Rosicrucian Writings Online
This Thing Called ManPROFESSOR BREASTED BRINGS US NEW LIGHT FROM EGYPT
By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest June 1933]
ALLOW me to introduce to our readers that very eminent authority on things Egyptian, Professor James H. Breasted. I ask him to step out upon our platform and make himself known to us through his marvelous understanding of Egypt's history and mysteries of that great land and strange people. Perhaps hundreds of our readers have become acquainted with Professor Breasted through several of his wonderful books, but if you do not know him I am sure that you will be happy to become acquainted with him at this time, and will want to make him a friend and advisor in your studies of the mysteries of the Orient.
In fact, I feel sure that through this introduction Professor Breasted in the medium of several of his books will find his way into your home, your sanctum, and become a companion in those hours of the evening when you can relax and allow yourself to be taken on a personal journey into the very intimate affairs of the lives of great men and the schools of great thought in Egypt, and there dwell and rest and find inspiration for many happy hours at a time. And these books--vibrating with the living enthusiasm of the author, and animated with the actions of the great creators of civilization--will become cherished possessions, friends that you will not want to part with except to loan them to your closest acquaintances with caution and discretion. Professor Breasted is a recognized authority in the field in which he has labored for so many years. He is a specialist with all of that devotion to one subject which we may expect of a real specialist, and his chosen subject has been the suppressed, secluded, obscure, but mysteriously fascinating facts of the ancient life and teachings of the Egyptians. As with every true specialist, he has always made sure that every expression he uses, every word selected, every idea portrayed is consistent and precisely the correct one without any personal bias or prejudice. Having been associated with many expeditions of research in Egypt, and having lived there for many years taking part in every form of investigation, and having been associated with the great museum at Cairo, this man with a unique trend of inquiry, and a most unique love for ancient facts, and an unusual ability to paint word pictures that become things alive, has been one of the world's most interesting guides to ancient Egypt.
To Rosicrucians, especially, Professor Breasted has endeared himself eternally for his sympathetic investigation of the peculiar life and mysterious mission of Amenhotep IV, the traditional founder of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Breasted's book dealing with the life of Ahkenaten, as Amenhotep called himself later in life, is the most beautiful and inspiring picture of ancient Egypt that has ever been given to man, and yet it is not fiction, and not cold fact, but an inspired revelation based upon first-hand knowledge which Professor Breasted found in the ruined temples and archaeological monuments of Egypt. That book and others like it written by Mr. Breasted should be in the home of every Rosicrucian who is building a library for the future. Breasted's other books have become standards of authority in high schools, colleges, and universities, and when Breasted speaks, the world must accept what he says, for he has proven himself to be worthy of final consideration in the matters of Egypt with which he deals.
Therefore, having introduced this kindly, brilliant mind and character, let me take you into his study in Chicago where he is associated with the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and see him at work before a pile of manuscripts putting the final touches to a new book which will be offered to the world this coming fall. In this pile of manuscript pages we see man being unfolded and revealed in a new light, and in an astonishing manner. It is as though a master moulder was recreating man in the manner that the great Creator originally devised and matured him in the eons passed, revealing him to us step by step, stage by stage with the great strides that were so magnificently made in the mystery days of mysterious Egypt. We have the privilege of looking into this unpublished manuscript and seeing in advance what Mr. Breasted is going to give to the world as his newest contribution to fascinating historical literature. We are going to read extracts from this manuscript, and then praise it, and wait for it to come out in book form, and then endorse it by buying it and recommending it to others, and making it contributory to the advancement of man's mind and intellectual comprehension of the great principles of the universe.
Let us turn to the first part of this new book dealing with man as a wonderful creation, and we notice that Mr. Breasted has selected an intriguing title for his new book which he calls "The Dawn of Consciousness and the Age of Character." In the preface he says, regarding man's destiny and his evolving mystical spirit:
"The most present need of America at the present critical juncture is not more mechanization but more character. Over 4,000 years ago the social prophets of Egypt were hurling the same truth regarding their own land at the technocrats who built the pyramids, the greatest feat of engineering ever achieved in the ancient world.
"The process of mechanization which America has carried farther than any other people will, of course, go on, and should go on, but not at the cost of character. The latest engineering vagary, a typical American fad called 'technocracy,' according to its vocal high priest, is a complete substitute for all the normal processes of human society, and as for any traditional sense of social responsibility we have the pontifical deliverance that technocracy would even displace philanthropy.
"A glance around us at our present social situation discloses that this is only one of many points at which human experience is being blithely thrown overboard. Even in the public schools human development, which is the subject matter of history, is being displaced by a vague miscellany called 'civics' and 'social studies.' The alleged educational authorities who are ruling history out of our schools are cumbered with little knowledge of human experience or the development of humanity.
"The most fundamentally important thing in the developing life of man has been the evolution of morality, the emergence of character, a transformation of human life which can be historically demonstrated to have begun but yesterday.
"Man began as an unmoral savage. How did a world totally without any moral vision rise to social realization and learn to listen with reverence to the voices within? It is now quite evident that the ripe social and moral development of mankind in the Nile valley, which is 3,000 years older than that of the Hebrews, contributed essentially to the formation of Hebrew literature which we call the Old Testament.
"The rise of man was the result of man's social experience, rather than 'revelation.' It is a fact of profoundest meaning for thinking people today. Out of prehistoric savagery, on the basis of his own experience, man arose to the vision of character. That achievement, which transformed advancing life, human and animal, on our globe was from a characterless universe, as far as it is known to us, to a world of inner values transcending matter, a world for the first time aware of such values, conscious of character, striving to attain it.
