COMMUNICATIONS with the High Priest, Ptahhotep : (‘Father of my Soul’)
Chapter – ‘He’ :
That evening, I leave the palace with Menu. Wearing heavy veils, we walk through the long colonnade from the palace to the temple, on our way to the High Priest, my father’s brother, the son of God, Ptahhotep. Ptahhotep is the highest of all priests. At the same time, however, he is the highest physician and architect, because he knows and masters all the secrets of nature. He has come to earth with the duty and the task of leading the sons of men in their spiritual life and initiating them in the sciences. He stands above father because he never identified himself with his body, whereas father married and thus anchored himself more firmly in the material plane.
Without talking, we make our way to the temple. Menu has learned to keep silent when I am withdrawn in thought. A neophyte awaiting us before the temple takes me inside. Menu remains in the antechamber. At the end of another long colonnade, Ptahhotep awaits me in a little reception room. The neophyte remains outside.
There HE sits, the representative of God.
ART : ‘Horus’ (Right)
(Note : A shen ring is a circle with a line at a tangent to it, which was represented in hieroglyphs as a stylised loop of a rope. The word shen itself means, in ancient Egyptian, ‘encircle’, while the shen ring represented eternal protection. In its elongated form the shen ring became the cartouche which enclosed and protected a royal name. The shen ring is most often seen carried by the falcon god, Horus. It was used as early as the third dynasty where it can be seen in the reliefs from Djoser’s Step Pyramid complex.)
I see Him for the first time close to, and his eyes overpower me. Oh, these eyes! Dark blue, such a deep dark blue that they look almost black. They are so dark because they are bottomless, as endlessly deep as the vault of heaven itself. When one looks into the eyes of the sons of men, one easily sees the bottom. In their eyes, one sees their soul, their whole character. One sees individual eyes. Ptahhotep’s eyes are completely different These eyes have no bottom at all, and looking at them is like looking into the infinity of the sky on a starry night. In these eyes there is nothing personal, nothing individual, only an endless depth where eternity is at home. The whole world, all creation lies within these eyes. I have recognised myself in these eyes, and from the very first moment felt absolute confidence because I know these eyes know me and contain me within themselves. I know I am in Him, and He is in me and loves me as Himself because I actually am He and He and I are a complete unity. He is Love incarnate, and I feel this infinite love penetrating me, glowing within me.
Moved to the depths of my being, I fall to my knees before Him.
Ptahhotep holds out his hand, raises me to my feet, and says, ‘My little daughter, never bend your knees before a visible form. Do not humble within yourself the divinity that every living being carries within itself. The same God manifests himself through you, through me and through the entire created world. God alone is the only one before whom you can fall to your knees. Now rise and tell me why you’ve come.’
‘Father of my soul’, I say, as I arise, ‘I want initiation’.
Ptahhotep asks, ‘do you know what initiation is? What does it mean to you when you say you want to be initiated?’
‘I don’t know exactly what it consists of, but I want to be omniscient. I feel like a prisoner in my body, as if I were feeling my way round in darkness, completely at the mercy of invisible forces I do not know and therefore cannot control. I want to be able to see everything clearly, I want to be all-knowing like you and father and the other initiates’.
Ptahhotep answers: ‘Initiation means becoming conscious. You are now conscious to a degree corresponding to the resistance of your nerves and body. When a person becomes conscious to a higher spiritual degree, he automatically guides higher, stronger, more penetrating powers into his body. For this reason he must also raise the level of resistance of his nerves and body. To achieve the supreme, divinely creative degree of consciousness, while at the same time increasing the resistance of the nerves to the supreme degree in order to be able to endure this divine condition without harm to the body – that’s what initiation means. Initiation also entails omnipotence and omniscience’.
‘I understand, Father of my Soul, and that is just exactly what I am longing for’.
Ptahhotep looks at me silently for a time, and I feel his glance going completely through every fibre of my being.
Finally he says, ‘you will be initiated, but not now. You are not ready for it yet in every respect. You have not yet learnt to control the divine creative power within your body. And if you make yourself conscious of this power on the spiritual plane before having learned to control it in its physical manifestation, this would mean a very great danger for you’.
‘What kind of danger, Father of my Soul?’
‘There would be the danger of your possibly burning your nerve centres. If you achieve the highest level of spiritual consciousness and thus acquire control over this power you could do yourself great harm by guiding this power into your lower nerve centres. In this case your consciousness would sink lower than the level at which it was born in this life. You have no experience yet in the guidance of this power. The awakening of consciousness must begin on the lowest level in the scale of manifestations, because then you will only be guiding into your body power corresponding to the level of your development, ie power your nerves can bear without harm. In this way the nerves have strong enough resistance to carry the forces conducted into them’.
