Part 2 of Making Attraction and Aversion Work For Us, Not Against Us, a commentary on the 7th Ode of Solomon, written in Apostolic times (to be available as a paperback and ebook later this year).
- My joy is the Lord and my impulse is toward him.
This is a completely theocentric matter. God is the total focus. As the desert father, Saint Arsenios the Great, said: “Unless you say: ‘God and I alone exist,’ you will never find God.”
Certainly religion is important, even essential, but it is only a instrument. No one admires the piano or the violin, but rather the brilliant pianist and violinist. Religion is a tool to be used by the seeker; the seeker is not to be a tool of religion.
On the other hand we cannot imagine a sane pianist or violinist claiming they have no need of a piano or a violin, so neither should we credit someone who says they need no religion. Nonsense is never sense.
There is within each one of us an elemental impulse toward God. Although our intelligence (buddhi) must cooperate in our return to God, still it is never a merely intellectual or emotional impulse. Rather it is inherent in our essential being itself. It is part of our eternal nature. Therefore to be an awakened person means to be experiencing and acting upon this godward impulse.
- This path of mine is beautiful.
How is the path beautiful? “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). It is beautiful because it increasingly brings us nearer the Divine Beauty: God. Again, God is the measure of the matter, not the seeker or the mechanics or requirements of the search.
- For I have a helper–the Lord.
We are not alone on the path. The Lord of Beauty himself is our companion. But he is not a passive companion. Rather:
- He has generously shown himself to me in his simplicity, because his kindness has diminished his dreadfulness.
In Eastern religion, including Eastern Christianity, it is a fundamental tenet that God is a Simple Being in the sense of being totally incomplex. God has no parts, but is an Absolute Unity. It is when we start splitting God up and turning him into a pie chart, like we have done to ourselves and the world around us, that we get into trouble because we are trying to turn the Real into an illusion. It is when we see God as a multiplicity, attributing an infinity of forms, attributes, actions, and reactions to him, that confusion results. But the author of the ode has seen God truly, has not only seen but experienced the Divine Unity. So it all comes down to what it always does: spiritual experience which results only from spiritual practice. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy” (Romans 15:13).
- He became like me in order that I might receive him; in form he was considered like me so that I might put him on. And I trembled not when I saw him, because he was gracious to me. Like my nature he became that I might learn him, and like my form that I might not turn back from him.
The purpose of creation is the perfect union in consciousness of the individual spirit and the Cosmic Spirit. The entire field of relative existence is a divine ladder which the spirit ascends in order to perfectly perceive and manifest its eternal nature as part of Divinity. The important thing to remember in considering this is that the cosmos is the Cosmic Itself.
These two verses from Ode Seven are remarkable. But the vision of the author of this ode did not end with him, for it was an eternal vision. Nearly two thousand years later, Bishop James Ingall Wedgwood wrote this prayer for the Mass of the Liberal Catholic Church:
“Uniting in this solemn Sacrifice with Thy holy Church throughout all the ages, we lift our hearts in adoration to Thee, O God the Son, consubstantial, co-eternal with the Father, who, abiding unchangeable within Thyself, didst nevertheless in the mystery of Thy boundless love and Thine eternal Sacrifice breathe forth Thine own divine life into Thy universe, and thus didst offer Thyself as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, dying in very truth that we might live.
“Omnipotent, all-pervading, by that self-same sacrifice Thou dost continually uphold all creation, resting not by night or day, working evermore through that most august Hierarchy of Thy glorious Saints, who live but to do Thy will as perfect channels of Thy wondrous power, to whom we ever offer heartfelt love and reverence.”
- He became like me in order that I might receive him; in form he was considered like me so that I might put him on.
The idea here is that God has transmuted himself into the cosmos so it can become the means of our ascent to his perfect Consciousness and our assimilation of that Divinity. That is why Saint Paul speaks in the book of Hebrews of our being partakers of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4) and of the very holiness of God (Hebrews 12:10). Saint Peter not only tells us that it is possible to be a partaker of the glory of divinity (I Peter 5:1), we can also “be partakers of the divine nature” Itself (II Peter 1:4).
This is real Christianity: the making of human beings into Christs. We think we are encased in matter, but it is only a dream of matter. In reality we live at every moment in Spirit. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Yet at the moment it is matter we need to lead us upward to recognition of the real nature both of “things” and of ourselves. For the intention of all of this is that eventually we all “might put him on” and dwell in that consciousness forever.
- And I trembled not when I saw him, because he was gracious to me.
In that awareness, fear is banished forever.
- Like my nature he became that I might learn him, and like my form that I might not turn back from him.
The purpose of this is that in time the two will become One.
- The Father of knowledge, is the Word of knowledge.
The Source of Gnosis is the Word of Gnosis. This has a few meanings, but the two most important are:
- The Father is the Son, the Word. That is, Ishwara is an emanation or expansion of Brahman. The early Christian writer Tertullian said exactly this, too.
- The Name of God is God. A mantra is not a common word, but the embodiment of what it designates. Inherent in the mantras used by yogis for meditation is the Consciousness they are meant to invoke. Japa and meditation convey the Divine Consciousness to the yogi’s consciousness and unites them with the Divine Being. Japa and meditation “beget” gnosis in the individual who is constant in them. (Again, see Soham Yoga.)
He Who created wisdom, is wiser than his works.
As stated in the Gita: “I know all beings: past, present and to come. But no one knows me” (Bhagavad Gita 7:26). “Therefore, be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).
- And he Who created me when yet I was not, knew what I should do when I came into being.
It is not uncommon for saints to know when we are thinking good thoughts and for them to respond to them. This is a happy event, but if we are reflective then we will realize that they know when we are thinking wrong thoughts, yet they still retain a positive attitude towards us. From this we can realize that before we enter into relative existence God knows every silly and negative thought and deed we are ever going to think and do. Yet he loves us and provides for us even the things we need for those wrong thoughts and acts!
This should give us hope when, regretting our past follies, we wish to turn around and tread the upward path out of the “valley of the shadow of death” in which such ways prevail. We need not dislike ourselves nor waste time in condemning ourselves. We need to become intent on reforming our minds and lives. For God has provided all we need to do that, as well. We have come into this world to learn, and learn we will, eventually. The seed of all we shall ever do or be is present from the beginning.
- Wherefore he pitied me in his abundant grace, and granted me to ask from him and to receive from his sacrifice.
For the sake of our evolution, God has poured out himself in the form of the cosmos, visible and invisible, and thus become himself “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). We discussed this in the last article. All the worlds through which we evolve are the “abundant grace” of God. Saint John the Baptist assures us that “God giveth not the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). Rather, we find the totality of Being and assimilate It into our finite selves in a manner past understanding–but not past experiencing. Thus we “receive from his sacrifice.”