Monday, December 31, 2012

The Modern Da Vinci’s 5 Rules of Success

The Modern Da Vinci’s 5 Rules of Success by Jordan Lejuwaan

1) Humility
Make your every action in service of others. Ambitions seeking only to serve the self inevitably end in dissatisfaction.
“No one can multiply himself by himself. He must first divide himself and give himself to the service of all, thus placing himself within all others through acts of thoughtfulness and service.
The personal ego must be suppressed and replaced with the ‘universal ego.’ One must not be the part, one must be the whole. The ‘I’ must be forgotten. I had it. All men have it, and all pass through that stage.
I once thought that greatness was the only thing worthwhile, but when I achieved it to some extent I found that I was not satisfied with it, because there was something beyond, so much higher.”
2) Reverence
Become deeply aware that you are an interpreter of universal consciousness. Know that you have the potential to create anything, to co-create INCREDIBLE things, because you are a tool of the Universe, and are ultimately one with everything.
“No one can make a sale, write a book or invent anything without first having that deep reverence which makes him know and feel that he is an interpreter of the thought-world, one who is creating a product of some kind to fit a purpose. If you are alone long enough to get thoroughly acquainted with yourself, you will hear whisperings from the universal source of all consciousness which will inspire you. These are actual messages, actual revelations, telling you, guiding you, showing you the way to the Source of the thought-world into the world of what we call creation to produce through your interpretations the images which crowd your mind which you do not see. You will soon find yourself using the cosmic forces which you also cannot see, instead of working blindly in the dark.
That thought energy is focused in our brains just as the spot of light is focused by a lens to become a more brilliant spot of light, gathered together from a large area into a point until it is strong enough to burn. Well, you feel that consciousness or that universal intelligence of space itself because of that sensation focused in your body which deceives you into believing that your body is you. Well, it isn’t. Your body is merely a machine made to express the thoughts that flow through you and nothing more.
I learned to cross the threshold of my studio with reverence, as though I were entering a shrine set apart for me to become co-creator with the Universal Thinker of all things. I do not say as I enter my studio, ‘I am a sculptor, I ought to be able to do that thing.’ Instead of that I say, ‘I am an interpreter who can think that thing within me which is worthy of being done.’ When I get that feeling, that rhythm, that meter, that measure which comes to me as an inspiration, then I know that I can produce it, and nobody under Heaven can tell me that I cannot produce it.”
3) Inspiration
Once you are in a place of knowing with your one-ness with the Universe, you need only silence to bring about divine inspiration.
“Many have asked if I could more specifically direct them how to kindle that spark of inner fire which illumines the way to one’s self. That I cannot do. I can merely point the way and tell you of its existence. You must then find it for yourself. The only way you can find it is through being alone with your thoughts at sufficiently long intervals to give that inner voice within you a chance to cry out in distinguishable language to you, ‘Here I am within you.’ That is the silent voice, the voice of nature, which speaks to everyone who will listen.
Lock yourself up in your room or go out in the woods where you can be alone. When you are alone the universe talks to you in flashes of inspiration. You will find that you will suddenly know things which you never knew before. All knowledge exists in the God-Mind and is extended into this electrical universe of creative expression through desire. Knowledge is yours for the asking. You have but to plug into it. You do not have to learn anything, in fact, all you have to do is recollect it, or recognize it, for you already have it as your inheritance.
By meditation and communion with God and talking to Him, I mean not just sitting silently, in a prayerful attitude as though separate and apart from God, adopting a faith and belief state of mind, but actually becoming ONE WITH Him, desiring with Him as co-creator of all things, desiring without words, desiring dynamically with knowledge, not with blind faith and belief, but knowledge, that fruition will as surely follow that desire as that fruit will appear on the tree in its orderliness of law’s workings as a result of desire in its seed.
I believe that every man can multiply his own ability by almost constant wordless REALIZATION of his unity with his Source. I have, myself, made that feeling so much a part of me that I actually feel myself to be an extension of the Source; that my works are not my own but interpretations of this Source. I believe that such constant realization keeps one so exalted with inspiration that one is thus insulated from the thousands of distractions which lead one away from his own design of life, and thus protects him from petty temptation, from disease, and from those man-harms which constantly come to those who are not thus One with God.”
4) Deep Purpose
Inspiration is useless without direction. You must find your ultimate purpose in this life in order to make full use of your new-found knowledge.
“The charge behind the bullet can either be used for the purpose intended or dissipated uselessly. You have to gather your energy together in the same manner, conserving it and insulating it from dissipation in every direction other than that of your purpose.
There is no use for energy of any kind whatsoever unless there is a plan back of it. You cannot get creative value out of concentrated energy by letting it go back into the static condition from which you borrowed it, unless you have a plan for its use.”
5) Joy & Ecstasy
The joy of achieving refuels you with the energy required to carry on to the next achievement. It is by cultivating a deep-seated, untouchable joy that you become able to realize your genius without any interruptions.
“You will be amazed when I tell you that the compensating principle of balance which reloads you with new thought-energy after you have expended all in some creation lies in joy, happiness, enthusiasm, inspiration, intuition, effervescence, and by that climaxing word of all words, ecstasy. Think of it, how simple it is to know that the joy of an achievement recharges you with a balancing energy for the next achievement.
The ecstatic man is the most dynamic, the most silent and the most undemonstrative of all men. By ecstatic I mean that rare mental condition which makes an inspired man so supremely happy in his mental concentration that he is practically unaware of everything which goes on around him extraneous to his purpose, but is keenly and vitally aware of everything pertaining to his purpose.
The great composers, sculptors, painters, inventors and planners of all time were in such an ecstatic condition during their intensive creating hours that the million petty trivialities which short-circuit the energy and waste the time of most men never found an opportunity for even entering their consciousness. From this high mental state of ecstasy down to the simple state of what we might call just happiness or enthusiasm, you can construct a thought-power pressure gauge in which you can see that pressure rise or fall.
He who cultivates that quiet, unobtrusive ecstasy of inner joyousness can scale any heights and be a leader in his field, no matter what that field is. He who never finds it must be content to follow in the footsteps of those who do, and thus be self-condemned for life to obscurity. By inner joyousness I do not mean the visible surface joyousness of the hail-fellow-well-met with his cheerful smile and manners. I mean the almost hidden joyousness of deeply banked fires which need no dramatic expression to evidence their existence in work. This joyousness is that quiet, invisible boiling up of the inspired spirit of the great thinker. He may be sitting quietly in his room, alone with himself and the universe, or he may be in the company of other humans. There is no violent surface indication of the ecstasy which great thinkers alone enjoy. There is nothing dramatic about it, but there is some subtle light in the eye of the inspired one, or some even more subtle quiet emanation which surrounds the inspired thinker, which tells you that you are in the presence of one who has bridged the gap which separates the mundane world from the world of spirit.
And it should be every man’s greatest ambition to be that kind of man. With that desire in the heart of every man there could be no greed or selfish unbalance, nor could there be exploitation of other men, or hatreds, or wars or fear of wars

