence the wise, to respect teachers, to value and uphold schools, and to encourage the Liberal Arts and Sciences is one of our most ancient traditions.
Outside the Lodge-room the Mason is to be a good citizen, loyal to his government, taking no part in plots and rebellions, conducting himself as a moral and wise man, remembering in all things that he has in his keeping the good name of his Fraternity.
These teachings arise out of, and at the same time are bound together into, an organic unity by the nature and needs of that Brotherhood for the sake of which the whole system of the Craft exists. To endure through all vicissitudes, and to satisfy our natures, Brotherhood must have a spiritual basis, hence the all-importance of our foundation of religion. Brotherhood requires that men must be held together by unbreakable ties, hence the necessity for morality, which is a name for the forces that bind us in the relations of amity and accord. Differences of beliefs and opinions must not be permitted to rupture those bonds, hence the need for tolerance. Men cannot come together or remain together except they have the same rights and privileges, hence the necessity of equality.
Masonry teaches man to practice charity and benevolence, to protect chastity, to respect the ties of blood and friendship, to adopt the principles and revere the ordinances of religion, to assist the feeble, guide the blind, raise up the downtrodden, shelter the orphan, guard the altar, support the Government, inculcate morality, promote learning, love for God and man, implore His mercy and hope for happiness.
What is Masonry? Yes, we have heard a thousand times that Masonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Ok, fine. What does that mean?
Who we are.
System of morality
Masonry teaches us to apply the moral and ethical teachings of our own personal political, ethnic, cultural and religious beliefs and backgrounds in our daily lives. It is unique and separate from religion, politics and culture or ethnicity in that Masonry does not tell us what those teachings are, or should be. Masonry tells us that - whatever the teachings are - we should practice them, and reminds us that we already know full well HOW to do so. Our rules and procedures are so constructed as to insure that our members are of good morals, worthy of trust, respect and friendship. These qualities are already inculcated into our personalities before we gain admission. Masonry does not teach us how to be good, we have learned that long before we knocked on the door. Masonry places us in situations and environments where we find new opportunities to exercise that goodness that already resides within each of us. The friendships and associations we form in Masonry cause us to compete in discovering just how good we can become. The fraternity encourages us to constantly reevaluate our ethics and morals, and form that rough ashler into that perfect ashler that is at the core of the spirit our Creator placed within us.
Robert E. Winterton, Sr., 33
Personal caring, one Brother to another, is what makes us a fraternity-and a family.
He was short, heavy, and frowned a lot. Some said he was a troll, others characterized him as a leprechaun. He was irascible, irritating, and sometimes loud. He had a penchant for complaining and finding fault. He boasted of having "taken a demit" every time the Scottish Rite raised its dues over the past 50 years, but he never explained how he managed to remain a member in order to exercise his proclivity for demitting. He once cast a vote against a dues increase, only to offer (during new business) personally to pay $15,000 to pave the Lodge parking lot. He wasn't stingy; he just enjoyed complaining. For 50 years, he was successful at getting under the skin of just about every Master.
Then Henry was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The disease worked quickly Soon, the Lodge was in charge of his care, a 24-hour-a-day duty almost immediately. Henry lost weight, mobility, and comprehension. In a matter of months, he became a child of three. Delivered to the Lodge one evening too late for a formal dinner and informed of his tardiness, he stood in the doorway weeping like a child who had missed a birthday party. The tables and chairs had already been stacked and put away by the stewards.
Henry still stood at the door, his shoulders heaving with each breath.
Wasn't someone going to do something? Are we a fraternity? And if so, what does that mean? Are we a family, or do we just go through the motions? Do we stand for anything real, or do we just mouth the words? The ghost of Masonry Past stood silent witness to the events and was ready to cast judgment.
"Get a plate of food-quick!" someone said. It was the Master's voice, The Senior Warden, a young man, covered the length of the dining room in seven or eight running strides. Reaching Henry, he nearly shouted, "How are you, Henry? Are you hungry? It's good do see you. Let's go eat!"
By the time Henry's shuffling steps delivered him to the table, he was smiling like a kid at his first Big League ball game. Almost instantly, a plate of steaming food was placed on a sparkling tablecloth, a napkin was tucked in his collar, and someone was saying, "The coffee is hot, Henry. Be careful." Then, all the officers of Lodge, some in full tuxedos, others with their sleeves rolled up, seated themselves around Henry's table. An old Past Master approached the table, "What's going on here, boys?" Surprisingly, the answer came from the youngest one at the table, a junior Steward in his late 20s, "He's our Brother, and he's not going to eat alone"
Well, maybe it does work! Maybe we mean what we say. Maybe we really are a family of Brothers bearing some responsibility for each other. Little events like this one will determine the truth of the matter, not the words of a catechism.