"With that achievement man had discovered the new country, but he had not yet explored it. The discovery is a recent event and explorations have consequently but just begun. They are an unfinished process which must be continued by us by every generation."
Man a Wonderful Creation
Glancing up from our reading of this interesting preface we hear Professor Breasted say:
"This thing called man is the most wonderful creation in the universe. We must look at him with long vision and remember that his history goes back to unrecorded time. But historically he is wonderful. Nothing has been able to keep him down. He stands now at the beginning of a new exploration, that which is more important than anything in his entire history."
We are reminded here of what the Rosicrucians have said in the pamphlets issued by them regarding the beginning of a new cycle in 1933, and how this new cycle will usher into history and introduce into the very consciousness of the human race a realization that it is a cycle of regeneration and rebirth, and that the whole world will be affected by the evolutionary changes of a Cosmic nature taking place in man from this time onward. We hear again Mr. Breasted say, "Emerson glimpsed all this with a prophet's vision when he said that man was only at the cock crow and the morning star stage. The country that man is now mentally and spiritually crossing into is the kingdom of the mind and the spirit. I am convinced that this is the meaning of the great changes that are taking place after this so-called depression. There are values close at hand that are undreamed of. Man is aware of this, but what he needs is the technique to take hold of that awareness, something beyond a vague idealism."
Thus we are reminded of what that wonderful Rosicrucian, Raymund Andrea of England, says in his book, "The Technique of the Master". But we turn again to listen to Professor Breasted touch upon the new cycle and the old cycles of time, and the fact that man is affected by the Cosmic changes that reveal themselves in cycles of definite periods. Professor Breasted claims that there have been cycles of depression, and then great uplift beginning in the twenty-third century before Christ, and that at the very early date man began to turn his attentions to the things of the inner self, and the inner values instead of seeking for all power and all wealth in the physical world.
In his book Professor Breasted traces the evolution and developing consciousness and Cosmic power of man beginning with that early period of awakening in the history of civilization, and then gives carefully translated extracts from the writings and carvings on the walls of ancient Egypt, showing how the mystery schools and the schools of philosophy and the leaders of high thought guided the evolving consciousness of man. The new manuscript prepared by Breasted contains many of these surprising ancient thoughts, and among them we find the following as typical of the many others:
"Righteousness is for eternity. It descendeth with him that doeth it into the grave--his name is not effaced on earth, but he is remembered because of right."--From the Eloquent Peasant of Heracleopolis, 23rd century B. C.
"A man's virtue is his monument, but forgotten is the man of evil repute."--From an Egyptian tombstone about 22nd century B. C.
"The people of his time shall rejoice, the son of man shall make his name forever and ever--Righteousness shall return to its place, unrighteousness shall be cast out."--Neferrohu, Prophet of Egypt, 2000 B. C.
"O Amon, thou sweet Well for him that thirsteth in the desert; it is closed to him who speaks, but it is open to him who is silent. When he who is silent comes, lo, he finds the Well."--An Egyptian Wise Man of about 1000 B. C.
We hear Mr. Breasted speaking again, and we stop reading long enough to listen to the fascinating facts he has discovered:
"These ideas found in the writings of the ancient mystics are the first thoughts on the world, on God, and human conduct that we know of. There were thinkers who lived long before the Hebrews, long before Moses, and long before the first of the Hindu philosophers about eight thousand years ago. That which I call 'Memphite Drama' was written on black stone by an Ethiopian King who copied it from papyrus that had been eaten by worms. Here is found at the close the first conception of social morality in human history. It says that, 'the God decrees death to him who doeth what is hated, and decrees life to him who doeth things that are loved.' This reveals the law of right and wrong, the oldest moral utterance. And there is another astonishing sentence that sounds like nonsense at first but is, after all, a marvelous truth: 'Ptah is the heart and tongue of the gods.' Now Ptah was their conception of a supreme deity, and heart means mind, and tongue means creative power, so we have a supreme mind creating by thought. The reading of the First Chapter of the Book of John in connection with this idea will prove very helpful."
As we prepare to leave Mr. Breasted's studio he calls our attention to his suitcases and other equipment being packed, and informs us that he is getting ready to go back to Egypt for another expedition. He says at this time he is going to fly from point to point in Egypt whereas in his first trip through that country in 1894 he had to travel by donkey. Thus the achievements of man have enabled one man in his lifetime to change from the primitive type so popular with the ancients to the most modern type of the modernists, and yet this man will not lose his sympathetic touch with the times of the past, or the people of those mysterious days when the pursuit of truth was the dominant factor in the lives of many, and when the most astonishing facts of nature were discovered and preserved for us to this very day. While Professor Breasted and his wife are delving deeply into the arcane facts of that great land of light we shall be waiting for the publishers to bring forth this new book. We are recommending that every member who can do so should have a copy of it, and our Supply Bureau is going to be equipped with copies of the first edition, especially sent to us by the publishers, in order that we may introduce these first copies into the homes of many of our members. This first edition will become rare as has every other first edition of Professor Breasted's books for there is something fascinating about the possession of the first edition of any new book that is going to become a permanent companion in one's home. The new book will probably have approximately four hundred pages, and we note that there are sixteen pages of illustrations, and that the price will probably be about two dollars per copy. Here is a golden opportunity for those of our members who love to read of man's evolution and the great light that came into Egypt, and have the facts from an authoritative source unbiased and unblemished by personal creed or belief.
Announcement about the readiness of the book will be made in this magazine as early in the fall as it is possible to announce it.
Webmaster's Note: Several of James Breasted's books on-line are listed here (external link).
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