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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Travels: The Inner Peace of Egypt

People from all walks of life are finding that "mental days" in Egypt are just the passport in improving life perspectives.

For some, the search for inner wellness starts in Giza.

The chants resonated from deep within the Pharaoh’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza: aaaaaa (a as in ah), eeeeeee (e as in eat), ooooooo (o as in oh), uuuuuuu (u as in blue), mmmmmmm (m as in room).

These eerie sounds alternately invited me and haunted me. They made me pensive, but at the same time I felt a strange desire to giggle. All the while they urged me forward, releasing my curiosity and untapped energy, so this chanting would not be wasted. The trip up to the innermost part of the pyramid was not like anything I had ever personally experienced. Mysterious. Dark. Laborious. The oxygen was sparse, or at least seemed that way, and the humidity was abnormally high. I stopped frequently to catch my breath.

            aaaaaaaa, eeeeeee, ooooooo, uuuuuuu, mmmmmmm.

Still ever present, the chants kept pulling me toward them.

After reaching the top and crawling through the two cramped passages, you reach the chamber built for the Pharaoh Khufu (2,589-2,566 B.C., of the 4th Dynasty).

From the sounds that came from there, I expected to find something like a hippie sit-in, protesting some government gaff, but I found something entirely different. A well dressed, raven-haired woman had positioned herself directly in the Pharaoh’s pitted granite sarcophagus, legs folded Indian-style, totally absorbed in her spiritual path. Flanking her were a half dozen or so spiritual companions locked into similar behavior in the musty, high energy room.

I would come to learn that the raven-haired beauty is Susan Parmet, on a personal mission to find inner peace. Her journey this year brought her to Egypt in a quest to connect with the teachings and training of the priests in Pharaonic Egypt. Each year she picks a new destination. “Mental days” is what she calls her trek for self-enlightenment. The year 2008 called her to arrive at the pyramids to bond with the spiritual energy that many Western visitors to Egypt believe is exclusive to this region.

Parmet is a fascinating example of the soul’s search for a positive path. In between chants, there had been pauses of silence. “Abiding in silence is the key to altering the consciousness and energy of body and mind and to move them inward and upward,” she later explained in the hazy light of day outside the pyramid. “The silence allows the endorphins released by the chant to let you feel the strange but wonderful yang-yin relationship of the sounding (yang) and the silence (yin).

“As you move the sound with your imagination or mind’s eye, you move the energy of the body up with it until your brain is greatly stimulated and the frontal lobe and forehead are tingling. Feel this happening. See it. Imagine it. Know it is happening,” she said.

Pretty high tech soul searching, but one gaining recognition and support for those in need of mental days to improve life perspectives.

Many celebrities are traveling down this New Age path these days. Last year, Grammy winning singer Alicia Keys dropped everything to get to Egypt to find musical inspiration while she was struggling with her new album. Traveling alone through Egypt, she found her motivation at the Great Pyramid.  “I’m thinking here is this structure that’s been standing for thousands of years, no magic tricks, no cranes, just mind, will and hands. I had a profound realization that with my mind and my hands I could create something that could last forever.”

Filled with enthusiasm, she fast tracked back to the studio and completed her album, which is already being hailed as her best work since her debut.

That thinking works fine for the celebrities known for unorthodox antics and spur of the moment action, but what of someone like Parmet, a respected Dallas attorney who never took a sick day or a vacation day for 10 years before 2006. “Life is stressful,” she says. “You have to find your place in the world. Some people go to church or a mosque. Others go to Las Vegas and gamble. I travel the world in search of the magical connection. Whether I make that connection or not, I’ve rewarded myself with incredible memories and time away for a life well done.”

To an outsider, the travelers in search of inner peace look like any other tourists who would come from around the world to see one of the last great wonders of the ancients. A camera and comfortable shoes don’t begin to reveal the depths of their thinking and why they feel their global awakening begins—and ends—here in Giza. According to Parmet, the accumulated knowledge of Atlantis, Egypt, the Phoenicians and other ancients was said to have been placed on the site of the Great Pyramid.

Breaking from her chants, Parmet moved to readings from Thoth, the Egyptian god of the moon, magic and writing. Her voice became transformed as she read from Thoth’s “Emerald Tablets” and seemed to harness the energies needed not only to sum up her inner peace, but to enlighten all who might be listening:

List ye, O man, hear ye my voice,
teaching of Wisdom and Light in this cycle;
teaching ye how to banish the darkness,
teaching ye how to bring Light in thy life.

