An Egyptian Enigma

An occult interpretation of an ancient Egyptian eschatological text and a moving story from the past


This new investigation is a continuation of our exploration of the ancient Egyptian Mystery Teachings that we last discussed in An Egyptian Epistle published in February 2023. We now turn our attention to a remarkable Egyptian eschatological text preserved in the Berlin Papyrus 3024. This enigmatic treatise is better known as The Dispute between a man and his Ba or The Debate Between a Man and his Soul. Ba is the ancient Egyptian term for what we call the Higher Mind or Self. The 20th century Egyptologist, E. A. Wallis Budge, now sadly out of favour, has quite a bit to say about the Ba in his edition of the Book of the Dead, we quote: "To that part of man which beyond all doubt was believed to enjoy an eternal existence after the death of the body, the Egyptians gave the name Ba, a word which has been thought to mean something like 'sublime,' 'noble,' and which has hitherto been translated by 'soul,' or 'heart soul.' It was eternal. In the Pyramid Texts the permanent dwelling-place of the Ba or soul is in heaven with the gods, whose life it shares."

What Budge says confirms all that we have told you in our articles about the Higher Mind. It's counterpart was the Ka or lower mind which Budge describes as follows. "In addition to the Ba, man also had an abstract individuality or personality endowed with all his characteristic attributes. This was the Ka, his image, genius, double, character and mental attributes." But there is another aspect of the Ka which the Egyptians called the Khaibit. This is depicted as a shadow in the Book of the Dead and other sacred texts. Budge writes, "In connection with the Ka and Ba must be mentioned the Khaibit, or shadow of the man, which the Egyptians regarded as part of the human economy. It was supposed to have an entirely independent existence and be able to separate itself from the body." In Vision 11 of The Golden Star, Dr Michaud calls this the Khaba — astral body or shadow.

Hence, a better name for this enigmatic text would be 'A conversation between a Ka and his Ba'. Once we know that man has two minds, and that they are in dire antagonism with one another, the conversation or debate between them which forms the subject of this papyrus begins to reveal its hidden meaning. It is because mainstream Egyptologists know nothing about the two minds, or even acknowledge their existence in man, that the text presents them with so many difficulties. This is the reason no two translations are exactly the same and every interpretation is different. We shall consider these difficulties in some depth when we come to examine the papyrus itself. Meanwhile, before we go any further we must say something about the word ''eschatological' which may be unfamiliar to some readers. This is derived from the Greek term éschatos, meaning 'last', 'end', 'final' and the like, while -logy, means 'study of.' In other words the study of last things, such as death, judgement and the final destiny of man. Hence it is concerned with end of the world scenarios and apocalypses, such as we discussed in our investigation of the 'Doomsday' and 'Rapture' prophecies of 2017. In esoteric philosophy the term refers to the end of mortal life and liberation from further reincarnation on earth. Consequently, an eschatological text is one that is concerned with last and final things.

Our customary afterword consists of a moving short story by Joan Grant which is included in her first 'Far Memory' novel of ancient Egypt — Winged Pharaoh. We have chosen this compelling tale as it both mirrors and compliments the themes found in the Berlin Papyrus 3024. Both narratives are quintessentially eschatological, dealing as they do, with the end of things. The conversation between a man and his soul is about death and resurrection, whereas Joan Grant's story is about the death of a pharaoh and the restoration of Light that had been eclipsed by an evil and degenerate priesthood.

The Berlin Papyrus 3024

The Berlin Papyrus 3024 was bought by the renowned German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius in Egypt in 1843, and is now kept in the Berlin State Museums. It was translated for the first time in 1896 by Adolph Erman and published along with a hieroglyphic transcript under the name: Das Gespräch Eines Lebensmuden mit seiner Seele (A Man Tired of Life in Conversation with his Soul). The beginning of the conversation is missing from the papyrus. In 2015, Marina Escolano-Poveda, a young Spanish Egyptologist, found a series of papyrus fragments in the Museum of Mallorca which she believed contained the lost beginning of the debate. These fragments were subsequently translated into English and published in 2017. So far as we are aware neither Ms Escolano-Poveda or her colleagues have any knowledge or understanding of the esoteric meaning of even the most commonplace Egyptian texts. Nor is it known how the fragments came into the possession of the museum or their provenance. Hence, we cannot be sure they are part of the papyrus. For these reasons, and because the interpretation of these fragments made by Ms Escolano-Poveda adds nothing new to the text from an occult perspective, we have omitted it from our investigation.

