, most of us are usually required to spend so much time and energy in simply obtaining food and other necessities of life, that we have little time for spiritual contemplation. Thus it is that “the spirituality of man develops” only “gradually” whilst he is “in material existence”.
For the most part he has comparatively little “spare” time and all too often after a stressful day at work, he feels it is necessary to devote much of that “little time” to some form of “relaxation” rather than to a contemplation of spiritual things. As a result, even a spiritual man may well find that he spends only a few hours a week in thinking about spiritual matters, but if he is sincere, even this may be sufficient for him to realise his lack and to regret it. It is usually as a result of this feeling of regret, or lack that he begins to seek the things of the Spirit. The result is described thus in verse Two; “His tears of penitence draw forth his spiritual essence and the Source of Life increases it”.
Note the connection between “tears of penitence”, “his spiritual essence” and the Divine “Source of Life” which increases his spirituality. Clearly the symbolism here is so exact that it almost merges into reality. The tears of penitence water the spiritual essence of the individual, the Divine Spark within him, drawing it towards God, the Source of Life from whom springs the Divine Life Force, the River of Life. (Revelation 22; 1) The result is that “He makes contact with God, who judges his increasing worth and progressively develops it.”
This seems fairly clear – we are being told that it is only through true penitence and a genuine desire to draw nearer to God that we can be enabled to do so. But there is also an Inner Meaning – it is by the same means that one can actually make contact with God even whilst still in the flesh, and it is this “contact”, often loosely called Mysticism, that provides the most rapid means of achieving the end of the Quest.
Although it is by no means essential to salvation this search for spiritual contact with the realms beyond, has always played a major part in man’s quest for God, and not surprisingly it features strongly in the Sayings of Melchizedek. Man first comes to know God through faith but if his sincerity and desire to serve Him warrant it, “contact” may well follow – not always immediately, sometimes not even in that particular incarnation, but it will come, and Verse Four describes the result
“The Source of Life shall strengthen the one who has made contact with God” we read, but that is not the end of it, for that strengthening enables him to begin to function in “the spirit realms” as Verse Five puts it. This too has a double meaning. Firstly, it indicates that when he crosses over into the Afterlife, he will be better able to follow the Laws of God. However, it also refers to the fact that even whilst still on earth, he will through mysticism be able to enter the spirit realms and gain enlightenment from his contact with the Higher Beings that dwell therein
It is only through such spiritual contacts that the Higher Self is at last enabled to begin to understand the Laws of God and guide his life thereby, but there is even more depth in this passage. A more literal rendition of the second part of Verse Five would read “he crosses over the ford and loads the tender sprouts of the twin laws.”
A “ford” is a shallow place where a river can easily be crossed and on earth, the path leads to the ford. In this statement the word indicates that point in the development of the Higher Self or Spiritual Man when he is able to leave behind his material interests, even if only for a brief space, and cross over to the spiritual realms through mysticism. By this means he is able to “load” into himself,(or come to understand), the twin spiritual Laws on which all spiritual progress depends.
In other words, the Spiritual Man gains his first understanding of the Twin Laws of God only as a result of his crossing the ford (the path across the threshold) to the other side. (spirit realms)
The Hebrew word that is here translated as Twin Laws is “Dothan”, which is used in a rare dual form, indicating that two things and two alone are meant thereby – a specific meaning that we have tried to convey by the word “twin”. According to Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary, “Dothan” is of Chaldean origin, and its most likely source is the Chaldean “dawth” which refers to the issuing of a royal edict or law. In turn this seems to spring from the primitive root, “dasha” meaning to sprout and otherwise referring to the young tender shoots of fresh new grasses which most readily satisfy the flocks and fatten them. From the latter inference develops a secondary meaning of “sacrifice” because of old the fat was seen as the key element in a sacrifice and linking also with the fatty ashes that are left after a sacrifice has been made. This in turn infers Divine satisfaction with that sacrifice.
Using the first meaning it seems as if we are to speak of Two Laws which obviously refers to the Twin Laws of God, the Law of Retribution (Justice or Karma) and the Law of Love (Sacrifice, Service and Good Deeds). Knowledge of, and adherence to, these Twin Laws are essential to Spiritual progress, but there is also a further message hidden in this passage.
