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Author Topic: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be  (Read 19564 times)

Offline Seshagemseger

  • Divined Remetj
what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« on: October 26, 2010, 12:08:21 pm »
Quoted from another thread:

Quote from: Raheri
We live our lives in ma'at. Ma'at isn't a rulebook or a handbook on what we should do with our lives. Ma'at is about living our lives to the fullest, without harming one another, and living in peace with our brothers and sisters. Ma'at is experiencing what the gods have to offer us, and how we take that to raise each other up. Ma'at brings things, as they should be. You know you are living in ma'at, when life flows effortlessly from you to all those around you. That is what following ma'at means.

All of us should strive for this every moment of our lives.


Well said!

The following is my personal belief, but is built up from a combination of personal understanding and Hemet's teachings.

I believe one can draw a near parallel between Ma'at and the Tao.  It is not a system of sin and punishment, or of good and evil.  It is simply how the universe exists and operates, and the way things should be according to their natures.

Isfet, then, is that which works against the nature of things.

We speak of a "personal Ma'at" because the way I should be is not identical to the way you should be.  We were not made the same way, we did not grow the same way or self-determine ourselves the same way.  We have much in common, but there are few if any absolutes.

Ma'at is corrective, not punitive.  Forces are at work to put things into a proper place, and maintain them there... not unlike gravity.

To be "in Ma'at" is much like the Taoist "wu wei" -- the path of least resistance to one's own personal nature.  A rubber band under no tension has it easy, but if stretched tight it wants to either spring back to a relaxed state or will break (another way of returning to a relaxed state).  The harder the pull, the stronger that equalizing force.  It is not evil for the rubber band to be stretched, and neither its springing action nor its breaking is a punishment or evil either.

Of course, life is more complicated than that -- countless things interact, and some other object following its own Ma'at may hold that rubber band tight.  Or the rubber band snapping may dislodge or disturb something else, which then has to find its own new state of balance.  This disturbance can be either beneficial or harmful.  

Larger systems -- families, communities, environments, and the larger communities and environments that those make -- have their own Ma'at as well.  A life "in Ma'at" also considers this.

I don't want to give the impression that I believe there is a single right way for a person to be; there are many right ways, and they change over time as we and our communities and environments change.  Sometimes we can make a big change that seems not to be the path of least resistance for a short time, but the result is coming to rest in a more suitable place.

To be "out of Ma'at" is strictly impossible, but one can put a lot of effort into pushing the boundaries.  There will be consequences, and sometimes those consequences fall on others as well.

So... there's my picture of Ma'at.  I don't pretend it's the only valid one.  Who's next? :)
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 12:08:50 pm by Seshagemseger »
Child of Seshat
Beloved of Hethert, Serqet, and Shu
seshat.org / Facebook / LiveJournal

Offline Seshagemseger

  • Divined Remetj
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2010, 12:28:44 pm »
It occurs to me that "harmony" might be the word I'm looking for -- harmony with one's own nature, family, community and environment.
Child of Seshat
Beloved of Hethert, Serqet, and Shu
seshat.org / Facebook / LiveJournal

Offline Mesetibes

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: ca
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2010, 01:21:22 pm »
Em Hotep Sesha!

I was thinking that myself when I had posted in another thread. Ma'at simply -is-, much like Tao. It exists in all things, to all people. To separate Ma'at is like trying to separate an essential part of life function from the body.

Like I said previously, I need no "scriptures" or "Holy Texts" to teach me how to live within Ma'at. My Ka and my Ba already know how to do this. If I listen to them, and keep them content, then I am living within Ma'at.

~Maret
Rev. Mesetibes
Sat Heqat, meryt Djehuti her Ptah her Heru-wer
Fedw Diviner
2011 Wep Ronpet Frog Princess/
W'abet Nekhen Sha'a Sha'at Imef

Offline Taqaisenu

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2010, 01:28:28 pm »
My picture of ma’at came about from too many rush hours on the Interstate.  I maintain when a car disappearing into your blind spot becomes a significant spiritual experience, you drive way too much.

