One of the first lessons we learn in Freemasonry is that we are here to “Learn to improve myself in Freemasonry.” We also say that we “take good men and make them better.” If this is true, when does it stop? At what point have we improved enough to consider that we have accomplished this task? Has Masonry made you better, so you do not have any more to do?
Were you finished when you were Initiated, Passed and Raised? What is the one thing that you learned that made you say,” Great! I am better! I am done!?” When you were Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, the heavens parted and the Great Architect of the Universe inspected you with the symbolic Square, level and Plumb and declared you perfect? NO? Then it is possible that you had/have more improvement to make? That you have more lessons to learn?
Our goal in Freemasonry is not to be better than others, but to be better than ourselves. While I might be better than the self I was 5 years ago, there is still room for me to be better than the self I was yesterday. Anything that stops growing dies. I have presented Masonic Education to Brethren who were in their 80s and were wise, but they wanted to learn more. Improvement never ends, we should strive to continue to travel from the west toward the east, in search of even more Masonic Light.
The first thing required for Freemasonry to help you improve yourself is your presence. How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry if you are not present? Not just physical presence, but active presence in the lessons of the Ritual and the Fellowship with your Brethren. I know that you can learn much about Freemasonry by reading the thoughts of others, but you can learn even more by discussing those thoughts, and your own thoughts, with your Brethren in a Corporate setting. Freemasonry was never meant to be a solitary event, men organized themselves into groups to help each other and to learn from each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. Another translation says, “Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.” It is important to gather with your Brethren. The Fellowship is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that you learn to trust each other, so you are willing to listen when a Brother points out an area where you many need to work on your continuous improvement. If I do not know you well, I may be upset or hurt if you point out a fault, but I should be able to accept this whisper of counsel and comfort from my Brother.
If you will be open to the lessons of the Craft and the thoughts of your Brethren, you can improve yourself even during a boring business meeting. How? By actively listening to the Ritual, by taking a part of the normal opening and closing and pondering, “What does this mean to me?” It is much more satisfying than pondering whether we should buy a new refrigerator for the Lodge. I improve myself in Freemasonry every time I attend Lodge or Masonic events. The idea for this article came to me while I was at the District Custodian’s School of Instruction. It wasn’t that I was not paying attention to what was being taught, but that I WAS paying attention and I heard things I needed to hear. Even in the repetitious ritual we were practicing.
How can you improve yourself in Freemasonry? Read your books; listen to the Ritual; learn from your Brethren.