Masonic Anti-Intellectualism A Crying Shame

That such a young, bright, knowledgeable Freemason as Brother Salman S. Sheika resigned from Freemasonry at the young age of 26 is a crying shame. It is doubly reprehensible because of the discrimination he met inside of Freemasonry. When we think of discrimination we normally think of Black – White prejudice. But discrimination takes many forms and just as ugly as racial discrimination is religious discrimination. To find that in the holier than thou Grand Lodges of the North who constantly look down their pious noses at Southern Grand Lodges as havens of Redneck values makes some Masons at the best, hypocritical. Have we not progressed from the hypocrisy and discrimination of the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time?

Sheika was one of those seekers who thirsted for “the Truth.” Isn’t that one of the tenets of our professions as Masons, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth? He was told Freemasonry had some answers or at least some tools to work with. But alas, as we hear repeatedly, Freemasonry doesn’t practice what it preaches. Esoteric Masonry is frowned upon in many quarters. As soon as you mention the words “Masonic Education” in the Lodge Building many Masons will find that they have some other pressing problem to attend to. So many Grand Lodges and Lodges have become havens of fellowship and charitable works but not ones of study and learning.

But the latter is precisely why Sheika joined Freemasonry and they promised him that it was there for him. Broken promises are unmasonic conduct. But it is worse than that. What we have here is anti-intellectualism within Freemasonry. And that will be the undoing of the Craft. For many others are better at charity, better at fellowship. But none have the potential of really and truly making good men better. That’s hard to do, however, when you are anti-intellectual. – Brother Frederic L. Milliken

L-R: Bro. Salman S. Sheikh, GM S. Eugene Herritt and Bro. Mohammed AlJumaili

Why I Left Freemasonry: The First And Last In My Family To Do So

By Salman S. Sheikh

I experienced bigotry, ignorance, and the total opposite of what a Mason really is.

The beauty of life as we go through it is the sequence of beautiful experiences that shape us from the moment we lay in the loving arms of our parents as babies to facing a complex world as adults trying to find a path forward. As a Muslim-American, my keen interests in the US was always trying to learn more, make people smile, and leave a good impression on the people of this country on how we can all strive to be in union as human beings to bring peace and prosperity. I always say the world in a unique and analytical way growing up which led me into heavy research as I approached my high school days. On my weekends off from school, I would spend countless hours researching Freemasonry, different secret societies, listening to occult researchers like Jordan Maxwell, etc. I was always the black sheep of my family and was always the one who was a part in terms of my knowledge, experiences, and interests and that led me to the doors of Freemasonry at age 23 as the first in my family to do so.

In the summer of 2015, I had met a Jamaican immigrant named Marlon Francis who became good friends with me. He showed up at my summer job in Upper Darby and I saw the square and compass symbol and asked him I wanted to join through my previous keen research on the matter. Marlon had an old school mentality and had waited 5-6 months of us meeting, hanging out, becoming friends before he eventually trusted my character and made a consideration to get me a petition from the lodge. So from start to finish I went through an old school process of asking the Mason and having the Mason evaluate me for a period of time before he proceeded. As I was getting closer to my initiation after the investigation committee of William Roosevelt PM approved me, I begin to have ideas of the wonderful knowledge that I would learn because I was already heavy into Masonic, Occult, Astral Projection research, etc.

At the age of 23 and in January of 2016, I was initiated into Freemasonry as an Entered Apprentice by a Jewish Past Master, Alan Ozer with whom over time I formed a close bond and which attests what true Masonry is with a Muslim and Jew embracing each other for the sake of God and brotherhood. On the same night I am thankful to another Past Master, Greg Klauder who told me ‘People will still be people.” in reference to me as a Muslim who appreciated the unity. Over time I begin to understand what PM Klauder had meant.

