Part 4 of Making Attraction and Aversion Work For Us, Not Against Us, a commentary on the 7th Ode of Solomon, written in Apostolic times.
- The Seers shall go before him, and they shall be seen before him. And they shall praise the Lord for his love, because he is near and seeth.
Those who see God are ever before his Face, and wherever they go they bring with them that sacred Presence. Fortunately I have known quite a few holy people like this. If I wanted to be with God I went to spend time with them. They have been of various spiritual traditions, for God knows nothing of our artificial boundaries and foolish attempts to have an exclusive franchise on his love.
When one man I knew would speak to a group there would an all-pervading sense of heavenly joy and sweetness. What he said was wise, but the inner experience was beyond all words. I was only a teenager then and had not yet read Yogananda’s definition that God is joy, but I certainly experienced it. Another blessed soul was a frail little lady who literally blazed with white fire which I could feel from a distance. She lived in constant spiritual vision.
It is true: God is “glorified in his saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10). He is their song and they are his. So before we see God he sends his holy ones to give us a “foretaste of glory divine” as Fanny Crosby put it. Such exalted souls dwell in God’s love “because he is near and seeth” them as surely as they see him.
- And hatred shall be taken from the earth, and along with jealousy it shall be drowned. For ignorance hath been destroyed upon it, because the knowledge of the Lord hath arrived upon it.
All the evil passions that are as demons tormenting humanity on this earth which they have turned into a hell spring from one cause: ignorance. This is why the great teachers of India, especially Shankara, insist that spiritual wisdom (jnana) alone brings liberation from the bonds of ignorance. When the knowledge of God (Brahmajnana) enlightens the consciousness then hell becomes heaven without our needing to go anywhere.
There was a spiritual adept in China who was a devotee of Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. Once as she was walking along softly reciting the invocation of Amitabha a spiritual wiseacre said to her contemptuously: “Tell me grandmother, do you think Amitabha Buddha is listening to you in his paradise?” To his surprise she shook her head, continuing her invocations. “Then if Amitabha is not in his paradise, where is he?” insisted the smart-aleck. She pointed to her heart and kept on walking and reciting.
The idea of peace on earth in a social and political sense is as silly as expecting mental institutions to cease having mentally ill people living there. This earth is where the spiritually crazy are put. Someone once asked Yogananda if he believed in hell. The Master smiled and asked: “Where do you think you are?” But peace and joy can prevail in the heart of God’s devotee wherever he may be. It is an individual matter, but none the less glorious for that.
- Let the singers sing the grace of the Lord Most High, and let them bring their songs. And their heart shall be like the day, and like the excellent beauty of the Lord their pleasant song.
In the deepest sense, the “songs” of the righteous are their very lives. So they “sing the grace of the Lord Most High” by living in his grace and embodying it in their lives. They are a message of love to both God and man. Their hearts are illumined by the “Sun of Righteousness” and shine outward into the hearts of those around them who are sensitive enough to pick up the “broadcast.” Their song-life will be perfect reflections of the Face of God, the beauty of the Divine. All who hear it will rejoice in the joy it also brings to them.
- And let there be nothing without life, nor without knowledge nor dumb. For (the Lord) hath given a mouth to his creation, to open the voice of the mouth towards him, and to praise him.
This is a profound counsel. The spiritual aspirant must ensure that he is truly alive on every level, that no aspect of his heart or mind is dormant, but rather is living and shining in/with the Light of God. Every atom of his being is to be conscious and fully functioning. No part of him should be unconscious or without a real effect. This is the new birth which Jesus announced to the world.
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).
In time the entire cosmos must become awake and alive in Divine Consciousness and be manifested as consciousness Itself. For intelligence is inherent in every atom of creation so it may open itself toward God and become living praise unto him.
It is this to which Jesus was referring when his enemies told him to silence those who were welcoming him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He told them: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). And he did not mean that mute matter would be crying out in a mechanical, unconscious sense, for he had also said to these same opponents: “I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9), enunciating the metaphysical principle that every atom is a potential sentient being, as it is the body of a spark of intelligence whose destiny is to evolve upward to humanity and far beyond to divinity.
- Confess ye his power, and show forth his grace.
Although we should certainly “speak the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11), we must also ourselves perform wonderful works and “show forth his grace.” The Beloved Disciple wrote: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Quoting Isaiah, Jesus had said: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Again, it is the mind, heart, and life of each one of us that the ode is speaking about.
The final ten verses beginning with “And for its salvation…” have another, prophetic, meaning as well as that which we have just considered. I was told by an Orthodox rabbinical student that in Israel he had learned of a Jewish mystical tradition that the Messiah was to come two times: first as Son of Joseph and be rejected by Israel and later as Son of David and be accepted as the Messiah. Jesus was born at the beginning of the Piscean Age, and now that it is the beginning of the Aquarian Age there are those who believe that he is to appear again.
To them these verses are a prophecy of this Second Coming in which he shall appear with disciples who will have taken birth to work with him in his mission. A new era will open up for those on the earth who truly “seek the kingdom” while the others will go on just as before. I say this, because it is vain to suppose that the whole world is going to turn into a paradise by the mere birth of anyone, even such a Master as Jesus. The world is a vast lunatic asylum and will continue to be one. Jesus will come to heal and deliver those that “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). The rest will in time also awake and arise, as shall every sentient being in the universe.