Pike now begins to put his countless lessons into perspective. Remember, Chapter 28, or the 28th degree, is an advanced degree, of which most Masons never attain. Therefore, this knowledge maybe new to those who are just beginning their Masonic education; and it maybe even harder for those Masons who have never looked beyond Blue Lodge. Pike has discussed several controversial topics lately, which have upset some; and some have even attacked my character for interpreting his views on homosexuality. Nevertheless, for those students of Pike who are interested in his work, please continue to come back; trust me, it gets even better. Like this next section from Pike, which includes the quality of exploration within Philosophy itself, “The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental and the transitory, the stable and universal.” I understand most people have been brought up to think a certain way; but for me anyway, by understanding the ancients, we can better understand ourselves in a contemporary world. This is perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned from Pike. In short, look for keywords, like Plato. Look up Plato and relate what Pike said in relationship to what Plato might have said; on any topic for that matter, and these allegorical references can be put into perspective. As such, we, like the ancient philosophers, are encouraged to think outside the box, and are encouraged to rethink ideas, just like the ancient philosophers did:
The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental and the transitory, the stable and universal. In the contemplation of Nature, and the vague, but almost intuitive perception of a general uniformity of plan among endless varieties of operation and form, arise those solemn and reverential feelings, which, if accompanied by intellectual activity, may eventually ripen into philosophy.
Consciousness of self and of personal identity is co-existent with our existence. We cannot conceive of mental existence without it. It is not the work of reflection nor of logic, nor the result of observation, experiment, and experience. It is a gift from God, like instinct; and that consciousness of a thinking soul which is really the person that we are, and other than our body, is the best and most solid proof of the soul’s existence. We have the same consciousness of a Power on which we are dependent; which we can define and form an idea or picture of, as little as we can of the soul, and yet which we feel, and therefore know, exists. True and correct ideas of that Power, of the Absolute Existence from which all proceeds, we cannot trace; if by true and correct we mean adequate ideas; for of such we are not, with our limited faculties, capable. And ideas of His nature, so far correct as we are capable of entertaining, can only be attained either by direct inspiration or by the investigations of philosophy.
The idea of the universal preceded the recognition of any system for its explanation. It was felt rather than understood; and it was long before the grand conception on which all philosophy rests received through deliberate investigation that analytical development which might properly entitle it to the name. The sentiment, when first observed by the self-conscious mind, was, says Plato, “a Divine gift, communicated to mankind by some Prometheus, or by those ancients who lived nearer to the gods than our degenerate selves.” The mind deduced from its first experiences the notion of a general Cause or Antecedent, to which it shortly gave a name and personified it. This was the statement of a theorem, obscure in proportion to its generality. It explained all things but itself. It was a true cause, but an incomprehensible one. Ages had to pass before the nature of the theorem could be rightly appreciated, and before men, acknowledging the First Cause to be an object of faith rather than science, were contented to confine their researches to those nearer relations of existence and succession, which are really within the reach of their faculties. At first, and for a long time, the intellect deserted the real for a hastily-formed ideal world, and the imagination usurped the place of reason, in attempting to put a construction on the most general and inadequate of conceptions, by transmuting its symbols into realities, and by substantializing it under a thousand arbitrary forms.
In poetry, the idea of Divine unity became, as in Nature, obscured by a multifarious symbolism; and the notionalities of transcendental philosophy reposed on views of nature scarcely more profound than those of the earliest symbolists. Yet the idea of unity was rather obscured than extinguished; and Xenophanes appeared as an enemy of Homer, only because he more emphatically insisted on the monotheistic element, which, in poetry, has been comparatively overlooked. The first philosophy reasserted the unity which poetry had lost; but being unequal to investigate its nature, it again resigned it to the world of approximate sensations, and became bewildered in materialism, considering the conceptional whole or First Element as some refinement of matter, unchangeable in its essence, though subject to mutations of quality and form in an eternal succession of seeming decay and regeneration; comparing it to water, air, or fire, as each endeavored to refine on the doctrine of his predecessor, or was influenced by a different class of theological traditions (Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, 1871, p. 673-675).
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