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EdwardStephenson
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Level 1 Lesson 11 Reading Assignment pp. 141-154

“If religion and yoga are practiced at the lower levels only, what is the result”?
If practiced at the lower levels, they will lead to dogma and intellectualism. The practice should include all three levels: 1) myth 2) ritual and 3) mysticism. It is important to be grounded in the mythic narrative; to insert oneself into the myth so that one’s life derives meaning and is directed by the myth with the ultimate aim being the resurrection of the soul. By embracing the myth and the Gods and Goddesses contained therein, one eventually develops a love for the divine. This occurs through the practice of devotion, both formal and informal. With regard to the latter, informal devotion involves surrendering to the divine so that all of one’s actions are in alignment with divine principles. This invariably involves sacrifice in terms of relinquishing attachments to worldly pursuits and desires. To love the divine one however has to know the divine, that is, the spiritual essence in oneself and in the world of people and objects. Such “knowing” is not just intellectual but also affective (feeling) and intuitional. One must become attuned to the spiritual dimensions of self and this is made possible through the purification of the mind, body and the soul. Through such purification one will come to experience the divine intuitionally, emotionally and intellectually. When myth is approached from the standpoint of it being an intellectual exercise and in a manner where one exists outside of the myth, the myth then loses its functional value as a tool or roadmap used for attaining enlightenment and rather becomes a tool for creating disunity and conflict within oneself and in the world.

The second dimension of religion is ritual, which are actions directed at enlivening the myth, actions that are congruent with the principles set forth by the deity in the myth. It is important that rituals be engaged in in an intentional and purposeful manner and as such reflect a divine intention and purpose. That is all actions should be grounded in ethical principles and be directed at bringing one closer to the divine. As one progresses along the path one learns how to decipher actions that are ego based and aimed at satisfying sensory and material based desires and pleasures versus actions that affirms the higher dimensions of self.

For one’s practice to be truly authentic one has to go beyond the level of myth and ritual and experience the mystical dimensions of religion, the esoteric wisdom about life and the spirit which leads to spiritual transcendence. Such wisdom come from basing one’s life on truth and aspiring to righteousness, knowing what is affirming to the spirit even though this may involve negating the pleasures stemming from bodily desires. Such truths are found not only in the myths but also from looking within one’s heart where one will have an intuitional sense of those actions that are aligned with the spirit grounded in truth) versus those that falls outside the realm of what is acceptable and agreeable to the soul.

As far as my practice is concerned, I feel I have been progressing slowly mainly through my participation in the teachings via conferences and online courses as well as through the reading of the scriptures. For some reason I have not been consistent with regard to my commitment to the Kemet 101 course. I realize that being engaged in fulfilling worldly obligations is no excuse. Whatever Karmic blockages I may have been experiencing I feel confident that I will be able to resume the course with a greater sense of being consistent in the completion of my assignments. The last assignment months ago had to do with the practice of devotion which I had explained was somewhat of a challenge. Sebai Maa provided a most helpful and enlightening response which included suggestions as to how I could possibly be more effective with my devotional practice. One of the things I remember him saying is that even though I may have a good intellectual knowledge of the teachings, that I may however have challenges in relation to the experiencing and expression of emotions, an issue which I have since thought much about. I have since been exploring this aspect of myself. My life experiences have allowed me to become more insightful into this dimension of my life and I think the issue is not so much of having blockages but rather has more to do with knowing how to channel my emotions in the direction of the divine. Hopefully, the more I come to know the divine, the stronger my love will become.

