In 1975 Claude “Corky” Nowell claimed to have encountered beings he described as Summa Individuals. They allegedly presented him with concepts regarding the nature of creation. These concepts are continually re-introduced to humankind by more advanced beings – presumably because we keep forgetting them. Nowell founded Summum in order to share the “gift,” and shortly thereafter changed his name to Summum Bonum Amon Ra or Corky Ra for short.
The word summum is Latin, a form of summus which means “highest.” It has been used as a magazine title, style of bike, and a Volvo car. As for the religious philosophy of Summun, it stems from the writings of the Kybalion which was first published in 1908 and then reworked utilizing modern language and information that was presented to Corky Ra by the Summum individuals.
Summum’s Grand Principle of Creation states: “Nothing and possibility come in and out of bond infinite times in a finite moment.” I’m still trying to get my head around that one. Perhaps the key is their motto “Sealed Except to the Open Mind” and my mind isn’t open enough. In order to truly understand the Summum philosophy you can go to the teachings of Gnostic Christianity and that knowledge doesn’t come from the intellect or obedience or faith but from revelatory experience, just like Corky Ra had. They go on to explain that knowledge is attained through questioning and experience, that devotion and spiritual practices lead to “enlightenment,” similar to the authentic teachings of Jesus.
Summum has no deity but believes that all people are part of the mind of the universe and that the universe is collectively great.
But it isn’t the philosophy that makes this religion so unique, they have built a pyramid in Salt Lake City where they produce alcoholic nectars. These nectars are used in meditation to carry the spiritual concepts across the blood-brain barrier. Not a great place for an AA meeting and government authorities consider the nectars wine so required Summum obtain a winery license so it is Utah’s first federally bonded winery.
Another practice the Summum’s engage in is Modern Mummification. Hey why not, they have the pyramid. Designed to guide ones essence to a greater destination after the death of the body. Their mummification processes have been featured on the BBC and the National Geographic. They mainly mummify pets, but had the first person to undergo the mummification process in centuries when Nowell himself died in 2008.
If that wasn’t enough Summum followers snagged the attention of the media when they proposed to put their Seven Aphorisms next to the ten commandments in several locations in Utah, including Pleasant Grove. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court who unanimously ruled against them.
You have to hand it to the Summum-ites, they know how to do strange. On the other hand, I personally kind of like what they are saying about the universe being one mind, now if we could just get humans to be that way we may have a chance.