Considerations of Ritual
were born out of a need. The
first fraternities were supplemental to the dogmatic, puritanical, almost
sterile, atmosphere of colleges and universities in the 1700's.
Man has and always will have a desire to explore himself and his
milieu. It was an effort to experience the finite universe of time, space,
energy, and life. It was out of the desire to explore his universe and to
find the purpose for existence. As
Joseph Campbell wrote, "People say that what we're all seeking is
a meaning for life. I don’t
think that's what we're really seeking.
I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so
that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have
resonances with our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel
the rapture of being alive." In an effort to join with fellow
travelers in a quest of experiencing life, fraternities were born. Much of the
symbolism and mysticism that became incorporated in fraternities came from
the major religions of the day or had their beginnings in such secret
societies as the Freemasons, Knights Templar, Knights Hospitallar, Order of Sion
or Teutonic Knights. These secret societies had much the same purpose of
the evolving college fraternities to foster intellectual questioning,
exploring, doubting, and postulating about the universe
of a need for man to understand himself and the universe of which he is a
part, Sigma Phi Epsilon was born. While
protecting individuality but focusing that individuality toward a greater
good, Sigma Phi Epsilon endeavors to encourage man to perfect himself.
Or more ably stated by Lecomte du Nouy in The Evolution of Man,
"By laboring to perfect
himself, by building an inner temple, by judging himself without
complacency, man unconsciously shapes a soul which overflows and extends all around him, anxious to diffuse in that of others.
By seeking himself he finds his brother.
To progress he must find himself,
to find himself must know himself;
if he really knows himself he learns indulgence, and the barriers
which separate him from his neighbor crumbles little by little.
There is no other way toward human solidarity but the search and
respect for individual dignity.'
is the goal
L Ron Hubbard writes in Dianetics that "The
goal of man, the lowest common denominator of all his activities, the
dynamic Principle of his existence has long been sought. Should such an
answer be discovered, it is inevitable that from it many answers would
flow. It would explain all phenomena of behavior, it would lead toward
a solution of man’s major
problems, and, most o fall, it should be workable. ... The finite universe
contains time, space, energy, and life.
No other factors are necessary in the equation.
Time, space, energy, and life have a single denominator in common.
As a analogy it could be considered that time, space, energy, and
life began at some point of origin and were commanded to
continue to some nearly infinite destination. They
were told nothing but what to do. They
obey a single order and that order is to survive.
The goal life can be considered to be infinite survival. Man, as a life form, can be demonstrated to obey in all his
actions and purposes the one command: Survive!” The great Southern writer, William Faulkner, gave us insight
into the role of man his Nobel
Prize acceptance speech when he said, "I
decline to accept the end of man. It
is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure:.
that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last
worthless rock hanging timeless in the last red and dying evening, that
even then there will be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible
voice, still talking. I refuse
to accept this. I believe
that man will not merely
endure, he will prevail. He
is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible
voice,, but because he has a soul and a
spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice, and endurance."
Phi Epsilon, as you are aware, was founded upon the principles of Virtue,
Diligence, and Brotherly Love, whose
definitions have been presented to you. These values are worthy ones
around which your life can be built, upon which governments could be
based, and truly upon which the foundation of almost all religions rest.
you may understand the words, how can you understand their deeper meaning?
We, in effect do this through our Ritual ceremony.
Through our Ritual we hope that these values will acquire a deeper
meaning - that we will, in effect, infuse them into your very being –
that you and these values
will become one. In order to understand our Ritual you must be familiar
with two basic philosophical concepts: myth and archetype.
Myths are not defined as
fiction or fantasy but rather as a way to explain things - to account for
reality. Myth, then,
can be defined as any systematic attempt to explain or account for
reality, past or present. All systems of belief evolve and develop for the
same purpose - to elucidate the order of things," to make sense of
the world. Archetype can be defined as a certain elemental experience, or
pattern of experience, common to all mankind - an experience or pattern of
experience, which men have shared from time immemorial (e.g., birth, puberty, sexual initiation,
death, traumas of war, cycle of seasons, fear, desire, yearning for
spiritual home, quest for meaning). Because
such archetypes form the basis of the most elemental and primeval facets
of human nature, their significance often defies the resources of
language. Language is a product of the intellect and of rationality.