It centres round a key aspect of the Genesis narrative, story – Joseph’s prophetic dreams, which it must be remembered played a major part in the portion of Genesis from which this segment derives. Because of the significance of these mystical dreams the word “mystical” has been used in the text of the Sayings, for although not strictly necessary to the meaning of the message, it obviously serves to clarify this major point. It also indicates that some degree of mystical experience is essential to the perfection of the Spiritual Man as he approaches the end of his lives on earth.
At first, his attempts to follow these Laws “are feeble, like tender sprouts”, but they will gradually develop “until through these Twin Laws his mystical need for God is at last satisfied”.
When the Spiritual Man first begins to know God, his understanding of the Divine Laws is obviously very limited, but as he begins to follow them, he comes to know and understand them better. This in turn encourages further spiritual growth for the better he understands the ways of God, the more he is able to lead others towards the Goal.
This also produces a positive result, for it enables him by observation of his own life and the lives of others to gain still further understanding of God, still greater desire to serve Him and ultimately brings him to the end of his journey, when “Faith is lost in sight”.
Whether or not he has consciously begun to tread the Mystic Path, one who has begun to perceive God, is at last in a position where he can consciously strive after perfection, and this is the key distinction between him and all other mortals.
In Verse Seven he is called a “Man of Vision” and we are told that such an individual “has seen that the Source of Life will increase him and develop him progressively, for God hears him”. This is the key effect of the Path of Perfection. It is no longer just a case of the spirit settling a few debts and trying to avoid incurring more – it is, instead, a positive course of action.
One must make an active effort to help one’s fellow men, or to dedicate one’s life to the service of God, and for this reason the spiritual benefit constantly compounds. This is because the one who is treading the Path will earn good karma for his efforts, and that karma will come to him in the form of further opportunities to do good, which if he takes them will enable him to rise still higher.
In fact, because God is Infinite, there is in theory at least no limit to how high we can rise until at length we become One with Him. Of course there will be many mistakes, failures and backslidings upon the way, but this is our ultimate destiny.
For a time, however, the life of the Spiritual Man “flows between the effects of past karma and the rewards of the life in which God has placed him”. In other words, he is profoundly affected by the karma from his past incarnations, but because of his efforts, God has placed him in a specific life-situation and this, too affects his spiritual development. Others may see that life-situation as being harsh or mild, as easy or as difficult, but whatever it is, it is the situation that God has decreed for him as the best way of giving him the opportunity to progress that can be accommodated within the limits imposed by his accumulated karma
Hence, although he may desire to follow the spiritual Path, it will usually seem that circumstances are conspiring to make it difficult for him to do so, and this is often the case, for it is only by having to fight to do what he believes is right that the spirit can learn to value the spiritual opportunities that God has given him.
Furthermore, this ongoing conflict between his circumstances and his spiritual desires is destined to continue to increase because of the twin effects of the bad karma caused by past errors and the opportunities for progress produced by his present efforts to make spiritual progress. This internal conflict, however, is only to be expected in any man who is beginning to develop his spirituality.
The task is hard and at times the conflict between the Lower and Higher Selves will be bitter. Only gradually will the Physical Man abandon its earthly interests and it may take many lives, but because of the benefits of the Law of Love and Service, once the human spirit has begun to assay the Path, its eventual success is assured, because “The Source of Life shall increase him and develop him progressively”.
In this verse, the important word is “progressively”, because this is the key attribute of the Law of Love. When the Spiritual Man first begins to follow that Law, he does not immediately thereby become perfect. There are many stages along the Way and each can only be taken after the one that precedes it. To put it simply; one good deed may well produce the opportunity to do another, but the Lower Self does not immediately surrender and the bad karma that it has accrued over many lives, may still delay one’s progress, even when all desire for worldly things has long since disappeared and so the life of the Spiritual Man continues to be a struggle.
Many people cannot understand this. They feel that once they sincerely desire to do Right, they will do so automatically, and often they become depressed by the long internal struggle and feeling that perhaps they have made a mistake, turn away again just when the Goal is almost in sight.
Verse 13 warns about this situation “If the Spiritual Man is deceived by such discord and trouble he will not break forth and begin to rule himself.” Learning to “Rule” one’s self is a key achievement, for it is only once we have done so that we can embark on the final stages of our earthly journey.
No one can be allowed to lead and guide others along the Path unless they have reached this stage, and one who seeks to do so beforehand, may well be the victim of a spiritual pride that will not only ensure that he fails in his efforts, but may well mean that he also leads others astray.
