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The Odes of Solomon: 18

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

My heart was lifted up and enriched in the love of the Most High, that I might praise him by my name.
My members were strengthened, that they might not fall from his power.
Sickness removed from my body, and it stood firm for the Lord by his will; for his kingdom is firm.
O Lord, for the sake of them that are deficient, do not cast off from me Thy Word.
Nor for the sake of their works do Thou withhold from me Thy perfection.
Let not the light be conquered by the darkness, nor let truth flee away from falsehood.
Let Thy right hand bring our salvation to victory, and receive from all quarters, and preserve (us) from all who are held in bonds.
Thou art my God–falsehood and death are not in Thy mouth, only perfection is Thy will.
And vanity Thou knowest not, for neither doth it know Thee.
And error Thou knowest not, for neither doth it know Thee.
And ignorance appeared like dust, and like the scum of the sea.
And vain people supposed that it was great, and they came to resemble it and became empty.
And those who knew understood and meditated and were unpolluted in their meditations, because they were in the mind of the Most High.
And they mocked those who were walking in error.
Then they spoke the truth, from the inspiration which the Most high breathed into them.
Praise and great beauty to his Name. Alleluia.

My heart was lifted up and enriched in the love of the Most High, that I might praise him by my name.

In every traditional liturgy, whatever the form, there is always a point before the Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy,…”) when the celebrant calls out to the people: “Lift up your hearts.” Spiritual laziness (rooted in spiritual indifference) wants God to come down to us, but the whole idea of all authentic religion is our elevation for the purpose of communion with God. So even though the Holy Eucharist is a descent of the divine upon the earth, we are exhorted to continually lift our consciousness into the heights, into the Light of the Son (and sons) of God which is our true home, our intended dwelling-place for eternity.

How is this done? By purifying our entire being and entering our inmost Self where we can commune with God directly. Meditation is the process of both purification and entry: meditation supported by the purification and conformity of all the external aspects of our existence to the laws of God. Without this purification spiritual life is impossible.

This elevation of our awareness will result in increase of love for God and the ability to make our life an entire hymn of praise to him. Obviously this can only be done when God is the prime focus of our entire life at all times.

My members were strengthened, that they might not fall from his power.

This is very important to know: right meditation makes us stronger and more stable, not over-sensitive, fragile and incapable of meeting life head-on successfully. Because of the negative religious currents of both East and West, it is common for people to think that spiritual people are unworldly and even anti-world, needing to keep away from nearly everything and live withdrawn and indrawn: spiritually inbred. It is also considered that incompetence is somehow a mark of spirituality, as is poverty and shabbiness. This is completely wrong, and opposite to the truth.

Spiritual life makes us able to hold firmly to the life of the spirit which is the life of power, because all power emanates from spirit. If we look at the genuine saints of all traditions we will see that they accomplished far more than ordinary people, and their influence continues after their earthly life for centuries and even millennia. They were extremely active and creative in their action. Further, they kept going until the end, never letting up or retiring. We must be and do the same.

Sickness removed from my body, and it stood firm for the Lord by his will; for his kingdom is firm.

Here is another common myth exploded. Saints do not languish and suffer, feeble and holding to life by a frayed thread. There have been exceptions, but the majority of saints, even if ill, are filled with vigor and free from weakness. Their bodies are vessels of the power of God. God is not weak and ineffectual, so it is not godly to be so ourselves.

I can tell you from decades of experience that right meditation is the supreme corrective and healer. Weakness and illness are banished by prolonged meditation practice. I have never seen authentic meditation weaken or waste the body: just the opposite.

Healing and health are indications of spiritual life. I know that religions like to hold the opposite view because their negativity produces misery and suffering, which they claim ennobles the human being, but this is just a cover for the truth that they are false, worthless and even destructive. Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

After having healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, “afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you” (John 5:14). This indicates that physical illness and deficiency come from personal negativity. Spiritual life, however, is a life of purification and therefore frees us from the effects of negativity. There is no virtue in the continued results of sin: indeed it is impossible for those correctly treading the spiritual path. True religion frees from sin and therefore from sickness and limitation.