My personal ma’at analogy is driving in rush hour.  I use the roads around Harrisburg as my baseline; we’ve got city streets that can gridlock, and a beltway of multi-lane highways with on- and off-ramps taking people to and away the local cities, business districts, and suburbs.  

Picture it, rush hour, Harrisburg.  The roads are at capacity, but generally are moving smoothly.  An on-ramp is up ahead and somebody wants to merge onto the highway.

For this to be done properly, everybody has to act.  The merger has to put on his turn signal to notify traffic he wants over.  Traffic in the lane has to slow down slightly to permit the merger room.  The merger has to speed up or slow down in order to fit smoothly into the space provided for him.

If any one actor does not do their duty, everything gets gummed up.  The merger has to put on the brakes or stop in the merge lane, causing a backup onto the on-ramp of other wannabe mergers.  Traffic on the highway comes to a halt; somebody has to put on their brake, which causes the person behind him to put on her brake, and the person behind her, and the person behind him… each braking harder and harder until eventually traffic comes to a screeching halt.  Soon you’ve got gridlock. Or worse, if somebody wasn’t paying attention, you’ve also got an accident.  

It’s not about waiting for somebody to let the merger into the lane; it’s not about the merger forcing his way onto the highway.  You have to permit, and you have to assert.  And when everybody is properly permitting and asserting, everybody is able to move ahead with ease.  And all it takes is one person not moving in accordance to totally gum up the works and ruin it for everybody.

That, to me, is watching ma’at in action.

The analogy can continue, if you throw an overly-aggressive driver into the mix.  Or road rage.  Then see what happens.  (See also: Phantom Traffic Jams.)  

And each role on the roads comes with its own ma’at responsibility.  The responsibility of the passing lane, for instance.  Making room for the tractor trailers.  Staying out of the box when at the red light intersections.  One person paying attention can often make up for someone else who may not be.  The heartbreaking “no right answer” choice, between hitting the housepet that ran out into the road, or swerving and causing an accident endangering human life.  

(Note: I am not saying that a road rager is against ma’at; this is only an analogy - something small to illustrate something immensely larger.)

If I were to work isfet into this analogy, it would not be the run of the mill road ragers, or the too-timid or the too-aggressive, or the not-paying-attention.  The isfet fits in when you’ve got your drunk drivers or the suicidals, or people driving needlessly dangerous (such as going 100+ mph, weaving in out of traffic, passing on the shoulder).  

And that is my ma’at analogy. :)  
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
 - Groucho Marx


Sat Set her Hethert-Sekhmet, meryt Heru-Wer, Djehuty her Amun.

Offline Metitaitui

  • Divined Remetj
  • Country: 00
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2010, 01:55:54 pm »
What you said here Sesha is also how I see ma'at. To me ma'at is more about keeping the balance than absolute good vs. absolute evil. Though I suppose personal ma'at comes closer to what is traditionally considered morality or a moral code. You can see it directly in the weighing of the heart. The desired outcome is not for our hearts to weigh more or less than Ma'at's feather but to be the same weight and therefore balance the weight of Her feather.
sat Set her Djehuty meryt Ra, Heru-wer, her Hethert

Offline Menekh

  • Guest
  • Country: 00
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2010, 02:16:19 pm »
My personal understanding follows a musical bent.  Life is like music - you have meter as a foundation, rhythm defines meter, harmony provides structure, and melody clothes all in beauty.  Beauty doesn't have to be pretty or even nice.  

Ma'at is the "pin" that runs through each of these four things and keeps them spinning together.  If one gets out of synch, you have cacophony.  Atonality is not cacophony - it can have all four things present.

I try to see my life this way - it's all got to flow and mesh or it just ain't pretty or nice to listen to, and people know it and put their fingers in their ears.
"One does not beg the sun for mercy."
- Frank Herbert

Offline Rev. Sema'a

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2010, 04:19:02 pm »
Quote from: Menekh
My personal understanding follows a musical bent.  Life is like music - you have meter as a foundation, rhythm defines meter, harmony provides structure, and melody clothes all in beauty.  Beauty doesn't have to be pretty or even nice.  

Ma'at is the "pin" that runs through each of these four things and keeps them spinning together.  If one gets out of synch, you have cacophony.  Atonality is not cacophony - it can have all four things present.

