Jesus said, Take heed of the living one while you are alive, lest you die and seek to see him and be unable to do so. (59)
Take heed of the living one. “The living one” can mean the Living God, our own living spirit and the Living Path–the life that leads to Life. Certainly all three should be kept in mind as we live our little life within the Infinite Life that is manifesting as the cosmos.
Only this morning there suddenly came to mind a blessed day over fifty years ago when a friend and I rode up the freeway north of Los Angeles singing Yogananda’s chant:
I am the sky, Mother, I am the sky.
I am the vast blue ocean of sky.
I am a little drop of that sky.
The joyous vibrations Yogananda had infused into those words were flowing in our hearts. We did not even quit singing when we stopped for gas! But it was not just the feeling: the profound meaning was also rising in our awareness as we sang.
The words seem simple, and to some perhaps childish, but they are not. In the chant the devotee is speaking to the Divine Mother within whose cosmic heart he is living and evolving. Here in this seemingly material universe (that is really God’s Light), we think we are in a purely material body, and we mostly identify with it. But in the chant the devotee is saying: “No, Mother, your motion picture creation will not fool me. I am not a mere body subject to birth and death; and though I dream karma, I am truly ever-free. Like your child Shankara sang in his Stanzas on Nirvana: I am formed of blissful consciousness: I am Spirit.
“I am myself the Chidakasha, the vast Conscious Ether of Space, the limitless Sky of Infinity. Thou art the Ocean Sky and I am a little drop in that Sky. Though momentarily frozen into a form, I am not limited to it. And as a yogi I am returning to my original state as part of–one with–Thee who art also beyond all form and name. For That Thou art and That am I.”
For nearly an hour we were so in touch with that experience that we spent the rest of our life seeking to become established in it.
While you are alive, lest you die. No human being is a stranger to delusion, but one of the saddest I have observed is the mistaken belief that a person has their entire life to begin spiritual endeavor–that they can delay and delay all they want, even years if not decades, and still God and the angels will be waiting for them to get on board and make the journey. But anyone who has observed life knows that things go in cycles or tides. Even a single day can make a tremendous difference in a person’s circumstances, inner and outer. Spiritual awakening and insight can be very fragile. I have seen it melt away without people even realizing it.
In past centuries, including Biblical times, a great deal that eventually became duties of officials such as soldiers and police was put into the hands of the ordinary people. For example, captured soldiers were often put into the custody of citizens who would be executed if the prisoner managed to escape. In the First Book of Kings a prophet in disguise goes to the king and tells him that someone brought a prisoner to him and warned him that he would pay with his life if the man got away. But, he tells the king, “as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone” (I Kings 20:40). Just like that! When the king tells him that his life is forfeit, he then reveals who he is and tells the king that it is he who is accountable with his life because he shirked his duty to God. How easy it is to be busy here and there and lose track of our own Self.
And seek to see him and be unable to do so. No one is “lost” or “damned” forever, but certainly times can come when a person cannot take up spiritual life and progress, either because they have completely lost interest or because conditions no longer allow it. That is why the prophet said: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
Some people decide to start spiritual life but begin looking in the wrong place, get distracted and wander into byways that are spiritual dead ends or they try to live a spiritual life while still avidly seeking material life. As the angel said to those who came to Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5).
It is no joke. The words of Jesus often apply: “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come” (John 7:33, 34). Then the lament may arise: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved [liberated]” (Jeremiah 8:20).
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: “Lest Thou Also…”