For years, many non-masons (and masons alike) have learned to use one or both of the images above as a means to describe masonic advancement per the various degrees that exist within freemasonry. As one may have noticed, there are a lot of organizations and degrees within the masonic body. Some have been described as adoptive, appendant, concordant etc.
In general, these structures somehow give a false impression which a lot of masons have carried on for years. An example of a false perception is this: being a 32 mason is higher than being a 3 mason. That is completely laughable, but it is a common misinformation spread not only among the profanes, but also masons alike.
These images have done a huge disservice in regards to properly educating all about the true structure of freemasonry, which is no secret. Perhaps it was just laziness that prevented anyone from making an accurate graphic depicting the structure of just the concordant bodies (appendants, allied etc are a different story since some are about to do away with masonic requirements anyway). Some have improperly categorized all those degrees and bodies that are above the third degree within the graphic as "higher degrees". Henry Wilson Coil in his Masonic Encyclopedia supports my conclusion when he said "Some oppose the term high degrees, because they dislike the implication that the Master's degree is not the highest, but the name is simple and convenient and its long usage would seem to preclude any possibility of avoiding it"
Laziness for short. I know people who walk around answering to titles longer than the first and last names of all their family put together.
In response to this problem of a masonic structure graphic, for a long time I have described it as some form of T-shape structure were regardless of where you are on either the scottish rite or the york rite or both: you are never higher than that of the master mason. Of course, I'm sure my brothers in the York Rite would disagree for reasons only known to master masons, but I'll say this: get suspended from your local lodge and see how your masonic portfolio comes crashing down...all the so-called "higher degrees" and all.
Anyway, I finally decided to put the graphic from my brain into a simple digital format all can see and review.
As you can see, there is no degree higher than that of a master mason according to it. What I have done also, according to my T-theory, is to extend the branch for both concordant rites. The more you advance on each side, the more detailed you are and the more knowledge you get a hold of. But in everything, we all meet on the same level. Sometimes that lesson flies above the heads of some of us.
What do you think?