Peter Gabriel once said that when he was in a positive state of mind, Buddhism seemed the most sensible religion; but, when he was in a negative state of mind, Christianity seemed to offer more to cling to. Further paraphrasing: psychology and religion both search for the truth, but religion falls from this when it introduces an organizational approach to interpreting what people perceive. This gave me a lot of food for thought. Spirituality is learning to see what the Emperor is wearing or not wearing. Spinning up some imaginary new clothes for him is more properly a task for politics. We should understand that dogma did not always obscure the science of perception. In his book, Egyptian Religion, S. Morenz points out that there was no normative imperative in that ancient system when it comes to doctrine, as its ceremonial arts were designed to please the gods, rather than the vainer impulses of men.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh once said that there are two basic approaches to life and thought, the Indian way and the Greek way. Immediately, I am reminded of the two cerebral hemispheres: one serving the intuitive and one the rational area of intelligence. In his later years, especially, the guru had countless praises, analyses, and criticisms for religions in East and West because of their promises and failures to bring sanity and happiness. It seems that religion as found in the western world is often the science of being miserable. Long a very reactionary organism, it is often frenetic and speculative, having emerged from a millennium of authoritarianism. Sometimes today we even find it taking the form of a toxic blend of arbitrary axioms and reckless experiments. In the eastern world, religion is introverted and reinforces social stasis. Unfortunately, at each level of function, it can be a somewhat inert blend of over- and under-examined concepts that stifles evolution.
But, there must then also be a science of well being, and the Bhagwan termed this, “religiousness”. Of the thousands of pages of his lectures I have examined, I found glowing appreciative explanations of the strengths as well as scathing indictments of the weaknesses of the world’s traditions. However the doctrines of psychiatric technologies may have served the faiths of the past, he emphasized the value of meditation as well as the study and discussion of more esoteric ideas. As a vehicle of teaching, he highly valued the aphoristic and anecdotal spirit of Sufism, while largely dismissing the exoteric side of just about any sect. His extensive knowledge of the literature of yoga and tantra also allowed him to serve his mission with excellence. He was strangely silent on the topic of the beliefs and practices of the ancient Egyptians, however, except for an occasional quote from the didactic literature.
Today, the advantages and disadvantages of faiths built on the eastern or western modes continue to play themselves out. Having in this modern age the opportunity to study the ways of many paths, folks often resort to eclecticism or occultism to satisfy their inner needs. But, if you are a creative or empathic person, the important thing beyond finding folks of a comparable level of sincerity is to find ones with similar sensitivities, needs, sensibilities, skills, experience, disposition, and accomplishments. Yet, between the two great spheres of philosophical and ritual activity, there stands ma’at, or the vitalizing mystical and magickal moral force of the success of ancient Egyptian culture. It was and is a unique spiritual accommodation. Now, I am not saying that if it has never exactly “jumped out” at a person that (s)he should adopt its investigation. What I am saying is that, now that enough of its features have been recovered by academic and practical means, it does stand as a viable alternative for those who feel called to it.
Those who have been beckoned by the Gods to return to ancient practices fostered by the Egyptians understand who they are. To this writer, the most remarkable beauty of this system is that each participant makes progress at his or her own pace. In an authentic branch (that has stayed out of decadence, at least), nobody is expected to embrace non-existential dogma or subscribe to spurious opinion simply because it is held by an “expert”. Personal discretion, courtesy, and tact fill the bill in the area of discussing personal beliefs and adventures. Thus, the cult of an Egyptian deity can sponsor cooperative projects involving adherents of any tolerant or self aware idiom. Familiarity with myth can inform a good mystic, but it should not twist his mind toward the ways of prejudice. Someone working with a Thoth temple, for example, would be valued for his gifts as a networking or brainstorming associate or consultant. This feature also allows us to dispense with the sentimental and confusing aspirations of ecumenism.
Aleister Crowley has left for us a lot of clues for working with the old archetypes, as well as the powers of the mind that their priests put to use. Though he did not dwell constantly on this old current, he did understand the value of it, and its purposes are consistent with modern mysticism and its methods central to the redevelopment of modern magick. No one was ever shamed into participating beyond his measure of individual conviction or energy. Indeed, the sanctuaries were restricted. So, if you are a seeker of otherworldly knowledge and have found yourself in an intellectual vacuum outside the scholastic fortress, first be aware that the Egyptian spirits have never made outlandish promises for this or that idea (with the exception of the value of trustworthiness), but they do sponsor more careful forms of involvement in metaphysical living. Their core literature furnishes countless encrypted insights as well as vivid explanations of how to solve subtle yet real problems.