From: "Edward Punt" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: The Philosophy Of Freemasonry
Date: 8 May 1997
have noticed that over the last several days there has been a large
amount of discussion concerning exactly what Freemasonry is. Well we
all know that no one Mason can speak for all of Masonry so we come up
with various explanations. I would like to submit to the group what
I consider to be the best explanation of Freemasonry that I have seen.
I am sort of biased though because it was a speech written by my grandfather,
MW William R. Punt, PGM, F&AM of NY. He is the most honorable man
that I have ever know and I have tried to model my own life after his.
***The Ways Of Virtue Are Beautiful***
THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEMASONRY
preparing for these brief comments on the Philosophy of Freemasonry,
I asked myself, 'Just how does a person go about telling someone else
what Masonry is and is not?' I came to the conclusion that perhaps a
starting point would be with a definition of Freemasonry. Actually,
there were two that I ran across recently. The first said: 'Masonry
is more than social good fellowship, more than ritual, more than organized
charity. It is a way of living; a philosophy of life.' Another definition
said: 'Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational, and religious
society.' For the next few minutes, let's take these definitions apart
and see what they really mean.
"First of all, many will say that Freemasonry is a secret organization.
Actually, its only secrets are in its methods of recognition
and of symbolic instruction. We maintain secrecy but purely as a means
of mutual identification. We take an oath but only after assurance that
it 'will not improperly affect any duty we owe to God, our country,
our neighbor, or ourselves.' We have forms and ceremonies and symbols
but these are all external.
"Actually, the entire ritual is a symbolic representation of the
course of a man through his life, leading him step by step from birth,
through manhood, to old age, and leaving him with the hope of immortality.
The first Degree, called the Entered Apprentice, represents man as he
comes into life; helpless, ignorant and dependent, and carries his education
through the period of his youth. The second, or Fellowcraft Degree,
represents man in his middle age; and the third or Master Mason Degree
takes him through old age and ends with a beautiful lesson in the unconquerable
hope of immortality. Through the three degrees, the candidate is taught
increasing wisdom in the art of upright living.
"Now let's look at that part of our definition dealing with religion.
Although in remote antiquity Freemasonry was affiliated with various
religions, it has long since ceased to be a religion. It is the friend
of every religious faith but is not itself a religion. Essentially,
it is the practical applications of a philosophy of life or way of living.
"Not being the product of any one race or system of government,
or economics, or philosophy, or religion, Freemasonry welcomes men of
every race and creed if they have sufficient integrity of character
to become good Masons and if they believe in Deity. Instead of trying
to be a religion, Freemasonry deliberately seeks to provide a common
meeting place where men of every religion can remain true to their own
religions and yet, submerging their differences, can work together in
harmony to manifest the finest fruits of all religions.
"While the emphasis of religion is often of intercession for forgiveness
of shortcomings, the Masonic emphasis is essentially on the more positive
side of seeking to measure up to one's obligations rather than on any
theological doctrines of forgiveness. Similarly, Masonry stresses one's
duties rather than his rights. Just as Freemasonry exhorts its members
to be true and loyal citizens of whatever county is entitled to their
allegiance, so, likewise, Freemasonry expects each of its members to
be a true and loyal supporter of his chosen religion and of the church,
synagogue, or other unit of its organizational worship.
let's look at other parts of our definition, first that of being a social
organization. Freemasonry is a social organization only so far as it
furnishes additional inducement that men may forgather in numbers, thereby
providing more material for its primary work of education, of worship,
and of charity.
"Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of
the individual man, Freemasonry seeks to improve the community. Thus,
it impresses upon its members the principles of personal righteousness
and personal responsibility, enlightens them as to those things which
make for human welfare, and inspires them with that feeling of charity,
or good will, toward all mankind which will move them to translate principle
and conviction into action.
"We believe that the Masonic life should be an orderly life, and
that it should be a public spirited life. Furthermore, we believe it
should be an industrious life in the pursuit of one's vocation and a
physically sane life with due regard to bodily health. A sound body,
orderly industry, public spirit, but primarily the building of character
---- to us these emerge as major laws of successful living.
"Just what, then, does Freemasonry say about man's relationship
with God and with his fellowman?
a world of greed and force,
it teaches self-restraint and reason.
a world permeated with the spirit of selfish rivalry,
it teaches Universal Brotherhood.
a world of intolerance and bigotry
it teaches tolerance and kindness.
a world of cynical disbelief
it teaches reverence for Deity.
a world floundering in the depths of a great moral and spiritual
depression it teaches industry and self-reliance and temperance
aids and comforts and reassures and inspires individuals.
leaps the barriers of race and space to draw together the finest
aspirations of all men and unite them in a Universal Brotherhood.
finally, we can say that purity of heart, sincerity, truthfulness, fidelity
to duty, and similar qualities are emphasized over and over as necessary
internal qualifications. The attainment of wisdom, prudence, temperance,
justice, reason, self-reliance, strength and beauty are practical objectives.
Self-restraint, upright conduct, and morality are worthy means toward
the accomplishment of these objectives. These are typical of the Masonic
Masonry is more than social good fellowship, more than ritual,
more than organized charity. It is a way of living; a Philosophy of
William R. Punt, PGM