The Scottish Rite continues a Master Mason’s education beyond the Three Degrees of Blue Lodge Masonry. The Scottish Rite consists of the 4°–32°, and an honorary 33° that is awarded for exceptional service.
The Scottish Rite seeks to strengthen the community and believes that each man should act in civil life according to his individual judgment and the dictates of his conscience, building upon the ethical teachings and philosophy offered in the Craft (or Blue) Lodge through dramatic presentation of the individual degrees. These degrees illustrate a moral lesson or philosophical precept.
When a man joins the Scottish Rite, whether he approaches the degrees for the first time or returns to enjoy a reunion with other Masons, he is participating in a most ancient tradition. He is actively engaged in the eternal quest for a higher awareness; he is reaching across the generations to join his brothers, both living and dead, in the timeless pursuit of that which is noble in man.
That pursuit begins in the Blue Lodge. There, he learns that the Degrees of Freemasonry represent a journey. He is taught as an Entered Apprentice, or First Degree, that the lodge is a representation of the world, and that our journey through it is a representation of our own life’s journey. He learns the importance of his outward relationships with others, and with the institutions of his society. As a Fellowcraft, or Second Degree, he is taught that it takes a combination of intellect, experience, intuition, feeling, emotion, and education to make real progress in life. He discovers his dual nature; there is a spirit within him which can lead him to self-improvement. In the Third Degree of Masonry, that of Master Mason, he turns inward, and comes face to face with his own worse enemy – his ego; and then he is given the opportunity to transcend his passions and prejudices, and become true to who he is.
It is when he has thus prepared himself that he is ready to advance to the higher awareness which can be discovered in his journey through the Scottish Rite. The progressive degrees of the Rite are designed to carry the man to a new level of insight. Each degree contains a lesson, a time context, a grouping, and a historical association. Each degree explores a specific set of ideas, has an overall theme, and comprises a guidepost, or marker, which gives him personal insight about his own journey, or quest, in life.
The Scottish Rite takes the form of four quests; with each of the four Bodies of the Rite concerning itself primarily with one of these quests. These quests never end and continue throughout our lives. Taken together, they are profoundly important to who we are capable of becoming.
In the Scottish Rite, we learn that we do, in fact, create our own future by our actions, and every action we take, or fail to take, has consequences which echo unto the end of time. What we build matters. There is no such thing as an unimportant action. We build ourselves. The Scottish Rite gives us the tools to have whatever life we want. We need only to select well, examine carefully, decide fairly, live spiritually, and love mightily.