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Article # 234
Address at the Presentation of Long Term Service Jewels

Author: M.W.Bro.Justice Devindar Gupta    Posted on: Tuesday, February 27, 2007
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[Grand Lodge of India honours the brethren, who have completed uninterrupted 25, 40, 50, 60 and 70 years of service to Freemasonry, with the presentation of the corresponding Long Term Service Jewel. The presentation is made in a Lodge Meeting with an inspiring ritual.  At the Joint Meeting of Seven Lodges in Mumbai on January 17 th  this year,  M.W. Grand  Master presented  50 Years Long Term Service Jewel to R.W.Bro.D.D.Khetani, 40 Years LT.S.Jewel to three brethren and 25 years L.T.S.Jewel to 17 brethren. He delivered an inspiring address at the said meeting, expatiating Masonic Ethics and Code of Conduct. The said address is posted here. We thank M.W.Grand Master for the gracious permission granted to us to post the address in this website. Please read on . . .]

Dear Brethren,

I am indeed happy to be amongst you on this somewhat unique occasion when I find as many as seven Lodges having joined together for presentation of L.T.S Jewels to 21 brethren.  As far as I recollect, there has never been an occasion, when so many L.T.S Jewels have been presented in one combined ceremony like this.  According to tradition and protocol only 50 years and above L.T.S. jewels are to be presented personally by the Grand Master. Presentation of 40 and 25 years L.T.S. jewels is the prerogative of the Regional Grand Master. Regional Grand Master R.W.Bro. Vasudev Masurekar has been kind enough to give this privilege to me.

I find that on this occasion, besides R.W.Bro.D.D.Khetani of Lodge Noshir Mehta No.246 who has received his 50 years LTS Jewel today, there are 3 brethren who are recipients of 40 years LTS Jewel and the remaining 17  brethren the 25 years LTS Jewel.   Between them, they have a total cumulative Masonic experience of nearly 600 years!  I am sure that each one of them must have found that experience rich and rewarding, not only for themselves, but also for those with whom they were associated during all these years.

The ceremony of the presentation of the Long Term Service Jewels and the solemnity of the occasion should, I feel, be an occasion for us to ponder once again on the beneficial influence of Freemasonry on our lives and rededicate ourselves afresh for practicing and spreading  of Masonic principles. It is also an occasion for us to think and ponder over some of the problems facing us to-day. One of this is adherence to the ethics and code of conduct.

What has happened to the ethics revered and generally followed in the past? Code sections and various time honoured regulations are being misinterpreted or ignored in attempts to increase membership. Lack of respect for the views of others and like matters is disturbing the harmony in Lodges and is becoming more frequent.

Not too long ago, conduct was self-imposed. It sprang from core beliefs. Agreements used to be made solely by the shaking of hands and a Freemason's word was his bond. Trust and adherence to Truth was the standard of conduct for most Freemasons. This sense of honour is largely unobserved and probably not comprehended by much of our Fraternity nowadays. Freemasons, however, are supposed to be ethical before they become Freemasons and, as such, are taught to think and act ethically.

Bobby Jones, the noted golfer, who often called penalties on himself once, remarked to one, who praised him for this and other acts of sportsmanship - "You might as well praise a man for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play this game and that's by the rules". The principle behind this simple observation should be self-evident to all right thinking people.

There are many other instances in history of men with a firm understanding of and adherence to ethics. One in particular involves Socrates, the Greek Philosopher, who, when advised by Crito to escape from prison to avoid his sentence of death, asked several Questions. He asked - "are we to say that we are never intentionally to do wrong …… or is doing wrong always evil and dishonourable …?” Crito answered "Yes. He then asked - "Ought a man to do what he admits to be right …...” Crito again answered "Yes". He finally asked - "Do you imagine that a state can subsist ………in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?” The answer Socrates received to this was "No". Thus Socrates accepted his death sentence, even though believing it to be unjust, rather than violate the law himself. He had made an agreement with the State that he would duly obey its laws, and had not sought to change them. Socrates thus valued his oath and obligations as sacred and, not having sought to change the laws of his State, obeyed them. Can Freemasons do less involving laws that do not endanger their lives, but merely how they manage them? Can they not be expected to obey their oaths and obligations and abide by the laws of the Craft, especially if they have taken no action to change them?

