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The Odes of Solomon: 38

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

I went up into the Light of Truth as into a chariot, and the Truth led me and caused me to come.
And it carried me across hollows and gulfs, and from the cliffs and gullies it preserved me.
And it became to me a Haven of Salvation, and set me on the step of deathless life.
And he went with me and made me rest and suffered me not to err, because he was and is the Truth.
And there was no danger for me because I walked with him, and I made no error in anything because I obeyed him.
For Error fled away from him, and would not meet him.
But Truth was proceeding in the right way, and whatever I did not know he made clear to me:
All the drugs of Error, and the torments of death which are considered sweetness.
And the corrupting of the Corruptor, I saw when the Bride who was corrupting was adorned, and the Bridegroom who corrupts and is corrupted.
And I asked the Truth: Who are these? and he said to me: This is the Deceiver and the Error:
And they imitate the Beloved and his Bride, and they lead astray the world and corrupt it.
And they invite many to the Banquet, and give them to drink of the wine of their intoxication.
And they 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.
And I was made wise so as not to fall into the hands of the Deceiver, and I congratulated myself that the Truth had gone with me.
And I was established and lived and was redeemed, and my foundations were laid on account of the Lord’s hand, for he planted me.
For he set the root, and watered it and endowed it and blessed it, and its fruits will be for ever.
It struck deep and sprang up and spread wide, and it was full and was enlarged.
And the Lord alone was glorified, in his planting and in his cultivation;
In his care and in the blessing of his lips, in the beautiful planting of his right hand;
And in the splendor of his planting, and in the understanding of his mind. Alleluia.

I went up into the Light of Truth as into a chariot, and the Truth led me and caused me to come.

The consciousness, the mind, of the odist is referred to here as ascending into the Light of Truth. What is that Light? In the first chapter of Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda relays the following experience from his early childhood.

“Sitting on my bed one morning, I fell into a deep reverie.

“‘What is behind the darkness of closed eyes?’ This probing thought came powerfully into my mind. An immense flash of light at once manifested to my inward gaze. Divine shapes of saints, sitting in meditation posture in mountain caves, formed like miniature cinema pictures on the large screen of radiance within my forehead.

“‘Who are you?’ I spoke aloud.

“‘We are the himalayan yogis.’ The celestial response is difficult to describe; my heart was thrilled.

“‘Ah, I long to go to the himalayas and become like you!’ The vision vanished, but the silvery beams expanded in ever-widening circles to infinity.

“‘What is this wondrous glow?’

“‘I am Ishwara. I am Light.’ The voice was as murmuring clouds.

“‘I want to be one with Thee!’

“Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God. This memory persisted long after the day of rapture.”

God is the ultimate Reality, seen by the yogi as Light. Yogananda often told his students that the subtle light they saw in meditation was God. The implication of this verse is that meditation is the way of ascent, which it certainly is. When the mind is purified and elevated by meditation, then God leads us onward into divine experience. It is not a physical movement, but a transformation of consciousness, which is the essential being of the meditator since pure consciousness and pure spirit are the same thing.

The final clause, “and the Truth led me and caused me to come,” sounds peculiar, though it is the literal meaning of the Aramaic text. It means that the odist was caused to move by the Light Itself. The Gayatri Mantra of India, the ancient prayer for enlightenment, says: “We meditate upon that Effulgent Being… may It impel us toward That.” The odist found his consciousness also impelled toward the Supreme Consciousness, the Supreme Light in which he ascended.

And it carried me across hollows and gulfs, and from the cliffs and gullies it preserved me.

The ever-changing nature of relative existence, including the mind itself, is a bane to anyone trying to accomplish something, and it is especially so for the yogi-mystic. This verse indicates that the Light of Truth (God) elevated the consciousness of the odist above the ups and downs that plague human beings. One of the traits necessary for enlightenment is steadiness of mind free from all fluctuation. This the odist attained in the Light of Truth.

And it became to me a Haven of Salvation, and set me on the step of deathless life.

The Light of Spirit is itself the haven of salvation, its peaceful abode. It is itself the goal, yet it also takes us to the goal, to itself. As Emily Dickinson said: “Instead of getting to heaven, at last–I’m going, all along.” The Light delivered the odist to the step, the threshold, of immortality itself.

And he went with me and made me rest and suffered me not to err, because he was and is the Truth.

