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Provincial Grand Lodge Northern Division

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When asked the question “what does Freemasonry do?”, most Freemasons happily answer, “we make good men better”.

In fact, we give this answer so often that it rolls off the tongue and somehow makes us feel like we are all the better for having said it. It is a symbol of our good intentions, of the purpose of making a good man better
Being that that is the case, how do we then measure a good man and what tools do we give him to enable him to make himself a better man? Freemasonry uses the symbols originating from the times of the stonemasons to deliver moral, spiritual and intellectual “lessons” through a system of self-knowledge so that good men can improve themselves.

Anyone who has completed any kind of self-evaluation will acknowledge that there are two challenges related to acquiring self-knowledge.

The first challenge is the question of relevance and measure. What do we need to know about ourselves and how do we measure if this is good or bad? What attributes should we be considering and what scale should we be measuring them against? The second challenge is that of bias. We all have a natural bias when we measure ourselves, some see themselves in a positive light and will generally find it easier to recognise their strengths than it is to find their weaknesses. Yet others are overly critical of themselves and tend to focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. This bias will tend to distract ones focus from the real issues that require attention and may cause one to neglect that which requires attention.

So how does Freemasonry overcome these challenges?

In the Grand Lodge of South Africa we provide a “tool“ that enables us to identify which attributes and elements to measure and which also provides a scale against which they can be measured. Secondly we facilitate a process of deep reflection and consideration during this gaining of self-knowledge by coaching the candidate. . A process stimulated by the symbolism and allegory found in our ritual.

This tool and process is the Masonic Self-Development program.

The Masonic Self-Development program uses a wheel of life against which each Brother is able to measure his own life and rate himself in terms of the spiritual and practical life elements important to him.

The wheel of life used is as follows:

Masonic Self-Development program

While some of the above quadrants will vary from man to man in terms of relative importance, the measure of self-knowledge is our ability as individuals to rate our personal attributes and performance in terms of each specific quadrant, not manipulate the quadrants so that they suit our particular agenda.

So for the older man, work may not be an important issue in that he is approaching retirement, but how diligently he performs that work and how he treats others while doing so must surely remain important even for him?

This subjectivity element is intriguing, is it possible to develop a standard measure for all men? A tool by which we can all measure ourselves and which gives context to the concept of knowing yourself?

At the Grand Lodge of South Africa, we believe it is and the Masonic Self Development Program is designed to assist good men to balance their wheel of life in the context of becoming a better man.

Become a Grand Lodge of South Africa Freemason and learn how to balance your wheel of Life!

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