“‘Genuine-ness’ and the Riddle of Immortality…” by T. Hasan Johnson, Ph.D.


One of the interesting things about Ancient Mystery Systems is that they are comprised of so many different and complex areas. Interestingly, many of these sub-areas are publicly known, but have been superficially redefined to suit the popular imagination. Astrology, for example, has been redefined as a quick-hand way to assign characteristics to a wide berth of people based solely on when someone was born—and by extension, determine whether someone is good enough to say, marry. Yet, despite Dionne Warwick, the ancient focus on the Zodiac had more to do with scientifically coordinating farming practices, astronomical occurrences (the ebb and flow of the Nile River), and the great procession of the seasons.

Simultaneously, it was used to describe the 12 stages for which the soul was said to progress before returning to its inherently divine ”source.” It is said that the soul manifests on the plane of manifestation through Aries and descends through the next five signs, only to begin the ascent through Libra and progress through Pisces to transcend back to the Celestial plane. This unending loop, best illustrated by the Kemetic (Egyptian) “Ankh” (also a symbol for birth, death, and rebirth—or a woman’s womb—symbolizing the same concept), actually signifies the “movement” of the soul through stages of experience. Each sign signified a different vibrational worldview, meaning that the influence of the energetic/gravitational influence of the solar system on human physiology produced distinct characteristics for each stage of astronomical movement:

Taurus “I Have”
Gemini “I Think”
Cancer “I Feel”
Leo “I Will”
Virgo “I Serve”
Libra “I Balance”
Scorpio “I Desire”
Sagittarius “I See”
Capricorn “I Use”
Aquarius “I Know”
Pisces “I Believe”

Whether one agrees with the use of astrology or not, it is interesting to note how certain practices are addressed in popular culture in contrast to more esoteric contexts. It is in this light that I question many contemporary perceptions of ancient practices. Are they ever about the practices themselves or are they more about contemporary fetishes regarding particular “pasts?” In other words, would Black imaginings about Ancient Africanity be the same without slavery and white supremacy? I ask because if one plans to study the Mysteries, one should be genuine in their interest, forsaking historical fantasies in order to focus their attention on the present.

But why is ”genuine-ness” relevant to the studies? There are a variety of reasons to be sure, but one reason has to do with the realization of immortality. Again, despite populate culture, immortality does not have to do with living forever in a mundane sense. Rather, it has to do with a full realization of what we can term ‘The Now.’ Realizing that you can see through the illusion of time, the transitory nature of momentary problems, the limitations of sensory perception, and the assumption of self-importance (in terms of perceiving life from the standpoint of the ego). Immortality has far more to do with the grasping of the fullness of being, as connected to all that is. It is in that state of realization that one experiences fullness…the state where time has no meaning except that which you give it; where the smallest of things is directly linked to the very fabric of all things; where one can realize both one’s incredible importance (and one’s simultaneous, self-deluded, sense of over-importance) within human existence. This realization provides an opportunity for you to realize that when you die, you rejoin (both physically and energetically), all that ever was/is/will be. Although you never truly separate from life, you still rejoin it-or at least you can now recognize it. THIS is immortality. That you are already one with the all, and in that sense you will always be.

I experienced my realization while snorkeling in Hawaii, off of the coast of Kauai. I recall stopping at a certain point, watching the sun go down and floating alone in the ocean (by this time I had strayed a good distance away from the ship) while staring at the peaks of island/mountains that extended toward the sky out of the ocean. In that moment, I wondered how many creatures lived and died in the very water I floated in. I thought about how many times the sun set over that ocean, and how easy it has been to lose the awe of nature when living in an urban environment. In that moment, I understood that one day I would die. I also realized I would “live” forever–through nature.

Genuine-ness is important in this process because it helps maintain a sense of grounded-ness in the face of such grand realizations. It is like the anchor that keeps you centered, and it is the means for fully experiencing what Dr. Alfred Ligon described as the ”seven-fold constitution of man.” He argued that each of us has seven vibrational characteristics. A physical, an etheric, an emotional, a lower mental, a bridge from such sensory perceptions to the more abstract aspects of our being, a higher mind, an intuitional, and a divine-cosmic being. Rather than memorizing each of these and spitting them out in discussions to sound informed, one can only realize each of these only by being genuine. Thus, it is though a realization of the various aspects of one’s self, a re-evaluation of immortality, and an appreciation for the subtle art of being genuine that one can discern between the popular and the value of what the popular distorts.

