One of the best books written expressing the true wisdom of Ancient Egypt.
A must buy
are just some extracts from THE LIVING WISDOM OF ANCIENT EGYPT
today than ever, CHRISTIAN JACQ’s The Living Wisdom of Ancient Egypt
brings a message of peace and harmony from the most ancient wisdom of the world.
understands reality, myths and rituals’ is how the Egyptian sage portrays
himself: he whose entire existence rests on knowledge, and not belief.
Accomplishing what is right, finding virtue in everything, never evading
responsibility, and respecting what is worthy – these are just some of the true
sage’s daily tasks.
It is because
Egyptian civilisation knew how to mould people of this quality that it has
successfully conquered the ravages of time, of barbarism, of hostile invasions
and destruction. Despite the troubles and hardships this people faced, their
underlying wisdom continues even now to shine through, to touch our lives in
many significant ways. And it is undoubtedly this wisdom that is the true
secret and legacy of the Ancient Egyptians.
a passionate Egyptologist and the author of the best-selling Ramses series of
novels has selected the finest examples of Egyptian wisdom ranging from the
sayings of famous Pharaohs to anonymous scribes and inscriptions touching on
both everyday and religious matters. This irresistible book invites us to
explore the eternal mysteries of Ancient Egypt, and to discover there the roots
of our own beliefs and the peace and inner harmony we need to face the stresses
of our modern world.
Christian Jacq and available from Simon & Schuster
The Son of the
The Temple of a
The Battle of
The Lady of Abu
Under the Western Acacia
Pharaonic Egypt was the country of sages. For more than three thousand years
they concerned themselves with the search for spiritual fulfillment through the
practice of wisdom which was incarnated in a Goddess, Maat.
Maat is righteousness, right, truth, justness
and justice, the immutable law of the universe, coherence and solidarity. She is
diametrically opposed to Isefet, chaos, disorder, letting things slide, evil in
all its forms. The Sages of Egypt aimed to open up the spirit
and heart with their teachings, making them worthy receptacles for Maat.
Maat is symbolized also as the flight feather of
a bird, as the plinth on which rest statues that have been brought to life by
rites, and as the rudder which enables Justice to cross the river of existence
and land on the banks of eternity.
The term ‘Sebayt’ or ‘Teaching’ is formed from
the root ‘Seba’, whose other meanings are ‘Door’ and ‘Star’. Now, these texts
really can be seen as doors that open on to the fundamental elements of wisdom
and the stars which are destined to guide us on the road of life.
Conquering ignorance is essential. Nobody is
born wise and a person has to make serious efforts to develop the qualities
needed to be able to ‘Speak and achieve Maat’ without falling into the twin
traps of vanity and greed. Every day the ears, or ‘the living’, have to be made
to listen to words of wisdom; if the teaching is properly understood then
righteousness will become a reality. Just acts, conforming to the precepts of
Maat, are born out of this understanding. A deed done without egotism is a
useful, shining example to others, providing it obeys the golden rule: to act
for he who acts.
‘The one who knows reality, the myths and the
rituals’ is how the Egyptian sage portrays himself, a vigilant heart and a plain
tongue, capable of satisfying God and the gods because his entire existence
rests on knowledge and not on belief. An adept of calm and of silence, he
distances himself from the rash, the gossip and the envious. Accomplishing what
is right, finding virtue in everything, never evading responsibility, respecting
what is worthy, these are just some of the sage’s daily duties.
It is because Egyptian civilization knew how to
mould people of this quality that it has conquered time, barbarism, invaders and
destructive frenzy. Despite these troubles, this wisdom continues to shine and
it can touch our lives. And it is undoubtedly this wisdom that is the true
secret of the Ancient Egyptians.
What do we know about the sages, the authors of
these teachings? Among them are the Pharaohs like Amenemhet I who wrote a
spiritual testament for his successor Sesostris I to share his experiences and
to give him guidance on the art of governing with wisdom. Before him another
king had done the same for the future Pharaoh Merikare. It is quite probable
that many rulers drew up this type of document but their works have been lost.
Perhaps they lie there still, sleeping under the sands.
Hor-Djedef, the son of the Pharaoh Cheops, the
famous builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, has left us a ‘teaching’ which has
given him a reputation for wisdom, an indispensable attribute for one of the
king’s councilors. The viziers who were appointed by Pharaoh to put into
practice the virtues of Maat in society, were also the authors of teachings,
such as Ptah-Hotep, whose words have been miraculously preserved on a single
sheet of papyrus. It was at the age of 110, traditionally attributed to the
sages, that this vizier of the sixth dynasty judged it time to put down his
experiences on paper to preserve them for future generations. And the first
known ‘teaching’, of which only the beginning has survived, was addressed to
Kagemni, the vizier of the Pharaohs Huni and Senefru, the founder of the Ivth
dynasty. It is likely that Imhotep, the genial builder of the step pyramids at
Saqqara, wrote down precepts which are still to be discovered, as is his tomb.
Other sages, like Ipu-Or are prophets: they
predicted the catastrophes which await if the Rule of Maat is not respected. In
the chaos and misfortune only one solution will lead us back to harmony: the
rediscovery of wisdom.
In the New Empire, the time of the splendor of
Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, two figures stand out: Ani, a medium-ranking
civil servant who wrote a ‘teaching’ directed at his spiritual son, and
Amenemope, a scribe of Thoth who supervised the land registry and the weights
and measures. Like Ptah-Hotep, their works were widely distributed and certain
passages of the Book of Proverbs were inspired by Amenemope.
Hardly any anecdotes about the sages exist and
we have to wait for the dying embers of Egyptian civilization and the ‘Teaching
of Ankh-Sheshonk’ to learn that the latter completed his work in prison. The
sage had discovered a plot against the Kind but had not informed anyone because
his best friend was involved. But at least we know that he was not just some
edifying legend: even in prison the sage thought only of transmitting his
In this anthology we are not limited to just the
‘Teachings’, since the Texts of the Pyramids, the Texts of the
Sarcophagi, the Book of the Dead, the writings engraved on the walls
of the temples and Stelae, the stories in the Tale of the Oases
and other documents provide us with sayings of great diversity. Out of this
great wealth of writings we have made a choice favoring those precepts whose
authenticity we can, with a high degree of certainty, feel to be established. It
is important to realize that these texts are often extremely difficult and that
many of these passages still pose insoluble problems. Excavations should not
only be limited to monuments; wonderful discoveries lie in store for those
researchers who explore the many forms of Egyptian literature.
This book aims to be a guide or a
path through the landscape of Egyptian thought and it proves, if proof be
needed, that the awesome voice of the Sages of Ancient Egypt still lives on.
This voice still speaks to us with astonishing vigor and provides answers to
fundamental questions. Surely the question they pose is valid today: what could
possibly be more important and more urgent than the quest for wisdom?