Entering into immortal life, the odist was established there. Being in union with God, the Truth, the odist was preserved from all misperceptions, errors or wrong conclusions.

And there was no danger for me because I walked with him, and I made no error in anything because I obeyed him.

The condition of the odist was not merely passive, but he avoided the danger of illusion and delusion by actively aligning himself with God, “walking” with him and obeying that which God was revealing to his illumined intellect. So the odist was actively gaining wisdom and insight by his cooperation with the Light of Truth.

For Error fled away from him, and would not meet him.

Light dispels all darkness, and all error is dispelled by the ascent of our consciousness into the Light and dwelling there. That is why in the Bhagavad Gita (6:46) Krishna the teacher tells Arjuna the student to become a yogi.

But Truth was proceeding in the right way, and whatever I did not know he made clear to me:

True spiritual experience is an active unfolding and expansion of the seeker’s consciousness. A hymn of the Saint Thomas Christians says: “By thy light we see the Light: Thou, True Light, dost give the light to thy creatures all. Lighten us with thy glad light, thou the Light divine.”

All the drugs of Error, and the torments of death which are considered sweetness,…

The seventy-first section of the Tao Teh King says: “Who[ever] recognizes sick-mindedness [delusion] as sick-mindedness is not sick-minded.” He who knows what is delusion is himself undeluded. Therefore the Light of truth revealed to the odist “all the drugs of Error, and the torments of death which are considered sweetness.”

We must face the truth: most human beings are drugged by the delusions of the corrupted world, hopelessly addicted to them. Even worse, they consider that the torments of spiritual death are really sweet and desirable; and they become addicted to those drugs, too. In the opera Aida, the heroine sings at one point: Amore, amore, gaudio tormento: “Love, love, joyful torment!” Love has also been called “the finest frailty of the human mind.” Anyone with clear sight can see that such statements are symptoms of addiction, not blessedness. Deluded by such things, the addicts avidly seek for them, believing that without them there is no real life or living. Only the Divine Light shows us their real nature and enables us to know them for what they are: the gates of death and hell.

And the corrupting of the Corruptor, I saw when the Bride who was corrupting was adorned, and the Bridegroom who corrupts and is corrupted.

What is known as bridal mysticism, the concept of the devout soul as the bride and God as the bridegroom, is found in various religious traditions. Although there is a passage about “the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride” in Jeremiah (33:11), all the other references in the Bible are in the book of Revelation. There the groom is Christ and the bride the Church, the disciples of Christ. A mystical vision of the Church of Christ is found in the twenty-first chapter: “There came unto me one of the seven angels… and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit… and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:9-11). In the next chapter the seer is told: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.… And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). The idea is that Christ and his Church are the sources of spiritual life, that they call questing souls and impart “the water of life freely.”

But there is a false bride and bridegroom created by the Corrupter, the force of cosmic delusion also called Satan, to deceive humanity. Just as the true bride and groom call human beings to light, wisdom and immortality (including freedom from rebirth), so the false bride and groom entice human beings into darkness, delusion and death, including continual earthly rebirth–though they claim it is light, wisdom and immortality.

It is important to notice that these false ones are said to both corrupt and be themselves corrupted. This is because God is the source of all things, therefore all things are good. Evil as the opposite of good does not exist. Rather, evil is a distortion, a misuse or corruption of good. Therefore evil is good which has become twisted and deformed, and the more it twists and deforms, the more it itself becomes twisted and deformed. Nevertheless, since at the core all thing are good because they arise from God, even the evil and false can eventually become restored to the state of good and truth. Just as there is no eternal damnation, so there is no eternal state of evil.

The false bride and groom take on many forms, including false religion, and that is the primary subject of this ode.

And I asked the Truth: Who are these? and he said to me: This is the Deceiver and the Error.

They are the Liar and the Lie. Satan and Deception.

And they imitate the Beloved and his Bride, and they lead astray the world and corrupt it.

