Livingstone here. Welcome to Masonology. The blog about Freemasonry and all things related to Masonic Self-Improvement, Masonic Thought, and the Freemason World.
In today’s topic, we discuss the Instructive Tongue, and how we can use it to better ourselves and the world around us.
The origins of the Instructive Tongue come from the 2nd degree ritual. It is part of a three point element comprising the Attentive Ear, Instructive Tongue, and Faithful Breast. There are the three precious jewels of Masonry. While I could write a mile long blog about all three, let’s just focus on the Instructive Tongue. It will be more manageable and it will cement in your mind in a more perfect way.
First, the definition. (Humor me here, as a Mason I have to dissect the basics before I build upwards. It’s a Freemason habit)
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste (gustation), as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. In humans a secondary function of the tongue is phonetic articulation. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning one’s teeth. The ability to perceive different tastes is not localised in different parts of the tongue, as is widely believed. This error arose because of misinterpretation of some 19th-century research (see tongue map).
And another part of tongue.
A common temporary failure in word retrieval from memory is referred to as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. The expression tongue in cheek refers to a statement that is not to be taken entirely seriously – something said or done with subtle ironic or sarcastic humour. A tongue twister is a phrase made specifically to be very difficult to pronounce. Aside from being a medical condition, “tongue-tied” means being unable to say what you want to due to confusion or restriction. The phrase “cat got your tongue” refers to when a person is speechless. To “bite one’s tongue” is a phrase which describes holding back an opinion to avoid causing offence. A “slip of the tongue” refers to an unintentional utterance, such as a Freudian slip. Speaking in tonguesis a common phrase used to describe glossolalia, which is to make smooth, language-resembling sounds that is no true spoken language itself. A deceptive person is said to have a forked tongue, and a smooth-talking person said to have a silver tongue.
Yes, I’m well aware I have a hard on for Wikipedia and I know the emails lambasting me for it will be on the way. But it’s a terrific introduction tool to any subject.
And once more thing I want to add that is close to this.
You’ll find the definition for instruct is a bit different then instructive for it’s meaning and actionable nature. But I think it is very much tied into the word instructive and something you should consider.
Now when you first hear the term instructive tongue, it sounds a bit Shakespearean. A lot of things in masonry have that old English romantic element to it and this being no different. Right away when you hear about it, you can surmise the obvious. That you are being told about how precious it is to speak in an instructive way. Now Masonry doesn’t have superfluous elements to its nature, so lets dig into the origins a bit and then we’ll expand into how it can be useful to you.
Like most things Masonic, the origins are clouded in mystery. What we do know is that is is considered one of the three precious jewels of Masonry, along with the ear and breast mentioned above. The use of the term jewel is an interesting one. Masonry will represent things in many different ways. The thing we usually recognize the most is using tools to represent ideas or ways to structure your life. It will also use light to represent things. So to have a “jewel” be the representation of these three principles is interesting.
My interpretation of this is that jewels have great intrinsic value. IN most societies jewels have a great value and are highly coveted. They are also something that people wear to add beauty to themselves. They can also be used as a source of class, as people in wealth are more likely to have jewels then others because of their price. Also jewels have a monitory value and can be sold for materials that you may need.
I consider the first three to be more connected to considering the Instructive Tongue a jewel then the last line I mentioned. By calling the (IT) a jewel, it sends the message that this element is extremely valuable. While we can consider the tools and light valuable, the direct relation to value is far more tightly intertwined with a jewel then anything else. Also, there isn’t any explanation for that the Instructive Tongue means while things connected to light and tools in the lodge have moral explanations as part of the ritual.
We could also consider the (IT) to be highly coveted. People who speak in an instructive way are passing on knowledge, and knowledge is invaluable. People are also more inclined to respond in positive ways to those who seek to improve them with knowledge. More on that later.
Jewels are also a form of class. Those who teach and build with words are in a class of their own and people in society can see that they are a cut apart. Those who bring knowledge are valued in all groups.
Speaking instructively is an element that has a dramatic and real impact on people. As Pick-Up Artist Vin DiCarlo said “The dominant trait in the alpha male is the goal of having an undying focus to draw out the best in the people around you.” “This will cause a feedback loop where you are not only becoming dominant within, but the people around you will see and support your transformation too”
It’s as plain as day. Think to all those social situations you have been in. The person who is usually teaching people is almost always seen as the superior. Their knowledge, in a fundamental human way, makes people look to them for guidance. It’s natural. It;s hard wired into us. Those with knowledge that is of value to us are important to us because they will help us live. It’s evolutionary psychology. While there are detractors to that idea, there is a logic to it as well. In the harsh early environment of human history, those that knew where the food, water, shelter, and safe environments were the ones who survived. And the others who survived were those who was instructed how to do so. People are hardwired to follow and align with those that teach and give knowledge. It’s part of our coding.
So lets return to “Instructive” and “Instruct” connection that I mentioned earlier.
The words look the same but they are also remarkably different. Instructive is more of a Masonic term. You are giving things to something that is USEFUL and INFORMATIVE. Both words and their meaning are part of the Masonic foundation. Useful harkens back to our tool utilizing ways. We are taught our tools can be used to help change our minds and the world around us. We USE things in an actionable and constructive way. Informative is our Masonic journey from being in a state of darkness to being informed about that for which we did not know. That is our entire degree structure. Instructive is in our DNA.
But I argue instruct is too. It is the harder version of instructive and the word itself, being a verb, is actionable.
Those who command people, as someone who instruct would, tend to be leaders in whatever they do. Now the big question is the chicken and the egg. Does the leader make the commands or do the commands make the leader. I would argue both are right and it depends on the situation. In the military, commanding your superior officer will, how should I put this, not go well. At all. They being the leader get to command you. Yet if you are with a group of friends, when you instruct them you become the leader. It’s just a logical reality. In the presence of a power structure that is not clear cut, the one who instructs will eventually become a leader in some form.
Now the other part of instruct. Teaching some a subject or skill. I am someone who believes in my heart of God’s existence and how he created the world. God gave us existence and life. So to give someone knowledge of a subject or skill, is a deep honor that I hold with reverence. And I hold those that do the same to others in my highest regard. Masonry’s duality is that it is secretive about its science and rituals, yet Masons are quick to impart what they have learned during that time. We wish to raise the world in the presence of God and in a way that would fit God’s vision for us.
And the last part of this entry. Think of this in a moral way. I have given you the pragmatic and self benefiting way first. I am well aware that in many of us lies an element that ISN’T God oriented and is instead oriented to ourselves. But now it is reality time.
When you use the instructive tongue, it should not be about benefitting yourself. Because if that is what it is in your heart, God will know and everyone else will feel it from you. You must be speaking God’s words that you have learned in your VSL and be speaking with God in your heart. We have a moral imperative to read our Bible or book of Sacred Law and then impart those subjects we have learned to the world around us. We give people the psychological tools to grow themselves so they too may someday look to instruct those around them. This is the essence of Masonry. Our ways make our minds better and make the minds of those around us better. For we must build up the world. For that is our essence. And we cannot do it alone. God gave us the blueprint for how to exist in this world and how to make it better. We must instruct those around us, so they may join in creating that great design.