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The Odes of Solomon: 23

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

Joy is of the Saints, and who shall put it on but they alone?
Grace is of the elect, and who shall receive it but they who trust in it from the beginning?
Love is of the elect, and who shall put it on, but those who have possessed it from the beginning?
Walk ye in the knowledge of the Most High, and ye shall know the grace of the Lord without grudging, both to his exultation and to the perfection of his knowledge.
And his thought was like a letter, and his will descended from on high.
And it was sent from a bow like an arrow, which has been violently shot.
And many hands rushed to the letter, to seize it and to take it and to read it.
And it escaped from their fingers, and they were frightened by it and by the seal that was on it.
For it was not permitted to them to loose its seal, for the power that was over the seal was greater than they.
But those who saw it went after the letter, that they might know where it would land, and who should read it, and who should hear it.
But a wheel received it, and (the letter) came over it.
And there was with it a sign, of the kingdom and of the government.
And everything which was disturbing to the wheel, it mowed and cut down.
And it restrained a multitude of adversaries, and it buried rivers,
And crossed over and rooted up many forests, and made a broad way.
The head went down to the feet, for down to the feet ran the wheel, and that which had come upon it.
The letter was one of command, and hence all regions were gathered together.
And there was seen at its head a head which was revealed, even the Son of Truth from the Most High Father.
And he inherited and took possession of everything, and then the thought of the many was brought to naught.
Then all the seducers were rash and fled, and the persecutors became extinct and were blotted out.
And the letter became a large volume, which was entirely written by the finger of God.
And the Name of the Father was upon it, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to rule unto the ages of ages. Alleluia.

Joy is of the Saints, and who shall put it on but they alone?

There is a lot of talk about happiness in this world, but that only proves how little there really is to be had. Distraction is to be had aplenty and buzzes, thrills, chills and excitement. But they are only coverups for the emptiness and discontent within. The rishis of India discovered that God is ever-existent, conscious bliss. And since no one is in communion with God but the saints, they alone are anandamayi: “clothed” in joy. People go out looking for happiness as though it were a kind of material object to pick up, but in reality happiness and joy are attributes of the Divine. Consequently only those who seek God have any possibility of finding them. I have witnessed this for myself. As a child I met three saints in the church I belonged to. They had a tangible aura of joy around them all the time, and just being near them made everyone happy. One of them shone with perceptible light, and when I would come within fifteen or so feet from her I would feel a kind of fiery light coming from her. She was always immersed in joy. I never saw her in any other state. Through the years, and especially after I discovered yoga and went to India, I met holy people in very unexpected places, but they all emanated a positive joy. Some were well known and others were completely unknown, but they all lived in divine joy. So the answer to the search for happiness is to seek God diligently, for Jesus has assured us: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). This is not a promise but the enunciation of a cosmic law.

Grace is of the elect, and who shall receive it but they who trust in it from the beginning?

It is not generally known, but one of the major differences between Eastern and Western Christianity is the definition of grace. In Hebrew and Greek the words translated “grace” all mean “favor,” but both East and West consider grace to be something much more than an attitude of God toward us. The West believes that grace is a power, a force or energy created by God to assist humanity in its attempts to rise above its presently prevailing condition of spiritual alienation and debilitation. The East denies this emphatically, insisting that grace is not an energy, but God himself in communication with man. That is, grace is experience of the Divine, a partaking of the Divine Life. In Genesis God tells Abraham: “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1). The spiritual search is a search for God.

In both Hebrew and Greek the words translated “elect” mean “chosen.” Just who are the chosen? Saint Paul assures us that God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). God intends all human beings to ultimately know him, live in him and be one with him. This is not the Christianity most of us grew up in, but it is the real one.

So this verse means that those who awaken spiritually will know through their higher intuition that it is possible to seek and know God; and that will be the beginning of their divine quest. Those who seek shall find (Matthew 7:7), for as Saint Paul told the Athenian philosophers: “God… made the world and… all nations of men… that they should seek the Lord,… though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being… for we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:24, 26-28).

The word translated “offspring” is genos, which means “kind” or species. So Saint Paul is saying that human beings are of the same kind of being as God! We are all a part of God: the sages of all times and traditions have said so. God is infinite and we are finite, but God is our essential substance. That is why Tennyson, a mystic and prophet, wrote:

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower–but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Their absolute unity is indicated by his saying: “I should know what God and man is.” Therefore the seeking and finding of God is the most natural thing we can do.

Love is of the elect, and who shall put it on, but those who have possessed it from the beginning?

Of course we have possessed it from the beginning because God is love, and we have always been with (and within) him. As Saint John wrote: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (I John 4:16). “Putting on” God is the conscious awakening in God to find that, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God ever says to us: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (Luke 15:31).

Walk ye in the knowledge of the Most High, and ye shall know the grace of the Lord without grudging [Charlesworth: generously], both to his exultation and to the perfection of his knowledge.

