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The Odes of Solomon: 25

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

I was rescued from my bonds, and unto Thee O my God I fled.
For Thou art the right hand of salvation, and my helper.
Thou hast restrained those who rise up against me, and they were seen no more.
Because Thy face was with me, which saved me by Thy grace.
But I was despised and rejected in the eyes of many, and I was in their eyes like lead.
And I acquired strength from Thee, and help.
Thou didst set me a lamp at my right and at my left, so that there might not be in me anything that is not light.
And I was covered with the covering of Thy Spirit, and I removed from me my garments of skin.
For Thy right hand lifted me up, and removed sickness from me.
And I became mighty in Thy truth, and holy in Thy righteousness.
And all those who are against me were afraid of me; and I became the Lord’s by the Name of the Lord.
And I was justified by his kindness, and his rest is for ever and ever. Alleluia.

I was rescued from my bonds, and unto Thee O my God I fled.

This is not always the case. Many times when people are freed from bonds and limitations they simply run after more of the same and become as bound as before. For many, terrible as it is, this bondage seems to b stability and security. Many times it has been observed that people who were virtual slaves of invalid relatives, with no life of their own whatsoever and pitied by all that knew them, upon the death of the invalid immediately sought out a similar person and became their total slave. This is so common that Agatha Christie put such a character in at least one of her plots, and another was featured in an episode of Mama’s Family on television.

However, there are the wise who, when their bonds are dissolved, go running to take refuge in God and seek to become established in the consciousness of God, not just formal religious piety. Such was the odist.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus spoke an entire parable about the bonds that keep human beings from going to God and fulfilling their eternal destiny:

“A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (Luke 14:16-24).

I have heard and observed a great number of excuses to shirk spiritual life, among them every single one of these in the parable. Basically these excuses fall into two categories: material possessions and personal relationships. Like many excuses I have heard, the first two are pretty silly. Will not the ground be there the next day? Or the oxen? What is so urgent about the seeing and the proving? And are they saying that they have bought the property and the oxen completely unseen and unexamined? That is impossible. So what they are really saying is: “I am not interested in your benevolence and hospitality.” And that is the most common reason I have encountered over several decades.

The third excuse is extremely tragic, for someone is forfeiting their spiritual life (and therefore their only possibility of real happiness, security and fulfillment) for the sake of another person who will certainly not be benefitted by their refusal. In fact, it is obvious that the host in the parable would welcome the man’s wife at his great supper. So both are deprived and the responsible one has turned from life unto death, from freedom unto bondage.

I have been observing this for over half a century: When you give up spiritual life for anything or anyone, you lose that thing or person and do not take up spiritual life afterward. Instead you wander empty and unaware until death. In the thirty-eighth ode there is a description of those who commit this grave error:

“And they [the forces of delusion] make them vomit up their wisdom and intelligence, and they make them mindless. And then they leave them, and so these go about like madmen and corrupt. For they are without heart, and do not seek it” (Ode 38).

So if we are wise we flee unto God, not after more enslavement.

For Thou art the right hand of salvation, and my helper.

In Mahayana Buddhist writings it is said that the moment a person decides to seek enlightenment, a host of buddhas and bodhisattwas become of aware of it and being helping him toward Nirvana. That is certainly true, but those holy beings are motived by the will of God who is the prime helper of all who seek higher consciousness. Our own divine nature also becomes our helper. So we and God in unison become “the right hand of salvation” and our “helper.” Success is ours as long as we maintain that desire and that unanimity.

Thou hast restrained those who rise up against me, and they were seen no more. Because Thy face was with me, which saved me by Thy grace.

There are many ways in which the spiritual aspirant can protect and further his spiritual life, but the surest way is by entering into the Divine Presence, for that alone ensures complete success, especially in the annihilation of that which hinders his spiritual development. Meditation is the surest means of coming into God’s Presence.

But I was despised and rejected in the eyes of many, and I was in their eyes like lead.

Few things are as disregarded or despised by the world than a dedicated spiritual aspirant. First of all, he is considered daft and unreasonable. Second, he is worthless as a lump of lead because he is of no use to the world, and even turns from it and hopes to end rebirth within it. So of course those who seek God and not the world are viewed as worse than useless. They are a detriment lest they infect others with their “folly.”

