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The Grand Oration by Robert David Pogue, Grand Orator
by Ed Halpaus
31 October 2005
From the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Japan 1989
The Grand Oration by Robert David Pogue, Grand Orator
"Most Worshipful Grand Master, Honorable East and Distinguished Brethren, I am greatly honored but it is with great humility that I undertake the task of speaking to this assembly on the situation and outlook for our great philosophic fraternity.
Before an installation ceremony the Master of Ceremonies informs us that it is well known the Brother elect is well skilled in our Ancient Craft.
We are otherwise informed that it is equally well known that the fortunes amassed by the great tycoons are dissipated by their heirs within 3 generations.
Ancient and modern history underscore the truism that as man abrogates his direct connection with the Great Architect and erects his temporal temples on this earth with the accompanying taxation to maintain the temple, he soon loses sight and effectiveness for his original purpose.
Museums are replete with artifacts of decayed temporal temples. Let us not make a museum of our hearts and minds but seek with an urgency of purpose to build within us those spiritual temples that it will truly be 'well known that every Mason is a good man and having became a Master Mason has become a better man; - better educated, in better harmony with self, brother, neighbor and our Supreme Grand Master; - that he is better prepared to set an exemplary example to all in his home, workplace and society at large. That the love and harmony, which should at all times characterize Free Masons, be so evident in our everyday lives as to make outsiders covet fellowship with us. We must not hide our purpose within a building or meeting; Free Masons work is at large in the world.' Our effectiveness in propagating our philosophy is only possible by preparing ourselves as leaders; then making ourselves available and when given the chance, to lead in groups outside Free Masonry that it will become possible for others to see our examples, character, and learn of our philosophy - that we are all God's children with the responsibility to perpetuate our species to the benefit of all, promoting peace and harmony, encouraging creativeness and thereby strengthen our character that mankind will be prepared and go forth to overcome the obstacles of this world and meet the challenges that life holds for each of us during this brief tour we have on earth.
Let us reflect on our Grand Lodge constituency, its history and future role in Japan.
The constitution given to the Japanese by General Douglas McArthur, a Brother, and authorized by the President of the United States, MWB Harry S. Truman, is Free Mason's second greatest recorded experiment: The first given by MWB George Washington, and other Brothers, to the United States of America. No more noble experiments are recorded in history. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, one of General McArthur's first decisions was to summon Free Masons in Japan to take the lead in bringing the Japanese into harmony with Americans, British, Chinese, Filipinos and others allied in this experiment. It was well known that the example attributed to Masons was the only harmonizing medium known to lead this dynamic but frustrated group of humanity in the quest of a creative society capable of meeting the challenge of reconstruction and overcoming the difficulties of emerging from a feudal society into a modem era of internationalism - which objective was to bring the entire society of the world together in common purpose: that could rise above the prejudices, greed, and envy of human nature to breathe of the air of souls and spirits filled with purpose higher than that of this imperfect world; to taste of the pleasantness of service in the work that is outlined on the trestle board of the Great Architect of the Universe.
However, the warning alert has sounded and re-sounded by those who have delivered orations at our Grand Lodge Communication for several years. The temporal temple of the Grand Lodge, beautiful beyond expectations, is a reality; the spiritual temple may well be in shambles. Struggle is all around us and has penetrated our own jurisdiction - power struggle, corruption; questionable money lending, sharp practices - all anti-Masonic - are seen daily within our jurisdiction under the cover of the square and compasses bringing dissension among Masons and discredit of Masonry in the public eye. We must purge anti-Masonic practices from our family and promote new vision and purpose among us for our leaders to share with their Lodges: that their trestle boards will be filled with more than just the ritual, - though important as it is for by ritual we learn 'order' and 'contentment thru harmony'-; but we must fill the trestle boards of every Mason's life with understanding of the ritual's meaning and the spiritual building to be done within ourselves that we will be prepared to undertake the work outside the Lodge at large with society and the world, and complete the task laid out by our worthy Brothers McArthur and Truman on their trestle boards and realize for ourselves and others those highest goals laid out on the trestle board of the Grand Architect of the Universe.
Possibly we must examine ourselves to see if we really understand Masonry. Let us reflect on Masonic philosophy that we may truly be prepared to return to our Lodges and teach. Masonry's objective and purpose is wholly spiritual, religious, and philosophic. While the libertine's cry of today is "Freedom from religion", the Mason's is "Freedom of religion" - yet leaving the choice of persuasion to the individual as to how he relates with his creator and the Creator's obligations upon him and expectations of him - is the bulwark of Masons.
The incomplete temple of the 3rd degree is symbolic of the incompleteness of the collective body of humanity itself. Man being separated from God searches that he may be made whole again. "Know Ye not that Ye are the temple of God?" A point within a circle tells us that God is within us. Hiram's grave is ourselves. The Mason's cry or substitute for the ancient master's word means "the master is slain"; and "they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him." We must find the lost word if we are to complete the temple. The three human personages: King Solomon, Hiram King of the Tyre and Hiram ABIFF represent the wisdom, strength and beauty which are required to build that spiritual Jerusalem, or "City of Peace" - in eternity, which is the heavens.
The carnal diversions of life distract us from our spiritual journey of seeking "light" - literally harmony with God, the Creator. Light is granted the seekers in proportion to the desire of our hearts, but for the majority of Masons their order sheds no light at all, because light is not their desire, nor is initiation in its true sense understood or wished for. They move among the symbols, simulacre and substituted secrets of the mysteries without comprehending them, without wishing to translate them into reality. The Craft is made to subserve social or philanthropic ends foreign to its purpose and even to gratify the desire for outward personal distinction; but as an instrument of regeneration it remains wholly ineffective.
Much is lamented regarding secrecy in our society. What is the greatest secret? That man must be humble. Humility is mandatory to the aspirant for he must approach the door to Masonry's wisdom as an ass or fool, blindfolded and unaware of anything that awaits him. Humility is required for an aspirant may find upon initiation that everything, or much, that he believed (and his non-Masonic friends believe) is profane to the Mason. Therefore humility and secrecy are necessary to the aspirant for the wisdom into which the mysteries of Free Masonry admit a man is foolishness to the world; it is a reversal and revolution of all orthodox and academic standards. To attain it (wisdom) a man must be prepared for that complete and voluntary self-denial which may involve his finding negated everything he has previously held to be true or which those among whom he ordinarily mingles believe to be true. He must be contented to "become a fool for the kingdom of heaven's sake" and to suffer adversity, ridicule and obloquy for it if needs be. This is one of the prime reasons for secrecy.
In closing, let me say that as the great sage has said in days long past "know thyself" and "knowledge shall set you free" so it is with Free Masonry. Knowledge to translate the signs and symbols of the ritual into light rendering understanding will set man free and unite him with the Great Architect for the completion of that temple not made with hands eternal in the heavens. Toward that end let us endeavor to enlighten our Initiates, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons, that by their examples may be prepared to unite others in this great work whom otherwise might have remained at a perpetual distance. Thus, we will be enabled to complete the temple of the Great Architect of the Universe.
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