The Bodies and Degrees
The Degrees of the Scottish Rite are one or two-act plays often staged with costume, scenery, special effects, and the full rigging of any production. Their purpose is to examine different philosophies, ancient religions, and systems of ethics. Through all of these, people have tried to answer certain universal questions. The Degrees of the Rite do not tell a person what he should think about these questions. Instead, they tell him about what great thinkers and civilizations of the past have thought, and they try to create a situation in which the candidate or Brother can gain insight. Agreeing with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living, the Rite helps with this self-examination by providing reference points.
The Degrees are divided into four Bodies and each has their own officers – Lodge of Perfection, Chapter Rose Croix, Council of Kadosh, and the Consistory. The Head of each of these bodies are the operating officers of the Valley.
Membership and Caps
Once becoming a full member, you are given the title Master of the Royal Secret and designated a 32° Scottish Rite Mason and wears a black cap. Those that are chosen for different honors have additional designations. The KCCH stands for Knight Commander of the Court of Honor and wears a red hat. The 33° Inspector General Honorary and wears a white cap. There is also the 33° Grand Cross of which there are only about 100 across all of Scottish Rite and they wear a white cap with a large blue stripe. The St. Paul Valley is fortunate to have two – Peter Ekholm 33° Grand Cross, and Jerry Johnson 33° Grand Cross. The head of the state is either a Deputy or an active member of the 33° Council. Deputies wear caps of white with a red stripe. Active Members of the Council are designated as Sovereign Grand Inspector General and they wear a purple cap.
Lodge of Perfection
Fred Perez – 32° KCCH
This degree investigates the concept of duty. To a Mason, duty embraces an obligation to take an interest in the problems of his environment, learn the social problems of his community, country, and even the World; and try to contribute solutions to these problems.
The moral teaching of this degree is that we live in peace with our own conscience and are honored by good people when we perform our duties honestly and diligently. When honesty, diligence, justice, and brotherhood do not exist, freedom and independence are meaningless. Masonry values man as a person.
The principle lesson of this degree is that decisions should not be made only on appearances. To be curious is a good quality when directed toward the examination of social miseries, their reasons, and how they can be eliminated. A Mason should not remain detached from the world around him; he should not be an indifferent person. To keep and restore peace, he must be involved in the events of his world. It is the duty of a Mason to provide that men live in peace and harmony.
A law voluntarily accepted by a community should be a kind of lifestyle for the individuals comprising that community, and justice must always be observed. For a law to be considered as being accepted voluntarily, it should have been freely examined, discussed and voted by the people. A man who is not free cannot be considered as being just, and the unjust cannot be considered as being free. Masonry teaches man to avoid evil behavior and to not do injustice to others.
This degree investigates the necessity of acting on what we learn; and that we should freely transmit our knowledge to others. The strength of the Temple depends on both hard work and ownership. When a man attains a title or position based on his own earning of it, he becomes both knowing and free; he is not indebted to anyone, his reward is attained by his own qualities and diligence. Masonry believes that balance and Brotherhood is established and maintained between the two principles of work and charity.
Fear and ignorance are the two major enemies which enslave men. It is important that we do not become slaves of certain ideas; that we have the power to fight against ignorance and intolerance for the sake of civilization and our own intellectual freedom. It is our duty to morally raise our own conscience, to enlighten our souls and minds so that we may actively participate in instructing and enlightening others.
Masons will always be opposed to ignorance, fanaticism, and tyranny. While it is our duty to continuously fight against these oppressive forces, we must ourselves be educated, tolerant, and open to freedom of thought. The war against fanaticism and terrorism is won with education and enlightenment.
This degree emphasizes that life is a school for moral and spiritual training; that the entire lesson is a course in virtue, happiness, and a future existence. As Masons, we are to view ourselves and the entire human race as one great family. We are a champion of the people. Our work is never done, and our examples in life must be such that no man will have cause to repent because he has relied on our resolve, our profession, or our word.
This degree forces the Mason to consider the problems of his social life.; that the life we have and the world we live in are what we make them by our own social character, by our ability to adapt to our fellows, our relationships, and our circumstances. It is important that we gain wisdom so that we may add dignity to the human race.
