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Inaugural address of M.W. Bro. Vasudev Masurekar O.S.M,
M.W. Grand Master
at the Masonic Retreat on Friday 26th September 2014 at Yelagiri
R.W. Bro. Arvind Chitra , R.W. Regional Grand Master Southern India, R.W. Bro.
R. Ratnaswamy, Convenor, W. Bro. Sivaprakash , Worshipful Master of Lodge
Brihadeeswara No. 150, R.W. Brethren, V.W. Brethren, W. Brethren and Brethren
all, gracious ladies and gentlemen assembled here at the inaugural session of
the Masonic Retreat organised by Lodge Brihadeeswara No. 150, I greet you all.
The speakers at this Seminar are all accomplished presenters and past masters in
the Art of Speaking. But amongst the audience there could be budding talent and
it is for their benefit that I wish to say a few words on the Art of Speaking.
There is a Four Way Test for every speaker. To be an effective speaker one needs
to remember this Four Way test.
1. Do people
UNDERSTAND what you are saying?
2. Does your
audience Remember what you said?
3. Does your
audience ACT on what you’ve asked them to do?
4. Does your
audience TELL OTHERS what you said?
Accomplishing all four objectives in a speech has nothing to do with the topic
and everything to do with whether you care enough about you audience and your
objectives to genuinely communicate in a captivating manner.
Nervous speakers are so focused on their prepared speeches that they wouldn’t
notice it if half of their audience keeled over from heart attacks.
In-the-moment speaker is constantly tracking the eyes and body language of
individual audience members. If you are truly in the momentum you can alter,
adjust, fine-tune, stop, speedup or slowdown instantly because you are reading
Audiences don’t care if you are “formal”. They only care if you are interesting
or boring. Of course, there are some subtle changes that need to be made by
speakers, depending on the venue.
It is far better to describe one single tree clearly to an audience than it is,
to try to explain the entire forest. Roman Philosopher
Seneca said, “ Nature does not give a man virtue, becoming a good man is an
art.” Thus there are no born speakers. It is all a matter of art acquired
scientifically by training and practice.
Watch a good blacksmith working the steel. To the untrained eye he is repeating
the same hammer blows over and over again. But those who know the importance of
training know that each time the hammer is raised and then lowered, the
intensity of the blow is different. The hand repeats the same gesture but as it
approaches the iron it knows whether to touch it harder or softer.
Look at the windmill. Whoever sees its vanes just once, imagines that it always
turns with the same speed, always repeating the same movement. But those who
know windmills know that they are conditioned to the wind and change their
direction whenever necessary.
The hand of the ironsmith was trained after the gesture of hammering was
repeated thousands of times. Windmill vanes can move fast after the wind has
blown a lot and polished their gears.
Similarly, it is after repeated trials and approbations, a Mason truly
understands the finer nuances of the rituals, of this noble art and science.
What is the nature and purpose of Masonry as an institution? For what does it
exist? What does it seek to do?
Four eminent Masonic scholars have essayed to answer these questions and in so
doing have given us four systems of Masonic philosophy, namely, William Preston,
Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, George Oliver and Albert Pike.
Summarily, then, we have four systems of Masonic philosophy. Two are
intellectual systems; First that of Preston, whose keyword is Knowledge; second,
that of Krause, whose keyword is Morals.
Two are spiritual systems: First that of Oliver, whose keyword is Tradition; and
second, that of Pike, whose keyword is Symbolism.
For what does Masonry exist? What is the end and purpose of the order? Preston
To diffuse light, that is, to spread knowledge among men. This, he might say,
is the proximate end. He might agree with Krause that the ultimate purpose is to
perfect men—to make them better, wiser and consequently happier. But the means
of achieving this perfection, he would say, is general diffusion of knowledge.
What is the purpose for which Masonry exists? What does it seek to do? Krause
answers that in common with all other human institutions its ultimate purpose is
the perfection of humanity.
What then are Oliver's answers to the three fundamental questions of Masonic
What is the end of Masonry, for what does the institution exist?
Oliver would answer, it is one in its end with religion and with science. Each
of these are means through which we are brought into relation with the
absolute. They are the means through which we know God and his works.
As has been said, Krause's was a philosophy of Masonry in its relation to law
and government. Preston's was a philosophy of Masonry in its relation to
knowledge. Oliver's is a philosophy of Masonry in its relation to religion.
We come now to a radically different type of Masonic philosophy. To Preston
Masonry is a traditional system of knowledge and its end is to impart knowledge.
Hence he thinks of the relation of Masonry to education.
To Krause it is organized morals and its end is to put organized mankind behind
the universal moral ideas of humanity. Hence he thinks of the relation of
Masonry to law and government. To Oliver it is a mode of approach to God and its
end is to bring us to the Absolute by means of a pure tradition. Hence he thinks
of the relation of Masonry to religion. Pike gives us instead a Meta physics of
Masonry. To him Masonry is a mode of studying first principles and its end is to
reveal and to give us possession of the universal principle.
What is the end of Masonry? What is the purpose for which it exists?
Pike would answer: The immediate end is the pursuit of light. But light means
here attainment of the fundamental principle of the universe and bringing of
ourselves into the harmony, the ultimate unity which alone is real. Hence, the
ultimate end is to lead us to the Absolute—interpreted by our individual creed
if we like but recognized as the final unity into which all things merge and
with which in the end all things must accord. You will see here at once a purely
philosophical version of what, with Oliver, was purely religious.
Masonry seek to reach these ends?
Pike would say, by a system of allegories and of symbols handed down from
antiquity which we are to study and upon which we are to reflect until they
reveal the light to each of us individually. Masonry preserves these symbols and
acts out these allegories for us. The real genius of Masonic Symbolism lies in
its dexterity to conceal as well as reveal. It conceals from the one who is not
interested. But to one who seeks to understand by the exercise of his mind and
intellect, it is revealed. The responsibility of reaching the real through them
is upon each of us. Each of us has the duty of using this wonderful heritage
from antiquity for himself. Masonry in Pike's view does not offer us predigested
food. It offers us a wholesome fare which we must digest for ourselves. But what
a feast! It is nothing less than the whole history of human search for reality.
Our system contains and conceals far more and far more valuable truth than those
who belong to it have yet realized. Were it not so, the Masonic study societies
which are in such large number would not exist and there would be no need for
Another Masonic researcher and scholar Walter Leslie Wilmshurst was far more
radical. He strongly believed and exhorted vide his lectures and writings to
focus on the spiritual aspects of Masonry. For a method to unite the members as
a ‘group-mind’ he propounded what came to be known as ‘Noon Day Prayer’. He
encouraged every member of the lodge at ‘high-twelve’ every day to spend a few
moments to ‘banish every other concern from his thought and try to visualize,
clearly and earnestly himself and his fellow members gathered together in lodge,
in peace, concord and charity with each other’ each in deep contemplation
praying and supplicating for the benefit of and good of each other. The benefits
according to Wilmshurst are four fold :
1. In a mental
sense, the lodge would be meeting everyday;
2. Harmony of
thought, unity and concentration of purpose would be converged when the lodge
3. The lodge room
would become a focus point and storage place of the members collective thought
4. The lodge would
be, in a real sense an organized brotherhood; a mystic tie would be achieved.
The Grand Master of the Universe has entrusted to us the principles of Masonry
as working tools. They, too, are not ours, they belong to the lodge of the
world. We are to use them that He may have pleasure and the Craft of humanity
that labors in this wide lodge of the world may profit thereby.
I thank R.W. Bro. Ratnaswamy and the organising team for giving me an
opportunity to inaugurate the seminar as also for the hospitality and courtesies
extended to me.