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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
This song inspired by the face of God strongly hearkens back to the Aaronic or Priestly Blessing from the Torah (Numbers 6:24 - 27):
The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his face upon you, and give you peace.
There are several strong images of Merkavah mysticism in this ancient song. We have a few references to the "wheel of the chariot." The word Merkavah can be literally translated as "chariot" or "chariot of light." It is the vehicle that mediates between the awareness of the devout mystic and the heavenly realms. This wheel imagery also evokes Ezekiel's vision of a heavenly wheel, often seen as a fundamental vision of the Merkavah by Jewish mystics.
The Merkavah is sometimes also described as the shining "seat of the Most High." Someone looking for yogic parallels might see the Merkavah as representing the scintillating crown chakra.
In Jewish and early Christian mysticism, we often get enigmatic references to the "bridal chamber." The bridal chamber is the place of union between the king or bridegroom (God) and the servant or bride (purified individual consciousness). It is in the bridal chamber that the two become one as "newly-weds" and experience the bliss of union. The bridal chamber, in other words, is the holy of holies within the soul, the meeting ground between the Eternal and the individual.
I love the line, "Whoever looks at Him / immediately melts away." According to a translator's note, the literal phrase is something like "Whoever looks at him is emptied like a ladle." What a beautiful metaphor for how, overcome with the vision of God, the ego-self pours into that vastness. It suggests release, emptiness, purification, while at the same time a merging with the immense vision of the Divine.
This is language that could just as easily have come to us from a Buddhist work.
The song continues with the lines:
Those who serve Him today
no longer serve Him tomorrow;
those who serve Him tomorrow
no longer serve Him afterwards;
It is not that mystics at this stage stop serving God; rather, that there is no separate individual left to do the serving. Their "faces are charred" -- the separate identity is lost in the splendor of the vision. And when their "eyes grow dim," it is not that they go blind in the literal sense; instead, the normal vision of multiplicity is lost. This radiant vision of oneness is described by many mystics as a sort of blindness. You may see the surface and form of things, but beneath it all is only the one radiance.
I'm also fascinated by the lines:
those on the right
now stand again to the left,
those on the left
now stand again to the right,
those in front
now stand again in back,
those in back
now stand again in front.
We've got a total reversal that also suggests a total unity. Opposites flip and become the other until no sense of polarity can remain. You find similar lines in the great Gnostic work the Gospel of Thomas. Everything is flipped, reversed, to be set back into proper order.
And near the end:
He who sees the one says,
'That is the other'.
And he who sees the other says,
'That is the one'.
For the visage of the one
is like the visage of the other;
and the visage of the other
is like the visage of the one.
These lines suggest to me the merging of the ego-self and the endless multiplicity of the universe into the divine unity, until the "other / is like the visage of the one."
And continuously we return to the vision of mysterious, soul-nourishing light:
Happy the eye
upon this wondrous light --
a wondrous vision
and most strange!
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M. Granger's original poetry, stories and commentaries are Copyright ©
2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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