Men must find the truth within the caverns of their own conscience. There is one great arch, or bridge, which makes the passage achievable, and allows us to master our own vices and passions. That bridge is the will of God. By seeking knowledge and moral character and being guided by faith and reason, the Mason will know how to combine science and religion, philosophy and theology; and recognize that these notions do not contradict each other, but form a harmonious whole.
This degree is considered the Degree of Perfection and is the most mysterious of all. In it, the Mason finds the meaning of the concept of Deity in his own conscience, and thus opens for himself the gate to true knowledge. Knowledge has two sources. One is human and is obtained by intelligence and labor. The other is divine and revealed only to those who have prepared themselves well. Until these two sources are united, one cannot be perfect. But to the Mason who truly becomes a Perfect Elu, he will recognize no frontiers in this life.
Chapter Rose Croix
Himandshu Sharma – 32° KCCH
This degree teaches that it is not possible to keep people in slavery once they know the value of liberty and can decide for themselves how to defend it. Likewise, it is not possible to defeat Masonry by attacking it; for we are building the Temple of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the souls of men and nations.
This degree emphasizes the fact that one must use every means to be beneficial for the society in which one lives. We not only set our own example for our society, but we enlist the aid of our Brothers. Together, Masons are custodians of freedom. Our charge is to leave a noble heritage to those who follow us in this world. We build temples of the Living God in our hearts by following the truths of justice, equity, morality, wisdom, labor, fidelity, and Brotherhood-so that the collective liberties for mankind can be protected.
In this degree, Masonry says only one thing-differences in religions will not matter, and these differences will not hinder people to live together in peace if all people gather sincerely around the belief and concept of the GAOTU. It is sufficient only to keep one’s heart pure, to believe in God, and to respect the religious feelings and ideas of others. In this way, people who meet, respect and love one another will not find it difficult to understand that no one is lying, that truth prevails in people’s words and deeds.
This degree teaches that, in reality, what causes us to be immortal is affection; is love. Only if one loves is he conscious that he lives, and that he therefore loves life. As Masons, we should practice virtue that it may produce fruit. We should have faith in God, mankind, and ourselves. And we should be loving men. Masonry teaches that, so long as man is loved, so long as he is remembered with love; he continues living in this way even in his grave. And a brother who conveys this image and this message proves that Hope is never lost.
Council of Kadosh
Gary Winter – 32°
Commander of Kadosh
The great lesson of this degree is that life, when lived properly, is but a bridge to eternal life. Once the secret of life after death is known, a man understands that there is no time but eternity. Therefore, calamities which happen are temporary and will not continue. We are not taken down by calamities, but remain strong to fight against oppression and ignorance; we have passed from the Alpha to the Omega, have learned all the letters of the alphabet and understand that Alpha comes after Omega, that life is renewed. There is no end to learning and science.
This degree teaches that a Mason who knows that he does not possess the qualities of leadership, and who has not duly prepared himself to be a leader, should not want to be one. Notwithstanding, every Mason should endeavor to educate himself, bearing in mind that one day he may be asked to lead. Because he is of his community, it expects him to dispense light and knowledge; to practice the virtues both in and out of lodge.
The principle lesson of this degree is to not be conceited, or belittle others. Nobody should rely on his wealth, nobility, heavenly or worldly titles. We should be humble and modest and sincerely seek God’s mercy; for God protects those who are sincere and honest. A Mason should never lose hope and confidence in the fact that correctness and honesty will always be victorious.
Work is the mission of man. We should respect our labor for its own sake, and do our work. Manual and mental work complete one another; thus, one who works in either manual or mental labor should not try to exploit, or oppress, the other. A Mason must be a person who makes no distinction in the nature and kind of work in which his brother is engaged.
In this degree, we are reminded that we owe our knowledge to our faith in a revealed God. Therefore, it is our duty to disseminate this knowledge to all mankind. A Mason who believes in God has a duty to acquire knowledge and disseminate this knowledge to other people so that others are also enlightened. A Mason who is generous with his knowledge knows that he will receive the blessing of God, not by sacrificing living beings, but by destroying superstitions and bringing happiness and prosperity to other people.
