Coping with Bipolar Disorder and the 2nd Degree

From Damien of Lodge Devotion

The Masonic Ritual tells members to improve themselves, their conduct and understanding in many ways. In the 1700’s when science was beginning to rapidly expand humanity’s understanding of its place in the world, the Rituals charged Masons to examine “nature and science”. Freemasons of the time were implored to use rational thinking beyond the contemporary superstition that explained many common occurrences - now taught to children in Primary School as science.

Over the Christmas Holiday I read “Coping with Bipolar Disorder” by Steven Jones, Peter Hayward & Dominic Lan. A good book explaining complex ideas in simple terms. On page 39 it said, “Cognitive-behavioural therapy is based on the simple principal that our thinking, behaviour and emotions can effect each other.”

This simple statement has stuck with me. "Self discipline" and "attitude" are the self help guru's mantra - combine this with Freemasonry's focus on good conduct (indeed Freemasonry contains all three things and more) and you find the ingredients of many sound systems of morality, religion, law and ethics. The idea that our thinking… behaviour… and emotions… can effect each other is a Simple Truth.

I had the thought that if people introspectively and critically evaluated their own faults and actions as enthusiastically and comprehensively as they occasionally discuss the faults of others; their conduct towards others would be greatly improved. Freemasonry fosters men to examine and evaluate their own passions and prejudices before those of others, not to injure others and to harmonize our conduct in mutual respect and fraternity. The way to do this is to carefully consider how we think, behave and feel - and why.

I was lent the book by a friend with Bipolar. I guess they lent it to me to help me understand what they were experiencing. The unforeseen boon was that it helped me understand myself and many others – through the phrase “that our thinking, behaviour and emotions can effect each other”

Candidates for the second degree are instructed to study "nature and science". Like many things in Freemasonry - I did not really appreciate what this meant when I first heard it (and I probably still don’t). All life's experiences, including Freemasonry, provide a prism through which to examine and understand the world.

Towards the end of the book another sentence gave me pause - A humane Society is one with opportunity for all. Even those with problems or disabilities" P 110

The two quotes are worth reflecting upon for any Good Man who seeks to be Better….