Livingstone here. While this blog covers all the Masonic topics in the world, the core of it is Self-Improvement. Few know, but this is the ENTIRE foundation on which Masonry rests and without giving anything away, it is one of the first subjects a Mason is ever taught.
Masonry has a long and secretive history, and the secrecy has lead many to speculate how this entire superstructure came together. But a less written about topic is how Masonry improves one’s self. The most important is violating the obligation/oath. As a Mason, I would never break my word to my lodge and brothers and I would expect nothing less from them. Yet ironically countless books have been written about Masonry and the subjects we learn in the lecture. But again, those subjects are colored by the dedication to the obligation/oath.
But this is one subject that manifests itself out of Masonic practice and less so the teachings. And that is the process of looking someone in the eye and shaking their handwhen you greet them. Or today’s lack of it. Today, the name of the game is networking. Someone meets you and barely shakes your hand and is almost looking past you as they meet you and are ready to talk to someone else. People don’t have a purpose unless they have a price. It’s disgusting and against all Masonic practice. It’s actually in many ways against our DNA.
Take a glance at the below articles.
Some choice quotes:
But just because making eye contact doesn’t come naturally to us men, doesn’t mean you should just shrug your shoulders and accept this predisposition. The ability to make high-level eye contact is a skill every man should work on, as it has been shown to create some incredible benefits for the gazer. Numerous studies have shown that people who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being:
- More dominant and powerful
- More warm and personable
- More attractive and likeable
- More qualified, skilled, competent, and valuable
- More trustworthy, honest, and sincere
- More confident and emotionally stable
And not only does increased eye contact make you seem more appealing in pretty much every way to those you interact with, it also improves the quality of that interaction. Eye contact imparts a sense of intimacy to your exchanges, and leaves the receiver of your gaze feeling more positive about your interaction and connected to you.
The evidence that such messages can lead to clear, almost immediate changes in how people think and behave is accumulating fast. Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not, studies have found. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched. Research by Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute in Miami has found that a massage from a loved one can not only ease pain but also soothe depression and strengthen a relationship.
In a series of experiments led by Matthew Hertenstein, a psychologist at DePauw University in Indiana, volunteers tried to communicate a list of emotions by touching a blindfolded stranger. The participants were able to communicate eight distinct emotions, from gratitude to disgust to love, some with about 70 percent accuracy.
To say Masonry addresses this in a very subtle but amplified way is an understatement. The hand to hand interaction of one brother to another is coded into our system and done in such a way where you are actively triggering all the positive effects mentioned in these two articles.
So lets focus on what is a good handshake and what isn’t.
A choice quote:
If your grip is weak, it smacks of feebleness not only in body but in spirit. It says to the receiver, “I am not to be trusted.” In days of yore, a rubbery handshake may have resulted in your shakee thinking that you were fixing to stab him with your left hand while his weapon hand was occupied, which may have led to you receiving a quick, quiet dagger between the ribs.
Squeeze the hand firmly and pump it up and down a few times. Shake from the elbow, not from the shoulder. Don’t shake with your whole arm and subject my arm to agonizing sine waves. Don’t crush my hand in an insane macho death-grip. I don’t give a shit if you’re stronger than me. We can figure that out later, when we’re friends. Don’t intimidate me now and make me hate you.
The general word among non-Masons is that we have a secret handshake. I can safely say there is hand to hand work that occurs in Masonry as a form of recognition among the brothers. And shaking hands with others who you are on the level with also becomes a part of you habitual interaction that subtly hones your general social skills. So this Masonic form of recognition is in many ways a powerfully important and defining exercise this is extremely subtle in nature. We are learning how to use our hands to convey a wide variety of emotion, social status and even character just within a quick 3 second hand to hand grip.
So I have focused on the hands for a moment and I’ve stepped away from the eye to eye. Masonry in it’s recognition system shows how important good eye contact is with the person you are investigating. However the way it is done is supremely subtle and would only be recognized by someone who is breaking it down such as I am. And the core element of recognizing if someone else is a Mason or not is observing them when you first meet them. And the core of this is looking them in the eyes. And just looking them up in down in general. Now looking people in the eyes is a dying art. There are people out there who get uncomfortable looking someone in the eyes. Masons though are in an excellent environment for this process. Not only do we have a ritual that has a way of showing the importance of this, but when you are among brothers and equals, the fear vanishes. And like an NBA player who practices his 3-point shot in the evenings, you are in constant practice on looking someone else in the eye.
Count out 10 seconds right now. That is a greeting and it only takes 10 seconds. You establish a solid handshake, good eye contact to let them know you value them and their presence and then a quick greeting of hello and a smile to show you’re glad to meet them. And trust me, Masons are glad to meet people. You start to like people again when you spend time in a lodge. It remains you that behind everyone’s protective barriers, are good, honest, and interesting people with value to their lives just on their character. Now after those 10 seconds, we can be pragmatic and say you can spend a minute or two catching up. We all know how parties are. Dozens of people to say hi to, never enough time. If you are warm and honest with your interaction the person you’re talking to will/should understand.
So my readers, remember how important it is in those first 10 seconds when you greet someone. You can tell an entire story in your eyes and hands.