T.F.S. – Three, five, and seven – 3 5 7
Number 167 – March 20, 2010
“Subdue your passion or it will subdue you.” Horace
This publication, while it is printed with the permission of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A.F. & A. M. of Minnesota, contains the writings and opinions of the writer, and is not in any way the opinion of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.
“Brave is the lion tamer, brave is the world subduer, but braver is the one who has subdued himself.”
Johann Gottfried Von Herder
Subduing Passions; by Elliott Saxton
I remember listening to a motivational speaker. He taught that there were two ingredients to accomplishment; focus and energy. This is particularly relevant to the Entered Apprentice degree. In the Scottish Rite tradition of the Entered Apprentice degree there is no mention of ‘subduing the passions’. There is, however, prominent use of the alchemical acronym, V.I.T.R.I.O.L., which seems to be the opposite of subdued passions. In the York Rite tradition, subduing the passions is key, Vitriol is necessary in the Scottish Rite tradition.
Albert Pike comments on this duality; Force and Regulation: “FORCE, unregulated or ill-regulated, is not only wasted in the void, like that of gunpowder burned in the open air, and steam unconfined by science; but, striking in the dark, and its blows meeting only the air, they recoil and bruise itself. It is destruction and ruin. It is the volcano, the earthquake, the cyclone;-not growth and progress. It is Polyphemus blinded, striking at random, and falling headlong among the sharp rocks by the impetus of his own blows.”
“It is because Force is ill regulated, that revolutions prove failures. Therefore it is that so often insurrections, coming from those high mountains that domineer over the moral horizon, Justice, Wisdom, Reason, Right, built of the purest snow of the ideal after a long fall from rock to rock, after having reflected the sky in their transparency, and been swollen by a hundred affluents, in the majestic path of triumph, suddenly lose themselves in quagmires, like a California river in the sands.”
There’s an often repeated belief, which I find is wrong, that ‘subduing the passions’ is on the same lines as ‘giving up your passions’. I believe that ‘subduing’ is better described as regulating the passions. Masonry isn’t bland and uninteresting, nor is it vitriolic. When we take the force of the gavel and regulate it with the rule, we become effective as masons. That ‘Vitriol’ or raw energy needs the regulation and focus of the rule to be anything but destruction. We could also think
The Scottish Rite uses a lot of alchemical symbolism. We should remember that alchemy was once viewed as a real possibility, not just a metaphor for improving the individual as it is used in the Scottish Rite. Within alchemy, V.I.T.R.I.O.L. is used to show the candidate that he must look within himself and study deeply.
Within the York Rite blue degrees, we use the 24 inch gauge to divide our time. We could link Force and Regulation together, if we consider time a force that must be focused. The common gavel is that force that must only be used when the work is laid out. Pike makes the analogy that the massive force behind a ship would be disastrous but for the slender needle in the compass, which is focus and regulation. Force is abundant, regulation is all too often lacking. Masons ought to remain in control of their passions, and utilize them in order to be effective.
“As long as I retain my feeling and my passion for Nature, I can partly soften or subdue my other passions and resist or endure those of others.” Lord Byron
Words to live by: Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi
From volumes of Sacred Law:
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-20
“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).” Colossians 3:5-7 NRS
“O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (them ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.” Quran 4:135
Please remember: if you would like to participate in the latest Masonic Monday Question, please go to http://www.lodgebuilder.org and click on the Lodge Education forum. When you have an answer send it to firstname.lastname@example.org the Masonic Monday Question for the week of 03/22/10 is:
“No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.” Seneca
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“Private passions tire and exhaust themselves, public ones never.” Alphonse De Lamartine
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With “Brotherly Love”,
Ed Halpaus, Grand Lodge Education Officer
Seek to mentor a Brother Mason:
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Three Five Seven: Papers for Lodge Education
Grand Lodge Education Officer