The Contemplative Lodge: A Manual for Masons Doing Inner Work Together

“The Contemplative Lodge: A Manual for Masons Doing Inner Work Together” 
by C. R. Dunning Jr. (Author), Erik Arneson (Editor), Robert G. Davis (Foreword)
(Amazon Link Here)

Publisher’s Synopsis:

The Contemplative Lodge continues the work of C.R. “Chuck” Dunning, Jr. in providing thoughtful, practical, and accessible guidance for everyone interested in the utilization of contemplative practices, such as meditation, breath work, chanting, and visualization, within a Masonic setting and context. This book specifically addresses the needs of Masons seeking to facilitate or participate in group practices, learning, and support. Brother Dunning hands readers the working tools required to develop themselves as skilled contemplative practitioners, facilitators, teachers, and mentors. He provides many detailed scripts, exercises, and instructions that may be used by Masons in their Lodges or within private group settings. His three decades of experience provide wise and vital insight into the establishment and preservation of the right environment, the benefits and challenges unique to group work, and the most effective methods and approaches to ensure that participants get the most out of group contemplative practice.

Pre-Release Reviews:

“Brother Dunning’s The Contemplative Lodge picks up where his Contemplative Masonry left off, offering guided exercises to engage members in a meaningful lodge experience. His ideas focus on the inner, symbolic, and speculative aspects of the Craft, encouraging members to seek balance and develop an active, meaningful relationship between themselves and ‘the work’. This book provides techniques which transform the theoretical into the practical, showing how speculative and philosophical notions are actualized. Brother Dunning asks us to examine ourselves and our intentions, demonstrating that ritual and reflection (when properly understood and applied) address the needs of the individual, thus contributing to a better society.” – Arturo de Hoyos, 33°, Grand Cross, KYCH, Grand Archivist and Grand Historian, Supreme Council, 33°, S.J.

The Contemplative Lodge is an essential read for every member of the Craft. Brother Dunning shows how contemplation lies at the heart of Freemasonry, providing clear, simple-to-follow instructions for Lodges that want to introduce contemplative discussion, group meditation, silent sitting, guided imagery meditation, and more. This book offers essential guidance to every Lodge seeking to encourage the exploration of its processes, symbolism, meaning, and implications for the life of the initiate. Strikingly, rather than adopting these practices from other systems, Brother Dunning looks within Freemasonry itself to find them.” – Angel Millar, author of Freemasonry: Foundation of The Western Esoteric Tradition

“If your desired Lodge experience is limited to a hot meal, a reading of the minutes, and paying bills, then this is not the book for you. The Contemplative Lodge offers the reader a blueprint for a more spiritual, a more meditative, and a more Masonic Lodge. This is a book for those with a hunger to experience the deeper and more meaningful aspects of Freemasonry. In a nutshell, if you care about Freemasonry, buy this book and put it to use. You, and your lodge, will greatly benefit.” – Michael R. Poll, author of Measured Expectations, A Masonic Evolution, and A Lodge at Labor

From the Foreword, by Robert. G. Davis, 33* Grand Cross:

In this substantive continuation and expansion of the applications of mindfulness and meditation presented in his first book, Contemplative Masonry, Dunning builds on the group dynamics of contemplative practices. Based upon his experience in applying meditative techniques across several disciplines, he offers the perspective that there are many benefits of communal contemplative practice that can enhance our work as Freemasons. He shows how to engage the lodge in contemplative dialogue, using the language of our rituals to compel interest and interaction among members. He gives the advocate an array of approaches that can encourage members to welcome and value contemplative practices, even when they may not consider themselves to be esoteric Masons. He teaches us the qualities of contemplative leadership and how they can be applied. Thus, we may learn to build our personal temples together in shared effort and mutual support.

In the Author’s Own Words, from the Preface:

The value of working in groups is something I deeply appreciate, having more than three decades of experience with observing, facilitating, and teaching group dynamics in various settings. In that time, I have had, and continue to have, the great pleasure of talking with many groups of Masons about the inner work of our Craft, and engaging with some of them in contemplative practices during fraternal meetings. In doing so, I repeatedly witness how Masons doing inner work together facilitates moments of extraordinary insight, affirmation, and inspiration about actually living Masonry both within and outside of our fraternal settings. The stronger sense of belonging and companionship shared in those groups also helps motivate individual members to be more diligent in their own personal practices, which in turn enables them to bring more to the group and their fellow members. When I assist Masonic groups beginning to explore these possibilities, participants often remark upon discovering the power and joy of their shared contemplative experiences, and they express a desire for more information about how to create them. This manual is a response to that repeated request.

Key Contents:

Chapter 1: The Communal Dimension of Contemplation in the Craft

Relevance to Masonry – Challenges and Benefits

Chapter 2: Ways of Working Together

Contemplative Discourse – Group Meditation – Contemplative Ritual

Chapter 3: Contemplative Leadership

Designs on the Trestleboard – Ethical Pillars – Basic Qualifications – Specialization


Facilitator Skills Development – Contemplative Discourse Scripts
Group Meditation Scripts – Pre- & Post-Ritual Scripts

Product details:

  • Publisher: Stone Guild Publishing (July 23, 2021)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1605320765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605320762
  • Item Weight: 14.7 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.71 x 9 inches

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About the Author
Chuck Dunning has over three decades of experience as a practitioner, advocate, consultant, and facilitator of contemplation. In his career in higher education and mental health, in Masonry, and with other groups and individuals, he facilitates and teaches mindfulness, meditation, and imagery to enhance peoples’ experiences of life in many ways.

Contemplative Masonry: Basic Applications of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Imagery for the Craft, was Chuck’s first book, published in 2016. In 2018, the readers of Fraternal Review, the magazine of the Southern California Research Lodge, recognized him as among the top 10 authors in Masonic esotericism. In 2019, he received the Thomas W. Jackson Masonic Education Award at the College of Freemasonry in Rochester, New York. He is also a contributing author in The Art & Science of Initiation, published by Lewis Masonic in 2019.

Chuck has been a Master Mason since 1988, and he is a Full Member of the Texas Lodge of Research. In the Scottish Rite, Chuck is a 32 Knight Commander of the Court of Honor, a past Director of Education for the Guthrie Valley in Oklahoma, and a Class Director for the Fort Worth Valley in Texas. In 2012 he became the founding Superintendent of the Academy of Reflection, a chartered organization for Scottish Rite Masons wanting to integrate contemplative practice with their Masonic experience. He is also a co-founder and trainer for the Masonic Legacy Society.

To learn more about Chuck’s work in contemplative practice, visit his website at For interviews and inquiries about him providing services as a contemplative advocate, consultant, or facilitator, please send email to