Maat Philosophy

INTRODUCTION TO MAAT PHILOSOPHY

Maat philosophy was the basis of ancient Egyptian society and government as well as the heart of Ancient Egyptian myth and spirituality. Maat is at once a goddess a cosmic force and a living social doctrine which promotes social harmony and thereby paves the way for spiritual evolution in all levels of society. In the absence of a social philosophy which promotes justice, peace and the sublime goals of life, a society cannot function equitably or survive the passage of time.

Other similar social philosophies have developed in other cultures. In India, the philosophy of Dharma, or righteous action, developed. In China, Confucianism served the same purpose. In Christianity the Beatitudes and the new commandments of Jesus serve the same purpose. However, if moral injections are simply memorized but never applied, not understanding their deeper spiritual implications they will not be practiced correctly or at all. Thus the moral character of society declines and strife develops in society.

In reference to society, the follower of Maat would be innocent before the courts and society. In reference to the Temple, the injunctions of Maat were statements composed by the Ancient Egyptian Sages and recorded in temple walls and papyrus scrolls. They were to be used by spiritual initiates for the purpose of cleansing their personalities and making themselves pure vessels in order to promote spiritual self-discovery. These teachings came to be known as the Book of the Dead. The correct name is Prt m Hru or Pert Em Heru meaning “Utterances for coming into the light” or “Sayings for becoming Enlightened.”

The teachings of Pert em Heru are related to the Yoga of Righteous Action. The word Yoga originates in the Indian Sanskrit, meaning union of the lower self (mortal personality) with the higher (immortal spiritual Self). In Ancient Egypt the word for Yoga was Smai. Yoga is the practice of spiritual disciplines which lead to positive spiritual evolution. There are four major aspects of Yoga: The Yoga of Wisdom, The Yoga of Devotion, The Yoga of Meditation and the Yoga of Righteous Action.

The teachings of righteous action originated in the early history of Ancient Egypt with the writings of the Ancient Egyptian Sages, known as the “Wisdom Texts.” There were many Sages in Ancient Egypt, however, only a relatively small number of their writings have survived. Nevertheless, these are enough to provide a viable understanding of the Ancient Egyptian wisdom teachings and these writings reveal the source of the Maatian precepts and philosophy contained in the Pert em Heru. Therefore, as we study the precepts of Maat, along with the Wisdom Texts, we will obtain a deeper insight into the profound nature of the precepts.

The 42 precepts may be classified into six major principles and within these three more can be subdivided. The six principles are Truthfullness, Non-violence, Right Action, Right Thinking, Non-stealing and Sex Sublimation. The subdivisions are under Right Action. They are Selfless Service to Humanity, Right Speech and Right Worship of the Divine or Correct Spiritual Practice.

The number to the left of each precept denotes the order in which it appears in the Papyrus of Ani or Pert em heru of Ani. Since there are various Pert em Herus which have been discovered and no two have the same exact wording, varianst will also be included to elucidate on the expanded meanings accorded to the precepts by different Sages.

Truth (1), (6), (7), (9), (24)

Non-violence (2), (3), (5), (12), (25), (26), (28), (30), (34)

Self-Control-Right Action (Living in accordance with the teachings of Maat)
(15), (20), (22), (36)

Selfless Service, (29)

Right Speech (11), (17), (23), (33), (35), (37)

Right Worship (13), (21), (32), (38), (42)

Balance of Mind – Reason – Right Thinking (14), (16), (18), (31), (39), (41)

Not-stealing (4), (8), (10)

Sex-Sublimation (19), (27)

WHO IS MAAT? MAAT AS A SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY

MAAT is the daughter of Ra, and she was with him on His celestial barque when he first emerged from the primeval waters along with His company of gods and goddesses. She is also known as the eye of Ra, lady of heaven, queen of the earth, mistress of the Underworld and the lady of the gods and goddesses. MAAT also has a dual form or MAATI. In her capacity of God, MAAT is Shes MAAT which means ceaseless-ness and regularity of the course of the sun (i.e. the universe). In the form of MAATI, she represents the South and the North which symbolize Upper and Lower Egypt as well as the Higher and Lower Self. MAAT is the personification of justice and righteousness upon which God has created the universe and MAAT is also the essence of God and creation. Therefore, it is MAAT who judges the soul when it arrives in the judgment hall of MAAT. Sometimes MAAT herself becomes the scales upon which the heart of the initiate is judged. MAAT judges the heart (unconscious mind) of the initiate in an attempt to determine to what extent the heart has lived in accordance with MAAT or truth, correctness, reality, genuineness, uprightness, righteousness, justice, steadfastness and the unalterable nature of creation.

