- Original Christianity - The Odes of Solomon for Awakening - The Odes of Solomon: 11

The Odes of Solomon: 11

Virgin OransA continuation of the Commentary on the Odes of Solomon for Awakening.

My heart was cloven and its flower appeared, and grace sprang up in it, and it brought forth fruit to the Lord.
For the Most High uncovered my inward being towards him, and filled me with his love.
And this became my salvation, and I ran in the Way in his peace, in the way of truth.
From the beginning and even to the end, I received his knowledge.
And I was established upon the rock of truth, where he had set me up.
And speaking waters drew near my lips, from the fountain of the Lord plenteously.
And I drank and was inebriated with the living waters that do not die.
And my inebriation was not one without knowledge, but I forsook vanity.
And I turned to the Most High my God, and I was enriched by his bounty.
And I forsook the folly cast away over the earth, and I stripped it off and cast it from me.
And the Lord renewed me in his garment, and possessed me by his light.
And from above he gave me rest without corruption, and I became like the land which blossoms and rejoices in its fruits.
And the Lord was like the sun, shining upon the face of the land.
My eyes were enlightened, and my face received the dew.
And my soul was refreshed, by the pleasant fragrance of the Lord.
And he carried me into his paradise, wherein is the abundance of the pleasure of the Lord.
I beheld blooming and fruit-bearing trees.
And self-grown was their crown.
Their branches were sprouting, and their fruits were shining.
From an immortal land were their roots.
And a river of joy was watering them
And round about them in the land of eternal life.
And I worshipped the Lord on account of his glory.
And I said, Blessed O Lord, are they who are planted in Thy land, and those who have a place in Thy Paradise,
And who grow in the growth of Thy trees, and have changed from darkness to light.
Behold! all Thy laborers are fair, who work good works, and turn from wickedness to Thy pleasantness.
And they have turned away from themselves the bitterness of the trees, when they were planted in Thy land.
And everything was like Thy remnant–(Blessed are the workers of Thy waters)–and an eternal memorial of Thy faithful servants.
For there is abundant room in Thy Paradise, and nothing is useless therein, but everything is filled with fruit.
Glory be to Thee, O God, the delight of Paradise for ever. Alleluia.

My heart was cloven and its flower appeared, and grace sprang up in it, and it brought forth fruit to the Lord.

Spiritual progress involves change which may entail drastic alteration. Consider a seed. When it germinates, the tiny living plant breaks open its shell and begins its journey upward to the light. The seed cannot manifest its potential without in a sense destroying its original form and status. That is what Jesus was speaking about when he said: “Except a corn [grain] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

Interestingly, the breaking forth of the seedling reveals the dual nature of the seed, coming out from between the two halves. In time the single plant absorbs the halves and only the one growing entity remains. In the same way spiritual progress is a movement from duality to unity, a unity that disrupts and annihilates the duality. That is why Jesus further said: “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Miseo, the word translated “hateth” here, can mean to dislike intensely, but it also means “to love less,” and that is its meaning here. Our external life should be of lesser value to us than our internal life of the spirit. If we hold these correct priorities, considering the spiritual life more important to us than the material life, we will find that we shall ascend into the consciousness that is “life eternal.” Unfortunately we often cling to the status quo, and that clinging is often the basis for spiritual failure: we refuse to grow and change.

In this verse we see that the aspirant’s very heart was burst apart so the flower of spiritual consciousness and power could appear and divine grace arise. Just as hard earth must be broken up by the plough so seed can be successfully planted in it, in the same way, the Psalmist said that “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart” (Psalms 34:18), prepared for the advent of the life in the spirit. The result will be the offering of the entire life to God so the individual can henceforth live in a state of union with God, having left even the capacity for separation behind. But along with that capacity is also left behind all that drew its existence from separation. That is why Jesus said: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). “Mammon” is material consciousness and all that it seeks after and embraces. The yogis call it Maya: Cosmic Delusion. It is only a dream, yet everyone runs after it, turning away from God the sole Reality.