As we said in our introduction, this text has presented Egyptologists with numerous difficulties ever since its discovery. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, it consists of several fragments, and it is by no means certain that the interpretations which have been made of them are either consistent or accurate. It is akin to future archaeologists discovering fragments of the folios of Shakespeare and attempting to reconstruct an entire play from them. The text gives every appearance of being composed of separate narratives with no obvious connection between them. It begins abruptly halfway through an argument between an unnamed man and his soul. Next, we encounter a number of statements more in keeping with the Judgement of the Dead. This is immediately followed by a recital of the miseries and vicissitudes of life on earth. The text then introduces three unconnected parables which end with a man demanding dinner from his wife! These are succeeded by a series of repetitive statements in which the man tells his soul how loathsome he is, followed by a long lament about the many evils which prevailed in Egypt in his times. This, at least, has the merit of some connection with the beginning of the text and provides reasons why the unhappy wretch wishes to end his life. The final portion of the text consists of an eloquent appeal by the man's soul in which it exhorts him to overcome his lower mind and so obtain liberation and enlightenment.

Egyptologists have attempted to overcome these difficulties by treating the text as one, complete narrative. In the absence of any alternative solutions, we have followed their example with the important difference that we have tried to discover the hidden meaning of the narrative. This raises a second and more serious difficulty. As we said in our introduction, the papyrus is an eschatological text belonging to the category of initiatic writings which it is impossible to understand without some knowledge of the ancient Egyptian Mystery Teachings. This explains why generations of Egyptologists have produced such superficial and unsatisfactory interpretations of the papyrus, finding the text 'difficult', 'obscure' and 'corrupt'. For instance, a Wikipedia article about the papyrus tells us that "the most widely accepted interpretation is that the text is a commentary on suicide and the Egyptian funerary cult." Some Egyptologists downplay the suicide 'angle' in favour of a 'psychological struggle of a man trying to come to terms with the mixed conditions of earthly life'. Perhaps the most implausible and unsatisfactory interpretation is that the text is a "metaphor for the unstable political situation" which prevailed during the times in which it is thought to have been composed!

Since Adolf Erman published his translation in 1896 many more have appeared. The most recent was published in 2010 by American Egyptologist, James Peter Allen, and entitled The Debate between a Man and His Soul. One reviewer summarised this interpretation as "an inner struggle of a person in dire straights." So it is, but, as we shall see later on, not for the reasons this trite psychological description suggests! Contrary to the modern obsession with mental health instanced by the #MeToo phenomenon, the Egyptians had better things to do than construct self-pitying dialogues about how awful earthly life can be! But since mainstream Egyptologists insist on clinging to the notion that ancient Egypt was a primitive society governed by priest-bound necrophiles incapable of abstract thought, we can hardly expect them to come up with any better interpretation. Knowing nothing of esoteric symbolism or the two minds, they are utterly incapable of penetrating beyond the obvious and literal meaning of the text. It is for these reasons that we have gone back to the German translation made by Adolf Erman and carefully compared it with all the subsequent translations to get as close to the true meaning of the text as possible. These include the English translation published in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in 1956 by R. O. Faulkner, and a German translation made by Winfried Barta in 1969 under the title Das Gespräch eines Mannes mit seinem Ba (The conversation between a man and his Ba). Like her peers, Barta stressed the difficulties posed by the text, calling them "unparalleled among all the texts of Egypt." Despite our knowledge of the ancient Egyptian Mystery Teachings and our familiarity with the Egyptian and German languages, we cannot but agree with her. It was only with the greatest difficulty that we were able to produce a translation which satisfied us. We can but hope it satisfies our readers too.

Before we analyse the text itself, we must mention a translation that has been almost completely ignored. This was made by Bika Reed, an unorthodox Egyptologist and self-confessed mystic, who published it under the title Rebel in the Soul in 1978. Praiseworthy as this effort is, it nonetheless contains almost as many errors as the orthodox interpretations which preceded and followed it. However, Bika Reed did sincerely try to uncover the hidden truths within the papyrus, which is more than we can say for her better-known peers. We cannot resist quoting the following astute and amusing illustration of the complete hash Egyptologists have made of the papyrus which she included in her introduction to Rebel in the Soul.

