Clausen’s commentaries on “Morals and Dogma”
Illustrations for the Commentaries were conceived and designed by Brother Robert E. Bartlett, 33º.
There is need for a more modern discussion of the actions and thoughts of Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma and for a concise interpretation of its significance.
The monumental work was published in 1871, over 100 years ago. It was an inspired and classical compilation of Pike’s own research and the writings of others, but that now should be related to our language and style and setting in time. The changes since 1871 have been prodigious. Heraclitus was ever so correct when he wrote some 500 years before Christ that nothing is permanent except change.
Mankind has progressed or retrogressed to our current and critical problems. These involve the things with which the Scottish Rite deals-human behavior. For example, how can we contain our population explosion, end the threats of war and nuclear holocausts, forefend against world famine, control the misery of physical disease and mental sickness, stop pollution of our bodies and environment, improve the lot of our poor in home and purse?
There is also the problem of whether civilization, even with knowledge, will act to save itself. Walter Lipmann wrote perceptively that not only is “the supreme question before mankind how our culture can save itself from catastrophe but also that we must do more than find the answers.” We must discover also how men can “make themselves willing to save themselves.”
Truly, ways must be found to motivate men to be not only able, but willing. We must activate the knowledge. Even if there are at hand the physical, biological and behavioral technologies adequate for the purpose, people still must be persuaded to use them. In other words, how do we induce members of our culture to work for survival?
Physical and biological technology has not supplied the answers. The problems with which we are now confronted so demonstrate. Religions have moved from threats of hellfire to an emphasis on God’s love. Governments have turned away from compulsions to inducements. Where, then, shall we look?
The answer to this question will be found, I think, in the remarkable discovery of William James, father of modern American psychological science. He was at one time professor of anatomy, psychology and philosophy at Harvard University- combining body, mind and soul-one of this country’s most profound thinkers. He gave us a great guide in these words: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that we have learned we can alter our lives by altering our attitudes of mind.”
The answer, therefore, is not more miracles of science and technology but an inspired application of Masonic teachings that will alter our lives for the better. This is the world-of-tomorrow potential breakthrough. We must return to a faith in man himself-to the concept that he has within himself the requisite corrective capacities.
Russell Conwell (1843-1925), founder of Temple University, gave the most popular lecture ever delivered in the United States, “Acres of Diamonds,” over 5,000 times. It produced over $6 million for charitable purposes. The simple lesson overflows with human interest and inspires people to practice the principle of self-reliance. It tells how our weary search through the highways and byways of the world for fame and fortune brings us back finally to a surprising discovery in our own backyards.
How, then, can Masonry release man’s inner capacities? This volume attempts to give a glimpse of where the answers can be found. It is designed as a valuable teaching tool that will heighten perception and awareness toward living in Socrates’ famous phrase, “the examined life.” Morals and Dogma, combined with our rituals, provides Initiates, members and students with spiritual lessons of tremendous value, philosophies of the ages and down-to-earth basic truths that can enrich and activate human behavior.
Therefore, I have summarized into short, capsule forms the successive chapters of Morals and Dogma and then I have authored my own commentary thereon. These summaries and commentaries are designed to increase the participation and input of our members-not to supplant Morals and Dogma-but to stimulate its research as a source of knowledge and inspiration. They are intended as a supplementary aid in a completely new approach and, like concept teaching, present in numerical sequence the basics of each degree structured for self-study, group discussion and lectures. Participants may relate the information to their own personalized experiences. The commentary program thereby lends itself to persons and groups of all ages and backgrounds. It is not intended as a substitute for the degrees nor as a revelation of cabalistic or esoteric hints and allusions, but it does make more explicit the fundamentals. Only serious study and participation in a portrayal of our degrees can reveal how we reshape human behavior.
Moreover, in the classic phrase, Masonry cannot teach; it can only help us learn. This is done in the course of several developmental stages. But if the Initiates become locked or lost in the progress, Masonry can help them break loose and start forward again on the correct path. The earnest and perceptive Scottish Rite seeker of truth can learn from our degrees, for example, the futility of dependence either upon persons or things, or upon approval or disapproval. Independence leads to self-reliance. The truly self-reliant is not subject to adverse manipulation or undue influence. He is in control of himself and enjoys freedom and dignity. This induces, in turn, more effective moral and modern behavior.
