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The Odes of Solomon: 7

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

As the impulse of anger against evil, so is the impulse of joy over what is loved, and brings in of its fruits without restraint.
My joy is the Lord and my impulse is toward him, this path of mine is beautiful.
For I have a helper–the Lord; he has generously shown himself to me in his simplicity, because his kindness has diminished his dreadfulness.
He became like me in order that I might receive him; in form he was considered like me so that I might put him on.
And I trembled not when I saw him, because he was gracious to me.
Like my nature he became that I might learn him, and like my form that I might not turn back from him.
The Father of knowledge is the Word of knowledge.
He Who created wisdom is wiser than his works.
And he Who created me when yet I was not, knew what I should do when I came into being.
Wherefore he pitied me in his abundant grace, and granted me to ask from him and to receive from his sacrifice.
For he it is Who is incorruptible, the perfection of the worlds and their Father.
He has allowed him to appear to them that are his own, in order that they may recognize him that made them, and not suppose that they came of themselves.
For knowledge he hath appointed as its way; he hath widened it and extended it and brought it to complete perfection.
And has set over it the traces of his light, and I walked therein from the beginning even to the end.
For by him it was wrought, and he rested in the Son.
And for its salvation he will take hold of everything; and the Most High shall be known in his Saints.
To announce to those that have songs of the coming of the Lord, that they may go forth to meet him and may sing to him, with joy and with the harp of many tones.
The Seers shall go before him, and they shall be seen before him.
And they shall praise the Lord for his love, because he is near and seeth.
And hatred shall be taken from the earth, and along with jealousy it shall be drowned.
For ignorance hath been destroyed upon it, because the knowledge of the Lord hath arrived upon it.
Let the singers sing the grace of the Lord Most High, and let them bring their songs.
And their heart shall be like the day, and like the excellent beauty of the Lord their pleasant song.
And let there be nothing without life, nor without knowledge nor dumb.
For (the Lord) hath given a mouth to his creation, to open the voice of the mouth towards him, and to praise him.
Confess ye his power, and show forth his grace. Alleluia.

There was an old vaudeville routine where someone would be telling news to another. At one point, the hearer would say: “That’s good,” and the narrator would say: “No, that’s bad,” and continue on to explain. Later the hearer would comment “That’s bad,” and the narrator would contradict and say, “No, that’s good.” And so it would go on: “That’s good,” “No, that’s bad,” That’s bad,” “No, that’s good,” until the end which was always “bad.” In junior high school I heard a joke version that began: “Fortunately, a man was flying in an airplane; unfortunately, the engine quit; fortunately, he had a parachute; unfortunately, the parachute did not open;” and it, too, went on to end most unfortunately. This is really the way of most religion. No matter how positive the initial statements may be, fear and condemnation get injected somewhere along the line, ultimately resulting in a conviction of incapacity and unworthiness.

A few years ago on the internet I found a website that expounded the innate perfection of all sentient beings, affirming that liberation was the natural goal of all humanity. Then it went on to fulminate and fume against anyone who dared to disbelieve their One and Only True Master, describing the eternal darkness and suffering that would be the lot of unbelievers. That was awful, but worse was to come: the horrendous fate of disciples who dared to read anything but the Master’s writings or to even walk into a building owned by another spiritual organization. There was a lot of talk about how the Master mystically implanted some kind of enlightenment device (I am not joking or satirizing) in the astral bodies of all disciples, and how these devices would become deformed if the disciple committed the crimes just mentioned, or even began to question the Master’s words. As a result they, too, would wander eternally in darkness and pain, but it would be much worse than that of the unbelievers.

I have found this malignant schizophrenia in virtually every spiritual group I have met or made the mistake of joining. Things are all smiles and sunshine at the first, eventually developing into clouds, rain, thunder, lightning, and terror. Bad You! Bad You! Another version of: Bad Dog! Bad Dog!

