Chapter 4
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This webpage -- and all others that start with http://bessel.org/russo/ -- were written entirely by Jason C. Russo 32°, as his personal summary of the book, Morals and Dogma, written by Albert Pike in the 1800s. The credit for the content of these summaries belongs exclusively to Bro. Russo, and compliments, comments, and questions can be emailed to him at ssgrusso@earthlink.net 

 


Picture of Albert Pike A SUMMARY OF THE MORALS AND DOGMA OF ALBERT PIKE

BY JASON C. RUSSO 32° 

Chapter IV: Secret Master

In this degree to become a Secret Master, or more appropriately the Master of the Secret, the Master Mason must himself cross the threshold as a personal decision by means of dedication to the principles of the craft. In order to proceed to the degree of Secret Master, the Master Mason must first have mastered the knowledge found in the preceding degrees. It is not necessary to have mastered the ritual, but rather the principles found therein.

The Secret Master not only must be a Master Mason, but he must be willing to dedicate himself to elevating Masonry, its ideals and principles. Having mastered within himself the principles of Freemasonry the Master of the Secret, or Secret Master must be willing to assist other brothers in finding the level of knowledge and truth he has obtained. The name Secret Master is somewhat of a misnomer; we are not concealing anything from our brothers—rather we are dedicated to elevating their knowledge, and giving them the benefit of the wisdom we have obtained.

The lessons contained within the first three Masonic degrees are simply the tools that are used to communicate the principles and tenets of our fraternity. Advancement in each of the three degrees provides new gleanings into the great philosophies of the truths not previously assigned. As each degree is conferred, the candidate is given a portion of the information necessary to become a Master Mason. These lessons are not imparted all at once in order that they will not overwhelm the candidate. They are given in part so they may settle and be reflected upon before continuing. Once the candidate has become a Master Mason, he has only then been provided the allegorical view of what it means to be a Master Mason. The newly raised Mason must first master these truths within himself as a personal journey. There is nothing new not previously presented for the Secret Master in teaching morality. These supplementary degrees peel away the mysteries to reveal the hidden truths contained within—not to hide or conceal their meanings under a veil or shroud. A shroud conceals death, and we should never use a figurative shroud to veil the secrets of Masonry from our brothers. If we keep the mysteries to ourselves eventually they will die; the craft will be at a loss to understand the true and mysterious wisdom contained as the fundamental basis of our fraternity.

The Secret Master begins a journey towards the pursuit of truth and the revelation of the secrets. During this endeavor, despite our giddiness at having been able to perceive a new revelation we must guard our tongues and mind our obligations against betraying the secrets of our fraternity. We must be mindful to keep our strict fidelity to accomplish our goals for a life-long pursuit. Truth and wisdom are not obtained overnight—some perceive them quicker than others. It will require a lifelong journey where there is no end to the perception of new truths, thus we must seek a lifelong commitment as we advance in the unraveling of Masonic secrets.

The preceding degrees did much to reform our hearts and consciences—but ritual is only one small segment of what Masonry really is. We must pursue knowledge, wisdom and truth in order to discover them.  No one can understand in one evening all that has been revealed; the newly raised Master is not as yet capable of perceiving all of the secrets given to him and there is a vast amount to still discover. Some may spend an entire lifetime pursuing personal knowledge of the three degrees, and this is a noble pursuit. There are those who still desire more, who hunger after more knowledge, and seek more truths. The well of knowledge, reason and truth, has no bottom; there is always more to draw. The history of Masonry is the history of humanity; we must come to knowledge of our own humanity to glean new insights into our craft.

The process by which we pursue knowledge and store it in our memory is how we develop our soul and define of our person. The infant is born without the possession of knowledge, but upon birth the child begins to develop rapidly. The accumulation of knowledge and the manner by which we apply it defines our personalities as a definitive portion of our soul—it becomes who we are. Without knowledge it would not be possible to define who we are. The application of knowledge and how we use it, perceive it, and understand it, is integral to the formation of our personality, our views and opinions. The process of accumulation of knowledge and its application by our own minds is what defines who we are and is the process by which our soul is crafted around our own individuality. 

