I am still fascinated by the revolutionary premise of the show. West claims that the Sphinx is 5 to 10 thousand years older than they say it is. The evidence is so simple that all the objections seem absurd. The erosional features on the Sphinx show water erosion vs. the other structures on the Giza plateau, which show wind and sand erosion, and there hasn’t been rain in the Sahara for 10,000 years. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but when you comprehend the full implications, i.e. there was a high culture that existed much earlier than previously thought; it’s revolutionary, which of course riles up most of the academics. It still astonishes me that so many of them are not even interested in looking at the new evidence. So much for my illusion that scientists actually use the scientific method, or that they actually have any objectivity. It makes me sad since I have always liked science; because it seems like the closest thing we have to the objective truth.
Paula looks fondly at John. “I’ve always regarded you as my initiator into Egypt.” John blooms under her loving glance, although I can tell that he is slightly uncomfortable with the pedestal that Paula has put him up on. She says, “Because, even though I lived on Cyprus for four years, and I could have easily made a day trip, I didn’t because I used to get weirded out in the Egyptian rooms of the museum. All that mummy stuff was creepy.”
John looks at me and says, “Basically I let the temples do the work. Art is not supposed to be self-expression. Real art, objective art, incorporates divine principles. And when you know what you are doing, you can build a temple of Luxor, or Karnak, or Abydos, or the pyramids, or whatever. It’s heavenly music translated into stone, stone music. So when you go there, assuming that you’re not an Egyptologist, or spiritually dyslexic or emotionally retarded. You get it! They hit you in the gut. And then when you get an explanation that is equal to the experience itself. You get it! And it’s very hard to get that from a book or even from a video.” He is fired up as he takes a swig of his vodka. My soul sings as he reminds me of those sacred sites that I long to see again. I have to laugh at his ability to deftly work in a swipe at the opposition.
Paula nods euphorically and says, “In those environments the imagination soars with the beauty and the grace. The work is done by just being there.”
John pounces on her words eagerly. “You can’t miss it once you are there at the site. So it is said, ‘By their fruits you shall know them.’ They built temples and we build inflatable Santas.” He laughs sarcastically. I have to smile at his open contempt for the modern lack of civilization as I look around at the lackluster décor of the hotel restaurant that confirms all that he says.
Paula brings us back to the splendor of Ancient Egypt. “And even in the temple of Isis, the way it was systematically defiled, these weren’t just marauders. It looked like the batteries were pulled out.” She refers to how the figures have been methodically chiseled out of the huge bas-reliefs.
John agrees and, ever focused on his work, says, “I’m sure I had developed that concept in the guidebook. Actually I may do a talk on that...”
Not to be distracted by the mundane world, Paula presses on, “But I want to stay on this topic of you being the initiator. It’s like your presence there, something magic happened. There at the temple of Isis, even though things were chiseled out, you could still see the beauty underneath.” She looks at me wide-eyed, swept up by the energy of the memory, “Somehow John could hold the current. He made the magic happen. I don’t think it would have been as profound without him. It was a combination of John, the location, all the striving that I did for an ecovillage in Cyprus, and the frustration I had with trying to get seed projects to create a better society, all of that converged.”
“Yes… probably,” John says laconically. I can’t tell if John is not quite buying his role as the pivot point or if he is not impressed with her attempts to save the world. He says, “It’s sort of like this. Somewhere Plato quotes Socrates, ‘They say you’re the wisest man in Athens. Yeah, but it’s not because I’m so wise but because the Athenians are so stupid.” John laughs. “I’m the only one who goes to Egypt through Symbolist’s eyes. And I get it. And there are other people who get it, but they don’t lead tours.”
Just as I am about to ask him for a definition of Symbolism, Paula says, “What really impressed me was the promise of a successful civilization where technology could still be in harmony with nature. It just gave me hope.” She stares into space for a moment and then switches gears, “My latest dream is to go to Chichen Itza for the spring equinox. I want to see the shadow of the serpent on the temple. It’s the moment when heaven meets the earth.” Her face shines with passion. Frankly, I don’t quite understand what she’s talking about and I’ve even been to Chichen Itza before, but all I know is that she has something my soul wants and all I can think is, I’ll follow her anywhere! But instead I ask demurely, “What exactly do you mean?”
“I was reading ‘Mayan Cosmogenesis 2012,’ about the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, which many people see as the end of the world. The author, John Major Jenkins had sent John his book and,” Paula looks at John and laughs, “He’s kind of lazy and doesn’t read, especially other people’s stuff.” John looks at her sideways, says nothing, and smiles with his cat that ate the canary look as he sips his vodka. Paula says, “I was on the Nile, at some power spot, reading that 2012 is both the end of the world and also the beginning of a new one. And after 3 trips to Egypt with John, I was ready for a new scene.” My heart jumps at the chance for a spiritual adventure with St. Paula but my cashflow says hold your tongue.
The next day Paula and I are sitting in the auditorium waiting for John’s lecture on ‘Symbolist Egypt’ to begin. He always uses the term and I have never quite gotten a handle on it so I am hoping this lecture will shed some light on the subject. Finally everyone settles and he starts talking.
“In the Egyptian civilization, virtually everything was designed specifically to further the idea that we human beings are potentially divine and immortal, and the purpose of life is to return to the source. It is written that we are born with a soul seed, which has to be transformed by certain practices, ceremonies, and activities.” His words are punctuated by stunning slides of the high art of the Egyptians with its power, presence, and serenity and I feel myself sliding back into that blissful state when I was actually there in the flesh.
“The functions and principles that operate in the universe are all aspects or functions of the one supreme God. The ‘gods’ of Egypt are the divine principles, and once this is understood, the question of polytheism versus monotheism largely disappears.” To me this makes perfect sense, for example the Hindu religion has the appearance of being polytheistic on the surface but to me it is fundamentally monotheistic since all the gods come from Brahman, the absolute. Even other ancient religions even if they are polytheistic seem to me to be worshipping different aspects of the one God regardless of whether they see it that way or not.
John turns to the audience and says, “The Egyptian worldview was essentially symbolic. While this interpretation may not make the endless rows of trussed geese any more interesting to look at but it does put them in a different light.” He smiles and the crowd laughs. I am always impressed how John can rattle off these heady concepts as if it’s just casual conversation. His humor always appeals to me and his perspective makes me understand more clearly why the Egyptian culture was so successful for so long; living in harmony with nature is not a bad way to go.
John concludes by saying, “It is but a short leap to the symbolist interpretation, i.e. that spiritual realities underlie the physical world.” Finally the answer to my question! Everybody claps and I am buzzing with spiritual energy. I don’t know if it is John’s words, my memories of Egypt, or sitting next to St. Paula. All I know is that I can feel it on a physical level in my body and I’m hoping that if I hang out with her long enough that I’ll catch that God intoxication. So I throw caution to the winds and lean over and say, “Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s go for the equinox.” She nods enthusiastically. Mexico here we come!
THUS BEGINS THE ONGOING SAGA OF THE ADVENTURES OF THE MOLLY LAMA & ST. PAULA of GRAMERCY PARK.