Evil’s best disguise is to appear as that which is good. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Corinthians 11:13-15). Unfortunately, the worlds on the level of this one in which we are now living are far more susceptible and responsive to the false and destructive than to the true and salvific. That is why when a disciple asked Jesus: “Lord, are there few that be saved?” (Luke 13:23), he answered: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

It is a sad fact that human beings believe lies far more readily than truth. Just look at American religion–and American yoga. It is a vast panorama of utter foolishness, falsehood and harm. Over the past sixty years many fraudulent gurus have come here and led many astray. At the same time true gurus have come and gone and been almost totally unnoticed. Some of them I met, but they had no appeal for the general public because they were true and not false. In this world the degree of popularity of anyone or anything is an indication of the degree of their false and harmful character. That is why Jesus said in the Aquarian Gospel: “A master never screens himself for sake of reputation or of fame. 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. God and all master men judge men by what they are and not by what they seem to be; not by their reputation and their fame” (Aquarian Gospel 27:7-10).

And they invite many to the Banquet, and give them to drink of the wine of their intoxication.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation the false bride is called Babylon, and the revelator speaks of her making men drunk with the wine of her deception. Foolish people love alcohol because it makes them feel “happy” and “good,” even though it is destroying their brains and vital organs. Loving spiritual intoxication, addicted to self-mutilation and self-deception, the religious and metaphysical dupes rush to the latest false teachings and teachers. And then after a while they find another source of spiritual drunkenness and stumble there. “Seminar junkies” are prime examples of what I am talking about. And the religious and spiritual versions of the false bride and groom are but drops in the cesspool of earthly delusiveness.

And they 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.

Yes, this is how it all ends. Having gladly cast aside all truth and good sense (for they have cooperated with the false teachers in their deception and destruction), the dupes have no longer any intelligence, but only a devastated mind and personality. Then the false philosophies, meditation methods and teachers leave them: usually incapable of recovering and finding a real spiritual path. Many are permanently damaged psychologically. Often discovery of the dishonesty and immorality of the organizations and teachers so traumatize them that they denounce all spiritual teaching and teachers for the rest of their lives. And that was the intent of the false bride and groom all along. Yet “the Guru” and “the Shakti” are still sought-after commodities in the marketplace of the world.

For they are without heart, and do not seek it.

“Heart” here means the very core of the person, the eternal spirit that is one with God. This does not mean that the victims of the false bride and groom truly do not have a spirit-self, but that they are so out of touch with it (and often incapable of ever touching it in this present life) that they will never wish or try to seek it. For them this incarnation is over, practically speaking, and only a weary passing through time until their death remains for them. The way of life is really always open to them, but they cannot see it or even desire it. They are dead-alive.

Please do not think I am condemning these people. They should not be censured but prayed for, since there may be some way they can live again in spirit. If you know any of them, I hope that you will not just pray for them in this life, but will continue to pray for them after their physical death. Certainly some time in the future they will be healed and restored. Until then they should be given our care and prayers. But I do not know of anyone having been able to reach them in this life.

And I was made wise so as not to fall into the hands of the Deceiver, and I congratulated myself that the Truth had gone with me.

The odist is thankful and appreciative that the Light of Truth preserved him from falling into the clutches of the Deceiver, Satan. He realizes that he was not preserved by his own capacity, but by the grace and gift of God, a grace and gift that the deceived also could have received, but they had no interest in it and so followed their folly.

And I was established and lived and was redeemed, and my foundations were laid on account of the Lord’s hand, for he planted me.

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Those who are established in the divine unity and not scattered in the diversity of delusion have sure foundations, for their foundations are the very being of God who has guided and guarded them.

For he set the root, and watered it and endowed it and blessed it, and its fruits will be for ever.

The wise person knows that “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: For we are his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:8, 10). And this is possible because we have existed in God eternally, and our nature is his nature that shall be revealed in all of us.

It struck deep and sprang up and spread wide, and it was full and was enlarged.

The consciousness of the persevering devotee-yogi truly does grow deep, high and wide. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, the little cup of the yogi’s consciousness becomes expanded to infinity by the advent of God into his entire being.

And the Lord alone was glorified, in his planting and in his cultivation.

Such a perfected one lives for the glory of God alone, for he has become God’s glory. That is why in the holy rite of the Mass we sing: “We give thanks to thee for thy great glory” in which we live and grow “till we all come in the unity… unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

In his care and in the blessing of his lips, in the beautiful planting of his right hand. And in the splendor of his planting, and in the understanding of his mind.

How so? Because “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16) as a holy seed that shall in time grow and become the mind, the consciousness, of God.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 39

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