Weight or Lightness?

Sunday, I attended a fireside given by Dr. Wilford Griggs, a professor at BYU and an Egyptologist. It was tremendously interesting and took me back to sixth grade when I wanted to be an Egyptologist and I spent some time trying to learn Egyptian hyroglyphics after visiting the Ramses exhibit at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Griggs talked a little bit about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and there was one part that particularly struck me – Before entering heaven, the deceased person’s heart is weighed on a scale, balanced against a feather. To pass the test and enter into heaven, you heart must be lighter than the feather. Presumably, what weighed your heart down was sin, but I think there are plenty of other things that weigh my heart down that would make it difficult for pass this test. I have stated before that I feel this enormous sense of guilt for all of the world’s wrongs, and at the same time, I feel this intense obligation to know exactly what is wrong with the world. I have to find the injustice and learn about it for fear that if I don’t, then I am somehow complicit in it. So is the weight of awarness of the world’s sorrows something that could keep me frmo the presence of God, as the Egyptians believed?

It reminds me of one of my favorite passages in modern literature, written by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
“Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
“What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

These are answers that I don’t have. I must admit, though, as someone who loves being aware of things, the allusion of needing a light heart to make it in the next life is extremely desirable. But of course, in my view of the next life, all of the sorrows of this world are made whole. Therefore, there isn’t a need to be weighted down by anything. Whether we choose to allow the weight of this life to follow us into the next, I suppose, that is what the difference is.

One thought on “Weight or Lightness?

  1. That was a good fireside. If I could do it all over again, I would like to ask the professor when he was coming back for his “how to speak Greek in a week” seminar. I liked the heart/feather thing too. I’m glad you brought that up, I would have forgotten about it.

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