Ecclesiastes (Tape 28)
[brackets for comments]
Vanity has been described as accepting a false picture of self and of one's abilities. Of course, we all have somewhat of a false picture of our abilities until we consider them. We are constantly 'suggested to" that we have these abilities; and unless one is extremely heedful, extremely capable of paying attention, and sees the necessity of it, one quickly is caught back into vanity, of believing one has abilities one does not have; such as, "I can walk." Really only X knows how to walk the body. I can report to X that I want to go to the door and open the door and suddenly we see the walking and of course, experiencing it [the walking] the vanity says, "I am doing it." Then we defend the idea that we are doing it with great effort; and, of course, that is called pride.
There is a very ancient book called Ecclesiastes that talks much about this vanity; and we will suggest that for this week you might become acquainted somewhat with the Book of Ecclesiastes. We will give some reading from it and some discussion; but we will be looking at it in the light of the teaching and how it applies, and we may give some little points about the book. Ecclesiastes was said to have been written by a teacher in a school. Now one of the ancient schools was called the House of Israel. It had several different branches. Then the House of Israel was followed by the House of Solomon, and it had several branches. And then as the schools died out, each teacher being a little farther from the original clarity, the school died out and was left with the ritual. We find it picked up again, the story of this school when the Scribes, and Pharisees were running it. and the Sadducees which had turned it into purely a ritualistic method. They did the ritual, but for no known reason as to why.
For instance, one of the rituals was "the washing of hands." One washed one's hands before eating, representing that one was cleansed of contamination before handling food. Now, this was used to remind, not only for health reasons and for genteel reasons, but was also as reminder--to remind one that the mind grasps ideas; therefore, is considered to be like the physical hands except that the mind picks up certain suggestions, opinions and concepts, and that one was to have the mind, or the inner being, washed of any contamination of suggestion from that day before one took hold of an idea and began to work with it because ideas that have been experimented with is what builds the spiritual body. So these ideas that the mind has grasped are raw food; and if they were taken by the hands of the mind that has been contaminated with suggestion, then that food will be contaminated and will be injurious to the spiritual body.
So as time went on, all was forgotten about taking in the spiritual food, the spiritual ideas, and was only left as a ritual to perform - to wash the hands before one ate. And, of course, the great Messiah tried to point this out by many different means of even eating with unwashed hands to point out to the people the parallel that they were taking in contaminated spiritual food without washing their hands while they were making a great to-do about having their hands washed before they eat literal food. He told them what came from without did not trample them under or defile them, but what defiled a man arose from within--in the inner state of man, "the inner hands" that takes in concepts without checking as to whether one is full of vanity or greed or pride or is still flitting around with "ideals". In other words, everyday one must "wash one's hands" before one takes in "food" and the hands that are referred to, of course, is the spiritual aspect of man [the awareness function] that grasps an idea and begins to accept it without experimentation because it appeals to some contamination that has penetrated the mind or the "hands of the mind" of this day.
Now Ecclesiastes said, starting in about the12th verse,
"I Ecclesiastes, was King over Israel in Jerusalem."
In other words, he announces that he was the head of the school of the House of Israel in the city of Jerusalem. There were other schools other places and somebody else was master over those schools. Now, he's called a King. It's easy to take those words from master to king, etc. He tells about his growth from the time of being a student until he was king. The fact that he tells what happens doesn't mean he was already the king when he started doing this, but he tells his story of his efforts as a student, and what he observed. We'll find that while the words may be somewhat different, the ideas are exactly the things that we go through today.
So he starts, "I, Ecclesiastes, was King over Israel in Jerusalem, and (now this is before he was King over Israel [head of the school]) I proposed in my mind to seek and search out wisely concerning all things that are done under the sun."
Don't we all do that somewhere in our way, possibly when in college or before we got out of college or shortly afterwards or maybe even in high school? Some of us even earlier decided that we were capable of searching out all things wisely. We felt we were already capable of being able to discern without any self-knowing that which was better done under the sun. We figured we could do everything.
