Love is patient, Love is kind

***This is a post almost entirely supported by UPG (unverified personal gnosis). Also, I am using this post to explore a UPG I received. I don’t normally attempt to stretch other faiths’ texts to fit my practice. I am doing so here to think through and possibly get feed back from other Kemetics regarding an experience. Please keep this in mind as you read ūüėÄ ***

I celebrated Wesir’s birthday today. On the day of the Lord of Eternity’s birth, I tend to focus on the concepts ¬†of Ma’at and wholeness (which relates strongly to enlightenment to me). I find Him to be a gentle god in many ways, a somewhat affectionate Netjer–deserving of the epithet Lord of Love.

Birthday Cake by WIll Clayton; from Flickr

Birthday Cake by WIll Clayton; from Flickr

I often pray that He teach me Ma’at. And for some reason, today, I also asked that He teach me love. It came up spontaneously, unexpectedly, as prayers often do.

I at once thought of the “Love is patient, Love is kind” lines from the Bible. It was a peculiar thought, one out of place in my practice. I have nothing against Christian literature, but it rarely if ever makes an appearance in my spiritual practices. Nonetheless, I found the book in the New Testament which houses this poem and was taken aback by some of the assertions made in the brevity of Chapter 13 in I Corinthians:

-Without Love, all other acts are practices in futility (so does love make us whole?)

-Love is described by traits similar to those which describe Ma’at

Was I not praying to know what it means to love and to live Ma’at? And here is a passage explaining how to love ¬†with striking similarities to how one should live Ma’at.

I am familiar with the Christian concept of “love”. Love and Ma’at are not the same. For one, I feel that while Ma’at is altruistic, it still leaves room for self-love. My definition of Ma’at, at least, includes self-love (YMMV). I sometimes feel the Christian idea of love has become entirely consumed by altruism. ¬†Love and Ma’at are not mutually exclusive, but they do encompass one another in some ways. Is to learn one (love) to become more informed of the other (Ma’at)?

This is a crazy assertion. Was this simply an arbitrary connection my mind made, a product of two densely woven schema connecting in my cognitive processes, or is there some sort of real similarity between I Corinthians’ idea of love and Ma’at?

“Love is patient. Love is kind. ¬†Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Obviously, the author likely defined “truth” differently from an Ancient Egyptian. However, I read truth as “the objective, correct state of reality” (in other words, not the Absolute Truth of the Universe, simply the mundane truth regarding mundane events).

If we look to ¬†the Maxims of Good Discourse, and many versions of the Negative Confessions, we can see at least a few parallels with the definition of love from Corinthians (patience, humility, favoring truth over falsehood) and Ma’at. (Maxims of Good Discourse, lines 49-57, 125-1268, 298-300, 304-306, 356;¬†http://www.maat.sofiatopia.org/ptahhotep.htm#hordedef)

Secondly, if one of the main objectives to upholding Ma’at was to help society run as orderly as possible, it makes some sense that to exhibit some care and concern for others is of importance. In many situations, kindness and compassion certainly yields better results than hate and rudeness. Then again, one can be polite yet apathetic.

Also, just because one bit of another tradition’s text relates to my tradition does not mean the rest of the concept is relevant.

“If I speak in tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1-3)

In the Christian tradition, the spiritual is exalted beyond that of the physical. Thus, we can take prophetic talents, speaking in tongues, and the sacrifice of the body as quintessential examples of spiritual achievement. However, these are devalued — or incomplete — without love. Thus, love makes whole an action of supreme devotion. Love completes the intention and, thus, the act.

But for Kemetics, can love make us whole? Can it be a key factor in upholding Ma’at? Can love “perfect” our actions? If love is defined as it was in I Corinthians 13:4-8, then it might. But one could argue that one can uphold Ma’at without necessarily loving others. What is it to love?

-To genuinely care about the well being of someone or something (though I think you can be apathetic and still behave kindly)
-To feel and act upon a deep-seated compassion and concern for someone or something
-To sacrifice or endure for someone or something
-to respect some one while also having feelings for them

These are just my definitions. Surely there are others which are better. In any case, can a life lived in love help us come closer to a life lived in Ma’at? And if we practice a life of love towards ourselves and others, can it help us to become Whole?

Perhaps this is a question that must be answered individually. I can’t think of any place (off the top of my head) where any Ancient Egyptian literature says, “Love others”. But doing so certainly seems to make living Ma’at much more intuitive. And I do feel that love is a part of my humanity, and my Ma’at is definitely about living a full and informed life to me.

Certainly, I cannot love a stranger as I love a friend, my mother, my brother, or my lover. Nor would it be wise to. I am not suggesting a philosophy of “free love”. Such a philosophy may cheapen the value of your love while being unrealistic. When we set unrealistic expectations, we are doomed to failure.¬†But one can approach interactions with strangers with the perspective of treating them with love, so long as doing so does not harm oneself.

Feather of a chicken, by Hariadhi

Feather of a chicken, by Hariadhi

But suddenly I realize–isn’t this respect?

To treat people as if you care, even if you don’t? To pay homage to their basic human rights and feelings, even if you do not know them or care to know them? To treat people with love, even if you do not love them? This is more akin to respect to me than love.

But, perhaps love asks us to take this perspective one step further.  Should we view others as not just deserving of respect, but also of love? Not just entitled to basic rights, but also to compassion, heartfelt intimacy, joy? To see people not just as humans, but as sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, enemies, potential life changers? To allow our respect to bloom into a low level of love for all, and allowing that common love to blossom into a rich plethora of experiences and emotions as we come to explore relationships?

So can love enable Ma’at?

My heart seems to say, “Yes.” I think that Wesir was trying to say, “Yes” as well. I still have my reservations. I am genuinely interested in what you all think. Do you think love (loving yourself and loving others) is a part of Ma’at?

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