Archetypes and archetypal patterns extend beyond the intellect and
rationality. They generally
find expression most directly by means of symbols, because a symbol does
not address itself to the intellect alone, evoking resonance from deeper
levels of the psyche - the unconscious.
present the essence or “soul” of our Ritual by using symbols to deepen
the experience. This has been
done throughout history with religions, tribal customs, secret societies,
etc. There are of course, many levels of symbol. Symbols may be personal
or they may be generalized cultural and national symbols. Individuals can
function as symbols. Archetypal
symbols can pertain, also, to mankind as a whole.
The same archetypal symbol may wear the “clothes of a specific
era” while representing the same characteristics throughout several
can function either separately or in conjunction with other symbols
which may function in concert to produce an ensemble of effects. When
symbols are organized into a coherent narrative, or story-line, they -
become what is called a 'myth.' Like the symbols which compose it, a myth,
depending on which aspects of it are emphasized, can be personal
archetypal, or anywhere in between.
societies may represent an archetype. They hold reality together.
A secret society may be defined as conclave of individuals working
for good or ill behind the scenes - making things happen. Sigma Phi
Epsilon is an archetype for good and we communicate our purpose via the
myth of our Ritual. This
speaks well of our Fraternity, in that its principles are sound and serve
a meaningful purpose in the lives of our members - past and present. It
also demonstrates that while our principles and philosophies remain
steadfast, we have adapted to societal changes.
Much as the hero of Arthurian legend wore armor, rode a horse and
carried a lance, the hero of today travels in a starfleet ship, wears a
suit of some unique polymer, and carries a phasar. While they may be
physically different, they still represent the same basic moral and
Ritual, then, is a type of myth. Functions of myth as defined by Campbell
are (1) to reconcile waking consciousness to the mysterium tremendum
et faciens of the universe as it is; (2) to render an interpretive
total image of the same, as known to contemporary consciousness. (3) the
enforcement of a moral order: the shaping of an individual to the
requirements of his geographically and historically conditioned social
group; and (4) to provide the individual with an identity and
understanding of self as it relates to the universe around him.
our Ritual is a mythological canon which can be defined as an organization
of symbols, ineffable in import, by which the energies and aspirations are
evoked and gathered toward a focus. The
message leaps from heart to heart by way of the brain and where the brain
is unpersuaded, the message cannot pass.
The life is then untouched. For
those in whom a local mythology still works, there is an experience both
of accord with the social order, and of harmony with the universe.
For those, however, in whom the authorized signs no longer work,
or, if working produce deviant effects - there follows inevitably a sense
of both dissociation from the local social nexus and of quest, with and
without, for life, which the brain will take to be for “meaning.”
The most vital, most critical
function of our mythology, our Ritual, then is to foster the centering and
unfolding of the individual in integrity, in accord with himself (the
microcosm), his culture (the mesocosm), the universe (the macrocosm), and
that awesome ultimate mystery which is both beyond and within himself and
order to fully become one with the Ritual of Sigma Phi Epsilon you must
not only know the words of our philosophy and believe it, you must also
trust it. This should be the easiest part.
Man has an innate desire to trust. However, he also has a
propensity to doubt, to mobilize his intellect and his critical faculties
in the service of skepticism. Thus he asserts his individuality, his sense
of his own uniqueness. While
Sigma Phi Epsilon respects individuality, our members are expected to live
by the code of ethics - the philosophies and principles - embodied in our
Ritual. The purpose of our Ritual is to enhance the understanding of
our Fraternity's foundation by presenting it in a manner that embodies all
the senses. Light, dark, color, sound, scent will all be utilized quite
deliberately to create a general atmosphere of 'otherness" a
dimension divorced from the mundane world, a quality of
“enchantment." In doing this all of your attention will be focused
and your self-awareness will be enhanced.
If we are successful, then you will be absorbed into something
greater - the values being promulgated.
Very often, this sensation of liberation from oneself, of being
consumed by some other entity, generates an emotion so intense that it
equates with ecstasy. It has many things in common with what is called a
"religious experience” or a “mystical experience.” By recalling
this experience the values promulgated will become more and more a part of
your being. The more you
understand yourself in relation to
your universe the more you
and the values will become one. Thus, the images of our myth, our Ritual, are reflections of
the spiritual potentialities of every one of us.
Through contemplating these, we evoke the powers in our own lives.
The Ritual is one of the clues to the spiritual potentialities of
human life. In other words,
we are closer to finding ourselves.