"This painful occupation has God given to the children of men."In other words, we are to do it but we usually don't know how. And it says here, "to be exercised therein." To work on it. "I have seen all things that are done under the sun and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
So when man sets out, first with the idea that he is wise enough to discern all things done under the sun and that he is going to figure them all out, is first in vanity, and vanity brings vexation of spirit, vexation of the awareness and aggravation.
"The perverse are hard to be corrected and the number of fools is infinite."
He was quite sure that he was able to tell "what ought to be" and so then there were many perverse people. There were many people not doing "what they ought to do," and he saw an infinite number of fools. Of course, these all ought to be corrected, shouldn't they? That is vanity.
"I have spoken in my heart, saying (this was long ago while he was a student), Behold, I am great and have gone beyond all in wisdom that were before me in Jerusalem and my mind has contemplated many things wisely and I have learned."
Does that sound like so many of us - that we have really been able to figure it out? Does this sound like much that we see, we read in the news, we visit with or we hear a speech, men who say they have figured it all out; and they know "what ought to be." If we could just have this utopia, then wouldn't it be so wonderful? I have learned all these things by my calculations. I might have even used my computer; and, now then, we know "what ought to be."
Ecclesiastes continuing says, "I have given my heart to know prudence, learning, errors and folly."
He was concerned with opposites, and to be concerned with the opposites, we must have the ideal.
"I have perceived that in these also there was labor and vexation of spirit."
He saw there was nothing but trouble - always there was second force trying to interfere when one has such vanity that one thinks one knows what ought to be.
"Because in much wisdom there is much indignation."
One gets very angry in one's wisdom that one knows what ought to be, and others are interfering with it, or they won't understand it, or I can't convert them to see my viewpoint. So one becomes very indignant. One expected that all would be greatly delighted for me to tell them what ought to be and, of course, one is disappointed, one feels hurt, one looks for blame and finds that the world is full of the perverse and fools. And one becomes very indignant.
"And he that addeth knowledge, addeth also labor."
So the more knowledge he accumulated, the more things he saw ought to be done. Now, this knowledge is the knowledge of vanity, of learning, of what ought to be, learning from books, from ideas and from ideologies of what ought to be.
So further (while he was still a student and on his way before he became master of the school) he said,
"I said in my heart (this was in the past) I will go and abound with delights and enjoy good things."
I will pursue mammon - I will gain pleasure and comfort, and I will enjoy all good things. He knows what is good and he has thought it out to serve mammon, like you and I and all others.
"And I saw that this also was vanity."
He found out that that was only the thoughts of vanity, thinking I know what ought to be.
"Later I counted error."
He knew what ought to be, that one should never laugh, that one should be a very deadly sober individual because after all, this was serious business trying to get things like they ought to be.
"And to mirth I said, why art thou vainly deceived?"
You see, he knew what ought to be - that one should never laugh and that anything that one saw as a peculiar relationship--that one couldn't see the fun in it.
"I thought in my heart, (this was while he was still a student) to withdraw my flesh from wine that I might turn my mind to wisdom."
He was quite confident that he could know wisdom; and wine, you see, is truth, and he wanted to turn away from truth and find out for himself. The wine is considered to be the facts that the school teaches. He thought he could do better while he was still a student so he would turn to wisdom, which is really vanity that I can even know what wisdom is.
"...and might avoid folly until I might see what was profitable for the children of men."
What they ought to have. How many of us know what every body else ought to have? So he was going to set himself up, ignore the teachings, and he was going to find out what was profitable for the children of men and what they ought to do under the sun. He was going to find the ideal of all ideals. ..
"all the days of their lives."
He knew possibly very much like certain people know today that one should have a certain forcible education and then that one should have full employment. One should have a house, clothes, etc., like everybody else, all equal, and that one fine day he can retire and the state owns all because you see he wanted to know what they ought to do under the sun all the days of their lives - from the cradle to the grave, absolute security, you know.
