Freemason, Masonic, Masonry

The Three Burials of Hiram

We use the “Raising” of Hiram from the grave as an allegory of Immortality. Yet, we must remember that, in our own legend (myth) Hiram was NOT raised from death, just brought out of an unhallowed grave to be buried again in hallowed ground.
Grand Master Hiram Abif was buried three times. We should look at these three burials allegorically in Freemasonry and in our own lives. How do we evolve from who we were to who we want to be?

The first burial followed the slaying of Grand Master Hiram Abif by the Lead Ruffian and his two accomplices. The murderers of Hiram represent ignorance, error and intolerance. This burial was done in horror as the Ruffians understood what they had done. This was an unexpected result; they were sure that the Grand Master would give them the Word when threatened with death. They felt that his morals and ethics matched their own; he would act out of the selfishness of saving his own life. Instead he showed true integrity, suffering the killing blow rather than betray his oath.
In a panic, the Ruffians buried him under the Rubbish of the Temple; he was placed in the discard, the stones that the builders rejected. Based on where we historically play out this portion of the Ritual, he was buried in the Northeast Corner of the Lodge, a place of partial darkness.
If we view this part of the allegory to our own lives, it is our attempt to hide our own faults and mistakes. Our first thought is of self; we are disconnected from the world and the consequences of our actions. We have Ruffians in ourselves that will do wrong, then panic to try to avoid disclosure of our own actions acting instinctively, almost animalistic. Ignorance. Error.

The second burial of Hiram Abif was an attempt at a cover-up as the Ruffians attempted to run away from their actions. They felt guilty over what they did, but not repentant. This burial was on a hill, west of Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) while it was a more proper burial, it was in unhallowed ground. His body was buried in the West, away from the light of the East. This burial was planned and done in in order to deceive and hide guilt and shame; but is still self-centered, humanistic.
Viewing this in our own lives, we recognize that we did wrong but still try to hide our mistakes. We deceive ourselves and others, trying to hide our sins. It could be symbolic of us being aware of our shortcomings and the deepness of our flaws, but refusing to acknowledge and own them. Envy. Vanity. Pride. Intolerance.
The Ruffians were discovered and called the penalties upon themselves, but only after they discovered that they could not escape judgment. In some versions, they kill themselves, in others they are killed by the Fellowcraft using the penalties of the three degrees at the order of Most Excellent King Solomon.

We cannot move past this second burial of guilt until we slay the Ruffians that exist within us. In an MSA Short Talk Bulletin from 1927, an unknown author described the Ruffians in our hearts as: Ignorance; Passion and Moral Perversity (deliberately deviating from what is good.) We must take these Ruffians outside the city and execute them. Only after we do so, can we be worthy of the third Burial.

The third burial of Grand Master Hiram Abif was completely different from those preceding it. This was a Burial with honor, celebrating a great and pious man according to his station. He was buried in a hero’s tomb with great processional led by Most Excellent King Solomon himself. A Monument was erected to tell all that this was a great man. He was placed as close to the Sanctum Sanctorum as law would permit. He was finally laid to rest in Hallowed ground. This was a burial with honor. We have left the animal and the human to strive for the Divine within Man.
This is where Masonry happens. Most Excellent King Solomon descended into the grave of a Craftsman, a common man, and he is raised from a “dead level.” Brotherly Love. Relief. Truth.
We hope for a burial that shows that we are loved and respected, as Grand Master Hiram Abif finally received. But he was gone, he knows nothing of what transpired during any of his three burials. Funerals are for the living; they allow us to show respect for the departed.
Our funeral and our burial is not our concern; we should focus on the lesson of our Grand Master Hiram Abif. He was engaged in the work of building a temple, as are we. Our temple is internal, it is built by our character using the building blocks of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. Hiram Abif was steadfast in maintaining the obligation he made to King Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre; we should be just as steadfast in maintaining our obligations to our Craft, our Brethren and our Creator.

Let us live a life respected and die regretted.

Study Questions:

1. What is your first reaction when you do wrong?

2. What are the Ruffians in your life that you need to slay?

3. What virtues and characteristics do you think will help us evolve from the animalistic and humanistic?

4. Where is your focus?

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Freemason, Masonic, Masonry, Scottish Rite

Disinterestedness

Years ago, I used to assist with the Ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, Elu of the Nine at the Valley of Savannah Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. I was one of the Elu and we would light a candle and name one of the nine special virtues of the Degree which serve as additional weapons for the Mason: disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism. I was always given “disinterestedness”; I think because it was hard to pronounce and I was the young guy that would take whatever he was given.

The Nine Elus of the Degree were those selected to search for the murderers of Hiram that represent ignorance, error and intolerance. The attributes of: disinterestedness, courtesy, devotion, firmness, frankness, generosity, self-denial, heroism, and patriotism are those that will destroy these ruffians whose goal is to destroy the best in human nature.

I recently mentioned disinterestedness in a conversation and the people I was talking to did not understand the term; many think that it means uninterested or a lack of interest. It actually means something very different. The definition is, Disinterestedness: the quality or state of being objective or impartial. Key synonyms are: fair-mindedness; impartiality; justice; neutrality; objectivity; impartialness.

