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Proverbs from the Ancient Temples

Proverbs From the Ancient Egyptian Temples

There are two parts of the temple; the outer temple where the beginning initiates are allowed to come, and the inner temple where one can enter only after proven worthy and ready to acquire the higher knowledge and insights.

One of the concepts that the Egyptians held was that man was the microcosm of the universe – the macrocosm. This is the reason for the saying: “know thyself.” Their spiritual aspect of this concept held that within man (which they symbolized as a five-pointed star) is the divine essence of the Creator and the Heavens. And this finds expression in their teaching: “The kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it.”(1)

Below are some of the teachings, proverbs, and maxims gleaned from the works of Isha Schwaller de Lubicz who, under the direction of her husband and teacher, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, lived for fifteen years among the temples and tombs of Luxor and Karnak, in order to try and “penetrate the secret symbolism of the hieroglyphs.” Isha has written a two volume work of a fictionalized account, based on her research, of an Egyptian initiate progressing through the stages of initiation to attain “self knowledge and cosmic wisdom.”(2) She explains in her works that if one were to focus on the principles underlying the concepts of the gods, i.e. the Neters (Neter is often translated as “god,” but it actually refers to something more like a fundamental principle of nature, or a sort of causal agent.), of ancient Egypt, then one would readily see the commonality of the concepts running throughout the differing expressions of their cosmology. Many of these teachings, proverbs, and maxims relate directly to these concepts, and are reflections others.

From the Outer Temple(3)

  1. The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth [is] Nature.

  2. For every joy there is a price to be paid.

  3. If his heart rules him, his conscience will soon take the place of the rod.

  4. What you are doing does not matter so much as what you are learning from doing it. · It is better not to know and to know that one does not know,than presumptuously to attribute some random meaning to symbols.

  5. If you search for the laws of harmony, you will find knowledge.

  6. If you are searching for a Neter, observe Nature!

  7. Exuberance is a good stimulus towards action, but the inner light grows in silence and concentration.

  8. Not the greatest Master can go even one step for his disciple; in himself he must experience each stage of developing consciousness. Therefore he will know nothing for which he is not ripe.

  9. The body is the house of God. That is why it is said, “Man know thyself.”

  10. True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge; it is an awaking of consciousness which goes through successive stages.

  11. The man who knows how to lead one of his brothers towards what he has known may one day be saved by that very brother.

  12. People bring about their own undoing through their tongues.

  13. If one tries to navigate unknown waters one runs the risk of shipwreck.

  14. Leave him in error who loves his error.

  15. Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.

  16. To know means to record in one’s memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself.

  17. There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Never believe a word without putting its truth to the test; discernment does not grow in laziness; and this faculty of discernment is indispensable to the Seeker. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error.

  18. Love is one thing, knowledge is another.

  19. True sages are those who give what they have, without meanness and without secret!

  20. An answer brings no illumination unless the question has matured to a point where it gives rise to this answer which thus becomes its fruit. Therefore learn how to put a question.

  21. What reveals itself to me ceases to be mysterious—for me alone: if I unveil it to anyone else, he hears mere words which betray the living sense: Profanation, but never revelation.

  22. The first concerning the ‘secrets’: all cognition comes from inside; we are therefore initiated only by ourselves, but the Master gives the keys.

  23. The second concerning the ‘way’: the seeker has need of a Master to guide him and lift him up when he falls, to lead him back to the right way when he strays.

  24. Understanding develops by degrees.

  25. As to deserving, know that the gift of Heaven is free; this gift of Knowledge is so great that no effort whatever could hope to ‘deserve’ it.

  26. If the Master teaches what is error, the disciple’s submission is slavery; if he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement.

  27. There grows no wheat where there is no grain.

  28. The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness.

From the Inner Temple(4)

  1. An answer if profitable in proportion to the intensity of the quest.

  2. Listen to your conviction, even if they seem absurd to your reason.

  3. Know the world in yourself. Never look for yourself in the world, for this would be to project your illusion

  4. To teach one must know the nature of those whom one is teaching.

  5. In every vital activity it is the path that matters.

  6. The way of knowledge is narrow.

  7. Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.

  8. The only active force that arises out of possession is fear of losing the object of possession.

  9. If you defy an enemy by doubting his courage you double it.

  10. The nut doesn’t reveal the tree it contains.

  11. For knowledge … you should know that peace is an indispensable condition of getting it.

  12. The first thing necessary in teaching is a master; the second is a pupil capable of carrying on the tradition.

  13. Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep.