"Now, I made me great works. I built me houses and planted vineyards. I made gardens and orchards and set them with trees of all kinds. I made me ponds of water to water therewith the wood of the young trees.
" He knew what ought to be. He was building a utopia. And he said,
"I got me men servants and maid servants." (He had power over them. He felt very important.) "And I had a great family and herds of oxen and great flocks of sheep." (Today we would say he had a great computer, he had a great fleet of trucks, he had great factories, and he had a great combine - a great group of industries all combined together under one.) "And above all that were before me in Jerusalem." (And all that was around about the area in which he lived, he had everything that was needed to be.) "And I heaped together for myself silver and gold." (He knew what ought to be - to have security.) "And the wealth of kings and provinces. I made me singing men and singing women and the delights of the sons of men, cups and vessels to serve to pour out wine."
He gained pleasure and escaped pain on all levels and had power over others; he was having mammon in his early youth as he was a student and knew more about it and what ought to be.
"And I surpassed in riches all that was before me in Jerusalem." (He was top man on the totem-pole.) "My wisdom also remained with me." (This wisdom of learning that he had gathered that he knew what ought to be. So he still had it with him and he was still firmly convinced that he knew what was good and he called that his wisdom.) "And that whatsoever my eyes desired, I refused them not." (he served mammon.) "And I withheld not my heart from enjoying every pleasure and delight itself in the things which I had prepared and esteemed this my portion." (he saw it as this was man's real purpose - to make use of my own labor.)
"..and when I turned myself to all the works that my hands had wrought and to the labors wherein I had labored in vain."
Because what had they brought him? Only a little pleasure and comfort.
He had no spiritual body; he was still asleep serving mammon.
"I saw in all these things vanity and vexation of mind and that nothing was lasting under the sun."
He began to have a little awakening that in all the things he had put together, he had nothing real--everything he had accumulated were all things that merely gave him sensations. He did not have any spiritual body. So here we are listening to a student who had evolved to the state of being a teacher of one of the great schools, the House of Israel in Jerusalem, and he found in his effort to depart from the teachings of the school that he would figure out what ought to be, that he would serve the ideal, he served the four dual basic urges, and when he looked at it, he saw that it was vanity, that he had not known what ought to be and that there was nothing lasting that he had at all. It was all things that would disappear today, and he had no spiritual body. He wasn't really aware. Then he says, he passed further, in other words, he began to study a little bit here.
"I passed further to behold wisdom and errors in folly."
He began to see that the wisdom he had and the errors and the folly were all about the same thing. This is the wisdom of the world that he had - the wisdom that says that we know what ought to be, that we should build us a utopia and that we should gain pleasure.
"And I saw that wisdom excelled folly as much as light differed from darkness."
He began to see maybe what really wisdom is - not his wisdom but real Wisdom - the Wisdom that comes from the teaching that says that one dis-identifies from the self when one begins to observe. Then he saw the difference that really the wisdom of the world is folly. It is said in many places,
"The wisdom of man is as foolishness with God."
"What is man, said I, that he can follow the King, his maker."
In other words, what is man that he can serve X? He's beginning to get down to size now.
"And I saw that wisdom excelled folly as much as light differed from darkness. The eyes of a wise man are in his head. The fool walks in darkness."
The fool thinks that he is very wise, does he not? Because he knows what ought to be. He is walking in darkness, serving mammon, but the eyes of a wise man are really in his head; heedful, to observe, to watch the self. "And I learned that they were to die both alike."
The fool and the wise man are to die both alike. You see, the wisdom of man dies and the fool dies.
"I," that does not have a spiritual body, is already dead and so it really has nothing.
"And I said in my heart..." (now comes the doubt - that he looked over and he saw something and he said in his heart - he's going to make an opinion here). "If the death of a fool and mine shall be one, what doth it avail me that I have applied myself more to the study of wisdom."
So he says what good does it do me to study the teaching? It looks like they all die somewhere down the road. You see, he was still being deceived by the appearance, the appearance of the physical body, and he hadn't quite discerned as yet that there is a spiritual body, and that the spiritual body is something real, something lasting and something that doesn't deteriorate. But he was still deceived by appearances - to see that the physical body, seemingly of all people, die.
