How to read Egyptian

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

8:30 a.m. One of my blog correspondents – a young woman named Naomi – says she had Isaac Newton’s help in understanding mathematics. I thought (though I don’t really trust her perceptions or stability) “why can’t Joseph or someone teach me to read Egyptian?”

Joseph?

It could be done. It is what you call a far stretch from our mental world to yours — not meaning concepts but our way of processing information, our way of understanding the world. To read the symbols as we did is not to produce a substitution – “0 = zero,” or something like that – nor a straight translation like “filio = son.” Neither is it quite like solving a rebus, though it is often described so. The difference looks like a difference in perceptual strategy but is actually the result – the visible result, so to speak – of operating out of a different mind.

Look at a symbol and meditate on it, rather than thinking about it or naming it. This is the way we read. Now, our reading speed is thousands of times faster than yours will be as you begin, but that is because you will be internalizing alphabet, grammar and vocabulary all at once (in essence) and at the same time learning to use different mental muscles.

Does this mean that existing translations are inadequate, or wrong, or distorted, or all these things?

John Anthony West had the right idea but did not carry it to the next level of perception. He well understood – and was helped to understand – that symbols could be read at different levels of understanding, and – as symbols always do – could be made to tell a coherent story either way. But it did not occur to him that the means of writing itself could be a coded text, so to speak. Just as a song sung is not the same as a song merely written out, so a symbol read as if it were a code is not the same as a symbol experienced as a symbol, with multiple overlapping layers of meaning (overtones, or nuances) that affect each other.

As you know, I’m having a hard time with this, as I have no way of knowing that it makes sense – yet I know that the only way to get something new is to do just this.

Of course. And what do you think is the hardest trick to master when you transition from your side to this? You won’t know anything, you will have to judge instant by instant. Well for you if your skill at acting on faith and discernment is developed while you are in the body, in stable surroundings.

But won’t we have the rest of our selves to guide us?

What terms will you be on with the other parts of yourself? That is a reason why the question is important.

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