The allegory of Freemasonry tells a final story of Grand Master Hiram Abiff and his encounter with 3 Ruffians, who are workmen in the Temple, but not as enlightened as Grand Master Hiram. A number of Masonic authors have explored this legend over the past 3 centuries, and one great exploration can be found in “The Lost Keys of Freemasonry”.
In this volume, Manly P Hall expounds that the 3 ruffians represent man without pure thought, without pure speech, and without pure action. I found this interesting and striking, when compared to the points of the Dharma.
The Buddhist Dharma relates 8 points to enlightenment: Right Speech, Right Thought, Right Action, Right Intention, Right Concentration, RIght Mindfulness, Right View, and Right Livelihood.
Taken together, we learn of 3 Ruffians – Speech, Thought, and Action, which manifested to slay our Grand Master Hiram Abiff. What we don’t discuss are the other 5 points of the Dharma, and their omission directly contributes to the tragedy that befell Hiram.
Intention is the practice of action through intent – resolve or determination to do something. Without intention, while the ruffians were ultimately responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions, they lament the result. Hiram, on the other hand, demonstrated intent; through his thoughts as he created the plans for the workmen, through his words as he guided the Craft in the daily tasks of creating the amazing edifice of King Solomon’s Temple, and through his actions as he drew the designs upon the trestleboard.
Concentration is the focus on a given task. Concentration builds on intent, but can also stand alone. The mental process of concentration caused the Fellowcrafts to recant and report the crime. Hiram’s concentration caused the vessels of the Temple to be cast, the Craft to pursue their labors, and the entire massive project to reach completion.
Mindfulness builds further on intention and concentration. Personal awareness through mindfulness drives self-actualization. Hiram was certainly mindful; the ruffians envied his composure, poise, and abilities.
View, from the dharmic perspective, refers to looking at an angle larger than your own. It results from mindfulness and awareness, and was one of Hiram’s strongest abilities – he could understand not just his own labors, but those of all the associated workmen in and about the temple.
Livelihood, the final point of enlightenment requires all others to be in place. The right view, brought on by mindfulness, is a result of concentration and intention. True intent – that resolve or determination requires right thoughts, speech, and actions.
As a Mason, consider the obligations you have taken. Each focuses on speech, thought, and action. I believe the Masonic framework presupposes our membership possess intention, and have or can learn concentration, mindfulness, and view. By holding to our obligations, and integrating each of these elements into our lives, we reach livelihood – which is, in a lot of ways, the entire purpose of our Craft.