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Q1- How should an aspirant think about their personal practice, how much importance to assign to it and what should they do about taking the time to make the threefold observances at work, and home, around others who follow other traditions, or when nobody knows what they are doing?
About personal practice
Aspirant should think about their personal worship practice in reference to the third great truth of Shetaut Neter: “devotion to the divine leads to freedom from the fetters of Set”. Because of ignorance about its true nature, the individual Soul has consciousness of duality instead of unity and becomes attached to objects and events in time and space as if they were abiding and permanent. That state of ignorance gives prominence to appearances as perceived by the senses instead of true reality of the spirit, leading to generation of negative Arius and related fetters that further reinforce illusory consciousness. The creative power of the individual Soul is then contrived within the limit of body, feelings and thoughts that lead to the longing for liberation. Unfortunately, the longing for liberation manifested as a search for bliss is being sought in time and space: a state that engenders suffering with intermittent illusory ego satisfaction in the form of moments of happiness. That cycle of happiness and suffering continues and seems to be the hallmark of life in time and space until there is realization of the illusory aspect of searching for one’s self in time and space and the existence of a transcendent and permanent reality that is worth striving to look for and that is the true source of bliss. From that realization is born the conscious aspiration to pursue a spiritual life in order to free the individual Soul from the bondage of egoism and liberate that creative force that leads to awareness of cosmic unity and when that happens it is the realization of knowing one self and the divine.
The Egyptian Yoga also called Shetaut Neter has developed an integral and proven system, with evidence that can be traced far back up to the last 10,000 years, to arrive at that goal of knowing one Self. The system is based essentially on the concept of purification of all aspects of personality meaning a conscious shift from attachment to temporary satisfaction of the ego towards the dedication of those aspects to intuitional knowledge or direct experience of the higher Self. The personal worship is a component of the Egyptian yoga that aims to purify the aspirant’s emotions from the pursuit of ego satisfaction which has the effect of neutralizing the force that is attracting the object of desire as well as creating the fear of losing that object which is illusory. It is like someone who has the strong desire to become rich and once that happens, he reaches a level of satisfaction that stop the desire to become reach but, has now a living based on fear of losing the acquired riches. Instead of pursuing ego satisfaction, the purification process will keep the desire alive and make it grow until final fusion with the object of worship by the law of compensation. In the beginning, the aspirant may think of the object of personal worship as an exchange between him/her as an external entity but as spiritual maturity grows, there will come the realization that in fact he or she is attracting the consciousness of the deity being worshipped, representing a force within that he or she was not able to be aware of before.
About the importance of the personal worship
An aspirant progress in the spiritual path can be appreciated by the sincerity of hir or her devotional practice or the degree by which one is able to purify emotional feelings and turn them to higher self instead of towards worldly objects. In the invocation to the great goddess Aset, it is said that “Aset is in our heart and only needs to be revealed but she can only reveal herself to the true aspirant, the one who is devoted to her and her alone”. That informs us on the importance of the devotional aspect of the teaching and how to know about true aspiration. As we assign importance to our devotional practice, it indicates our seriousness in the path. In thinking about the importance of the worship practice, the aspirant needs to also relate it to the other Shedy disciplines and particularly to the philosophy of Arius. Therefore, while it is important to understand intellectually the importance of worship practice, there is a need to generate appropriate Arius that support our understanding. In that context, the importance is increasing not as a wishful thinking but in a concrete manner based on our capacity to progressively match understanding with actions and in the context of worship, feelings with actions. Total devotion occurs in degree and in the process, there will be less and less delusion about permancence of objects in time and space as the practice is intensified in an integral manner with the other Shedy disciplines. Thus, the importance assigned to devotional practice needs to be taken in the context of the teaching in general and not as a separate practice apart from the others.
