Lesson 11AWT- Level 1: Damaz Alexis
SECTION 1: MAIN TEACHINGS OF THE LESSON
The main teaching of the lesson is about spiritual etiquette or the general principles that guide one’s conduct as an initiate in the presence of other aspirants as well as the preceptor.
The main points covered are as follows: washing oneself, posture, greeting the spiritual preceptor, importance of hygiene, personal life, and duties of the initiates, Meditation and devotion.
A) Washing oneself
That point relates to purification or cleansing of oneself not only at the physical level but mentally and spiritually. The principle gave rise to baptism in Christian religion. At the physical level, one needs to be cleaned in washing oneself regularly particularly before entering into the temple. Washing the mouth implies that we utter no harsh words while preparing oneself to enter the temple. In case of any difficulties, one shall try best to come to terms to them at least psychologically and not try to carry the related negative impressions inside. Also, cleansing the thought requires that we avoid eating meat, and having sex while considering the entry to the temple. Cell phones, beepers and other worldly possessions must be avoided as well inside the temple. In general, anything be it mental, physical that can alter the capacity to receive divine grace in the form of positive vibrations need to avoided. Otherwise, the aspirant will not be in proper conditioning to benefit from higher and subtle vibrations at the temple. Without cleansing at all three levels of perception, obstacles from the Arius will affect our ability to progress spiritually. Also, an important issue is that to the extent we practice the Shedy disciplines and generate positive Arius, our conditioning will improve as well; therefore, while it is important to have special considerations prior to moment of entering the temple, it needs to be understood that it is in fact a a continuous practice in order to build a solid foundation for steady progress in the path.
The following excerpst from the Wisdom texts, in the instructions of the Sage Amenemope illustrate well the issue on the temple:
“As for the heated man in the temple, he is like a tree growing [indoors]; A moment lasts its growth of [shorts]; Its end comes about in the woodshed; It is floated far from its place; the flame is its burial shroud”.
There are several sitting positions allowed: cross legged postures, half lotus, sitting on a chair, sitting on the ground with feet together, sitting on heels. The aim is to promote attentiveness to the rituals or lectures. Supreme respect shall be provided to the shrine and one needs to avoid extending feet forward toward divinity and the preceptor or Sage: that is a sign of disrespect. In general, one would not want to be too comfortable, stick to above allowed postures and avoid those leading to slumber that will affect understanding.
C) Greeting the spiritual preceptor
Our preceptor distills the teaching to us in a way to help us opening up our intuitional knowledge or the capacity to understand with the intelligence of the heart and be in fusion with truth. Our relationship with him or her needs to follow proper etiquette in order to condition our self to adequately receive the teaching and have proper understanding to guide our practice. When it comes time to greeting, high respect should be shown and shall reflect a spiritual context: it is with palms turned toward him or her in the Dua pose, a similar way we salute the divinity, with reverence. The aspirant needs to reflect on the fact that the more we spiritualize our relationship with our preceptor, the more we will be able to understand the teachings. There is hierarchy of quality and hierarchy of quantity. The first one applies more to situations in time and space where people are ranked based on their quantity of wealth, etc. In the hierarchy of quality, the Nefer attributes are the main measurement and a preceptor has acquired them based on practice of the wisdom teachings. In that sense, he or she is a mirror for us, a person that have realized a goal we are looking for. So, in order to evoke those qualities within us, the reverence to our preceptor as a spiritual teacher and not in a pure worldly sense will impact positively our progress; understanding that they have mastered their ego through a cleansing process so they are a clearer channel of the expression of the divine self. It is in that spirit that we want to relate to them always and not only when greeting but, in all aspects of the relationship as well.
In the same sense, the shrine housing the representation of the divinity is hidden and only can be manipulated by advanced aspirants. It is a question of avoiding negative vibrations and ensure the representation continues to have purity.
