In facilitating a recent discussion on Pike's Morals and Dogma vs. Morals and Dogma for the 21st Century, I mentioned that Pike was very intentional in his writings - choosing specific words to convey a specific meaning and tone. Take the title of the the 8th Degree - Intendant of the Building.
Intendant: a political position first developed by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of French King Louis XIII. Under Louis XIV, the intendant became the most important means for centralizing royal authority. The intendant was usually a non-noble, so his power and position were directly dependent on the favor of the king. He was granted full power over finance, justice and police. He could try cases, unseat judges, collect taxes and regulate local municipal governments among other powers.
Pike says in Morals and Dogma, "In this Degree you have been taught the important lesson, that none are entitled to advance in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, who have not by study and application made themselves familiar with Masonic learning and jurisprudence. ... How far you advance, depends upon yourself alone."
So, what does this opening statement have to do with the title of the degree? Tons.
With the 8th degree, the candidate learns that the progress of civilization and organizations is based upon the transmission of knowledge to subsequent generations. It is education that binds generations together. Without a commitment to education, no society or company can endure. Masonry illustrates this commitment through the work of its members in guiding the candidate’s journey thru the degrees and beyond.
As the candidate becomes a Master of the Royal Secret, and is thus made a full member of the Valley and of Scottish Rite Masonry, it is his responsibility to know his responsibilities - to become familiar with Masonic learning and jurisprudence. The same is true in any business. A new hire must quickly become familiar with the organization's culture, customs, rules, and norms.
Many companies have introductory sessions for new hires, employee handbooks, mentors, or other ways to assure that knowledge is passed from one generation of employee to the next. Masonry is no different. The employee who familiarizes himself with this new information the quickest - and who can use this new information to his advantage - will easily find opportunities to excel and promote. As Pike says, "How far you advance, depends on yourself alone."
As an Intendant, you should have the full knowledge of the lessons, traditions, and codes that make up Masonry (or your business) in order properly wield the power to which you have been entrusted. Remember, "how far you advance, depends upon yourself alone."