Mystic Gifts From Ancient Egypt
By Dr. John Palo
(Some of the R+C traditional roots reach the Ancient Egypt)
The Ancient Egyptians Mystery Schools are a great source of our mystic teachings. Our tradition had two roots. One is in Ancient Egypt. The other is in Central Asia. However, because of Egypt's early mastery of writing and the caliber of the Greek scholars who studied there, Egypt has left us a definitive trail of mystical principles. These principles, these gifts, live in the heart of every Rosicrucian. Some are enacted at every Rosicrucian ritual.
Perhaps the greatest mystic gift comes from the Ancient Egyptian Memphite School of 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The world's first historical statement on creation can be traced to that school. It is humanity's first recorded trinity. It presents the creator God Ptah's sequential steps to creation. 1
We owe the preservation of the Memphite School teaching to Pharaoh Shabaka. He was one of Egypt's Nubian black Pharaohs. He reigned from 716 to 698 B.C. Shabaka found some old, worm-eaten papyri records. He read them and realized their importance. To better preserve them he had them carved into a flat stone. As the teachings appeared to be those of the old Memphite School, the stone had been called the Memphite Stone. It is also known as the Shabaka Stone. It is on exhibit at the British Museum (No. 498).
Unfortunately, an Egyptian farmer, unaware of the stone's worth, had used it as a base stone for grinding wheat. There's a square hole in the stone's center and eleven grooves radiate from that center. So, part of the writings was destroyed. However, there is enough remaining that is still readable. This stone presents what is probably a record of humanity's first statement on creation.
The concepts expressed on the stone were probably taught in Memphis two to three thousand years before Christ. In brief, the stone states creation takes place from the thoughts that arise from the heart and reach the tongue.
Some 60 years ago, Dr. James Breasted, one of America's foremost Egyptologist translated the writings on the stone.
"...Came into being heart and there came into being
tongue.... The heart thinks what it will and the tongue
commands what it will.... It is the latter (heart) which
causes all decisions to be made, but it is the tongue
which reports what the heart has thought out. Thus is
all action, whether simple or complex, carried out....
All is in accord with the command which the heart
has devised and which has appeared upon the tongue.
Thus is determined the peculiar nature of everything."
It further states:
"I was the maker of myself, in that I formed myself according to my desire and in accord with my heart."
Here we see the first impressions of today's Rosicrucian principles of Love, Light, and Life. Love leads to Light. Light leads to creative acts. Symbolically Heart leads to Tongue. Tongue leads to Hands. There seems to be a cyclical snowballing effect in this process. Greater Love can lead to greater Knowledge. Greater Knowledge can lead to greater Deeds. Greater Deeds can lead to greater Love, and on and on - a true mystical path.
The Rosicrucian rituals and practices carry on, even today, this sequential symbolical process of creation. It is a path through which we may improve our service to humanity. When we turn to the "God of our Heart," we turn to the source of this ancient Egyptian process. These Memphite teachings connect present day Rosicrucians to these ancient Egyptians. This process is one of our traditional roots- a gift from our Egyptian forebears.
The Memphite Mystery School teaching appears to have the greatest significance to today's Rosicrucians. However, the Heliopolitan Mystery School of Ancient Egypt was the first to state all comes from NU or NUN, i.e., the primal waters. Physiology tells us we are mostly water, and we may have come from the sea. Our blood, which preserves our life, is much like seawater. Our body cells feed from our blood and remove their wastes into our blood. Further there is some evolutionary significance to the fact that, as our fetal body develops in a mother's womb, there is a stage where gill-like structures develop. These all tend to confirm ancient Egypt's ideas of our watery birth.
FINAL JUDGEMENT SCENE
Another mystic gift from ancient Egypt is the Final Judgement Scene. This scene is prevalent on the walls of some pyramids. It is another reference to the Memphite teachings. It shows the judgement after death. A person's heart is weighed against a feather. As a feather is the Egyptian symbol for maat or truth, we can easily substitute it with tongue or voice. The heart is weighed against the tongue. Has this person's tongue been equal to the heart's prompting? Did this person listen and act upon what the heart presented to the tongue? Has my speech reflected my heart? Have I used my tongue for creative purposes? Or, have I used it to deceive and destroy? Has my word been my bond? Was my life more tongue and less heart? Did I walk the talk? So, again in the Final Judgement Scene we are faced with the heart-tongue connection.
