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Morals & Dogma

During a number of private conversations, the late Mrs. Lillian Pike Roome, of Boston, a daughter of Albert Pike (her home was a Pike Museum), described her father as she had seen him day by day until her marriage, as above all a man who had a passion for reading. An attendant of the Public Library of Washington reported that "the General came in almost every morning"; and he went on to say that he "read old religions and old philosophers." This is borne out by Pike's own letters to his friends, especially to Parvin and to Mackey, of which there are very many, and which students of Pike hope to see collected and published.

This preoccupation and passion with "old religions and old philosophies" is manifest in Morals and Dogma the book given to each Candidate by the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, S.J., and called, though Pike would have resented the description, "the Bible of the Scottish Rite." This famous book is not so much a commentary on the Scottish Rite Degrees--has no such relevancy or connection with them that Preston's Illustrations has with the Craft Degrees--as it is a series of soliloquies, or meditations, or expositions of the high themes of metaphysics, and theology, and cosmology; and their author keeps his eyes fixed not on modern works of Freemasonry but on the epics and bibles of religion, and more especially those of the Iranian and Indian sages, on the Zend-Avesta, the Vedas, the Tripitaka, etc.; and the image of the book as it must have been in his own mind could be best illustrated by a picture of the Seven Sages of Greece in a circle, discussing God, Cosmos, and Man. It is therefore almost a book for students of metaphysics and theology rather than for Masons. To such students the central idea in Pike's thought is clear: Pike refused to admit that God is Divinity only, that is, a God for theology and churches: he insisted that God is Deity, that is, the Ground and Source of matter, life, the heavens, space, time, and he therefore believes that God must be thought out by the mind as well as worshiped by the heart.

In his last years Pike was drawn once again back to Ancient Craft Masonry, the original source and foundation of the Freemasonry of every Rite, and wrote in an unpublished treatise a newer, and more humble, commentary on its deceptively simple ceremonies and symbols, but did not live long enough to write a Morals and Dogma for the Three Degrees. Toward the end he tried to make his friends realize that his Morals and Dogma itself had never been finished; was indeed as he said, not a book but a mountainous mass of materials waiting to be milled and smelted down into a book. This explains why there are whole pages in it taken word for word from other writers, and other pages from other writers re-written in his own words.

Moreover, as he said, he had not been able to bring his studies of the Zend-Avesta, Vedas, etc., down to date, and to make use of the works of modern scholars; this in turn is why Bro. A. V. W. Jackson, the world famous authority on Zoroaster and the Zend-Avesta, of Columbia University, found in his critical analysis of the pages in Morals and Dogma that Pike had used authorities now discarded, and lacked the mass of knowledge acquired by archeology and Oriental language researches, and that Pike's picture of Zoroastrianism is not now acceptable to authorities. This win not disturb Masons who read Morals and Dogma; they have never read it for sake of what of philosophy and of Zoroastrianism and metaphysics there is in it; they have read it for the sake of what they find of Pike in it; he is the object of their studies. Pike's vision of Freemasonry was a sound one, even though his Orientalism was that of an amateur; he saw that there is a Masonry of the MIND, and that if Masonry were not sound and true in its philosophy it could not be sound and true anywhere else.

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