I was talking to some friends the other night when the subject of Ma'at came up. Each spoke about her (sic) as being a sort of Ultimate Truth, that which is left when all illusion, delusion and so forth has been swept away. Oh, they couched their phrasing differently, but that seemed to be the summation of it.
I think this is because the word "truth" is so tightly linked to Ma'at, at least in English. Hmmm. Now that I put it in those terms, I wonder how Ma'at is thought of in, say Coptic. Anyway, as you may have guessed, this definition does not reflect the sort of perspectives I like to hold.
If Ma'at is some sort of Ultimate Truth, then, by extension, there is some sort of Ultimate Truth. I do not accept such a proposition. Now, despite what some may believe, I am not arrogant enough to deny the existence of Ma'at. This means that another avenue must be found for me to have any way of dealing with such an entity.
I could choose to see Ma'at as the representative of Ultimate Truth for those who want or need one. After all, if someone wants to believe in an absolute truth or three, they should certainly feel free to do so. Still, I choose not to view Ma'at that way, because I find it unsatisfying.
Instead, I prefer to see Ma'at as the essence of direct mystical experience. In this way, I see Ma'at as the source of all cosmologies, religions and systems of magic, because all of these are attempts to define, describe and replicate such direct experiences. Ma'at lies at the heart of gnosis.
In this way, Ma'at would often be seen and described as Truth, because people have confidence in experience. Experience tends to be treated as more qualitatively true than second-hand information. It is treated as more objective or empirical, less subject to opinion. Further, language often fails to express the experience with the sort of clarity and detail that one might desire, resorting to images and ideas that may, at best, approximate. Thus when people speak of Ma'at they would speak of what they see as the truth behind the failed descriptions and depictions. To provide a poor simile as an illustration, Ma'at is like the Tao, the Ma'at that you can describe is not Ma'at.
While I am generally much happier with this understanding of Ma'at, there is one final point I should make. While the experience may be revelatory, moving and even life-shaking, it is not Ultimate Truth either. It is completely subjective. Though the personal consequences may be profound, it should not be presumed to have any significance for anyone else. I point this out not only as a reminder that Nothing is True, but as a public service on behalf of those of us who have grown weary of the boors who think that we should all marvel at and bow before their personal mystic experiences. Share them if it is appropriate at the time, but don't just assume that everyone wants to hear about them.
I mean, sheesh, if you are so conceited as to think that other people might care what you have to say, put up a website or something.
Four Winds Bar