The deceased is also faced with the Egyptian Negative Confession to maat. The deceased is asked to deny doing 42 misdeeds.2
Today's Rosicrucian strives to listen to and act upon the words from his or her heart. From an aroused love from the God of our Heart, we seek to act upon the heart's voice. In this we would manifest love and care for all humanity. The ancient Egyptians had a word for anyone who followed the mystic path of doing the word from the heart. He or she was called a maa-kheru3, i.e., "True of voice".
The literature of ancient Egyptian is filled with this fascinating marriage of the heart and speech. Ptahotep, Grand Vizier of Memphis wrote, "He will do right when his heart is straight", "Follow your heart as long as you live", "Speaking is harder than all other works, he who understands it makes it serve", "Be deliberate when you speak, so as to say things that count: Then the officials who listen will say: 'How good is what comes from his mouth."
Amenope said, "Divorce not thy heart from thy tongue."
About 2100 B.C., an ancient Egyptian noble's tomb read, "A man's virtue is his monument, (but) forgotten is the man of ill repute."
Perhaps Ptahotep said it best, "The wise is known by his wisdom, (but) the great (is known) by his good actions. His heart 'matches' his tongue."4
REINCARNATION IN ANCIENT EGYPT?
The Confraternity of the Rose Cross, CR+C, attempts to help a student remember more about his or her past lives. This is done naturally. It is not forced. Nor is it an essential to mystical growth to have specific recalls. Memory comes when it will come. In this, we do not find hypnosis an essential to this process. The past best reveals itself when it is needed for us to better go forward. Knowingly or unknowingly, we do from who we've been. The essential thing is our closer and closer communication with our heart.
But, did these ancient Egyptians believe in reincarnation? Herodotus tells us that's where the ancient Greeks learned about it. Egyptologist Dr. Margaret A. Murray, in "The Splendour that was Egypt" states, "The ka-names of the first two kings of the XIIth dynasty show this belief clearly. Amonenhat I's name was 'He who repeats births', and Senusert I's name was 'He whose births live.' In the XIX dynasty the ka-name of Setekhy I was 'Repeater of births'..."
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead we read, "I am the Benu, the soul of Ra, and the guide of the gods in the Tuat (underworld). Their divine souls come forth upon the earth to do the will of their kas, let therefore the soul of Osiris Ani come forth to do the will of his ka. ...
"Homage to thee Osiris, O Governor of those who are in Amenti (heaven) who maketh mortals to be born again, who renewest thy youth....
"Nebensi, the lord of reverence, saith: 'I am Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, (and I have) the power to be born a second time."
Dr. Murray states, "Pythagoras is usually credited with having invented the theory of reincarnation, but it was already hoary with age before the Greeks had emerged from barbarism."5
Osiris in his character as a great being among men asks, "How long... have I to live? (answer) It is decreed that thou shalt live for millions and millions of years. (Osiris) May it be granted unto me that I pass on unto the holy princes, for indeed, I am doing away with all the wrong which I did, from the time when this earth came into being."
In Manfred Lurker's "The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt" we find another quote from the Book of the Dead, "Undergoing my repeated births I remain powerful and young."
Ralph M. Lewis, Past Rosicrucian Imperator, encouraged Rosicrucians to distinguish between those teachings used by some Egyptian Priesthood to instill fear and those teachings of the advanced Egyptian Mystery Schools to provide enlightenment. Mr. Lewis related, "There is no doubt that the conception of reincarnation had its inception in Egypt....6
In considering reincarnation the ancient Egyptians entertained ideas about the ka and the ba. Their precise meaning can be baffling. This writer interprets the ba to be the soul personality that parts from the body at death. On the other hand, the ka, so often associated with the heart, was the summation of all our past lives expressions. In other words, our ka is the accumulation of our many bas. I may have the whole thing reversed. However, the amazing thing is that such thoughts were entertained so long ago.
It is common to end a discourse on spiritual matters with Amen.