O Lord, for the sake of them that are deficient, do not cast off from me Thy Word. Nor for the sake of their works, do Thou withhold from me Thy perfection.

Now we come to the hazards of dealing with spiritually incompetent people. Sri Ramakrishna said that we can exhaust all our spiritual resources just getting unqualified people to take up spiritual life, and then they will fall back into their former condition, leaving us devoid of the inner strength we expended on them. Association with the unfit can render us unfit. So the odist prays not to fall into the pit along with the unworthy he might try to help. All viable spiritual traditions tell us to be careful in our dealings with others that are unfit for spiritual life. The best thing for them and us is to leave them alone. As the prophet said: “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4:17). Jesus agreed, saying: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6).

Let not the light be conquered by the darkness, nor let truth flee away from falsehood.

This is a serious insight. The light we possess can be conquered by darkness if we do not firmly hold to it. Further, the truth we now know can be vanquished by falsehood if we accede to it and do not resist it. I have seen this throughout my life: people’s “light” being extinguished by turning back to their former darkness, forgetting the truth they had learned and returning to their discarded ignorance and delusion.

Let Thy right hand bring our salvation to victory, and receive from all quarters, and preserve (us) from all who are held in bonds.

Spiritual life in all its forms is essentially the invoking of the divine Light which is our only true nature. It is this Light and its inherent power that is the right hand of God. By attuning ourselves to it and being filled with it ever more and more, the spiritual growth we have attained will ultimately result in permanent victory over all that covers and hinders our innate divinity. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.… Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:53-54, 57-58).

Even more, this divine Light draws more light to itself and therefore to us “from all quarters,” ever increasing our spiritual strength. We need to be strong to be safe from the onslaughts of all the forces of bondage and those that are enslaved by them. For it is a fact that to ascend in consciousness we must overcome the gravitational pull of ignorance and bondage that prevails in ourselves and others. We will be opposed by our own inner negativity and that of the world and those who are in bondage to it. And of those who are not strong and vigilant it will be as Saint Peter wrote: “It is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:22). All the whining and accusation in the world on their part cannot cover up this simple fact: They are back in the mud. (And maybe never really got out of it.)

The word dioko that is translated “persecution” means that which is intended to overcome and pressure us into failure and defeat through surrender of our ideals and our adherence to them. This comes in many forms and in many manners. But come it does, we can be assured. However, “in all these things we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) if we persevere in our pursuit of higher consciousness.

It is a plain fact that those who are bondservants of ignorance and illusion are oftentimes bitter and determined opponents of those who seek to be free. They do not enter into the kingdom of light and do all they can to prevent the entry of others (Matthew 23:13). Jesus told his disciples: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). And the Beloved Disciple: “Cain slew his brother because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:12-13). So we will be in good company. However, we should mind our own business and do our best, not seeking the opposition of those of a different cast of mind. As Saint Paul counsels us: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

Thou art my God–falsehood and death are not in Thy mouth, only perfection is Thy will.

Here is an amazing principle: falsehood in any form is equated with death. Why? Because we will forfeit our spiritual life if we are not honest and forthright at all times, including our resistance to opposition from the children of darkness who detest the children of light.

Nothing should deflect us from the divine purpose for us. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:3). “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).

And vanity Thou knowest not, for neither doth it know Thee.

“Vanity” is translated from four words in the Bible: three Hebrew and one Greek. Hebel means that which is totally insubstantial like mist. Shav means that which is empty and therefore false, nothingness in the absolute sense. Reek means that which is empty, to no purpose, idle and vain. Mataiotes means that which is devoid of truth and therefore insubstantial and thoroughly weak. Frankly, all these are applicable to our illusions and delusions as well as to the world of ignorance and evil. Those who cling to vanity and abide in it as a mode of life and thought cannot know the Reality which is God.

And error Thou knowest not, for neither doth it know Thee.

“Error” is translated from six words in the Bible: five Hebrew and one Greek. Shal means something that is both a mistake and a fault. Meshugah means to stray. Shegagah means ignorance and unawareness. Towah means hindrance, wandering, and confusion. Shaluw means failure and neglect. Plane means deceit, deception, delusion, straying and wandering about, and wrong opinion which leads into error, deceit or fraud. As Isaiah said: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6) rather than the way of God.