Each man realizes his own mortality and desires the continuation of the soul by leaving behind a legacy after death. By means of great works of art, philosophy and deeds the single individual may be remembered by future generations. The products of our own mind may be remembered in perpetuity. That portion of our mind we wish remembered is a form of immortality upon this earth; the life and memory of the one individual is remembered and transcends the grave. It is a fundamental human desire to transcend the limited time we have in this earthly realm.

We each desire to leave behind a lasting and positive effect that will be present and remembered after we have left this earthly life. It is more than just having our names recalled from time to time—but rather that our names should invoke a fond memory as having performed some great deed or have had some profound impact and positive influence upon the world. The wise sage and philosopher is remembered and respected like Homer, Virgil, Plato, and Shakespeare. After their death they are still remembered with awe and reverence.

The pursuit of wisdom and the ability to retain knowledge is a logical pursuit of the man and Mason seeking to better humanity as a whole. Once attained, knowledge must be passed on, taught and shared with our brothers to enhance their wisdom. The act of teaching others, giving and sharing the knowledge we ourselves have gleaned is the dedication to the principles to which we ascribe. We should striver to perform good deeds out of a sense of rightness as an obligation to our fellow man. Regardless of the material benefit or lack thereof to ourselves—we must continue to perform good deeds because they are pleasing to God. If our generosity is not rewarded in this life, we can be sure he will provide a generous reward when we have completed our probationary state.

Through writings of philosophy, intellect survives time in the form of published literary works. Through time and beyond the grave the written word can provoke and stimulate other minds despite the author resting in the grave. Beyond death the words of an author can be pondered, and examined. Text can stimulate thoughts leading to action—a dead poet’s words can stir the thoughts that transform into action thereby stimulating a revolution! Just as the noble ideas and personal convictions of our brother Albert Pike transcend the grave, they had moved me to examine his Morals and Dogma; despite his having received a heavenly calling many years ago, his words still provoke the mind to pursue knowledge, wisdom and truth. The pursuit of wisdom is a noble aspiration; it is a goal that can never be fully achieved until it has been communicated and made available to others.

Performing good deeds with no expectation of profit; teaching knowledge and reason in the form of offering wisdom for the good of mankind are the obligations found within the higher degrees of Masonry. Once we have obtained truth and wisdom it is our obligation to utilize this knowledge to pass on to our brothers in the service of humanity. Performing good deeds and our charitable conduct is the highest form of nobility and is the greatest honor we can show—thereby allowing ourselves to be employed by God in elevating humanity.  This then becomes our lifelong journey and pursuit for higher and nobler purposes. If we are not willing to offer ourselves to this great and noble level of commitment we will have wasted our time pursuing yet more light in Masonry. Higher degrees bestow a higher number—but this number should not be our object. We are no more a man or Mason should we seek no further pursuit than the Master Mason’s degree. Should we decide to pursue even greater light in Masonry we obligate ourselves to a lifestyle that requires us to mentor our brothers, and utilize our lives as a great example of Masonic principles. We must always be known to employ compassion, empathy, and charity. 

When we commit ourselves to this decision, there is no half way. We cannot reserve any portion of ourselves; there can be no half-heartedness to our aspirations. We must make it our lifestyle and quickly begin the arduous life-long journey. We must master secrecy, obedience and fidelity. These three attributes will serve us well in staying the course over the long haul. Only by those three may we shirk the selfish pursuits of pleasure. Self gratification is an allurement many men will succumb to; properly girded by secrecy, obedience and fidelity, we may combat our base human natures.