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Personal Theology

Freemasonry is not a religion.  Discussion of sectarian religion is not appropriate or allowed inside Lodge. In order to become a Freemason, one has to profess a belief in a Supreme Being.  This last statement has been made with several different words, each of which, I believe, convey a different meaning.  In place of the words "Supreme Being", I have heard the words "Deity", "God", and others. I believe Masons are trusted to interpret these words as basically interchangeable.  Regardless of one's interpretation of any of these words, each individual is charged to consider their beliefs carefully, and confirm that they acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Masons are not required to belong to any particular religion, nor are they prohibited from belonging to any particular religion.  While interpretations are as diverse as memberships in lodges throughout the world, it is generally agreed upon that any religion is acceptable, as is no religion at all.  However, atheism is explicitly prohibited, although I have heard masons arguing the finer points of this prohibition.

Everything I have said above is with words chosen very carefully.  Don't be fooled that there is a single casual statement written thus far.  According to tradition and in some cases explicit rule, "discussion" of "sectarian" religion is forbidden "in Lodge".  As an acknowledged generalization, this basically means that while a group of masons are "at labor" or meeting as a "Lodge", religion as a subject or topic is not to be discussed.  This does not mean that masons are prohibited from discussions of religion while not engaged in the Labor of Lodge.

In practice, most Lodges have found that choosing not to discuss religion even when not in Lodge usually works out for the best as well. Freemasons are faced with some tricky challenges because of these practices, because a good amount of masonic science and philosophy is difficult to distinguish from religion or theology.

Personally, I feel that masons and lodges unnecessarily delude themselves in an incorrect belief that the line between freemasonry and religion is wider or brighter than it really is.  This is, I believe, the result of immaturity in spiritual development (I have just offended several Masons) and weakness in practicing the important exercises of masonic development (I have just offended the remaining masons).

In reality, a given Lodge of Freemasons may be filled with individuals who are not particularly "religious".  An individual might hold a basic acknowledgement of the "existence" of a God, but may not be institutionally active in a Church, Mosque, Temple, or other organization.  Indeed, no one can be a freemason for long without a healthy respect and appreciation for all other religions.  For many, it is difficult to balance a set of specific religious beliefs with an acceptance of the legitimacy of an alternative set of religious beliefs.  Therefore, many masons consider themselves eternal seekers after the truth, and not willing to assume they have yet found it.

Yet, in order to even become a freemason, an individual has had to have acknowledged the existence of a Supreme Being.  Masonry does not ask an individual to describe, validate, or otherwise line up with any known designation for the Supreme Being. Interestingly, Freemasonry appears to assume that the beliefs it has required its members to hold will not manifest in any particular religious practices outside of Lodge.  Freemasonry appears to assume that all members are something like they individual described above.

I have several conflicts with Freemasonry around religion specifically.  At present I am able to resolve all of these conflicts in complete harmony.  I am able to do so however, by adopting a personal masonic philosophy which is more akin to my interpretation of the masonic practices of a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago, and not to those I hear being described in contemporary lodges or discussion groups.

What follows is my personal beliefs.  I am writing them for the following reasons.

1. I am not in lodge, and I believe it is healthy and useful to explore these questions, not ignore them.

2. This blog is my space for personal expression.  some of what I write here may be of some interest to others, but it reflects nothing more than my personal thoughts, and so should have no particular impact.

3. I want to get these things off my chest.  As I've said, I experience many conflicts and this is one of my methods of working them out.

4. I find masons unwilling or unable to discuss these things.  There may be other individuals who are experiencing similar conflicts who may find my personal resolutions useful in their own seeking.

In reading masonic writing of over a century ago, I find open discussions of religion, spirituality, and personal development proliferating.  The thinkers of the past certainly disagreed with each other, but none seemed to have any problem discussing these things in civility and in masonic context.  I have not found any discussions of religion and freemasonry in a masonic context today, apart from those appendant masonic bodies which explicitly allow for sectarian practice.  These don't count.  I am concerned specifically about Craft Masonry and organized sectarian religion.

