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The Odes of Solomon: 20

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

I am a priest of the Lord, and to him I do priestly service.
And to him I offer the offering of his thought.
For his thought is not like the world, nor like the flesh, nor like them who worship according to the flesh.
The offering of the Lord is righteousness, and purity of heart and lips.
Offer thy inward being faultlessly, and let not thy compassion oppress compassion, and let not thyself oppress anyone.
Thou shouldest not purchase a stranger by the blood of thy soul, nor seek to deceive thy neighbor, nor deprive him of the covering for his nakedness.
But put on the grace of the Lord without stint, and come into his Paradise, and make for thyself a crown from his tree.
And put it on thy head and be joyful, and recline upon his rest.
And his glory shall go before thee, and thou shalt receive of his kindness and his grace, and thou shalt be anointed in truth with the praise of his holiness.
Praise and honor to his Name. Alleluia.

I am a priest of the Lord, and to him I do priestly service.

In the book of Revelation we find these relevant verses: “[Jesus Christ] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:6). “[Thou] hast made us unto our God kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10). “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection… they shall be priests of God and of Christ” (Revelation 20:6).

Saint Peter wrote to all Christians: “Ye also are… an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5). “Ye are a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9).

And to him I offer the offering of his thought.

This would be impossible to understand if we did not know what was meant by someone’s “thought” at the time the odes were written. “Thought” was the state of consciousness in which a person continually dwelt. That is why one of the earliest desert fathers said that no one in the entire desert could “hold the thought” of Saint Anthony the Great. He did not mean intellectual concepts, but the level of spiritual consciousness in which the saint ever dwelt. Yogis use the Sanskrit term bhava, which A Brief Sanskrit Glossary defines as: “subjective state of being (existence); attitude of mind; mental attitude or feeling; state of realization in the heart or mind.”

Divine (or divinized) consciousness is the only thing we can really offer God, for it is the only thing that is the same as Divine Being. Words and feelings mean nothing, for they are far from the heights of Divine Consciousness.

The priestly service we owe to God, then, is the attaining of the highest spiritual consciousness, linking ourselves to the Divine Consciousness and remaining in that Consciousness. Anything less is unacceptable. “Therefore, be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).

For his thought is not like the world, nor like the flesh, nor like them who worship according to the flesh.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This description of God’s thought is important for us, because our consciousness must become the same.

Not like the world.

This is profound, and so far-reaching that I could never encompass it completely. So the best thing is for us to think of any characteristic of the world, both the material world and the artificial world of human society, and realize that any consciousness corresponding to it is not just unacceptable, it is incompatible with the Divine.

Nor like the flesh.

The same analysis should be done regarding the material body.

Nor like them who worship according to the flesh.

Fleshly (material) religion disqualifies us for divine contact. As Saint John says: “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (I John 4:5). They orient themselves entirely toward the world because it is the world they want to recruit. (Or recruit themselves to the world; sometimes you cannot tell the difference.) Realizing that people rarely actually change, their whole approach is to accommodate the ignorance and delusions of the world while offering a veneer of religiosity that is usually comprised of platitudes and momentary emotional highs. The higher they fly, the lower they fall, but it does not matter, because “they have their reward,” just like the religionists of Jesus’ day (Matthew 6:2).

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Only by going within and contacting him can we worship God, for we ourselves are the temples of God (I Corinthians 6:19), who “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24).

The offering of the Lord is righteousness, and purity of heart and lips.

Righteousness is not the following of external rules and parroting of theological formulas, it is the learning and applying of the spiritual laws that lead us to communion with God. One of the “ten commandments of yoga” is Purity (Yoga Sutras 2:32). “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3). Our lips cannot be pure if our heart is not pure, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Our consciousness itself must be purified thoroughly. Then: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). How can we accomplish all this, raising ourselves to such spiritual heights?

Offer thy inward being faultlessly.

This is impossible without meditation and holding on to the level of consciousness produced by meditation. Our meditation, to be a worthy offering, must be faultless both in method and result. The purpose of meditation must be completely realized; nothing can be lacking, nor can anything extraneous be intruded. We must know the way, follow the way and be established in the way.

And let not thy compassion oppress compassion.

Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru often said: “Too much of a good thing is no longer good.” It is not uncommon to see virtues turned into vice through misapplication or misplacement. There comes to mind the old joke about the boy scout who came to the scout meeting bruised, scratched and with his clothes torn. “What happened to you?” demanded the scoutmaster. “I helped an old lady cross the street,” was the answer. “But how did you get like this?” asked the scoutmaster. “She didn’t want to go across the street!”

A lot of do-gooders and would-be helpers of others create a lot of misery and oppression in this world. English and American literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries abounded in stories of “charity” that was cruelty and “helping” that was persecution and subjugation. Today’s Nanny States throughout the world are busily ruining lives, blinded by their unquestioning and destructive ignorance. We must not make the same mistakes in our personal lives. Caring and wanting to help are not justifications for action (or speech). Intelligence based on spiritual insight is also essential.