I try to see my life this way - it's all got to flow and mesh or it just ain't pretty or nice to listen to, and people know it and put their fingers in their ears.


I've always loved comparing Ma'at to music. Dissonance has its place in every composition, just as turmoil has its place in every life. But smacking the piano keys with a drumstick doesn't belong anywhere. ;)

I tend to think of Ma'at as "universal accountability"; meaning that it is a principle of being responsible for your actions on every level, and accepting all the consequences thereof. I've had this challenged pretty strongly in the past though, by people accusing me of gray morals and a lack of conviction. But I really do believe that Ma'at, above all else, is knowing the limitations of what one can and cannot do to remain in harmony with the Universe. Where's the line though? I don't know how to defend myself in the face of the argument that people who honestly believe it is acceptable to murder for vengeance would believe it to be in Ma'at, thus making it their personal Ma'at. I don't believe this is true because it is directly interfering with the life of another person, but I am not sure how to express it.

There is a phrase that helps, but still I feel my thoughts are incomplete - "your personal freedom ends where another's begins". I still feel like I'm missing something. Thoughts?
Sema'a Ankh Hen'a Semawy (Sobeqsenu)
W'ab Nekhen Ib Imau-sen
Priest of Wepwawet & Sekhmet-Mut, Beloved of Bast, Nut, Khonsu & Nebt-het
Heri-sesheta Wepwawet | Fedw Diviner
revdgallo@kemet.org

Offline Tahai

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2010, 04:24:40 pm »
Taqai, I love your analogy!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 pm by Tahai »
TahaiBast
Daughter of Bast.  Beloved of Sobek-Ra, Djehuty, and Sekhmet-Hethert.

Self-care Sekhmet and Sobek-Ra Keeper

Feed the Ka Association (FKA)

Offline Menekh

  • Guest
  • Country: 00
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2010, 04:34:40 pm »
Quote from: Sobeqsenu
I've always loved comparing Ma'at to music. Dissonance has its place in every composition, just as turmoil has its place in every life. But smacking the piano keys with a drumstick doesn't belong anywhere. ;)


Em Hotep Sobeq. Please make sure I don't have food in my mouth and a drink in my hand when you post that next time? :D

"One does not beg the sun for mercy."
- Frank Herbert

Offline Sedjemes

  • Semer-Wati
  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2010, 04:38:21 pm »
Hotep Sobeq!

I think I can see what you find might be missing--I kinda feel that way too, but I might explain differently why I cannot quite put my finger on *the* way to think of ma'at.

I get ma'at, and I get isfet. I do. I know all the *right* ways to be, kind, respectful, doing what I can for neighbors, the environment, all that. I get the accountability and responsibility.

For me though, it starts moving away from the big broad abstract and into the real personal. For example, and as just one example, I don't believe in vengeance. I don't. I would tell anyone a million times it never solves a thing. Then I think, what if someone hurt my son(s), hurt someone in my family. How would I really feel and how would I act then.  

So I sometimes think that understanding ma'at comes best when we are actually in a moment. Being kind and helping out someone who mihgt actually have hurt us in the past, simply because we can and they are in need, as another example I just thought of.

I can say all the right things about what it is to live right--the real test, the real definition, at least for me, might come when I actuall am faced with a situation that tests.

DOes that make any sense to anyone?
Khenmetaset ("Aset Gladdens")
Sedjemes ("She listens")
Daughter of Aset-Serqet, Meryt Ra her Sekhmet
Heri-Sesheta Aset-Serqet

Offline Khesretitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2010, 06:42:30 pm »
I find that the Shinto concept of Kannagara (also written kamunagara), meaning "just as it is with the Divine," runs very close to what ma'at is to me.

A discussion of Kannagara is about halfway down the page here:
http://www.tsubakishrine.org/kaminomichi/Kami_no_Michi_7.html

And here is a more eggheaded read dated 1940, so take that with a lump of salt:
http://www.jstor.org/stable/2382587
Khesretitui
"My Fathers Dispel Evil"

Sat Set her Ra-Heruakhety
Meryt Heru-wer her Yinepu-Wepwawet

Offline Ankhetbast

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2010, 07:34:32 pm »
Quote from: Seshagemseger
Quoted from another thread:

I believe one can draw a near parallel between Ma'at and the Tao.  It is not a system of sin and punishment, or of good and evil.  It is simply how the universe exists and operates, and the way things should be according to their natures.