I feel it is naive and silly to allow members of any religion to enter freemasonry, complete with the inclusion of any particular holy book as the version of the volume of Sacred Law, while simultaneously prohibiting the discussion or exploration of the teachings, history, or details of the religion represented by those sacred writings.  Masons may now say, none of this is forbidden.  I speak more of de facto practice.  Lodges avoid any discussion of any religion, topic sparked by any religion, or lesson informed by any religion, since we are not mature enough to be able to hold MASONIC conversations informed by religion.  This is one conflict of mine.

I will also say that I am a Christian.  I define being a Christian as acknowledging and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I profess Christ, and I profess the Apostles Creed.  Oddly enough, for many, many freemasons, I have just disqualified myself for truly being a Freemason, and for many Christians, I have just disqualified myself for truly being a Christian.  In the context of freemasonry, according to what I consider to be an incorrect interpretation, I must not discuss the fact that I personally am a Christian, as this would be a discussion of sectarian religion.  I know I am over-reacting.  Certainly masons can identify themselves.  However, this is not far from the place of discomfort, depending on what kind of masonic jurisdiction you are a part of.

I have a conflict with this.  I believe the beauty of our fraternity is our ability to bring together members of different religious belief, not the requirement that we each deny our personal beliefs, or otherwise suppress them so as not to offend others.

As a Christian and a Freemason, I must state that I am a Christian first and a Mason second.  Ultimately, I feel no particular conflict between these affiliations.  However, if ever a conflict should arise, and it should come down to my being consistent with my masonic beliefs and my Christian beliefs, I am true to my Christian beliefs.  Wherever and if ever, I am presented with anything within freemasonry that conflicts with my religious beliefs, I will reject it.  And I have.  I have no problem with this, and my conflicts are resolved harmoniously.  Freemasonry is not a religion.  Rejecting any particular interpretation is not dangerous or perilous to my eternal soul.  I believe that everything I can hope to accomplish spiritually through masonic practices, I will ultimately accomplish through my religion regardless of whether I am a Mason or not.

So here's one of my conflicts.  My religious experience has been greatly improved and enhanced through my masonic experience.  And my masonic experience has been greatly informed and advanced by my religious experience.  I don't consider this to be unique.  My interpretation of Masonic philosophy is that this is by design.  This is what is supposed to happen.  It is not a coincidence.  I did not get lucky.  I imagine that this should be the case with anyone's religion.  I do not need to know the finer points of the religion of the mason sitting next to me in lodge to hope that he is getting as much out of the experience as I am.  But how much greater will both of our experiences be if we could explore what each of us are learning, and how each of our experiences are being enhanced, advanced, informed, and improved by what we brought in the door with us.

Many believe Christians are closed minded.  This is well deserved. Many of my Gay friends won't interact with me knowing my religion.  Many of them share my religion, but it is just too much trouble to try to unravel someone's bigotry.  This pains me.  But it is what it is.  I belong to a religion whose louder adherents attempt to speak for the rest of us.  It is a rare thing to find a devout Christian who is perfectly comfortable discussing comparative religion.  But see, actually, it's not that rare.  But that cross, that Bible, that use of the word "Jesus" just seems to get everyone's hackles up.  People get defensive.  I understand this and the need to avoid the disharmony.  I do not need to discuss Christianity specific things in open Lodge.  But I need to be able to be openly Christian, to express myself as such, without other masons being defensive about my personal religious choices.

My obligation (personally) is to not discuss this in Lodge.  I need others to understand that though I say I am a Christian, I am not making any further statement than that. I would prefer to explore the religion of others.  This helps me moderate my language so I can express myself in a way that does not send signals I am not aware I am sending.  This is the only way to achieve this I believe.

Many believe Masons are worshiping foreign gods.  This is also well deserved.  I understand why people would believe this.  I am personally offended by some of the things anti-masons say.  However, I am also concerned about the ignorance with which some masons approach these accusations.  Many are chalked up to ignorance and religious bigotry.  In fact, many masons appear to be completely unaware of the overtly religious acts they are participating in.  Our ignorance of these things leaves us open to exploitation by others whose knowledge of these matters may be greater than our own, while their understanding is the weaker.

The pressure I feel is that one needs to choose between bad extremes. My development as a Christian, a Mason, and as a man, has allowed me to reject this choice.  I am perfectly comfortable within my religion.  I am a devout disciple of Christ.  I have no conflict.  I am a meticulous student of my religion and an enthusiastic worshiper.  I am fully capable of participating in freemasonry without bringing disharmony motivated by my religious beliefs.  Nothing I have done, am doing, or will do within freemasonry conflicts in any way with my religious discipleship.  I defy anyone to show otherwise.  I am perfectly comfortable within my masonic houses.  I am an enthusiastic student of masonic philosophy, ritual, and science.  No part of my religion conflicts with freemasonry.

Where I find conflict mostly is with other Christians and other Masons, who have preconceived notions of what each belief system is and does.  As I've said, I've found I am more in harmony with a traditional interpretation of masonic principles.  The old landmarks. The old writings.

I feel that freemasonry will crumble if it does not welcome individuals who are enthusiastically religious.  Not that it welcomes religious expression within Masonic contexts, but that it attracts and welcomes individuals who bring with them a strong enthusiasm for religious "work".  Such individuals are ideal for the lessons of masonic science.  I likewise feel that religions that attempt to outlaw, excommunicate, or shun individuals who are enthusiastic seekers after universal truths that are not found within a particular religion, are acting out of harmony with their own principles.