In Pilgrim’s Regress, C. S. Lewis satirizes this by having someone tell a tenant how much–oh, how much–the landlord loves his tenants. So much so, that the landlord had prepared a pit of fire for any tenant that insulted his love by breaking the rules. So, the messenger concluded, we must all love the landlord very much and trust in his love so he will not torture us in the fire pit–something he very much did not want to do. Is it any wonder that so many “true believers” are crazy in a part of their mind?

Here is an example. After my first trip to India I stayed for a while in the home of a devoted yogi. One day she answered the doorbell and I heard the following.

Grace: “Hello, how are you?”
Unseen man: “Oh, I’m still thrilled with Christ!”

The Unseen, not permitted to come in the house, then invited Grace to come to some kind of church party at someone’s home. Grace managed to graciously decline and get the door closed. Then she turned to me and said: “I won’t ever go anywhere with him again! That man is a minister who wanted to convert me. Once I went with him to a party, and while we were there he told me: ‘You know, tonight on the way home I could stop the car and poke your eyes out and make you accept Jesus as your Savior.’ So I called my daughter to come get me and take me home. But he keeps calling and coming over. He claims he saw Jesus in a vision once–but only his feet.” I did not want to ask her how he recognized Jesus by his feet. I knew that something as logical as “by the stigmata” would not be forthcoming.

But it does not have to be that way. In fact, we should refuse to ever let it be that way with us. Moreover it was not so originally with the followers of Jesus, as is revealed in this ode.
As the impulse of anger against evil, so is the impulse of joy over what is loved, and brings in of its fruits without restraint. my joy is the Lord and my impulse is toward him, this path of mine is beautiful. For I have a helper–the Lord; he has generously shown himself to me in his simplicity, because his kindness has diminished his dreadfulness.

In Indian spiritual writings we are told that human response can be divided into two streams: attraction and aversion, raga and dwesha. Raga is attachment/affinity for something, implying a desire for it. Raga may range from simple liking or preference to intense desire and attraction. Dwesha is aversion/avoidance for something, implying a dislike for it. Dwesha may range from simple non-preference to intense repulsion, antipathy and even hatred. Raga-dwesha is the continual cycle of desire/aversion, like/dislike that can be emotional (instinctual) or intellectual.

In the purified mind raga-dwesha is still present, but as a manifestation of viveka: discrimination based on spiritual insight (jnana). Therefore negativity evokes an active aversion as the force known as vikshepa: a pushing away, an ejection of the negativity. “Anger” is not a very good translation, actually. “Rejection” or “elimination” would be better. Even the Greek word in the New Testament translated “anger” is orge, which means to have an intense feeling or reaction. It implies a strong rejection, rather like that of a healthy immune system in response to toxicity. So Saint Paul wrote: “Be ye angry [orgidzo], and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). That is, feel strongly about something but do not let it lead to egoic passion. Interestingly, orge and orgidzo also mean to intensely desire something, to reach out for it with strong attraction. As psychology has discovered, desire and aversion are really the same thing moving in opposite directions.

The author of the ode, then, is telling us that there is a deep-rooted impulse-response to objects, that in the purified heart there is repulsion for evil and attraction for good: the Supreme Good being God.

Here the poet is also telling us that joy (delight) arises in the pure heart when it contemplates that which is loved. Joy is the response, not a grudging sense of duty or a feeling of incapacity and incompetence: the common response to externalized religion. This is how we know whether or not we love God. It is not just dedication (loyalty), reverence, awe or admiration that we should and will feel, but joy: ananda.

And this joy is a generous response. It both gives and receives, therefore it “brings in of its fruits without restraint.” There is simply no need here for consoling, coaxing and “inspiring” the devotee. Needing no external influence, with joy he embraces that which leads to the Divine Vision. For this reason Jesus said that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44). There is no idea of sacrifice here even though all else is sold in order to buy that field wherein the treasure is hid. This is the perfect picture of a yogi. Regarding Jesus himself, whom we look upon as having sacrificed his life, Saint Paul assures us that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). His perspective was joy, for he was the embodiment of love.

If we desire to have the same delight, Krishna further says: “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.… the immortal, immutable, abode of everlasting dharma and of absolute bliss” (Bhagavad Gita 9:33-34; 14:27). To exchange unreality, darkness and death for Reality, Light and Immortality! That is truly joy.