"And speaking with my own mind.." (In other words, speaking with the conditioning.) "..I perceived that this also was vanity." Because he had made something valuable. If this person dies physically, and that one over there dies physically, then the whole thing is vain. There is only that "I" think "I" know what ought to be - that the one physical body ought to remain. You see, it is very difficult for man that is observing the physical form, to conceive that he can get along without it. He doesn't realize that he can have the possibility of building a spiritual body and that even though the physical body dies, he can pick it up again. The Messiah demonstrated it - that it is the real body, the spiritual body, the spiritual frame of reference that has realness--that can exist forever--and that it can do anything that it likes with the physical body. It can lay it down. It can pick it up again. If something injures it or destroys it, it can be repaired very quickly, and it can be changed in shape, appearance, and anything else because the spiritual body is there. Without the spiritual body, we are very attached or identified with the physical body. We do not see that that is X's instrument, and that without a spiritual body, we are constantly giving false information to X from the self, and that it operates on it and does destroy it [the physical body].
"And there should be no remembrance of the wise no more the fool forever. And the times to come shall cover all things together with oblivion." In other words, it is important to have attention, to have a physical body, and wasn't it worthless if he was not going to be remembered and not have attention and approval in the years to come?
"The learned dies in like manner as the unlearned and, therefore, I was weary of my life, and I saw that all things under the sun are evil, and all are vanity and vexation of spirit."
Here is the point where the person might begin to use the teaching. He was beginning to be aware that he didn't know the purpose of living. He was beginning to question it, he was beginning to say that even though he had everything, that he was really weary of the whole bit because he had had it all. He was now in somewhat, you might say, the state of boredom. He had arisen from somewhere down below in the states of being, and he was, at least, at boredom and beginning to question the purpose of living - which is the only time we can truly become the student. Before then, we have been exposed to the teachings as this man had; and now he had again.
"And he says again, I hated all my application where if I had earnestly labored under the sun, being liked to have an heir after me."
In other words, he had labored and struggled and he really thought that was pretty much of a waste. What had it all been for? To serve mammon.
"I know not whether he be a wise man or a fool."
He had gathered all of this together and somebody else would take it, and so he didn't know whether he was a wise man or a fool.
"And he shall have rule over all of my labors with which I have labored and been solicitous."
And is there anything so vain? Is there anything so false a picture that man thinks that he has done something worthwhile? Whether he has accumulated a great estate or a great fortune. He knows not what will happen to it. He thinks he is doing it for some worthwhile purpose, that he has built something wonderful, but does he know? Or is that vanity again? He thinks he knew what ought to be.
I would like for you to take for this week notes on this entire book of Ecclesiastes. It is written by a teacher who relates his travels from a student, who didn't see the value in the teachings, to one who saw it. He relates very much an autobiography of "I", and "I", and "I", of everyone of us who will read the story. You might read it and change the word from Ecclesiastes to your name, whatever it may be John, Mary or whatever. Because it is an autobiography. We may not have been able to gain all the things that Ecclesiastes said he got hold of, but we've had our cars, our bank accounts, our furniture, our apartment, our house, our education, our job - all of which would fit the same things as Ecclesiastes said he had in his, and that he discovered that they were all vanity, a false picture of self, because the real self was sound asleep and serving mammon and there wasn't any growth or any waxing in wisdom with a capital W. You will notice that wisdom is spelled with a little "w" here, lower case, in other places it is a capital "W." That means that it refers to the Wisdom that one gains from self-observation and the thing one experiences here.
Study the book of Ecclesiastes as though you had written it and instead of Ecclesiastes it's John or Mary.
[from Marsha....on the way through the basic several times, I procrastinated doing the exercise he suggests as I didn't have the version my teacher used at hand. So I am inserting it here. He primarily used Chapter 2. I wonder how it would be using the whole book?]