William James wrote; “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” Of course, King Solomon said the same thing in a different way; “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” What a man thinks in his heart will ultimately come out in his actions.
The five most important questions we will ever encounter are questions of the human heart.
Who am I?
From whence did I come?
Why am I here?
What am I capable of doing?
Where am I going?
These five questions summarize the essence of the human struggle and they are all questions of the heart. All our social, economic, spiritual, and fraternal activities spring from the pursuit of answers to these questions. These are the essential questions introduced in the instruction of the Craft Lodge, and greatly expanded in the Scottish Rite.
In fact, the teachings of the Scottish Rite focus entirely on these great questions of life. Having awakened our consciousness in the lessons of the Blue Lodge with the idea that all the challenges of our life, whatever they may be, can be reconciled by the right presence of mind, we begin the journey through the teachings of the Scottish Rite. We literally take our new awakening as Master Masons on a timeless journey of self-discovery. And what we discovery as we progress through the degrees of the four Bodies of the Scottish Rite, is that we are on an encounter with the five most important discoveries in the human experience: our identity, our heritage, our purpose, our potential, and our destiny.
All of these things are matters of the heart. In Masonry, the heart has always been a metaphor for the center of our being. It is the decision-making center where all our choices—good and evil—are decided. It is our place of understanding and reasoning. In Masonry, the heart represents our sub-conscious mind. It is the repository of the spark of the Divine that was gifted us at creation. However, the Grand Architect gave it to us, along with free will. Our free will determines what we do with it.
Therefore, what a person thinks in his heart is what will ultimately come out in his actions. This is why Masonic teaching is so important. What we learn in our degree portrayals is at the very heart of consciousness itself.
And the beauty of this journey is that we are all on it together. We are a special brotherhood of men whose sole purpose is to elevate each other to be the best that we can be. In our unique world of men, everyone is significant because everyone is equal. It really cannot be any other way for the reason that we are all considered equal in the eyes of the One Above. We express our brotherhood through the ideal of equality.
It is only when we believe that everyone is significant that it becomes possible for us to think about our brothers’ interest as much as we think about our own. If we want to be great, we must be the servant of all. The secret to greatness is in serving others. It is one of the essential lessons of Masonry. The idea is not to seek greatness, but seek to give whatever gifts are uniquely ours to others to the maximum extent we can.
We can never forget that every human being has gifts to give. And in our fraternity, we are about the business of giving who we are to each other. In Freemasonry, as in life, there is so much to give—knowledge, wisdom, compassion, empathy, understanding, courtesy, respect, loyalty, love, sincerity, strength.
Freemasonry is an affair of the heart. But the heart of Freemasonry cannot be accessed except through the heart of its members. The heart of Freemasonry changes us as we change our own hearts.
Our heart, it turns out, is everything.