What is Kemetic Yoga?
Yoga was practiced in Ancient Egypt, North East Africa, for a very long time. Research has indicated that the philosophy of personality integration, or yoga, was practiced in Egypt for about 10,000 years which is a great expanse of time.
The teaching of yoga that was espoused in the country of Egypt was derived from the meditations and insights by the early sage priests and priestesses. Egypt is not the original term for the country. Egypt is a modern term; the original inhabitants of the country called it Kemet, meaning black or the black land, because of the yearly inundation of the Nile River which caused the rich silt to overflow its banks.
So if yoga was practiced in Kemet for such a long period of time, then the question beckons, what is yoga? The term YOGA is not indigenous to Kemet either. Yoga is a term of Sanskrit origin, one of the languages of present day India. Yoga, when translated into English means to yoke or to bind. Then again, to yoke or to bind what, some may ask? Each human being has an individual consciousness and individual mind upon which they are perceiving the world. No two people think in exactly the same manner, no two people have identical ideas on things, which is a manifestation of individual reality.
However, there is universal consciousness that is beyond the scope of the normal realm of consciousness, or individual reality of people. Hence, the practice of yoga is a personality integration method that allows human beings to bind their individual transitory reality with the universal consciousness. The universal consciousness is stable and unchanging, unmoving, therefore, it is the substantial reality while human beings are existing in transitory phenomenon. When this process is accomplished one can say that they have experienced the way things really are or have experienced reality; universal consciousness.
Yoga is the practice of binding individual consciousness with universal consciousness. This individual reality that you are experiencing is actually only a small reflection of your true nature and yoga is the practice of how to achieve the knowledge of one's abiding and immortal aspect.
In the Kemetic teachings this process of yoga is called Smai Tawi which means UNION OF THE TWO LANDS, not to be confused with physical land masses, but is an explanation of the higher and lower nature within the human entity. The hieroglyphic inscription for Smai Tawi is Also, the term for union is Smai and is illustrated with a standard that represents the trachea and lungs .
Notice the similarity between union and yoke. In the Kemetic teachings, it shows how every human being is composed of a higher nature and a lower nature. The practice of Smai Tawi is to unite the lower with the higher; in effect, the same understanding comes through from the word yoga. Smai Tawi is illustrated in Divine iconography as:
The above depiction shows the Nile Divinity, Hapi, in dual form, binding the Sema symbol. The one on the left holds the symbol with a papyrus plant (lower self) and the one on the right binds with a lotus flower (higher self). This means that the duality of spirit and matter, temporal and transcendent becomes unified in such a way that one's temporal nature dissolves into the transcendent reality; one's higher nature.
Many people ask, is yoga a religion? The answer is no, yoga is not a religion in the common sense of the phrase. Yoga is a system of disciplines by which one can achieve the highest state of consciousness. However, religions in their mystical aspect, that is religions that foster the universality of God and teach that one can make union with the transcendent, have as their core, yoga disciplines. So yoga is inherent in mystical religion, but in and of itself is not a religion. But yoga can be practiced from a religious perspective as well. This is where all of the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses come in.
The Gods and Goddesses are the primary focus in the practice of Kemetic Yoga. The Kemetic term for Gods and Goddesses is NETERU. This term can be found in the extensive and extant philosophic and religious literature of the olden civilization.
The early sages knew that the untrained mind is very fickle and actually needs an anchor to stabilize it through the yogic process. So they created the spiritual symbols, gave them names and applied certain myths and rituals around each one to foster a greater understanding of the human experience. The Gods and Goddesses are not deities in the common sense of the word either, but are cosmic principles. Actually the term Neteru means COSMIC FORCE; Cosmic meaning: of or pertaining to the universe. They are spiritual implements that are designed to communicate certain insights and secrets to the mind. This allows the mind to grow in subtlety until one can experience this higher consciousness directly. This consciousness is called by many names by different cultures around the world. The most common among the English speaking nations would be, God. Yoga then, is the practice of how to unite oneself with God.