I pray that we can learn to feel more comfortable with cross-pollination.  Activities inside Churches, Mosques, and Temples.  Activities inside Masonic Temples. I pray that we can break the ice of suspicion and mistrust that I feel has formed between freemasonry and religion.  If we can do this, there may be hope of achieving the universal brotherhood above religions, above races, above nations, sects, and cultures, that we as freemasons claim to promote.  For a fraternity founded upon principles of tolerance, acceptance, and brotherhood, we have a lot of work to do even within our own basic practice.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Moveable vs. Immovable

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Entered, Passed, and Raised

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Case for real candles.  Another excellent blog post by the Millennial Freemason.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

North Harrow Lodge

I love reading good news.  I also love reading about the doings of lodges.  One of the greatest things a Mason can hear about is the pleasure other Masons are experiencing in their lodges.  This link is to North Harrow Lodge No. 6557.  They are experiencing growth, and are doing something right.  Here is a link to their description.

North Harrow Lodge - what We Did Next

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Monday, December 10, 2012

A Vision of Lodge Success

What is success in a Lodge?  Every Mason will have his own answers.  This is mine. 

A successful lodge is:
1. Functional
2. Self-Correcting
3. Continuously improving
4. Attractive
5. Stable


The lodge must fulfill its various functions.  It must meet on schedule, on time.  It must fill all of its offices, elected and appointed.  It must possess the necessary tools for work.  ALL members, not just officers must understand and fulfill their responsibilities and roles in the lodge's operations.  The lodge must successfully communicate, both in collecting information, and in distributing information.  Ritual work must be performed properly at due and appointed times, such that participants walk away from work activities with the gifts and lessons the work is intended to impart.  The lodge must spend less money than it raises, or raise more money than it spends.  If the lodge fails in any of these areas, it is not a functional lodge.  It is not a successful lodge.


When the lodge goes astray, a successful lodge can correct itself.  It does not require an outside force to come in and correct it's ways.  This implies that it is fully conscious of masonic interpretations, and can perform it's own work.  If it is unable to do this, it is capable of acquiring the missing information and skill and putting it to use on its own.  A lodge may ask for help, but if it is self-correcting, it should know when it needs to ask, and not wait to be told.  A successful lodge will always seek to make repairs.  It is not satisfied to know that it was functioning correctly last year, but it knows that things left unrepaired will get worse.  A successful lodge will not suffer a crack in a wall, but rather will celebrate when Brother Masons point out the crack and move to repair it. 

Continuously Improving

When a successful lodge has done everything it needs to do, it begins to look for weak links, or things that are functioning, but which could be improved.  It is always looking for a slightly improved ritual performance, refurbished working tools, new furniture, new projects, new ideas, new robes, new photos, new equipment.  The lodge is always improving.  It takes advantage of the skills and energy of its members and seeks labor and resources where and when they are available.  Brethren seek daily after anything they can do to improve the edifice of a successful lodge.  The work does not end.  There is always room.


This does not refer to the Temple, although there is much to be said for an attractive building.  The Lodge itself is attractive when the community admires and respects it.  It is attractive when men seek to become a part of it.  How a lodge presents itself to the outside world, in the actions, behaviors, and habits of its members, determines it's attractiveness in the eyes of the world.  When men see respectable men taking part in activities inside an attractive temple, their curiosity becomes action.  The lodge must look to it's appearance.


Brethren may not attend each and every meeting with exact consistency.  But a successful lodge will maintain sufficient membership and commitment to be able to conduct operations with consistent stability.  This refers both to meetings as well as projects and activities, such that participation one month is not 60 men, and another month 6.  If the lodge has six core members, then so be it.  But if participation is swinging wildly, there is something else going on, and a lodge would do well to do a little self-reflection to determine what it is. 

All of these indicators of success assume a lot of other things are in place.  These are not easy to achieve, and none of them are ever truly complete.  But to think that a lodge is "successful enough" is not a workable concept.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

I See Myself As A Mason

I consider myself a freemason. It is a vision of myself that I hold. This is why I continue to participate in Lodge. It is not because of the greatness of the experience. It is because of the reality of my identity. I am a Mason. 

My vision of my identity may not match the reality. But that's OK. It is important for me to live according to my own internal vision, and not necessarily what I see or experience in reality. This is the way to make aspirations real. 

So, in my vision, I see a commitment to Masonic philosophy. To learning it and practicing it. In practice this means I am a student of all philosophy and all religion. Because I see myself as a kind of layman philosopher, I am emboldened to practice as a student of philosophy. Because you see, this is what I believe a Mason is. In my vision, a Mason is a kind of para-professional. A historian without being a true, trained historian. A theologian, a guru, an academician without an Academy. But not only these things. 

A Mason, in my vision, is a leader without a government, a soldier without an army, a Monk without a monastery.

None of these things are true of course. A Mason is a guy with a wife or girlfriend, a job, bills, and maybe some interesting books. But if I saw myself that way, I could no longer stand to be a Mason. It's just too boring, too tedious, too petty, and without reward. It is expensive and time consuming and very unfulfilling. More men choose to stop participating than choose to start. I would likely have made that choice too.

I am, however, fortunate to have made a leap of understanding many Masons never do. I understand (or have deluded myself to believe) that what I see with my earthly eyes is not actually reality. It is only what my human senses can show me. Reality must also include the existence of the potential; the possible.

And so, I choose not to "see" the shambles of an organization; the pitifulness of a group of guys with girlfriends, wives, jobs, and bills, shuffling and scrambling to try to put a chicken dinner together as if it is the most important thing they will do all year. In place of my earthly vision, I choose to "see" pathways through moral conundrums to be explored. I see ancient philosophies, carried forward by dedicated men passing deep knowledge man to man, mouth to ear. I see symbolic language acted out in speech and action and clothing and colors and words and symbols, echoing the teachings of the world's great religions.