Few of us realize the word Amen is an Egyptian word. It refers to the Egyptian god of Thebes, Amun (the hidden one).
The Hebrews adopted the word in their expression "By Amun!" It passed into Christian use as Amen. It has come to mean, "So be it" or "So mote it be". It is a petition for God's fulfillment of our words.
So we end this discourse on the mystic gifts from ancient Egypt.------ AMEN!
1 Ptah is the Memphite god of creation. It was from Ptah that Egypt got its name.
Memphis was Egypt's first capital. It was once called HIKAPTAH. HI meant house. KA meant heart. So, Memphis was the home of god.
The Greeks corrupted HIKAPTAH into AIGYPTOS, which later became EGYPT. Thus, name for Memphis HIKAPTAH then became the name for the whole country- EGYPT.
The Arabs corrupted HIKAPTAH into COPT. The word COPT also came to mean the land of Egypt. It comes down to us as the Coptic Orthodox Christian Church, meaning Egyptian Orthodox Christian Church.
The country Egypt was also once called KAM. This meant black. It referred to Egypt's fertile black soil. The melting snows, at the southern source of the Nile River, would cause an overflow onto the land bordering the river. This overflow brought a continual, rich, black alluvium to Egypt. Despite a lack of rain, this water and mud made for excellent farming. The deserts east and west of the black land were called the red land.
The Hebrews once called Egypt, Mitzrayim. Ayim meant two parts. It referred to upper and lower Egypt. The name became Mizrain. Actually the Egyptian Rites of Mizrain are the Egyptian Rites of Egypt.
2 In mummification the viscera are removed and placed in jars. However, the heart was usually not removed. It had to be weighed on a scale against the tongue (maat). When the heart was removed, it was replaced by a sculptured scarab. (The beetle symbolized the creator.)
Like you and I, the Egyptians knew they did not always lead ideal lives, They were only human. So, we find on the flat side of some of these heart replacement scarabs some understandably human inscriptions. Some of these writings said, "Please, just tell the good things about me."
3 If may be of some interest that the word Christ comes from the Egyptian word Kheru. Kheru meant 'Word" or "Voice". When we add Maa or Maat for truth, we have maa-kheru. Christ can be well depicted as a maa-kheru, "True of Voice"
The Egyptian priests were known as kheri-hebs.
4 The ideas of Love, Light and Life were apparently first presented in ancient Memphis. It is our first human record of it. Since then we also see this trinity presented, in some form, in the ancient Hindu and Zoroastrian faiths.
The ancient Hindu writings from Central Asia, present three parts of God. They are Bakhti (Love) Manga, Jahna (Knowledge) Manga, and Karma (Acts) Manga. These are legitimate mystical paths. However, the Hindus did not place these paths into a creative sequence, as did the Egyptians.
Zoroaster may have lived between 1500-2000 B.C., i.e., before Moses, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed. He is probably one of the world's earliest mystic. His three Commandments were Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. They seem to come closest to the Memphite sequential creative process. The Zoroastrians refer to the eternal name in the heart whose dictates must be followed. He is believed to have been born in eastern Iran (Persia). His teachings brought a mystical tradition from Central Asia.
5 Pythagoras (born about 582 B.C.) studied in Egypt. He then promulgated reincarnation.
6 In the Hindu Bhagavad Gita we also find the idea of reincarnation. In advising Arjuna, Krishna reminds him of the cause of his dilemma. Krishna tells him it came from his inability to remember his past lives. Krishna says, "You and I have had many births Arjuan. I know then all. You do not."
Reincarnation is part of the Jain, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Sufi-Muslim, and other faiths. It was once part of the Christian faith as taught by Bishop Origen. Jesus once asked, "Who do they say I am?" He was told, "Elijah", Jesus answered, "No, that's John!" And, Jesus also said that before Elijah and Abraham, he was.
Reincarnation makes us more responsible for righting our wrongs. Good deeds are the answer to bad deeds. Talents developed in one life are open to further development and flowering in the next. Nothing is ever lost. The evolution of the body is secondary to the evolution of the soul personality from one life after another.
The principle of reincarnation is another of ancient Egypt's great mystic gifts to the world.
Copyright © 1999 Dr. John Palo