As time went on and I became a Master Mason, 32nd degree Scottish Rite, Shriner, Royal Arch Mason, and Royal/Select Council Master Mason. I realized that Freemasonry was just a social club with a few ritual traditions. I was also discouraged as I saw the brethren who would smile in my faces but would later post Anti-Islamic and Anti-Immigrant posts on their social medias. I stayed patient and realized the imperfection of all things as we are taught as Masons and made an effort to try to win everybody’s heart through my honest spirit and character of seeing true human unity but even that was not enough. In the summer of 2018, after 2.5 years of a solid active effort, I decided to resign from Freemasonry and its bodies with my good standing intact. I shed tears when I wrote my resignation letter but God had told me in my heart that they did not deserve me and I had the right to move on. I reflected on the story of Prophet Musa (Moses) from the Holy Bible and Holy Quran where he was in line for the Egyptian throne but decided to throw that all away when his heart did not accept the Israelites being mercilessly abused. I left for the same reasons where I experienced bigotry, ignorance, and the total opposite of what a Mason really is.

As my tenure as a Mason I made sure I gave hugs, smiles, and real knowledge to all those who came my way in which I had members from India, UK, Africa, etc. all reach out to me to express their interest in my works and printed my essays in their lodges which at the end only made my lodge, Grand Lodge, and country stand out in a positive way in the current environment of confusion, division, and chaos. I feel pride that in my short time I did more to benefit the global Masonic community than those who were here before me for years but didn’t make a positive difference in the aspects of bringing humanity and Masons of different backgrounds together as we just saw in 2018 Florida and Texas recognizing their Prince Hall counterparts. We are still behind in many ways and one of the reasons I left because the organization lets anybody in and we don’t practice what we preach when the going gets tough or when it comes down to the nitty gritty. I am thankful to Mike from Grand Lodge who called me and we agreed we would rather be only just 20 people instead of 100,000 but all 20 of them being top notch quality who were there for the right reasons. I am also thankful to RWGM S Eugene Herritt who promised to keep my memory and vision alive in terms of bringing change to the Grand Lodge. Masonry in the US I believe and its members are currently a reflection of the society they inhibit, by that I mean that we spend majority of our times on social media, at jobs, home, and in the community and that’s where your true character is revealed the most in comparison to just 2 night a month at lodge and pretending to call someone a brother just for the sake of it but when times of trial and tribulation come those same people are nowhere to be found and can turn against you if they see the benefit of doing so. That is not Masonry and I chose to walk away from it to contribute to my own community and people who deserved it more. I still have WM’s from India asking for my demit certificate to make me a member there but declined all of their requests. My next goal in life is to be initiated into Sufism (Mystic Islam) and follow the true path of God with people who are on the same spiritual frequency as me. I did not resonate anymore with the members or the fraternity on a spiritual basis which caused my departure so at the end it was not my loss at all.

My last advice to the Freemasons is that if you want this to continue to survive in a future where the young ones are keen with artificial intelligence and info at the palm of their hands, then you need to offer them something new that hasn’t been shown to them before. The practice of memorizing sacred texts, being on a chair/committee, contributing to charity is something that can be found in every church, synagogue and mosque throughout America. The real question is, what are you willing to help them realize in an environment where relationships, family, jobs, spirituality is on a totally different playing field then our previous generations? Once this question is addressed along with letting in clean hearted quality people, then we won’t hear the same tune every month of why the same 6-7 guys are showing in a lodge with 4-500 members. It’s a simple solution which if followed can be beneficial to the organization along with not showing them the same stuff every meeting and not letting Past Masters run their lodges. Give the new guys a chance otherwise they will just see it as another boy’s club and move on with other adventures in life that could benefit them more. It’s a shame for me to say this but I learned more on my own and with likeminded spiritual people I had met before I even became a Mason than I have ever learned in a lodge or appendant body. That should not be the case.

In conclusion, I am thankful for these last 2 years for what they were worth to make a difference in the organization of Freemasons in my state, country, and other nations to teach them the forgotten values of a true Mason and the true nature of one who listens to his heart and walks the path of God. I departed at age 26 in good standing and still have a lifetime ahead of me to do great things for other groups that are meant to cross my path. I am thankful to be the first in GL of PA’s history to do a program on Sufism and make the effort to bring Masonic understanding and unity while others are just worried about their legacies. My greatest legacy will be that I will remain in the hearts and minds of the Freemasons forever and that means I also live forever which is more important than statues or my name appearing in Grand Lodge digest decisions. Please continue to love each other in and out of lodge and practice what you preach because God’s all-seeing eye will hold us all accountable one day for all our seen and unseen actions. Before your meetings start, do a hand in hand meditation so even the brother who feels left out can feel a part of his brotherhood instead of looking bored or playing on his phone. I want you all to think about all these things I have addressed in my final message and I leave that burden on your shoulders from this point on with the mission of how you will carry this fraternity forward for future generations and not be in a desperate situation to keep numbers up. When your heart, mission, members, teachings, online image, etc. is all pure and designed to empower somebody then worrying about numbers should be the least of your worries because at the end “My Faith is in God and God is my right.”