Unfortunately, this vision has to fit in between lodge meetings.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Widow's Son


"And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, has thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth." 

I KINGS 17: 20 - 23

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Join People First

R.W.Bro Hugh Goldie, DDGM, Frontenac District, Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, speaking at his Official Visit to Prince of Wales Lodge No. 157, Napanee, Ontario, 07 November 2012

At your meeting back in September I was happy to hear that you had started a Membership initiative and I would be happy to tell you tonight that I have all the answers you need to increase your membership. I wish I did, however I would like to share with you some research and reading I have done on this matter. Having participated in membership drives I can tell you it is a thankless job when your efforts just seem to be futile.

I have done some reading of Scott Geinsberg who is known as the name tag guy and great brain candy you can download his books free they are thought provoking and inspirational. He has tried to analyze how to be successful in membership drives.

Number one fact you can’t force people to join your organization.

What you can do is increase the probability that people will join – simply by making yourself, your people and your organization more joinable.

That means new approaches are required. And if you want to reach the people who matter, consider this counterintuitive suggestion:

Instead of getting people to join you – try joining them first.

Lets explore some ways to join people first:

Figure out why people are. It doesn’t matter what people do for a living – it only matters why they do it. That’s what defines people. That’s what drives them to contribute.

And if you want people to join first, I suggest you touch the center of their why. Even if it’s as simple as asking them, “Why do you do what you do?”

You’d be amazed how telling this question is. And the cool part is, once you have their answer, you can connect their why to the organization you represent.

Involvement isn’t something you can force upon people. People always make time for what’s important to them. Which means, if they aren’t joining your organization, it might not be your fault. It might have nothing to do with you.

Maybe Wednesday night is a terrible time for them to attend lodge functions because their kids have soccer practice.

Or, maybe they’re just out of college and can’t commit to monthly meetings because they’d rather go to the gym or be with their friends.

It doesn’t mean they don’t like you – it just means they have different priorities. In the book Brains on Fire, Robbin Phillips writes about this very idea, “It’s not about how people fit into your plan – but rather about how you fit into their lives.” Develop and harness a powerful, sustainable word-of-mouth movement

Try this: Instead of assuming people are apathetic, uncommitted heathens, ask them how your organization might become a part of their schedule.

Then, once you’ve gathered consensus, consider giving an alternative to your activity schedule to accommodate a diverse group of member priorities. If the first Monday or Tuesday of the month doesn’t fit maybe the neighbouring lodge who meets on the second Thursday or Friday may. We should not always think of membership as just a lodge exercise we want to look at new membership globally. Are you starting with the member in mind or just starting with the member?

Hang on their home turf. Recruiting efforts could include breaking bread with potential members. I’d take that over a phone call any day.

Meet people for lunch at their office or in their neighborhood. It’s a better window into their world. That’s a smoother transition from “How are you?” to “Who are you?”

Maybe meet at a prospective candidates’ home. That’s the big win: When you meet their families. Eat their food. Hang on their turf. And we might talk about joining – we might not.

The point is to meet people where they are. Literally. Sure beats sitting on your backside with crossed fingers and high hopes.

Learn people’s learning styles. Not everyone needs to come to every meeting. Maybe they prefer small group meetings. Maybe they’re homebodies who’d rather just occasionally participate in meetings.

It Doesn’t make them any less of a member. It just means they process information differently. And only when you understand these preferences can you tailor your messages accordingly.

Use Less outreach, more inbreak. In the book Jim and Casper Go to Church, you learn the difference between “outreaching,” which is inviting people to join your group, and “inbreaking,” which is joining an existing community action and getting to know them leveraging common ideas to entice them that they would be a good addition to your organisation.

Try this: Consider the types of members you hope to attract. What groups are they already a part of? What role in the community do they currently occupy? Create a gameplan to take a more active role in those spaces. People will notice.

Remember: Your members shouldn’t have to adjust to you. You need to adapt for them. Whose life are you willing to become a part of?

Discover their desired way to contribute. Instead of laying a guilt trip on potential members for not devoting every waking moment of their life to your organization, try asking them how they’d like to contribute.

After all, that’s why people join: To give back. To add value to others, to the organization and to the world.

The trick is, not everyone contributes the same way. At work Personally, I despise meetings. They are the bane of my existence. And I refuse to waste my valuable (and billable) time sitting around a table with seven people trying to figure out what meetings we should schedule and how often.

On the other hand I am schedule driven and process orientated if you want to prioritize work with a solid logic and good processes this is the principle instrument of my contribution.

No problem. I’m your man.

Your challenge is to dive into the lives of the people around you. To join them by discovering and honoring their desired way to contribute. Do so, and you’ll be surprised what they’re willing to give to your organization. How are you helping people help you?

Find out what joining looks like to them. Everybody joins differently. A single guy in his thirties approaches joining a group differently than retired widower in his sixties. And if you’ve read Bowling Alone, you know that some people aren’t even joiners at all. Bowling alone talks about how the number of bowlers is rising but the number of teams and leagues are dropping. Our lifestyles and electronic devices promote isolation and not group or community involvement.

Therefore: If we seek to reach a diverse group of new members, you have to go out of your way to find out how people prefer to join. Without this information, your outreach efforts fall on deaf ears.

I don’t care that we have the greatest organization in the world. If you’re leaving voicemail messages on a potential member’s phone, odds are he will never, ever call you back. You may as well be winking in the dark.

