Black Spirituality Religion : What is Philosophy? by Asar Imhotep

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  1. imhotep06

    imhotep06 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    What is Philosophy?
    By Asar Imhotep



    When we think of Philosophy here in the West, the theorists who come to mind are those European philosophers from about 570-23 BCE such as Thales, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Democritus, Zeno, Parmenides, and Melissus. We must also include those philosophers of more contemporary times such as Schopenhauer, Descartes, Baudrillard, Locke, Hegel, Kant and Nietzsche. All of these men and more have contributed greatly to our understanding of western Philosophy.

    Unfortunately, in universities across the world, they begin the journey of speculative philosophy with the Greeks, as if no other group of people, who had civilizations thousands of years older than Greece, ever thought about things considered “philosophical.” This has lead to a devaluing of other world cultures and the raising of Europeans as the bringers of civilization and deep thought to the rest of the world. In other words, the world was in darkness until Homer, Plato and Aristotle jumped on the scene to shed light on the human condition. They systematically neglect the African philosophers such as Imhotep, Kagemeni, Amenemope, Ptah-Hotep, Antef, and Hor-Djed-el. They totally skip over papyrus writings such as The Chester Beatty IV papyrus who mention these philosophers thousands of years before Greece was a political state:



    Books of wisdom (i.e. philosophy) were their pyramids,

    And the pen was their child...

    Is there anyone here like Hor‑Djed‑El?



    Is there another like Imhotep?

    They are gone and forgotten,

    But their names through their writings cause them to be remembered.



    This essay will not focus on Greek philosophers and how they came to Africa to study what later became Western speculative philosophy. Warrior scholars such as Diop, Obenga, Karenga, Winters, Bernal, James and Asante have proven this case in my eyes several times over. What we will delve into here is the true nature of philosophy from within the cultural context of classic and contemporary African people. What you will come to find is that philosophy is not what you have been taught in American universities (just a systematic reflection on life), but is a more practical method of development using nature as a guide to find meaning and purpose in the lives of human beings. I hope to add insight on the origins of philosophy and how the pursuit of its intrinsic characteristics can enhance our spiritual lives and serve as a model for human social cohesion.



    Philosophy



    Philosophy according to Webster is: 1) the pursuit of wisdom 2) a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means 3) an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs (emphasis mine). This fits nicely into the cultural context of European collective thought but is not totally in alignment with classical African thought which heavily influenced western philosophy.

    The word Philosophy breaks down to its Greek roots “Philo” which means “lover” and “Sophia” which means “wisdom.” So philosophers are “lovers of wisdom. This implies that one not only learned about universal phenomena, but was passionate about that search. Love implies a strong desire for that in which the connection implies. This intense investigation was done in order to provide models for better living here on earth; to look for the root causes of the underlying reality in order to build a model society in which humanity may live by.

    The word Sophia can be traced to the ancient Mdw Ntr (Medu Netcher) of the Nile Valley from the word “Sba” (seba) which means to teach, school, and be wise. “Sbty” (sebaty) means pupil and a further derivative Sbyt (sebayit) means “wisdom teaching, written teaching, wisdom, instruction and pedagogy.” Seba became “sophos” in the Greek starting with Pythagoras who is believed to have coined the term after his 22 years of study at the temple of Amen in Waset. The letter ‘b’ in the Mdw Ntr often times in the Greek, turns into “ph” or “f.” An example would be the Kemetic deity “Nbti” which turns into “Nephthys” in the Greek.

    The first fundamental definition of a philosopher (or wise man) in written history comes from the Inscription of Antef (12th Dynasty. 1991‑1782 BCE). The inscription has been translated by Hellmut Brunner to read as follows:



    [He is the one] whose heart is informed about these things which would be otherwise ignored, the one who is clear‑sighted when he is deep into a problem, the one who is moderate in his actions. who penetrates ancient writings, whose advice is [sought] to unravel complications, who is really wise, who instructed his own heart, who stays awake at night as he looks for the right paths, who surpasses what he accomplished yesterday, who is wiser than a sage, who brought himself to wisdom, who asks for advice and sees to it that he is asked advice.