For the Most High uncovered my inward being towards him, and filled me with his love.

Our consciousness, our “inward being,” languishes beneath innumerable veils of ignorance accumulated through past lives beyond number, many of them pre-human. The only solution to our present dilemma is the removal of those veils. Therefore the odist tells us that God himself removed those coverings and turned his inner consciousness toward himself.

Enlightenment is a divine action upon the individual spirit, but the individual must know the way to fulfill the aspiration: “my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalms 42:2). For the prophet Micah asked: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” (Micah 6:6). And Saint Paul exhorts us: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). At the core (kardia: heart) of our being God is enthroned as our divine Source and Sustainer. Therefore our spirit-consciousness itself is his throne, and when we enter it the Divine Light will begin dissolving the veils of ignorance along with the karmas they caused us to incur. Meditation that directly invokes the divine Power and Consciousness that is God, is the way to uncover our own eternal divinity.

And this became my salvation, and I ran in the Way in his peace, in the way of truth.

The great non-dual philosopher of India, Shankara, insisted in his many writings that jnana, knowledge, was the single factor of enlightenment, although obviously countless other things were assists and even essentials. Here we have the same principle expressed poetically: at the vanishment of ignorance came the dawning of divine, spiritual knowledge: and that was salvation. But enlightenment was not the end, it was a virtual beginning, for “I ran in the Way in his peace, in the way of truth.” The dawning of knowledge may be salvation, but dawn itself is a beginning. We have to sprint unerringly “in the way of truth” to become fully united with the Truth.

From the beginning and even to the end, I received his knowledge.

Here Shankara is again vindicated. Jnana is the alpha and omega of true salvation.

And I was established upon the rock of truth, where he had set me up.

What is this rock of truth upon which God wills us to be established? It is the sure knowing revealed to us by our spiritual intuition–not dogma or intellectual belief. The direct knowing of spiritual realities, either spontaneously from within or upon hearing of them, are both deep responses from the inmost reality, the spirit of the individual. Those who do not have such intuitions can gain them by cultivating their innate spirit-knowledge through the diligent practice of meditation.

And speaking waters drew near my lips, from the fountain of the Lord plenteously.

Those who are established on the rock of meditation will find that “living water” about which Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Saint John (7:38), saying that his disciples will find rivers of living water flowing out from their inmost being. In this verse of the ode, the speaker is describing how that water flowed to his lips, inspiring him to speak the words of eternal truth, and it flowed abundantly. There have been many instances in which yogis have gained tremendous knowledge spontaneously from within as a result of their sadhana.

In the thirty-fifth chapter of Autobiography of a Yogi mention is made of Brinda Bhagat, a postman. Brinda could not read and write, but when he aspired to be a postman he learned the Bengali alphabet and numbers so he could puzzle out the names and addresses on the letters. But that was all. Yet in time he came to possess vast, detailed knowledge without any study. Once when he was present at a very heated debate between outstanding scholars who could not be reconciled, Brinda said he wanted to say something. Everyone told him to be quiet, but he proceeded to completely clarify the question by making many quotations in Sanskrit from very technical and obscure texts.

A sadhu in Rishikesh, Swami Satchidananda, had only received an elementary public education. But one night in the nineteen-sixties, after having prayed fervently, he instantly knew the entire four Vedas by heart.

Around the same time in Greece it was the custom for senior students at the theological school in Thessalonika to be taken to Mount Athos to visit a monastery whose librarian was a remarkable monk. The students would ask him very involved and subtle theological questions. He would point to various books that contained the answers and quote the relevant passages to them. But he had never read those books. In fact, he never read anything at any time.

And I drank and was inebriated with the living waters that do not die.

Yogananda often said that two things were experience of the Divine: seeing light in meditation and feeling profound bliss. This is the holy inebriation of the truly sober who will not die, having been made immortal by the living waters from within.

