Addendum to Post #20508 Lesson 13 Audio Assignment “On being a Successful Student”
I would like to write an addendum to my recent post #20508 in which I tried to explain the reasons why I do not feel I have been a successful student based mostly on the inconsistency with which I have submitted my assignments. While I believe that many of the reasons I offered were valid, namely, me not being able to balance my engagement with the teachings with my career obligations and that my career served to reinforce my egoistic inclinations even though thinking that it promotes Maat Ari, my concern however, has to do with the overall tone of my presentation, a tone which while reflecting a certain level of humility borders on humiliation and even self-condemnation and self-contempt. This is a theme which Seba Dja has been addressing in her recent discussions in which she suggests that such feelings of self-doubt and self-derogation has to do with the workings of the ego which takes control of the personality and in doing so, overshadows one’s divine essence leading to a mind that is dull and agitated. How then does one address and overcome such deluded state of mind so that one move towards lucidity and reestablish one’s equanimity and spiritual groundedness?
Based on my level of understanding, I believe that Seba Dja’s recommendation is that of “ego-invalidation” which on a practical level involves engaging in the Shedy practices such as listening, reflecting, and meditating on the teachings. More importantly, on a devotional level one needs to dispense of these ego based impurities dispensing them to the divine. Also recommended are more psychological based approaches such as suppression, substitution and sublimation. From a mundane psychological point of view, such psycho-spiritual/therapeutic interventions are most valuable and it is worth noting that the devotional aspect, in particular, is what is missing in traditional psychotherapy.
What I think is important to consider also however, are the reasons why one experiences such dull and agitated states and why one allows oneself to be consumed by them.
One of the reasons that I believed was explained by Seba Dja is that, being the ego-based humans that we are, we are constantly looking for validation from others. Depending on who those “others “are determines the psychological impact that such validation or invalidation will have on us. When such validation/invalidation comes from one’s spiritual preceptors then one cannot help but feeling impacted in a profound way. And so when one perceives oneself as not being a good student or falling short of living up to the standards of one’s preceptor or oneself then it is difficult not to feel a sense of regret, self-derogation, and even remorse. However, the sense of shame and humiliation that I expressed in my recent post about “Being a Successful Student” goes beyond just not feeling that I have not lived up to the expectations that I perceive Sebai Maa has of me. I find that recently I have been going through a period of sadness and low-spiritedness the cause of which is not clear to me but which I know is Ariu based. Apart from not perceiving myself to be a “good” student there is nothing else that I can attribute as being responsible for such extreme states of emotional turmoil. As stated, I am inclined to attribute such feelings to unresolved Ariu that has been triggered by something I am currently going through, what I am not sure.
However, apart from the teachings by Seba Maa and Seba Dja, what I have also found useful is understanding this issue, was my reading of Evelyn Underhill’s book “Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness.” What I got from this reading is that, in the process of being on our spiritual journey, there are times when we go through what she refers to as the “Dark Night of the Soul” which she sees a natural part of one’s spiritual development. As Underhill explains: “…its essence consists in the effort to establish a new equilibrium…to get a firm foothold upon transcendent levels of reality; and that in its path towards this consummation, the self-experiences a series of oscillations between states of pleasure and states of pain…it is an orderly movement on the whole consciousness towards higher centers in which each intense and progressive affirmation fatigues the immature transcendental powers, and is paid for by a negation, a swing back of the whole consciousness, a stagnation of the intellect, a reaction of the emotions, or an inhibition of the will…………………….The exalted consciousness of the divine perfection which the self-acquired in its “mystical awakening” was balanced by a depressed and bitter consciousness of its own inherent imperfection, and the clash of these two perceptions………..The renewed and ecstatic awareness of the absolute which resulted and which was the governing characteristic of illumination, brought with its own proper negation, an awareness of the self’s continued separation from an incompatibility with the absolute which it has perceived. During the time in which the illuminated consciousness is fully established, the self is perfectly content. Believing in its vision of eternity, it’s intense and loving consciousness of God…Sooner or later however, psychic fatigue sets in; the state of illumination begins to break up, the complementary negative consciousness appears, and shows itself as an overwhelming sense of darkness and depravation. This sense is so deep and strong that it inhibits all consciousness of the transcendent, and plunges the self into a state of negation and misery which is called the dark Night” (pp.173).
