October 27, 2019
John Gray: There is a great amount of revered poetry in the literature of human cultures and languages the world around. Poetry is defined in my dictionary as "writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm." That definition is longer than some poems! I think of a poem as imagery and meaning expressed through spare, carefully chosen words which touch the heart. I admire the work of anyone, past or present, skilled in this language art. We might think, for examples, of famed poets such as Shakespeare and Rumi, Homer and Milton, Poe, Walt Whitman, Lao Tzu, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Pablo Neruda, and their profound, insightful, and lasting inspirational works. To me, however, nothing new or old surpasses the poetry found in the King James Version of the Bible.
I have it on reasonable authority—Wikipedia!—that in the seven-plus years from 1604 to 1611 the King James version of the Bible was produced by forty-seven translators, most of them leading biblical scholars in England. The New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic. The Book of Psalms in the Old Testament contains 150 poetic writings, many attributed to King David during his reign in Israel around 1000 BCE. Some of the Psalms are considered to be of far more ancient origin, however, dating back before human history as we know it and older than any religion. The 24th Psalm, a treasured favorite has, to me, that ancient, timeless quality. It begins:
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." [Ps. 24:1]
A full understanding of that single line would change the world! Most people imagine the earth is ours to do with as we please, but, more than ever these days, many see the fallacy of that belief. That attitude has wrought havoc on the planet, our home. You may have noticed a reminder of this, as I did, on a climate change demonstrator's placard: "There is no Planet B!"
What about my personal "earth," my physical body? And who is the Lord to whom it belongs? The old English root of the word lord means "loaf-giver." The Lord—personally, for our planet, for all creation—is the provider of the bread of life. We humans, as earthly creatures, are not the sources of the life we experience. Life is a gift of the loaf giver. Planet Earth, all who inhabit it, and everything else, belong to, and are in reality one with the provider of life. In fact, everything that exists is a manifestation of this One.
Here are two more lines from this uplifting poem:
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." [Ps. 24:3-4]
As we unpack the symbolic language in this poetic expression its transcendent imagery is revealed. The "hill of the Lord" is an elevated state of consciousness in which, among other things, human beings know the loaf giver's presence. Who will ascend into that experience? Who will rise into holiness, which is spiritual wholeness? The answers are given in the next line. Having "clean hands" refers to clear and clean actions in living, free of self-serving motivations. Pure hearts are not beguiled by the darkness of ignorance but are filled with light. Our souls are our facilities for living on earth. In a line from another ancient poem in the Book of Genesis we see that in the beginning man was created of the material, the substance, of the earth, and the Lord God breathed into him the breath of life, and "man became a living soul." [Gen. 2:7] Our souls were not and are not created to subsist in the vanity of a false identity, but to be one with God on earth. Swearing deceitfully has to do with living a lie rather than expressing the truth of ourselves. So, here is a concise four-part instruction for ascending the "hill" into oneness with the source of life. If I've waxed a little professorial here, it's my wish to illustrate how the way to know the truth of ourselves was and is already provided for human beings, and has been from way, way back.
In recent decades heritage seed banks have been established here and there in the world in an effort to preserve and protect plant life in seed form in the event of large scale catastrophe or cataclysm. To the countries and people maintaining these seed banks, they're vitally important projects. Maybe a few sense there is something big in the offing? The word cataclysm derives from Greek roots meaning, "to flood, to wash," and catastrophe also has a Greek origin meaning, "to overturn." The human condition could use a good washing and overturning, so this may well be something to rejoice about!
But for ages before safeguarding plant seeds became popular, and since, heritage seeds of a different kind have been sown. Some of their essences are preserved within the forms of words. Light-seeds are meant to germinate and grow in human consciousness, and they do when the right conditions are present. Metaphorically these conditions are fecund soil, adequate moisture, warmth, sunlight, and time. Or in terms of the 24th Psalm, a pure heart, clean hands, no vanity, and no deceit. Impure hearts are not fertile; that soil is hardpan, toxic. There is little chance for light-seeds to germinate and grow under those conditions.
The poetic words of the 24th Psalm have been around for millennia, and countless people have read them and heard them, and marveled at their beauty and wondered about their true meaning. Generations of scholars have sought to extract, to dig out, the meanings of such writings, but that's akin to digging up bean seeds in a garden plot to see if they're sprouting—rather foolish and futile, obviously. The conditions essential to germinating light-seeds must be provided by the gardener. And who are the gardeners? Who was and is created to dress and keep the garden? Collectively we haven't been doing a great job of caring for garden Earth, but we are each divinely equipped to do so, if we will.
The opposite of digging around trying to unearth the truth is what we might call radiant seeing and radiant hearing. We may believe we read words on a page, for example, but we actually perceive those symbols in our own consciousness, right? We see truly only by expressing sufficient light to illuminate what we're looking at. If we don't let our light shine, we don't see. And we hear truly as we generate sufficient atmosphere to carry and convey the sound, the tone, of spirit. Absent that atmosphere we're effectively deaf. It then seems that spirit isn't present at all. What a forlorn state! If we do not see and hear for ourselves what is true and real, we're left with only what other people tell and show us, and what a mix of stuff that is! Multiply the situation by seven billion and we have the confused collective human condition.
However, as we provide the right conditions, myriad light-seeds quickly spring to life in our awareness. The seeds of enlightenment and understanding are already in us—more than enough to grow a whole new garden. We are made in the image and likeness of God, the loaf giver, after all—and before all, too! Without the living experience of this reality, we're make-believe people existing in a make-believe world. In this state just about everyone is captivated by an illusory self which convincingly presents itself as real. There is a way, however, to come out of this state.
Let's look at one more powerful line from the 24th Psalm:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." [Ps. 24:7] This divine invitation and promise is offered to each and every individual human being, as well as to the mass body of humanity as a singular whole. The individual "King of glory" is the focus of life animating each person—the Angel or God being incarnate, the loaf giver. For the whole body of humankind there is likewise a King of Glory, One who has long been excluded in fact from almost all human experience. This King is not the figurehead of religious belief. As long as human consciousness holds itself captive in the realm of belief the King of glory cannot come in. "Lift up your heads…"—turn attention upward in humility, lift your heart and mind in love, and the King of glory fills your soul. Note that the verse says the King of glory shall come in, not might. No maybes. Open wide the gates and doors of mind and heart, and welcome the ever-present One. Then we discover, as Zen teacher Cherie Huber says, "What I am seeking is causing me to seek, because it is me."
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."
Here, in just four lines of exquisite poetry from this ancient psalm, is the secret of life hidden in plain sight—everything anyone needs to know to experience and be who they really are! And no beliefs are necessary.
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