The Order's Manifest

Dignity is an International Order which may be envisioned as a pyramid, with the Grand Master at its apex. The Founder and Grand Master of Dignity is Giuliano Di Bernardo.

The Order’s purpose is the defence of human dignity: that is, the state of moral nobility in which Man is placed as a consequence of his intrinsic qualities and his nature. The notion of “dignity” is therefore inherent in Man: it is the expression of a universal characteristic to be found in all men, without distinction of sex, age, race, religion, language, or culture. It is therefore one of the elements that constitute a man, in the sense that if a man loses his dignity, he is no longer a man.

It is precisely because dignity is an irremovable element of man expressing his nature that it may be found in all philosophical anthropologies, whether religious or secular. But in the contemporary world, dignity is scorned and humiliated. Numerous men and women are obliged to live without dignity; it is for this reason that humanity is losing the ideal values that have always sustained it. Even our faith in God is being extinguished, and humanity seems to be lost in a fog of atheism and utilitarianism.

Because the notion of “dignity” is universal, it has unlimited capacity, and the innumerable qualities that characterize human nature all fall within its sphere.

Any Order that proposes the defence of Man’s dignity must choose those qualities, from among the many that constitute it, which are judged primary and essential when located them on a scale of values. Our choice must take account of the particular historical and contingent conditions in which Man finds himself. In the modern world, defending human dignity means above all the defence of ethnic minorities, women, the weak and the persecuted.

The principal purpose of our Order is to defend these aspects of human dignity; this purpose must be achieved by employing the highest levels of moral and spiritual commitment.

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Esotericism. Principles and sacredness

All esoteric societies are interpretations of the esoteric philosophy expressed – like a continuous invisible thread running through human history – in general principles and in sacredness. The principles that derive from this philosophy are Freedom, Tolerance, Brotherhood, Transcendence, and the Initiatic Secret.

Freedom is an irrefutable fact of our life experiences. We know that we are free, and that we must choose between two or more options in a responsible manner. Although in theory we can deny freedom, in real life we can only act by assuming our freedom and that of others.

We can speak of freedom in two different senses: material and constitutive.

Material freedoms are those that can be characterized as ‘freedoms of’. In the political and social domains, certain freedoms are demanded: freedom of thought, speech, association, assembly, movement, and the like.

Freedom in the constitutive sense is instead inherent in the very nature of humankind: a man is a man if, and only if, he is free. Conversely, if a man loses his freedom, he is no longer a man. We can chain a man to a rock and thus deprive him of all his material freedoms, but we cannot prevent him from thinking about freedom. To prevent him from thinking about freedom, we must kill him.

Freedom is closely bound up with morality. Freedom is the prime condition for morality. Morality is only possible on the basis of freedom : if there is no freedom, there is no morality. When freedom is denied, a genuine understanding of morality is not possible.

This justifies the choice by esoteric thought of freedom as a fundamental concept. Dignity, in fact, sees morality as the highest realization of initiatic betterment. Since morality is only possible in conditions of freedom, it follows that freedom is the primordial concept from which the entire esoteric construct of Dignity derives.

Closely connected with freedom is the principle of tolerance. Also this concept has two different meanings, which have nothing to do with the ordinary meaning of ‘tolerance’ as ‘forbearance’.

We may therefore say that tolerance is a principle by which, in the presence of my own conception of man and life, I recognize the existence of other, different, conceptions and respect them. I have my own beliefs, but I grant you the right to have views different from mine, and I respect them. I shall never use force to impose my ideas on you.

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The Symbolism

The Knights and Dames of the Order gather in the Temple, to proceed along a path called “the perfectioning”. This path shall lead them to the knowledge of themselves, of society, of nature and God. The Temple and the act of perfectioning indicate that the Order is an esoteric society.

The term “esoteric” literally means “internal” and refers to a set of doctrines characterized by secrecy, to indicate the teaching devoted exclu-sively to those who belong to the select circle. The opposite term is “exo-teric”, which means “external” and refers to the teachings suitable for all.

In addition to the secret, esoteric societies are based on the initiation, a ritual ceremony through which one is allowed inside. The key feature of the initiation is a complex ritual called “death/resurrection”. Here the candidate passes from an earlier stage (called “Stage of the Profane”) to a new one (called “Stage of the Initiate”): he dies to be reborn to a new life. Rites of initiation are present in all human conceptions, from antiquity to the present day.

The secret and the initiation require, in turn, their own perfectioning. This is the manner by which we improve ourselves through ritual degrees and higher levels of knowledge. The secret, the initiation and the perfection-ing are thus the pillars that support an esoteric society. The rites of initiation, of passage and the revealed truths are known as “Mysteries” to initiates. In antiquity, the Orphic mysteries gained in a particular importance.

The esoteric tradition can be found in every great religion of humanity. It has developed within the religions of the Far East, such as Buddhism and Brahmanism, here assuming the form of Tantrism and of the Zen Buddhism. It can be found also within the Islamic tradition, here assuming the forms of Sufism and is present in the whole history of Christianity: from early Gnosticism to the Kabbalah of the Renaissance and to the French and Bavarian esoteric Catholicism of the nineteenth century. We can find this tradition also in non-religious societies, for instance, in the neo-pagan eso-tericism of the Renaissance, in the Martinism, in the Anthroposophy of R. Steiner and in Freemasonry.

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