As Salam Aleikum (Peace be upon you and your families today and every day.)

Yours in brotherhood,
Salman S. Sheikh
Upper Darby, Pennsylvania


Read the follow up to this piece: I Shall Return

What is brotherly love in Freemasonry?

Why Brotherly Love Relief and Truth in Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is grounded in three specific virtues which are at the core of Masonic teachings. Are these virtues really at the core of the Masonic connection to faith, religion and the divine?

These three virtues are the foundations upon which Freemasonry is built.

Brotherly Love as directed towards all mankind and especially to other Masons. Relief, in that every Mason is obligated to relieve the suffering of any Master Mason they encounter who is in dire need, and if in their power to do so, to the best of their ability, Also to act charitably towards society, giving of themselves to better the common good. And Truth, which is represented by the Divine in its multiplicity and diversity, as understood by all men.

These three ideas represent the core upon which Freemasonry focuses in its ultimate distillation, in that Freemasonry does not hold one faith above another, rather seeing faith itself as the common denominator between all of faiths.

More in the series:

What is Freemasonry? – Part 1: What is a Freemason?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 2: How Old is Freemasonry?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 3: Why are Freemason’s Secretive?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 4: Is Freemasonry a Patriotic Body?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 5: Why Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 6: Why is Freemasonry a Ritual Practice?
What is Freemasonry? – Part 7: Why Does Freemasonry Use Odd Symbols?

From the ebook: What is Freemasonry?

Who Serves Who?

Probably the best way to differentiate between a commercial enterprise and a nonprofit organization is by asking, “Who serves who?” Whether it is a small business or a major corporation, the commercial enterprise is primarily concerned with serving its customers. In general, such companies will go to great lengths to keep their customers happy in order to promote repeat business and improve cash flow. They are also fully aware their customers have choices, if they are not satisfied with their product or service there is always someone else waiting to take the business away from them. It’s called the “free enterprise system.”

A nonprofit organization is another beast altogether.

In theory, a nonprofit is supposed to provide a service or product for its constituents. Such people are pooled together primarily due to a common interest of some kind, be it a professional trade group, a homeowners association, a sports club, a fraternal/civic organization, a union, etc. Such organizations are usually legal entities operating under the sanctions of a state government and perhaps a parent organization. Normally, nonprofits are administered by a board of directors which include officers serving for a specific term of duty involving various responsibilities, such as a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Committee Chairman, etc. It is not uncommon for people to covet such titles as it looks impressive on a resume and is often used to climb a social ladder. Whereas the intent for the administration of the nonprofit is to serve its constituents, quite often the reverse is implemented whereby the membership is coerced into serving its officers thereby creating a monarchy where one should not exist. As trivial or petty such organizations may appear, there are certain types of people who become drunk with power, probably because they never accomplished anything of substance in their professional lives.

Ideally, in a nonprofit, the officers should be ego-less and ever reminded that such groups are typically volunteer organizations and, as such, are under no obligation to follow orders. True, such groups will undoubtedly have governing documents defining specific duties and responsibilities; regardless, it is a volunteer organization where people participate as it suits them. The last thing a nonprofit needs is a bully or someone exerting his/her will to disrupt the harmony of the group.

Then we come to governmental bodies and agencies, be it at the municipal, county, state, or federal level. Like nonprofits, officers are elected from the constituency and, in theory, they are intended to represent the interests of the citizenry. As government bodies become too massive and complex we tend to become somewhat attached to our officials and less inclined to change them fearing it may hurt the system and services. This, of course, lends itself to the monarchy phenomenon and creates career politicians. If officials are left unchecked, a dictatorship begins to take root representing a genuine threat to freedom and democracy regardless of the institution.

