The Memphite Stone
by Dr. John Palo
WE THRILL over the artifacts of King Tut's tomb, stand in awe before the Sphinx, and the Gizeh pyramids overwhelm us justly so. However, standing in the British Museum is a very old, black Egyptian stone slab that may be more important than all the above wonders. It is the Memphite creation stone. According to Egyptologist Dr. James H. Breasted, it contains "the oldest thoughts of men that have anywhere come down to us in written form." The Memphite stone tells the story of how creation takes place. Egyptologists agree this story was current in ancient Memphis as long as 5000 years ago.
The stone itself has seen hard times. For untold years this great document had been used as a bottom grinding stone for grain. Years of flour-making upon the stone obliterated the middle third of its inscribed message. Yet, that which is still legible succinctly presents man's earliest thoughts about how God creates, how man can create, the Logos, etc. Truly, this is one of our most important human documents.
But for the insight of one man, this ancient philosophical writing would have been lost to us. An eternal debt of gratitude is owed to the Ethiopian Egyptian Pharaoh Shabaka who made this writing available to us and those who follow us.
Shabaka ruled Egypt in the eighth century B.C. The stone states, "His majesty [meaning himself] wrote out this writing anew in the house of his father Ptah-South-Of-His-Wall. His majesty had found it as a work of the ancestors, it having been eaten of worms and not legible from beginning to end. Then his majesty wrote it out anew, so that it was more beautiful than it was before." Sha-baka's "eaten of worms" copy was probably of papyrus. Thanks to this Egyptian king's sense of value and foresight, he had the new copy etched into something more permanent-stone.
The Memphite Drama
Many of us may miss the mystical importance of the Memphite statement at first reading. It may take several readings and some mystical training to appreciate its message more fully. Following is a translation of its most important segment from Breasted's Dawn of Conscience:
"It came to pass that heart and tongue gained the power over every member, teaching that he (Ptah) was (in the form of the heart) in every breast and (in the form of the tongue) in every mouth, of all gods, all men, all cattle, all reptiles, (all) living, while he (Ptah) thinks and while he commands everything that he desires."
We are then told that the lesser gods, as forms of the great god Ptah "created the sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, the breathing of the nose, that they may transmit to the heart. It is he (the heart) who causes that every conclusion should come forth, it is the tongue which announces the thought of the heart. Thus all gods were fashioned, Atum and his Divine Ennead (group of nine gods), while every divine word came into being through that which the heart thought and the tongue command…"
A careful reading of the Memphite statement reveals a mystical process of creation. It simply states the heart gives birth to ideas or thoughts which are voiced, and creative actions follow.
Ptah, the Memphite creator god, did this originally. Mystics, through the centuries, have sought an in-depth attunement with the God of their hearts to partake in this creative process. Note, the heart and tongue are united. Both are God imbued.
Rosicrucians, whose traditional roots are in the ancient mystery schools of Egypt, con immediately see a source of their repeated ritualistic admonitions to love, light, and life. Modern mystics have further characterized this concept as heart, head, and hand.
Heart--Seat of the Soul
Modern science has been thoroughly confused as to what part of the body is the center of one's being. Even Descartes thought the soul might stem from the pineal gland. Others have stressed other areas as the possible seat of the soul. The ancient Egyptians believed it was the heart. The heart was the seat of the soul. The heart survived death and was accountable for the deeds of life. Modern society with its great concentration on the intellect continues to seek the center core of one's being somewhere in the brain. Yet, if we simply ask anyone to point to themselves, the results are truly amazing. Each one of us, including scientists, raises a hand and touches the heart area. Scientific findings to the contrary, we still think of ourselves basically as heart oriented.
Science has led us to think of the heart solely as a blood pump. However, mystics also look to the heart as a great psychic center. It is considered the God-center of man. It is here that mystics attune to the universal God--the God of our hearts.
Tongue--Seat of the Mind
Neurologists are amazed at the huge amount of brain area involved with our speech. This makes the brain, especially its left side, a great instrument of the tongue. Further, memory experts constantly tell us that speech (the use of tongue) is one of the best sharpeners of our minds and memories. Is it at all strange that mystery schools use mantras or vowel sounds to heighten psychic sensitivities?
Perhaps we should take more seriously an almost humorous response to the question, "What do you think? .... I don't know. I haven't had a chance to talk about it yet." Are words, tongue, and mind somewhat synonymous?
Hand-Seat of Creation
Finally, the Memphite drama tells us when heart speaks through tongue, creation takes place. The statement does not assign a body part to creation. However, as man creates mostly through his hands, we can easily assign hands as the final symbol of this triune creative process.
Heart, Head, Hand
An Ancient Mystical Process
Again, mystics will quickly recognize the involvement of heart, head, and hand. Truly, the creation story is retold in numerous mystical rituals and mystical initiations. The temple itself is built around this idea of the heart center and the light from the East.
In a mystical sense, the Memphite drama may be telling us, the greater the heart consciousness, the greater the potential for cosmic enlightenment. The greater the cosmic illumination, the greater the creative potential. Truly, the greatest works of mystics have usually followed from those illuminations inspired by great heart contacts. Great writers, musicians, and artisans of every endeavor admonish us, to "write, sing, play, create from your heart!" A person who so lived from his/her heart was called, by the Egyptians, a true person. He or she was called a Makaru.
Is the Creator a huge psychic heart? Does He/She create through a huge psychic voice? Further, are we the Creator's instruments for creation?
Certainly our contact with God seems to involve our heart deeply. For centuries mystics have justly referred to the God of the heart. They have constantly sought this direct contact with the God of their heart.
So, in fact, do we find we are more creative when we heighten our contact with the God of our heart? Does this, then, give us more attunement with the Creator? Are we then inspired with good constructive ideas and speech to convey to hands capable of accomplishment or creation? I think so.
A 5000 Year Bond
All this and more is raised by the ideas expressed on the ancient Memphite stone. All this and more links Rosicrucians to the ancient Egyptian mystery schools. The Memphite stone creates a 5000 year bond between ancient and modern mystics.
Heart, Tongue, Creation
Love, Light, Life
Heart, Head, Hand
Truly, we cannot help but wonder. Is the awe-inspiring mysterious Sphinx ancient Egypt's greatest gift to us? Are the overwhelming pyramids, with their mys-sterious chambers, or the beautiful remnants of Pharaoh Tutankhamon's tomb ancient Egypt's greatest gifts? What about the Rosetta Stone which opened for us the meaning of all those ancient hieroglyphs? Is that stone ancient Egypt's greatest gift to mankind?
Or, as we read more and more into that old black, deeply worn Memphite stone slab---as we cull from it ideas that are vibrant at this very moment--are we not tempted to state, "Truly, this is ancient Egypt's greatest gift"?
Copyright © 1980 Dr John Palo
The Dawn of Conscience, James H. Breasted, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1933.
The Culture of Ancient Egypt, John A. Wilson, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1957.