"It seems to me that what remains of the original thought in these translations of the Berlin Papyrus could be compared to what would be left of Shakespeare if in many thousands of years; a linguistic archaeologist uncovered a torn fragment of Hamlet.

"King: Now, Hamlet, where is Polonius?
Hamlet: At supper.
King: At supper? Where?
Hamlet: Not where he eats, but where he is eaten; a certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet; we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots; your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service; two dishes, but one table; that's the end.

"The future archaeologist, using magnifying glasses to read the tattered leaf, would carefully examine the text and compose an article on it for the scientific Ancient British Excavation Memorial Society entitled The Gastronomic Habits of the Ancient British. This authoritative paper would cite the fragment of the play as proof of the following conclusions. 'The ancient British considered maggots as their main food. It must have been a long extinct variety (maggot comestibus), unknown today. The flesh of the maggot was highly esteemed, for even the king ate it, as indicated in line five. The text, though obscure and corrupt in parts, leaves no doubt that social distinctions were clearly demarcated by size: to be fat was both an honour and a social advantage, whilst to be lean was the stigma of beggary and low birth. Eating maggots was so important that all state functions were concluded by this gastronomic event.' "

It is ironic that so simple and eloquent a language as ancient Egyptian should be mangled into incomprehensible complexity by the very instrument of its rediscovery — the Egyptologist! With the possible exception of E. A. Wallis Budge mentioned earlier, who possessed a unique insight into the wisdom of the Egyptians which has never been equalled, we have yet to encounter a single specimen of this exclusive club who does not consider the ancient Egyptians to be their intellectual inferiors. Is it any wonder that such jaundiced scholars are utterly incapable of recognizing, never mind transmitting the wisdom of ancient Egypt to our jaded, materialistic modern generation? The average Egyptologist is like a surgeon, who, searching for the soul of his patient with a scalpel, declares there is no soul in man. For him the immortality of the soul and reincarnation are infantile pagan superstitions. Yet the objective 'reality' of which he is so sure would be a dream to the Initiates of Egypt. It is noteworthy in this connection that the Wikipedia article we referred to earlier makes no mention of Bika Reed's translation. Frankly, we are not surprised!

ba and ka

The Conversation between a Ka and his Ba

Before we give you our interpretation of the papyrus, we would remind you of what we said earlier: this is a dialogue between the lower and Higher minds of an unnamed individual. Such conversations take place every minute of every day in every one of us, as one mind attempts to gain the ascendancy over the other. As we said in our article about Inner Peace, it is a battle of wills that never ends so long as we dwell in a body on earth. The nature, purpose and outcome of this battle formed an essential part of the Egyptian Mystery Teachings and the training of an Initiate. The Egyptian Sages knew that one or other mind must win the battle in the end, and that their individual and joint fate depended upon the outcome. Unless this is understood the reader will fall into the same trap as those Egyptologists who believe the subject of the papyrus is 'a psychological struggle of a man trying to come to terms with the mixed conditions of earthly life'.

We would add that we are not going to explain every obscure point in our translation of the text. Firstly because it would make this article ten times longer and secondly because it discourages the reader to think by and for themselves, without which it is impossible discover the hidden meaning in any sacred text. As we said earlier, the beginning of the conversation has been lost and the narrative starts rather abruptly. Our translation is in indented type; our commentary in normal type.

I spoke to my soul in answer to what it had said:
Why dost thou you rail against me?
Why dost thou ignore my protestations?
This I cannot bear! Thine indifference is worse than anger.
Stay, my soul! Depart not. Hear my pleas!

Thus did my soul answer me:
If thou followest after the body thou shall not be guiltless.
It shall entangle thee in the cords of the Net.
I shall be afar off when thou art lost in its meshes.
Through no fault of mine wilt thou suffer and be judged for thy misdeeds.
If thou hasteth towards death before it has come to thee, who is at fault?
The lake of fire shall be the shroud of him who casts away what belongs to me!

This short exchange is largely self-explanatory. The man's soul is attempting to dissuade him from committing suicide. We discussed the nature and dangers of the 'Net' in part five of our series of articles about Hermes, so will not repeat ourselves except to reiterate that it is an allegory of all the temptations and vices that lead the lower mind away from the Higher.