    This text informs us of the passion and foresight one must have to get to the root of problems; the drive one must have to surpass what he/she accomplished yesterday, not being satisfied with past accomplishments. This clearly lets us know that a Sba is one who actively seeks knowledge and is in a continuous dialogue with one’s self as he/she unravels the mysteries of their time. Reflection on life’s events provides us opportunity to make sense of reality and this is the prerequisite of all philosophical undertakings. With this understanding, the Sba develops a process in which his/her wise insight can provide the most beneficial solutions to social conflict (Maat); to help humanity reach its full human potential.



    Mdw Ntr (Medu Netcher): The key to understanding philosophy



    I posit that the key to understanding philosophy from the standpoint of the African priests lies in the understanding of what Mdw Ntr is and how this played a central role in the development of philosophy which is so often overlooked. Warrior scholar Chiekh Anta Diop has always encouraged Africanists to look at ancient Ta-Merri for understanding the culturisms of the rest of Black Africa. For Diop, Ta-Merri plays the same role for Africa that Greece plays for Europe, and with that in mind, we will look to Ta-Merri for a better understanding of the fundamental essence of philosophy as they understood it.

    Mdw Ntr is often referred to in Egyptological texts as “Divine Speech.” While this may give a technical definition of the term, it doesn’t quite grasp the understanding the Africans had in mind. Mdw Ntr is more than a writing system, but a philosophical approach to understanding abstract ideas. It was also a mechanism for carrying out the Law of Attraction so eloquently hidden within its cosmic myths and Ta-Merri’s architectural designs.

    Mdw Ntr is the natural language of the universe. To the African, all objects in nature are really symbols for the underlying causal reality that cannot be perceived through the human senses. Objects in this realm of existence are the form of divine ideas. The creation myth written on the Shabaka stone (25th Dynasty 716-702 BCE), commonly referred to as the Memphite Theology, talks about the creator Ptah “speaking” creation into existence. Ptah uttered sounds to churn the waters of the “Nun” (primordial matter) which differentiated the oneness and gave form to potentiality.

    African people wholeheartedly believe in the “Hermeneutic” concept of “As above, so below.” This means that what ever happens on a celestial level, happens on the earthly sphere. Whatever happens within the spiritual realm, also has its corresponding reality within the realm of matter. To understand Mdw Ntr, you have to understand this concept as well as the creation myths of the Kemetjw (Egyptians). For each phrase in Mdw Ntr was an attempt, using the Law of Attraction, to bring celestial and spiritual events, as expressed through their myths, into the social sphere in which they lived.

    Mdw Ntr writing is a symbolic, holistic approach to understanding. You can read the characters from right to left, left to right, up and down and even backwards. The symbols were a combination of various objects you would find in nature, as well as the tools and inventions of the times. With this understanding, we can break down Mdw Ntr, reading it backwards, to mean:



    TR = Law or Guide (T= loaf of bread, R= open mouth)

    N = Nun (N= water - primordial substance)



    Mdw = Form (Phallic symbol – metaphor for creation)



    In one creation myth, Atum swallows his own semen and spews out creation, once again alluding to the creative utterance, self creation and is probably the story in which the word Mdw (creative speech) is referring to. It was sound which churned the waters of Nun and gave form to it and it is also the power of speech that shapes (forms) our reality. So every time we speak, we are actively engaging in the creative process just like the deities Ptah, Atum and Ra: each sound spoken mimics the celestial mythos-play of creation.

    So Mdw Ntr is the study of the “laws which guide the Nun into form.” This is why they were so preoccupied with nature. Studying how nature worked gave them a working model on how to construct their society. They were actively seeking a process of creating the best of what was in the spiritual realm here on earth. This is why they never abandoned the pictorial method of writing throughout their 4000 plus years of political history. This is the fundamental difference of Greek philosophy and African philosophy: African philosophy was a way of life that can be seen in the culture, architecture, the sciences and spirituality. It wasn’t created for mere speculation.

    The African understanding of the concept was that to understand the unseen, you had to study the seen. This is why the Webster definition of philosophy is inaccurate because it posits gaining knowledge, “chiefly [through] speculative rather than observational means.” This was not the understanding of the ancient Africans. Wisdom was obtained through good character and judgment based upon what you could see (or perceive).