In keeping with our view that man has inner capacities that can supply answers to our problems, we use a self-help approach founded upon an intuitive feeling that we can reach the inner self. We will find there a refuge from external evils, just as peace and quiet are found at the eye of a hurricane. There the sun shines and birds fly. Put your trust in your own inherent capacities.
Emerson, in his “Essay on Self-Reliance,” points the way:
“A man should learn to watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.”
After Buddha attained his own enlightenment, he said to his followers:
“Be a lamp unto your own feet; do not seek outside yourself.”
Jesus expressed the same opinion and said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, to there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
What is needed first, therefore, is an increase of self-understanding-a discovery of your inner selves and of your own essential natures. Where better can this be learned than through your Scottish Rite? You learn there is no need to lean upon others. You are first-rate, front rank-in the forefront, not second-string. The Scottish Rite Degrees develop full trust in your own innate capacities so that you are never overwhelmed, nor overcome by helplessness, nor the desperate victim of despair. When man has faith in himself he learns to reject unreality. Like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, the mirror reflects competitive unreality in front; but behind is found reality-the folly of competitive success and failure, approval and disapproval. You can learn to be self-reliant, to stand upon your own feet-not dependent leaners upon persons or things outside yourselves. Then, in essence, you shall be free and possess initiative and confidence and live in the present.
Sir William Osler (1849-1919), the great philosopher-physician, when a young man in medical school in Montreal, became sadly discouraged about his future career. Then one day he accidentally read a few words by Carlyle that transformed his life. They struck home like a revelation turning point. Numerous times he repeated them to himself, wrote them down in notebooks and quoted them to his friends. He felt they changed his attitude toward life and were responsible for what turned out to be a most successful and happy career. He became devoted to science and professed a profound religious faith. His tangible achievements included diagnostic wizardry and brilliant research, writing and teaching. When he died in 1919 the Journal of the American Medical Association said: “The years have added to his glory. No one has in any way taken his place as the World’s best doctor.”
The words of Carlyle that had such great influence in Osler’s life were these:
“Our main business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
Later, those words were the inspiration for Osler’s encouraging talks to students when he taught that we should “live in day-tight compartments,” not worrying about yesterday’s nor tomorrow’s happenings.
Our degrees drive home with dramatic impact the teaching of great truths. There you will find your own directive approach and the satisfactions and benefits and enrichments you will enjoy as a self-reliant human being. As such, your life also will show to the world the behavioral solutions that can cure the ills of our day.
Hence, you are asked to use your mind to the fullest. Think through the meanings of each degree as suggested in these summaries and commentaries. Apply them to yourself. Supplement your studies with further research. Let your actions then bespeak that you are in fact as well as in name a Scottish Rite Mason. Thus, you will discover the true secrets.
And now, “To work, my brethren, yonder sounds the gong!”
Sovereign Grand Commander
You may ask at the outset, what is the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry? I am constrained to reply, like the wit, that it is impossible to think about when you come to think about it! I can tell you first what it is not. It is not the formal organization. Nor is it our magnificent temples. Nor is it a severely secret society. Nor is it merely ritual. Perhaps we should content ourselves with the standard definition of Masonry that it is “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.”
Our overall mission can be summarized thus;
To seek that which is the most worth in the world; To exalt the dignity of every person, the human side of our daily activities and the maximum service to humanity; To aid mankind’s search in God’s Universe for identity, for development, and for destiny; And thereby achieve better men in a better world, happier men in a happier world, and wiser men in a wiser world.
Our ultimate goal, simply stated, is mankind’s moral and spiritual and intellectual development.
Historically, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry as we know it evolved as the Rite of Perfection over 200 years ago on the Continent of Europe under the Constitutions of 1762. Later, the Grand Constitutions of 1786 were enacted and became the creative and derivative laws for us and all our descendant Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Our Supreme Council was organized at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801 as the Mother Supreme Council of the World, and hence all regular and recognized Supreme Councils throughout the world must trace their pedigree to us.
But the actual roots of the Scottish Rite go far deeper. Tracing them is a romantic and exciting quest for adventure in the realm of the mind and the spirit. It is a superb story of success-more intriguing than the storied search for the Holy Grail and more rewarding than a successful probe for the philosopher’s stone.