And let not thyself oppress anyone.

The previous section applies here, too. It is so easy to annoy and oppress others by self-righteous assurance. “I just want what’s good for you,” “I am only thinking of you,” and “I just want you to be happy,” are rationalizations for outrageous behavior and bullying on the part of millions. And families lead the list.

When I was in high school I met an outstandingly intelligent and mature girl and we often spoke together when riding the bus to school. In her last year of high school she became acquainted with a friend of mine from church who was really an ideal young man that everyone respected. He asked her to marry him, she accepted, and her family went berserk because they had someone “better” in mind. They locked her in her room, told the school she was seriously ill, and daily beat her. She escaped, finished school and married my friend. Wisely they immediately moved to another state where a major company had heard of his abilities while he was still in high school and had recruited him.

A friend of mine knew a girl whose parents did not like her “going to church so much.” So they kept her locked in her room, took her to and from school and back to the locked room. They assured her that after she graduated they would find employment for her and would continue the routine! my friend and some others reported the situation to the local authorities who removed her from her parent’s house and she lived her own life.

Think what horrible trauma both of these girls went through at the hands of those who claimed they loved her and wanted the best for her. We must not do the same under the guise of righteousness and spirituality. Throughout history religion has been second only to government in the matters of repression and persecution.

Thou shouldest not purchase a stranger by the blood of thy soul.

This is a vital counsel. We dare not sacrifice our spiritual welfare, the blood of our soul, to please or placate someone. People make this terrible mistake over and over. In commerce we see it considered a virtue: do anything to make a sale or gain the good will or patronage of someone who can benefit us. Politicians lie all the time to get votes. People sell their souls to make peace with the incorrigible, insisting it is a virtue to do so. People surrender their inner life so others will like or respect them. I have seen people destroy their souls to get into the favor of others, and especially to win or keep someone they are in love with. Both men and woman continually turn from higher life because of their spouse or family. Sometimes people compromise their integrity to supposedly help others, considering this a noble thing to do. Entire spiritual groups spiritually prostitute themselves to get members, abandoning principles they know are right but which repel the shallow and selfish. I was brought up in just such a church. “Will remodel to suit tenant” applies to contemporary religion in the West as much as to real estate.

Nor seek to deceive thy neighbor.

Fooling anyone, even “for their own good,” is incompatible with spiritual life. Modern life is an edifice of lies on a foundation of lies built by liars. We are so used to it that we do not see the enormity of the situation. Deception is the order of the day, from advertising to “social norms.” To be truthful in word, thought and deed is imperative: this cannot be emphasized too much.

Nor deprive him of the covering for his nakedness.

There are many ways to steal, some material, some intellectual, some social and some spiritual. We must scrutinize our ways to be sure we are not ourselves socially acceptable thieves.

But put on the grace of the Lord without stint. It has astonished me from childhood that people plunge entirely into external pursuits of all sorts and become thoroughly absorbed in them, but when it comes to religion they are minimalists supreme. After all, they do not want to become extreme or fanatical! People will sacrifice anything and risk their lives to satisfy their desires and egos, but will not even inconvenience themselves for spiritual life. When I was very young I read this verse:

No driving rain can make us stay
If we have tickets for the play.
But let one drop the walk besmirch
It’s far too wet to go to church.

In her autobiography Saint Teresa of Liseaux tells of how as a small child she was asked to choose something from a number of things. “I will take them all,” she announced, and did so. This, she says, is how we must be in spiritual life: we should want all God intends for us and give everything to receive it. As the odist says, we must “put on the grace of the Lord without stint.” This, too, requires “the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26).

As a child I sang this song in church many times:

Since Jesus gave his life for me,
Should I not give him mine?
I’m consecrated, Lord, to Thee,
I shall be wholly Thine.

My home and friends are dear to me,
Yet he is dearer still;
In my affections first he’ll be,
And first his righteous will.

My all, O Lord, to Thee I’ll give,
Accept it as Thine own;
For Thee alone I’ll ever live,
My heart shall be Thy throne.

My life, O Lord, I give to Thee,
My talents, time, and all;
I’ll serve Thee, Lord, Thine own to be,
I’ll hear Thy faintest call.

And come into his Paradise, and make for thyself a crown from his tree.

Those who unreservedly dedicate themselves to the search for God will indeed come into his paradise and make for themselves a crown from the blossoms and leaves of the tree of life. We make the crown ourselves by our daily life and spiritual practice, for God has assured us: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

And put it on thy head and be joyful, and recline upon his rest. And his glory shall go before thee, and thou shalt receive of his kindness and his grace, and thou shalt be anointed in truth with the praise of his holiness.

This needs no commentary, only attaining!

Praise and honor to his Name. Amen.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 21

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