I hope none of you looks here for answers, because you will only find questions and opinions.
At the stated December communication, we had some enthusiastic (spirited) discussion about what changes are needed to revitalize freemasonry. It is my opinion that the current need for change was precipitated by previous changes. Freemasonry was once a thriving institution.
During this discussion, a distinction was made between quality and quantity. It was suggested that our fraternity should strive for quality over quantity, but that we need numbers to finance and support the brothers who endeavor to achieve quality.
This of course begs the question of what constitutes quality. Rather than supplying an answer I give you a Sufi teaching story, and leave the interpretation to you.
A dervish who belonged to a conventional sort of community was walking along a river and meditating on moralistic and scholastic problems; such problems formed the core teaching of his group. As he walked he was suddenly startled to hear an outcry coming from the island in the water. Someone was intoning the dervish call, YA HU but doing it all wrong; the man over there was saying U YA HU. Our dervish decided that the ignoramus on the island needed instruction. He hired a rowboat and got over there. He found a man dressed in a dervish robe, stopped by him, and carefully instructed the unfortunate.
Our man then left the island again, satisfied; he’d done a good deed. Rowing back he reflected on this sacred formula. It was said that anyone who could repeat it properly could even learn to walk on water, something our man had always hoped to do—but had always failed to achieve. Now he listened, but no sounds came. He had reached the middle of the water when he heard a halting start coming from over there, the ignorant dervish starting out with U YA again. Our man shook his head. Perverse humanity, persistent in error. Then he suddenly beheld a strange sight. The dervish from over there was walking on water, coming out toward the boat. Our man stopped rowing in astonishment. The dervish arrived. “Sorry to trouble you,” he said, standing on the river. “My memory is weak. I’ve already forgotten how to say it right. Could you help me again…?”
“The Man Who Walked on Water,” found in Idries Shah’s volume titled Tales of the Dervishes. The story, on page 84.
May you all have joyous holidays, no matter what faith you follow, and may the GAOTU smile upon you and all the earth.
Gary H. Bradley, WM