Our teachings and symbols preceded our formal organization by thousands of years. They go deep into ancient ages. The signs, symbols and inscriptions come to us from across long, drifting centuries and will be found in the tombs and temples of India to those of Nubia, through the Valley of the Nile in Egypt down to its Delta, as well as in what was then known as Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome and even in Mexico and Yucatan. The Scottish Rite, therefore, is a treasure house in which there is stored the ageless essence of immutable laws, the accumulation of thousands of years of Masonic experience.
We learn our mission in a system of progressive degrees of instruction. We teach our members the highest ethics, the wise expositions of philosophy and religion, the blessings of charity. Our code of personal conduct stems from the precepts of chivalry, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. We reveal truly the wisdom of the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries and their symbols of words and phrases long considered lost. These were the truths that Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, Homer and other intellects of the ages held in high esteem, that have reappeared in later religions, and that never were disclosed until after timely preparation and purification of selected and trusted Initiates.
Our degrees represent the study and reflection of many men during many years and at heavy cost, the culling of hundreds of volumes for effective portrayals and illustrations, and more labor than the accumulated endeavors of a lifetime engaged in efforts to attain eminence or riches. Our members therefore receive a gift of the greatest value. They gain a comprehensive knowledge of our heritage of history, philosophy, religion, morality, freedom and toleration, and of their relationship to their Creator, their country, their family and themselves. These well may lead also to that understanding of identity, clarity of mind and energy of will that propel toward personal success in life.
We carry out our mission in a series of spiritual, charitable and moral programs. We make living, breathing, vital parts of our activities the recovery and maintenance of moral standards and spiritual values, the pride of patriotism and love of flag and country, the dispensing of charity without regard to race, color or creed. Our Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children at Atlanta was the forerunner of the vast chain of Shrine hospitals across the Nation.
We stand for positive programs but fight with moral courage and enthusiasm every force or power that would seek to destroy freedom, including spiritual despotism and political tyranny. We believe and teach that sovereignty of the state resides in control by the people themselves and not in some self-appointed dictator or despotic totalitarian. We therefore advocate complete separation of church and state, absolute freedom and protection of religion, press and assembly, and the dignity of every individual. Those we consider vital for the ultimate liberties and independence of our people.
Ours, therefore, has been a strong voice for human dignity, political justice, moral values and civic responsibility. Through our teachings millions of men and women have discovered an opportunity to lead more rewarding lives. The example of our actions has been as stirring and inspiring as that of our collective commitment to true human progress.
Today our Mother jurisdiction, of which I am Sovereign Grand Commander, includes 35 of our United States and all our Territories and Possessions abroad.
Of the four million Masons in the United States, there are over a million Scottish Rite members. Our Mother jurisdiction comprises more than 660,000 members who belong to so-called Valleys in 218 cities. We have clubs in many more. They meet frequently for executive, administrative and evangelistic purposes as provided by our Statutes. Their control and management is under elected officers who, in turn, are supervised by our Inspectors General or Deputies. The Inspectors General of our Mother Jurisdiction, now numbering 30, meet as our Supreme Council every two years in a Session over which I preside. When it is not in session I discharge the functions of our Supreme Council, in pursuance of our Statutes.
Our House of the Temple in Washington, an awe inspiring, monumental structure, is the nerve center of our organization. We also have at our Headquarters the Department Heads, administrative branches and staff. These include our world-famed Grand Secretary, Director of Education, and Managing Editor of The New, Age, our monthly magazine.
I should say a word also as to membership in our Order. We welcome and initiate inquiries from Master Masons of regular and recognized Lodges. Thereby we grow and expand the light. Our Officers and committees devote long hours in evaluating and deciding upon those we feel should progress beyond the screening process and become entitled to pass through the mystic gate of Scottish Rite Masonry. All who seek entry are commended for their interest and vision.
Sponsorship and standards of character, morality and training are required, of course, but every candidate will receive serious consideration. Thus we assure compliance with our time-tested standards and selection process.
A new member is made welcome and invited to participate in our activities.
And so, to end as we started when we sought a definition:
To me, the Scottish Rite can be likened to a tree of sparkling symbolic jewels, surmounted with the Blazing Star of Truth that displays the dazzling splendor of the Mystic Doctrine of the Universe, and the reflected glory of the Deity.
Hence, inspired by our accomplishments of the past and encouraged by our endeavors of the present, we go on to even more monumental achievements in the great tomorrow- toward our greater Scottish Rite destiny.
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