And my inebriation was not one without knowledge, but I forsook vanity.

Many people think the purpose of meditation is to “get high,” but the sole purpose of meditation is liberation of the spirit, the expansion of consciousness. And expansion of consciousness manifests as illumined intelligence. That is again why Shankara continually emphasized that the prime necessity is jnana: knowledge gained by direct spiritual experience. Vijnana, the Supreme Knowledge, is inseparable from liberation. Therefore the search for knowledge is essential. The speaker in this ode is showing us that spiritual life is not getting “blissed out,” but gaining the knowledge which the Living Waters of Spirit bestow. Further, his knowledge was not theoretical or philosophical but practical. And it manifested through enabling him to see through ordinary “reality” as illusion and impelling him to turn away from it to the Real. We must all be sannyasis through yoga: renouncers of all that engender ignorance and bondage.

And I turned to the Most High my God, and I was enriched by his bounty.

Some people who made a business out of yoga once told me with great seriousness: “People do not want anything that hints of renunciation.” That may be so, but Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” still apply. So also do his very next words: “And all these things shall be added unto you.” Those who do not seek God first are the real renouncers: they renounce everything, for only in God can anything be really gained or held on to. In chapter seven of Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda gives us this example of wisdom:

“Master, you are wonderful!” A student, taking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage [Nagendranath Bhaduri]. “You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom!” It was well-known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he entered the yogic path.

“You are reversing the case!” The saint’s face held a mild rebuke. “I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!”

Those who turn to God will be enriched by his bounty; those who turn to the world will be impoverished by its poverty. The choice is simple and clear.

And I forsook the folly cast away over the earth, and I stripped it off and cast it from me.

This is wisdom. Icons of Saint Anthony the Great, the patriarch of Christian monks, often show him holding a scroll with these words: “I saw the snares of evil spread out upon the earth.” Nearly three hundred years before Saint Anthony the odist had the same vision. Folly is broadcast like seed over the whole earth. Now the odist perceived that he was clothed or covered in it, so he did not go around pointing the finger at others, like drunks who go around saying “You’re drunk” to everyone else. He knew the problem lay with him. So he ruthlessly stripped it all off and threw it away. Saint Francis began his spiritual life in a court of law before a crowd of people by taking off all his clothes and tossing them to his father, saying that henceforth God alone was his father and support. And see what great results he got by doing that.

We are of heaven, not of earth, but intellectually knowing that is not enough: we must free ourself of all it entails and transcend the wheel of earthly birth and death. It is all a matter of consciousness.

And the Lord renewed me in his garment, and possessed me by his light.

The Psalmist tells us that God covers himself with Light as with a garment (Psalms 104:2), and Saint Paul says that God is “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (I Timothy 6:16). Yet, when the odist stripped off the world God clothed him in his unapproachable and unseeable light. God’s Light cannot be seen or approached by earthbound, human consciousness, but the eternal spirit of each one of us can see, enter and unite with It. God will clothe us with himself and make us one with him. This is an excellent exchange for a perishable world filled with infinite possibilities for suffering, decay and death.

And from above he gave me rest without corruption, and I became like the land which blossoms and rejoices in its fruits.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27), said the Lord Jesus. Regarding the spiritual rest intended for those who seek it, Saint Paul wrote: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9-10). Actually the first word translated “rest” is sabbatismos: Sabbath. This implies that the seventh “day” or level of consciousness that is God Consciousness is possible of attainment, an attainment that cannot be lost to any degree (“without corruption”). Those who attain this level of divine realization blossom and rejoice in their possession of the “kingdom that knows no end.”

And the Lord was like the sun, shining upon the face of the land. my eyes were enlightened, and my face received the dew. And my soul was refreshed, by the pleasant fragrance of the Lord. And he carried me into his paradise, wherein is the abundance of the pleasure of the Lord.