Robert E. Waterton, Sr. was raised in El Cajon Valley Lodge No. 576 in 1972 (Master in 1988), became a 32( Mason, Valley of San Diego, in 1984, K..: C.: C.: H.:. in 1991, and 33( 1.: G.: H.: in 1995, A member of the Grand Lodge of California's Speaker's Panel since 1987, he was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of California 1989-90, and Chairman, Grand Lodge Education Group, 1991-92. Presently, Personal Representative, Valley of San Diego, he is also a member of the York Rite Bodies, Al Bahr Shrine Temple, ONES., Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, So. California Research Lodge, Scottish Rite Research Society, Joseph L. Shell Daylight Lodge No. 837, The Philalethes Society, The Royal Order of Scotland The Robert the Bruce Association, York Rite College, and National Sojournes/Heroes of '76.
Veiled in allegory
In our ritual, we make a sharp distinction between "Sacred History" and "Masonic Tradition". Sacred History includes events that actually took place, or are really written of in Scripture.
There really was a King Solomon, he actually built a temple, and there was a real Hyram Abif.
The ritual Drama, concerning the bravery and death of Hyram is fiction. No less important for it's lack of factual foundation, it is no different than the "Cherry Tree" story told about George Washington. Set in a historical setting, a fictional account about some real people, designed to teach important lessons about Truth and Morality.
What we do.
Illustrated by symbols.
What is a symbol?
Main Entry: 1sym·bol
Etymology: in sense 1, from Late Latin symbolum, from Late Greek symbolon, from Greek, token, sign; in other senses from Latin symbolum token, sign, symbol, from Greek symbolon, literally, token of identity verified by comparing its other half, from symballein to throw together, compare, from syn- + ballein to throw -- more at DEVIL
Date: 15th century
1 : an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine : CREED
2 : something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially : a visible sign of something invisible <the lion is a symbol of courage>
3 : an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities
4 : an object or act representing something in the unconscious mind that has been repressed <phallic symbols>
5 : an act, sound, or object having cultural significance and the capacity to excite or objectify a response
Within the context of Masonry, definitions 2 and 5 are most applicable. A symbol is something that we can all see, hear, feel or otherwise sense that serves to remind us of something more personal within ourselves, and about which we may have stronger feelings.
Consider the rainbow. Everyone sees something different when looking at a rainbow
A physicist sees a practical demonstration of the refraction of light across the visible spectrum.
An Old Testament scholar sees a reminder of the covenant G-d made with Noah.
A New Testament scholar sees a reminder of the fulfillment of the promise of a Deliverer.
A child sees pretty colors.
A storyteller sees a leprechaun protecting his pot of gold.
An artist sees brilliant hues and gorgeous transitions.
A meteorologist sees the end of a long rain.
All of them are looking at the same rainbow. It is objectively measurable. Everyone sees the same thing. We all agree what we are seeing, hearing, etc. We agree on the shape, color, size, location and so on. The rainbow as an object does not vary. The interpretations men make of it, when seeing it as a symbol, however, will.
Masonry shows us rainbows, and asks us to consider what they mean, what we see in them. Different people will see different things in the same rainbow.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
[From John Godfrey Saxe, "Poems" (Boston, 1852).]
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear
Said, "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!
The sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong.
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.
I had a boss once who refered to MBO programs (Management By Objective) as Management By Limitation. He claimed, quite enthusiastically, that once you define or set a goal, the normal human tendency is either accept or reject it. People do not naturally go beyond, or find their own meanings.
Symbols remove the limitations created by imposing one individual's opinions on another. By "pointing at a rainbow" we can communicate much more, and much more personal and individual information than we could any other way.
A family purchased a new computer and printer. It was decided that they would learn to use it together as the mother and the father wanted to use it in the family business, and the daughter needed to learn how to use it for school projects and the family business. A specific time was set aside for them to learn to use the machine.
Within a week, the house was in an uproar. The father wanted to use the computer manual and teach himself by constant trial and error. The mother wanted to pick up the necessary skills by watching her husband and daughter and practicing on her own. She prepared little drawings to help her remember how to get into programs and turn the machine off. The daughter decided that this was too amateurish and took a course offered at school. She then tried to tell her parents what she was learning at school.
The three family members failed to learn together because they failed to recognize that they each had a preferred way to learn.
The father favored movement, or a kinesthetic experience. He preferred to interact directly with materials, to practice and experiment
The mother favored sight, or a visual experience. She preferred to actually see a process, and rely on charts, diagrams and notes.
The daughter favored hearing, or an auditory experience. She preferred to take instruction, and directed learning with discussion
These are the three primary learning modalities, there are more. In our ceremonies, through our symbolism and by our methods we utilize all of the major ones. During our Masonic journeys, we imprint on the mind many pieces of sensual imagery. Even taste and smell are included because of the blindfold and at the refreshment table. Masonry is at once an auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, visual, orefactory, multi-sensory experience.