Seek ye, O man, to find the great pathway
that leads to eternal life as a sun.
Draw ye away from the veil of the darkness.
Seek to become a Light in the world.

Make of thyself a vessel for Light,
a focus for the Sun of this space.
Lift thou thine eyes to the Cosmos.
Lift thou thine eyes to the Light.

Speak in the words of the Dweller,
the chant that calls down the Light.
Sing thou the song of Freedom.
Sing thou the song of the Soul.

Create the high vibration that will
make thee one with the Whole.
Blend all thyself with the Cosmos.
Grow into One with the Light.
Be thou a channel of order,
a pathway of Law to the world.

I am told that reading these passages balances your breath, causing an altered state of consciousness. The goal is not chanting, but deep, stimulating oratory in which your body, mind and spirit feel high and receptive to new thinking and healings of the soul. Judging by those who were in the moment, it seemed to work quite well.

This was a far cry from the cult-like chant fest I had expected when I first heard those strange sounds in the pyramid. Instead, here was a group of new thinkers, open to augmented spirituality. One that would not override or infringe on their long practiced faiths. And these were not gullible fools, but people in their prime, like so many well educated members of spiritual tours, who tend to be doctors, engineers, business consultants or have other respected professions.

“Sure I get chuckles and finger pointing,” says Parmet. “That’s not a concern of mine. I am here on a different kind of adventure travel. Some people find their peace by climbing mountains and looking at the world below them or going to the spa and pampering themselves for a day. I climb inside pyramids and elevate my mind to improve myself.”

New Age tours are big business these days. Emad Al-Aziz, of Summit Tours in Egypt, reports that his trips for furthering understanding of spirituality and metaphysics have grown 70 percent in the past three years. His tours cover such marvels as Citadel, Al Abaster Mosque, Hanging Church, Bab Zuwela, Khan El Kalili bazaars, Giza Pyramids, Khufu Pyramid, Khafra Pyramid and the Great Sphinx.

The cosmological ideas of Egypt were long told through a series of myths and symbols which easily translate into metaphysical concepts,” Al-Aziz says. “Based on the interest in these kinds of trips and the fulfillment of our clients, we can only expect more growth in this type of travel around Egypt and the entire Middle East.”

There is a great belief among spiritual travelers that they derive much spirituality from great places on earth that were built for specific reasons known only to the most powerful people of their eras. As Parmet explains, “We know that the most intelligent engineers of the world built their great creations—the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge—on the points where the most powerful energies existed. But we are taught that the pyramid is the ideal shape for this type of energy and power.”

The idea that a simple geometric shape or drawing could generate an energy field seems absurd at first. The nineteenth-century Scottish mathematician and physicist James Clerk Maxwell’s famed mathematical studies showed that luminiferous ether flowing into mass is the cause of gravity, magnetism, inertia and other fundamental forces, and if such, then it is deduced that certain geometry could disrupt the flow slightly to generate an energy field. The energies produced by the cone of the pyramid proved the cone to be the best collector of energy because that shape interacts better with ether.

As we spoke of energies and inertias, Parmet was eager to demonstrate how luminous and palpable they could be. She whipped out her camera and produced her evidence: pictures with brilliant loops of illumination, even though there wasn’t enough light in the chamber, which to her was proof positive that orb spirits were dancing in celebration to the chanting and the readings of Thoth.

“Living in Dallas pushes me so far from the center of New Age culture that I need to reconnect once a year,” she goes on. “It helps me escape the misery of seeing criminals parade in front of our justice system day after day. I sometimes imagine that if these wayward people could have found a way to connect with their inner world better, they would not have strayed from a balanced, focused and good life.”

Journey to the Center of the Pyramid
(Click image to enlarge)

The journey to the King’s Chamber (aka Pharaoh’s Chamber) is a claustrophobic one. Walking bent over through a long, 45-degree crawl space no more than four feet high and wide is no easy task.

An opening in the grand gallery allows you to stand and ascend carefully up a sharply inclined path lined with long wood planks.

After reaching the top of the grand gallery, you go on your knees through two three-foot-high passages to reach the Pharaoh’s Chamber at the center of the Great Pyramid.

Originally published in ALO magazine. Photographs and article by the Media Guy, that's me(!), Michael Lloyd.