The reality is some people just want to pay their dues, show up to five meetings a year and get on with their lives.

They’re never going to volunteer. They’re never going to win member of the year. They’re never going to be District Deputy Grand Master.

No matter how many members nominate them.

As a leader, you need to be okay with this reality. Stop compartmentalizing people into convenient little personality boxes and just let them join as they see fit.

REMEMBER: There are people out there just dying to join us.

And they will.

As long as you’re willing to join them first.

LET ME ASK You THIS... Whom did you join last week?

Again the question Why isn’t anybody joining our organization?!”

That’s a frustrating question for any leader to ask.

Our meeting attendance is down, new membership is slow and the attitude is bordering on apathetic.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. And to the dismay of your diabetic members, it doesn’t involve a bake sale.

HERE’S THE REALITY again :–you can’t make anybody join you.

All you can do is increase the probability of new people joining your organization and I repeat by making yourself, your members and your group more JOINABLE.

A bumper sticker announcing “to be one ask one” does not do it Nobody is going to chase your car to join

Lets find out how:

Start with yourself. Think of the last three organizations, clubs or groups you joined. How easy were they to join? What was the deciding factor? What reservations did you have about joining?

Make a chart. Write the answers out. Look for commonalities. Then brainstorm three action items for each attribute of joinable organizations. Begin executing them today. Is our organization user friendly to join? Why did YOU join?

Take the first step. “Are you getting people to join you, or are you trying to join them first?” In this instance, proactivity is the secret. Sticking yourself out there is the way.

After all, approachability is a two-way street. Your mission is to give people permission. Every one of us I’m sure knows someone that would be a good candidate, guess what they are not going to approach you, you have to approach them indirectly.

Help people feel a sense of self-achievement., “Remember people’s psychological drive and primary need to accomplish things.” make a list called, “Top Ten Things My Members Want to Accomplish.”

Then, match group behaviors to desires. Think about what, specifically, your group is providing to help your people accomplish those things. How are you helping your members put checkmarks next to their goals?

Sit people down. Shockingly enough, the best way to find out what people want is to ASK THEM. Asking questions. Having lunches. Kissing babies. Whatever it takes.

Then, during one-on-one meeting with members, past members or potential members, ask the following questions: “What would bring you back?” and “When you used to come to meetings, what, specifically, were we providing you?”

You might also ask people to complete the following sentence three times: “As a member, I would come if (x).” “As a member, I would come if (x).” Whichever approach you choose, here’s the reality: Regardless of current attendance or membership, there WAS a moment when people DID care, and DID come. As their leader, you have the power to create that again.

It’s simple: Pick up the phone, set up a lunch, sit down with someone, honestly ask for their help, staple your tongue to the roof of your mouth and take copious notes. Remember: People want to be in the mix with something meaningful. That’s how you drive members back.

The speed of the response IS the response. Be actively responsive to inquiries about membership. Respond to member impatience with Phrases That Pay like “Right away,” “The best way to help you right now” and “How can I help you the most?”

This demonstrates urgency through your language and reinforces emotional reliability. Especially when people want answers NOW, or, in many cases, last Tuesday. Remember: When your words to promote insistence – but aren’t hurried –people become relaxed and ready to join. How quickly do you return calls?

Nourish their interests.

Remember: Belonging has a strong emotion – appeal to it.

Create opportunities to dive and dig deep. Superficiality works for about twenty minutes. After that, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter. The meat and potatoes. The tofu and veggies. Your mission is to make sure your meetings; websites and materials provide sustainable, practical and actionable value.

“How do you direct your creative thinking to create value?”

That one question helps to dive and dig deep into the heart of a key challenge. How does your group give its members conversational shovels?

Make it easy to contribute. People derive psychological satisfaction from doing so. Your goal is to (not only) make contribution easy – but to continually recognize people’s contributions as they come in. This cycle of affirmation encourages people to return with more keepers each time.

Be sure to create a question-friendly environment. Give new people space to share. Work on boosting your askability. And never forget to acknowledge the newbies. They might have a contribution the likes of which your organization has never seen. Whose voice are you unintentionally silencing?

Take Home Value. Here’s how it works: At the end of every meeting ask each member what was there best “keepers” of the meeting. Or what was there most throw away part of the meeting. It’s invaluable for several reasons.

First, you get a chance to see how people interpret the same ideas in different ways. Secondly, you don’t have to remember anything. Finally, when you see your own positives and negatives, your sense of contribution is reaffirmed. Leave your members with something to look forward to the next meeting. I challenge you to incorporate this process into your meetings. When you deliver take-home value, you win. Your members win. Your lodge wins. How are you making it easy for your members to make positive withdrawals from your organization?

Try holding a focus group let the members talk and interact freely do not interrupt and make sure the senior members do not interject with the Wisdom of Solomon on why we can’t do something. Listen and listen intently these are your members, the life of our organization. REMEMBER: You can’t make anybody join you.

All you can do is increase the probability of new people joining the organization by making yourself, your members and your group more JOINABLE. I have always thought that we do not present a joinable organization; we do not freely communicate the positives to potential candidates. We do not go out and look for potential candidates. We sit back complain about decreasing or nonexistent membership and wait for candidates to come and knock on our door. This isn’t going to happen. I think the membership numbers prove that this does not work. I returned home last night from Minden lodge meeting and as I was having my cup of tea before bed turned on the TV and watched The Big Decision with Jim Treliving. He is asked to help failing companies. I was surprised at the parallels in business to our position of membership. He clearly told the company; if people don’t know what your company is or what it does your never going to sell your widgets no matter how good they are. And people who you want to invest in your company need to know what the return on investment for them is. Brethren are we selling a good widget and making a good return on investment? Do our potential investors know this?

