This is another one of the narrative sections; I think this was more successful than the last one even if it doesn’t go much of anywhere, but I still thought it was amusing. Again, it’s a rough draft; it will have LOTS of typos.
If I have swaps like s for d at the end of a word, or a word has been replaced by another word . . . I have no idea why I do that. I seem to have whole word dyslexia.
Sitting thinly along the banks of the Nile, Egypt has always been and, as far as anyone could tell, always will be. It was permanent and recurring, like the annual floods which made the fields fertile, and the sun which always set and returned on the opposite horizon. Few people in Egypt ever expected change, either in this life or the one after. The afterlife, much like this one, was fraught with danger, but was also pretty much the same: pretty good.
Which is why it was so aggravating that animals often had a hard time grasping this concept. It wasn’t that animals inherently had a disbelief in the afterlife, but that the Egyptian concept of the self could be thought of as needlessly complex. And if there’s anything animals desire, it’s simplicity to life.
Young lions were often trained to be priests, even if they never gained the title or the job, because it was simply thought proper that those so revered should know the most about the nature of the universe, as described by men. They sat in classrooms, guided by a scribe or a priest who would teach them to read and write, and also the secrets of the universe, which were quite neatly honed over a thousand years of continued existence. After all, to the Egyptian mind, the key to greatness was that it had been around for a very long time.
It was a warm day—though most days in Egypt were either warm or blistering—just after the harvest, when there was less work to do, and more of an opportunity for the young ones of the lion aristocrats to learn the concept of the soul. Today’s lesson followed closely on the heels of their concept of death, and while the gods were a highly interesting subject for anyone to learn, in order to proceed any further, what needed to be explained in great detail was exactly what a person consisted of.
“The ka is the life force,” the scribe said, tapping his stick against a chalk drawing. “It is the part of you that remains with the earth when you die, but is completely separate from the kha, which is the body itself that decays.”
The lions seated around with clay tablets glanced at each other and shrugged. Each of them was the son or daughter of a priest or noble; this consisted of most civilized lions in Egypt, but this did not always translate into having a lot of money. Those who could afford private tutoring did so, and the others had to settle for this scrollworm, who taught them in a great open-air room outside the library.
“I see there are questions,” The scribe said, sighing and sitting down. “Hands please.”
“So it’s the ghost then?” one of the young lions seated around asked, without raising his hand. The scribe swatted him on the shoulder with the stick, and the young lion winced. He then raised his hand.
“So it’s a ghost then?” the young lion asked again.
“That is such a crude understanding of the multi-faceted work that is a person! The ka is essentially the memory of a person, the projection you see when you observe a recreation of them in a statue—they are recreated, and their ka is what is manifested in their likeness.”
“Even if the statue is just a recreation of their kha?” Another lion asked.
“Don’t be silly boy,” the scribe said, “Have you ever seen a statue that actually looked like the person you were told it was supposed to look like?”
The young lions mumbled in assent.
“Statues are idealized in order to give power to the ka. Blessed beauty, blessed uniformity. Now if we can move on . . .”
“Wait, I have another question.”
The scribe sighed. “What is it,” he said flatly, without raising his tone.
“What does the ka actually do with the offerings that are presented at the tombs?”
“It consumes the kau of the offering, of course.”
Sekhmenotep scribbled something on his clay tablet.
Without asking for more questions, the scribe drew a picture of a bird with a man’s head. “This is the ba.”
“I though that was Horus.”
“No! Horus is an eagle, the ba is the essential being of a person.”
“So the ka is not the essential being?”
“No, the ba is. Within this manifestation of you in this life, the ba is essentially what you are. All of you.”
“So is the ba the ghost?” Asked Sekhmenotep again.
“No it’s not the ghost!” The scribe had to strangle himself to keep from screaming.
“Does the ba include the kha?” said the little troublemaker.
“Good Ra no! You have to push the kha out of your mind altogether—it is but a vague material thing that is a drop in the ocean of eternity. You are not your kha, you are your ba.”
“But I thought we were each of these things,” said another.
“But we’re more ba than we are kha?”
“No, you’re not kha at all. The kha is like an illusion, the material manifestation of the ba which is you.”
“And the ka is also us?”
“It is the part of you which is you for everyone else and leaves your body when you die, and contains all assets of you which survive on after the kha, but it is not the true you which is the ba.”
Before there were any more objections, he chalked something new onto the board. All the young lions groaned, and he thwapped his stick against the corner of the table.
