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 email@example.com
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
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
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.