About observance of three worship at work, home and around others who practice other traditions
In regards to what the aspirant should do about taking the time to practice the three worships, the key for the aspirant is detachment, sincerity in giving oneself as much as possible, and perseverance. The negative Arius generated over many past lives based on ignorance of our true Self, created psychological patterns and circumstances acting as obstacles to the regularity and sincerity of the practice. That is why, at the beginning, regularity is more important than short time intensity. In other words, it is not the best approach for example to practice for one full day and then, the next day nothing is done. Taking the time to practice the three worships is in fact creating new patterns for the mind and in that context, one needs to proceed very intelligently and with good measure that can be increased over time. One should avoid provocation of the forces, the Arius that support egoism otherwise, one will be exposed to unsurmountable obstacles that will block progress. It is better to think in terms of gradual expansion of consciousness that will provide solid foundation to advance in the path. The structure of daily activities makes it easier for most people to be able to practice in the morning. Therefore, the aspirant may start from there in a degree they can support without any unbearable disturbance in their daily life. The idea is to start small, keep it regular, meaning on a daily basis and then increase over time. Worship at noon represents perhaps the most difficult in general as people may be at work or a place where they may not have free space to practice. From that standpoint, it is advised that one tries to acknowledge the worship time and utters silently either a song or a verse of the prayers: the fourth great truth may be a good thing to utter at that particular time. In regards to dusk, it is perhaps the time when people are going back from work and may find it difficult because they are tired, etc.…Once again, it is suggested to take minimum time to acknowledge the worship time and utter the great truths or whatever is easier for the aspirant. The idea globally is to ensure regularity in the beginning and to keep the minimum that can be afforded and with perseverance, the consciousness of the object of worship will grow over time. As we are doing minimum worship on a daily basis, we are slowly creating new patterns in our subconscious mind that will in time lead to Arius that support the new process gradually. If we a start too fast, the resistance of the negative Arius will overcome our ability. The spiritual progress occurs in degrees and, what is important is that we are on the right path as opposed to having an attitude that we need enlightenment as fast as possible without taking into consideration the reality of the Arius. Detachment is also an important aspect as one needs to pay attention to tendency of being satisfied by feeling content that one was able to do a complete worship. Well, this is egoism that will neutralize our resolve to continue the worship. One needs to do the best possible to avoid relying on temporary satisfaction and perhaps as soon as we are done with a worship, we need to think about the preparation for the next one and not giving time to feel satisfied. It is said in the teaching that the gods and goddesses will be satisfied with our worship when it is done rightly and with that satisfaction comes ultimate fusion or consciousness of higher self. Also, in parallel, one should be always guided by the integrality of the practice and in that sense, not to leave behind the other Shedy disciplines because perhaps we may have a devotional aptitude.
Around other who practices other traditions, it is suggested to respect what they are doing in thinking about the Neterian creed which affirms that the Supreme Being worshipped by Neterians is the same Supreme Being worshipped by others. No need to enter into provocation or competition as this will lead to more Arius supporting egoism. I believe in that sense, it would be advised to perhaps privately worship the divinity within them. So around them, we should not be provocative and resolve to be discrete in our practice as to avoid creating additional obstacles that will block our progress.
About when nobody knows what one is doing?
When nobody knows what one is doing relates to the principle that the worship needs to become a way of living and it does not matter if people know what we are doing or not. There is the formal practice but really, it is to create new patterns with the ultimate vision that totality of the aspects of our live is devotional in that sense, we are able to relate to the higher Self in all circumstances and events. Perhaps, at the beginning, some may feel comfortable when no one knows what he or she is doing. It could be a good way to start. In a philosophical sense, the devotional practice along with the other disciplines is aiming at creating a new patterns in our subconsious mind to support our worship of the divinity within us, so that we can grow spiritually and reach a stage where that worhsip encompasses all what we do, paving the way for full awareness of our divine nature.
Q2- The daily worship program consists of three worships during the day.
The idea is to develop gradual expansion of consciousness from the aspirant and to raise awareness about the three aspects of Neberdjer in the capacity of Khepri, the creator, Ra the sustainer and Temu, the destroyer.
The first worship starts in the morning at 4 lasting about 1 hour and it is in order to give the aspirant a new emphasis as usually, when we wake up, we think about assignments of the day or issues of past day and how, we are going to solve them, etc… It is a way to have the mind in parallel to think about a different reality instead of the usual egoistic objects. It is to create an impact in the subconscious where there will be coexistence of desire for worldly objects as well as for knowledge of Self even though the latter one is very thin at the beginning.