The Gods and Goddesses are the lesser divinities that are emanations from the Supreme All Powerful Transcendent Being that is outside the reach of normal human consciousness. This Transcendent power is known as NEBEDJER and is also called NETER. So the Neteru emerge from the Neter. This system of handling gods and goddesses can be seen in all indigenous African religions, such as the Dogon and Yoruba traditions. Therefore, the ancient Egyptian religion is a native African system of veneration. The lesser divinities are like training tools for the mind until it can develop the capacity to be transcended and you experience God as one's own innermost being.
Based upon this very brief introduction, the proper name for the Kemetic teachings of yoga would be KEMET SMAI TAWI. Meaning to unite oneself with the blackness of universal consciousness. It does not denote an actual physical color, but the state of undifferentiated consciousness. People who follow this discipline are called The Followers of Nebedjer (GOD). In the Medu Neter scriptures this is called
SHEMS N NEBEDJER. 'Followers of God'.
This term is found specifically in the Papyrus of Ani, what is commonly referred to as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. When it says to follow God, this should not be seen as to have a dogmatic view of the Ancient Egyptian religion and mystical training system. God is in reference to any of the Divinities of the Kemetic pantheon and should not be viewed as a personal God who exists outside of oneself. The teaching is saying to revere the sustainer of the three worlds, the physical, astral and causal planes respectively. Hence the understanding is to gain insight into the nature of objectified phenomenon so as to understand the ultimate cause of things. Thus the term God is in reference to the innermost reality of the entire universe, which is also the essence of ones own existence. Also, the term Nebedjer is being translated to God but Nebedjer implies The All Encompassing Divinity, that which is beyond name and form. Thus Nebedjer is the Shetaut Aru, free of form, hidden of form, or formless. The term Nebedjer is an inference to that which transcends consciousness.
From a broader philosophical perspective Kemetic Yoga is a sophisticated system of personality integration. The human person is composed of four major aspects; that is the will, emotions, intellect, and actions. The will is harmonized by the practice of meditation, emotions are harmonized by the practice of devotional service, intellect is harmonized by the practice of wisdom and the actions are harmonized by the practice Maat (acting with righteousness). When all of these are blended then a well integrated personality emerges from the contracted condition it once existed as. This four fold process can also be found in Hinduism and Buddhism as well as Taoism. Thus it can be readily seen that the Ancient Egyptian civilization gave to the world the practice of what is commonly referred to as Yoga. However, among all of the mystic traditions there is no contradiction because the essential message and trainings are the same. Although the outward manifestation of the practice and techniques may differ and vary from system to system, they are all leading the human person to the state of enlightenment.
Kemetic Yoga is unique because it is the indigenous system that was developed in Africa. For example we can speak of Tibetan Buddhism because it is a form of the Buddhist teaching unique to the country of Tibet. Likewise, we can mention Nubian Yoga because what we term Kemetic Yoga or African Yoga was developed in Nubia, an olden civilization on the continent of Africa which lies south of Kemet, modern day Egypt. What started in Nubia spread to Egypt and the rest of the continent also spread throughout parts of Europe with the earliest European adherents being Greek and Roman.
Therefore, the African system of personality integration is among the family of legitimate spiritual traditions and as such can be practiced by anyone regardless of race or ethnicity as it was in ancient times. For example, there are many westerners who have taken on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism with welcomed arms from its religious leaders. This is so because the greater understanding is that essentially all human beings are the same and are in search of the same happiness. Since the Kemetic teachings are among the legitimate mystic traditions of the world, and its goals are essentially the same as the others, it can be adopted by anyone as it was adopted by Greeks and later Romans during the Ptolemaic Period (approx. 304BCE-30CE) of Egyptian Civilization. However, it is best to pursue spirituality from ones own culture because of the karmic link associated with religion.
The teachings of Kemetic Yoga have a cultural aspect as well and as such the early European converts did not try to dismantle the African culture but adopted it without trying to change it. The change came later with the Orthodox Dogmatic Christian movement of Rome whose emperors actively shut down the temples, not unlike the situation in Tibet today under Chinese occupation. The most aggressive of the Roman Emperors in shutting down the Kemetic temples was Justinian who closed the Temple of Aset around 550AD, effectively driving the Kemetic teachings underground. and disbanding the religion that had existed for about 10,000 years.