Stay, my soul! Depart not in my time of suffering.
I would stand with thee on the other shore as the righteous do.
I would be numbered among those who proclaim 'this one hath come forth into Day'.
Surely thou knowest the miseries of life among the shadows?
Therefore, I beseech thee; do not restrain me from death!
I would share the Joy of the Dwellers in the West.
For is not Life but the return to the Land of Light?
Lo! Trees fall to earth but the wind carries their leaves to Heaven!
Would that I might trample upon evil and put aside my misery!
May Thoth declare that the gods are satisfied concerning me.
May Khonsu defend me as a faithful scribe of Right and Truth.
May Ra listen to my words and guide my boat safely into port.
May Isdes defend me against mine enemies in the Hall of Right and Truth.
For my heart is heavy with grief and confusion.
My body hides the things that truly are; hearing I hear not, and seeing I see not.
O! may the Gods restore my sight and hearing!

'Coming forth into Day' is the translation of the Egyptian phrase 'pert em hru', which is part of the title of the work we know as the Book of the Dead. 'Day' meant Life immortal and all that this implies. The 'Dwellers in the West' are the blessed dead who dwell in Amenta, also written Amentet, the Egyptian heaven. The line beginning 'Trees fall to earth...' has puzzled many Egyptologists. All it really means is that the 'tree' which is the human being on earth perishes, but its 'leaves' (our good deeds and thoughts) are carried into heaven by the soul (the 'wind' or spirit) of man. Thoth, or Tahuti as the Egyptians called him, needs no explanation as we have discussed his role as the Judge of the Dead in our article about the Weighing of the Heart. Khonsu was a Lunar deity while Ra was a solar one, the former acting as the advocate of the deceased in the Hall of Judgement, and the latter as the guide in the journey through Amenta.

There are no references to Isdes earlier than the Middle Kingdom. This dates our text to some time between 2200 B.C. to 1800 B.C. The name can be split into two parts — the verb 'is' or 'as', meaning 'lo', 'behold' and the like, and the noun 'des' meaning a jar or pot. The whole name would then mean something like 'behold! (a) jar.' This makes no sense to the average reader and even less to orthodox Egyptologists who dismiss such interpretations as 'corrupt', nonsensical, or both. Instead, they trace the word 'des' to the verb 'den' which is formed from the pictogram of a hand and a knife, the whole meaning to cut, slay, or decapitate. This translation fits in perfectly with the idea, mentioned earlier, that the Egyptians were incapable of abstract thought. Unfortunately, this interpretation is contradicted by the text which tells us Isdes was a defender of the deceased, not some knife-wielding gangster! The signs which form the word 'des' in the text are a hand (standing for the letter 'd') and the horizontal, double-barred stroke which stood for the letter 's'. There are no knives to be seen. What is seen is the determinative of a jar mentioned earlier. Moreover, when we consult the papyri in which Isdes is mentioned, we find the god's name written with the determinative of a human figure bearing the head of an Ibis, Jackal, Wolf or Dog; zootypes emblematical of judgement and guidance, not punishment. In the coffin texts, dated to around 2100 B.C., we may read: "Isdes teaches the word to this Osiris; it is your righteousness that made your strength." In the New Kingdom (ca. 1700 B.C. to 1300 B.C.), Thoth is often called Isdes, while in a chapter in the Book of the Dead it is said: "As for a wolf...this is Anubis, he is an hypostasis of Up-Uatu (Wepwawet) a form of Isdes."

anubis shrine

This tells us that Isdes took the part of the protector of the deceased, who intercedes for him in the Weighing of the Heart. This protection consists of the sum total of the good thoughts and acts of the deceased during life on earth. The determinative of a water jar (storage vessel) that accompanies the name of the god in the hieroglyphs provides the clue, or would do, if Egyptologists knew anything at all about the science of symbolism and could see further than the ends of their superior noses. We would add that the Egyptian Initiates were neither so presumptuous or foolish as to believe that the gods themselves were present during the Weighing of the Heart. Thoth, Ra, Khonsu, Isdes and the rest stood for aspects of the lower and Higher Selves of the deceased; his good or bad characteristics, mental attributes and spiritual attainments, or lack of any, plus the Divine Soul, who watched over him. The text continues:

Then my soul said to me:
Art thou not a man who liveth, knowing Right and Truth?
Why dost thou cling to thine misery like a miser who hoards his gold?
I have not gone even though thou dost continually leap away from me.
Cleave unto me with all thine heart. So shalt thou cause thy name live.
Thy boat shall make a safe landing in the Haven of the West.
There, a seat is established for thee among the living.
O my faithless brother! If you wilt only join with me, thou shalt ascend into heaven, like the one who stood up in his pyramid, having arisen from the earth in triumph!
I would give air unto thy shadow that it may no longer be the sport of the Unawakened. I would subdue its raging fire and pour cool waters upon it.
But if thou wilt not hearken unto me, thou wilt make thy shadow envious. thou wilt fan the flames of its hunger and greed. If thou continueth on this course thou wilt surely come to grief.

