METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on November 18, 1975
Our next book we are going to consider is Ecclesiastes. It is one of the most readable books of the O.T. It is short and very pungent and some scholars believe that it was written by King Solomon in his old age. If you look up the word Ecclesiastes in the MBD, you will find that the word means "the voice of the experience" and you know that experience is the great teacher in earthly existence, but many of the teachings we get from experience are gotten in a very hard, painful, laborious manner. But every experience gives us something useful but this usefulness not always comes in a pleasant, enjoyable manner.
That teacher called earthly experience has all kinds of things to say and the book of Ecclesiastes is formed of a compilation of all these things that earthly experience has to say to us. For one thing, it has a lot of warnings and a lot of contrasts, it specifies a lot of things, it partitions a lot of things, there is time for this, there is a time for that, there is time for this, there is a time for that... It is the voice of the teacher called earthly experience which sees everything in relativity, in polarity, in contrasts, this is very typical of the knowledge gained by earthly experience. The author has some very useful things to say to us and one of the most pungent things he talks about is vanity.
The first statement in the book is Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity. And then the word vanity keeps appearing many times in this book. Vanity is a very dangerous negative emotion because most people who are identified with it, do not see it as a negative emotion. They see it as "something I am entitled to, I have a right to," do you get it? and this is a very dangerous emotion to be identified with. Why is it dangerous? What does this belief lead to? Separation. This is the great danger. It separates you, first from your fellow human beings and if that is persisted in then eventually you will separate in consciousness from God, our Father.
Many of the vainest people I have ever met were successful ministers who did not realize they were in danger, they were now heading to a trap, and I am sorry to say this, I have seen a number of them falling and end up in very, very adverse situations, many of them, of course, got up. Now, there is nothing more invictive in freeing a person from vanity and restoring the humility factor than a good old fashioned healing. Notice that I didn't say, a good old fashion sickness, but a good old fashion healing. The person goes into a healing and even if he is 90% sane he will be grateful, he will be grateful and he will restore the humility factor into his consciousness instead of the vanity factor which was taking over.
Marina asks: Is there any difference between vanity and pride?
Vanity is very closely related to pride, but pride can be a positive and constructive factor while vanity is always negative and harmful. Pride can be elevated and uplifting and encouraging. It is spiritually based and oriented. Vanity is a selfishly motivated pride and it is so "puff-up-ness": "I am better than..." "I am greater than, " "I am more entitled to, than..., because I am prettier than..." that sort of thing. Vanity is a very deceiving, very alluring negative emotion because it promises so much, you see? "If I can demonstrate my superiority over others, I will be rewarded..." It will promise anything but what does it always do with it? It delivers only one thing, folks, a sense of isolation, a sense of separation, this is the only thing it can possibly give and eventually it will lead to something called dissolution, and this to a sense of separateness gone to its furthest extreme.
There are many antidotes for vanity but I think that in Unity we have the most effective and the most painless antidote which is constant, constant, prayer and meditation during which you surrender self to Christ. Christ will rescue you from vanity in advance, if you keep in tune with the Infinite through daily meditation and prayer in which you willingly surrender (when I say "surrender" folks, please get me right: I do not mean abandon self, by "surrendering self" I mean merging your awareness of self into the reality of Christ.
Surrender in a sense of merging in rather than abandon and refusing further recognition of self, because you will have self, you are in charge of self, do you realize that? you are in charge of that level of you that you call self, and everything depends on what you do with self that you are in charge of, and everything you do that more and more aligns self, brings self more and more into merging with Christ is well-done job, you are doing that which you have been put in charge of doing and Jesus demonstrated through the final crucifixion that self will actually become the Christ and you have been a sort of an entity in charge of all this process as the twelve powers as your modes of operation.)
