In preparation for a MM degree I was rehearsing my small part which, in the lecture, explains the steps on the Master’s carpet. I began to think about the line that explains in our youth we should “…occupy our minds in the attainment of useful knowledge.” The explanation then continues to direct us to use this knowledge when reaching manhood in practicing the tenets of Masonry, so that in age, “…we may enjoy the happy reflection consequent on a well-spent life…”
On the surface, this divides our work as Masons into three distinct parts, and one could say, “OK, I learn as an Entered Apprentice, then use what I learned as a Fellowcraft and then when I’m a Master Mason I can sit back and enjoy myself.” This naïve reasoning ignores the concept Freemasony is a learning system of morality and behavior that contemplates a Mason must be a continual student.
So, if we are to be in a constant state of knowledge acquisition, then it should follow that our mindset should always be one of an Entered Apprentice – a learner.
There is a term in Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says the following about the beginner’s mind:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
As a Masonic leader, if you assume an attitude of a beginner and believe something can be learned from everyone you encounter, you begin to experience the power of other positive leadership qualities.
You will find yourself:
- Practicing Humility – My title means nothing and my Brothers are my equals
- Listening – I must listen to understand. If I am listening, I am learning
- Building Relationships – As I listen I begin to know more about my Brothers and how I can help them become better men
- Being a Servant – Your focus changes from looking inward to looking outward
- Remaining Teachable – You will look for ways to gather more and more knowledge
As an Entered Apprentice we were all placed in a particular location in the lodge room to begin our Masonic life. We must daily continue to build from there.