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Egypt, the source of all spiritual traditions. This website is dedicated to the study, understanding and living experience of these traditions; how they were then and how they are now. The vital and most essential aspect of any spiritual tradition is that it be still alive, breathing and thriving; otherwise it is like a mummy – very well preserved but basically dead. Our aim is to discover and keep alive the eternal flame that burns without beginning or end, and in Egypt that flame was never extinguished. Treading the spiritual path has remained ever open in this most sacred land, as it weaves its invisible way through countless Holy places from the grandeur of pyramids and temples to the humblest Sufi tomb.
Indeed the unseen is far greater than the visible realm both in quality and in quantity, yet the contrast between the two helps us to understand them better. The Arabic words Zahir* and Batin* are two of the ninety-nine names of Allah, and they respectively sum up the seen and the unseen, the manifest and the non-manifest, the revealed and the hidden. The ninety-nine names of God also provide an essential means for our understanding of the Ancient Egyptian mentality and spiritual beliefs.
The spiritual realm of the Duat
Man is my secret and I am his. The inner knowledge of the spiritual essence is a secret of my secrets. Only I placed this in the heart of my true servant, and no one can know his state but I. This Divine Utterance was revealed to Mohamed, and reveals the very secret nature of the inner heart, the sirr*, what it contains, and how it got there.
As we venture into the unseen, the non-manifest and the hidden, where things unknown lay waiting to be discovered, our journey becomes a quest into a mysterious world which the Ancient Egyptians call the Duat.
For them, this spiritual journey takes place on the sacred Bark of RA; on the Night Bark, to be specific. The journey begins precisely at sunset, when the sun, old and tired, undergoes a mystical death as he sinks below the western horizon. Thus the beginning of the spiritual journey is intimately connected with death. Not the ultimate death of the body, but the mystical death experience symbolized by Nephthys.
In Sufism this experience is called fana*, translated as annihilation, or more correctly annihilation in God, whereby the nafs* or ego ceases to manifest, so that only He remains. This is what Rumi refers to when he says, “The journey to God comes to an end, but the journey in God continues.” Once the nafs is out of the way, the real journey can begin!
Egypt – the source of alchemy
Throughout the journey change and transformation are continuous as various obstacles must be overcome and specific alchemical processes need to occur. Our word alchemy comes from the Arabic word al-Kemit, meaning Egyptian. Kemit means the black land in the ancient Egyptian language, and was the original name for the country which owes its very existence to the divine gift of rich, fertile black silt brought by the annual flooding of the Nile. Thus al-Kemit refers to something that uniquely comes from Egypt, which is exactly the afore-mentioned Mystical Traditions that constitute what we now call alchemy.
Sacred alchemical – or Egyptian – knowledge was widely developed by the early Islamic masters or holy people in the school of Baghdad, then capital of the Muslim world. It passed there directly from Egypt at least in part by the early Sufi master Dhul Nun al-Masry from Akhmim.
Essentially this sacred process involves the transformation of the most base materials into the most sublime; in the common analogy, turning base metals into gold. The King in Egypt represents the master alchemist.
Of course only a small part of any sacred process can be transferred through teaching, while the greater part can only come through divine revelation or the Sufi term kashf*. In this way such precious sacred treasures are safely stored “where moth and rust can not consume” and therefore cannot ever be violated.
The spiritual life – a pilgrim’s progress
Egypt. The land; the myth; the miracle.
To live in Egypt, to be infused and saturated by the spiritual climate and atmosphere of this most sacred land, is a great honor; a divine blessing. For the last seven years Egypt has been my home, my teacher, my sanctuary, and my studio.
As an artist, my work is a direct expression of my spiritual understanding, most often through paintings. As the spiritual awareness expands and develops, so too does its expression. Thus my own night journey on the Bark of RA is chronicled in diverse series of paintings each relating to a different stage of the journey. Yet it is the gossamer thread of the spirit that weaves its way through all of these external forms to give them an inner sense of unity despite their apparent external variety.
Glossary of terms
Zahir – Arabic word meaning the revealed, seen, visible, manifest, known or knowable. It is also one of the ninety-nine names of Allah.
Batin – Arabic word meaning hidden, unseen, invisible, non-manifest, unknown and unknowable. It is also one of the ninety-nine names of Allah.
Sirr – Literally “secret”, in Sufi terminology it means the sacred, inner heart, which has nothing to do with the physical heart of flesh and blood. It is where all spiritual wisdom resides, although it is heavily guarded and protected so that precious few are granted entrance there.
Fana – The state of annihilation in God. Sufi term for the penultimate goal of the spiritual journey, fana is a temporary state whereby contact with the lower worlds are suspended – temporarily annihilated – so that the dervish can taste or experience the state of being alone with the beloved with no external interference. It is surpassed only by baqa, a state where these things and more become permanent.
Nafs – The ego. It contains all that the soul has experienced and learned during its earthly sojourn, both good and bad. Being of an earthly nature, it must be completely abandoned at death as no part of it may pass to a higher level. The ritual death of fana is spiritual preparation for this second death.
Kashf – Divine revelation. Secret knowledge which God casts directly into the sirr/inner heart of whosoever He wills. It requires no thought processes and has no direct contact with the lower worlds, coming directly from above, from the source itself.