The noon worship is to expand on the impact acquired during the morning which may have been diluted in activities or stress of the morning. It is like a refreshing process so that the rest of the day does not pass and the aspirant loses all the positivity gained in the early morning.
The dusk worship is aiming at generating same awareness during the night and particularly during moments of sleep which will help for the next morning. One can see metaphorically with this process a wheel that starts turning very slowly upon the impulsion of a force that is very small at the beginning but, increasing over time. As it does so, it is wining against the inertia until the wheel reaches a tipping point where it does not matter anymore as the forces of inertia have been transcended because of vibration in another dimension where these forces are no longer able to put the wheel to rest or even slow its rotation. In that sense, with the impulsion of the will at the beginning, the aspirant starts the wheel of worship very slowly and with the practice of the other Shedy disciplines, that will, thin at the beginning will grow, grow and grow until the negative Arius are neutralized or there are development of positive Arius that keep pushing the aspirant to practice the worship. So much so now that the worship is no longer practiced three times a day in a formal way but all aspects of personality become devotional in the sense that they combine to attract the divine respectively in their own way but harmoniously until enlightenment.
The second aspect relating to development of awareness concerning the different expressions of the Supreme Being Neberdjer, is a more subtle one. As this awareness grows with worship and practice of other disciplines, it will impress in the mind of the aspirant gradually the awareness of the all-encompassing aspect of Neberdjer leading to the preparation of the aspirant to more subtle level of worship that will facilitate further the attainment of enlightenment.
Q3-Choose an icon according to your spiritual inclination.
This is based on two related concepts: first, the Arius and secondly, to provide an easier path to awareness of higher Self whereby the aspirant can feel deep connection with the cosmic principle being worshipped. Arius create thinking and action patterns which when based on ignorance maintain consciousness of separateness of objects of creation. However, within the same patterns, the person is also able to worship the divine using the qualities that he or she acquired in the current context of Ariu conditioning even though, those qualities were used in an egoistic manner. As the higher Self-pervades everything, it is a matter of the orientation of our mental state to be aware of its presence or not. Once we decide to consciously begin a spiritual path, one needs to start where one is because that is also defining the spiritual inclination. Similar to earth that shows darkness when turning away from the Sun, one can say aspirant was turning oneself away from the light of the spirit and when he or she decides to consciously adopt a spiritual life, it means turning oneself from darkness of ignorance so that the light of the spirit illuminates one’s life.
The second aspect relates to facilitating the progress in the spiritual path. In that stage of awareness, the aspirant is attached to form as if they were abiding, permanent objects having existence on their own and separate from the rest of creation. In order to be able to turn toward the divine, the Sages direct the worship of the aspirant using the divine principle that corresponds more closely to his or her patterns of living. So, it starts with worshiping God with name and form in order to purify the consciousness at that particular point in the person’s life. Worshiping the deity or cosmic force that corresponds to the aspirant spiritual inclination will facilitate the purification process at that same stage in order to help deepen the devotional aspect of yoga. It is called tutelary divinity and represents the support that will help opening up the mysteries of other gods and goddesses and ultimately, to the knowledge of the mystery of the supreme and transcendental divine Self. As one progresses and develops new patterns, one will be able to integrate additional instructions related to worship in a more abstract way without names and forms. That is an indication of expansion of consciousness using the principle of attraction which was the aim of having the tutelary divinity in the beginning.
Q4 – Describe the Hetep Slab
Hotep relates to the idea of sacrifice. In ordinary terms, people think about sacrifice in terms of exchange between two entities separate from each other. In philosophical term as per the Egyptian Yoga, a sacrifice is instead an evocation to a reality that is within us but yet we do not have consciousness of it. It is to create a desire, a sort of void that needs to be filled not by ego satisfaction of fulfilling our goals, but to elevate the desire and transform it into an active sort of force that continues to attract the internal reality we want to be aware of. The ultimate satisfaction will come not from an ego standpoint but when there is fusion or consciousness or direct experience with the very “object” that we were offering using the principle of balance of Maat or action and reaction.