The Egyptian Book Series has been put together has been put together in such a fashion as to offer what? To provide for the needs of different personality types by offering specific disciplines as well as an integrated method to practice all forms of yoga while at the same time advancing through the three stages of religion. Of the four personality types, I gravitate to towards the type in which “reason” is the dominant characteristic. Because of this I am drawn towards the Yoga of Wisdom which harnesses the reasoning aspect of the personality particularly through study of the teachings. In realizing the importance of developing all aspects of the personality, doing so in an integral fashion, I am finding that as I engage in the practice of the other three forms of Yoga, I am slowly developing the other parts of the personality including will through meditation, emotion through devotion, and action through service. While challenging, I have made some progress in the consistency and quality of my meditation and devotion and do perceive subtle changes occurring in my personality as a result of these improvements. I am learning slowly how to integrate the practice into my mundane everyday reality hoping eventually to reach a point where it takes precedence over my worldly obligations which I realize should be the case.
How should an aspirant think about their prospects to follow an integral path of the Sema Tawi-Kemetic Yoga?

The first thing an aspirant should do in embarking on this yogic journey is to follow the path of virtue by “becoming a pure vessel for the teaching”, doing so by practicing Maat. By purifying the mind, body, and soul one will “have the capacity to behold the magnanimity of the divine which is all around as well as within us”. Once sufficiently purified, the aspirant will then need a preceptor who will provide guidance for discovering the depths of the teaching and the depths of their own nature.

The four aspects of the personality are….1) emotion 2) will 3) Intellect and 4) Righteous action
The Yoga of Devotional Love enhances and harnesses the EMOTIONAL aspects of the personality and directs it towards the higher self. I feel that I am slowly learning how to open up my heart and surrender to the divine. To do this however, I think that one has to come to know the higher self and the qualities and characteristics associated with this dimension of one’s being. It is through such knowledge that I feel my love for the divine will grow in greater depths and magnitude. For me this requires being able to distinguish between ego-based forms of love that has a physical component versus a form of love that is aligned with and which is affirming to the soul dimensions of self. I am finding that the more one comes to know those aspects of self that are related to Maat (righteousness), Nut (infinite expansion of consciousness) and Aset (Divine intuition), Djehuty (Divine intellect), the greater capacity one has to experience love for the higher dimensions of self.
Describe the four main paths to yoga practice

There are four main dimensions to the human personality which are developed through the four main paths to yoga practice. These personality dimensions are emotion, reason, action, and will. The yoga of devotional love enhances and harnesses the emotional dimensions of personality and directs it towards the higher self. The yoga of wisdom enhances the reasoning dimensions of personality and directs it towards the higher self. The yoga of action enhances the movement and behavior aspects of personality and directs it towards the higher self. Finally, the yoga of meditation enhances the willing dimensions of personality and directs it towards the higher self.

The dimension I seem to be most concerned with at present is the yoga of devotional love in terms of being able to distinguish between the more mundane forms of love vs. love for the divine. The questions I have are: 1) How can one best develop love for the divine? 2) can the more mundane forms of love enhance and promote love for the divine or do such mundane forms of love detract form and serve as a barrier to loving the divine?

Integral yoga gives you the opportunity to practice yoga at all times
One of the things that I have learned through the teaching that is of great importance, is that yoga be done in an integral manner. When it is done in an unbalanced manner, as I have personally found out, one’s progress becomes impeded whereby the advances one thinks one is making are illusory with there being no movement towards the higher self. Because of my preference for the wisdom teachings, I am sometimes inclined to neglect the devotional aspects for reasons, I believe, has to do with my Ariu and the impurities that separates me from the emotional aspects of self and thus from having the capacity to express love for the divine.
It is interesting that the last assignment that I did, the issue of devotion was addressed. I remember Sebai Maa responding with a most elaborate and emotionally impactful response with recommendations about how to best practice devotion. Since then I have been interrogating myself on this issue to determine what blockages I have that prevents me from having a certain level of fluidity and consistency in my practice of devotion. Part of the problem I have come to believe has to do with needing to have a greater intellectual as well as intuitive knowledge of the various Gods and Goddesses, something which I believe I am slowly coming to do. While before I was primarily focused on Djehuty, my focus more recently has been on Ptah, Maat and Aset. Based on what I think I know, Ptah is the father of the universe who reconfigures the mind in such a manner that creates the possibility for spiritual transcendence. Such a mental reconfiguration is accompanied by Sekmet, the life force energy, being channeled through the seven souls of Ra. On an intuitive level, I feel I can relate to this process occurring within me. What I can also relate to is the realization that for this process ‘spiritual rebirth’ to occur the way it should, one has to be pure of heart. It is based on this realization that Maat has taken on greater significance in my spiritual growth. I am very much aware that my own spiritual impurities are an impediment to my spiritual growth and that what is needed is having a greater commitment to engaging in the practice in an integral way particularly as this pertains to devotion.

