LEVEL 2, LESSON 1 READING ASSIGNMENT: AFRICAN RELIGION VOL.4: ASARIAN THEOLOGY
Having previously read African Religion Vol.4: Asarian Theology a few years ago, it was gratifying to read it again in the context of this particular coursework. I found the assigned reading to be supportive and integral to other assignments in the lesson which, by design, reinforced the spiritual learning experience. With comparison to my first reading of the text, certain insights stood out more so than previously as the current focus is different.
In the interest of going with the spiritual flow, I have selected to discuss various quotes that seemed to leap off of the page as I was reading. The first quote is as follows:
“The goal of yoga is to promote integration of the mind-body-spirit complex in order to produce optimal health of the human being.” (Ashby, p. 11)
Admittedly I was a bit confused by this quote although, as one who practices the healing arts, I believe in optimal health on all levels. Should not the goal of yoga (Sema Tawi) be that of Enlightenment? Perhaps what is meant is that yoga, when practiced integrally, brings about a balance in the mind-body-spirit that allows for one to transcend into Enlightenment, i.e. Tjef Neteru postures for the body, Wisdom teachings for the mind (Shedy Rech), and Meditation (Uaa) for the spirit.
One hears the “mind-body-spirit” mantra these days as a marketing strategy for mainstream yoga that has little to do with the goal of attaining Enlightenment as much as gaining great abs and releasing stress. Although those can be byproducts of yogic practice, it is not enough for the serious aspirant of Sema Tawi. The quote that directly follows the previous quote addresses and stresses the point I am making:
“This is accomplished through mental and physical exercises which promote the free flow of spiritual energy by reducing mental complexes caused by ignorance. There are two roads which human beings can follow; one of wisdom and the other of ignorance. The path of the masses is generally the path of ignorance which leads them into negative situations, thoughts and deeds. These in turn lead to ill health and sorrow in life. The other road is based on wisdom and it leads to health, true happiness and enlightenment.” (Ashby, p. 11)
Thus, as the above quote states the practice of the yoga disciplines is a “road” that leads to optimal health and true happiness with Enlightenment as the goal.
As much as I appreciate the study of Sema Tawi and Shetaut Neter, I also appreciate the historic and cultural contexts that gave rise to this glorious spiritual legacy. I give the author due diligence and credit for reclaiming the spiritual tradition, its philosophy, culture and its people of Kemet as that of Black Africans. Moreover, for establishing Kemetic Religion as the oldest recorded religion.
“The Ancient Egyptian religion (Shetaut Neter), language and symbols provide the first “historical” record of yoga philosophy and Religious literature.” (Ashby, p. 18)
Witness the Shpinx (Hor em Ahket) that can be radio carbon dated to approximately 10,000 B.C.E. as a visual, physical testimony to advanced religious practice, not to mention architecture and highly developed knowledge of astrological science before anywhere else in recorded history. The world owes great recognition to the African spiritual and cultural traditions of Kemet that were the inspiration and impetus of spiritual traditions worldwide.
“People who were practicing simple animism, shamanism, nature based religions and witchcraft were elevated to the level of not only understanding the nature of the Supreme Being, but also attaining salvation from the miseries of life through the effective discovery of that Transcendental being, not as an untouchable aloof Spirit, but as the very essence of all that exists.” (Ashby, p. 12)
Such a contribution is invaluable and, throughout various periods of history, the accomplishments of Kemet have both marveled and baffled those of Western cultures who have studied this Black African, Kemetic culture. In their ignorance many Western scholars have denied that Ancient Egyptian people were Black, preferring to believe they were the same Arab people who occupy modern Egypt. But the author provides a great body of evidence, which includes eye-witness accounts by foreign contemporaries of the Ancient Egyptians such as Greek Histoian Diodorus Siculus who wrote in the first century B.C. that “Egyptians were actually colonists sent out by the Ethiopians.” But more importantly the ancient people of Kemet state their own blackness in their very language as presented in the following quote:
“As we have seen, the terms “Ehtiopia,” “Nubia,” “Kush” and “Sudan” all refer to “black land” and/or the “land of the blacks.” In the same manner we find that the name of Egypt which was used by the Ancient Egyptians also means “black land” and/or the “land of the blacks.” (Ashby, p. 15)
This compelling linguistic evidence links together Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kemet as being descended from the same lineage of Black peoples. The importance of this truth goes beyond race to establishing a thought paradigm that is unique to the African experience, and is at the foundation of the philosophy of Shetaut Neter.
“Shetaut Neter means the “Hidden Divinity.” It is the ancient philosophy and myth spiritual culture that gave rise to the ancient Egyptian civilization.” (Ashby, p. 21)
This Black civilization sought to have a Mystical experience with the Divine and through miraculous revelations, developed a systemic practice of rituals, combined with mythology as a way to reach a higher level of consciousness.
“These disciplines promote a transformation through a movement that purifies the personality and renders it subtle enough to perceive the transcendental spiritual reality beyond time and space.” (Ashby, p. 20)
I seek the path to “Nehast” (Enlightenment) and have, ever since childhood, been drawn to the Kemetic culture even before I was aware of its spiritual tradition. Therefore, Neterianism was a natural choice for me. Everything about the practice of Shetaut Neter resounds with my spirit and is spelled out in the 14 General Principles of Shetaut Neter on page 35 of the text. Within these Principles of Shetaut Neter is a foundation based in Maat that would bring peace and harmony to any being or society that would follow them.
Being a practitioner of Neterianism requires that one purify the ego self.
“Egoism is the idea of individuality based on identification with the body and mind only as being who one is.” (Ashby, p. 36)
This means letting go of worldly attachments for something greater—Enlightenment. This is, of course, a process and is based on life impressions (present and past lifetimes) called aryu. Therefore, an experienced and authentic Spiritual Preceptor to guide one on the spiritual path is critical, lest one become discouraged, as it takes time for most aspirants. Patience is definitely part of the process to becoming Enlightened, although one should pursue it with unrelenting persistence as if your life depended upon it, because it actually does.
“The goal of all the Neterian disciples is to discover the meaning of “Who am I ?,” to unravel the mysteries of life and to fathom the depths of eternity and infinity. This is the task of all human beings and it is to be accomplished in this very lifetime.” (Ashby, p. 37)
Om, Htp, Htp, Htp, Htp
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