This is of course all symbolic, employing very Biblical language. The idea is that the odist was enlightened, renewed, made aware of the presence of God and lifted into the highest level of awareness known in Sanskrit as Satchidananda, the state of blissful, conscious Reality.

I beheld blooming and fruit-bearing trees. And self-grown was their crown. Their branches were sprouting, and their fruits were shining. From an immortal land were their roots. And a river of joy was watering them, and round about them in the land of eternal life.

Now he is describing in symbols the spiritual qualities of those perfected beings who live in Satyaloka, the highest world, so we can have somewhat of an understanding of their exalted attainment.

I beheld blooming and fruit-bearing trees.

One question has often been asked by those whose philosophy affirm that human beings are meant to be raised to divinity, that such is their destiny based on their innate nature. The question is: Does the evolving individual come to an end of growth, or is there eternal progression? The answer of the saints of the East, including the Christian East, is that there is a final attainment, but it shall unfold eternally, that the illumined spirit, being finite, will explore the Infinite infinitely; that there is an end to evolution that really is only the beginning of endless manifestation. One very interesting aspect of this is the assertion that the perfect ones can choose to be either unchanging or ever-changing: ever-changingly unchangeless or changelessly ever-changing. This sounds like mere word juggling for mystification, but when we realize that we are destined for a state of divinity, it only follows that we will be as inexpressible and incomprehensible as God, who continually manifests contradictory modes of being: at least so it appears to his finite observers. For we will remain ever finite, God alone being infinite. God is always God and we are always god within God.

And self-grown was their crown.

This is extremely important. The “crown” of our evolution is totally self-produced. Neither God nor any other being in the entire range of existence can bring about our enlightenment and liberation. Nor can any outer event or condition make it happen. It is all up to us. It truly is “the flight of the alone to the Alone.” To be as truly one as God is, we must complete our spiritual journey by our self-effort alone. As God is one without a second, we have to approximate that situation and also be as though we are the sole existent being. We must do it all on our own. This is an inviolable law. That is why from the beginning the aspirant must strive to be independent and self-sufficient, even though relying on the grace and power of God. It is like when we were children and our parents gave us the money with which we bought their Christmas presents. The money came from them, but the buying was exclusively ours.

Now some people do not like growing up and accepting adult responsibility. We see it all the time, and can find the trait in ourselves on occasion when the situation evokes it. Religion is especially prone to induce childishness, if not outright infantilism, in its adherents. There is constant insistence on our helplessness, weakness, ignorance, unworthiness and sinfulness in contrast to God, who is exactly the opposite of all these things. So the conclusion is that God has to do it all for us, we need only take refuge or “surrender” and all will be done for us, otherwise we are guilty of egotistical presumption and over-confidence. This nonsense is blasphemy of both God and man. As Krishna says: “Stand up resolved to fight” (2:37).

The Bhagavad Gita is a perfect illustration of the right attitude. The Mahabharata from which it is extracted tells us that when it was obvious after years of Krishna’s attempt at peace that war was inevitable, Arjuna his friend and Duryodhana his enemy went to see what side Krishna would take in the war. He astounded them by saying that one of them could have his army and the other could have him, but he would not fight. Duryodhana was in a sweat, sure that Arjuna would ask for the army and he would be left with Krishna, whom he hated. But Arjuna chose Krishna and asked that he would be his charioteer. Krishna agreed, but again said that he would not fight. Arjuna said he understood, but Krishna’s presence was enough for him.

Krishna represents God’s presence in our heart, and Arjuna represents each one of us. God will illumine us as to how we should fight, but the fighting will be all up to us. Of course, in God’s wisdom we will conquer, but still the conquering will be ours to do. Substituting God or a “savior” is mere evasion and if we insist on it we will lose the battle and then whine about how God knows that we are “but dust” and sinners by nature. As long as we cling to that hardly-comforting delusion we will never manage anything but our own defeat.

Their branches were sprouting, and their fruits were shining.

