Masonic Symbol Meaning of the Level
“That which is altogether just shalt thou follow,
that thou mayest live, and inherit the land
which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
In Freemasonry, the level is the symbol of equality, not only among members of the Craft, but of all humanity. The fraternity teaches that mankind is the offspring of God, created in His image of one blood. As such, each person is born with certain inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who wrote this country’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution were not implementing man-made justice when incorporating such sentiments into our laws – they were enacting fundamental principles given us by the Most High.
Freemasonry’s love of equality does not mean that it also endorses the destruction of distinctions based upon merit, or that rank is somehow inconsistent with the Craft’s belief. Without question, all men are created equal by nature. Each is subject to the same infirmities associated with human existence. All are embraced b y God as His children and are ultimately destined to be judged equally and impartially according to His immutable laws. But some men, by training, discipline and the proper use of their God given talents rise above the ordinary and are entitled to enjoy a different status. Every man, woman and child has the opportunity to so advance, which makes this equality of opportunity not only consistent with divine and human laws, it is the very cement and support of civil society.
The level also serves as the emblem in the jewel worn by the Senior Warden of a Masonic lodge and reminds those in attendance at a Masonic meeting that all have gathered on the level. That phrase has also acquired significance in the day-to-day parlance in civil society. When one speaks about another as being on the level, he generally means that he believes the person about whom he is speaking to be truthful, honest and forthright.
Although Freemasonry did not invent those virtues, it inculcates them from the time a candidate for Masonic degrees first knocks at the door of a lodge until he is translated from this imperfect life to that celestial lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe forever presides. Albert Pike, as well as other Masonic writers, has gone so far as to say that Freemasonry is the first apostle of equality. During this Nation’s formative years, Thomas Paine wrote an essay complimenting the Craft for its unflinching commitment to a government without tyranny, or religious restriction. Yet, there is something more about the significance of the level – something that holds a more personal about the meaning of the level for each and every Mason.
Masonic lodges have a sweet smell about them. Brotherhood is in the air and the principle of equality finds a perfectly welcome spot at the altar of obligation and prayer. Those sanctuaries are no different than any other meeting place, as far as furnishings go. But, the people are different. In a Masonic lodge one man regards another person whom he has just met for the first time as a long-lost friend. The Masons who gather there were not born to be different from other men. Each has his own cross to bear; each has enough sin in his past to condemn him. Yet, there is something special about the purpose-driven lives noticeable in the people who comprise the congregation. Harmony is worked at; kindnesses are freely given; smiles are easily flashed; and, men care not whether you reside in high society, or mingle daily with the middle class that makes up your neighborhood.
Within those lodges men meet upon the level; the rich and the poor; the high and the low; who, as created by one Almighty parent and inhabitants of the same world are to aid, support and protect one another. Men of diverse creeds, different interests and disparate occupations share a mutual respect and true regard for each other. Freemasonry lifts those men to a higher level than they would have ever believed themselves capable of reaching. Once there, each Freemason more clearly sees and understands the true meaning of the word “equality.”
No two people are, or should be treated differently in a Masonic lodge. Impartiality and fairness are, or should be accepted as routine by all members. For that reason alone discrimination is unknown among the members of the Craft, sincerity and plain dealing distinguish them; and, with heart and tongue they join in promoting each other’s welfare and rejoicing in each other’s prosperity. No one is precluded from participating in the lodge’s activities and equal access is given to the hidden mysteries.
Yet, the virtues symbolized by the level are not intended to be limited to the Masonic lodge room. The concept of equality, or of treating others with equal respect, is to be put into action by every Mason outside of the lodge room. At work, when others jump on the bandwagon to crucify a fellow worker, the Mason among them may be expected to demand common courtesy, compassion and empathy. In social circles when the conversation turns to criticizing a friend who is not present, the Mason among them may be expected to encourage restraint. When anger, disharmony, or disrespect of any nature rears its ugly head, it will not be a surprise to those who know that by word and example the Mason in the crowd promotes peace, harmony and goodwill.
Thus, as with all other virtues taught in Freemasonry, the lessons in equality taught by the level, instilled and nurtured within a Masonic lodge, achieve the greatest good for all mankind when lived in the world by the Mason himself. It comes as no surprise to followers of the Craft that Freemasons expect of themselves that each will be the change they expect to see in the world. In so becoming, each Mason brings light into the world and yields himself to become God’s vessel for extending extraordinary grace to all creation.
Source by John R. Heisner