The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
August 1999 Vol. 2 Issue 6
I enter as a hawk, I come out as a phoenix in the morning. - Pert em-Hru, ch. 13
Egypt has many pyramids scattered about its old realm. The most massive are the three standing close together at Gizeh on the west bank of the Nile opposite Cairo, the one known as the Great Pyramid being also the most mysterious. The Greeks included it among the Seven Wonders of the World because of its architectural perfection and the engineering genius it portrays. It is unique because of the air passages running down into certain chambers within, and for the geodetic properties of its location: it is equidistant from the pole and the center of the earth, and the site shows exact knowledge of latitude and longitude.
From the ground level, looking toward the apex which seems to penetrate the sky, we see a cascade of stones, row upon row, and little else. But if we stand at the fifteenth course, and focus upon the seventeenth where the entrance is now exposed, we see a double archway above the door resting upon a triangular stone in which is clearly marked the hieroglyph 'Horizon of Heaven.' Very few Egyptologists have paid any attention to the significance of this symbol at that point, nor to its association with the fifteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Pert em-Hru, the "Coming Forth into Light," miscalled the 'Book of the Dead.' In the famous Theban recension known as the Papyrus of Ani, among the beautiful hymns in the fifteenth chapter there is a ninefold litany to Osiris, "Lord of the Hidden Place," drawing attention to the "mystery of the Tuat," the underworld, a portion of Amenti. Ani says he is the "Bennu bird which is in Annu" and in verse 39 he adds: "I have made an end of my shortcomings and put away my faults." The seventeenth chapter tells of the glory of going into and rising out of the underworld which is the beautiful Amentet - "coming forth a living soul."
These passages acquire depth if we consider their relationship to the Great Pyramid, known in ancient days as Khuit, translated by some as the 'Horizon,' by others as the 'Light.' Although it is supposed to have been built as the tomb of Khufu, better known as Cheops, there is no indication that anyone was ever interred there.
Osiris was a term applied to a deceased pharaoh, and the successor was designated Horus, the Son, thus exemplifying the myth of Osiris, once a king, who was slain and then reborn as Lord of Amenti
But Osiris was also the patron of the Mysteries, in which candidates were instructed in the nature and processes of the cosmos and man. The air channels from the surface to the chambers of the Great Pyramid must surely have been intended for living men, not the dead whose vital organs were extracted during the embalming procedures and placed in the appropriate canopic jars. Could it not be that the Great Pyramid was the temple of Osiris that Khufu either restored or added to? His name appears only on a few stones of the upper courses.
If we consider the texts and accompanying vignettes in the "Coming Forth Into Light" as the guide or dialogue of instruction and testing used in the ritual of initiation into the Mysteries of Egypt, some interesting thoughts arise. We perceive a pupil in his simple, pure white and unadorned robe entering the 'underworld' (this could be the Pyramid at the seventeenth course). Before him is the journey into the darkness of his unexplored soul-qualities, and the psychological contact with cosmic aspects about which he has been taught but not yet directly experienced. Standing at the gateway (E in the diagram on back page) he does not see the double arches above him, mounted on a triangular stone in which is set the hieroglyph for 'Horizon of Heaven.' All this is invisible to him because of the covering of casing stones; but he would have known of their presence from the 'Master of the Secret Place' or one of his assistants.
The candidate now indicates to the doorkeeper or Watcher at the Gate that he is indeed prepared to begin the quest to discover his Hidden Self. Then he is faced toward the passageway that slopes downward from the entrance at an angle of 27° and at cyclic times points upward to the Pole Star. On the way down, he passes through the preliminary tests of his courage and self-control, until he reaches the 'place of ordeal,' or 'the pit.' Here the hidden recesses of his character are exposed; he is aware of them and projects these aspects as though they were entities within his microcosm. He has to wrestle with the great serpent of ego, which, on the cosmic scale is Apep, and within himself has the protean capacity to change its form.
Next he ascends the difficult path to the 'Hall of Truth' where the candidate 'justifies' himself before the initiates attired as the "Gods of the Horizon and the Gods of the Orbit."
The postulant proceeds to the site of his 'rebirth' as a fellow initiate: the place of "Isis, the divine mother, the queen of the pyramid," that room known as the Queen's Chamber.
There are three main degrees of initiation: for those people who have been instructed but have not yet experienced the inner vision: "for them the orb of light is in the darkness"; second, there are the "Intelligences," who have beheld the inner vision and now really do live as men, "in their minds"; and thirdly, the Aakhui, the Creatures of Light, one with the radiance of the inner and spiritual world, also called the "Sons of Light and Mind."
So Ani, as prototype of all travelers on the way of spiritual unfoldment, must go further, reaching an ascending corridor of considerable length and width, the Grand Gallery or the symbol of the Elysian Fields of Aahlu, the territory of illumination. Perhaps his examination there relates to the secret of the cosmic cycles for the floor slopes and the walls have slots that still make ideal sighting tubes to observe stars and other celestial phenomena!
To return to our postulant: now he advances beyond learning into the reaches of being, and again penetrates through a difficult entrance, this time into the King's Chamber, where he lies down in the sarcophagus. His body entranced, his soul wanders the spaces of consciousness, both within himself and outside into the cosmos at large. If victorious, he overcomes the last shape assumed by the ego, and wins free to wisdom, joining the Company of the Aakhui. During these trials he has given willingly of himself to the denizens of each place he visited. The now 'Osirified' initiate is not content to remain exultant as a 'Son of the Sun'; but sets about his return to the commonality of men, his new 'table of offerings' for humanity before him being the faculties and qualities he has perfected within himself.
And there, at the very top of the Great Pyramid, set firm into the flat platform that remains, we find the stone hieroglyph for 'Table of Offerings' - reminding us of the Bodhisattva vow ascribed to Kwan Yin by the Oriental civilizations:
Never will I seek or receive personal or private salvation; never will I enter final peace alone, but forever and everywhere will I live and strive for the redemption of all creatures.
As the candidate lies in the sarcophagus, physically entranced, his soul free to experience spiritual life beyond the confines of the body's sense apparatus, he represents every man. For all of us do have, but too rarely invoke, the power and vision, supported by the cosmic life force, to overcome our self-woven limitations.
"One God or Many?" is our subject. This month we will be discussing such questions as: What is the nature of divinity? Is it outside us, within us, or both? Are the gods of various religions related? Is God an Infinite Person or a finite being? What about atheism and agnostism? Is the concept of gods or god necessary in human life? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
September 9: Does Science Practice Ethics?