In ancient Egypt, sacrifices evolved from using animals to performing highest form where images carved in stone or wooden rituals were used instead to represent ideals of cosmic force being propitiated. It is based on an understanding that the work on the subtle aspect of the mind will bring us closer to our spiritual goal but that requires advance maturity from the aspirant. Within the same context, Egyptian philosophy holds that image is higher reality of an object and using that principle elevates the sacrifice in a way that is much closer to perfection. Prime example of sacrificial program is the usage of the Hetep slab offering table: it combines libation with the food offering in a mystical implication relating to the unity of the opposites. The offering of the opposites is the highest form of sacrifice in the sense that we are attracting the ultimate goal of spiritual path which is the balance of Maat where positive and negative do not interplay but instead combine harmoniously for awareness of the true Self. By offering unity of opposites, we are in fact creating a desire to have consciousness of that unity that is our true nature, a force that is attracting the consciousness of that unity. The medium for that sacrifice was the Hotep Slab.
It is composed of a stone slab with male thigh and female duck, symbols carved into the top, along with the symbol of Supreme peace or HTP which consists of a loaf of bread and an offering mat, composed of woven reeds particularly in pre-dynastic time, and two libation vessels. During ancient time, the offering mat was composed of the articles themselves (loaf, thigh, duck and libation fluids (water, wine, milk) but, in dynastic time, table content was engraved glyphs. The top of table has grooves which channels libation around the offering toward the front and center of the table and then out through the most outward point of the production center.
The Hetep symbols means peace, satisfaction of the gods and goddesses that we have worshipped rightly leading to the union of male and female aspect into one transcendental being. Htp is the reverse of the word Pth which represents the body in the context of the trinity of Amun Ra Ptah. In that context, when the consciousness of body is reversed toward the spirit long enough with practices, it engenders the union of the opposites. In other words, in the consciousness of Ptah, the body, the creative force of spirit is limited and bound, and is suffering to attain liberation; and for liberation to occur, consciousness needs to shift toward the spirit which will bestow awareness of unity manifested by the union of the opposites.
Q5- You should not try to come the shrine harboring thoughts of anger, hatred, greed, lust, jealousy, envy, and so forth.
It is about allowing the proper vibration to impact our sunconscious mind. Thoughts of anger, hatred, greed, jealousy and so forth are the fetters of Set and derive from our ignorance of our unity with the divine self. Such feelings are the opposite of what we are trying to evocate in the temple and therefore, if we do not have the proper vibration, the temple mystic won’t have the desired impact on us: it is like washing our hands and immediately put it on the floor which results in an effect contrary to the original goal. Except in that case, it is reinforcing our illusion about the abiding of the appearance of duality in the world of time and space … This part of the teaching expresses the impossibility of focusing on Set and Aset at the same time: “Aset is in our heart and only needs to be revealed but, she can only reveal herself to the true aspirant, the one who is devoted to her and her alone.”
Another important aspect related to above is the need to purify ourselves physically, be cleansed in our mouth and speech and ways of thinking. There is the cosmic trinity that gives expressions to creation and as an expression of that trinity, we are also expressing ourselves in three level of consciousness. Therefore, the purification needs to happen at all level otherwise, it won’t be complete and we won’t benefit fully the divine grace. There will be agitation in subtle aspects of ourselves and this will impact our ability to progress spiritually. The cleansing process not only relates to our front parts, it also relates to our hinder parts and inward parts. An important point to mention also is that our ability to have the proper cleansing before entering the temple is not only dependent on our disposition of the moment based on our will, but relates to the degree we are practicing the Shedy disciplines. Our inability to have the proper disposition relates to the process of Arius generated. If we have been living a life an-Maat, it will be difficult to attain a high degree of cleansing as the subtlest part of ourselves still carry agitations based on the effect of our Arius. In other words, the cleansing does not really start while entering the temple but, it is a continuation of our mode of living and this is an important aspect the aspirant needs to reflect on to be able to impact the spiritual practice in positive way. It is also important to bear in mind, that the cleaning process will not be total in one day as there will continue to be impurities even at the unconscious level. Steady practice of the Shedy disciplines with detachment, devotion and perseverance will gradually attract the divine grace like the Sun light that illuminates darknes progressively. In other words, while we discourse on the need for total cleansing, it does not mean one should not enter the temple since then. Depending on our stage in the cleansing process, we are able to attract a degree of divine grace that will in turn help our cleansing as we advance progressively toward enlightenment.