The double key of the lower and Higher Mind (Ka and Ba) unlocks the hidden meaning of the foregoing speech of the soul. The 'giving of air' was a common motif in the sacred texts of Egypt as a synonym for bringing some thing or someone to life. Here the soul (Higher Self) promises to emancipate the man's lower self from the grip of its worst instincts and passions (the shadow). But, as we shall now see, this good counsel was wasted on the man, who continues to try to justify his desire to end his life prematurely.

Be merciful unto me, O my brother!
O my soul! I am in despair.
Am I not thy progeny?
Shall I not enter the glorious West on the day of burial?

Thus did my soul answer me:
Thou shalt surely not! To seek death before it comes to thee is not burial but endless remorse. It is a dreadful matter! It is heartache beyond bearing and the shedding of bitter tears. It is to be cast naked from thy house and flung upon the stony foot of the mountain! From thence thou shalt never reach the summit nor gaze upon the Sun in Heaven.

We now come to the point mentioned in our discussion of the papyrus where three seemingly unrelated parables are introduced into the conversation. These have never before been explained satisfactorily by any Egyptologist.

The followers of Horus who built in granite, the Great Ones who shaped and raised the beautiful pyramids in perfect realization of their Holy Purpose, who made them to endure for all time, even they, when they had become Gods themselves, lived to see the work of their hearts and hands fall into decay. The mighty altars they had raised to the glory of God became as empty as the minds of the Unawakened who lie dead upon the riverbank, those who never bore an heir. The water dissolves them; the Sun desiccates them; they become food for fishes.

Hearken unto me! It is good to listen to the wise; to follow the beauteous path of the Sun and come forth into Day.

There was once a man who cultivated his plot. He loaded the fruits of his labour into a boat and towed it along the river to present unto his Lord, for the time of the Harvest offering was nigh. He saw a storm approaching from the darkness of the north and took refuge in the boat until it should pass. The sun rose and set and still he waited.

Alas for that man! While he tarried on the way his wife and children perished in the lake of darkness, devoured by crocodiles!

The man sat down upon the riverbank, saying to himself, 'I do not weep for that Mother, for she will never return from the West for another term on earth. But I grieve for her children who were crushed in the egg, who gazed into the face of the Double Crocodile before they had lived!' Wouldst thou be that man? Then repent of thy folly!

There was once a man who peremptorily demanded his supper. His wife replied, 'it is coming soon'. Whereupon he stalked out of the house in a towering rage. When, at last, he returned, he was no longer himself. His wife pleaded with him to see reason, but his anger had robbed him of speech. Wouldst thou be that man? Then repent of thy folly!

The first parable tells us that even the greatest and wisest of men must perish in the end so far as their earthly personalities are concerned, though the spirit that animated them — the Ba or Higher Self — continues. The text tells us that the unawakened (meaning the unevolved and inexperienced) never 'bore an heir'. This is another of those 'difficulties' orthodox Egyptologists find so very perplexing. Yet the solution is simple; too simple for these clever men and women who sneer at the 'primitive' beliefs of the Egyptians! It means that the unawakened, wrongly called 'young souls' by some mystics, have nothing to bequeath to their future (incarnated) selves in the way of wisdom, for they lack the experience of those who have spent many thousands of lifetimes here. Hence, the unawakened are also 'dead', for the Higher Mind is asleep in them. They remain on the riverbank, for they have yet to enter the great stream which carries the souls of awakened towards enlightenment and liberation from rebirth. Do you see how the simplest, most commonplace of statements in this text are replete with hidden meaning?