‘Father of my Soul’, I reply, ‘what does it mean to conduct divine power into the body and to experience this power in the body? How can I learn to know and control this power in its physical manifestation? If that’s how initiation begins, and I must first go through this experience, then I’d like to do it immediately so that I can prepare myself for the higher initiation’.
Up to now Ptahhotep’s divinely noble face had been as motionless as an alabaster statue, with only his eyes glowing brightly. But now at these words of mine the calm features of his face break out into a smile, while his eyes radiate even more light and more understanding.
. . . ‘Father of my Soul’, I reply, ‘why do you ask when you refuse to initiate me. I have no other wishes, no other thoughts – only initiation. Please give me initiation’.
All that night I can’t sleep again, and all the next day I pace back and forth in my room, as restless and unhappy as the trained lions in the lion’s court. Through being born into my body, my consciousness has been dulled and deadened; I feel as I were in perpetual darkness. I want to see clearly even though I am imprisoned in the body. I want to know. I want to be initiated! Why should I wait? If love is a matter of indifference to me now, it will still be when I am initiated and omniscient. I already know that physical love is only a necessity of nature to carry on the race. Why should it be dangerous for me not to know this from experience? I have my intellect and my consciousness and they will protect me from this danger. I won’t fall into nature’s trap, the trap of love. I’ll be able to resist this temptation all right . . .
ART : First Pylon of the Temple of Horus at Behdet, detail from the East tower:
Horus (holding a falcon-headed khepesh-blade) and Hathor (with Her left hand raised in blessing), both wearing the Double Crown; In the groove are represented two serpent-headed Guardian Gods holding knives
In this manner I brood all day long. By the time evening comes again, I just can’t stand it any longer. I take my veil and go again with Menu through the long colonnade to the temple, to Ptahhotep. I want to tell him that I’m not afraid of this temptation, that I’ll be strong enough, that he can initiate me.
Oh how blind I was! How foolish! As if Ptahhotep had not seen the future clearly. As if he had not known how everything was going to turn out. But even he must obey the divine law and watch patiently, as I run headlong into my undoing . . . Watch patiently as I plunge head over heels into an abyss, only to have to climb out later by my own strength.
He receives me again in his little reception room. I enter, bow, and tell him with all the determination I can muster, ‘Father of my Soul, I wanted to obey you, but I cannot. I long so much for knowledge that I’ve come back again. I cannot see why I should wait when I’m absolutely sure I have enough strength to withstand the temptations of physical love. I am strong enough. I have self control. Please give me initiation’.
At this Ptahhotep closes his shining eyes and remains motionless a long time. I wait with inward impatience but outwardly without moving a muscle in order not to disturb him. Finally, Ptahhotep opens his eyes. He stands up, comes over to me, takes up my hands in his, and says: ‘Three times you have asked to be initiated. Three times, despite my refusal. It is a law that when a member of the tribe of the Sons of God asks three times to be initiated, we cannot refuse him any longer. It is a sign that initiation is necessary for him, regardless of the danger he may risk as a result of it. I will speak to your physical father. We will need to discuss how you can carry on your duties during the time of initiation. Other neophytes normally live in the temple during this time, but with you we will have to make an exception because you have to fulfill the duties of the wife of the Pharaoh. Now go in peace’.
I feel like throwing myself about his neck to thank him for giving me his permission to be initiated, but I prefer to show him I can control myself. I stand motionless, and my eyes express my joy. Ptahhotep smiles at me and says, ‘what you’ve done in thought, you’ve already done, don’t ever forget it!’
‘Oh, Father, if you already regard me as having done it, then I will really! And with that I throw myself into his arms and kiss his noble face, right and left. I thank you, I thank you! How wonderful! I am going to be initiated! Initiated!’
‘Yes I can see you have tremendous self control’, says Ptahhotep. ‘Only now, Father’, I answer with a joyous laugh, ‘only now. After all, you’re not only the high priest, but my own blood uncle. So I can kiss you, can’t I? But when I’m initiated, you will see how serious I am and how much self control I have!’
‘Yes, I know’, says Ptahhotep, embracing me lovingly. Then he strokes my hand and leads me to the door. We take leave of each other.
Dancing and skipping, practically walking on air, I go back to the palace with Menu. I am infinitely happy . . .
ART : Iona Miller
Chapter – ‘Sons of God’ :
The next day the Pharaoh summons me. I am to see him after his audience. At the appointed hour the controller of the royal household comes and escorts me to father. ‘Come my child’, says he, ‘I want to tell you what Ptahhotep and I have agreed about your initiation’ . . .