As the sages of India knew thousands of years ago, and countless yogis have discovered in the meantime, it is knowledge (jnana), the knowing of God, that alone liberates the spirit. From that knowledge comes abundant grace (kripa) and mercy (daya) without diminishment or cessation. This leads ultimately to the experience of divine joy (paramananda) and the attainment of perfect Knowing in God (Brahmajnana). Then the evolutionary process is completed and the individual (jiva) is established in perfect liberation (moksha).

And his thought was like a Letter, and his will descended from on high.

In the book of Zechariah (5:1-2) the message of God is symbolized as a flying scroll coming to earth from above. So perhaps the odist had this in mind.

And it was sent from a bow like an arrow, which has been violently shot.

The idea here is that the divine communication occurs very quickly, often like a lightning strike. The effects may take quite some time in manifesting and being assimilated completely, but the initial contact is swift and revolutionary, even drastic. This has been my experience several times, and from conversations with other yogis I have learned that it is nearly always that way. For example, I knew more than one person that read Yogananda’s autobiography and after only a day or two found themselves on the way to Los Angeles to become his disciple.

Sister Vimala, a disciple of Swami Paramananda, founder of the Ananda Ashrama in La Crescenta, California, told me that she went with her mother to a lecture given by the Swami in Boston where he headed the Vedanta Center. Though they did not know him, as soon as they sat down in the auditorium someone came and asked that they see the Swami after the lecture. They did so and the Swami asked that they come and see him at the Vedanta Center the next day. They went and her mother did all the talking because Sister Vimala just sat there in total awe, experiencing what she had never known before. Finally her mother said to the Swami, and indicating her said: “Obviously she belongs to you.” He turned and asked: “Would you like to live in my new ashram in California.” She could only nod Yes. So in a short time she was on her way to a new and glorious life, instead of going to France to study the organ as she had planned and for which all arrangements had been made.

Let me tell you something very crucial regarding spiritual life: Those who hesitate and delay will lose their chance at spiritual life. You must reach out and grasp the opportunity! That is why Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence [literally: is seized], and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). And Saint Paul said we should “lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:12).

And many hands rushed to the Letter, to seize it and to take it and to read it. And it escaped from their fingers, and they were frightened by it and by the seal that was on it. For it was not permitted to them to loose its seal, for the power that was over the seal was greater than they.

Now we come to a most interesting phenomenon in religion. Some people are drawn to authentic spiritual teaching at first and then they turn or even run from it, because it really is beyond them to grasp and make their own through assimilation into their consciousness and lives.

But those who saw it went after the Letter, that they might know where it would land, and who should read it, and who should hear it. But a wheel received it, and (the Letter) came over it. And there was with it a sign, of the kingdom and of the government.

There are very interesting references by the prophet Ezekiel (1:16, 19-21; 3:13; 10:2, 6, 9, 12, 16, 19; 11:22) to beings who are simply described as “Wheels.” The mystical tradition of Eastern Christianity says that these beings are purely intellectual, that their wheel-like form is actually their mind which continually circles around the matrix of their awareness which is fixed on God alone: God is at the core of their consciousness. These Wheels exist only to love and to serve. So a Wheel became the bearer of the Letter and there appeared the sign of the kingdom, the rulership, of God. Thus the Letter became secure and unhindered.

And everything which was disturbing to the wheel, it mowed and cut down. And it restrained a multitude of adversaries, and it buried rivers, and crossed over and rooted up many forests, and made a broad way. The head went down to the feet, for down to the feet ran the wheel, and that which had come upon it.

The Wheel, like Saint John the Baptist, is preparing the way for the advent, the revelation, of the Letter. Everything that would oppose or hinder the Letter is being eliminated. And that includes those that are incapable of “reading” and following it–many of whom would outrightly reject it anyway once they understood its true nature which is opposed to the illusions and delusions they live in every moment. Further, its protective power encompassed its every aspect, from head to foot.

The Letter was one of command, and hence all regions were gathered together. And there was seen at its head a head which was revealed, even the Son of Truth from the Most High Father.

Now we know what the Letter is: “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12; I Peter 1:13; Revelation 1:1).

And he inherited and took possession of everything, and then the thought of the many was brought to naught. Then all the seducers were rash and fled, and the persecutors became extinct and were blotted out. And the letter became a large volume, which was entirely written by the finger of God. And the Name of the Father was upon it, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to rule unto the ages of ages.

This is the true situation of the authentic Gospel, for “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

When we look at the world around us it does not seem that the Gospel is triumphant: quite the contrary. But it is in truth triumphant in those who are willing and able to unite with it and become transmuted in their consciousness and entire being. What we see here is the glory of the Gospel on the inner levels of being. And those levels are accessed only by those who consciously and effectively seek their own Christhood. They dwell in an altogether different world from those who wander unaware or disinterested in the inner Christ-life. In them the Gospel is trampled underfoot. But in the worthy seekers it is exalted in triumph. For them eternal life has already been won, and they live in its continually unfolding revelation, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 24

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