I am frequently asked, “What is Freemasonry?” It is an organization that is often shrouded in mystery and misunderstood by not only the uninitiated, but also its own members. So when Brother Owen Shieh asked me to review Journey on the Level, I was excited to see another Mason’s point of view about the Craft. Since meeting Brother Shieh, I have found him to be a serious lover of Masonry, thoughtful about its ideals and principles, and hungry to discover its endless layers of complexity. I am very honored to have been asked to write this foreword.

Journey on the Level offers a fresh perspective on the philosophical aspects of the three degrees as seen through the eyes of a young man in his search for the meaning of Freemasonry. Brother Shieh takes the reader from the darkness of ignorance, in which we all find ourselves at some point in our lives, to the light of understanding. He challenges us to look at the various hurdles that life throws our way and to apply the principles of Freemasonry to overcome them.

Written in the tone of a friendly dialogue, the author invites the reader to join him on an adventure. He leads a sojourn through the depths of symbolism that form the core of Masonic philosophy. During the journey, the reader is encouraged to question, to observe, and to contemplate. Rather than professing the universality of a single perspective, this book inspires the reader to develop original thoughts and ideas beyond the words contained.

Journey on the Level is easy to understand and is laced with poignant quotes from great thinkers throughout history. These are supplemented with wonderful, personal anecdotes from the author’s own experiences. Particularly notable is his section about “the train,” an especially thought-provoking analysis of the value of recognizing one’s emotions and their effects. Many of the ideas in the book could serve as excellent topics to inspire discussion in Masonic education segments either during or after lodge meetings. Through the frequent use of analogies that connect symbols to the everyday world, the author guides and encourages the reader to apply Masonic wisdom to the improvement of daily life outside of the lodge.

Journey on the Level successfully melds four major approaches to Masonic philosophy. It combines the intellectual philosophies of Preston’s system of knowledge and Krause’s system of morals with those of Oliver’s system of traditions and Pike’s system of symbolism – all done in a way the common man can understand. For longtime members of Freemasonry, this book will inspire creative ways of approaching and interpreting familiar, Masonic symbols. For those who have been newly introduced to the fraternity, this will serve as a solid foundation to start your own lifelong adventure. For our friends and families who have wondered with curiosity about the essence of the Craft, this book will be enjoyable and enlightening. For all, this work concisely captures the spirit of the practical science and noble art of Freemasonry.

I highly recommend Journey on the Level to anyone who seeks to understand Freemasonry and its effects on the individuals who choose to walk its paths. This is a book that is sure to be a great addition to any Masonic library. May your own journey be filled with wonder and excitement.