To abundantly and “without restraint” gather in “the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23): that is joy.

My joy is the Lord and my impulse is toward him.

This is a completely theocentric matter. God is the total focus. As the desert father, Saint Arsenios the Great, said: “Unless you say: ‘God and I alone exist,’ you will never find God.”

Certainly religion is important, even essential, but it is only a instrument. No one admires the piano or the violin, but rather the brilliant pianist and violinist. Religion is a tool to be used by the seeker; the seeker is not to be a tool of religion.

On the other hand we cannot imagine a sane pianist or violinist claiming they have no need of a piano or a violin, so neither should we credit someone who says they need no religion. Nonsense is never sense.

There is within each one of us an elemental impulse toward God. Although our intelligence (buddhi) must cooperate in our return to God, still it is never a merely intellectual or emotional impulse. Rather it is inherent in our essential being itself. It is part of our eternal nature. Therefore to be an awakened person means to be experiencing and acting upon this godward impulse.

This path of mine is beautiful.

How is the path beautiful? “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). It is beautiful because it increasingly brings us nearer the Divine Beauty: God. Again, God is the measure of the matter, not the seeker or the mechanics or requirements of the search.

For I have a helper–the Lord.

We are not alone on the path. The Lord of Beauty himself is our companion. But he is not a passive companion. Rather:

He has generously shown himself to me in his simplicity, because his kindness has diminished his dreadfulness.

In Eastern religion, including Eastern Christianity, it is a fundamental tenet that God is a Simple Being in the sense of being totally incomplex. God has no parts, but is an Absolute Unity. It is when we start splitting God up and turning him into a pie chart, like we have done to ourselves and the world around us, that we get into trouble because we are trying to turn the Real into an illusion. It is when we see God as a multiplicity, attributing an infinity of forms, attributes, actions, and reactions to him, that confusion results. But the author of the ode has seen God truly, has not only seen but experienced the Divine Unity. So it all comes down to what it always does: spiritual experience which results only from spiritual practice. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy” (Romans 15:13).

He became like me in order that I might receive him; in form he was considered like me so that I might put him on. And I trembled not when I saw him, because he was gracious to me. Like my nature he became that I might learn him, and like my form that I might not turn back from him.

The purpose of creation is the perfect union in consciousness of the individual spirit and the Cosmic Spirit. The entire field of relative existence is a divine ladder which the spirit ascends in order to perfectly perceive and manifest its eternal nature as part of Divinity. The important thing to remember in considering this is that the cosmos is the Cosmic Itself.

These two verses from Ode Seven are remarkable. But the vision of the author of this ode did not end with him, for it was an eternal vision. Nearly two thousand years later, Bishop James Ingall Wedgwood wrote this prayer for the Mass of the Liberal Catholic Church:

“Uniting in this solemn Sacrifice with Thy holy Church throughout all the ages, we lift our hearts in adoration to Thee, O God the Son, consubstantial, co-eternal with the Father, who, abiding unchangeable within Thyself, didst nevertheless in the mystery of Thy boundless love and Thine eternal Sacrifice breathe forth Thine own divine life into Thy universe, and thus didst offer Thyself as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, dying in very truth that we might live.

“Omnipotent, all-pervading, by that self-same sacrifice Thou dost continually uphold all creation, resting not by night or day, working evermore through that most august Hierarchy of Thy glorious Saints, who live but to do Thy will as perfect channels of Thy wondrous power, to whom we ever offer heartfelt love and reverence.”

He became like me in order that I might receive him; in form he was considered like me so that I might put him on.

The idea here is that God has transmuted himself into the cosmos so it can become the means of our ascent to his perfect Consciousness and our assimilation of that Divinity. That is why Saint Paul speaks in the book of Hebrews of our being partakers of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4) and of the very holiness of God (Hebrews 12:10). Saint Peter not only tells us that it is possible to be a partaker of the glory of divinity (I Peter 5:1), we can also “be partakers of the divine nature” Itself (II Peter 1:4).

