Reality, Identity, Duality
Fundamental to the philosophy behind this evolution of thought was their perspective on the difference between illusion and reality. Eastern philosophy has the concept of maya, which is the spacetime reality we all share; maya is considered to be the illusion because “real reality” exists only in the higher dimension of consciousness; ego-identity is the most dangerous illusion of all, created by your descent from that real reality into maya, and the goal is to break free of maya into pure light. In the Western world, by contrast, reality is the spacetime dimension we all share and illusion is only in the mind; as the refined interface between reality and psyche, ego is king and our goal is to break free of psychological illusions into the light of the real world. Both versions have proved to be durable over the last twenty centuries, yet they are ultimately irreconcilable. A resolution, however, was created long ago by the merger of cultures on the banks of the Nile.
The Egyptian word maat has been translated variously as “truth, justice or cosmic order.” It is generally acknowledged that this most important term is difficult to render into modern thought, however, the etymological history of our words “true” and “real” suggest reality as a more logical translation. The word “true” is rooted in European ideals of loyalty and trust, of faithfulness to another, and its legal definition is only recent. The word “justice” is too vague, and “cosmic order” is just another way of saying “reality.” The word “real,” on the other hand, comes from the Latin res, “a thing” plus the suffix -al. Rome's cultural and spiritual world evolved within the sphere of the Nile's civilization, which was already ancient when Romulus and Remus first suckled their wolf-mother. The personification of the Egyptian concept as the goddess Maat played a major role in their lives and their art, so in these pages she is Lady Maat. To the ancient Egyptians, reality was a lady who deserved respect.
Lady Maat wears an ostrich plume as her crown, and the icon of her plume is as old a symbol as the leopard-skin and giraffe-tail of the Neolithic shaman worn by Egyptian priests. The ostrich stands as tall as a man and emerges from an egg as big as the human head. Beautifully ornamented ostrich eggs have been found in numerous predynastic ritual sites. The mystery of the living bird emerging from the sealed perfection of the egg, which has itself emerged from the bird, is a primeval metaphor for energy emerging from the invisible world into the visible world, bringing with it the miracle of life. Egyptian words for “ostrich,” “bowl,” “primeval waters,” “the lower heavens,” and “city/town,” are pronounced the same way, niu. They are written with different determinatives to provide the context, each referring back to an aspect of the sacred container of a portal between realities. Hieroglyphs cannot easily show the large size of the ostrich egg in order to identify this metaphor in writing, however, a single ostrich plume immediately evokes the bird as well as the metaphor, in the same way that elevating a single stalk or wafer of wheat evokes the mystery of the seeded field and the miracle of life.
As the egg contains the bird, the horizon of your visual field contains you, and the circle of your horizon is an inescapable boundary-shell. No matter how quickly you travel, your horizon moves with you, away from you, forever unreachable, always present, containing you yet utterly separate. The landscape can expand your horizon to the edge of the visible world or shrink it to the reach of your fingertips, but your circle of perception can only disappear when you disappear. The horizon was a constant companion of the nomad and the shepherd, informing their shamanic philosophy of the worlds inside your head. The horizon of the farming village, however, was fixed and no longer private. The world beyond boundaries of your fields could be known, but only at great peril because gods and demons lived there.
Words of How To Receive Breaths As The God Beneath The Horizon
A speech by Osiris:
I am the egg within the Great Cackler.
I have guarded the seat of that Great Thing, the mission of Geb to the world.
I live and the egg lives, living as I live.
I breathe breaths, having come around from behind into his egg.
Awakening is the chief moment of Suty.
Now the sweetness of the Paired Worlds is with the Abundance and within the blue stones.
My child has gone forth to you.
For nomad, shepherd and farmer alike, the Sun breaks through the impenetrable horizon twice each day in rising and setting. The places on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets are entrances to Duat, and Osiris is Duat. Re also rises and sets in Duat: Re rests in Osiris. A very old symbol of Osiris is the box of his head and hair; Duat is described as having curved mountain walls that cut it off from Earth on one side and from heaven on the other, in other words, your human skull. A river runs through the valley of this place and Re sails on those psychic waters. The only light which reaches there comes through the two eyes, and some places are so dark that only Re can bring life to the unconscious elements there.
The five-pointed star is worth noting, the circle of Re surrounded by five looped lines meant to be stylized human limbs, an icon for the Sacred Souls who are the stars above. Over the centuries, artists standardized it into the “star” sign we know today. The star inside the circle, icon of Duat, is a metaphorical image for you within the protective circle of your skull; it has come down to the present day in the concept of the pentacle’s magical power to contain mystical beings and energies. The original meaning of the dua-star is one of waking, of being aware of the landscape that lives inside the mind.
I speak now:
I have radiated out of the egg from within the world of secrets.
I have been given my voice.
I will speak words with it, embodied as the Great God, Lord of Duat.
My hand is not turned away by any of those who are in charge of the gods.
Egyptians believed that both sides of reality are valid, present and functional, that these are related because consciousness is the energy-field at the foundation of all reality and your life is the interface of these Paired Realities, Duat and spacetime. Spacetime was im top ta, while on top of the Earth, and Duat was netjer khert, the God Beneath. The goal of life was the illumination of your ego-identity so that you can distinguish between reality and human psychology at every moment, thus able to respond to the needs of both. Egyptian philosophy was more like Buddhism in this than the Greek and Roman mythologies with which it is most often compared. Egypt’s worldview was anthropocentric, in other words, being human was the highest reality.
Despite their many similarities, however, the Nile and the Ganges had opposing views on one vital subject, the value of ego-identity, known as Horus and, on this issue, their faiths could not have been more opposite; Buddhists strive to erase identity, seeking the bliss of pure consciousness while dissolving in the light, whereas, the Egyptian believed self-identity to be the highest goal of life and celebrated the uniqueness of each and every human being. The Buddhist seeks bliss in quiet solitude. The Egyptian sought it in the noisy, smelly, dirty joy of being alive among the living and awake in the Now. The most basic message of Buddhism is, “All life is sorrowful,” to which the Egyptian replies, “Sorrow is a shadow that gives the depth of reality to joy. Now, let’s party!”
Orient your faces, Lords of Reality!
Sacred Territories behind Osiris, accepting sacrifices for the wrongs of those
who are among the company of the calm of strong nerves.
It is I who will have come here because of you.
You have driven away all the sadness belonging to me.
Then who is he?
Once these Lords of Reality are Thoth, with the sacred blade of the heart, Lord of the West,
then they are the Sacred Territories Behind Osiris.
They are those in back of the Stellar Thigh (Pole Star) in the northern sky.
Once the paired sacrifice of the wrongs of those among the crew of the calm of strong nerves has been accepted, and Sobek is within the waters, then the calm of strong nerves is the Eye which is Re.