Greetings and welcome back to our study and opinion of Albert Pike’s “Morals and Dogma”.
We are continuing chapter 25.
In these paragraphs we will study Pike’s views regarding the ancients beliefs in “light” in a literal and figurative sense.
Masons and Gnostics regard “light” as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom over ignorance. Which is why Masons are always seeking “more light”, as we know we are never in full possession of truth or wisdom.
Before I get ahead of myself, LET’S READ PIKE!
Memphis, in Egypt, was in Latitude 29° 5" North, and in Longitude 30° 18' East. Thebes, in Upper Egypt, in Latitude 25° 45' North, and Longitude 32° 43' East. Babylon was in Latitude 32° 30' North, and Longitude 44° 23' East: while Saba, the ancient Sabæan capital of Ethiopia, was about in Latitude 15° North.
Through Egypt ran the great River Nile, coming from beyond Ethiopia, its source in regions wholly unknown, in the abodes of heat and fire, and its course from South to North. Its inundations had formed the alluvial lands of Upper and Lower Egypt, which they continued to raise higher and higher, and to fertilize by their deposits. At first, as in all newly-settled countries, those inundations, occurring annually and always at the same period of the year, were calamities: until, by means of levees and drains and artificial lakes for irrigation, they became blessings, and were looked for with joyful anticipation, as they had before been awaited with terror. Upon the deposit left by the Sacred River, as it withdrew into its banks, the husbandman sowed his seed; and the rich soil and the genial sun insured him an abundant harvest.
Babylon lay on the Euphrates, which ran from Southeast to Northwest, blessing, as all rivers in the Orient do, the arid country through which it flowed; but its rapid and uncertain overflows bringing terror and disaster.
In these paragraphs Pike is educating us regarding the innovations, and shortcomings of the ancient civilizations.
At once they learned how to manipulate nature to help build grand civilizations, but also lacked some skills to avert certain disaster, but this is not to say that even in this modern era governed by computer programs and simulations, that we often don’t miss the mark as well.
Which is why I mentioned that we do not ever hold all of the solutions for every situation, we often are ignorant and we seek more wisdom at all times.
To the ancients, as yet inventors of no astronomical instruments, and looking at the Heavens with the eyes of children, this earth was a level plain of unknown extent. About its boundaries there was speculation, but no knowledge. The inequalities of its surface were the irregularities of a plane. That it was a globe, or that anything lived on its under surface, or on what it rested, they had no idea. Every twenty-four hours the sun came up from beyond the Eastern rim of the world, and travelled across the sky, over the earth, always South of, but sometimes nearer and sometimes further from the point overhead; and sunk below the
world's Western rim. With him went light, and after him followed darkness.
And every twenty-four hours appeared in the Heavens another body, visible chiefly at night, but sometimes even when the sun shone, which likewise, as if following the sun at a greater or less distance, travelled across the sky; sometimes as a thin crescent, and thence increasing to a full orb resplendent with silver light; and sometimes more and sometimes less to the Southward of the point overhead, within the same limits as the Sun.
Man, enveloped by the thick darkness of profoundest night, when everything around him has disappeared, and he seems alone with himself and the black shades that surround him, feels his existence a blank and nothingness, except so far as memory recalls to him the glories and splendors of light. Everything is dead to him, and he, as it were, to Nature. How crushing and overwhelming the thought, the fear, the dread, that perhaps that darkness may be eternal, and that day may possibly never return; if it ever occurs to his mind, while the solid gloom closes up against him like a wall! What then can restore him to like, to energy, to activity, to fellowship and communion with the great world which God has spread around him, and which perhaps in the darkness may be passing away? LIGHT restores him to himself and to nature which seemed lost to him. Naturally, therefore, the primitive men regarded light as the principle of their real existence, without which life would be but one continued weariness and despair. This necessity for light, and its actual creative energy, were felt by all men: and nothing was more alarming to them than its absence. It became their first Divinity, a single ray of which, flashing into the dark tumultuous bosom of chaos, caused man and all the Universe to emerge from it. So all the poets sung who imagined Cosmogonies; such was the first dogma of Orpheus, Moses, and the Theologians. Light was Ormuzd, adored by the Persians, and Darkness Ahriman, origin of all evils: Light was the life of the Universe, the friend of man, the substance of the Gods and of the Soul.
The sky was to them a great, solid, concave arch; a hemisphere of unknown material, at an unknown distance above the flat level earth; and along it journeyed in their courses the Sun, the Moon, the Planets, and the Stars.
These are interesting paragraphs as Pike invites us to think as the ancients might have thought.
The ancients might have thought as they observed the light of day disappear into night, where night left them alone in nature as their world around them disappeared, and the might not have known for certain that the light of day, which brought their world back to them as they could again see nature around them, they might have not held for certain that the day would ever return again.
Imagine watching the sun set in the west, and not REALLY being sure you would ever see day return.
Does this invoke within you a sort of fear?
We know that we need the light of the sun to live, as it is the sun that grows our crops with its energy, and causes trees to grow which breathe out oxygen as they inhale carbon dioxide.
Light equal existence, without light we cease to exist.
Having now spent almost 49 times around the sun on this planet, I can determine through observation that the sun will with almost all certainty return the next morning, rising in the east.
So I make my way into slumber at night without fear of eternal darkness.
But, I would suggest that we should always be prudent to further the cause of always seeking more light as we continue on in our life’s journeys.
Unlike the sun, and the earths orbit around it which has been set in motion by the divine, and which we take for granted, we should never take for granted the search for more light, or wisdom and knowledge along our lifes paths.
When we cease to learn, we begin our decay into ignorance.
When we close our minds to new ideas, or ideas that are different from our own, we begin to embrace darkness which threatens our existence if we remain in darkness too long.
Dogma, in a definition I often use which was passed on to me from my political science professor where “dogma” is defined as a belief of possessing THE TRUTH so there is no longer a need to seek any further truth, is the total eclipse of LIGHT and the enemy of progress and existence.
So, unlike the ancients who might have feared the promise of a new day, we may embrace a literal sunrise and set our clocks by the new day.
But, we must always be in fear of losing our drive to seek MORE LIGHT, and we must always be aware that ceasing to seek MORE LIGHT is detrimental to our spiritual well being.
And with this very interesting viewpoint by Pike, and much to ponder for the week, I will close for now.
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See you next week!