One may clean oneself out of necessity but with hygiene in mind, there is higher consciousness for cleansing in the sense that it becomes a way of living. In that context, particular attention shall be given to our clothing and overall physical appearance that should be in accord with the cultural aspect of the religion; an aspect that will reinforce positively proper conditioning. In worldly events, they always advertise ways of dressing in order to ensure people have particular appearance that is aligned to the perception being projected. One can understand why people who are rebellious against a system usually resolve to dress in ways that are contradictory to the system values. Therefore, it is important for our advancement that we pay attention to that aspect and harmonize our self with it. Also, in regards to mental hygiene, meditation is very important in order to help developing our connection to the divine. When we are caught up in worldly affairs, our mind is attached to objects in time and space as if they were abiding with existence on their own. From a philosophical standpoint, our mind becomes clouded and unable to reflection clearly the higher self. The cleansing provided by meditation will help to gradually dissolve such clouds so that our Ka develops develops more and more awareness of the divine Self. It is also important to work in parallel on generating positive Arius in order to neutralize the negative ones that govern our present way of living. Our subconscious mind reflects in time and space perception of duality and separation, due to ignorance or our true self, manifested by attachment to worldly objects as source of happiness. The positive Arius will help cleansing those negative impressions and gradually reduce the agitations of our lower mind, the Ka, so that the spirit can shine in its glory like Ra is shining fourth every day on earth. Closely related to the aspect of hygiene is the need to practice the Shedy disciplines in an integral fashion which are in effect the main enablers of our cleaning process. In other words, to the extent we intensify our devotion with the chants singings and prayers, study of the teaching with listening, reflection and meditation, live by Maat with Selfless service, and practice meditation, our hygiene becomes more and more effective and this will reflect positively in all aspects of our personality.
E) About Personal life
The lesson emohasizes the fact that we need to have particular attention to the way we live our personal life so that, it reflects the Nefer qualities promoted by the teaching. In general, aspirant should strive to develop internal detachment and dispassion towards events, objects, and people in time and space. That means to not consider them as permanent but rather temporary expressions of the all-encompassing divinity, the causal principle of existence that is the only abiding reality. In personal life, aspirants shall avoid being fanatic, an attitude that will cloud their understanding and lead to blind faith and therefore not positive for continuous progress in the path. In regards to the study of the teaching, one needs to avoid dry intellectualism with the absence of feelings. With dry intellectualism, there will be stagnation in the path; developing also the devotional aspect will contribute to provide the proper balance to advance. In regards to conflict, aspirant should be ready for forgiveness and not carry the resentment of past actions that will block spiritual progress. It is to be understood that our higher Self is not affected whatsoever by events in time and space and it is our attachment that makes them have such impact. From a mystical standpoint, forgiveness is not really for the other person but a way for us to acknowledge our illusion in time and space and resolve to move away from it and not to continue carrying the negative impressions on our subconscious mind that entertain our suffering. Bear in mind it is not to accept wrongdoing but a way to work on one’s self so that the teachings of the events can be learned to put us in a position to elevate our vibrations so that they do not continue to affect us the same way. It is also a way to affirm our understanding about the non-abiding aspect of the phenomenal world and to evoke awareness of our higher self. In other words, we can take opportunity for forgiveness as a way to neutralize negative Arius. Furthermore, if we think that there is someone to forgive that is external to ourselves, we entertain in parallel the illusion of time and space and therefore, we have not fully negated the related Arius. While that can be a good way to start, the highest expression would be to strive not to generate any Arius from the experience and affirm the permanency of the higher self which means really evocating our ability to be aware of it.
In the same spirit, taking too much care of the body in an egoistic way, being angry, lusted and in general showing qualities of Set make us to forget the true nature of ourselves and we need to clean ourselves from them.
F) Duty for the initiates
This lesson reveals several duties an aspirant needs to consider. One of them is selfless service or the attitude to always make oneself available to serve the temple as much as possible whence opportunity is presented. Also, it is important to avoid disturbance, whining and complaining with the understanding that ultimately, the reality of our perception is only a reflection of our state of Ka. So, a perceived state of affairs qualified as boring is only effective because our Ka makes it so based on ignorance and negative Arius. So, in regards to adversities which will often happen in time and space, one should remain calm, quiet and try to find ways to move forward and have more strength afterwards. Therefore, the events in time and space are to teach us about ourselves and to help us to learn where we need to improve and advance in the path. Other duties that will help aspirants to advance in the path are: doing right actions that lead to gaining of inner peace; having right etiquette, proper clothing, and study the proper way; learning the chants by heart. All of that must be done in the context of the practice of the Shedy disciplines as well.
G) Meditation and devotion.
The lesson reminds us about the importance to have special consideration to plan time for meditation. It instructs not to be hard on ourselves in the beginning understanding that we have generated negative Arius that are not aligned to our current will to meditate: in other words, our ability to practice will not develop instantly and requires hard work to overcome the barriers or Arius. It is suggested to start small, resolve to a minimum practice to do in difficult times: the key is to practice regularly to the best of our ability and grow over time. What needs to be understood is that as we practice the Shedy disciplines integrally, there is work being done at the subtle level that will neutralize the negative Arius and we will be able to progress better as time goes on. So, it is essential to work in every aspect of the personality in way that each influences the other in a positive manner for the teaching.
