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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