Within Freemasonry, brothers must channel the spirit of the universe into their practice and study in order to get the most out of the craft. As a conduit channels fluid to connect specific things, a Mason channels particular belief systems into his daily commitment to the craft.
This idea of conduits is an interesting one for Masons. For conduits to be effective, they must be kept in excellent condition and has to be free from things that corrode it or threaten to break it. What’s more, it must be kept in proper shape and alignment so it can conduct the elements that run through it to their desired locations.
A conduit is an interesting metaphor for the role that brothers play within Freemasonry. In this post, we will explore what we mean by this, and examine how Masons connect to others around them to get the most out of the craft.
What is a conduit?
Before introducing a conduit as an interesting Masonic metaphor, we must first understand what a conduit is. Britannica defines a conduit in the following way:
A channel or pipe for conveying water or other fluid for carrying out certain other purposes, such as protecting electric cables.
A conduit plays the role of connector and protector and must be in excellent condition to serve its purpose. As a connector, a conduit provides a safe enclosure in which fluid can run to its destination. As a protector, a conduit prevents the elements within from being corrupted from outside forces.
However, in order to operate successfully, a conduit must be in excellent condition and free from any damages. In its purest form, a conduit is an essential component of a particular system and plays a critical role in the safe passage of vital elements.
A conduit as a Masonic metaphor
In order to fully understand a conduit as a Masonic metaphor, the first thing we must do is swap the fluid that runs through to the spirit that runs through. For many brothers, the spirit is the Supreme Being or the Grand Architect of the Universe.
Men take solace in the fact that the spirit of our creator runs through us and manifests in various forms. Life is genuinely challenging, and the Supreme Being’s spirit gives us confidence that we are not alone on our journey through life.
As we know, for an initiate to become an Entered Apprentice, he must profess faith in the Supreme Being. Freemasonry does not prescribe the daily reality of one’s faith, but belief in some form is an essential requirement of the craft.
Many of us channel our faith through daily prayer; others do so by carrying out particular tasks in-keeping with our religious beliefs. However we do it, our body acts as a conduit and channels the spirit of God through our daily practice.
Within Freemasonry, this extends to a brother’s responsibility to live by his lodge’s Masonic values. Channeling his faith through virtuous actions is a fundamental role of any Mason and is part of what makes Freemasonry so appealing to many.
Extending the metaphor further, we also need to look at the form of the conduit. If it is broken or damaged, it cannot channel the fluid to its desired location. To relate this to Freemasonry, a case can be made for connecting it to the process of enlightenment through the craft.
Before an initiate joins the lodge, he is said to have been wandering in darkness, trying to make sense of the great mysteries of the universe. However, in finding Masonry, a brother is privy to some of these answers and begins a journey towards enlightenment.
He seeks enlightenment by channeling the teachings of the craft through his daily practice and becomes a much more rounded, progressive individual as a result. Before finding Masonry, a man doesn’t have the craft’s protection and seeks answers in other aspects of life.
When a brother becomes an Entered Apprentice and begins his journey through Freemasonry, he must maintain his strength and adherence to the Masonic principles. Just like a conduit cannot operate when broken, a Mason cannot operate when his character is tarnished irreprovably by outside factors.
What does this mean in practice? Well, those outside of Freemasonry regularly attempt to question the integrity of the craft and challenge brothers’ moral character and standing. If such attempts can penetrate the craft, it can affect a brother’s judgment and distract him from channeling the spirit of the Supreme Being through his daily practice.
It must also be recognized that a brother is not impervious to the outside world. Brothers interact daily with those outside of the craft, and their actions and comments are influenced by those they surround themselves by.
Just like particular outside elements can corrode a conduit, the same is true for a Mason’s spirit. External actors can chip away at the spirit of a Mason and ultimately seek to tarnish the fraternity’s reputation in his eyes.
An interesting parallel to draw here would be the role of some religious authorities in a brother’s life. For example, the Catholic church stands openly against Freemasonry and seeks to discredit its actions and rituals.
A Papal decree has even made it against the laws of the church for Catholics to become Masons, and such a ruling has stood for centuries. Against such external challenges, Masons have to be strong to prevent it from detracting from their path towards enlightenment.
To put this into the context of the metaphor, if a Mason’s spirit becomes damaged or influenced by outside factors, he cannot wholeheartedly continue his journey throughout the craft.
Such a realization is extremely powerful, as it highlights how lodges insulate brothers from negative outside stimuli. It also indicates the strength of a Mason’s character, as if he is to channel the Supreme Being’s spirit through his daily practice, he needs to shield himself from outside threats and challenges to his belief systems.
How does a Mason combat negative external experiences?
Naturally, Masons cannot avoid conflict, pain, or outsiders discrediting their craft. In a practical sense, brothers are responsible for taking care of their bodies, senses, and minds. To achieve this, a brother must get enough sleep, exercise, and study, to ensure they nourish their souls.
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They also need to commit to the study of Freemasonry and accept the ancient lessons of the craft. By fully immersing himself in the fraternity’s rituals and ceremonies, a brother can develop a strong understanding of the Masonic teachings and becomes resilient to outside noise and threats to the Masonic tradition.
Within the varying degrees of Masonry, brothers learn about the strength to be found in brotherly love and charitable acts. Brotherly love is something that Masons show to one another on a daily basis and exists in varying forms.
It can be something as small as lending an ear to a brother when he is going through a difficult time, or perhaps checking on an elderly brother who has recently returned home from hospital following treatment.
Acts of brotherly love strengthen Masons’ bonds and contribute to the building of an interconnected network of like-minded individuals. Such acts indeed enhance the core of Freemasonry and mean that brothers are less likely to be influenced by negative external stimuli. This is vitally important for Masons to understand, as brotherly love’s value should not be overlooked.
As for charitable acts, they work in the same way. Charity is a huge part of Freemasonry and is one of the many positive ways in which Masons contribute to the world around them. Although not done entirely for this purpose, charitable acts go a long way to showing outsiders the true nature of Freemasonry.
When coupled with acts of brotherly love, charitable acts strengthen Masons’ character and produce a bond that enables them to continue their important journey throughout Masonry. Once again, like strong conduits, strong Masons can better resist outside criticism and continue on their journey towards enlightenment.
As has been shown here, a conduit is an essential element for channeling fluids. The stronger the conduit, the more successful it is at completing its job, and the more robust it is when it comes to staving off outside pressures that cause corrosion.
When we utilize a conduit as a metaphor, we learn that for Masons to channel the spirit of the Supreme Being and the craft of Freemasonry through their daily practice, they must also be strong and resilient.
By focusing on the teachings of the craft and channeling their energy efficiently, Masons can continue on their path towards enlightenment and preserve the ancient teachings of the craft for generations to come.