The remains of the Temple of Heru in Edfu, visited by thousands of tourists each year.
Thus over the centuries during the Orthodox Christian occupation, and also during the period of the Trans Atlantic and Arabian Slave Trades, many of the African priests and priestesses were executed or made into slaves and the Native Egyptian Religion suppressed and routed out. Those hierophants who were not killed were forced to adopt the religion of their captors, either some form of Orthodox Christianity or Islam. The country was taken over by successive forces until the Arabs gained the upper hand in 1922 over Britain and this is why Egypt is an Islamic country today, populated by Arabs who make up the great majority of the 76 million people who live there. Thus the original religion is not being practiced in its original homeland and its native peoples have been driven out. Most who still live there have little recollection of their native religion and are marginalized in their own ancient homeland. This is the same situation here in the West where the majority of people of African descent have lost or suppressed memory of their original religion. The temples and religious places are used to drive the thriving Egyptian tourist industry where about 7.8 million people visit each year causing irreparable damage to the ancient holy monuments. The true meaning and intent of the native spiritual teachings from Egypt were lost for a very long time. This is the danger that the Tibetan Civilization is in at this moment.
The challenge we face today, which is being addressed, not only by the Kemetic Yoga Association alone, is to transmit the teachings of the ancient sages of Africa skillfully and rightly, so that the teachings can be practiced correctly, with proper understanding. Thus Kemetic Yoga is a vast ocean of wisdom that was originally created to lead human beings to a realization that goes beyond the material expression of matter. What is meant by this is that the teachings are to lead a human person to a state of awakening that is referred to as the Tao in Taoism, but in the Kemetic teachings is called Nehast. The word literally means to awaken, thus the implication being to awaken to ones true nature, pure Divinity, beyond objectification. This idea is also expressed as Nibbana in the Buddhist tradition which implies to become free from the afflictions of generated phenomenon. This generation may be internal such as afflictive emotions and thoughts or outward such as stressful conditions in life.
In the Kemetic teachings to be free from generated phenomenon is referred to as ‘knowing real from unreal’. Thus the great implication of this is that Kemetic Yoga is a teaching that allows one to experience reality and enables one to discern what is actual from what is illusion. In Hinduism, this is called Liberation; that is, to become free from matter, and in essence implies the boundary where objectification ends and pure spirit begins; in other words to trespass the boundary of generated form into the realm of the Absolute. However, no such boundary actually exists as the world is a manifestation of the same spirit that is essentially formless. Therefore, what we experience every day of our lives is a continuum of spirit in its many manifestations. The teachings of Atonism explain this clearly; there is only one essence in existence. Therefore, the meditative ritual allows the practitioner to experience the end of the pole that is spirit. This idea is clearly shown in the teachings related to Lord Djehuty from the city of Khemenu, which is referred to as the Kybalion (See the book The Cosmic Mind for detailed discourse).
However, for the mind it is necessary to explain things in concrete form rather than abstract for understanding, until the mind becomes purified to ingratiate a more subtle teaching. That is to say, to experience spirit the mind must become purified.
This experience allows the human person to become transformed in a substantial way and hence exist in a state or condition of enlightenment. The highest state of health is knowing oneself as the Divine. However this knowing is not through intellectualization, but transcends cosmic intellect itself.
Therefore, Kemetic Yoga is a process of mysticism. Anyone who aspires to God Realization through serious study and reflection, or who has achieved union with the Divine is called a mystic. Therefore, Mysticism is the study and practice of attaining God Realization. A mystic is one who undergoes the process of gaining experiential understanding of the teachings. This means that a certain aspect can be learned through books, DVD’s and lectures, however, the highest form of the teaching is what you gain from experiencing Nebedjer as one's own self. It is an experience that goes beyond body and mind awareness, it transcends cognition and therefore is outside the realms of the powerful but finite mind. To effectuate the process the mind must be made pure through the successful integration of the personality.
