When the question ‘what is Freemasonry’ is posed, one often reads or hears as the answer that ‘Freemasonry cannot be learnt from books; it has to be experienced’.
That, of course, does not answer the question at all. However, it does help one in the search. If Masonry cannot be learnt from scripts and books, it follows that FM is something that cannot be expressed in words.
What could that be? It should be made clear that it is not a well-hidden secret, hidden away and only made known to a chosen few. It is simply impossible to put the secret of FM into words! Still, one can still try to give those who have never seen the inside of a lodge a glimpse into what it is that has fascinated so many people, both past and present.
An important part of FM are the regular meetings with like-minded bretheren, and the free and open exchange of ideas. In this way each member also learns how best to move in society.
Neither ‘religion’ nor ‘politics’ are themes discussed at lodge meetings; however, topics such as the environment, the population explosion, the lagging of moral development behind technological development are all subjects that are discussed. Better said, political topics are just acceptable as transcendence and philosophical questions. The main point is to listen to, and accept, opinions that may be very different – even contrary – to one’s own; to then decide how far to integrate these opinions into ones own point of view. Other’s opinions have to be respected, each member decides for himself. Thus is it impossible for FM to pronounce on party politics or on religious beliefs.
In other parts of this Homepage you will see reference to the ‘Rough Ashlar’. Freemasons see themselves as a rough stone needing work to transform it into the perfect cube hidden within. FM is thus a tool with which this work can be accomplished. Of course, there are many ways to achieve this end; FM is, over centuries, a tried and tested such tool.
Should you find this to be somewhat cryptic, another attempt at clarification; the mason believes that man should make the best of himself. An artist must try to please humankind, not simply earn money with his art. An architect should try to create buildings that are beautiful, not simply functional and low-cost. A lawyer should try to lend his eyes to the blind Justitia. And so on, an almost endless list.
Obviously, our world does not really work like that. Thus, it is necessary that each of us try to improve himself and so everything else. In other words, we are trying to improve the world!
We hope that we have – at least partially – answered the question, but we must repeat: it has to be experienced.