“Shut up! This is the ren, which is your true name. You will be alive for as long as your name is spoken.”
“So wait,” said Sekhmenotep, raising his hand but not bothering to wait for the scribe to turn around or even acknowledge him, “is your ba immortal or not?”
” . . . yes.” the scribe said simply.
“But that doesn’t make any sense, does it?”
The scribe once again pointed to the ka. “As I said before, your ka is a manifestation of you that people see in the images and memories of who you were in life. But the images are not you if people cannot associate with the image something that is no longer there. It is not essential to have the memory of a person survive, only the name, for when the true name is spoken, it creates within a person the manifestation of memory, and whatever power is given to it. But, if they do not know ren of the image, then the image has no ka. It could be anyone, or it could be a piece of rock.”
“But what about the ba?”
“I did not say it had to be remembered specifically in this life.”
“But your ba is you in this life, isn’t it? If your ren carries over to another life, don’t you have another ba in that life?”
The scribe continues to chalk down more things on the board, ignoring him.
“This is your sheut.”
“You just said ’shadow’,” Sekhmenotep said.
“Yes, your sheut. It is with you all your life and cannot exist apart from you. And image of you can also be your sheut.”
“I thought that was your ka.”
“No, the ka is the spirit that continues with the image, the sheut is the image itself.”
“So is it your ghost?”
“NO IT IS NOT YOUR GHOST WILL YOU QUIT ASKING THAT!?“
The scribe’s stick was now broken in half, into two swatches ready to be jammed inside both of the young lion’s ears. Sekhmenotep nodded slowly, scratching something into his wax tablet. The scribe stepped calmly behind the board, and screamed. He then composed himself, stepped back out in front of the board, and wrote down something new.
“This is the ib. It is your heart and not anything else,” he said, glaring squarely as Sekhmenhotep.
“I wasn’t going to say anything!” the lion said.
“The heart is the seat of all emotions, thought and will. When you die, Lord Anubis takes your heart and weighs it against the feather of Maat. In this, the gods decide whether your continued existence is just and right, for if it is not, the heart will be devoured by Ammit, and with it your entire being.”
“Does your ba or your ka continue on if the ib is destroyed?” asked another young lion.
The scribe paused, and looked at the board. He pondered this for a very long time, scratched down a number of incomprehensible equations, and backed up, looking at it again. He walked over to his chair and sat, leaning on one hand. Nearly ten minutes passed as this went on.
” . . . no . . .” the scribe finally said, and all the young lions sighed in relief. “No, but I mean . . . the gods can control the remaining existence of your ka or even your sheut on this plane . . . So one whose ib is destroyed will soon be forgotten as is the will of the gods.”
“Even if that someone is obviously evil?” said Sekhmenhotep, “I mean, if someone is evil enough, we remember him through infamy.”
“Just because someone is your enemy does not mean the gods judge him evil,” the scribe said, “It is an entirely different concept.”
Sekhmenthotep shrugged and scribbled something down.
“This is your akh. It is your intellect, or your effective magic. It is the part of you that, after you die, can still impose itself. It is a unity of the ka and the ba, which are again reunited after death.”
The lions all stared at him blankly.
” . . . well?” The scribe said.
“So your akh in the afterlife is sort of what the kha is in this life,” Sekhmenhotep said, “being that the afterlife is without material substance, what remains is essentially a force-manifestation of oneself—both the true self ba and the perceived ideal self ka. This force-manifestation is part of the intellect which is seated in the heart, the ib, created at conception, which houses the entire being of oneself—chiefly governing the emotions, thought, will and intention, so it possesses the akh. The gods have control over the continued existence of the ib, but the akh is oneself that has control of itself, and can exert control over others.”
The scribe stared blankly. “Well that’s . . . that’s pretty much right, I suppose.”
“So does that mean the akh is your ghost?”
The scribe stopped. A brief pause followed, and the turned around slowly to face the class, all leaning forward eagerly. Then the scribe opened up his mouth and screamed, “AAAAAAAAAAAH!”
He walked directly up to Sekhmenhotep, continuing his scream directly into his face. “AAAAAAAAAAAH!”
He the turned and ran out the open-aired porch in the back, knocking over the slate board on his way out, screaming louder. “AAAAAAAAAAAH!”
Eventually he was gone, and the lions were left sitting there with styluses in hand, facing nothing but the rear wall of the room made of painted columns.
“I think the aaah is the ghost,” Sekhmenhotep said.
“I can never get this right,” said the lion sitting next to him, “how many a’s are in that?”