This is real Christianity: the making of human beings into Christs. We think we are encased in matter, but it is only a dream of matter. In reality we live at every moment in Spirit. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Yet at the moment it is matter we need to lead us upward to recognition of the real nature both of “things” and of ourselves. For the intention of all of this is that eventually we all “might put him on” and dwell in that consciousness forever.

And I trembled not when I saw him, because he was gracious to me.

In that awareness, fear is banished forever.

Like my nature he became that I might learn him, and like my form that I might not turn back from him.

The purpose of this is that in time the two will become One.

The Father of knowledge is the Word of knowledge.

The Source of Gnosis is the Word of Gnosis. This has a few meanings, but the two most important are:

  1. The Father is the Son, the Word. That is, Ishwara is an emanation or expansion of Brahman. The early Christian writer Tertullian said exactly this, too.
  2. The Name of God is God. A mantra is not a common word, but the embodiment of what it designates. Inherent in the mantras used by yogis for meditation is the Consciousness they are meant to invoke. Japa and meditation convey the Divine Consciousness to the yogi’s consciousness and unites them with the Divine Being. Japa and meditation “beget” gnosis in the individual who is constant in them. (Again, see Soham Yoga.)

He Who created wisdom is wiser than his works.

As stated in the Gita: “I know all beings: past, present and to come. But no one knows me” (Bhagavad Gita 7:26). “Therefore, be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).

And he Who created me when yet I was not, knew what I should do when I came into being.

It is not uncommon for saints to know when we are thinking good thoughts and for them to respond to them. This is a happy event, but if we are reflective then we will realize that they know when we are thinking wrong thoughts, yet they still retain a positive attitude towards us. From this we can realize that before we enter into relative existence God knows every silly and negative thought and deed we are ever going to think and do. Yet he loves us and provides for us even the things we need for those wrong thoughts and acts! This should give us hope when, regretting our past follies, we wish to turn around and tread the upward path out of the “valley of the shadow of death” in which such ways prevail. We need not dislike ourselves nor waste time in condemning ourselves. We need to become intent on reforming our minds and lives. For God has provided all we need to do that, as well. We have come into this world to learn, and learn we will, eventually. The seed of all we shall ever do or be is present from the beginning.

Wherefore he pitied me in his abundant grace, and granted me to ask from him and to receive from his sacrifice.

For the sake of our evolution, God has poured out himself in the form of the cosmos, visible and invisible, and thus become himself “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). All the worlds through which we evolve are the “abundant grace” of God. Saint John the Baptist assures us that “God giveth not the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). Rather, we find the totality of Being and assimilate It into our finite selves in a manner past understanding–but not past experiencing. Thus we “receive from his sacrifice.”

For he it is Who is incorruptible, the perfection of the worlds and their Father.

This is an exposition of the nature of Ishwara. If we unite ourselves with him through yoga sadhana we shall become like him.
He has allowed him to appear to them that are his own, in order that they may recognize him that made them, and not suppose that they came of themselves.

One of the greatest flaws of any religion or spiritual philosophy is the presumption that spiritual truths can be figured out intellectually or by applying logic. Anyone with a modicum of self-observation is aware of both the limitations and the unreliability of the mind. This is why all authentic spiritual traditions tell us that the only viable working with the mind is that which enables us to go beyond the mind!

In the Divine Unity, the Supreme Spirit fosters the evolution of all the individual spirits which draw their being from It. Patanjali tells us in the Yoga Sutras that God himself is the Guru of all. (“Being unconditioned by time he is guru even of the ancients” 1:26.) Mostly he teaches through providing the experiences that their own higher minds determine, but he does at times teach them through intuitions that arise from the depths of their own beings where God is to be found.

The ancient tradition of India tell us that the primeval sages, the rishis, turning within in profound meditation, discovered Brahman as the essence of all Being, just as the ode says in this verse. Brahman is also our Source, the power which has enabled our manifestation within relativity and which empowers us to ascend to the Absolute.

For knowledge he hath appointed as its way; he hath widened it and extended it and brought it to complete perfection.