In regards to devotion, being able to see others as our self will help dissolving clouds of ignorance and the related fetters of Set including anger, lust, jealousy, etc…One may start intellectually with a purpose but, that will serve as an evocation to attract higher Self, and if we practice steadily over time, our awareness will be raised until the point duality is dissolved and we become ultimately hmn Ntr or servants of the divine and pave in that sense the way towards seeing the Heru at the two Horizons.
SECTION 2: WHAT ARE ASPECTS OF THE TEACHING CURRENTLY IMPLEMENTED AND WHAT IS THE PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THOSE NOT YET IMPLEMENTED?
My answer will be based on the Shedy disciplines as every practical aspect of the teaching relates to them. I will at the beginning follow a structural approach followed with my reflections on the practice in general that will be in a more free style with at times some repetitions. I just wanted to let my thoughts flow the way they would come.
First of all, in regards to the three times daily worship, my practice is regular in the morning, and I have been able to have full program of practice. For the noon practice, where I am mostly at the office but, I try to mentally practice during lunch time with a minimum set of chants mainly the four great truths and on the week-end, I am able to practice more regularly. Regarding the dusk practice, it is more regular than before as I set a time to practice whenever I return from work to chant and do the recitation or go over a full program depending on the circumstances. The key aspect is that more and more I am able to find time to practice without really forcing it and, I am working on being able really to practice fully all three times. Overall, I have struggled at the beginning to find regularity. The morning session is the aspect I was able to progress more steadily.
For the aspect related to yoga of Wisdom, I practice multiple ways. First, throughKkemetic University under the guidance of Seba MAA and Seba Dja following the book of the initiates. Besides that, I also read the other books and reflect on them to the best I can noting that quite a few times, revelation about the meaning of the teaching comes out of my reflections instead as outcome of intellectual reasoning. I also learn the teaching from the prayers and chants which also contain great insights. In average one to two hours daily during the week is dedicated to learning with at least about 3 hours per day during Saturdays and Sundays. Knowing that the aspirants in older times spent years learning at the temple, I am looking to increase the intensity of my learning and my goal is to be able to expand the hours during both weekdays and week-ends. Also, in terms of structure, I try to follow along the three aspects of the teaching including myth, rituals and mysticism. Additionally, I found out it is important to know how to live and the Wisdom texts as well as the Proverbs provide great insights on how to properly apply the teaching. Over time, I found that the understanding comes not only as intellectual effort but most of the time as revelation. It is like by reflection on the aspects and then suddenly, an aspect is revealed and it becomes clear.
Living by Maat represents the area of practice where more improvement is needed as it encompasses all aspects of our personality in the practical life. Due to conditioning of Arius in general, we have developed a pattern of life that was for the most part An-Maat. And, now, living by Maat requires a transformation of those patterns based on new understanding provided by the teaching. In a sense, it particularly means to be able to master emotions and particularly the fetters of Set. Living by righteousness and truth is a noble goal that I am striving to realize step by step. When we consider the fetters of Set, there is more and more awareness of anger for example, and if it is manifested, I try to go to the root cause knowing the person is not responsible as one has the ability to decide about letting the emotion affected us or not. In general, what I come to realize is that we may think of living by Maat intellectually and have the willingness to do so but, the intellectual understanding can only lead us to a certain point and does not give us instant capacity to apply the teaching. I consider the Wisdom texts and the proverb to be an expansion of how to live by Maat and in that sense, they provide great practical insights on how to apply the teaching in a way that can make us true of speech or be aligned with the precepts. I was always fascinated by the language of the Sages, which is impersonal, with poise and with a purpose to lead the person to higher truth with no provocation. I have asked myself how I could speak in the same way. But, I understand that the way we speak is also a reflection of our degree of alignment with our higher Self and that the desire to talk like a Sage means in reality to strive to develop their qualities to the best our ability. And, in that sense, they are the models I am trying to follow and are my spiritual hero so to speak in my quest to live by Maat.
Regarding meditation, I practice daily every morning about one hour but, for some reasons I am not able to fully grasp, I do not have that same capacity at evening. In fact, it is easier for me to meditate in the morning; however, knowing it was like that also at the beginning for my morning meditation practice, I am gradually developing the same practical patterns I have learned to arrive at the regularity with the morning practice. I believe this is related to the Arius and I am working along that line to improve the regularity of my night meditation practice. Informal meditation is an important aspect to support our practice in that sense. The more we are able to live by Maat and practice the Shedy disciplines integrally in our practical life, we will be able to meditate and concentrate better. One point I found is that somedays, the mind just won’t calm down and remain agitated no matter what we try to do. In those times, I practice hekau recitation and found out that to have a positive effect of releasing tension in the mind.