One of the biggest questions today is who the membership committee is? Well the surprising answer is it’s you no one else. Each and every member is the membership committee I don’t ask anyone to go and ask all their friends to join, but you can talk up the positives that you enjoy from membership leaving them with a positive spin and leave them asking the question, why am I not a member and how can I join. Plant the seed in their mind that their life is incomplete without the advantages of membership in masonry. Tell them how you enjoyed the last meeting, the visitations that you have done, the good charity work you are doing in your community.

Develop and harness a powerful, sustainable word-of-mouth movement and Brethren be determined to succeed.

It is not what we eat, but what we digest … that makes us strong. It is not what we earn, but what we save … that makes us rich. It is not what we read, but what we remember … that makes us learned. It is not what we profess, but what we practice … that makes us Masons! Brother Pete Rasmussen

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Parthenon

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Monday, October 15, 2012

An Excellent And Important "Anonymous" Letter

This is a link to an excellent blog post on the blog "".  It is in the form of an open, somewhat anonymous letter.  I think this is a good format for this kind of sensitive subject, and I hope we can find some way of continuing this conversation.

I recently stood and told my lodge that if some things did not change, the lodge would be losing more members. I don't think the message got through.  Some masons sometimes find themselves in the awkward position of being the only one who continues to come after others have fallen away.  That is when the real opportunities for communication occur.

I had no intention of this blog being a place to discuss anything like this.  But I will reserve some small corner for this kind of information.  So I'm gonna try to call out some of the points in this open letter in the coming days.
A Letter to Hometown Lodge No. 1

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Temple of Hephaestus

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Doric Temple of Segesta

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Number Seven (Astrology)

Anciently the number of the bodies presumed to make up our solar system, to which number was ascribed a magical significance. Identified with them were the days of the week and the seven notes of the Diatonic scale. In 1666 Newton ascribed to them the seven hues of the spectrum.

Man was presumed to be a seven-fold being:

Sun:......His life-forces; the spiritual being within.

Moon:.....His psychic being; the vegetable kingdom.

Mercury:..His intellect; the realm of Mind.

Venus:....His divine, immortal self; the benevolent nature.

Mars:.....His bestial nature; the animal nature.

Jupiter:..His higher physical nature; the quality of optimism.

Saturn:...His physical being; the mineral kingdom.

The seven deadly sins of the ancient theologians were said to have been of astrological origin: Pride, Jupiter; covetousness, Saturn; lust, Venus; wrath, Mars; gluttony, Mercury; envy, Moon; indolence, Sun.

Also the seven virtues: Chastity, Moon; love, Venus; courage, Mars; faith, Jupiter; hope, Sun; wisdom, Mercury; and prudence, Saturn.

There were also seven wise men of Greece; the seven-fold Amen; the Seven Wonders of the World; the Book of the Seven Seals (Rev. 5,5), and the seven angels (Rev. 5,8).

The Seven against Thebes were the seven heroes who undertook an expedition to aid Polynices against his brother Eteoclus. The oracle promised success to whichever brother Oedipus favored; but he cursed both, and the brothers slew each other.

Seven has been explained as compounded of "The Ternary of God and the Quarternary of the world," as representing "three-fold and four-fold happiness," making 3 + 4 = 7 a sacred number: a reference to the 4 quadruplicities and the 3 triplicities. Any multiple of seven became a "great number": a jubilee year of restitution.

Since every seventh year from time immemorial was believed to form some material alteration, it has been observed in some professions as a sabbatical year of rest, comparable to the seventh day on which the Creator rested from his labors - as recounted in the Book of Genesis. For the Seven Ages of Man, v. Planetary, Ages of Man.

(Nicholas deVore - Encyclopedia of Astrology)

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Medinet Habu, Egyptian Temple

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Friday, August 3, 2012

That's UGLE

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Canted Square

Within the rituals of occultic orders, such as our Order ( Freemasonry ), it is required that the candidate circle the altar of the lodge in a particular manner. It is called circumambulation. Circumambulation is the practice of "...making a circuit about a thing or in an area of reverence..." In Masonry, circumambulation involves the making of a circuit around the Lodge, while keeping the right hand toward the altar.

"The rite is symbolic of the apparent daily course of the sun, and was undoubtedly derived from
the ancient sun-worship."

"During the circuits of the lodge room, corners should be squared in accordance with the ancient tradition of 'squaring the lodge'".

Further, the Entered Apprentice during initiation shall proceed to the northeast corner of the Lodge three times during the circumambulation, the Fellowcraft during passing shall proceed there four times, and the Master being raised shall proceed there five times.

The 47th Proposition of Euclid is known as "that amazing Proposition which is the foundation of all Masonry." It is also known as the Pythagorean Theorem. The Pythagorean Theorem is important in building, and one of its uses is to square a room. Builders use the theorem to square the corners of rooms by using the ratio of the numbers three, four and five. three squared plus four squared = five squared.  This was, with the Egyptians several thousand years ago, the standard and symbol of perfection ; and they made it also the basis of all their measurements ; they looked on it as the symbol of Universal Nature, the side "4" being "Osiris" the male principle, "3" the female principle "Isis", and "5" "Horus the son", the product of these two principles;---they said 3 was the first perfect odd number, that 4 was the square of 2 the first even number, and 5 was the result of 3 and 2.