So, what should we do when we find the constituents are serving the officials?

Voting is obviously the first alternative that comes to mind, but people can be rather apathetic and behave like sheep, which officials count on to manage the flock. Brainwashing and information management (aka “spin”) are devices commonly used for such control. Term limits is another alternative, unless it is discovered a one party system has been implemented whereby cronies take turns running an operation for someone else behind the scenes.

Perhaps the best approach though is to privatize government or nonprofit organizations thereby causing administrators to truly work for the people. Such institutions are certainly not new. To illustrate, commercial management companies are proliferating throughout the country to serve homeowner associations (since the officials are too lazy to assume responsibility themselves). Although you have to pay for such service, you can change companies at a moment’s notice. Privatizing government and nonprofit organizations offers one important advantage; since they are run by commercial enterprises, who understand the need for properly serving their customers, we would at least know “who serves who.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

The Realization of Truth

purest form of worshipOne of my favorite scenes in any movie occurs at the climax of the classic film Ben-Hur. During the scene where Jesus is carrying his crucifix through Jerusalem, he collapses underneath the weight of his burden. As Simon of Cyrene is ordered by the Roman soldiers to pick up Jesus’ cross, Judah Ben-Hur (played by Charleton Hesston) pushes through the crowd to give the man they call ‘King of the Jews’ a drink of water.

What I find so beautiful about this scene is that it is the purest form of worship. At this moment, Charleton Hesston’s character is devoid of dogma or religious opinion. He knows that he is witnessing a moment of great realization and does not try to rationalize it or explain it. He only feels the power of the event and offers his praise for the gift of enlightenment which he is receiving.

While the movie is portraying a fictional aspect of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, it is also providing the piece of the story which is so desperately yearned for when reading the Biblical account of the event. None of the Gospels speak of any assistance given to Jesus during his crucifixion. They are all in agreement that Mary Magdalene remained faithful to him at the end, but we only read of the disciples betraying Jesus. Judas Iscariot had betrayed him and Peter had denied knowing him. Certainly the others would continue proselytizing men to become Christians later, but where were they at the darkest time for their Lord? Were they too busy writing down what they saw and forming the doctrine for their new religion? It is an easy thing to speak of faith, it is another thing to actually have it.

The character of Ben-Hur has nothing to offer the man in suffering, whom he has come to regard as the messiah. However, he throws himself before him with the only offering that he can provide. This is a beautiful action and properly displays the pure realization of truth. In that moment when we discover truth, we can neither define nor rationalize our feelings. We can only find ourselves on our knees in wide-eyed awe of our new understanding.

In many ways, it reminds me of the Masonic process of coming to light. I was only able to truly accept a great realization once in my Masonic career and that was during my first degree. This was because I had no idea of what to expect, I thought of nothing and only focused on the moment. When I was brought to light, it was a truly transcendent moment and it really did change the course of my life. However, after the first degree I had an idea of what to expect and was simply too busy trying to anticipate my next step rather than accept the truth as it came to me.

Perhaps that is the greatest challenge facing the craft today. Are we too busy anticipating the next step in the fraternity’s future and developing a plan to fill our lodges with members? Are we too concerned with the mistakes that the organization has made today and how to fix them? Do we put too much effort into making sure that the recitation of ritual is perfect without understanding the truth which it teaches? Do we rush to research the ritual’s deeper meanings in order to fill volumes rather than letting the realization come to us?

Masonry embodies pure worship. It only offers lessons which are left to its initiates to decipher. It has no dogma and is not concerned with the particular beliefs of its individual members. Perhaps we as Masons must be like Ben-Hur. In our moment of realization, we may have little to offer Masonry, but let us offer whatever we can to the fraternity with sincerity. It is not for us to define the fraternity or propound upon its value to the profane world. What we must do is recognize its truths not with words, but with action.

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Teachings of Diogenes-Lesson 2 Honesty

sealOn one bright, clear day, Diogenes was walking up and down the market place, holding a lighted lantern high in front of him and peering around as if searching for something. When people gaped and asked him what he was doing, he replied, “I am looking for an honest man.”

In our Masonic Lodges we use several symbols to guide us in our endeavors. These are all referred to as rays of light.