With regard to Goddess Aset, I feel a greater desire to learn more about her as I also feel her presence as I proceed on this spiritual path. A short time ago I had a dream in which I experienced what felt like the divine embrace of Aset. It gave me a profound sense of what divine love felt like in comparison to the more mundane forms that we may be familiar with. Experiences such as this makes one more aware of the reality of the higher self and enhances one’s desire to come to know and connect with that higher self. All of these experiences has served to give my devotional practice greater meaning whereby my devotion is not directed at an abstract notion of divinity but towards concrete representations with whom I have a dynamic, ongoing relationship.

Yes, integral yoga may be practiced at all times but to do so one must have an ongoing awareness of the divine and the desire to move towards the divine. By practicing yoga throughout one’s day (meditating when having the time; reflecting on the teachings; practicing righteous action; and reflecting on one’s love for the divine as possibly represented in people who are in our lives) such awareness becomes more continuous and established allowing one to transcend the physicality of the mundane world and self thus grounding oneself in truth. It is towards such a positive movement that I aspire.

The yoga of meditation controls the feeling directed towards the divine. True/False
The yoga of meditation is more aligned with the willing aspects of the personality. However, when done integrally, if one practices meditation one’s love for the divine may also increase. 5n this regard, the various disciplines of yoga compliments each other but are best done in a balanced manner.

What is the one critical factor every aspirant should understand?’
‘The aspirant should understand how to balance the day to day reality with the teaching that is being learned. One must realize that the day to day activities have been created for our benefit.’ ‘The people that we meet and the responsibilities we have to fulfil daily are the means by which the divine Self is allowing us to work out the mystery of life by putting the teaching into action. Therefore do not reject this gift of time, life, and activity. “
The above teachings of Sebai Maa resonates with me in a most profound way. First, it has been indeed been a challenge for me to balance my practice with my everyday obligations to career and family from the perspective of time and energy. I do feel that my everyday obligations does interfere with the time and energy that I need for my spiritual practice. On the other hand, I do feel that I have been successful in being able to apply the teachings to my everyday life in ways that promotes my spiritual growth particularly as it relates to family and career. More recently, my childhood “sweetheart” who I had not seen for many years, re-entered my life for a brief period a few years ago. After having lost contact with her for about five years, she recently reappeared out of nowhere. Based on my commitment to simplify my life and direct my emotions towards the divine, I was most wary of having any type of relationship with her. Yet, on an intuitive level I felt that she was there for a purpose and that this purpose was related to enhancing my spiritual growth and development. More specifically, I am finding that, like Aset and Asar, she is helping me to heal the wounds resulting from a ‘broken/’ heart/soul I had experienced the last time we were together. I find that my heart is becoming more open to the experience and expression of love especially when I realize that the source of this love ultimately comes from the divine. This has been indeed been one of the mysteries in life that I am trying to work out using the divine intuition of Aset, the intellect of Djehuty and the divine principles of Maat.

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 when at work, and home, around others who follow other traditions, or when nobody knows what they are doing?

The aspirant should approach their spiritual practice by assuming that “the goal of discovering the Self surpasses all worldly pleasures and all mental pleasures.” Hence, the practice should be the foremost consideration in one’s life around which everything else revolves since the practice takes us to that which is truthful and real everything else being impermanent and illusory.