As the sun is the joy of those that wait for daybreak
So my joy is the Lord.
For he is my sun
And his rays have roused me.
His light has dispelled all darkness from my face;
Through him I have obtained eyes,
And have seen his holy day.
Ears have become mine,
And I have heard his truth.
I have received the thought of knowledge,
And through it I have lived fully.
The way of error I have discarded,
And I have walked towards him,
And I have received salvation from him ungrudgingly.
Odes of Solomon, Ode 15
The composer of this ode presents us with a beautiful image. The sun gives life to all things on earth. Without the sun there would be no life at all. Even when it is night the sun is maintaining our planet and sustaining our lives. And for those who are cold or afraid, the night is bearable only because they know that the sun will rise and daybreak will come. For them, the return of the sun is a great joy.
Using the simile of daybreak, the author tells us that in the darkness of his worldly existence, the Lord is his joy. There are many things that we need to survive in life in addition to physical light and warmth – and many things that bring us joy. We need love. We need hope. We need that fire of life within us, to propel us forward through our days. We look for warmth and joy in many ways, whether it is through our friends and families, our careers, or perhaps through our sense of belonging in society.
But mystics warn us that nothing here is permanent. Everything that we see and all that we experience is subject to change and dissolution. In the world, the pleasures and comfort that we get are at worst insufficient and at best only temporary. If we want to rid ourselves of that emptiness and loneliness that strikes at us in the darkness of our nights, we need to look towards that power that brought the creation into existence and sustains it even now. They say if you want to find true joy, look to the Lord.
For he is my sun and his rays have roused me
Saints and Masters are shining suns in our lives because they point the way to the Lord. They give out their teachings to those who seek the light of the Lord, regardless of what social background they come from and irrespective of their religious backgrounds, showing us the spiritual message that is hidden in all of our scriptures.
Just as we do not have to pay for the privilege of living in the sun, the teachings of the saints are free of charge. They want nothing from us, only to share their message with those who are seeking the light of the divine.
Just as the rays of the morning sun wake us from our slumber, Masters come to awaken us from the sleep of ignorance. So it is that we begin to know that there is more to life than this daily grind; beauty beyond our finest paintings; greater satisfaction beyond the temporary distractions we find here, and that it is possible to achieve peace and bliss. At last we understand our full potential and who we really are. We are not just the body, the emotions and the mind – our true self is our soul.
Just as a plant leans towards the sunlight, so too we lean towards the light of the Master and his teachings. The power of the sun draws life to it irresistibly. Even weeds push through concrete to find it. The Master is our sun – we irresistibly grow towards him. The Persian poet, Hafiz, says: “How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being.”
His light has dispelled all darkness from my face
All Masters are rays that come from the one sun, which is the Lord. We, in our ignorance, divide their teachings. But the Masters have always emanated out of that same light. The rays may be many but there is only one sun. When we begin to imbibe the teachings of the saints and gain understanding, the darkness of ignorance and division starts to leave us. In Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V, Maharaj Sawan Singh writes:
The Saints tell us that there is but one father of all creation. He is the Lord of all the worlds put together. He is their sustainer. He does not belong to any particular caste or creed…. All religions preach the same ethical and spiritual truths. Their principal teachings are that a man should be of good conduct, have faith in the Lord and should finally merge into him.
By working to withdraw our consciousness within and upwards, we can realize the Divine in our human lifetime and so dispel the darkness that enshrouds us, the darkness of the five negative passions that cloud our mind and soul.
Saints teach us the spiritual practice which will enable our vision to be cleared: repetition to enable us to achieve concentration, contemplation to hold our attention, and the technique of listening to the ringing radiance or Shabd, which is the power of life within us.
Each cycle of repetition of the five holy names given to us at the time of initiation is like a wipe of the windows of our souls. If we don’t ever clean a window, letting dirt and grime build up, we eventually can’t see out of it at all. But with regular meditation we keep our vision clear.
Through him I have obtained eyes, and have seen his holy day. Ears have become mine, and I have heard his truth.
As Jesus said, “Having eyes, ye see not, having ears ye hear not”, meaning that we cannot perceive the Divine with these physical eyes and ears. The writer tells us that he has now received those eyes and ears which perceive the truth and divinity of the Lord – his “holy day”.
“Ears have become mine” means that we have been able to hear and understand the teachings of the saints. It also refers to the ability to hear and enjoy the Shabd. Once we experience the love of the Shabd ringing within us, life becomes holy. Through following the teachings of the saints, meditating and living a pure and moral life, our lives are transformed.
Just as there is a time to catch the rays of the sun, so too, there is an ideal time to catch the Shabd. One doesn’t sunbathe at dusk, and at dawn there will not be much heat; we automatically want to sunbathe when the sun is high. Any time is good for meditation, but the Masters tell us that the ideal time is the early morning hours. They call this the time of elixir. Before the attention has been scattered out in the world, before the waves of the day have begun, when there are no worldly distractions, one is able better to concentrate the attention at the eye focus, become aware of the light and catch the sound.
Perhaps we are still waiting for the daybreak, in the process of gaining our inner eyes and ears. But we certainly start to notice the effect of following the path. Our vision does become clearer in the sense that we are able to function with greater discrimination and clarity. Our awareness is raised and we gain a greater perspective.
I have received the thought of knowledge, And through it I have lived fully
Through our understanding of the teachings, through receiving initiation which connects us with the sound current (the true thought of knowledge) and through living the type of life that the Masters encourage, we start to really live fully. We are no longer buffeted about by the winds of this world. We have a firm anchor to hold on to. We are actually able to enjoy life much more because we are not so attached to it.
Having come to the spiritual path, we have clear guidelines and a clear goal in life. If we have done our meditation in the morning, then our day is already fulfilled and we are prepared to face whatever comes our way. We can then enjoy our families, our friends, our jobs without expectation. We feel his love wherever we turn. Seekers, prior to attending to meditation, and while making a thorough search, can live in accordance with the first vows – being vegetarian, avoiding alcohol and mind-affecting drugs, and living a clean moral life.
The way of error I have discarded And I have walked towards him
Maharaj Charan Singh used to lovingly explain that if the disciple takes one step towards the Lord, then the Lord takes one hundred towards him. He knows our condition, he knows our weaknesses and he understands our struggles. Becoming an initiate does not mean that we are perfect and that we are free from the five passions from day one. But walking “towards him” means making our best effort, getting up after a fall, trying to live according to the teachings and making amends where we can. The writer states very simply and beautifully that he has now discarded “the way of error”. He is attempting to live in the way of goodness and truth – not lying, cheating or back-biting but rather adopting a loving and moral life. He no longer relies on rites, rituals and outer observances but understands the need to embark on the inner journey.
First we have to have the resolve, that faith that we are walking in the right direction, and once we have that resolve we need to walk.
And I have received salvation from him ungrudgingly.
Just as the Lord showers the gift of salvation on us in an open-hearted, ungrudging way, so we open our hearts and minds to receive that gift and whatever it entails “ungrudgingly”. Perhaps what the author means is that whatever the Lord sends to me I will accept without complaining, without minding, because he knows how best to save me.
The Masters tell us that we do not have to wait until we die to meet the Lord. Shabd or Nam is always shining within us, providing us with sustenance. They tell us that every day we can turn our face to the Lord, through repetition, through contemplation, and through listening. We can gain strength from the great power of the Lord, our sun.
When daybreak comes we realize that our seeming lack of sight – our darkness – was an illusion. When the Lord’s light manifests within us we realize that it was never dark at all.