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Level 1 Lesson 12
Sdjm means heeding the teachings.
This refers to the idea that we should be able to take care of our worldly responsibilities while practicing the teachings. I must admit that this is an ideal that is easier said than done. As a teacher, I had the privilege of using the summer break to be fully engaged in the teachings. I found that during these months I was able to develop a firm footing in my spiritual practice wherein I was able to become fully engaged in the various components of Shedy—the meditation, the devotion, and the learning of the philosophy. I was able to develop a momentum and continuity of practice that I think has served to reinforce my spiritual strength. As the end of the summer break approaches, I am appreciative that I had this time but somewhat perplexed and frightened by the prospect of resuming my worldly obligations knowing that it will take away the time and concentration that I previously had for my spiritual activities. I know this will take increased effort and discipline and a certain level of dispassion as I become engaged but hopefully not too entangled with worldly endeavors.
After practicing for many years and not becoming enlightened the recourse an aspirant should take is
1) Repeated effort “which means diligence in the practice of the teachings. There must be uncompromising, meticulousness, fastidiousness and strictness in the practice. Not sporadic and irregular practice.” 2) Dispassion (becoming free from delusion about the world and desire and hatred) which clouds the intellect 3) Devotion with form which secures divine peace. I take this to mean that “Worldly responsibilities that are performed for the sake of promoting spiritual practice are to be considered divine actions.” And so it is good when one can integrate one’s worldly obligations into one’s spiritual practice so that they are congruent or supportive of each other. As a teacher, I try to develop a mindset where I am reminded that my teaching activities are done for the sake of the divine and not for affirming my egoistic aspirations. This means teaching in a manner that is selfless and not expecting rewards that may take the form of money or egoistic gratification.
When does maturity to succeed in the teaching occur?
It occurs when “there is sufficient frustration with the pursuit of worldly desires. A person’s capacity to practice dispassion emerges when they realize the futility of trying to fulfil their egoistic desires through worldly pleasures.” I believe that such maturity may sometimes be a function of one’s age as well as one’s Ariu. Even though I was exposed to the teachings at an earlier age, because of my engagement with the world (Beginning my career as a teacher) the teaching did not resonate with me as it does now having realized through my experiences that there is nothing in the world, including career pursuits or relationships, that brings happiness and fulfilment that is enduring and grounded in truth. Even though the experiences I had during those years may have been meaningful in some way they were still based on a mind that was deluded being characterized by egoistic notions and desires. It is because of such a deluded mind that the teachings did not resonate with me in a manner that would have allowed me to assimilate them in the proper manner. For some of us primarily because of our Ariu, it takes a longer time to see the “truth”. The state of delusion that had characterized our previous experiences are not to be seen as meaningless but a part of our spiritual evolution. And so there is no reason for regret; only to be thankful that the light of truth has now entered our lives allowing us to see what is real and eternal. This sentiment is reflected in the following proverb “God sheds light on they who shake the clouds of error from their soul, and sight the brilliancy of Truth, mingling themselves with the ALL-senses of the Divine Intelligence, through love of which they win their freedom from that part over which death rules, and has the seed of the assurance of future deathlessness implanted in him. This then, is how the good will differ from the bad.”
Divine love towards God allows the depth of the teaching to be approached.
It is often said that God is love and love is God which emphasizes the notion that our knowledge of the divine is not only an intellectual knowing but also a “feeling” attained through our devotional practices. As was pointed out in the readings “Practicing devotion to God has the effect of turning the mind towards the divine and this leads to purity of feeling and thinking.” For me, a most important point is that the practice of devotion is “essentially a worship of the divinity within oneself.” This to me is the essence of mysticism which is the hallmark of Shetaut Neter.
The desire for worldly attainments should be replaced with desire for spiritual attainments in the form of increasing Divine love, increasing dispassion and increasing peace and desire to study the teachings and be in the company of those who espouse it.
For me, the key here is dispassion since out of necessity one has to interact with the world but the challenge is doing so in a dispassionate way so that such interaction, rather than being fueled by a desire that is of a worldly nature is fueled instead, by a desire that is Maatian (principles of right action based on truth).
As a teacher I have the privilege of not having to work full time during the summer. This week is the first week that I am back to work and as the week comes to an end I am realizing how much energy having to work takes away from my spiritual practice. In reflecting on the past, I realize now how there have been periods when the more spiritually grounded I became the more difficult it was to engage in my occupational desires. On the one hand, my mind let me realize that I needed a job to fulfill my material needs including being able to pursue the teachings and, for instance, going on pilgrimages to Kemet. On the other hand, my heart and soul yearned for peace, quietude, and the time and energy to fulfill my spiritual needs. There were times when this inner conflict manifested in psychological imbalances that made it difficult to function effectively on my job. Expressed as anxiety and panic attacks, it was as though unconsciously and on visceral level I could no longer tolerate having to sacrifice attending to my spiritual needs because of my job commitments. I managed to work through these turbulent periods somehow managing to re-establish my psychic equilibrium, hold unto my job while remaining engaged in my spiritual practice. I am hoping that these experiences have helped in enhancing the level of fortitude and strength I will need to confront the challenges ahead.
“Those who want to practice salad bar spirituality or seek the advice of oracles or create their own independent classes should do so on their own. One cannot be a Shemsu in this way…..”
In my view, I believe that I have been a diligent follower of the teachings of Shetaut Neter since having adopted this spiritual path. Throughout my young and middle adulthood I had explored intellectually and experientially the Rastafarian tradition which, as I have observed, has been the foundation for many who have later moved on to embracing the Neterian spiritual path. I say this to acknowledge the value it has had in putting in place, on a global level, an African centered consciousness that has served to enlighten many who have adhered to its teachings. Those who are familiar with both traditions will recognize the mysticism and cultural roots, values and beliefs that they both share.
In further responding to the issue of fidelity to a particular tradition, while as a Shemsu I believe that I fully embrace Shetaut Neter, I must admit however, that my intellectual sensibilities makes me aware that to constrict oneself to a particular paradigmatic view of the world presents the possibility of being imprisoned within that particular worldview and consequently being blinded to a larger more encompassing truth. I realize that such a statement may appear sacrilegious and may reflect the workings of a delusional mind, but I guess this is where I am at in my spiritual evolution. I must also add that I realize that one cannot trust the intellect as it sometimes leads one astray. This is particularly the case when intellectual knowing is not accompanied by intuitional realization. My mind and my heart fully embraces the teachings doing so in a manner that makes me realize also that “truth” while being realized through conceptual and symbolic systems such truth, at the same time, transcends these very systems.
How should a spiritual aspirant think about their spiritual path when they encounter failure to meet the instructions of the teaching or they fail to execute their own desired level of practice?
“If you want success, concentrate on this teaching and drop others. Follow the instructions carefully and meticulously, and when there is faltering, pick yourself up and try again and again. Practice the teaching in this manner until the goal is attained, no matter how long it takes or where you need to go to receive it…..A DETERMINED ASPIRANT MUST SEE THE ENDEAVOR OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING TO ITS END”
How should a spiritual aspirant think about their spiritual checklist and how diligent should they try to be with it?
The checklist serves as a guide by which one is able to determine and evaluate how diligently one is practicing the teachings. The checklist sets the basic standard for one’s practice. It allows one to monitor one’s performance and determine if there is improvement and in particular areas as well as determining in which areas we need to invest more work. It is important to practice on a regular basis as it is only through such disciplined practice that one will be able to transform the mind.
An aspirant should keep a spiritual diary.
This is for the purpose of monitoring changes in one’s personality and being able to avoid mistakes of the past