Honor, along with duty, form the bedrock of human character. Today, many who see an injustice or are dissatisfied with a status do nothing. Others betray the right. Toleration of misconduct makes the person who tolerates equally guilty of malfeasance. Ethics, rules, unlike most laws, are observed only by ethical people, who don't need them. Honour codes are meaningless to individuals without a sense of  honour. Freemasons, who breach the Constitution and Ordinances of their Grand Lodge, or the By-laws of their Lodges, not only violate their obligations, but are individuals without a sense of honour. Those who have knowledge of those breaches and do nothing are likewise guilty of malfeasance. An observation of such inherently immoral action is set forth in the Volume of the Sacred Law, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

Freemasonry's only dogma consists of moral principles requiring only common sense to understand them. T.R. Fehrenback, an editorial writer, observed that ethics is - Do right if you can; above all do no harm; and if questionable, do not do it, whatever the law allows. Freemasonry sets a higher standard to always do right. Its ritual includes references to: purity of life and conduct; being good and true; practicing the domestic and public virtues; squaring our actions by the Square of virtue; and displaying discretion, virtue and dignity. But even the most explicit laws or lists of do's and don'ts or standards of conduct are futile if those they apply to, lack the basic character to abide by them.

It is not difficult to know right from wrong. Common sense is inherent in most people. Epictetus, when asked what common sense was, said - "As that may be called a common ear which distinguishes only sounds, while that which distinguishes musical notes is not common, but produced by training; so there are certain things which men not entirely perverted see by the natural principles common to all, Such a Constitution of the mind is called common sense". Thus, Freemasons can not only understand the principles of Masonic ethics, but work them out in life. Determining what is right and exercising common sense should be the constant rule and guide for each Freemason. Since Freemasons are urged to live by the Masonic principles and thus, by precept and example, encourage others to emulate their actions, they must abide by their obligations and not palliate the offences of their brethren. They must realize that the teachings of the Craft are designed to improve society as well as each member, just as Aristotle knew that though it is worthwhile to obtain the end merely for one man, it is fine and more Godlike to attain it for a nation.

The membership selective process in our Craft must be always by the requirement set forth in the first Degree charge - by not recommending any one to a participation in our privileges without having strong reasons to believe that he would ultimately reflect honour on our ancient Institution.

In this day and age of pleasure derived solely from material gain, Freemasons should also take pleasure in seeing themselves daily grow better. They must do as the Emperor Marcus Aurelius suggested - no longer talk about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such.

We are well aware that unlike the brethren, whose services to freemasonry have been recognized to-day have spent satisfying long years as Freemason, not every one who joins Freemasonry can sustain his interest in Freemasonry and there are bound to be some dropouts.  We must however recognize that if any one looses interest in Freemasonry after he becomes a Freemason, the fault does not necessarily lie with him, but with the other brethren who are associated with him in his Lodge and outside, for not helping him to sustain his interest.  I for one do not believe that Freemasonry has let anyone down.  If anything it is we who often let down Freemasonry by not following its principles.  I, therefore, take this opportunity to urge the brethren to take the tenets of Freemasonry seriously and adopt Freemasonry as a way of life.  Let us all remember the charge given to the Worshipful Master after his installation , where he is asked to ensure that the brethren practice outside the Lodge those duties they are taught in it and also to  forcibly impress on the brethren the high importance and dignity of Freemasonry.  The charge further adds that this is necessary  so that the world may know that a Freemason is one to whom the burdened heart  may pour forth its sorrow, to whom the distressed may prefer their suit, whose hand is guided by justice and whose heart is expanded by benevolence. I am sure if this message is acted on by all of us Freemasonry will provide an abiding influence in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

I recently came across an article on Freemasonry where the author had quoted a proverb from the book of proverbs.  It says “Where there is no vision the people perish”.  In my own way I had mentioned my Vision for Freemasonry in India in my address after my installation at Delhi sometime back.  Subsequently a circular has also been issued by the Grand Secretary to all the Regional Grand Masters and all the Daughter Lodges giving some suggestions as to how the vision can be implemented.  I would like to take this opportunity of this Joint Meeting of Lodges here to request all Lodges to consider the various suggestions made in the circular seriously, so that we can make Freemasonry in our country, really vibrant and socially relevant.

I once again congratulate the recipients of the LTS Jewels and wish them long life to enable them to enjoy Freemasonry and play to useful role in spreading the message to others.  My dear brethren before I conclude, I wish you good luck and success in your laudable undertakings and to you and the members of your family a healthy, happy and Prosperous New Year.

Please peruse Article No.229 for the write up about the distinguished Author


Click Here To Post Your Comment

dp_mukherjee wrote on Friday, April 13, 2007:

Subject: W.Bro Justice Devinder Gupta

I am a member of Lodge Rising Star of Western India No: 342 under the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. I find the lectures of W.Bro. Justice Devinder Gupta, which are posted on this website, extremely informative and inspiring. Would anyone send me a copy of the vision statement that W.Bro Gupta mentions in this lecture? My e-mail id is dp_m@mtnl.net.in



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