Therefore, Kemetic Yoga has far reaching implications and the adoption of it as a spiritual program , under proper guidance, is a magnanimous undertaking that can yield Nehast in this very lifetime.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Generally, the Ancient Egyptian writings are commonly referred and demarcated as the Pyramid Text, the Coffin Text, the Papyrus Text , and the Am Duat Text based on the media in which they were written on. However this demarcation is not conclusive because there can be papyrus scriptures written on chapel walls and Am Duat Text written on papyrus paper. Therefore, the common delineation of the Medu Neter must be revised to reflect the specific genre of the text being referenced and not so much based on the media in which they were written on. Therefore, an overall genre specific categorization is more appropriate. In as such a certain genre may be predominantly written on a certain media, however, the media itself should not be the final determiner of how the text should be categorized and delineated.
The Medu Neter that are commonly referred to as the Pyramid, Coffin and Papyrus Text respectively were not written in a purely philosophical manner which adds to its mystery, philosophical complexity, and misunderstanding among the academic, Egyptological and metaphysical circles. Thus the Egyptian writings, those that are commonly referred to as the Pyramid Text, the Coffin Text and the Papyrus Text do not parallel western philosophical thought in a strict manner. In contrast the writings of the Sages of Asia such as Kamileshila, Patanjali, Kung Fu Tzu, and Naropa can be translated directly into their English equivalent which reveals a close synchronicity with Asian and Western Philosophy. While the Ancient Egyptian Medu Neter can be defined as a pictographic language, much of its philosophical premises must be extrapolated from the symbolic inferences of its script. The philosophical premise of the Medu Neter is there shrouded in symbolism and mystery, however it can be discerned through careful study and legitimate religious experience while the Asian writers used more of an alphabetical script. Thus the Asian philosophical premises can be readily discerned from a direct translation of its terms to its Western equivalents or approximations. From the Asian perspective this is through an intellectual development of the understanding of the nature of the human mind. However, for complete understanding of the Asian mysteries, spiritual practice is essential for their practitioners as well. The point being that the Medu Neter is written in such a way that a strictly didactic approach to understanding its spiritual messages is perhaps a mistake that may lead to misunderstanding.
Therefore, from the surface level it may appear that the Medu Neter is lacking in philosophy of the human psycho-spiritual experience. Rather, the Medu Neter is rich in psycho-spiritual insight. This cannot be substantiated by scholars, only by sages and saints. For most professionals who study the Kemetic writings it is approached from a surface level. The Egyptologist and academic societies approach it from a historical perspective while the metaphysical societies approach it from subtle energetic and scientific perspective. Among the two groups there is disagreement with the relative age of Ancient Egyptian Culture. The metaphysical group views Ancient Egyptian culture as much older than the academic and Egyptological sides. However, both in their interpretation of the spiritual aspect of the culture do not do so from a mystical perspective and as such there is much confusion among them about the true practices and disciplines that were enjoined by the sages, priests, priestesses , saints, recluses, renunciates and common people of the olden civilization. Much of this confusion is born from a misunderstanding of the Medu Neter along with other societal challenges such as an inability to view the Kemetic civilization as inherently African with its own African philosophy. This African philosophy should be viewed in the same manner as Japanese Taoist Philosophy or Tibetan Buddhist Scholarship; the Kemetic writings therefore are among them and their qualified and legitimate spiritual leaders would acknowledge such as it is our religious duty to acknowledge and venerate the other spiritual traditions of humanity. Through this approach of acknowledgment and religious reverence for other traditions there can be fuller and deeper understanding of the teachings. This is necessary as we live in a world where strict lines of culture and race are swiftly disappearing as humanity is slowly awakening to the reality that there is only one family, the human family. As sage Akhunaton said, “However many there are, you made them all to live.” This means that every philosophical teaching from every culture comes from Aton (the un-manifest, The Divine).