Why the importance of secrecy? It is the first and foremost lesson of the Entered Apprentice. Our obligations require we render aid to a brother who may need our assistance. If a brother is in distress we are obligated to go so far as risk our own lives to extricate him from his perilous situation. To be willing to risk our financial security and even our life for a stranger that happens to be a brother carries with it a weight and responsibility that should not be taken lightly. To know a stranger is a brother in need is all that need be communicated—should our secrets be revealed any imposter could attempt to lay claim to our solemn obligations for personal profit, thereby imposing upon the craft an abuse of hellish proportions. Those not under our same set of obligations are not concurrently bound to aid and relieve any brother who may be in distress, and do not share our sense of mutual aid, support and relief. 

We are also bound to keep the secrets of a brother Master Mason; no other human on earth has this ability to make us honor bound to guard our tongue so effectively. So long as we are not keeping the secret of a heinous crime that violates fundamental common laws of God and nature—we are bound to keep these secrets safe and secure within our breast. Should a government attempt to force us to betray our brother for any other reason, regardless of the law or edict imposed, so long as our brother has not committed any act equivalent to treason or murder, we must obey our solemn oath. Such laws that would attempt to cause us to betray our obligations are not moral laws provided under the laws of God in nature; such laws from a despotic government should be considered null and void by our conscience because they violate the principles of freedom. Laws that violate common law of God, laws from the despotic government that betray freedom of thought, free will and free speech are immoral laws and we are under no obligation to obey them.

That we as Masons must obey the law is not a blanket clause to accept all manner of legislation set upon us. That we are to obey the law does not mean we are under obligation to be bound to obey tyrannical legislation. Regardless of what laws a nation may impose we are only obligated to obey the just and moral laws; we must utilize our conscience for better judgment in determining what is moral and immoral. Just as we are bound to obey all moral and just laws, we are not to allow ourselves to be shackled by the despot who may utilize a legitimate government to enact immoral and unethical legislation. The moral and ethical laws enacted by the people and are in harmony with God’s natural laws we are bound to obey and support.

It is the moral and just laws we are taught by this degree to be obedient to. The moral and ethical laws of God and nature are perfect laws. The original laws endowed by God transcend all governments and are incorporated into the laws every nation should seek to employ. We must enforce these divine principles of justice. No unethical law, or legislative decree that violates God’s moral foundations can demand of us its support. We must answer to the higher source and it is to him our obligations are rendered. God’s laws surpass national boundaries and transcend time. 

The moral and ethical laws God provides to us are divine and universal principles of justice. If we disobey the unethical law of man to maintain the truths of God’s law, we will have fulfilled a great and noble deed before God and man. We should not fear reprisal from a government that attempts to enforce immoral and unjust laws. If we suffer at the hands of men to maintain our loyalty to God he will remember and recall our suffering; he will provide us our reward for loyalty to his will. God holds the key to our future and everlasting life.  No reward from the despot can compare to God’s good will and graces.

When the laws of our country do not betray the laws of our God we are bound to obey them. Obedience to law is the formation of conscience. A healthy conscience allows us to gird our mind and heart from betraying the moral and ethical laws of God and our country. The criminal will betray the law finding any and all excuses to justify their betrayal. These disobedient criminals are capable of justifying all forms of injustice. Where a healthy conscience will practice the principles of logic and reason to effect moral and ethical actions, the perverted conscience is selfish and can utilize their perverse sense of conscience to justify any form of self-gratification. A healthy conscience must conform to the laws of God and utilize free will to love and respect his laws supremely. The nation that employs moral and just laws enforces the will of God; it is our duty and obligation to enforce these laws, transforming our conscience towards the embodiment of God’s will.

We as men and Mason’s must be men of our word, honor bound to keep our pledges. Therefore we should keep our vows few and deliberate, not rushing too hastily to commit ourselves unnecessarily. As men of honor we are required to be known as men of our word, so that our word may be known as our bond and not bring discredit upon the craft. The word of a Mason should be a most sacred vow. A man who does not keep his word has no integrity; a Mason who breaks his word or solemn vow is detestable among men and Masons.  We must be faithful to the promises we make because we are duty bound to honor and keep them. 