~ by Lord Amaru on June 27, 2008.

6 Responses to ““‘Genuine-ness’ and the Riddle of Immortality…” by T. Hasan Johnson, Ph.D.”

  1. it’s hard to comment on these things b/c it’s so powerful. i’d suggest you also add a short bibliography of references for your blogs b/c i think they inspire an interest in reading more.

    w/ that said, i would like to hear more about how you think one can go about “foresaking historical fantasies.” b/c aren’t we necessarily steeped in the socio-political present? and we read the world influenced through those lenses. is it a matter of the attempt itself to look beyond and consider such mysteries in spite of history? or do you propose it’s really possible? not sure if that’s clear but i like the writing. it gives me something to meditate on.


  2. I appreciate the question Imani! My emphasis on “historical fantasies” is precisely to challenge people to become cognizant of how historical periods are often mythologized. I agree that much of what we engage is inevitably steeped in the socio-political moment–and that’s not an inherently bad thing. But I think there’s something to be said for simply being aware of how we process and articulate histories. A key aspect too is that culturally, we are storytellers. More so, we are taught to lose ourselves in the stories we tell…but can one engage the story while remembering it is nothing more than that?

  3. Thank you for your wonderful articles. This one helped me to perceive in a new way the idea of self being an integral part of the universe. Keep up the great work!

  4. i am lily of the field.

    i, too, like imani kai, had a question about your reference to “historical fantasies.” is it, then a “historical fantasy” to want to see afrikan representations of gnosticism, to be bothered, unsettled by a subtle racism even in the representation of these teachings to centralize european or western culture and negate afrikan origins through ommitted credit where credit is due? or is looking for acknowledgement to the ancient afrikan origins of these teachings vain, inappropriate and beside the point? is it petty? i recently ordered a book on the magdalenean teachings, written by a scholar, and the cover had the depiction of the black madonna, and she is a dark rich brown, and i felt a stirring in my soul of peace and gratitude for this. another book i have on the same teachings has the european mary, and the text in the book even went as far as to describe her as having olive skin and green eyes, but not dark, not black. i realize all people depict their deities in their own likeness, but i feel it is essential that the energies these figures represent correspond with the truth of their cultural origins, and the brownness of the skin remains a sign for me. please correct me if am missing the mark. still, i follow you in your allowance that what is most important is the present. i personally feel that there is no more need for black history month, that february should be devoted to universal truth month, extendng to each and every day. we shall overcome…what? when? when i look at the matix movies, the fact that the oracle that seraph guards as “”that which is most important is a black woman, and she bakes oatmeal cokies in her kitchen while working out serious dilemmas of consciousness. this is powerful symbolism and it is literal. yes we are storytellers, and the stories of our surviving slavery, the slave ships, the sharks, the middle passage, are they not simplified explanations of highly metaphysical and alchemical preparations of our purification process to bring in avatars such as yourself for this particular time, as well as descriptions of what actually physically happened? toni morrison’s beloved is a story, termed a neo-slave narrative by intellectuals, yet it is so much more, and the passing of baby girl/beloved’s spirit in the underworld through the veil of the middle passage describes an experience of transformation, or in her case perhaps mutation, that serves as a metaphor to identify what has happened and what and where our healing will begin.

    i will return.


  5. Lily of the Field,
    I would address your concern in three ways. First, I think we must first appreciate the power of meaning-making. In posing your question, you identified a series of things that you determined have meaning (even though I agree with your examples). They are not “automatically meaningful,” but meaningful because of the context you’ve given them.
    Also, seeing African examples of esoterica is important, and yet, it is a historical fantasy. African gnostics did not have the same nationalistic fervor that we look through history to find. But historical fantasies are not limited to us by any means. The notion of ancient western societies are more present-day fantasies than anything particularly objective. The only reason ancient Rome or Greece are relevant to today is to establish an illusory notion of cultural and historical superiority. Wouldn’t it be interesting to study history void of the preoccupation with contemporary cultural warfare? For me, all historical narratives are socially constructed histories (but that doesn’t mean that lack meaning or value! We just must remain conscious of the roles we allow histories to play in our worldviews). But yes, re-affirming our history is an important part of our emotional/psychological development, but I also think it requires a complete overhaul of our worldview. Forgive the disjointed answer, I decided to write a response from my phone.  

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