2; The Way of Sinful Man 2018-02-08T08:41:56+00:00

Having provided an outline of the Way of Return in the first chapter of the Sayings of Melchizedek, the second discusses the problems of Sinful Man – how he lives, what he does and the spiritual effects of those actions. It begins as “the Way of Sinful Man”, but it ends as do all sinners, with the completion of the round of earthly incarnations.

Sayings Text Commentary
1. The physical body is in darkness when it is bound to the world and stifled by worldly desires. The key to understanding this chapter lies in the phrase “bound to the world”, which describes the effect that a preoccupation with worldly desires has upon the human spirit.
2. Physical desires cause suffering and trouble because they bind the spirit to earth life. Firstly such a concern with the physical means that, spiritually-speaking, “the physical body is in darkness” – in other words it has blinded itself to spiritual things. We are also told that it is “stifled by worldly desires”. Now whilst this obviously applies to the spirit, it may seem strange that we are told that “the physical body” is stifled by them. However, it is true that even in a physical sense, material possessions never satisfy for long; we find ourselves smothered by the cares that increasing possessions bring. Physical desires do indeed “cause suffering and trouble” and in verse 2 we are told why – “because they bind the spirit to earth life.”
3. Such troubles keep the spirit imprisoned by its low desires. Such worldly troubles prevent us from concentrating on the spiritual even if we wished to do so. Most people are so beset with the need to earn a living or to accumulate wealth that they just do not have he time to devote to spiritual matters. So, we can say that although the desire for material things leads the human spirit away from God, the troubles they bring with them serve to bind it to mortal life, where it is “imprisoned by its low desires”.
4. Walking in darkness, the spirit entered the sleep of descent where confusion expands. Such a spirit is indeed “walking in darkness” for he cannot see the spiritual light, and as a result it constantly takes the path of least difficulty – the downward path. Spiritually it is asleep and dropping ever further downwards, a process which is described as “the sleep of descent”.
5. The vessel of the spirit becomes centred on ambition and personal whims. And as it goes ever further from God, is spiritual confusion continues to worsen, so that even its conscience becomes corrupted and it comes to see wrong as being right. As a result its spiritual aims are reduced to a desire to advance its own selfish interests and to satisfy its personal whims.
6. As a result his mind is divided from God. We are told that this makes its “mind is divided from God”, the implication being that it is not merely separated from Him, but filled with divisions within itself.
7. To be freed from that confusion, one must, grow spiritually. The only cure for this internal confusion is to “grow spiritually” – in other words to cease from the low desires and take the Path of repentance described in the previous chapter.
8. When a man has done so, he will be able to act rightly, because he has learned to control his tongue. Only when this has been done will the spirit be able to do what is right, and note, that in no small measure, this depends on learning to control the tongue. This is what St James means when he says that unless a righteous man controls his tongue his righteousness is in vain (James 1; 26)
9. Thus his exterior growth is completed. “Thus his exterior growth is completed” – in other words, learning to control the tongue is one of the last steps on the Path of Perfection and one of the hardest. But it only marks the completion of the external growth. The internal struggle against self is still to be won.
10. Those who are not free undergo tribulations from birth. Then the text turns back to those who have not yet completed even their external growth. It describes them as “Those who are not free” and also says that they “undergo tribulations from birth”. This refers to the fact that their accumulated karma impacts on them from the moment of their birth on earth. Remember, here we are talking of those who are not just failures on the Path – we are talking of those who have deliberately turned away from God and it is only through the harsh discipline of karma that they can be reached, for they spurn the Path of Love, seeing it as a sign of weakness.
11. But they have hearts of stone and nothing will change them. “They have hearts of stone and nothing will change them.
12. Such men can only progress through suffering, and many lives on earth eventually change them into seekers. Such men can only progress through suffering”. In other words, the pursuit of worldly values, which initially merely dulled the conscience, leads in time to the complete disregard for everything good. If this is all that happens such spirits will simply be bound to the cycle of rebirth, until their many lives on earth eventually change them into seekers.
13. The way of the flesh is for a man to seek material possessions, because he fears to journey without them. However, “the way of the flesh is for a man to seek material possessions” and we are told that this desire is in large measure fueled by fear of not having possessions. “He fears to journey without them” we are told, and this is true, but if one has faith in God, one does not suffer from this fear – or at least one is better able to keep it under control.
14. Not caring who he harms to feed his desires, he rebels against God’s will. For the man without faith, it is this fear that dominates him. He may not initially do evil for its own sake, but he has no concern for the welfare of others and will do whatever it takes to “feed his desires” and thus he is led to “rebel against God’s Will” in other words do increasingly wicked things.
15. The preoccupation with material things even affects him after death. “The preoccupation with material things even affects him after death.” This is true even in small things. If we are heavily influenced by purely physical addictions, whether it be food, sex or drugs,
16. They weigh down his spirit body and make him wicked. we will find it very hard to make progress even on the Astral Plane, where they will tend to draw our attention back to the physical world and may even lead us to try to interfere therein, with all the evil karma that such actions bring in their train. When we pass on to the Spirit Plane such desires have an even more dramatic effect.
17.  Falling into Hell, such a man abuses others. “They weigh down his spirit body and make him wicked”. This is a very accurate description of life on the lower parts of the Spirit Plane – the Realms of Unbelief, that we loosely call Hell.
