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The Odes of Solomon: 42

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

I stretched out my hands and approached my Lord, for the stretching out of my hands is his sign.
And my expansion is the upright Cross, that was lifted up on the way of the Righteous One.
And I became of no use to those who knew me (not), for I shall hide Myself from those who did not take hold of me.
But I will be with those who love me.
All my persecutors have died, and they who trusted in me sought me because I am living.
And I rose up and am with them, and I will speak by their mouths.
For they have rejected those who persecute them; and I threw over them the yoke of my love.
Like the arm of the bridegroom over the bride, so is my yoke over those that know me.
And as the couch that is spread in the chambers of the bridegroom and the bride, so is my love over those that believe in me.
I was not rejected though I was considered to be so, and I did not perish though they thought it of me.
Sheol saw me and was shattered, Death cast me up and many along with me.
I have been gall and bitterness to it, and I went down with it to the extreme of its depth.
And the feet and the head it let go, for it was not able to endure my face.
And I made a congregation of living men among his dead, and I spoke with them with living lips, in order that my word may not be void.
And those who had died ran towards me, and they cried out and said Son of God have pity on us.
And do with us according to Thy kindness, and bring us out from the bonds of darkness.
And open to us the door, by which we shall come out to Thee, for we perceive that our death does not touch Thee.
Let us also be saved with Thee, for Thou art our Savior.
Then I heard their voice, and I placed their faith in my heart.
And I set my Name upon their heads, for they are free men and they are Mine. Alleluia.

I stretched out my hands and approached my Lord, for the stretching out of my hands is his sign. And my expansion is the upright Cross, that was lifted up on the way of the Righteous One.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.… When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he,.… And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32). Paramhansa Yogananda interprets these statements as meaning that being “lifted up” in full conformity with Christ/Jesus results in the expansion of the aspirant’s consciousness, that “the son of man” who must be lifted up is the humanity of each one of us, not just that of Jesus. The “way of the Righteous One” is the Way of the Cross upon which all must journey. A hymn I sang as a child says:

I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it nevermore
For the Lord says, “Come,” and I seek my home
Where He waits at the open door.

Of course I now understand these words in a very different and better way.

Although the subsequent verses of this ode can be applied symbolically to everyone striving for Christhood, they do seem to specifically be the words that Jesus would speak. Therefore there is a strong possibility that this ode was authored by Jesus himself.

And I became of no use to those who knew me (not), for I shall hide Myself from those who did not take hold of me.

This is very important. God and Christ are of no effect or benefit to those who do not truly know God and Christ. Without gnosis there is no true religion and no relation to God and Christ except for the usual generic relation that all things have to God as their origin and goal. No wonder the essential message of the Bhagavad is: Become a Yogi (6:46). Those who do not in an experiential manner “lay hold” on God and Christ and come to know them intimately shall find God and Christ hidden from them. The kingdom of God is within, and therefore our finding and knowing God is an interior matter, a mystical attainment, to “lay hold on eternal life” as Saint Paul exhorts us (I Timothy 6:12).

But I will be with those who love me.

God is love (I John 4:8), and those who love are with God, and he with them. When we understand that love is not an emotion but a spiritual force that attracts and brings about union with its object, we realize that this is not mere sentimentality. Rather, love of God is the essence of yoga and true mystical life.

All my persecutors have died, and they who trusted in me sought me because I am living.

Those who seek to suppress the Christ within shall die in the spirit until they turn and seek Christ who is life. Jesus told his disciples: “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19) through their union with him. Again, this is no snuggy-warmy feeling, but true gnosis. For he further said: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:20), in mystical union.

And I rose up and am with them, and I will speak by their mouths.

At Easter the Eastern Christians sing: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the graves bestowing life.” He is not just with us in the ordinary way people are with one another, but as Saint Paul says: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). So those who live with and in Christ are as hidden from the world and worldlings as is he. So united is the mind (the consciousness) of Christ with those who live in perfect union with him, that he speaks through them and is identified with them. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40; John 13:20).