  • The Great Lights; the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square & Compasses;
  • The Lesser Lights; the sun, the moon and the master of the lodge;
  • Last but not the least, the All-seeing Eye.

These all represent the knowledge to be gained from following the designs of the GAOTU’s teachings laid out not only in the Volume of the Sacred Law, but surrounding us in Nature and Science.

We ultimately stand before our brothers in the degree’s and receive many lectures on what a Mason should be, how he should act and how to prepare for his final degree. We are told that

The distinguishing characteristics of every Free and Accepted Mason are Virtue, Honor and Mercy, and the tenets or fundamental principles of Ancient Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

It is a lot to absorb in such a short time and we can only hope we will figure it out as fast as possible. Most catch on fairly quickly but some are a little slower. So to help out, here are the “Principals for Good Guys” I found on Wiki. These don’t look like the Ancient Charges of Masonry but if you study them closely they make Masonic Sense.

Principles for Good Guys

  • Ethical standards apply uniformly to all
  • Assist those in need
  • Defend those in trouble
  • Pursue human rights for all
  • Protect the environment
  • Use force prudently
  • Respect and honor diversity
  • Listen to your heart
  • Listen to people carefully before giving your opinion
  • Fear not evil
  • Improve global quality of life
  • Be courteous to other souls
  • Fear not to harm another in a just cause this is one of those risk things

We have a  duty to our ourselves, our lodges and all our Brethren throughout world to understand and act honestly for the betterment of Masonry. We are our brothers keeper, and we must be vigilant for those who haven’t gotten the message. Most Worshipful Brother Herman M. Forrester, Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of Kentucky in his May message brings this point sharply into focus.

One of the privileges of being Grand Master of Masons is the opportunity to travel and meet the most outstanding men in our great Commonwealth. These dedicated brethren live their daily lives living up to the lofty ideas and standards that Freemasonry teaches. I am so very proud to serve these men who devote their lives trying to be good Masons, husbands, Fathers, churchmen and citizens. How blessed I am to serve with the Grand Lodge Officers, elected and appointed who are so dedicated not only to Freemasonry but to the Craft of Kentucky. I treasure and revere the great Freemasons of Kentucky.

I cannot thank these brothers enough for being what they profess to be, men of Honor and integrity.

We as Grand Lodge Officers should be shouting their praises from the highest mountain tops. Unfortunately there is always a small segment of any membership who will not conform to the principles of our beloved brotherhood. They disrupt their lodges with picks and quarrels, they will not conform to the Constitution, their conduct outside the lodge is un-Masonic, such behavior includes Spouse/Child Abuse, Alcoholism, Drug/Substance Abuse, just to name a few of these offenses that have come to our attention.

These so-called Masons must be removed from the Craft and should have NEVER been permitted to be a part of our Great Fraternity. The World is watching us and will judge a tree by the fruit that it bears! It is time for each Lodge to do their duty to the utmost, investigate the men who knock at their doors, with the most thorough scrutiny, and vote for the good of the order, and confer impressive meaningful ritual that will touch the hearts of good men. Brothers, we can’t change yesterday but together we can have an impact on tomorrow. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.

DO YOUR DUTY FOR THE BETTERMENT OF FREEMASONRY.

HERMAN M. FORRESTER
Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Kentucky

It’s a pretty tall order but we must try and excel in all things good and great. So the next time you find a man in cynic’s robes holding a lantern up to you and says “I am looking for an honest man”, how will you answer, better yet can you don those robes and hold up that lantern yourself?

Read Teachings of Diogenes-Lesson 1 Emptiness
Read Teachings of Diogenes-Lesson 3 Light of Teaching

Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald

Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald

Fraternally

Wor.Bro. Ian M. Donald

A man is not measured by how tall he stands,

But by how often he bends to help, comfort and teach!

 

Diogenes (c. 412- c. 323 B.C ) was a very playful philosopher who liked to use great wit when challenging the values and beliefs of his fellow citizens in ancient Athens.    He lived in great poverty, probably begging and stealing his food, and steadfastly disdained all forms of luxury.   It was because of his determination to follow his own dictates and not adhere to the conventions of society that he was given the epithet “dog,” from which the name cynic” is derivedi

i From the web site of David Quinn