I also practice the Tjef Neteru regularly in the morning and the only thing is that I have been learning from the books and the DVD on the postures without really proper guidance from someone. I sometimes wonder if I have been practicing correctly. I would welcome the very next opportunity to have my practice evaluated. It is important that time is setup as well to practice in the afternoon and this is something I am working on.
At night, before going to bed, I usually go through a routine including writing on the personal journal about my practice during the day, point that I like and others that need additional work. Also, writing or mental recitation of hekau before sleeping is a practice I usually do but, quite a few times, tiredness affect my practice. Overall, I think there is a need to organize my day so that before going to bed, I can have more energy to practice.
As a final note: one can’t really think about the disciplines as being separated but as a whole where each of them has the ability to impact the other until we are able to elevate our consciousness through perseverance and dispassion, and attain Nehast.
Reflections on the practice
Reflecting on the practice of the Shedy disciplines, raise in me considerations between Arius and Will. At the beginning, despite our willingness to practice, our negative Arius drive us in the opposite direction and it is really conflictual internally but, as we persist with minimum practice along with steadiness, detachment and sincerity, the mind leads way to our practice. It has been particularly the case with my observation about the practice of the three times worship. Originally, it was difficult to practice in the morning because of the need to rush out to work, etc…But, over time, you realize that there are no longer situations that lead us to rush in the morning and therefore, we have enough time to practice. Reflecting on that, I believe it is not so much that the situations have changed but perhaps our apprehension of them has changed so that, we can allocate them their respective time in a way that it does not affect our practice. It seems the situations that made us to want to rush no longer occur. Also, in regards to meditation, you realize as you keep practicing, you feel less agitated and be able to dedicate more time. Besides that, you are able to control better the flow of thoughts or not fighting with them and let them have their normal course without being attached to them during our meditation.
Living by Maat represents the area of most difficulty as it does not really have a formal time to practice. It is alternately a good way to consider moments of day to day life as opportunities to practice. One of the aspect I practice in real time so to speak is to manage anger. I experienced it is not enough to have the willingness not to feel angry; despite our ability to perceive it before manifestation, there are situations where we may see it coming and yet not able to contend. In that particular aspect of the practice, there is like an internal measure that one develops over time in order to see if we are able to manage better and better. What I can express here is that more and more, awareness of anger increases in the sense you are able to feel it in advance and therefore, decide what to do about it. There is less and less situations that take you off guard so to speak or if that happens, with the help of the teaching, we realize our wrong doing and reflect on it and move on with the understanding that we’ve gained.
Overall, on a personal level, I intend seriously to practice all aspects of the Shedy realizing there is no other way around that and as it is said: the practice of them lead to knowing oneself and the divine. As I am practicing more and more, there is the realization that willingness is not enough and that acting on the Arius is determinant. From that perspective, one can see that even in aspects that we are making progress, there are still need to convince the mind otherwise, one may fall again in old habits. For example, despite the regularity in the morning worship, you still have to have a talk with the mind, a sort of negotiation in regards to objections raised in the form of maybe you are tired or you have a long practice yesterday and then, you should take a pause or practice the minimum, etc…It is perhaps an indication that other aspects of the personality are not fully aligned and then, we need to continue practicing integrally.
One key aspect I personally would like to develop more and more is selfless service. It is as if occasions to do that are not common and I am sure there are opportunities in that line except in our current consciousness, we may not be aware of them. But, also, I realize it is not so much that we need formal activities and call it selfless service but, in reality how can we consider everything we do as a selfless act removing then any gain from an egoism standpoint. I find this proposition better aligned to the spirit of living by Maat and from there, it becomes a striving about how to make every activity a selfless one. I used to think that if you work professionally then, there is no way of living by Maat in that context but, along with reflections on the precepts, it leads me to realize the essence of Maat as it relates to the degree we consider ourselves as servant or not. The following excerpt from the Wisdom text from the instructions of the Sage Amenemope has helped me in that sense:
“Haste not to be rich, but be not slothful in thine own interest”.
We need to secure a way of living at least to the point where we can sustain our spiritual life and personal and family duties and beyond that, we may be in a context of An Maat meaning we are running after material wealth as opposed to spirituality. Of course, one is not always on the right balance and that is why, practicing the Shedy disciplines will help us to have better understanding about what is real or not.
