Well, you might be surprised to learn that my answer to this question is “no.”
I think what we get out of Masonry depends so much on how we feel in our heart about being a Master Mason. We all know that some men are Master Masons in name only. Remember—we are admonished by the Worshipful Master well after we have taken all the obligations of Craft Masonry that we are not yet Master Masons; and we may never become Master Masons. We are told of a journey we must first make, and are informed the path will be arduous at best. We are warned that if we do make it, we will make it only as a matter of faith and will.
It turns out this journey is no less than our own life journey. And, for every one of us, that journey is still a work in progress. In a very real sense, we are all Master Masons at times; while, at other times, our actions fall short of the ideals we are taught in Masonry.
In evaluating how we are doing, here are some important questions: Have we done anything different with our life since we were initiated as Entered Apprentices? Do we know we are better men today than before? Have we become transformed by our experience of becoming a Mason? Are we more caring, less selfish, more thoughtful, less judgmental, more sharing, less rigid, more willing to learn and grow and help others who are on the same journey with us?
There are many ways of testing whether or not we have done anything different with our lives since we became brothers of the Mystic Tie together. It’s really a matter of becoming aware that we are actively and consciously working toward our own personal growth and development. It is this awareness which makes Masonry the most important work we will ever do--because, in large measure, our happiness is based on ourselves.
This brings me back to my earlier response. Here’s the question I usually ask when a brother inquires about becoming a 32° Mason. Are you ready to make the journey into yourself to discover who you are and learn what it means to live a life of meaning; so that you will not only become a better man, but will also have made so lasting an impression on your family and fellowmen that they, in turn, will want to live like you?
You see, this is the kind of faith and will which ultimately makes us Master Masons. To be a good man is not the only qualification to be accepted. An appropriate intellectual and spiritual level of personal development is also to be considered.
If we are men of such hope and conviction; if we have a deep yearning to discover our inner nature and strive to make the best of our own life’s journey--to live a life that makes a positive difference to ourselves and others--then we are Master Masons; and the right kind of men to be Masters of the Royal Secret.
For such men, the "book of the world" lies open before them. The reward is in the journey.