Do not fear the absolute cause of necessity. Calamity may arise, emergencies occur, or fate may step in to prevent us from fulfilling our promises. What resolve do we then possess? In the event of a circumstance beyond our ability to control we then must ask to be released from our bond explaining the circumstances. If it was to a brother, he should be willing to understand the calamity of our circumstance and readily release us from our pledge, thereby maintaining our honor. If our brother refuses to release us from our pledge then we are bound to make every effort to comply without subjecting ourselves to material injury. If we fail in our endeavor it should not be due to lack of trying to complete the impossible and it cannot betray our honor.

God provides just laws and rewards our faithfulness. Without his blessings all else would be pointless; he is the creator of all things and thus the creator of everything we value. We should be faithful to our families; we should endeavor to be faithful husbands and fathers. We should be the shining example to our extended family, especially to those who are not Masons—by our example they will judge our fraternity. We should be faithful to our true friends; as Jonathan and David were closer than blood relations, so should we honor our true friends. We have no control over who our relatives are, but we do choose those whom we befriend. True friends will stand beside us come what may. 

In addition to faithfulness to our friends we must be patriotic citizens and faithful to our country. It should be our vigilant endeavor to elevate the government and its citizens to be better human beings, straight and true. This does not mean we should support blindly the demagogue or other such denizen who may come to power. We should be true and faithful to our country—part of that truth and patriotism is to ensure it is preserved with justice and liberty. Where the demagogue betrays the principles of justice, it should be our greatest endeavor to unseat the tyrant. This is patriotism—the protection and elevation of the nation state from all enemies, perhaps even those occupying office. 

When the tyrant comes to power and enacts oppressive laws, it is our obligation to be faithful to the government and not the individual occupying the seat of government. Where the demagogue seeks to demean the power and authority of their title and position, our faithfulness must be ever present to stand guard to preserve noble principles found in all governments who have received God’s blessings. In order for patriotism to be utilized as a force of good it must pursue reason, truth and wisdom. Should we blindly accept who ever comes to office we would not be truly faithful to the state as patriotic citizens. We must be faithful to ensure our country keeps the divine moral laws, and receives the divine moral blessings.

As we faithfully pursue our endeavors to become better men and Mason’s, we take upon ourselves the Degree of Secret Master. We are required to prove ourselves worthy should we be desired to be put to good use. We must take our duties and honors seriously; it is the Master’s responsibility that light and life should reach the youngest Entered Apprentice.

“A Freemason therefore, should be a man of honor and of conscience, preferring his duty to everything beside, even to his life; independent in his opinions and of good morals; submissive to the laws, devoted to humanity, to his country, to his family; kind and ready to assist his fellow by all means in his power (Pike p. 113).”

We must be faithful to Masonry because it is Masonry that strives to benefit humanity through our tenets and precepts. It is not good enough to simply be a good individual who happens to be a Mason, rather we must let other good men know the noble and grand purposes Masonry has and teaches. Masonry is the proud and noble champion of peace, brotherhood, tolerance, and acceptance. Masonry embodies the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Where liberty is found justice prevails. Equality in justice is enforced as a standard for all men regardless of color, race, religion or creed. Wherever our fraternity is present there brotherhood and mutual support can also be found. Where all three are present so is the embodiment of God’s divine will and there God’s blessings will be invoked. 

Masonry benefits all men--from all walks of life. For the wealthy it provides the benefit of knowing their charitable donations go toward a more noble and honest purpose. For the skilled and specialized workman who may not be wealthy, Masonry provides a means to offer their services to those in need. To the philosopher Masonry can provide further enlightenment allowing them to pass on their knowledge and wisdom to others. To the young Mason, the foundation of our fraternity provides instruction for a positive lifestyle and a defined conscience. To the elder Masonry provides the ability to instruct the youth to utilize Masonry thereby improving their lives and future. To the soldier and traveler who are frequently away from home, the ability to know they are never far from family. All men of a worthy heart and well principled conscience have much to offer and benefit from Masonry—everyone can appreciate the friendship, morality and brotherly love, applied through the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.


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