Temple of Net / Arat Sekhem
What is the Kemetic System of 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. Also, the Kemetic term for union of the higher and loer nature is Smai Tawi, this menas yoga.
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.
The above depiction shows the Divinities Heru and Djhuty binding the Sema symbol while the Pharoah sits atop. 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 NEBERDJER 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
SHEMSU N NEBERDJER. 'Followers of the All Emcompasing Divinity'.
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.
Peace and Blessings,
Sehu Khepera Ankh