This is why we must persevere in the practice of japa and meditation, simple as they may seem. On the mechanical level they are simple (even childishly simple), but on the level of their effects they are as complex as relative existence itself. That is why the practice of yoga can deliver us from the nets and snares of relativity. You will find that your experience of yoga practice will be infinitely varied. On occasion, of course, your meditation and japa may seem to be the same day after day, but that is because your inner and outer bodies are adjusting to the plateau of evolution your practice has brought you to. The effects are being assimilated and permatized during such periods. But after a while you will perceive yourself moving on in the depths of meditation to new areas of development. At first the “way” of yoga may seem simple, simplistic and narrow in the sense of being minimal. But you will find it widening and extending, the path “that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried [proven]: he… maketh my way perfect” (Psalms 18:30, 32). And he not only perfects the way, he perfects those who walk the way.

And has set over it the traces of his light, and I walked therein from the beginning even to the end.

A mantra, when continually invoked in both japa and meditation, is the light that leads us onward, further into the Light. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalms 36:9). Literally: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Isaiah 60:19). God shows us the way and is the way, but it is up to us to walk the way, like the chick emerging from the egg.

For by him it was wrought,…

The journeying of the way is accomplished by increasing consciousness and communication with Ishwara, who reveals us as Brahman’s eternal rest, Its eternal abiding place. For we are ourselves the Sons of God in which Divinity comes to rest. As Emily Bronte wrote:

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!

One of the greatest reliefs of my life was the discovery that spiritual life was not a haphazard thing at all, but an exact science, that whims, human or divine, never came into it and never could, because God does not have whims and human whims are meaningless when dealing with Reality. Nor did I have to wheedle and whine before God to persuade him to let me draw near to him. I already was one with him! So all (!) I had to do was wake up and “get real.” And God had anticipated that moment, and had prepared the way of awakening: Yoga. Through yoga creation itself becomes the Path of Return.

The sole purpose of the universe is the ultimate liberation of all sentient beings. They may wander for many, many years (ages, even) before reaching the goal of conscious union with Infinity and a sharing in the same Consciousness. (See Robe of Light.) The cosmos is a device for the enlightenment of those within it, as is the individual body temporarily inhabited by a sentient being. So God has set us upon the stream that in time returns us, but we will not be the same as we were when we first entered the stream. Rather, we shall have as a result of our pilgrimage, developed the capacity to participate in the Life Divine.

Into the fabric of creation God has woven certain strands or laws that operate unerringly and without exception to keep the individual spirit moving onward and inexorably toward the Goal, however much an individual might delay it. The three fundamental strands or laws are karma, reincarnation and evolution of consciousness. Adding to these the innate urge of the finite for the Infinite, the Way of Salvation is complete.

The Sufi poet, Rumi, wrote:

A stone I died and rose again a plant.
A plant I died and rose an animal;
I died an animal and was born a man.
Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?

As man, death sweeps me from this world of men
That I may wear an angel’s wings in heaven;
Yet e’en as angel may I not abide,
For nought abideth save the face of God.

Thus o’er the angels’ world I wing my way
Onwards and upwards, unto boundless lights;
Then let me be as nought, for in my heart
Rings as a harp-song that we must return to him.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of many great Americans whose belief in reincarnation is overlooked, wrote in his poem, The Chambered Nautilus:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

… and he rested in the Son.

God in the aspect known as Brahman transcends the creation, yet when he projects creation, he also enters into it as “the Son” or Ishwara, the Lord. His guiding presence as the Intelligence within every atom of creation is his resting “in the Son,” the Christ Consciousness within all. Those who evolve their consciousness sufficiently to unite with the Son are themselves Christs, as was Jesus. Then, evolving even further, they unite with the transcendent “Father” aspect of God, themselves becoming the Father in a manner incomprehensible to us at our present stage of development. Jesus had also attained this, and was able to say: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Having lost the original, mystical perspective, Christianity began wandering in the labyrinth of intellectual, speculative theology and eventually formulated a doctrine of the Trinity and of the nature of Jesus that is far wide of the mark. To return to the original perspective of Christianity it is necessary to become well acquainted with the basic scriptures of Sanatana Dharma. That is why a Saint Thomas Christian priest once said to me: “You cannot understand the teachings of Jesus unless you know the Indian scriptures.” That is also why Patriarch Zachariah, the former head of the Syrian Orthodox (Jacobite) Church, kept a copy of the Gita by his bed and read it daily along with the Bible.

