3; Starting to Take the Higher Path

3; Starting to Take the Higher Path 2018-02-08T08:41:56+00:00

In several places the third chapter seems to be a little less of a connected narrative than its predecessors. It is, perhaps more like what may have been the original form of the “Sayings of Melchizedek” a series of short pithy statements. However, it also contains a number of key themes connected with the spirit that is beginning to follow the Higher Path and life after death.

Sayings Text Commentary
1. A divided mind confounds the primitive spirit. The main difference between primitive and more evolved spirits lies in their attitude towards spiritual matters. We are told that the primitive spirit is confounded by his divided mind; in other words, because he is constantly torn between the things of the world and the things of the spirit he is unable to make spiritual progress. By contrast a more advanced spirit, one who is called an “Upright Man” is called “enlightened and refreshed” and for this reason, progresses more rapidly.
2. The upright man is enlightened and refreshed. Such a man may well become known for his spirituality, thereby leading others to make spiritual progress. This is what is meant by the phrase “healing and giving life everywhere”, but it is the last phrase “bringing peace” that is significant. It means helping others to come to be at peace with one another, but more especially with God.
3. His renown spreads over the earth, healing and giving life everywhere and bringing peace. When a spirit that is at peace, reaches the end of its earthly incarnation it “passes in Peace” – in other words, its death is serene and calm because of its strong belief and it is because of this that it “revives on the other side” in other words, it is able to begin to live once again, after its earthly death.
4. The one who passes in Peace revives on the other side. However, the statement also implies that the contrary may be true of those who do not “pass in peace”. In other words it seems to indicate that those who die in a less spiritual state do not revive and live again – at least not speedily and those who are psychic suggest that this is indeed what happens.
5. The one who passes is divided from his days on earth but on the other side in that half of the river of life he finds pasture. However, the statement also implies that the contrary may be true of those who do not “pass in peace”. In other words it seems to indicate that those who die in a less spiritual state do not revive and live again – at least not speedily and those who are psychic suggest that this is indeed what happens.

The next verse makes it plain that it is the Afterlife that is being discussed. “The one who passes is divided from his days on earth”, we are told – in other words he is separated from the physical world, but he is still alive, still immersed in the same Divine Life Force that nourished his spirit when he was on earth, only he is now in the other “half of the river of life”. There, we are told he finds pasture, a phrase that has both practical and spiritual connotations.

6. In that life he is pastured by a friend and together they tend the flock. It makes use of a simile that will be understood by all herdsmen, the need for pasture, and remember, not only Abraham, but most of the other peoples of the region were herdsmen at that time – city-dwellers and settled farmers were the exception, rather than the rule. In this context it also means that the good spirit will find spiritual sustenance in the After-life. Christ Himself made use of this phrase in a similar context, when he told His hearers that those who follow His precepts will “go in and out and find pasture”. (St John 10; 9) Or in other words, because they follow Him, they will pass into and out of earth life, perhaps many times, but no matter where they may be, they will be sustained by the spiritual life force from God.

Both the simile and the message, continues in verse 6. “In that life he is pastured by a friend and together they tend the flock”. There are a number of key points in this passage. Firstly we get another acknowledgement that the discarnate spirit is still alive, though it is a different type of life to that which we know on earth and in that life it not merely finds pasture, it is fed that pasture by “a friend”. It is not completely clear whether this friend is the Salvator Himself, as David seems to suggest in Psalm 23

[3], or whether this is a reference to the way that our friends do come to greet us when we pass over to the “Other Side”. The last phrase possibly indicates the latter, for after “the one who passes” has been pastured by this “friend”, we are told that the two of them then “tend the flock” together.
7. Entwined and wrapped together, they repent together till repentance slays sin and they wait at the gate of rebirth in penitence. Verse 7 continues this theme of togetherness; “Entwined and wrapped together” and suggests a friendship that almost equates to union, which again introduces a third possible explanation of this “friend”. The Hebrew name from which this phrase also refers to the tendril of a vine and simile may well represent at the way individual vine branches wind about one another to make a single sturdy plant. Perhaps this is a reference to the spirit and the soul in each individual such as we had in the story of Adam and Eve, for note, the two are also joined in their repentance. Eventually, as we know “repentance slays sin” and their time on the “Other side” being ended, they await in penitence, their rebirth on earth.
8. Waiting at the gate delays reaching the height, but repentance brings strength.
9. Waiting at the gate delays reaching the height, but repentance brings strength. The phrase “gate of rebirth” is one we still use today and all those who have not completed their earthly lessons eventually have to pass through that gate, back to earth life. Often, however, even an advanced spirit will hesitate to take this step, for if we on earth fear to approach the gate of death, how much more will one fear the gate of rebirth? Surely, of the two, rebirth is much more to be feared, for after death, we know that we will at least retain most of our earthly memories and as long as we have developed our spiritual faculties on earth, they will enable us to function in the spiritual realms. After re-birth, on the other hand, most of our memories are usually lost and certainly as a babe, we have little or no ability to function in the physical state and are completely dependent on those around us.
10. Strength concealed is strength that delays growth. No wonder the spirit hesitates at the gate, or perhaps it is the fears of the soul that hold it back, for remember the soul is always more susceptible to emotions than is the spirit.

