Outside of Lodge St. John, however, a virtual Masonic explosion had been taking place in Thailand since 1993, and this – very interestingly and somewhat surprisingly – at a time when so much of Freemasonry Universal had been retrenching. From one Lodge for 82 years Thailand now has 13 regular Lodges under six different Constitutions. Proof of the commitment of the Brethren of Lodge St. John over the past two decades to the whole concept of Freemasonry Universal is that Brethren of the Lodge have assisted the Consecration of all these other Lodges in sometimes lesser but frequently greater roles.
That, then, is a brief History of Lodge St. John and its pivotal role in the expansion of Freemasonry in Thailand. So what then of the future of Freemasonry? The first problem is the lack of Thai Brethren in the Lodge. Secondly the lack of secure medium to long term employment tenure for young Masons who are expatriates working in Thailand is something which I do not think will change for many years, and which is a matter for concern. But there is a growing number of young men, mostly in the professions, who have decided to make Thailand the permanent place of residence for them and their families and, hopefully, they will, in time, give the Lodges increased stability of membership. New problems may emerge which could have adverse effects on Freemasonry, such as the recent violence and political upheaval, and these will have to be faced as they come. Overall, however, I am confident in the future of the Craft in my adopted country, indeed very confident.
My confidence comes from the “sea change” that I have witnessed taking place in Freemasonry Universal in the past fifteen years. In the commemorative booklet published at the time of the Consecration of Lodge St. John’s Masonic Hall in 2004, Brother David Sims PM wrote, “Thirty years on have seen so many more Brethren die, and it is “Eccles”, as we fondly refer to it, that tends to come to mind. And I can’t help feeling that we might perhaps have taken “Eccles” a little more seriously. … Several of the Brethren died slowly of cancer but I can’t remember talking to anyone about going through what we call the Veil. Just like outside the Lodge, it was almost a taboo subject – and yet Freemasons should be comfortable with the deeper aspects of life, and death.”
“In the Master Mason Degree, the very pinnacle of Freemasonry, we have a clear focus on the Search of the Genuine Secrets of a Master Mason as both the opening and closing of the Degree make very clear, and yet we don’t seem to really believe what the Craft is talking about”.
Bro. Sims was exactly right, but the good news is that all is now changing – due to dedicated Brethren like David – and young Masons are highly enthusiastic for esoteric knowledge that can help them understand the great questions of life and of death. So enthusiastic they are, that it is a joy and an education – and an exhaustion – to keep up with them. This “sea change”, urged on Freemasonry by the then Pro Grand Master of England, Lord Northampton, just a few years ago in a keynote address to the Cornerstone Society, is happening in Thailand at an inspiring and totally invigorating speed, and it is this questioning into the esotericism of the Craft and the origins of that esotericism by young Masons that will ensure the growth of Freemasonry in Thailand in the coming decades.