‘Once there lived on earth a race of people very different from the races living today. They manifested completely the law of spirit and not the law of matter like the races of people living today. These people were conscious on the divine plane and manifested God here on earth without any admixture of the self-seeking characteristics of the body. In their divine purity, these people deserved the name ‘the Sons of God’. Their entire life was based on spirituality, love, and selflessness. And they had no physical appetites, urges and passions to cast shadows on the spirit. The members of this high race possessed all the secrets of nature, and as they were perfectly acquainted with their own powers and kept these powers completely under the control of the spirit, they were also able to control and guide nature with all its tremendous forces. Their knowledge was boundless. They did not need to earn their bread with physical toil and instead of earning their livelihoods with the sweat of their brow, they put the forces of nature to work’ . . .
Chapter – ‘Years of Preparation’ :
Accompanied by Menu, I go to the temple.
How often will I be going through this long colonnade between palace and temple? How often and for how many years! ~ until I myself have become the path, so that with my eyes closed my feet would carry me to the temple.
Today I enter the temple for the first time as a neophyte. Just because I would like to hurry, I hold myself in check and walk with ceremonial slowness. I am determined to enjoy to the very last drop the pleasure of beginning my initiation. I am withdrawn within myself, deep in thought. Fully conscious of all the things my father told me yesterday, I go forward to my future duties as an initiate.
At the entrance the same neophyte as before is awaiting me. Menu takes her leave. At first she embraces me, kisses me and holds me tight as if we were never to see each other again. Then she calms herself and bows before me in the way she believes she should. I embrace her and feel that my mother is also kissing me through Menu’s lips.
The neophyte accompanies me to Ptahhotep who is waiting in his little reception room. How often ~ how often ~ will I be standing thus before him! How often will his eyes rest upon me, or pierce me through and through with their peace, assurance and strength!
‘My dear child,’ he begins, ‘initiation, as I have already explained to you, means to become conscious on the highest level, the divine plane. To be able to do this requires long physical training and spiritual preparation. One first must strengthen the nerves to enable them to bear these high vibrations without harm, without death.
‘To become conscious on a given plane means to conduct the vibrations characteristic of this plane into the nerves and through the nerves into the body. From the time a body is born, that is, from the time a “self” dwells in it, the body develops a power of resistance corresponding to the average degree of consciousness of the spirit dwelling in it.
‘The degree of consciousness of a living creature fluctuates up and down, depending on its emotional condition, within the limits of an octave of vibrations. These fluctuations, however, must not exceed the limits of elasticity of the nerves; for if they do, injuries and sickness of a more or less serious nature occur, even death. The vibration belonging to creative vital energy is absolutely lethal for creatures whose consciousness has not yet reached this level. It would burn out the nerves and nervous centres. For this reason, vital energy from the spinal column, where it has its seat, is transformed into a low vibration corresponding to the degree of consciousness of the person concerned and only this transformed vital current is conducted into the body.
‘Thus animals, for example, are animated by a much lower life vibration than primitive man; and primitive man with his beast-like selfish nature, is animated by lower vibrations of vital energy than a person who is spiritually developed. If one were to conduct the vital energy of a highly developed human being into an animal or a much less developed human, the animal or “lower-level” human would die instantly because of the contact with the more powerful vibrations’.
ART : ‘Nile’ ~ Frederick Goodall 1822-1904. 1895.
‘The great initiation means consciously experiencing the vital energy and creative vibrations of eternal being, experiencing these vibrations on every plane of development and in their original frequency, without transformation, and simultaneously conducting these vibrations into the nerves of the body. This naturally requires a corresponding amount of resistance which can be obtained through physical and spiritual training. That means that one must slowly and cautiously prepare and awaken the appropriate nerve centres and learn to control them. Initially you will receive this physical and spiritual training from Mentuptah, the leader of the school of neophytes. In your concentration exercises, Ima’_____ and Ptahhotep points to the neophyte who brought me here____ ‘will help you. When you have passed your preparatory tests given you by Mentuptah and Ima, you will receive further training and your initiation under my guidance. Now Ima will take you to the neophyte school and give you everything you need for the beginning. If you want to speak to me during your training, you can arrange to see me any evening. May God guide your further steps’ . . .
Now I am getting along better. Thoughts can no longer reach me and really disturb me. Previously I was still in the world of thoughts – among the thoughts. My thoughts were able to push me to and fro. But I did not let myself be pushed around. I stayed put just where I was.
CHAPTER TAKEN FROM INITIATION by Elisabeth Haich
ARTIST APPRECIATION – Gratitude to artists and credit given where known