The desire to praise God is often associated with acts of worship, but for many it is triggered by nothing more than convention or even a desire to placate God’s wrath. A true desire to praise God is very different, for it springs from a realization of just What God is, a realization that has often come quite suddenly after many years of struggle.
Once gained, however, this realization may well become permanent, and if it does, then it provides one of the clearest possible indications that the Spiritual man has begun to “rule himself” – it means that he has become so absorbed in God that he has no desire but to do His will; he literally “rests in the long-hidden, noble splendour of that praise.
This high degree of internal peace and serenity is in stark contrast to his life before that time, in which he has allowed his Lower Self, the Physical Man to lead him to pursue material things. We are told “the one who values material possessions is in anguish because of his riches. He wastes his strength guarding them but cannot achieve peace, for he is deceived.”
When they think about it, even the most materialistic of people will usually admit this. Their lives are not peaceful, but full of worries and hard work – if they are not working to increase their wealth, they are usually worrying about how to make sure that others do not take from them that which they have collected.
Such people often fear the loss of worldly possessions as much as the loss of a loved one, but they are deceived, for such things have no lasting value and eventually they will have no further use for them, as again most will cheerfully acknowledge. However, even if he admits that he “cannot take them with him” the Physical Man still fears the loss of his material possessions and is constantly on guard against thieves and con-men.
Strangely, perhaps, “the man who praises God is also watchful, but he is upright, like a palm tree, awake to praise God,” as Verse 17 puts it. This may seem strange, for how shall he be at rest, yet also watchful? He is at rest, because when he is contemplating God and praising Him, this alone is sufficient to satisfy his Spiritual needs, yet he is also alert for things that may enable him to advance still further on the Path and there are many of these. Perhaps it is simply the opportunity to help another; perhaps it is an answer to a prayer he has once made, perhaps it is some dream or mystical experience that enhances his own understanding of God!
However, no matter what it may be, the Higher Self knows that God is able to help him in many different ways and he remains fully alert to seize such opportunities. The simile of being upright like a palm tree, introduces the idea of his spiritual Uprightness and we are told that “the worship of the Upright brings peace”. We can understand this, but why should “the worship of the Strong be in vain”?
What this is really saying is that those who rely on their own Strength will gain little from worshipping God and in this term we can see a reflection of the New Testament, “hypocrites” that are condemned by Christ. The Upright Man is at peace BECAUSE he “is free to cry out praises to God” and an even more “splendid portion is assigned to him if he remains upright” In other words, as a reward for his efforts, he will receive spiritual benefits, both in this life and hereafter, whilst all the while he is able to continue worshipping in peace.
The Progress of the Higher Self is clearly linked with its relationship with God – the better it comes to know Him, the more rapidly it advances towards its Goal.
“The man who praises God finds his rest in that worship”, we read in Verse 22 but this merely continues the theme of the earlier verses. Public worship is merely the outer form of man’s relationship with God and it usually consists of making offerings of some sort, showing reverence, prayer and praise.
In this section of the Sayings, references to praise and worship are not referring to such public forms of worship, but to man’s personal relationship with God. It is the depth and sincerity of that relationship that enables him to “find his rest in that worship” in other words he is able to lose himself wholly therein.
Verse 23 perhaps expresses this concept best by saying: “He celebrates his Uprightness by praising God and worships in Peace”. Praising and worshipping God is the natural expression of Uprightness – it is not just something we do because it is our duty, it is the natural result of trying to do well.
This process of spiritual growth and worship may continue for some time, but as long as it is sincere, it will eventually, “burst forth” – in other words the Spiritual Man goes from being merely a Seeker to a being a Teacher as well. Sometimes the transition is quite sudden there is a sudden upwelling of spiritual knowledge and power within him and it “bursts forth to spread the word”. However, it must be clearly understood that one does not simply decide to teach others – one is called to that task by God Himself.
Initially He simply increases “that which is hidden”, the spiritual life-force that is His natural response to sincere praise and worship. This in turn makes it ready to “break forth” but the final action, which may have been many years or even many lives in the preparing, still requires “much effort” and even then it increases “only with difficulty”.
It is never easy to work for God, and even when we know we have been called to do so, in many cases, it may seem to us that our work achieves very little and that that little has come at a great personal cost to us. Always remember, however, that God judges not as man judges, and although to man our life’s work may seem to be of trifling importance, then as long as we have done our best, in His eyes, it will have achieved all that He desired. Remember, too that if we truly have no wish but to serve His Will then that is all that will really matter to us.