18.  He rebels against God and breaks His Laws. The spirit form of a good spirit is wrought of light, but the spirit form of an evil spirit is wrought of darkness that quite literally “weighs it down”, so that it sinks ever lower in Hell until it reaches the level that is appropriate to its degree of wickedness.
19. As a result he is imprisoned by the fires of his own anger In Hell, “such a man abuses others. He rebels against God and breaks His Laws”.
20. The materialist seeks only his earthly needs, but is eventually brought to a halt. The more evil spirits in Hell abuse others, and are thereby led to sink even lower by the additional karma they thereby incur, imprisoned, as we are told “.by the fires of his own anger.
21. He is imprisoned in Hell, as if in a tomb, where his worldly desires are stripped away from him. This is the eventual fate of those who on earth seek only for their own earthly needs. They sink steadily lower, life after life, until they either repent, or are trapped in Hell. There, unable to escape to earth life again their downward journey is eventually halted by the suffering that their accumulated karma has brought upon them.
22. Ultimately he is freed from them and bursts forth to earth life again. We read that “He is imprisoned in Hell[1], as if in a tomb” and the comparison is peculiarly apt. At this point in the history of Palestine one was commonly buried by being sealed up in a cave, just as happened with Sarah in the cave at Machpelah (Genesis 23; 19) and as indeed happened with Christ. Similarly, being imprisoned in Hell, means that one is kept in darkness, hemmed round by strong barriers, just as was the human body of Christ before He burst forth in the glory of the Resurrection.
23. The enlightened man knows the secret of eternal life. In Hell, we are told, “his worldly desires are stripped away from him” and “Ultimately he is freed from them and bursts forth to earth life again”, even as Christ did at the moment of His Resurrection
 24.  He is happy and prospers. The text then follows this soul, which has returned to earth-life from Hell, enlightened by its experiences. It tells us that “The enlightened man knows the secret of eternal life. He is happy and prospers”.
 25. By overcoming self, he is healed of the desire for precedence. In other words, even though he may still have many earth-lives ahead of him, the spirit which has learned its lessons, may well attain much happiness and prosperity even on earth. Nor is this only speaking of spiritual prosperity, for having learned the true worth of material things, and having settled that karma, it may well enjoy a degree of worldly sufficiency.
 26. As he circles through life after life on earth, his purpose is to achieve heavenly peace. Indeed this is necessary if it is to progress further, for it can hardly ponder long on spiritual matters if its material circumstances compel it to spend all its time earning a living.
 27. His earthly journeys are divided between good and evil It is by overcoming self and the desire for self-aggrandizement that such a spirit is “healed of the desire for precedence”. This refers to pride – to the desire for the “best seats in the synagogue” as Christ puts it (St Luke 411; 43 & 14; 7-10). Such a spirit will circle through life after life on earth ever seeking “to achieve heavenly peace”.
 28. His desire for physical things becomes less as he wearies with the world, and in His own good
time God gathers him from earth through death.
In some lives it will make spiritual progress, in others it will go backwards, or as the text puts it “His earthly journeys are divided between good and evil”. Even within each life this is true – sometimes we do well for a space and then we turn away from God, only to turn back again, usually because some tragedy or disaster has reminded us that He Exists, but the term “earthly journeys” seems to indicate that this refers to how each individual life is judged when they are completed – some are considered to have been good, some evil.
 29.  In that place of light the Divine Spark within him is raised higher, rising steadily to ultimate victory. However, unless the spirit takes some dramatic turn for better or worse, this sort of attitude usually continues for several lives, until eventually it wearies of the world, realising that it contains little of lasting value. As a result of this change of attitude it comes to pursue the things of the spirit, and eventually “in His own good time God gathers him from earth through death.” This may or may not mark the end of its time on earth, but even if it has not learned all its lessons, it has made much progress, and when it dies, it will enter the higher parts of the Spirit Plane.
30.Freed from the physical, the spirit thus returns to its original state. Thus it comes to dwell in a “place of light” and it is in these realms that “the Divine Spark within him is raised higher, rising steadily to ultimate victory”. This may or may not mean that it has completed its earthly journeying, for even in the higher parts of the spirit Plane, it will not always rise to the highest of which it is capable, but it does mean that if it continues in the Path it has chosen it will eventually achieve its goal.
31. Finally, from suffering and strain comes forth joy as he brings his harvest of good deeds from all his many lives, back to the recording scroll of God The reason that it is able to make so much more progress on the Spirit Plane than on the Physical is simply that; it is “freed from the physical” which will always tend to drag it back to materialism. Without the suffering and strain that physical life entails it will eventually be enabled to return to its “original state” – in other words to “Paradise” from which it first descended to earth life so many lives before.

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[1] Just how long such a man may spend in Hell varies enormously, but it may well exceed the “normal maximum” spent on the Spirit Plane, many times over. The spiritual laws governing this are quite well known but this is not the time or place to discus them

[2] Quite simply, this is because no physical brain could possibly hold all the memories of so many incarnations, to say nothing of those linked with experiences on the Astral and Spirit Planes. It is only when we no longer have a need for a physical body that we can be permitted to access such a vast accumulation of knowledge and experience, because only a non-physical mind, untrammelled by physical limitations could hope to accommodate so much.

 

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