Trust in Freemasonry
By Ujjwal Dey
Trust is an essential element in each and every relationship. Whether it be a helpless dependent child trusting his parents or a student trusting his teacher or a wife trusting her husband or even a friend trusting his comrade. All relationships are built on trust. This is not limited to personal relationships but also professional ones. For the best businesses thrive on gaining trust of investors, stakeholders, employees and customers. That’s how a brand gets created, an implicit trust in an organisation’s name.
Now how effective is this subtle element of trust in Freemasonry. This is such an ancient and celebrated institution. It is now well-known in so many countries and cities across the world. But earlier when such an information-age didn’t exist, even then Freemasonry had spread far and wide.
I will not talk here about brethren of a Lodge or Constitution trusting each other or even trust between Lodges and Grand Lodges across nationalities. Let me show how glorious the tradition of trust is in Freemasonry.
A candidate is not a brother. He is an outsider looking in at the Lodge with fascination and interest. He has at most met a few or even all brethren of one Lodge where he has applied to join. He doesn’t know the extent of this powerful network of fraternal brothers. How much trust does this candidate put in Freemasonry and in Freemasons?
Let us analyze and scrutinize a candidate. He is an adult male believing in a God and wishes to join off his own freewill. What is his motive to trust strangers in a clearly “strange” institution? We Freemasons proudly say that we make good men better. Indeed this is proven with the very first step of candidate’s contact with a Masonic Lodge. If he is indeed a good man, then he can verify the good stature and generous nature of Masons he comes in contact with. He comes with an open mind. To learn and gain the trust of the new friends he meets for the very first time – when he is introduced to the brethren of the Lodge he wishes to join.
A candidate has but a limited contact with Freemasonry:
1. He has either met a Freemason who informed him about this ancient fellowship, or,
2. He saw a movie or read a book or came across an internet link which got him hunting for Freemasons in his neighbourhood.
So a candidate comes in touch with at least one brother. This brother may then propose him in an Open Lodge. But the candidate’s relationship with the entire Masonic fraternity is attached by the delicate single thread of this proposer. All his hopes and expectations from Freemasonry are tied to this brother. He may subsequently meet other brethren of the Lodge who wish to evaluate the candidate before balloting. But the only Mason the candidate meets more than once is probably the proposer. And then the candidate is given a date and time to come to the Masonic Lodge for his initiation.
What can a layman expect when joining an ancient institution? This candidate is told that he needs to remove his suit and tie and don an attire which looks so bizarre. A hole in the chest, slipshod arm and leg wear. He is told to remove all valuables such as wallet, wristwatch, rings, etc. and then is blindfolded before entering a room he has never seen before. A good man, the candidate, puts his trust in the Tyler. And this Tyler he might have met for the very first time on the day of initiation. He is then led around by the Junior Deacon, another man he doesn’t know nor can see since he is blindfolded. Then the words are spoken from the Eastern Chair by the Worshipful Master – distant and commanding voice, asking the candidate specific questions to which the Junior Deacon prompts answers. This entire setup demands so much blind faith and trust from a candidate on “members” of a Lodge. Then it doesn’t stop there. The rituals unfold. The blindfolded man is asked to kneel, he is then also led around the temple with specific way to square off to turn to walk in another direction. So much pressure and surprise at every minute of the initiation ceremony. Including a binding oath on a book he doesn’t see to verify.
Only a “good man” would have so much virtue to put his trust in a group of “strangers” at the recommendation of one or few Masons he has actually associated with freely.
Isn’t that a small miracle? We talk of faith and beliefs and how it changes people and the world at large. What could be a better example of miracles of faith, human trust and human nature?
So here I conclude this brief article, allowing you to ponder on this sacred initiation ritual with greater awe and reverence. Think about it. Discuss it. Every action of yours outside the Lodge is affecting another human being in this world. If you are a true and just and upright Freemason, you will take charge of your words and actions, so as to not only be virtuous citizen but to also attract the best men to the ancient society of Freemasons.