Q6-Write a brief essay on how to conduct oneself in the temple.
There is the concept of sacred space meaning a space where the mind is informed about the perspective of unity of creation, and thus about the illusory aspect of the perception of separateness of objects of creation. It is a space where we want to impress different subtle impressions on the mind. In that sacred space, our conduct plays a central role in our ability to receive the divine grace.
What we are able to do inside the temple depends on the preparation we have made before entering into it. In that sense, cleansing is important as we said above, it needs to happen at all levels of consciousness meaning physical, feelings and mental.
After going through the cleaning process, the aspirant will be in a better position to have the proper conduct inside the temple. First, it is required a devotional attitude inside the temple, a sense that he or she is inside a sacred space that carries vibrations that are higher than his or hers and susceptible to bestow divine grace on him/her. That is why, it is required to bow in front of the altar as a sign of humility to the higher self and also a way to condition the mind to receive the divine grace. An introvert attitude will augment our capacity to receive the higher vibrations that will work on our subtle mind. Therefore, it is not the moment to show off our worldly objects or engage in discussions about the teachings or other aspects of life in an egoistic way. If the lecture or program has not yet started, one can meditate a little bit or engage oneself in reflection about aspects of the teaching or say internally prayers that will reinforce our disposition to receive.
Q7- What is the meaning of the term Seba
In ancient Egyptian tradition, Seba means preceptor or spiritual instructor: the terms has similitude in meaning to the concept of Guru in Indian but not quite exactly the same. The Seba is not an instructor in ordinary sense of a professor teaching a notion but not quite aligned with the concepts being taught. In that case, the Seba is also someone who has demonstrated in practical life the ability to live by the teaching and therefore speaks from an integral standpoint. Because he has integrated the teaching, he has the ability to impress changes on the true aspirant at all levels of consciousness. That is why, in general a reverential attitude is required in his or her presence not in a sense of pure egoistic hierarchical status but as a way to increase capacity to receive the subtle vibrations that emanate from him or her. There is an outward aspect of the teaching but, there is also a subtle aspect that bestows new ways of thinking and acting. Therefore, the reverential attitude would allow us to be able to become aware of these subtle manners so they can influence our spiritual life. Within that context, the Seba must be greed according to the tradition with basic HTP with the preferred manner of obeisance being the Dua pose with both arms raised and directed toward him or her.
In another context but still related to above, Seba also means star, in the sense of illuminator of something. From that perspective, Seba illuminates our mind and particularly, opens up the intuitional understanding within us. Closely related to the term Seba, is Sebat which is the name of the aspirant in reference to his or her female capacity in the presence of the preceptor. As an aspirant, our conditioning is best when we are in position to receive illumination which is the expression of our female aspect. In that same line of understanding, when the aspirant is able to receive the teaching properly, metaphorically, it means that he or she becomes pregnant of it, like a female taking what is being received to create an egg, which will be fertilized to bring forth life; in the case of an aspirant, he or she will give birth to spiritual child and through the practice of Shedy disciplines, will raise to Heru consciousness or the fulfillment in time and space of our innermost Self, Asar. Therefore, a very important aspect is that after receiving the teaching, there is work to be done by the aspirant at all levels of consciousness so that he or she can become enlightened or be able to see Heru at the two horizons. That is the ultimate meaning of the process of illumination and the deep philosophy behind the term Seba.