The above passage brings to mind Seba Maa’s description of the disjointed movement which occurs when our practice is not done in an integrated manner.
Such disjointedness is also expressed by the composite divinity-Heru and Set in one personality, which upon reflection may apply to me also. As Seba Maa explains in the Kemetic tree of Life “ …so one must master how to be a righteous aspirant, how to practice the teachings, otherwise one’s aspiration will be thwarted and even one’s very desire to study the teachings will be thwarted because this is what Heru represents…one’s very inkling to study the teaching. Also, if the desire for spiritual aspiration is tainted with Set, even if the person displays deep devotion or they do good works, that will be contaminated with egoism so that the desire for self= mastery, in a person, to become enlightened, is Heru consciousness in that person. But if you pursue Heru in a wrong, ignorant fashion, you will be like those aspirants who come to the lecture, and start dictating to the teacher what the teacher is supposed to say and do. They will start talking instead of listening because they have read some things and they think they know what the teaching is all about. They selectively follow the teachings they agree with or that go along with their egoistic desires or their intellectual convictions…and that pride, an aspect of egoism, will keep them from becoming humble enough to open up to real learning” pp.147). As I read this I wonder Seba Maa, if you think of me in this way particularly in the context of this addendum where I offered another perspective from someone who is not associated with the teachings but who is a student and teacher of mystical spirituality? At what point does intellectualism manifest as egoism and become a hindrance to one’s spiritual growth?
Furthermore, as I think about the principle of “herfy”—the composite of Heru and Set, I think of how this relates to me not being a successful student given the inconsistency with which I have submitted my my assignments. As stated in the Tree of Life, “ Heru is afflicted with an alter personality. He must do battle with that personality in order to separate himself from it, to throw of the unrighteousness of the personality, the egoism…Even though Set is an illusory personality he has great power of generation, that is, to generate entanglements, desires, unrighteousness etc. which lead a person to much expenditure of time pursuing futile opportunities for happiness and thereby leading to frustration and sufferings. Set has that power because the deluded soul has given that power to him be believing in him, that is, believing in egoistic things, and indulging and feeding the desires of the ego over a period of lifetimes.” And so this takes me back to my original post wherein I expressed coming to the realization of being deluded thinking that my engagement in my carrier served to feed my ego and reinforce rather than being related to Maat Ari which I previously believed. This I suggested served to justify my neglect of my class assignments. This seems to reflect the struggle between Set and Heru that was previously discussed; between the righteous and the unrighteous parts of oneself. At least, these are the associations that I make. The question is, how is this resolved?
Moreover, this tendency to experience the ups and downs of life is further discussed in the Kybalion in relation to the principle of Rhythm. For those of us whose spiritual journey is characterized by such rhythmic swings, this may be addressed, according to Seba Maa, through a process of neutralization of rhythm. As expressed in the Kybalion, “You cannot stop the rhythmic pattern of the world. However, you can neutralize its effects within your personality and his is what every aspirant must learn to do.……..How do you break the negative cycle and change to a rhythmic movement that leads to enlightenment instead of more, lower worldly entanglements? The key to this change is focusing on Amun—‘Witnessing Consciousness’. If you were to practice awareness, concentrating on the ‘witnessing self’, your mind cannot be swayed with the tides of emotion” (pp.161). This method for addressing such emotional swings, I have personally found to be most effective.
How does one then relinquish the control that the ego has over one’s personality? What I have been taught through the teachings is to immerse oneself in one’s Shedy practices with the goal of purification so as to extricate oneself from one’s ego. In relating to this in my recent post, I made reference to Bob Marley’s infamous expression, “total destruction is the only solution” implying that in order to be successful on one’s spiritual journey one has to experience a death or more appropriately purification of one’s ego and a rebirth of one’s Heruian nature. My reference to Bob Marley and Babylon was probably prompted by the fact that this summer I taught a course on mystical spirituality in which I focused on both the Neterian/kemetic philosophy-psychology as well as Rastafari both representing mystical forms of spirituality. And so Rastafari was on my mind which from the perspective of being a student of Shetaut Neter may possibly be perceived as practicing “salad bar spirituality” which Seba Maa has continuously cautioned us about doing. And so no offense was intended. I guess this was an instance in which my unresolved Ariu was expressed.
