Per Bastemhet

Purification 1

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For an explanation of this series, read the introduction here.

Hail Strider coming from Iunu (Heliopolis), I am not doing (making) Isfet.

Rev. Siuda makes the distinction that doing Isfet is not the same as being an evil person.  She uses this distinction to emphasize the old adage “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”

Besides the obvious problem with universalizing theological concepts from another religion, I take issue with seeing this purification as proscriptive in itself.  While it says that the person making the prayer is not doing Isfet, it makes no comment on how other people should feel if they were doing Isfet.  I don’t know if the general opinion in the Kemetic culture is that people are separated from the actions that they do, nor do I know if the people of Kemet assumed that all people were good until they proved themselves otherwise.

Modernly, as people we are judged not on what we think or feel, but on how we choose to act upon these thoughts or feelings.  No one is ever a good person by intention; they’re good because they do good things.  Similarly, in ancient Kemet people were judged not only on what they did but on what they didn’t do, which is the main thrust of these purifications.  For example, the quiet person who does not react on their anger, nor take their anger out on others, is ideal. (see Instructions of PtahHotep)  In this sense what the person does not do is an indication of what zie does do; by not reacting in anger, zie practices restraint.

The phrase “hate the sin, not the sinner,” to me, is a way of casting off others’ responsibility to moderate their own actions.  “Good intentions” does not forgive harmful nor chaotic actions, but in the end, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, which is what the focus of the purifications is about.  With that, I intend to keep in mind the way I react to others’ actions that perpetuate Isfet, and not let my anger, however righteous it is, get out of hand.  I am responsible for my own actions, and I must be mindful of the consequences of what I say and do to make sure that I am not doing Isfet.  I must be responsible, apologize and learn from my mistakes when I do.  My ultimate goal must always be not just to advocate Ma’at, but to speak, do and live Ma’at; by emulating Ma’at, I also advocate Ma’at.

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Written by Bastemhet

July 24, 2010 at 4:20 am

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