    This gives us a better understanding of what Meta Physics is, as the word Meta Physics comes from the Kemetic word Mdw Ntr. Modern Meta Physics is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the nature of the world. It is the study of being or reality. Some have taken it to include faith, spirits, occultism and crystal healing power: which are not in alignment with its original intent.

    Linguistically, “d’s” and “t’s” are the same. For an example, say the letter “D” to yourself. Now say the letter “T;” notice where you place your tongue. It is in the exact same place. The only difference is the flow of air when you say these letters. We see this commonly within African-American Vernacular English, as well as Caribbean, when we say words like “da” instead of “the.” In the Islands you will often hear people say “bruda or muda” instead of “brother or mother” respectively. For the youth on the east coast, the “t” actually turns into a “v” at times. An example would be the Hip Hop term “word da muva” (word to [the] mother – meaning I swear to my mother that this is so).

    In this same vein, “Medu” became “Meta” in the Greek. Meta came to mean “the work” or “process.” Netcher is where we get the term “nature.” It is the physical realm and the Greeks simply used their term Physikos to represent nature (Netcher – the force behind physical objects). So Meta Physics is the “work after the physics,” meaning the study of things after they come into being. It has the same connotation as can be seen in the Mdw Ntr, as this would be the case since so many of the Greek Philosophers came to Ta-Merri to study. Philosophy was based on the notion that studying physical forms of things and how they function, gives us insight into the workings of the mind of the Supreme Being.

    African people of old generally did not believe in a “revealed” text. They did not believe that God came down and wrote truth in a book and that was the final revelation for all men to follow. God’s wisdom was hidden, and you had to be a dillagent student of nature to unlock its secrets. The Africans believed that the Supreme Creative Force speaks to man every minute of everyday, but man must learn to be sensitive enough to detect what “it” is saying. “God” speaks through symbols and God’s symbols are the natural phenomena we see in nature. The Africans believed that the physical realm is a “multi-verse” (instead of Uni-verse). The word verse means “statement” and this again is a reference to the belief “God” spoke physical creation into existence. So your job as an initiate was to try and learn the language of God so you can actively engage in the cosmic conversation (multi-verse – multiple statements). That’s the mystery behind Mdw Ntr. This is why you used symbols to convey messages. This is why you worked on having good speech and uplifting words because the symbols and the sounds both play as magnetic devices that attract the spiritual realm and give it form. This is Mdw Ntr – the ability to transform consciousness into “things.”

    The Europeans couldn’t grasp this concept coming into Africa. They saw all of the carved images and saw people dancing, singing and meditating around these images and said they were “idol worshipping.” This is far from the case. This was a deep spiritual exercise that facilitated the process of drawing energy from the spiritual world and transforming it into social harmony and “things” that are useful for mundane tasks. Often times you will hear modern new age spiritualists tell you that if you want something, let’s say a car, you have to visualize yourself already having that object. Sometimes they tell you to take a picture of what you want and keep it with you always to remind you of what you’re working towards. The universe will create the circumstances so you can obtain that object and the image helps you to stay focused on the goal. You aren’t worshipping the car, you are simply aiding the subconscious mind to help you focus on your goal. The belief is the universe is creating for you what you sincerely put your energy behind and what you focus on; negative or positive. So if this is the case, one should consciously focus on the things that would bring balance and happiness in our lives. This is one of the major aspects of Mdw Ntr and this is the original intent of Philosophy.



    Conclusion



    Philosophy was not a discourse for man to debate on whose perception of life was more profound. It was an exercise in understanding how the universe transforms ideas into “things” and how we as human beings can do the same thing. Through this spiritual pursuit, Africans were able to discover the processes of the various branches of science (physics, mathematics, architecture, music, chemistry, astronomy, biology, etc.) and use that knowledge to enhance the human condition. Our challenge is not to just reflect on the nature of reality, but to be active participants in the creation of the kind of reality we wish live. The quality of our lives depends on our desire to learn how we can transform ideas into “things” and how we can do this in a harmonious manner which enhances the human condition. Philosophy is the synthesis of all learning with the specified aim of increased wisdom and moral and spiritual perfection.