Any Mason, after having been raised, has reproduced by circumambulation the numbers three, four and five in the most significant corner of the Lodge, the Northeast, and thereby has unknowingly recited with his feet the formula which is contained in the 47th problem, and thereby has "squared the Lodge".

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Temple of Apollo Epicurius

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The significance of the number seven in ancient Greece and its relation to Endocrinology

Menalaos L. Batrinos

Athens, University School of medicine Athens, Greece

Many ancients held various beliefs about the supernatural virtues of certain numbers. In ancient Greece, the school of Pythagoras (590 BC) taught the doctrine of the numerical essence of natural events. In accordance with this theory, the number 7 was considered a sacred number and thus vital to human life.

Solon (640-560 BC), one of the "seven sages" of Greek antiquity, was the first to notice that certain biological events lend themselves to numerical description and divided the ages of man into ten, each lasting seven years.

Hippocrates (640-370 BC), divided man's life span into multiples of 7. Thus, according to him, one is a child up to the age of 7 "during which period the emergence of the teeth is completed", a boy until the age of 14 (7´2) at which time "the sperm is produced", a youth until the age of 21 (7´3) when "the thickness of the beard is completed", a young man until the age of 28 (7´4), a man up to the age of 49 (7´7), a "presbyter" or elder until the age of 56 (7´8) and then on up to the age of 7´14 (98 years) an old man.

Aristotle (384-323 BC) states that the menarche occurs at "around the age of two times seven" (14 years) and the age of 21 (7´3) is the optimum age for childbearing. The age of menopause is indirectly mentioned by him in his writings to be the 50th year (7´7 rounded to 50) since he states that "for the most part, 50 marks in women the end of births".

Reflecting upon these ancient observations, one is tempted to remark that in both sexes, certain endocrine events also occur at chronological ages that are multiples of seven" adrenarche occurs at about the 7th year of age and menarche and sperm production close to the age of 14 (7´2). By the age of 21 years (7´3) the ortimum bone mass has been acquired and a pregnancy by this age protects from breast cancer. At about the age of 28 (7´4), the decline of growth hormone production begins, which thence falls by 50% every 7 years. At the age of 35 (7´5), a progressive decline in adrenal androgen production commences together with a steep diminution of ovarian follicles. The age of 42 (7´6) is believed to mark the beginning of the premenopausal period and the age of 49 (7´7) is the average age of menopause.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dendera, Egyptian Temple

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Lodge of St. Andrew

This is a beautifully designed Lodge room from the Lodge of St Andrew No. 4683, acquired from their website.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Apron Symbolism

"Brethren, I charge you to regard your apron as one of the most precious and speaking symbols our Order has to give you. Remember that when you first wore it it was a piece of pure white lambskin; an emblem of that purity and innocence which we always associate with the lamb and with the newborn child. Remember that you first wore it with the flap raised, it being thus a five-cornered badge, indicating the five senses, by means of which we enter into relations with the material world around us (our "five points of fellowship" with the material world), but indicating also by the triangular portion above, in conjunction with the quadrangular portion below, that man's nature is a combination of soul and body; the three-sided emblem at the top added to the four-sided emblem beneath making seven, the perfect number; for, as it is written in an ancient Hebrew doctrine with which Masonry is closely allied, "God blessed and loved the number the seven more than all things under His throne," by which is meant that man, the seven-fold being, is the most cherished of all the Creator's works. And hence also it is that the Lodge has seven principal officers, and that a Lodge, to be perfect, requires the presence of seven brethren; though the deeper meaning of this phrase is that the individual man, in virtue of his seven-fold constitution, in himself constitutes the "perfect Lodge," if he will but know himself and analyse his own nature aright."

Walter L. WilmshurstThe Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Washington's Correspondence

I am a big believer in communications skills.  In reading the Masonic correspondence of George Washington, I find that he was quite poetic in his language.  Not that he was a particularly poetic person, although he might have been, but that it was necessary that a man in a position of power and influence needed to have a masterful command of language.

Bro. President Washington found it necessary to say nearly the same thing to dozens of people, lodges, and other organizations which were at the time fawning over him, and maybe trying to ingratiate themselves.  Yet, he took the time to compose poetic responses using the language of Masonry.  He rarely used the same phrases although he was essentially saying the same thing - "thank you for your kind words".  He wrote multiple drafts, and considered the act of communication as a key component of his position.

I believe there is a lesson we can draw from this commitment as we look to focus our own attention to how we communicate.

"Fellow-citizens and Brothers, of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

I have received your address with all the feelings of brotherly affection, mingled with those sentiments, for the Society, which it was calculated to excite.

To have been, in any degree, an instrument in the hands of Providence, to promote order and union, and erect upon a solid foundation the true principles of government, is only to have shared with many others in a labour, the result of which let us hope, will prove through all ages, a sanctuary for brothers and a lodge for the virtues, -

Permit me to reciprocate your prayers for my temporal happiness, and to supplicate that we may all meet thereafter in that eternal temple, whose builder is the great architect of the Universe.

Go. Washington"

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Egypt vs. Greece

"We do not believe that genuine Initiates produced the Book on nature, since this was contrary to the rules of the Egyptian Mysteries, in connexion with which the Philosophical Schools conducted their work.  Egypt was the centre of the body of ancient wisdom, and knowledge, religious, philosophical and scientific spread to other lands through student Initiates.  Such teachings remained for generations and centuries in the form of tradition, until the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and the movement of Aristotle and his school to compile Egyptian teaching and claim it as Greek Philosophy."

George Granville Monah JamesStolen Legacy

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