Dating back nearly 3,000 years before the current era (BCE) the ancient Egyptian people seemed to be way ahead of our time. This ancient civilization that has been forgotten about tells us their interesting thoughts and sayings carved on temples, stelae and tomb walls by scribes. This largely unbroken history and deep rooted religious concepts focused around “know yourself”. The famous philosopher Socrates 469 – 399 BC almost mimics what the ancient Egyptian by quoting “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. Another fascinating quote by the Egyptians was “the kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it”. Does this sound familiar? Jesus said “the fowls of the air and all beasts that are under
the earth or upon the earth and the fishes of the sea,these are they which draw you and the kingdom of Heaven is within you and whosoever shall know himself shall find it”.
In Ancient Egypt, “philosophy” was not a profession, nor a trade it was something that was passed on to the children in the community. Unlike the Greek Sophists who only taught the rich, this society made sure everybody had a chance to learn, no matter what class. Wisdom was regarded as something some Egyptians grew into as a result of obeying the “natural” correct laws which regulated life. Their conceptualization of these laws, although metaphorical, visual and pluriform, shows that a constant appreciation of truth, justice and integrity stood at the heart of it. These unique human values were at work in the cosmos and in human cultures (in what should ought to be), and Pharaoh was the best of the good examples.
Interesting Ancient Egyptian Proverbs
1. Empty not your soul to everybody and do not diminish thereby your importance.
2. The nut doesn’t reveal the tree it contains.
3. The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground.
4. A house has the character of the man who lives in it.
5. A pupil may show you by his own efforts how much he deserves to learn from you.
6. Do not drink water in the house of a merchant: he will charge you for it..
7. Knowledge is not necessarily wisdom.
8. Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.
9. Listen to your convictions, even if they seem absurd to your reason.
10. God loves him who cares for the poor more than him who respects the wealthy.
If you are fascinated with ancient Egyptian proverbs then you will be just at the tip of the iceberg. This rich civilization is jam packed with knowledge that still applies to our everyday hectic life. They where not only concerned with self knowledge but also studied the importance of dreams and symbolism. Carl Jung even used the ancient symbolism of the Egyptians to better obtain his own personal knowledge and that of his patients.
The story goes
In Carl Jung’s Book “Synchronicity” 1952, Jung explains to us about a young trouble educated woman who felt as if she knew everything and made his analysis very difficult. After several fruitless attempts to sweeten her rationalism with a somewhat more human understanding, he had to confine himself to the hope that something unexpected and irrational would turn up. As sessions went on she mentioned to Jung of an impressive dream the night before. The dream was about someone who had given her a golden scarab — a costly piece of jewelry. While she was still telling Jung the dream he head a tapping on the window. he opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, or common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), whose gold-green color most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” This experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance. The treatment could now be continued with satisfactory results.
In ancient Egyptian symbolism the scarab beetle was seen as a symbol of this heavenly cycle and of the idea of rebirth or regeneration.
With 6000 years of teaching and knowledge behind us, the blind is teaching the blind in today’s modern society. We have so much potential within ourselves and yet we focus on material and uncontrolled desires. We should all take a page from the ancient people of Egypt and apply it to our daily lives.