And I acquired strength from Thee, and help.

To God the seeker is not foolish or worthless. Those who take refuge in him unwaveringly will become strong in his strength and wise in his wisdom. Safety and peace will be theirs, for they trust in God alone in this untrustworthy world.

Thou didst set me a lamp at my right and at my left, so that there might not be in me anything that is not light.

God is the source of wisdom for those who turn from the folly of the world. They will find that whenever they need help and understanding it will come to them. If they follow that, they shall increase in understanding. If they neglect or refuse it, then the lamp goes out. Spiritual life is not easy, and often the wisdom of God is bitter to those that relish the illusions of the world. Often that which is required to carry on one’s spiritual progress is also distasteful and even painful to them. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?… From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:60, 66).

“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17, 21-22). This sad story has been repeated over and over since the beginning of time.

Regarding his master, Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda wrote in his autobiography: “Students came, and generally went. Those who craved a path of oily sympathy and comfortable recognitions did not find it at the hermitage. Master offered shelter and shepherding for the aeons, but many disciples miserly demanded ego-balm as well. They departed, preferring life’s countless humiliations before any humility. Master’s blazing rays, the open penetrating sunshine of his wisdom, were too powerful for their spiritual sickness. They sought some lesser teacher who, shading them with flattery, permitted the fitful sleep of ignorance.” So it has always been. We must see that it does not apply to us. It is not easy to become all light, but it is the only worthwhile thing to do.

And I was covered with the covering of Thy Spirit, and I removed from me my garments of skin.

When Adam and Eve fell from Paradise, “unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). That is, God created the human form for them to live in until they transcended the compulsion of the continual cycle of birth and death.

Those who persevere in their pursuit of spiritual life will become clothed in the Light of the Holy Spirit. And those who persist in that state shall find that the material side of their existence will become less and less until they are spirit and no longer matter. (This does not happen overnight!)

For Thy right hand lifted me up, and removed sickness from me.

Having aligned themselves with the will, the “right hand,” of God, the faithful seekers begin to rise in their consciousness and the terrible affliction of ignorance and their addiction to it lessens until it exists no more for them.

And I became mighty in Thy truth, and holy in Thy righteousness.

The loyal seeker becomes increasingly real, in proportion to the degree he divests himself from the falsehood of this unreal world. Passing increasingly from the unreal to the real, the light of holiness increases until righteousness is revealed as his true nature.

“They who worship me with devotion are in me, and I am also in them. If even an evildoer worships me single-heartedly, he should be considered righteous, for truly he has rightly resolved. Quickly he becomes a virtuous soul and goes to everlasting peace. Understand: no devotee of me is ever lost. Having come to this impermanent and unhappy world, devote yourself to me. With mind fixed on me, devoted, worshipping, bow down to me. Thus steadfast, with me as your supreme aim, you shall come to me” (Bhagavad Gita 9:29-31, 33-34).

And all those who are against me were afraid of me; and I became the Lord’s by the Name of the Lord.

Although we continually feel small and weak in this vast and mostly incomprehensible world, we are not so. All that opposes us is really weak when we stand up and walk the way of higher life. For we are in the strength of spirit before which all opposition flees.

Most important is the second clause because it give us practical information. By the invocation and meditation of the Divine Word we become the Lord’s own. This is the essence of the higher life.

In the Bhagavad Gita we are told: “Among the virtuous, four kinds seek me: the distressed, the seekers of knowledge, the seekers of wealth and the wise. Of them, the wise man, ever united, devoted to the One, is pre-eminent. Exceedingly dear am I to the man of wisdom, and he is dear to me. All these indeed are exalted, but I see the man of wisdom as my very Self. He, with mind steadfast, abides in me, the Supreme Goal” (7:16-18).

And I was justified by his kindness, and his rest is for ever and ever.

Drawing near to a fire makes us warm, and drawing near to God makes us just and true. Then we enter into the very heart of God and have perfect rest for ever and ever.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 26

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