While coaching an Entered Apprentice recently I began reflecting anew upon one of the ideas expressed in the degree, subduing my passions.
I feel sometimes this very important instruction to the new brother gets lost among working tools and the whole experience of the first degree. Being bent upon esotericism like I am, I feel this is probably one of the utmost instructions that we all receive and I constantly remind myself the importance of it.
Passion is a powerful feeling that we all have definitely felt at one time or another for something or someone. It's a chord struck in our soul that cant be silenced. I have, without a doubt succumbed to the spark of passion and let it burn bright, almost to the point of outshining all aspects of my life at one point or another. If you have never been passionate about something you have not lived. It is the spice of life. Passion though, like all spices, if overdone can overpower the the senses to the point of missing what is lies beneath. If we let the chord struck by passion to grow ever louder we cannot hear the rest of the music. That is a great lesson to be had.
It is impossible and undesirable to remove passion from our lives, but it is quite wise to learn to subdue it. By subduing our passions we can hear what is going on around us. If we were to go into lodge overcome with passion we would not be able to bring ourselves to the level needed to labor for the craft. I had many passions that prejudiced everything that I heard around me before I was a Freemason. I would go into a discussion and never really hear what the other people were saying because I would proselytise from my passions. I now am more aware of my passions and try to subdue them, and believe me it is not an easy thing to do, but I labor on.
What come you here to do?
To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry.
In some states, notably Texas, the line reads:
To learn, to subdue my passions, and to improve myself in Masonry.
Note the commas. It's a small but significant difference.
Tom: Very Interesting. As I learned it, there are no commas. Grammatically, this does change the meaning, but as you said, only subtly.
I read a similar analysis concerning Wills. If I leave an inheritance to be divided equally among "Allan, Beth, and Charlie" then each will receive 1/3. If I leave it to be divided equally among "Allan, Beth and Charlie" (notice no comma after Beth) it could be interpreted as being divided into 2 with Allan receiving 1/2 and Beth and Charlie sharing the other 1/2. Amazing what a comma can do!
In the case of this topic, I think that it's safe to say that in either case, subduing one's passions is of high importance to the degree.
Here in the Grand Jurisdiction of Washington, we actually voted on adding the comma to our work but, two years in a row, it was shot down. It is more of an issue for some older brethren who are interpretting it as a double preposition-- rather than learning to do something(such as subduing one's passions). Interesting debate for a while. Now I just want to be done with it...
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