Morals and Dogma is one of the most important books for Freemasonry, and every brother should utilize it as a tool to begin his Masonic education and development. Within its pages are lessons of honor, integrity, character, morality, and charity. These principles are timeless and in no way restricted to members of the Scottish Rite alone. The Blue Lodge and every other Masonic organization should actively teach and encourage the practice of these virtues. How the world might benefit if every lawyer, politician, businessperson, media figure, and civic leader in the civilized world took even one lesson from this book! How many of the current problems faced by Freemasonry and society as a whole might be resolved if more individuals practiced even one of the lessons contained within it? It is impossible to read even a small portion of this book and not be transformed through the contemplation of the ideas it contains.
Albert Pike created Morals and Dogma to communicate the intended lectures of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, which he expected the Brethren of the Rite to study in connection with the Rituals of the Degrees. In preparing the book, Pike was as much a compiler as author, extracting at least half of its content from those whom he felt represented the greatest writers, philosophers, and thinkers known in his time.
He incorporated the thoughts and words of others, continually changing and adding to the language of his source material and often mixing his own words with theirs. His motive for doing so was to yield the greatest value to his audience. Pike claimed only a small part of the credit of authorship, maintaining that the reader should regard every portion of the book as borrowed from "some old and better writer".
The reader should not interpret the lessons contained in the book as being sacramental, for they extend beyond the realm of Morality into the domains of Thought and Truth. The use of the word "Dogma" in its title is intended in the true and original sense of the word as "doctrine" or "teaching". It does not mean "dogmatic" as in the modern and offensive usage of the term. Every individual may freely accept or reject the words contained within the book as untrue or unsound. While the doctrines of the Rite do not specifically contain the ancient theosophical and philosophical speculations contained in the book, Albert Pike understood that it was in our interest to understand what the "Ancient Intellects" thought about such subjects. Our ability to understand and evaluate these speculations demonstrates the radical difference between our human and animal natures. To paraphrase the Canonist, Ludovicus Gomez: "Beliefs may grow old, vary with the times, and perish; otherwise, they may be reborn in opposition to the original and afterwards reach maturity."
As a Fraternity, we need to teach our Brethren what it means to be a Mason beyond paying dues and attending business meetings. We need to focus on the quality of our Masons and not the quantity. We need to reinforce our differences from other civic or charitable organizations and lift the fog that has obscured our path of progress and prosperity in recent years.
This book is far too important to the Scottish Rite to be lost forever. This "translation" of the work seeks to inspire a return to the basics and renew our belief in the importance of giving our new members a starting point for their Masonic journey and a foundation upon which to build. Volumes have been written about every aspect of the original edition of Morals and Dogma, but none of these efforts has made the beauty and lessons of the book any more accessible to the vast majority of our membership. Analysis and commentary is only useful when the source material is well understood. The neglect of the last several decades has rendered this work withered and fruitless, but it is as relevant today as it was in 1871. Its lessons need to be repeated again, and again, and again.
It is with an absolute reverence for Albert Pike and for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite that the compilers of this work have endeavored to make Morals and Dogma more approachable and accessible to the modern reader. In no way do we intend to displace (or replace) his work from its exalted position, so rightly and fully deserved. Rather, through this effort, we hope to inspire our audience to read Morals and Dogma in its entirety and in the original language. Only in this way, can the Brethren of the Rite fully appreciate Albert Pike's sublime language and explore the book's deeper mysteries and speculations.