Nevertheless, waiting only “delays reaching the height”, (the ending of the quest) and with the strength engendered by its repentance for past misdeeds, eventually the spirit and soul together, pluck up the courage to re-enter earth-life. The damage that waiting can cause is significant and this point cannot be over-emphasised, which is possibly why the verse is repeated exactly.

The last few verses of this chapter seem to be little more than a collection of maxims, or proverbs, yet they still follow the same theme, setting out a number of the requirements for starting to take the Higher Path

11. The Wise exalt high ideals and slay hostility. The term “High Ideals” is pretty plain, but we may well ask what is meant by hostility. This is none other than a pre-figuring of Christ’s better-known command “Love your enemies” (St Matthew 5; 44)
12. Repenting brings strength to the one who would rule as queen. Repentance is equated with spiritual strength, but the interesting thing about verse 12 is the use of the female term “Queen”. Clearly the implication is that one eventually come to rule one’s own destiny, but the use of the female suggests that not only this verse, but possibly also the whole chapter is concerned with the actions of the soul, which as we have seen is always represented as feminine.
13. The One who would be Queen is watchful for hostility delays reaching the Height and concealed strength twists high ideals. Verse 13 emphasises this point, and a couple of previous ones, explaining why hostility should be slain, because it “delays reaching the Height” and also that “concealed strength (not using our full efforts) not only delays growth, but may also twist or warp the high ideals that we do have. (This is because some of our energies are directed in another direction.)
14. Material prosperity in the wise who would scale the heights, will keep her waiting at the gate and delay her from scaling the heights. Verse 14 contains another reference to material prosperity. This is not referring to a desire for material things, for by the time it has reached this stage, the spirit is unlikely to be easily swayed by such a crude temptation. On the other hand, the mere possession of material wealth can provide considerable distractions and thus delay one’s attempt to scale the heights of perfection.

This further use of the phrase “waiting at the gate” refers this time to the “gateway to the path of Perfection”, which significantly is said by St Terese of Avila to be “Renunciation” – in other words the giving up of worldly goods and of any desire for them. Clearly although she had not read these Sayings, she like all true Saints followed the same ancient Wisdom.

15. Delaying the implementation of high ideals slays their strength and certainly strengthens the darkness. Delaying to implement one’s high ideals certainly reduces their strength as verse 15 says, adding that it also “strengthens the darkness” a reference to the darkness of sin, which to a greater or lesser extent, is still attached to any but the most perfect mortals. It strengthens the darkness because spiritual darkness can only be destroyed by spiritual light and this in turn is produced only when we implement our ideals, not merely when we think about them.

In other words, whilst good thoughts and high ideals are certainly better than the opposite, they are of little spiritual advantage to the individual until they are turned into actions

16. This conceals the light within the wise ones. It is this darkness of sin that “conceals the light within the wise ones” – in other words, sin veils the spiritual radiance of the Divine Spark within each one of us, that would otherwise blaze forth in splendour as did the Spirit Form of Christ during His Transfiguration, and as it also blazes forth in each good spirit, when not veiled by the physical envelope of our earthly bodies.
17. High ideals are slain by quarrelling, The last two proverbs need little further elucidation; Quarrelling clearly destroys both High Ideals and any chance of receiving good advice from others, so we must guard against this tendency and try to live in peace with all men. As to why this should be so – we have already seen that in order for High Ideals to be of real value, they must produce actions, for actions are of more value than mere thoughts.
18. Quarrelling slays counsel, so be watchful. However it is equally true that if we do wrong things, such as quarrelling with those we should be trying to help, such negative actions will ultimately stifle any tendency to do good that we may have, but which we never exercise[4].

 

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[1]Sometimes they may remain thus for a considerable space of time, despite the efforts of their friends to rouse them, much as a man may remain in a coma her on earth, despite the best efforts of medical science to awaken him

[2]For instance it is called the River Styx in Greek mythology and in China it is the Pearl River.

[3]In this Psalm, however, David does not speak of “My spirit”, but of “My soul” (verse 3) – thus by inference it is “my soul” that is led to pasture (verse 2) and this introduces a third possible explanation. We have up to this point been using the term “spirit” to describe the individual, but it is at least possible that what is being described here is the passing of the “soul” not the spirit, in which case the soul’s friend is its own “spirit”, which is naturally quite at home in the realms of Spirit. This thus presents the same theology as does the allegory of Adam and Eve.

[4] The reverse is also true. If we force ourselves to do good deeds, even if not always from the highest motives, we shall gradually stifle any conflicting evil thoughts. This even applies in the conquest of other faults. If we are trying to overcome our dislike of some person, if we can force ourselves to pray for that person’s welfare and happiness, such prayers, will greatly assist us in doing so, and may even lead to us being able to exhibit the greatest of all the virtues that Christ enjoined upon us “Love your enemies”.