For they have rejected those who persecute them; and I threw over them the yoke of my love.

Jesus said to his enemies: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23), and the same is true of his disciples. They reject all that the enemies of truth stand for and even the world in which they live: not the world of God’s creation, but the world of their degraded minds. As the Gita says: “Evil-doers, the lowest of men, bereft of knowledge by maya, do not seek me, being attached to (existing within) a demonic mode of existence” (Bhagavad Gita 7:15). It is good to study the entire sixteenth chapter of the Gita, which is entitled “The Yoga of the Division Between the Divine and the Demonic.” No matter how powerful the agents of evil may be, the easy yoke of Christ’s love (Matthew 11:30) is the protection of his disciples, and “perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18).

Like the arm of the bridegroom over the bride, so is my yoke over those that know me.

So let us dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). It will then be said to us: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9).

And as the couch that is spread in the chambers of the bridegroom and the bride, so is my love over those that believe in me.

Bridal mysticism is an element in every valid religion, for it is true that God and the questing spirit are destined to be joined in eternal union so it may say: “I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine…. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 6:3; 2:4).

I was not rejected though I was considered to be so, and I did not perish though they thought it of me.

Only God and the godly are truly real to the devotee. So Jesus was not rejected by those who were real to him, nor did he die, though the inwardly dead thought he could die. And it should be the same with us.

Sheol saw me and was shattered, Death cast me up and many along with me.

The prison house of the dead was despoiled by Jesus and multitudes arose with him both into this world and into Paradise. For “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:50-53).

I have been gall and bitterness to it, and I went down with it to the extreme of its depth. And the feet and the head it let go, for it was not able to endure my face. And I made a congregation of living men among his dead, and I spoke with them with living lips, in order that my word may not be void.

Jesus is the death of death for those who live in him. “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:8-11). If we live always in the presence, the “face” of God, death and hades shall flee from us, too.

And those who had died ran towards me, and they cried out and said Son of God have pity on us. And do with us according to Thy kindness, and bring us out from the bonds of darkness. And open to us the door, by which we shall come out to Thee, for we perceive that our death does not touch Thee. Let us also be saved with Thee, for Thou art our Savior.

This is a perfect outline of what is required to seek and find life eternal. We must not stroll toward God and his Christ, but run, crying out in spiritual yearning and even desperation for the lovingkindness that is intended for us. We must recognize that we are bound, hopeless and helpless, without his liberating Life. Nor do we remain in the darkness of this world, but rather we escape from it, flee from it, and enter into the light of freedom of spirit. Our state of death does not touch God, but his Life does indeed touch us when we seek and enter it. Jesus, too, was saved and made a son of God by his search, and we can experience the same. Jesus is savior of those who will to be saved and who seek and find their own salvation in the Father just as did he.

Then I heard their voice, and I placed their faith in my heart.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8, 10). Faith in the very possibility of finding and knowing God is his indication that we shall find and know him.

And I set my Name upon their heads, for they are free men and they are Mine.

The subtle energy system, astral and causal, of the human being is a mechanism intended to produce enlightenment. The highest faculties of each one of us reside with our spirit in the Thousand-petalled Lotus, the Sahasrara Chakra in the head. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.1) tells us that in the beginning there was only the Supreme Self, Ishwara. Before beginning the creation “he first said, ‘I am Soham [Soham asmi].’” This ultimate name of God, Soham, both vibrates and shines there as its essence. Through its japa and meditation we come to realize that we are eternal sons of God, free in the Spirit forevermore.

The awakening of Soham in our consciousness, our “foreheads,” is the consummation of the process of salvation in Christ. The capstone of the Christian revelation, the Book of Revelation, tells us: “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.… They shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1; 22:4) forever.

Amen.

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Notes on the Odes of Solomon by the translator

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