God within the creation guides its every atom and draws each sentient being into eventual union with him as the Son and then as the Father. Thus the way of salvation is completed for them. That is why the next verse says:

And for its salvation he will take hold of everything; and the Most High shall be known in his Saints.

God is always in charge. We claim to believe that, but our actions “speak louder” and show otherwise. We, too, are always in charge and also do not believe that. But truth is truth and we need to awaken to it. The purpose of being in charge is a single thing: evolving to perfection. God is evolving the creation and we are evolving our little universe consisting of the various energy bodies which are encasing us like the layers of a pearl around the little bit of grit that started it all. Unlike God, we have lost sight of this fact and therefore much about us that should be controlled is running amok, and that produces karma and rebirth, for cosmic law cannot be abrogated by anyone. The material cosmos will never be conscious of God, but every sentient being will eventually move out into the light of the Divine Vision and God will be known in his saints and his saints will know themselves in God: an ideal arrangement.

To announce to those that have songs of the coming of the Lord, that they may go forth to meet him and may sing to him, with joy and with the harp of many tones.

Just as the ocean can be smelled when we get near to it, and a waterfall is heard the closer we come to it, in the same way when someone evolves to a certain point spiritual intuition begins to function and he intuits that it is his destiny to return to God, to attain union with the Infinite. As cited above, Rumi wrote that “in my heart rings as a harp-song that we must return to him.” The “harp” that we read about in the Bible and mystical poetry is the inner instrument of the awakening spirit.

Although a Fundamentalist Protestant, the poetess Fanny Crosby, whose poems became the basis for many of the best hymns written in America, was a great mystic who practiced a form of meditation she discovered intuitionally and which she called “Entering the Vale of Silence.” Writing of her spiritual experience and ultimate destiny, she simply said: “This is my story, this is my song….” The heart sings in anticipation of that wondrous day when “faith shall be lost in sight.” As Saint Methodius of Olympus wrote in the early Christian era: “Chastely I live for Thee; and holding my lighted lamps, O Lord, I go forth to meet Thee.” The awakened soul realizes that its every step brings it closer to oneness with the One. That is why the poetess-nun Sister Madeleva wrote this poem she called Travel Song:

Know you the journey that I take?
Know you the voyage that I make?
The joy of it one’s heart could break.

No jot of time have I to spare,
Nor will to loiter anywhere,
So eager am I to be there.

For that the way is hard and long,
For that gray fears upon it throng,
I set my journey to a song,

And it grows wondrous happy so.
Singing I hurry on for oh!
It is to God, to God, I go.

The Seers shall go before him, and they shall be seen before him. And they shall praise the Lord for his love, because he is near and seeth.

Those who see God are ever before his Face, and wherever they go they bring with them that sacred Presence. Fortunately I have known quite a few holy people like this. If I wanted to be with God I went to spend time with them. They have been of various spiritual traditions, for God knows nothing of our artificial boundaries and foolish attempts to have an exclusive franchise on his love. When one man I knew would speak to a group there would an all-pervading sense of heavenly joy and sweetness. What he said was wise, but the inner experience was beyond all words. I was only a teenager then and had not yet read Yogananda’s definition that God is joy, but I certainly experienced it. Another blessed soul was a frail little lady who literally blazed with white fire which I could feel from a distance. She lived in constant spiritual vision. It is true: God is “glorified in his saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10). He is their song and they are his. So before we see God he sends his holy ones to give us a “foretaste of glory divine” as Fanny Crosby put it. Such exalted souls dwell in God’s love “because he is near and seeth” them as surely as they see him.

And hatred shall be taken from the earth, and along with jealousy it shall be drowned. For ignorance hath been destroyed upon it, because the knowledge of the Lord hath arrived upon it.