In Freemasonry we celebrate disinterestedness as a key attribute of a good man and Mason. It is that attitude that we serve in the Craft and in our community; not for our own glory, but for the betterment of the Fraternity and Society.  This disinterestedness is not easy for us because it strikes at the root of our own pride and egoism.

We must always remember that one of the key goals of Freemasonry is to build in men the character of a Gentleman. Shortly after I had the conversation listed above, I read the following in Gordon S. Wood’s “Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different.”

When John Adams asked himself what a gentleman was, he answered in just these terms of a liberal arts education. “By gentlemen,” he said, “are not meant the rich or the poor, the high-born or the low-born, the industrious or the idle: but all those who have received a liberal education, an ordinary degree of erudition in liberal arts and sciences. Whether by birth they be descended from magistrates and officers of government, or from husbandmen, merchants, mechanics, or laborers; or whether they be rich or poor.”

 Disinterestedness was the most common term the founders used as a synonym for the classical conception of virtue or self-sacrifice; it better conveyed the threats from interests that virtue seemed increasingly to face in the rapidly commercializing eighteenth century. Dr. Johnson had defined disinterested as being “superior to regard of private advantage; not influenced by private profit,” and that was what the founders meant by the term.

Among the other virtues mentioned in the disinterestedness could also be looked at as a characteristic. The men who developed our Ritual in the early days of Speculative Freemasonry were the same type of men who led our Revolution against tyranny. They identified these as key characteristics of a good man and developed lessons and Rituals to help us to understand and direct our paths in the right direction to achieve the Character spelled out in these virtues.

By valuing and practicing disinterestedness, it does not mean that we are not affected by the results of our work. Nor does it mean that complacency should creep into our actions or that we should not act to improve the outcomes of our efforts. It means that we should not do this work for our own glory, but for the glory of the GAOTU, the craft and Society as a whole.

Study Questions:

  1. Does this statement ring true in your life?

“Be disinterested; that is what really matters.”

  1. Do you agree with this statement?

“Disinterestedness is essential in the pursuit of knowledge”

  1. When you achieve a position, do you accept because of the rewards you expect or do you consider only how you can advance the organization and your fellow man?
  2. Do you pursue knowledge without an agenda, without any bias towards the knowledge you pursue?

 

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Preparation

Preparation: the action or process of making something ready for use or service or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty

How do you make yourself ready for Lodge? How do you help your Lodge become ready to carry out the will of the Worshipful Master?

Freemasonry is, at its core, a self-improvement organization. We have lessons and philosophies that a Brother can use to “…improve him(my)self in Freemasonry.” It is your responsibility to prepare your heart, mind and spirit for a lodge meeting. You do this by praying, studying and thinking on the lessons learned in the Craft. If you come to Lodge without any preparation, the only thing that will have meaning to you is the fellowship with the Brethren; it will be hard for you to consider the deep lessons that are thinly veiled, even in our Opening and Closing Ritual. How do you prepare your heart, mind and spirit for a lodge meeting?

The business of the Lodge is mostly done outside the formal Lodge meeting. Committees appointed by the Worshipful Master should meet to act on his Plan; to work on the more difficult problems and come to a consensus on what to present to the Lodge for a vote. Brethren are encouraged to provide their input to the committee while they are in discussion so that when they bring something before the Lodge, there will be little dissension or conflict. This hearkens back to the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The trees were hewn and prepared in Lebanon, away from the Temple Mount. The brass and golden ornaments for the temple were cast in molds in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredatha, and the stones were perfected in the quarries. The building was constructed without the sounds of instruments; all parts fitting perfectly. Freemasonry should take this to heart and do our work by quiet and orderly means, “without the hammer of contention, the axe of division, or any tool of mischief.”

The working tools of Freemasonry are many, but they are divided based on the three degrees. As we learn from WB Kent Henderson, “Each of the nine tools has a moral significance: The Twenty-four Inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel of the First Degree are the tools of preparation; the Square, Level and Plumb Rule of the Second Degree are the tools of proof; the Skirret, Pencil and Compasses of the Third Degree are the tools of plan.” In the workings of the Lodge, it is the Worshipful Master who employs the tools of Plan to lay upon the Trestleboard the plan for the lodge during his year.

We as Craftsmen in the Lodge are to employ first the tools of preparation. We are to look at the plans laid upon the Trestleboard and do our due diligence in ensuring that the Master and the Lodge (Brethren) have the best base materials with which to work to build our edifice. This is true for the internal and the external preparation that we should accomplish. We provide our Master with the advice and ideas to help him maintain a perfect plan.

As skilled Craftsmen, we then use the tools of proof to assess our work and that of our Brethren. It is our duty to ensure that their work, and ours, meets the needs of the Plan of the Master. We do this on the Square and Level, and always by the Plumb, showing us that line of Rectitude to which we must adhere. We also must work with humility. While at work building a previous edifice, we may have been selected by the Brethren to serve as the Master; now it is our opportunity to serve and advise the brother selected by the Fraternity to lead us in the building of our current edifice. We must do this with grace and equanimity. The plan is his and it is our duty to work within his plan.

As stated previously, most of this is done outside the regular meeting. By the time of the Communication of the Lodge, we should work as one, with no sound of Discord to be heard in the confines of our Lodge Room.

How well are you using the tools of preparation?

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