It is for this reason that the second parable is a complete enigma to Egyptologists. Let us examine the elements within it, using the keys provided by the Mystery Language. We are all 'cultivators', both on earth and in the realms beyond it. We each have our 'plot' to tend, consisting of the circumstances in which we are placed here. Our deeds and thoughts are the 'fruits' of our labour which we shall present unto our Soul (our Lord) when the harvest is come, that is to say, the day we depart this world. None of us are exempt from the storms of life, but we have the free will to confront them bravely, or, like the man in the parable, hide from them, hoping they will pass us by. Some people spend many lifetimes 'hiding' from this, that, or the other disaster. The sun rises and sets upon each incarnation and still they wait, hoping against hope that the tide will turn in their favour. It never does until or unless we bend to the storms which assail us and learn the lessons they bring. While we dawdle on the way, the people and things we value most are taken away from us so that perchance we may awaken from our slothful slumbers and take a step, or several steps forwards in our evolution. All this wisdom and more is concealed within this enigmatic parable.

What comes next is fraught with hidden meaning. The 'Double Crocodile' or Khenti as it was known in Egypt, was a very ancient God associated with the dead and death. If he could 'crush' the 'children' in the 'egg' as the text says, he may succeed in slaying the 'divine heir'. That is to say, prevent or retard the future incarnation of a man or woman who was destined to win the victory over all the powers of evil. It is the age-old mythological allegory of the massacre of the Innocents by an evil king, the 'king' standing for the powers of evil in the shape of the double crocodile. Double, because it partakes of our past and future. If we always try to bear in mind that the drama enacted in this text does not take place on earth, but in Amenta, the higher Egypt, we shall begin to comprehend the hidden meanings concealed within it. But what of the 'mother', for whom the man does not weep? The answer lies in the words of the text itself. She has attained the West, the Egyptian paradise from which there is no return for 'another term', meaning incarnation, on earth, for her, for she, unlike our anonymous interlocutor, has completed the great journey. It was in just such simple, but not obvious ways that the Egyptian Sages concealed their great wisdom in plain sight.

At first glance, the final parable seems even more out of place than the preceding two. But if we look a little deeper we discover it is all about timing. The man wants his supper now. Like the subject of this text who wants to die before his time, he is not prepared to wait. It can also be read as an object lesson in the power of patience, a virtue as despised as it is neglected in our modern world! But let us continue with the text.

Then did I open my mouth to speak to my soul:
My name stinks because of what thou hast said! Verily, vile is my name in my nostrils more than the stench of bird droppings under the burning sky of a hot summer's day. My name stinks like a haul of fish rotting in the sun. My name stinks worse then the reek of ducks nesting among the rotting reeds. My name stinks worse than the smell of fishermen drenched in the foul mud of the marshes in which they have fished. Yea! rancid is my name because of thee! Worse than the stench of crocodiles crawling on their swollen bellies upon the river bank. Yea! malodorous is my name; worse than the rank odour of a wife whose reputation has been sullied by the slanders of lying tongues. My name stinks worse than a brave lad who shows weakness before his rival. O! How my name doth stink because of what thou hast said! I am like unto one who conspires to rebel behind the back of his Lord — utterly loathsome!

Well, well, well...this is some catalogue of bitter reproaches! The Egyptians certainly knew how to pile on the agony! It is noteworthy that we still use the word 'stink' today to describe irredeemably offensive acts or persons. There can be few people who have not felt their name 'stinks' at some point in their lives, hoping that in laying the fault upon others, they might escape censure. As we said in the fifth of our articles on the Wisdom of Hermes, "There are but few whose Mind is capable of receiving the Light; for most humans function by means of the lower mind only; the Higher Mind is dormant in them and has to await the day of awakening." When it does awaken, the battle between them begins, and a fearful conflict it is as the foregoing lament makes clear. What follows shows that this world was in no less parlous a state 4,000 years ago than it is today. The ancient Egyptians were no wiser, more honest, kinder or righteous then than ourselves, contrary to the views of those who persist in viewing Egypt through rose-tinted spectacles. True, it enjoyed several periods of comparative peace and prosperity when the wise were firmly in control, but it had its times of darkness and disorder too, as you can read in our Afterword about an even earlier period in Egyptian history. This proves that humanity in the mass does not change very much, if at all, in 4,000, 40,000 or even 400,000 years, confirming the occult doctrine of successive ages of Light and darkness which we discussed long ago in our article on occult evolutionary cycles. Our anonymous Egyptian continues to rail against his fate.

To whom can I speak today? Brothers are evil. There is no love between friends.

To whom can I speak today? Greed fills the hearts of men. Each man steals from his neighbour.

To whom can I speak today? Gentleness has departed from the land and violence rules in its place with a rod of iron.