The ancient Egyptian Goddess MAAT, holds a papyrus reed scepter. Papyrus is the ancient medium or writing upon which the teachings of wisdom are recorded. She is the symbolic embodiment of world order, justice, righteousness, correctness, harmony and peace. She is also known by her headdress composes of a feather of truth. Her name is synonymous with mother since the syllable “ma” is a universal hekau or mantram signifying mother in many countries of the world. For example, mother in English, madre in Spanish, mata in Hindi all convey the same meaning. All of these arise from the root Ma. Thus, she is also known as Ma or Maa or the universal mother, the cosmic mother. She is a form of the Goddess Isis, Auset, who represents wisdom and spiritual awakening.

When Ra emerged in his Barque for the first time and creation came into being, he was standing on the pedestal of Maat. Thus the Creator, Ra, lives by Maat and has established Creation on Maat. Who is Maat? Maat represents the very order which constitutes creation. Therefore, it is said that Ra created the universe by putting Maat in the place of chaos. So creation itself is Maat. Creation without order is chaos. Maat is a profound teaching in reference to the nature of creation and the manner in which human conduct should be cultivated. It refers to a deep understanding of Divinity and the manner in which virtuous qualities can be developed in the human heart so as to come closer to the Divine.

Maat is a philosophy, a spiritual symbol as well as a cosmic energy or force which pervades the entire universe. She is the symbolic embodiment of world order, justice, righteousness, correctness, harmony and peace. She is also known by her headdress composed of a feather of truth. She is a form of the Goddess Isis, who represents wisdom and spiritual awakening through balance and equanimity.

In ancient Egypt, the judges and all those connected with the judicial system were initiated into the teachings of MAAT. Thus, those who would discharged the laws and regulations of society were well trained in the ethical and spiritual-mystical values of life (presented in this volume), fairness, justice and the responsibility to serve society in order to promote harmony in society and the possibility for spiritual development in an atmosphere of freedom and peace. For only when there is justice and fairness in society can there be an abiding harmony and peace. Harmony and peace are necessary for the pursuit of true happiness and inner fulfillment in life.

Along with her associates, the goddesses Shai, Rennenet and Meskhenet, Maat encompass the teachings of Karma and Reincarnation or the destiny of every individual based on past actions, thoughts and feelings. Thus, they have an important role to play in the Judgment scene of the Book of Coming Forth By Day. Understanding their principles leads the aspirant to become free of the cycle of reincarnation and human suffering and to discover supreme bliss and immortality.

MAAT signifies that which is straight. Two of the symbols of MAAT are the ostrich feather (•) and the pedestal (Õ) upon which God stands. The Supreme Being, in the form of the God Ptah, is often depicted standing on the pedestal.
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MAAT is the daughter of Ra, the high God, thus in a hymn to Ra we find:

The land of Manu (the West) receives thee with satisfaction, and the goddess MAAT embraces thee both at morn and at eve… the god Tehuti and the goddess MAAT have written down thy daily course for thee every day…

Another Hymn in the Papyrus of Qenna provides deeper insight into MAAT. Qenna says:

I have come to thee, O Lord of the Gods, Temu-Heru-khuti, whom MAAT directeth… Amen-Ra rests upon MAAT… Ra lives by MAAT… Osiris carries along the earth in His train by MAAT…

MAAT is the daughter of Ra, and she was with him on His celestial barque when he first emerged from the primeval waters along with His company of gods and goddesses. She is also known as the eye of Ra, lady of heaven, queen of the earth, mistress of the Underworld and the lady of the gods and goddesses. MAAT also has a dual form or MAATI. In her capacity of God, MAAT is Shes MAAT which means ceaseless-ness and regularity of the course of the sun (i.e. the universe). In the form of MAATI, she represents the South and the North which symbolize Upper and Lower Egypt as well as the Higher and Lower Self. MAAT is the personification of justice and righteousness upon which God has created the universe and MAAT is also the essence of God and creation. Therefore, it is MAAT who judges the soul when it arrives in the judgment hall of MAAT. Sometimes MAAT herself becomes the scales upon which the heart of the initiate is judged. MAAT judges the heart (unconscious mind) of the initiate in an attempt to determine to what extent the heart has lived in accordance with MAAT or truth, correctness, reality, genuineness, uprightness, righteousness, justice, steadfastness and the unalterable nature of creation.

for more see the book INTRODUCTION TO MAAT PHILOSOPHY by Muata Ashby