I would like to discuss, if I may, this issue in greater length knowing that to do so is to risk being perceived as ignorant and deluded and moreover unfaithful the teachings and to my teachers and the general Neterian community. I would like to begin by giving some background to my own spiritual journey. Towards the end of my graduate career which was in a predominantly white community in California, I found myself experiencing incredible levels of social, cultural and spiritual alienation. Because in the town where I was, there existed some semblance of a Rastafarian community I took this as an opportunity to connect with my roots and address the alienation that I was experiencing. And so I did my Doctoral dissertation on Rastafari focusing on it as a social/cultural movement. My method of study was, what in academia is called “participant observation” which means I participated in the life of the community with the goal of developing an understanding from an insider’s point of view. Through this experience I was able to overcome my various states of alienation which constituted a form of spiritual and psychological healing. Upon graduation I continued to explore Rastafari finding that it had much value for my spiritual and intellectual growth.
Within the past few years I was introduced to the Neterian teachings which I immediately fell in love with. As I progressed in the teachings I soon learned that one can only be faithful to one tradition and to do otherwise is to, as stated previously, is to practice salad bar spirituality which makes one’s journey a self defeating venture. And so even though I saw continuities, similarities, and compatibilities between both traditions I put aside my engagement with Rastafari and pursued the Neterian path. What I have come to realize is that all religions are ethnocentric in nature whereby each one think theirs is superior to everyone else even to the point of ridiculing and putting down other religious traditions particularly Rastafari which has become so commodified resulting it being perceived as a simplistic and vacuous expression of popular culture. Through this commodification process the meaning and spiritual significance underlying its myths and symbols has been undermined and eroded. And so because of such commodification, Rastafari as a spiritual path, is subjected to ridicule. What I have realized however is that those who criticize Rastafari do so from an outsiders point of view even though they may have read a few books and have an intellectual knowledge of the philosophy. However as I have been taught within the kemetic tradition, to truly understand the divine, one must go beyond the surface intellectual knowledge and penetrate the depth so as to have an intuitive realization of it’s true meaning. At the risk of appearing overly intellectual or even egocentric I would like to use the “big” word “phenomenology” referring to the idea that we must take care not to judge others until we have walked in their shoes and experience their subjective realities. And so where am I know? I have developed a great love for the kemetic teachings and a deep devotion and respect for my teachers—Seba Maa, Seba Dja, and Sehu Khepera. I think I have experienced significant spiritual growth under their guidance. I also appreciate being a member of the kemetic community and value the “good association”.
However, even though I have transitioned in this way, I find that I still have a respect and admiration for Rastafari and still interested in studying it within the context of a comparative religious inquiry as I did in teaching the course that I did this summer. What I learned is that even though Rastafari does not have the level of sophistication with regard to its comprehensive and coherent mythological structures as does the Neterian traditions, its myths are functional and serves the purpose that mystical myths are designed to do. And so having the components of myth, ritual and mysticism it may be considered as being an authentic spiritual tradition. Also, nothing surpasses the functionality of reggae music in terms of serving as an instrument in communicating the teachings of Rastafari, doing so in a manner that appeals to and psycho-mythologically connects with the mind, the body, the intellect and the soul. Like the Kemetic iconography that on a mundane level has an exoretic meaning but on on escoteric level has mystical significance, so too reggae to the uninitiated is simply a series of rhythmic vibrations but for the initiated is rich with mystical symbolism and esoteric teachings. Moreover, through reggae, the teachings of Rastafari comes to be widely shared. Unlike the kemetic tradition that appeals to the intellectually minded, Rastafari, being a grassroots religion emerging out of the Ghettos of Jamaica, provides the opportunity for even the least educated, the poorest of the poor and dispossessed souls, those rejected by the world and other spiritual traditions, to accept and feel accepted by the divine and attain enlightenment which, as one Bastu recently stated, we are all entitled.
I realize that I have said much here and please forgive me to the extent that I have been self-indulgent and that what I have said reflects a form of ego-based intellectualism even though I felt that I was speaking from the heart and trying to express my limited and relative level of “truth” knowing that it is probably an expression of my ignorance and delusion. Even so, I want to say once again how much I appreciate and value your guidance and preceptorship Seb Maa and hopefully with time I will be able to reconcile whatever issues I am presently having.
Dua Sebai Maa
Suten Sa Yaa