This is very much my view.  I have been lightly studying Daoism for about a year and half (two? something like that).  The Dao and ma'at feel very connected to me.  

Thus... Winnie the Poo (And Piglet too!) are not only educational, but spiritual!  :D
~~~~Ankhetbast~~~~

Sat Bast her Hekatawy I (AUS), Meryt Serqet, Yinepu her HetHert

"Be excellent to each other." ~Bill and Ted

Offline Rev. Shefyt

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2010, 08:05:01 pm »
Quote from: Sobeqsenu

 Where's the line though? I don't know how to defend myself in the face of the argument that people who honestly believe it is acceptable to murder for vengeance would believe it to be in Ma'at, thus making it their personal Ma'at. I don't believe this is true because it is directly interfering with the life of another person, but I am not sure how to express it.


I think this ties into what Sesha was saying about larger systems also having their own ma'at. Said person might believe that murder is in ma'at, but murder never affects only the murderer. What about the effect on the victim's family? What if they come after the killer or his/her family, starting an escalating cycle of vengeance? What about the shock and horror of any witnesses, or the effect on a neighborhood that maybe isn't considered as safe as it once was? What if other people take this killing as an example to be followed but don't have the same "purity" of motive? Believing that something's right doesn't erase the consequences. I think even though we may have a personal ma'at, ma'at is always tied up in our relationships with the rest of creation and thus is never solely about the individual.

Shefyt

Rev. Shefyt | daughter of Bast, beloved of Nut, Amun-Ra, and Wenut
Beginners Class Instructor | Heri-sesheta Bast | Divinations
Blog: Gold of the Valley, Lapis of the River

Offline Rev. Shefyt

  • W'ab (priest)
  • Country: us
Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2010, 08:07:30 pm »
Quote from: Sedjemes

I can say all the right things about what it is to live right--the real test, the real definition, at least for me, might come when I actuall am faced with a situation that tests.
DOes that make any sense to anyone?


I think this makes perfect sense. ^_^  In the end, whatever we believe, the real test of ma'at is what we actually do and how we live our lives.

Shefyt

Rev. Shefyt | daughter of Bast, beloved of Nut, Amun-Ra, and Wenut
Beginners Class Instructor | Heri-sesheta Bast | Divinations
Blog: Gold of the Valley, Lapis of the River

Re: what Ma'at and isfet may or may not be
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2010, 11:13:40 pm »
Sesha, your comparison of Ma'at to the Tao is definitely helping me as a non-Kemetic to understand Ma'at better. It also reminds me of a summary of Interdependent Origination that I am fond of - "This arises; that becomes."

If one does something and gets an unpleasant result, it is not necessarily the punishment of Gods, Karma, or whathaveyou. It just means that "this" goes with "that." And if you want to do "this" then you'd better be ready to deal with "that."

Like throwing a baseball through a window. The baseball is hard. The glass is fragile. There is a natural, immediate relationship between baseball and the window. And if you want to initiate a change in that relationship by accelerating the ball towards the glass... well... Of course, the reverse is true then. If you want that, then you must initiate this. If I really wanted that set of six pack abdominals, then I'd want to eat like a bird and never stop doing situps.

Sometimes people get very attached to ideas of the universe and how it works. And consquently miss out on the actual experience of much of the world, as a result. The idea of fire, as a concept in my mind, is useful enough. But what a difference between that and the burning pain of touching a hot skillet, or the delicious taste of toasted marshmallows.

If we are too focussed on our ideas of how things work, then all we are thinking about is our own thoughts. All we hear is our own chatter played back at us like a skipping record. And we miss the delightful existence unfolding, playing out before our eyes. Or worse yet, we see the variance in nature and being woefully disconnected from anything but our own mental soundtrack loop, attempt to extinguish the forms that play outside the boundary lines that exist only in our own minds.
"So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing." - Alan Watts

 


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