Thus the mere fact that a man possesses sufficient wealth to render work unnecessary, itself provides a great test, for it gives him the chance to devote his life to the pursuit of the spiritual, as well as to the service of God or his fellow mortals. Unfortunately, this test is frequently failed.
In general, mysticism plays some part in the later stages of the spiritual development of every spirit, and at least some form of mystical ability generally develops during one or more of the last few incarnations, for thus the evolving spirit is prepared to function in the Higher realms. Note, however that this does not always happen in the very last life, and there have been many saints who apparently had no such experiences in that final incarnation.
It also featured strongly in Ancient Israel, though the Jewish authorities rejected it in the centuries before Christ came.
Faith is defined by St Paul as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11; 1) and is the only way for the non-mystic to come to know God. The non-mystic must walk by faith accepting that God is What He Is because of what he has been taught by others, or perhaps because he has read what others have written and believes it, with or without some degree of rationalisation. The mystic, by contrast, no longer walks by faith, for the Mystic KNOWS.
Note, in this context we are not just speaking of the Astral and Spirit Planes, but also of those Higher Spiritual Realms in which dwell those whom we call the Saints and Angels. It is usually from these beings that the mystic receives guidance and advice, not just from those on the Astral or Spirit Planes, who will usually be no more spiritually advanced than he, and often less so.
All spirits, good and bad, are subject to the Law of Karma which acts automatically, rather like Newton’s Third Law of Motion – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, the Law of karma acts only in a circle, and its best possible result is that the spirit will sink no lower – it can never rise any higher by that Law alone, and in practice it often sinks lower accumulating more and more karma as time goes by. It is only when a spirit reaches the stage in its development that it begins to glimpse the Law of Love and starts to work thereby. It is only then that it can seriously hope to achieve the end of the Quest, yet even the most spiritual beings are still subject to the Law of Karma and it is the interaction between these Twin Divine Laws that governs the final stages of a man’s earthly journeyings.
We hear a lot about the great mystics and their wonderful experiences, but most mystics never reach such heights. An occasional vision or dream with a spiritual significance, a feeling that God has called them, or that He wishes them to do some specific work for Him, even an answered prayer – these may be the limit of the mystical experiences that most people receive. Nevertheless, whether basic or advanced, such mystical experiences are the means that allow each soul to come to know God. (This does not mean that if we lack such experiences in this incarnation we are still far from perfection, for perhaps we have passed that test in a previous life.)
Obviously the reverse is true of the sinner who turns away from mere slothful indifference to an active pursuit of evil in some form or another, for his misdeeds will bring down upon himself more and more karma and that in turn will constantly expose him to the temptation of doing still greater wrong. With Evil, however, as we have seen, there always comes a “Halting Place” and this is philosophically inevitable, because even the worst Evil is far from being Infinite. In the case of Good, however, God is Infinite, and so there is no limit to His Goodness, and therefore no limit as to how high we may climb. Ultimately we shall achieve perfection through Union with Him.
Christ warned his Apostles of the serious results of leading others astray. In St Luke 16; 1 – 2, He says “. . . . It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” In other words, although “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins”, (St James 5; 20) if we take it upon ourselves to lead others along the Path and lead them astray, the karma of that misdeed will be very heavy.
A superstitious attitude that can only be compared to the way that a courtier may seek to curry favour with an earthly tyrant by flattery
It also reflects the eastern form of worship in which one stood with arms raised in supplication much like the branches of a palm tree when seen in silhouette.(perhaps a pictogram of hieroglyph)
In St Matthew 6; 5, Christ tells his disciples “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:” and then goes on to condemn ostentation in prayer, which He contrasted with a simple personal relationship with God. This is what is meant here.
Among the Israelites sacrifice consisted of burning incense and the giving of tithes as well as the actual slaughter of animals. Among Christians the offering of animal sacrifices has been replaced by the One Sacrifice of Christ, but the other forms of worship have remained much the same throughout religious history. It is not clear whether or not the followers of Melchizedek offered animal sacrifices, although there is no indication of it, hence, perhaps, the emphasis on praise and worship in the Sayings.
This explains why many of the saints have felt themselves “called” by God from a very early age. In each life what we see, is only the “tip of the iceberg” and such a definite call early in life is merely the end result of many lives of quiet service and steady spiritual growth.