The Ra Nu Pert em Heru script is primarily metaphoric while its “sentences” are actually formulas that need to be deciphered carefully for the philosophical ideas to be exuded. Thus the script itself is layered with copious philosophical insight into the nature of the human experience, the Kemetic pathway to enlightenment, the inner mysteries of the mind and insight into subtle and gross levels of mental energies. Therefore, it is primarily concerned with the intermediary states of consciousness, moral ethic development of the human entity and realization of God Consciousness. However, in contrast, the Great Hymn to Aton by Sage Akhunaton does not reference the Duat nor approaches the philosophical ideas of death and its processes or consequences much like the Hymn to Hapi. However, the Harper’s Song directly addresses the issue of the impermanence of life and the consequences that are experienced by a life lived in enlightenment or ignorance. Both the Harper’s Song and the Great Hymn to Aton cannot be categorized as either Pyramid, Coffin or Papyrus Text, thus this very small example demonstrates the vast sophistication, flexibility and subtle nuances of the Ancient Egyptian collection of spiritual writings.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead gives great insight into the subtle realms of consciousness. In Kemetic philosophy the subtle planes of consciousness are called fields, towns or dwelling places. These areas are varied, highly sophisticated and much involved; therefore, this writing will concern itself with an introductory level discourse in the less phenomenal planes of being that are explicated in the Rau Nu Per em Heru, which is part 4 of this series.
If a human being can understand that the objectified phenomenon that appears in your life, that is phenomena on the physical plane and phenomena on the mental plane have a basis upon which they are born, then one may gain insight into substantial reality, the purpose of Kemetic Yoga. The physical plane is where the conscious state of consciousness becomes activated while the mental plane is the area of the dream world and meditation world planes. Thus, objectified phenomena and the experiences that you have in relation to that objectivity in relation to form beings, moods, feelings and images are not autonomous in their nature but rather, are promulgated from an efficient cause. The result of that presumed efficiency allows a multiple of results to occur and thus terminate in an experience in day to day life, dream or meditation. These experiences can be in relation to form beings or your own mental thoughts and subsequent reaction to your mental creations. Thus if you can understand the nature of cause and effect or Ari then the human being will not be so confused or confounded by ones daily encounters with other beings such as people or animals nor be confounded by one’s own thoughts. So if you can understand that what is happening in your life is based on your own past actions and that from the purview of mystical philosophy there is no such theory of randomness or chance, then you can diffuse the anxiety that arises due to lack of wisdom. This negation of randomness and chance presupposes that the human entity is the primary creator of his or her life and experiences. These experiences can be of a joyous nature or may arise as periods of suffering and dissatisfaction.
In the teachings of mystical philosophy it is understood that every incident that occurs in time and space is created by causes and conditions and your actions allow those causes and conditions to arise. Upon generation of a cause a result will ensue. Thus the result is not the karma, but rather the karma, act, is what created the mechanism by which the result manifests. Therefore it is important for one on the spiritual path to gain comprehensive insight into the modes of action. The word Ari means action (karma) or generation of form (results of karma as in the creation of the universe). Ariu refers to the sum total of all karmic actions. So your Ari, every action that you perform is going to create some result, either in the form of a being, an entity or a situation that you encounter that will project unto you some form of pleasure or pain that an unenlightened consciousness indulges in. So therefore the human person should try to understand the power of your actions and how to train them correctly to yield the results necessary to build a life of enlightenment.
There are certain experiences that are necessary to gain insight into reality. The most substantial of these is to become immersed in the formless absolute, what is termed, the Anrutef, or the place where there is an absence of generation. As was stated earlier, the states of consciousness antecedent to the Arutef, have been delineated in the olden writings such as the Papyrus of Sesh (scribe) Ani.
Thus it can be posited that since the Anrutef is understood cognitively as absolute nothing, form therefore is illusion, is not absolutely real, from the side of transcendental consciousness. By illusion it means that forms do not appear as their true nature. The form is present to the senses and so has validity, however, that validity is faulty by the illusionary nature of the form. Thus something is there, but not in its absolute nature. The practice of the deeper mysteries of Kemetic Yoga assists the practitioner in penetrating the reality behind the gross manifestations of objectified phenomenon.
Thus, antecedent to the Anrutef are the lower realms, however all of these realms are in what is referred to as the Duat, they are in the underworld so they are in your mind environment, as has been alluded to by the scriptures. Although they are being explained as realms of higher and lower, they are actually experienced as states of consciousness by adept meditators and not necessarily that one precedes the other. But for the purpose of understanding they must be described as realms in relation to a hierarchy.
Thus the Egyptian Book of the Dead is a spiritual treatise on Kemetic Yoga.
Peace and Blessings,
Sehu Khepera Ankh