This is a continuation of the last degree and examines the nature of knowledge. We must be vigilant not to accept corrupted and erroneous echoes of real knowledge. We have to distinguish for ourselves what is truth; for many do not realize that they are in error when they think they have found the truth. As Masons, we must fight continuously against superstitions, wrong knowledge, false prophets, tyrants, and despots. Our task is to free knowledge from the monopoly of classes, casts, leaders, or priests; and to disseminate it to everyone.
This degree teaches the virtue of hospitality. One who shows hospitality to guests is obliged not to differentiate between race, nationality or religion from whoever knocks at his door. The nature of Masonry is to heal those who are in distress from moral collapses, psychological crises, diseases caused by superstitions and ignorance. To save our fellows from these, to break the chains which represent moral slavery, to set men free, to be faithful and kind in every respect is the compulsory thing to do. We fulfill our destiny by re-creating ourselves, by enlarging our knowledge.
Practice forgiveness! Be tolerant! Masons are to respect all beliefs that do not dirty sacredness. Masonry is not a religion, nor do its members belong to one religious order, or any one religion. It embraces the truth in every belief and respects all of them. The truths of Masonry are contained within the religions of the world. Our task is to love all mankind; to be faithful to the agreement between the GAOTU and ourself. We should trust that we can attain His boundless affection and compassion, the mercy in the degree’s title–that is, we can attain God’s love.
This degree teaches the virtues of knighthood and asks its adherents to practice these virtues in life. Virtue requires duty; and both remain the same, regardless of the times. The Knight Commander of the Temple learns that he is the manager of the time, that he himself will decide when he will perform his duty; he does not wait for orders or authorization. He is his own man, and his task is to abolish distress at just the right time.
Be a lover of wisdom. This degree points out seven truths: There exists an indefinable and incomprehensible principle that governs the universe. Human life is but a speck of eternity. Universal equilibrium is a result of a balance between similarities and contrasts. The absolute is the soul in its proper essence. The visible is the invisible. Evil, disaster, and misery are indispensable for universal equilibrium. Similarities are the only keys for comprehending nature. The majority of men fail to realize their errors. Masons are required to take up the arduous struggle against error. The moral code of Masonry is more extensive than that of philosophy.
In this degree, the Mason learns that there is no contradiction between religion and science; that religion can be better understood through science and science can be better understood by religion. He who denies science is as fanatical as he who denies religion. Our lifetime is limited in time; thus we must see God within this limited period of our time. Yet, God transcends all time; he is an energy over and beyond time. There is no other energy that creates that energy. There is no end to that energy. Freemasonry is thus the continual effort to exalt the divine in man over the human so that we may come to better understand the nature of God in our time.
This is the last of the philosophical degrees. To spread the sciences, to apply the virtues, to learn the sublime doctrines which enable humanity to live as one great family-this is the school of which Masonry is engaged. It is not within the realm of Masonry to punish oppressors and tyrants who enact barriers to brotherly love and affection. They are always punished in the course of history. It is our goal to defeat the passions and fanaticism which lead to oppression by spreading love and toleration. The Knight Kadosh is aware of his obligations. He is just, equitable, and respectful of all ideas. He battles for freedom of conscience. He opposes those who would attack these liberties, but material revenge is not in his thoughts and philosophy. He is a lover of great example.
Adam Martin – 32°
Master of Kadosh
The central teaching of this degree is justice. To be free, a Mason must begin by passing judgment on himself. He presents himself for examination. By acting honestly in first giving judgment on himself within the principles of justice and equity, it should not be doubted when he shall do the same to his brothers. The brother who finds mercy in himself, who has not been too lenient towards himself, or punished himself too severely, can also judge his brothers. In so doing, he can be certain that he has not acted contrary to his former obligations. He has freed himself.
This degree teaches many lessons, but the mystery concealed is that man is a creature of free will and capable of recreating himself. If he accomplishes this goal, he will attain a genuine power that can shake the limits of science, surpass the problems of this earth, decipher the secrets of space, surpass the limits of ceremony and catechism, and attain genuine enlightenment; a gnosis which is the foundation of all religions. He will also surpass the narrow views of interest in the area of morals, and will comprehend a genuine virtue that transcends his own interest. Thus, it will become his nature to help his fellow men, and, in so doing, he will discover the divine light within which brings true freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of culture.