There is also a higher artifact still related to the concept of Seba called also Seba-ur that relates to the concept of a star that does not move or that shines constantly which is also called great illuminator. It is related practically to an instrument that is used in ancient Egypt to touch the mouth or illuminate the mouth of the aspirant in the opening of the mouth ceremony, which is a process of evoking deep aspects of the aspirant so that he or she can progress spiritually. The seba-ur is a symbol of star cancellation that can be seen in the North Pole, which does not change like the SUN. If we use time lapse photography of the North Pole, there is realization of existence of stars that stay static in the horizon and only revolve around Pole. This is metaphorically relating to the mental state of an aspirant that is changing constantly at the beginning under the impulse of Arius and, overtime, will gradually stays constant to the degree he or she develops proper understanding and practice steadily the Shedy disciplines in an integral fashion. As the mind continues to receive the teaching from the Seba, illumination will occur leading the mind to no longer fluctuate here and there but to revolve around the higher Self, and be the pure reflection of it hence dwelling above the clouds of ignorance.
Q8- Name different ways one can sit in the temple
Siting represents an important aspect of spiritual path in the sense that one should be conscious of the flow of energy at that moment. The preferred position in that sense is the Cross-legged posture, lotus or half lotus. There are difficulties associated with these postures and that is why alternatives are proposed to facilitate including for example, sitting on a chair with legs together and hands on both sides of the thighs. Also one can sit on the ground with feet together as if sitting on a chair with legs on both sides of thighs. We should not extend our feet forward toward the divinity or the Sage: this is a sign of provocation or non-respect in Ancient Egypt. Also, one should not lay down or slough over. In general, one must be conscious to be planted like a Djed pillar meaning with our back straight in order to keep attention alive and, at the same time ensure proper flow of energy. Finally, another acceptable posture is sitting on the back of our heels.
Overall, good postures are necessary as they help to maintain attentiveness and wakefulness that are necessary to benefit fully from special lecture and ceremonies in the temple. As every aspect of the teaching, it is also tells us to be guided against not having the proper posture in life with the risk of regressing in our spiritual life. If we approach life in general with similar mental conditioning as we approach the temple, it will allow us to live by Maat in keeping the proper balance in our actions and thinking. It means for example we will pay attention to details, to our actions, thoughts and speech in way not to let our egoistic desires get the best of us; as we advance, we will progress toward developing overall, a devotional attitude towards objects of creation because of growing awareness of the all-encompassing divine presence, an attitude that will allow for further discovery of the inner world.
Q9- Hygiene for your body, speech and for your mind are the three main concerns of the initiate.
The innermost and abiding reality of the Soul is one and it is expressed in time and space as three. Due to ignorance of that aspect, there is a temporary identification of the objects of that expression in time and space as if they were permanent, having existence on their own, separate from the reality that is the innermost cause of that appearance. It is metaphorically like thinking that a golden bracelet has a reality separate from gold itself and that the bracelet and gold are two separate objects. That temporary ignorance leads to suffering of the Soul manifested by a longing for the state of bliss that the Soul was accustomed to in the state of unity. The ignorance gives rise to clouds that baffle the Soul to false identification with the objects that are own projections. In raising awareness of cosmic unity, it is required that we dissolve the clouds of ignorance through a cleansing process, which is the main goal of every aspirant and more generally the path of the evolution of the individual Soul.
That purification needs to happen to all levels of expression of creation meaning mental, physical and emotional (astral). Hence the sense of the question that hygiene for body, speech and mind need to be the three main concerns of the initiate. Indeed, the effects of ignorance pervade all three aspects from the gross physical appearance to the subtlest level of subconscious mind. Sometimes, it is easier to think about the gross aspect of the personality and neglect the more subtle ones that are in reality the primary driving forces, guiding our involvement in time and space. There is an aspect of the question that refers to the overall process of the Shedy disciplines that are aiming to purify the way we act, the way we talk and the way we think in an integral fashion, not neglecting any discipline to the expense of the other. Due to the process of Arius, certain aspects of personality may have been cleansed in prior stage of life compared to the others and that is perhaps where the aspirant will tend to start the process; however, the Shedy disciplines if practiced integrally will also purify the remaining aspects until final enlightenment. Having a concern here means that the initiate needs to be conscious of the necessary to act on all three modes of expressions of the Soul in other to find the proper balance, meaning the union of the opposite aspect of creation and to rise to the consciousness of the absolute unity.
Dua Sebai Maa / Dua Seba Dja