All the evil passions that are as demons tormenting humanity on this earth which they have turned into a hell spring from one cause: ignorance. This is why the great teachers of India, especially Shankara, insist that spiritual wisdom (jnana) alone brings liberation from the bonds of ignorance. When the knowledge of God (Brahmajnana) enlightens the consciousness then hell becomes heaven without our needing to go anywhere.

There was a spiritual adept in China who was a devotee of Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. Once as she was walking along softly reciting the invocation of Amitabha a spiritual wiseacre said to her contemptuously: “Tell me grandmother, do you think Amitabha Buddha is listening to you in his paradise?” To his surprise she shook her head, continuing her invocations. “Then if Amitabha is not in his paradise, where is he?” insisted the smart-aleck. She pointed to her heart and kept on walking and reciting.

The idea of peace on earth in a social and political sense is as silly as expecting mental institutions to cease having mentally ill people living there. This earth is where the spiritually crazy are put. Someone once asked Yogananda if he believed in hell. The Master smiled and asked: “Where do you think you are?” But peace and joy can prevail in the heart of God’s devotee wherever he may be. It is an individual matter, but none the less glorious for that.

Let the singers sing the grace of the Lord Most High, and let them bring their songs. And their heart shall be like the day, and like the excellent beauty of the Lord their pleasant song.

In the deepest sense, the “songs” of the righteous are their very lives. So they “sing the grace of the Lord Most High” by living in his grace and embodying it in their lives. They are a message of love to both God and man. Their hearts are illumined by the “Sun of Righteousness” and shine outward into the hearts of those around them who are sensitive enough to pick up the “broadcast.” Their song-life will be perfect reflections of the Face of God, the beauty of the Divine. All who hear it will rejoice in the joy it also brings to them.

And let there be nothing without life, nor without knowledge nor dumb. For (the Lord) hath given a mouth to his creation, to open the voice of the mouth towards him, and to praise him.

This is a profound counsel. The spiritual aspirant must ensure that he is truly alive on every level, that no aspect of his heart or mind is dormant, but rather is living and shining in/with the Light of God. Every atom of his being is to be conscious and fully functioning. No part of him should be unconscious or without a real effect. This is the new birth which Jesus announced to the world.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).

In time the entire cosmos must become awake and alive in Divine Consciousness and be manifested as consciousness Itself. For intelligence is inherent in every atom of creation so it may open itself toward God and become living praise unto him. It is this to which Jesus was referring when his enemies told him to silence those who were welcoming him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He told them: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). And he did not mean that mute matter would be crying out in a mechanical, unconscious sense, for he had also said to these same opponents: “I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9), enunciating the metaphysical principle that every atom is a potential sentient being, as it is the body of a spark of intelligence whose destiny is to evolve upward to humanity and far beyond to divinity.

Confess ye his power, and show forth his grace.

Although we should certainly “speak the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11), we must also ourselves perform wonderful works and “show forth his grace.” The Beloved Disciple wrote: “my little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Quoting Isaiah, Jesus had said: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Again, it is the mind, heart, and life of each one of us that the ode is speaking about.

The final ten verses beginning with “And for its salvation…” have another, prophetic, meaning as well as that which we have just considered. I was told by an Orthodox rabbinical student that in Israel he had learned of a Jewish mystical tradition that the Messiah was to come two times: first as Son of Joseph and be rejected by Israel and later as Son of David and be accepted as the Messiah. Jesus was born at the beginning of the Piscean Age, and now that it is the beginning of the Aquarian Age there are those who believe that he is to appear again. To them these verses are a prophecy of this Second Coming in which he shall appear with disciples who will have taken birth to work with him in his mission. A new era will open up for those on the earth who truly “seek the kingdom,” while the others will go on just as before. I say this because it is vain to suppose that the whole world is going to turn into a paradise by the mere birth of anyone, even such a Master as Jesus. The world is a vast lunatic asylum and will continue to be one. Jesus will come to heal and deliver those that “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). The rest will in time also awake and arise, as shall every sentient being in the universe.

Read the next article in The Odes of Solomon for Awakening: The Odes of Solomon: 8

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