To whom can I speak today? Evil goes unpunished and goodness is overthrown.

To whom can I speak today? He whose wickedness should outrage decent men is acclaimed by the rabble for his evil deeds.

To whom can I speak today? Men have become thieves. Every man seizes his neighbour's goods.

To whom can I speak today? The villain is embraced as an intimate friend while the brother with whom one dealt amicably has become an enemy.

To whom can I speak today? Yesterday goes unremembered and good deeds go unrewarded.

To whom can I speak today? One's own kin have embraced evil. One goes to the foreigner to find righteousness.

To whom can I speak today? Vacant are the faces of men. Every man turns his face away from his brothers.

To whom can I speak today? Greed fills the hearts of men. There is not a heart in which one can put one's trust.

To whom can I speak today? Righteousness and Truth are no more and the land is given over to the iniquities of the evildoers.

To whom can I speak today? There are no friends in whom one can confide. One goes to strangers for solace.

To whom can I speak today? He of the Serene Heart has departed and those who followed him are no more.

To whom can I speak today? I am overcome with grief from the loss of He Who Enters the Heart.

To whom can I speak today? There is no end to the corruption and wickedness that scourges the long-suffering earth.

Death, for me, today, would be like the cure of a sick man who is released from his infirmity.

Death, for me, today, would be like the soothing scent of myrrh, like sheltering under canvas on a windy day.

Death, for me, today, would be like the sweet savour of the lotus, like sitting on the shore of Heaven's shining sea.

Death, for me, today, would be like a dusty path washed by the sweet, cleansing rain, like a weary warrior returning from war.

Death, for me, today, would be like the unveiling of Heaven, like the dispelling of ignorance from the mind of a man.

Death, for me, today, would be like a prisoner longing for a sight of home after many long years in captivity.

Verily! There is a Living God who judges the hearts of men! Who is merciful to the sinner and will absolve my crime.

Verily! There is one who stands in the Boat of Millions of Years who shall not abandon me, who shall not forbid my sacrifice!

Therefore do I appeal to Ra as one who has followed his holy word all the days of my life.

The foregoing eloquent recital is perhaps the most moving part of the entire papyrus. Who among our regular readers has not felt these sentiments? The writer certainly has. He feels them still. He will never stop feeling them so long as breath remains in his body. But he understands, as our anonymous candidate for Initiation does not, that suicide solves nothing. All that happens is that after death we find ourselves on some part of the astral plane where the identical problems will have to be faced all over again, and be worked out, often under much worse conditions than we tried to escape from on earth. Madame Blavatsky summed up the reasons why no thinking occultist would ever contemplate suicide with her customary clarity. "Whenever the Ego gets consciously and deliberately rid of its body before the hour marked, then must it still live, even as a disembodied suffering soul. The Ego (Higher Self in our terminology) having learned nothing...and in its mental torture lost the remembrance of the little it knew on earth, is violently ejected out of the earth's atmosphere and carried adrift, a prey to the blind current which forces it into some new incarnation which the soul itself is unable to select as it otherwise might with the help of its good actions." Hence, the Soul tries one more time to dissuade the desperate man from the folly of suicide.

Then my soul said to me:
O My companion! Cease thy complaints! Have done with this catalogue of woes. This earth was ever thus; brief moments of light amidst the darkness of night and confusion.

The life thou wouldst sacrifice belongs to me! Live out thy allotted span with courage and patience and thou shalt attain the glorious West.

If thou wilt join with me now, we shall surely dwell together hereafter. If not, thou departest but to dwell in death.

Shun the fire that would drag thee to such an evil fate. Rise above the flesh that tempts thee and together we shall make a new body of light which liveth!

Thus was it copied from its beginning unto its end as it was found in the sacred scriptures.

hidden retreat

With this customary coda the conversation ends, and with it our investigation of its hidden meaning. Whether it was faithfully copied 'as it was found in the sacred scriptures' is open to question. As we said in our analysis of the Berlin Papyrus 3024, the text gives every appearance of being composed of separate narratives, though we have treated them as one conversation. Frankly, it does not matter very much whether it is fragmentary or not. What matters is that it gives us an insight into the kind of teachings which were used to inform and instruct the students of the Egyptian Mystery schools long before Plato and his successors developed their esoteric philosophical systems. As such, we commend it to the persevering and perceptive reader.

© Copyright Article published 16 April 2023.

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