I can see the effect of Arius for example in ability to practice at noon and dusk. Despite willingness, I would like to say it is not yet at the level of the morning worship in terms of regularity and intensity. More and more, there is awareness of the fact that life should be organized to arrive at my goal but, I know until the negative Arius are balanced or dissolved, it would pose many challenges for us, aspirant. It all depends on our attitude towards challenges. The more abiding we think they are, the more I see they are difficult to dissolve. If we think of them as resulted from Arius, our way of thinking, then we give our self a better opportunity to reflect on them and find the causal aspect or to generate the opposite that will help neutralizing their effects. The aspirant, it is said must have a determination to work on causes instead of the phenomenon considered as expressions of causes and therefore illusory.
In all and all, the reflection on which part of the teaching one is applying or not is really a matter of our determination and ability to manage Arius meaning dissolve past and existing ones, generating ones that are more aligned to the teaching and our goal of knowing onself and the Divine. The more we pracice, it becomes clearer which part of the teaching is more aligned to us, to our patterns of life, etc…In that sense, the work of an aspirant is really an art where nothing seems to be decided in advance and we have to be ready for many surprises sometimes both in positive and negative ways. Overall, what stands for me in the process is the willingness to master that art of transformation but preferably to be able to give free way to the spirit to express itself so that its expression is not clouded by ignorance. As I can say, there are new ways of practice that is revealed simply or you can see that a theme of a book that we used to read every day suddenly is revealed to us surprisingly even though we’ve been reading it quite a few times. It also happens in the prayers where one key understanding is revealed suddenly. Which prompts me to say the life of an aspirant is one of revelation, deconstruction and reconstruction one piece after the other. There are those revelations about oneself and those about the teaching, etc…What is important is to be open to revelation rather than thinking egoistically. To the extent, we can give way to the individual Soul to practice the teaching so to speak, the art of transformation is revealed progressively and we no longer see obstacles but opportunities to advance. To the extent we are practicing egoistically, we will see difficulties and it is an indication of where we are. I can say that when we open ourselves to intuitional understanding, we find better ways to overcome our difficulty and things become simpler. Therefore, I understand willingness is important but, patience and dispassion are needed; to the extent we are able to keep such mental attitude, sooner or later, we will find creative ways that allow us to dissolve our difficulties understanding that, as soon as we are done with one challenge, others will be raised and therefore, there is not really moment of rest until enlightenment. I think another aspect for the aspirant to reflect on is really how determined he or she is or how faithful one is regarding own ability to do the work required to reach enlightenment; a faith that grows more and more until we reach the tipping point where all aspects of our personality are working towards that goal without any conflict. In that context, aspiration or the practice of the Shedy disciplines become and art, a beautiful one whereby, the Soul is striving to lead the way towards getting out of the labyrinth of negative Arius for final liberation.
It is also a good opportunity to reflect on my preceptors and to thank them for their teaching and invoke their grace for success in my practice. I feel really blessed to be able to receive the teaching directly from Sebai Maa and Seba Dja and the particular way they have been providing the teaching is enlightened and really illuminates darkness at every step during the process of transformation of consciousness. More importantly, I am learning also from their lives and the way they behave when I have the opportunity to do so. I remember prior to a Neterian Conference during a chat session, I tried to say I will miss my preceptors and Seba Dja to say there is nothing to miss as truly, we are spirits; I understood the more we are able to emphasize the spiritual aspect, the better we can advance in a way not to create attachments that will impact our progress. It was a great insight for me at that time. Also, I would like to thank them for their dedication and the determination in ensuring we understand the teaching properly. My spiritual life has taken a giant leap with the preceptorship of Sebai Maa and Seba Dja and I do not know how to thank them. I know they wish we can focus on the spiritual aspect instead of the human aspect but, i must say they are my spiritual hero if I can use this term; people I am looking up to and quite often ask myself what they would do in specific situations and in difficult times. It is said good spiritual preceptorship requires an authentic Sebai and authentic aspirant. For sure, the first requirement is there as the level of insights I gain during the learning with Sebai Maa and Seba Dja is incommensurable. I always ask myself where I would be in my life without that. I hope and I am striving to be up to the level of the teaching and be able to have proper understanding and to be an authentic aspirant. Even if that is not the final goal as the teaching commands us but, it is certainly a lifting way for us to progress on the path.
With all my heart, Dua Sebai Maa and Seba Dja and thank you so much for helping me to understand what it means to pursue a spiritual life and the importance of developing the capability to follow instructions in order to be an authentic aspirant and eventually attain Nehast in this life time.