O.K. Dr. Maurice Nichol wrote: Vanity can be compared to a giant who captures and then blinds his victim fastening a chain around his neck and then forcing that person to do his bidding throughout life. Vanity is a very difficult thing to define or explain because it changes its disguises so quickly and so cleverly that the person who is identifying with it hardly ever sees it as that, vanity, he will almost always call it by the disguise that he has allowed it to put on at that moment. The one that I have caught my vanity factor wearing most often is "I have a right to..," "I deserve it because..(I wrote a book, for example), or "I was ordained in 1945, when were you ordained?" and all the way I am failing to see that it is the giant of vanity who has put out my eyes more and more and fastened the chain more and more, to do his bidding.
Vanity is always obvious to the onlooker rather than to the victim. If you are speaking about the work of others, rather than "I can do it better," it is better to say, "I can do it well also," it is better to save your "better than" phraseology for your own, when you are comparing within yourself your different states of mind. For example, right now I am building upon Charles Fillmore*s and Ella Pomeroy's work in Twelve Powers and I have to watch myself because that damn giant can get that chain around my neck so fast and get those finger in my eyes, and I start thinking in the mode of "I can do better than..." instead of "I will do my part in the advancement and development of a teaching. It is a subtle thing, but if we are aware of it, then we become even more subtle and we then are able to avoid a lot of things.
Remember another thing folks, it is that vanity is so difficult to deal with head on because it is almost invariably what we call an emotional deal rather than an intellectual or reasoning deal, and emotions are much more slippery than mental reasoning and intellectual thoughts. They are as quick as lightening compared to walking, intellectual reasoning being the walking while emotional things the lightening, and we have to walk. Vanity starts as an emotional belief. Then it is justified and supported by the intellectual reasoning, and the, the next thing we now is that we are trapped.
The book goes through a lot of very interesting discussions and statements and, as I said, it is very, very readable. It poses many dilemmas for the reader. It lists a lot of things that if the person would just stop there, he could make a problem out of it for himself. We are all much too expert at doing and making problems out of things which do not have to be made into problems.
For instance, very recently, a very lovely person said that she had a serious problem and we talked about it, and we talked about it, and we were not getting anywhere. I knew she was beating around the bush, she was using the words as a smoke screen to justify the fact that she had a problem but what the problem wasn't emerging till finally we had to insist and it boiled down to this, "should I get myself a dog or not?" Now, was that decision in and of itself a problem? or was what that person was doing to that decision the problem? To sit down and build up a big pot of stew about a decision is creating the problem and we say, the decision is the problem.
No. What I am doing to myself around that decision is the problem and so much of that is brought forth in many of the statements that Ecclesiastes presents. Alright, but there is a wonderful ending to that book. He does attempt to do what many of us do. We take each point and try to give an answer to it, but Ecclesiastes takes all that it has presented and brings it to a conclusion wherein, after giving all its warnings about vanity, all these observations on the problems of life, and all these comments on the uncertainties of life, he brings it all into a climax, into what I call the archetype answer to all of this, not the specific answer in a given situation but the archetype answer upon which to base all specifics and I bet you can guess what he says.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, "Hear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man," and I know what you are thinking, you are all hung up on "fear God" and you have to remember there is the archaic usage of that word which is now obsolete, it is just that it was preserved in translation. In our modern Unity terminology, we would take that fear and say, "give your attention and belief to God, that is all." Give your attention to and belief to God is the first step, that is the archetype answer for all these problems and dilemmas and questions.
It is not an archetype as against specifics; it precedes specifics, you start with that as an action in consciousness and then, with that, you reestablish all right connections in consciousness, in thinking and feeling, then specific guidance, specific words, applicable consultation will come forth to deal with the situation and the person. It isn't like, if a person comes to see you and he has a very specific problem you start out with the problem, I mean, you do not begin with the problem, you will begin in Source of right answers, in Source of right attitudes, in archetype.
First step, give your attention to and begin in God, both for yourself as the one who has to give the help here and for the person who has the problem. This giving the attention to God and Truth first gets the circuits in right connection, then you are able to deal with specifics in a tactful, loving, sensible and spiritually correct way. Now remember that we do not need to be worried about the word fear because it is such an archaic thing.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 6, 2015.