Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Primal Person

Twenty years later, when I again visited Kurisumala Ashram, Francis Acharya, the Cistercian monk who had founded the ashram, drew my attention to the link between this legend and the inner significance of the Song of Songs as describing a spiritual quest. It was St. Bernard of Clairvaux who gave to the Cistercian tradition a spiritual interpretation of the Biblical book of the Song of Songs, as representing the Soul searching for the Divine. I read in the Ashram library the Anchor commentary on the Song of Songs, which suggested that underlying what appeared to be a collection of simple pastoral love poems, was an ancient myth of the Middle East, that had close links with legends to be found in other cultures, particularly in India, concerning the love of Holy Wisdom for the human soul. (The anchor Bible, Song of Songs: A New Translation with introduction and commentary by Marvin H. Pope. Doubleday and Co, 1977)

Here the initiative lies with the feminine spirit, which is to be identified with that Creative Energy which was present in Creation from its very inception in the will of God. It is this energy that becomes incarnated, and helps in the process of divinising the human soul. Solomon the wise, dedicates himself to the search of this divine Wisdom, and it is because of this love that he has for the feminine principle that underlies the whole of Creation as we know it, that Holy Wisdom searches him out, and saves him from death. Here again we hear of this Spirit “awakening” Creation in the sense implied by the phrase in the Gayitri Mantra: “Om Tat Savitur”.

“I awakened you under the apple tree,
there where your mother conceived you,
there where she who gave birth to you conceived you.
Set me like a seal on your heart,
Like a seal on your arm
For love is strong as Death,
Jealousy relentless as Sheol.
The flash of it is a flash of fire,
A flame of Yahweh himself.
Love no flood can quench,
No torrents drown.
Song of Songs.8. 6-7

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