The ordinary human condition is one of confusion, delusion, illusion, self-deception and outright unconsciousness. In fact the human condition can be summed up in a single word: unconscious. Since a human being does not know himself, there is no hope of his knowing God, or even having a right idea about God, his nature, his purpose for mankind and his relationship to humanity. This is not a criticism but a lament, for Western religion does nothing but compound the tragedy, and Eastern religion often does little to alleviate the situation. This is why Jesus said that few would be saved. “Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24) due to the prevailing condition of man. He did not mean that ultimately only few would be saved, for it was a fundamental tenet of original Christianity that all will eventually be saved, but that at this point in the evolutionary cycle of humanity in general only a comparatively few at a time are escaping the grinding wheel of rebirth.

And ignorance appeared like dust, and like the scum of the sea.

The happy aspect of this is the fact that dust and scum are only overlays, not part of what they overlie. Therefore ignorance obscures our vision but cannot obliterate our sight. All that is needed, then, is for the dust and scum to be cleared away and the innate perfection and awareness is made manifest. No matter how terrible the condition of man and society may be, it never is the reality, only the appearance. This is is why yoga meditation is the hope of the world, for it reveals the truth of ourselves to us. We do not need a voice from heaven, a new scripture or another teacher. We only need Self-knowledge. Then freedom is gained.

And vain people supposed that it was great, and they came to resemble it and became empty.

Someone once said: “The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along.” This is nowhere more evident than in religion. The less people know, the more they think they know; the less they have a reason to believe, the more confident they are. It is a colossal monument to a colossal egotism equaled only by its ignorance. The more false a thing is the more the ignorant love it, and the more foolish a thing is the more the ignorant pursue it. We have actually come to a point in time where really good frauds are never successful, but the cheap, silly and obvious frauds are acclaimed on all sides. Only “bad acts” are acceptable, and trash of all sorts is tremendously popular.

Speaking of reputation and fame, Jesus said: “These are but worthless baubles of the day; they rise and sink, like empty bottles on a stream; they are illusions and will pass away; they are the indices to what the thoughtless think; they are the noise that people make; and shallow men judge merit by noise” (Aquarian Gospel 27:8-9).

Just as there will always be those who prefer the fake to the genuine, so it will be in spiritual matters. People may be deluded, but they have an unerring sense of the true and the false: they avoid the true and flock to the false. It is very much like Lady From Lisbon, a motion picture made in the 1940’s. The “Lady” was the Mona Lisa which had been stolen from the Louvre during the upheavals of the Second World War. The thieves took it to Lisbon where people were able to travel freely, usually to the Western hemisphere. Once the news of the theft went out, several people made fake copies of the Mona Lisa and also came to Lisbon to sell them. Every one of the fakes sold readily, but no one would buy the real item. The reason? It looked fake to the prospective buyers, and the fakes looked real. In the photographic negative of an object the light areas are dark and the dark areas are light. The same is true in the judgment of negative, ignorant people. You can judge something by their reaction to it, knowing that the truth will be exactly the opposite to their opinion. Popularity and “public confidence” truly are only “the noise that people make.” And it is also true that “shallow men judge merit by noise.”

And those who knew understood and meditated and were unpolluted in their meditations, because they were in the mind of the Most High.

Here we find the contrast made between the knowers (gnostics) and the unknowers (agnostics). The ignorant idolize their ignorance and do everything they can to confirm and increase it. The gnostics do the same in relation to true knowledge, especially by meditation which elevates their consciousness above the ordinary levels into the Light that is the “mind of the Most High.” Thus their minds become purified from the darkness of ignorance and they “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).

And they mocked those who were walking in error.

The wise do not despise the ignorant, for they, too, were once as they, but they do point out their folly. Sri Ramakrishna used to make very funny jokes about those who were devoid of spiritual wisdom, but he loved them.

Then they spoke the truth, from the inspiration which the Most High breathed into them.

Illumined by their meditation, the wise can speak the truth; not from mere intellect, but “from the inspiration which the Most High breathed into them” in meditation.

Praise and great beauty to his Name. Certainly this is the response of those who follow the ways of the wise and come to know the Most High.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 19

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