    References

    Asante, Molefi Kente, The Egyptian Philosophers: Ancient African Voices from Imhotep to Akhenaten. African American Images; 1st edition 2000

    Obenga, Théophile. African Philosophy: the Pharaonic Period, 2780-330 BC. Popenguine, Senegal: Per Ankh,.

    Obenga, Theophile. A Lost Tradition: African Philosophy in World History. Philadelphia: Source Editions, 1995.

    Hilliard, Asa III, SBA The Reawakening of the African Mind, Florida, USA: Makaare, 1997

    James, George G.M., Stolen Legacy, New Jersey, USA, First Africa World Press, 1992

    Karenga, Maulana, Selections from the Husia, University of Sankore Press; 2nd edition, 1989


    Asar Imhotep
    http://www.mochasuite.com
     
  2. MenNefer

    MenNefer Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Melanated Quadrapolar Magnets

    *Good post*

    I guess more of us need to start becoming creators "Collectively" and lose our ideas of who we think we are *as individuals*

    "Anetch Hrauten Atef Mut Neter."
     
  3. nibs

    nibs Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    excellent article.

    (imhotep06) - To the African, all objects in nature are really symbols for the underlying causal reality that cannot be perceived through the human senses. Objects in this realm of existence are the form of divine ideas.

    the book "the pale fox" about the dogon also touches on this. one school of dogon thinking teaches that the amma first created the universe symbolically, and then the material world is created from those symbolic designs.
    the divine consciousness/force that creates that symbolic represenatation is self-created (ptah); and not necessarily the same as the divine consciousness/force that later creates the physical material for existence (ra) or than actually molds physical forms according to their symbolic representation (khnem).
    you can see that parallel directly in nature. the dna in the fertilized egg is the blueprint for life; but it is the mother that provides the material (food/energy) that allows that form to actually take shape.

    thus, we all have the power to create within; symbolically. the universe will manifest what we create.

    (imhotep06) - TR = Law or Guide (T= loaf of bread, R= open mouth)

    N = Nun (N= water - primordial substance)

    Mdw = Form (Phallic symbol – metaphor for creation)


    ramses seleem makes a similar connection in his translation. what's interesting is that it looks like ntr is usually written that way, but not always; although many of the "variants" look like shorthand notations. i am looking at budge's dictionary, so i can't really trust that he has every representation correct.
     
  4. imhotep06

    imhotep06 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In a sense yes, but in a sense no. Although we recognize an interdependence with the rest of humanity, spirituality is an individual journey. If it manifest within you successfully, your aura alone will change the ones around you.

    Some people may take your idea and think that we have to wait on the masses to agree and be on the same level, which would be a falsehood. The primary focus should be the self, then the family.
     
  5. imhotep06

    imhotep06 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    All things exist in potentiality before there is form. The creative process is

    Thought - the potential concept
    Word - the definition, cull conceptualization on how it should function
    Deed - the process of bringing it into to form

    This is how the brain (should) work. First the consciousness thinks about what to do. Then the consciousness searches for a concept in which you can understand it (words) so you know what is happening. Then the body carries out activity to bring the original thought into fruition.
     
  6. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    This is very enlightening.

    Oftentimes, Non-Africans suppose to have mastership over Occultism and Spirituality. To what degree is this so?

    For instance, "Some have taken it to include faith, spirits, occultism and crystal healing power: which are not in alignment with its original intent." What more can be said on this?

    HTP
     
  7. info-moetry

    info-moetry STAFF STAFF

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    peace

    When i think of, or hear the word Philosophy, my first thought is this:

    [​IMG]

    Because this who first introduced me to the word and it's meaning in his song MY PHILOSOPHY in the late 80's. THe hook was so catchy. "I THINK VERY DEEPLY"

    My thoughts started to drastically changed and the people around me started to call me 'the philosopher'.....lol

    Before that song, as stated above, when i heard the word philosophy i would immidiately think of the greeks and romans because those were the lies i was being told in school back then. Between the song MY PHILOSOPHY and YOU MUST LEARN, i don't know which one had a bigger impact on my quest for knowledge.
     
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