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The Odes of Solomon: 4

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

No man O my God changeth Thy Holy Place, nor can he change it and put it in another place.
Because he hath no power over it, for Thy sanctuary Thou hast designed before Thou didst make other places.
That which is the elder shall not be altered by those that are younger than Itself; Thou hast given Thy heart O Lord to Thy believers.
Never wilt Thou fail, nor be without fruits.
For one hour of Thy faith, is more precious than all days and years.
For who is there that shall put on Thy grace and be rejected?
For Thy seal is known, and Thy creatures are known to it.
And Thy hosts possess it, and the pure archangels are clothed with it.
Thou hast given us Thy fellowship; it was not that Thou wast in need of us, but that we are in need of Thee.
Distill Thy dews upon us, and open Thy rich fountains that pour forth to us milk and honey.
For there is not regret with Thee, that Thou shouldest regret anything which Thou hast promised.
And the end was revealed before Thee.
For what Thou gavest Thou gavest freely, so that no longer wilt Thou draw back and take them again.
For all was revealed before Thee as God, and ordered from the beginning before Thee.
And Thou O Lord hast made all. Alleluia.

In 1962, He Sent Leanness, a book of prayers that people really say in their hearts was shown to me by a friend. She particularly liked the very short one that simply said: “O Lord,…. Give up this awful experiment of making men like Christ.” These words embody the age-old struggle between God and man: the struggle of God to make man into god and the struggle of man to make God into man, or at least to make him give up and accept man as man and nothing more. Yet, the moment good sense and honesty arises in the questing mind the truth is seen:

No man O my God changeth Thy Holy Place, nor can he change it and put it in another place.

The Holy cannot be made unholy, the True cannot be made false, the Infinite cannot be made finite, the Unchanging cannot be made changeable, the Divine cannot be made human.

Because he hath no power over it, for Thy sanctuary Thou hast designed before Thou didst make other places. That which is the elder shall not be altered by those that are younger than Itself.

Although discouraged by the old saying, it is possible to teach your grandmother to suck eggs, but not your God. Do not try.

Thou hast given Thy heart O Lord to Thy believers.

The unholy can be made holy, the ignorant can be made wise, the finite can be elevated to infinity, the changeable can be made unchanging, and the human can be made divine, for all that is done by God. How? By giving his “heart,” his Consciousness, to those who seek him. It is not God’s grace, love, kindness or mercy we need. We need God. We need to merge with divinity and become divine.

Never wilt Thou fail, nor be without fruits.

So if God is really involved in a person’s spiritual life, it will not fail or be without positive effect. Only when God has been excluded will there be failure and fruitlessness. That is why Jesus said: “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).

For one hour of Thy faith, is more precious than all days and years. For who is there that shall put on Thy grace and be rejected?

Seeds thousands of years old were found in an Egyptian tomb. When planted they sprouted and grew into healthy plants. The darkness of that tomb which had prevailed for ages was dispelled in a moment at the entry of light. It is the presence of God that gives light and life: not the general all-pervading presence, but the Living Presence that is encountered in the depths of our being by those who turn inward and persevere. When the seed in the ground is moistened by rain and warmed by sunlight, life stirs within it and upward growth out of darkness and into the light begins. In the same way those who continually place themselves in the active presence of God through japa and meditation will be silently and subtly changed. Because of misunderstanding and outright false information most people think that meditation is supposed to be some kind of spectacular display of lights, sounds, and sensations. When this does not take place they find fault with their practice. But actually we are like the seed in the ground. We need only sit in the right conditions and growth will occur spontaneously. Our task is to provide the right conditions, the right inner environment, and then sit and wait. That is all. But that is plenty, as those who do it know full well. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).

Part of the idea of this ode is that when we put ourselves in the Presence our spiritual unfoldment is inevitable. We need only take thought for how to ever be in the Presence and how to so order our life that nothing can prevent our spontaneous transformation. “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” asked Solomon regarding this (Proverbs 6:27). God is like King Midas: whatever he touches turns divine. We cannot sit in water without being wetted, we cannot sit in the air without being dried, and we cannot sit in the fire without being burned. In the same way we cannot “sit” in God without being deified.

For Thy seal is known, and Thy creatures are known to it.

A master sculptor takes wax, wood, stone or clay and shapes it into the form that exists within his mind. So God by his acting Presence shapes us into his “form.” “Seal” does not mean closing something like an envelope, but seal in the sense of a soft substance being impressed by a seal and made to take on a distinctive shape (or purpose as in legal seals). The seal of God is that which causes us to recover our original form–and more. And this is accomplished by his being near us, by touching us.

And Thy hosts possess it, and the pure archangels are clothed with it. Thou hast given us Thy fellowship; it was not that Thou wast in need of us, but that we are in need of Thee. Distill Thy dews upon us, and open Thy rich fountains that pour forth to us milk and honey. For there is not regret with Thee, that Thou shouldest regret anything which Thou hast promised. And the end was revealed before Thee.

This last statement tells us why God has so much care for us: he sees the final result, the attainment, the perfect state, that shall in time be ours eternally. And he acts on that, whereas we react only to the brief moment in which we erroneously think we are caught. Ignorant religion attributes the same error to God and proclaims that he shall react to our sins, our weakness and our ignorance rather than to our ultimate divinity, and that we are to fear and try to avoid this reaction. But the truth is otherwise, which is why Saint Paul, a former persecutor and killer of Christians, could say: “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Hence the odist says in conclusion:

For what Thou gavest Thou gavest freely, so that no longer wilt Thou draw back and take them again. For all was revealed before Thee as God, and ordered from the beginning before Thee. And Thou O Lord hast made all.

“Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). Therefore we need neither doubt nor fear.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 5

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