The saints live in eternal springtime: it is always the season for growth and fruitfulness. There is no time when growth cannot or should not take place. For the aspirant there must always be a forward movement. There is a legend, perhaps truth, that in one battle of the American Civil War the drummer boy was killed. Another took his place and when the commander told him to sound the retreat he said that he only knew how to sound a really good charge. The commander considered it a sign and told him to go ahead. He did, and they won the battle.

From an immortal land were their roots.

This is the secret of spiritual success: our roots, our inmost consciousness must be in our immortal part, our divine spirit. Our minds and hearts must draw on the intuition and inspiration of spirit. That is why Krishna told Arjuna in the Gita: “They speak of the eternal ashwattha tree with roots above and branches below” (15:1).

And a river of joy was watering them, and round about them in the land of eternal life.

They were immersed in the water of life, so how could they be anything but living? The Bible has a bit to say about living waters, and so did Jesus. On one occasion “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his inmost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

And I worshipped the Lord on account of his glory.

This is possible only for those that have seen the divine glory. Only such persons can intelligently and rightly worship God. How to see the glory? Through purification of body, mind and soul and meditation.

And I said, Blessed O Lord, are they who are planted in Thy land, and those who have a place in Thy Paradise.

Originally our consciousness was in God, but long, long, long ago it got transplanted to the earth. This was necessary, but we lost our way and now wander. We must replant ourselves in the world, the consciousness, of God and begin to live in Paradise, the true home of humanity. Then we can grow into the next level of angelic evolution. (See Robe of Light, which explains this.)

And who grow in the growth of Thy trees, and have changed from darkness to light.

There is a pattern for our growth inherent in us from the moment we entered into the realm of relative existence. But we have lost touch with that–and it with us. So we fail to become what we were supposed to be. Once again, it is meditation that will put us back on the right way to proceed and grow “from darkness to light.”

Behold! all Thy laborers are fair, who work good works, and turn from wickedness to Thy pleasantness.

Here we are given two prime traits of those who succeed in spiritual life: they do the good and turn from the evil. It also tells us that happiness is in God. The real “pursuit of happiness” is the pursuit of God-realization. “We are labourers together with God” (I Corinthians 3:9; see II Corinthians 6:1), and are told to: “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12).

And they have turned away from themselves the bitterness of the trees, when they were planted in Thy land.

The “trees” planted in an alien world, the mortal world, partake of bitterness until they become replanted in the divine world.

And everything was like Thy remnant–(Blessed are the workers of Thy waters)–and an eternal memorial of Thy faithful servants.

Dr. James Charlesworth (who advised our Brother Simeon in his translation that I am using for this commentary) renders the first part of this verse: “And everything becomes a remnant of Yourself.” The idea is that we are eternally part of God: he is the whole and we are the parts. Yet, we are one with him in an inexplicable manner which we cannot intellectually comprehend but which we can experience for ourselves through meditation. Knowing we are part of God’s infinite Life is true salvation. It is our blessed privilege to be “workers” in the waters of life, keeping the example of the saints, God’s faithful servants, before us as worthy patterns and examples.
For there is abundant room in Thy Paradise, and nothing is useless [“barren” according to Charlesworth] therein, but everything is filled with fruit.

To ensure our place in the Paradise of God we must be useful and not barren of spiritual fruit. Indeed, we must be filled with the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:… For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9). For in Paradise there is “abundant room.” That is, there are no limits to the scope of the consciousness of those who dwell there. Infinity is theirs for the experiencing.

Glory be to Thee O God, the delight of Paradise for ever.

Those who live in Paradise live in the consciousness of God, and in that is their delight. For, as Yogananda often emphasized: God is ever-new joy, eternally the delight and rejoicing of the perfected spirits.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 12

(Visited 286 time, 1 visit today)

The Odes of Solomon for Awakening links:

Notes on the Odes of Solomon by the translator

The text of the Odes of Solomon

The Odes of Solomon for Awakening:

(Visited 286 time, 1 visit today)