  14. Envious greed must govern to possess and ambition must possess to govern.

  15. When the governing class isn’t chosen for quality it is chosen for material wealth: this always means decadence, the lowest stage a society can reach.

  16. Two tendencies govern human choice and effort, the search after quantity and the search after quality. They classify mankind. Some follow Maat, others seek the way of animal instinct.

  17. Qualities of a moral order are measured by deeds.

  18. One foot isn’t enough to walk with.

  19. Our senses serve to affirm, not to know.

  20. We mustn’t confuse mastery with mimicry, knowledge with superstitious ignorance.

  21. Physical consciousness is indispensable for the achievement of knowledge.

  22. A man can’t be judge of his neighbor’ intelligence. His own vital experience is never his neighbor’s.

  23. No discussion can throw light if it wanders from the real point.

  24. Your body is the temple of knowledge.

  25. Experience will show you, a Master can only point the way.

  26. A house has the character of the man who lives in it.

  27. All organs work together in the functioning of the whole.

  28. A man’s heart is his own Neter.

  29. A pupil may show you by his own efforts how much he deserves to learn from you.

  30. Routine and prejudice distort vision. Each man thinks his own horizon is the limit of the world.

  31. You will free yourself when you learn to be neutral and follow the instructions of your heart without letting things perturb you. This is the way of Maat.

  32. Judge by cause, not by effect.

  33. Growth in consciousness doesn’t depend on the will of the intellect or its possibilities but on the intensity of the inner urge.

  34. Every man must act in the rhythm of his time … such is wisdom.

  35. Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.

  36. Maat, who links universal to terrestrial, the divine with the human is incomprehensible to the cerebral intelligence.

  37. Have the wisdom to abandon the values of a time that has passed and pick out the constituents of the future. An environment must be suited to the age and men to their environment.

  38. Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs. The essential thing is to have a fixed point from which to check its reality now and then.

  39. Always watch and follow nature.

  40. A phenomenon always arises from the interaction of complementaries. If you want something look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Horus. Horus redeems Set.

  41. All seed answer light, but the color is different.

  42. The plant reveals what is in the seed.

  43. Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.

  44. It is the passive resistance from the helm that steers the boat.

  45. The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness.

  46. Man must learn to increase his sense of responsibility and of the fact that everything he does will have its consequences.

  47. If you would build something solid, don’t work with wind: always look for a fixed point, something you know that is stable … yourself.

  48. If you would know yourself, take yourself as starting point and go back to its source; your beginning will disclose your end.

  49. Images are nearer reality than cold definitions.

  50. Seek peacefully, you will find.

  51. Organization is impossible unless those who know the laws of harmony lay the foundation.

  52. It is no use whatever preaching Wisdom to men: you must inject it into their blood.

  53. Knowledge is consciousness of reality. Reality is the sum of the laws that govern nature and of the causes from which they flow.

  54. Social good is what brings peace to family and society.

  55. Knowledge is not necessarily wisdom.

  56. By knowing one reaches belief. By doing one gains conviction. When you know, dare.

  57. Altruism is the mark of a superior being.

  58. All is within yourself. Know your most inward self and look for what corresponds with it in nature.

  59. The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground.

  60. The seed includes all the possibilities of the tree. … The seed will develop these possibilities, however, only if it receives corresponding energies from the sky.

  61. Grain must return to the earth, die, and decompose for new growth to begin.

  62. Man, know thyself … and thou shalt know the gods.

The initiates spent years in the temples, decades even and sometimes lifetimes. The Egyptians priests took great care in the selecting and accepting candidates into their temples. See the list of virtues given by George G. M. James in his book, Stolen Legacy, that the Neophyte was required to manifest.

(1)See Gerald Massey, Ancient Egypt the Light of the World, Volume I, page 438. (2)The quotes are taken from the back cover booknotes of Her-Bak: The Living Face of Ancient Egypt, by Isha Schwaller de Lubicz. (3)The quotes were taken from Ihsa Schwaller de Lubicz, Her-Bak: The Living Face of Ancient Egypt. (4)The quotes were taken from Ihsa Schwaller de Lubicz, Her-Bak: Egyptian Initiate.


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