I recently had the pleasure to revisit some of the work of Steinmetz, who along with Manly Hall, were very much focused on educating Masons on the esoteric meanings of Freemasonry. Yeah, yeah, we're all about esoteric education. You can't go five minutes without someone telling you how deeply esoteric they are, and how the lodges have to adapt or die. These well-meaning Masons have a point, but have these individual Masons done the work Steinmetz, Hall, and so many more describe? Too many of our lodge brothers want to be heard, but have they actually listened themselves? Have they done the Great Work? Are they pushing change and deep symbolism without having experienced the result of months or even years of silent contemplation? The answer is mixed, and all should be respected for their views no matter how far or how little they've traveled up the mountain.
Every Mason has the right to be heard in lodge. Older and hopefully wiser Masons must be patient with the views and gently guide the conversation toward individual Self-reflection and contemplation. That's right. The Masons reading this are the ones now older and hopefully wiser, yes you. Furthermore, we each have a duty to be there for our Brothers. I don't mean we should direct their actions. I believe we can and should set the example of a contemplative practice that leads to deeper thinking and can help move us out of our cognitive biases. Our Grand Lodges very wisely avoid the expression of "being esoteric" except in roundabout statements and not defining the deeply esoteric nature of studying philosophy or putting into practice the lessons of the ages. Let's not give our Grand Lodges, who rightfully should be focused on the administrative function, any grief over being more or less esoteric. That's not their function, and I'm grateful for their service in an area that requires a massive dedication of time in order to be effective. Rather than look to the leadership at a jurisdiction or even lodge level, the path has always been internal. Why make a big scene out of a splinter in your brothers' eyes when we have trees poking out of our own eyes?
Steinmetz makes a great point about candidates receiving Rights, Lights, and Benefits of a Lodge, each in their individual way. The path is opened before them, and it remains the choice of that initiated Mason how much contemplative practice to pursue. It also remains the choice of that individual Mason how quickly they progress, or how much work is put into the study of the Great Lights. The argument of how esoteric lodges are or should be is nothing new. Steinmetz witnessed the same issues as did the generations before him and the generations following now. We lead the Masons to water (education), and then we are disappointed when they don't follow through on their own (apply contemplative practice) as quickly as we might have done. Maybe that's not where we should be focused, on our disappointment in others? Maybe we should keep that door to the library open, and express the joy felt when others join us, rather than focus on the negative disappointment? If that means we eat pancakes and green beans and practice the basic brotherhood from which this amazing journey all springs? Yeah, I can do that. I will also delight as more join us in our contemplative studies and individual Self-discovery.
The message from Steinmetz, Hall, McNulty, Wilmhurst, and so many more Masonic authors is not about other Masons but an introspective journey into one's Self. This is where each of us can say "It's all about me" and mean it. I remain grateful seeing Masons taking advantage of the Information Age in further teaching symbolism and philosophy, and we collectively have taken the opportunity over the past year to dive deeply into exactly that - exploring symbolic lodge practices. I commend all who have taken it upon themselves to do so. As we open back up to the business of making new Masons, let us keep in mind the deeper aspects of the philosophy. We who continued to spread the light need to continue but also pass the torch, or maybe help other torches be lit, in order to bring this past year's opportunity back to our otherwise Green Bean and Pancake lodges. I don't mean shove your new education down the throats of the lodge brethren. I'm too old to even consider that an option while I crank up The Clash, Led Zeppelin, and some Rush. I just think we can prove to the lodges that the time taken to do your daily contemplative practice has impacted you positively. You didn't do your contemplative work during the past year? OK, there's no better time to start than today. That new Mason is counting on you.
Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live in O'Fallon, MO just outside of St. Louis. Randy earned a
Bachelors in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in telecom IT. He volunteers his time as a professional and personal mentor, is an NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol. He has a 30+ year background teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy's Masonic bio includes lodge education officer of two blue lodges, running the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, active in York Rite AMD, Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis co-librarian, Clerk of the Academy Of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, a trained facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. As a pre-COVID-19 pioneer in Masonic virtual education, Randy is an administrator of Refracted Light and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy enjoys facilitating and presenting Masonic esoteric education, and he hosts an open, weekly Masonic virtual Friday Happy Hour. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.