Sunday, May 24, 2020

Ascension and the Elements

In church we read about the Ascension of Jesus back to Heaven.  This was described in Acts 1:6-14 and used words such as Earth, Lifted, Cloud, and Heaven.  I was immediately drawn to the ideas of the elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space/Ether. As the reading for this week continued into Psalm 68: 1-10,33-36 there the elements were again in words like Smoke, Wind, Fire, Dry Places, Wilderness, Earth, Skies, Rain, Land, Heavens, and Holy Places. The Epistle from I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 speaks of Fiery and Spirit. But the Gospel of John 17:1-11 only speaks of Heaven and Earth.  The gospel is mainly Jesus praying over his disciples speaking to them about things to come, things they don’t yet understand.   I decided to just be in the not understanding like the disciples for the time being.  And knowing that next week is Pentecost, I surely will be exploring the elements for another week.

So from a yoga philosophy perspective what do the elements look like?  Over the next week I will be reading an interpretation of the Samkhya Karika written by one of my teachers, Richard Miller. The elements are included in here as Gross Elements.  As a way of introduction, I have included a chart at the bottom. I found it interesting that under the Gross Elements Space (Akasa) emerges from sound (Sabda).  When I think of the ascension I think of Jesus going from Earth to Heaven (or Space or Ether).  I find it interesting that he was talking as this was happening.  Sound present as Jesus enters Heaven. Sound moves through space not just above us but everywhere as vibrations and sound waves.  Sound is Sabda is Mantra is Prayer is Space is Akasa is Ascension. When Jesus prays for the Disciples in the Gospel his prayer is in the same space into which he ascends.  After the ascension the disciples constantly devoted themselves to prayer.  Prayers from Earth through Space to Heaven via Sound. 

I find it interesting that John begins his gospel with “In the beginning was the Word” we could take this “word” to mean Sound and Heaven. And that Genesis begins “1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” There was no light no form Then God “Said” this implies there was sound before light or form. There was Heaven – Space – Akasa – Sound - Sabda before all else. Creation starting in Heaven and Descended Down to Earth at the beginning.  It seems only fitting that Ascension should be the reverse from Earth to Heaven.

More to come, next week the Holy Spirit will enter.  Full report on my reading of the Sankhya Karika next week.

Acts 1:6-14

When the apostles had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restor

the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father

has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their

sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white

robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?

This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw

him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near

Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room

upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas,

Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including

Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.


Psalm 68: 1-10, 33-36

1 Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; *

let those who hate him flee before him.

2 Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away; *

as the wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

3 But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; *

let them also be merry and joyful.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his Name; exalt him who rides upon the heavens; *

Yahweh is his Name, rejoice before him!

5 Father of orphans, defender of widows, *

God in his holy habitation!

6 God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners into freedom; *

but the rebels shall live in dry places.

7 O God, when you went forth before your people, *

when you marched through the wilderness,

8 The earth shook, and the skies poured down rain,

at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, *

at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9 You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance; *

you refreshed the land when it was weary.

10 Your people found their home in it; *

in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.

33 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; *

sing praises to the Lord.

34 He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; *

he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice.

35 Ascribe power to God; *

his majesty is over Israel; his strength is in the skies.

36 How wonderful is God in his holy places! *

the God of Israel giving strength and power to his people!

Blessed be God!


The Epistle: I Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as

though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s

sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are

reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of

God, is resting on you. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he

may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline

yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for

someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters

in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little

while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore,

support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.


John 17:1-11

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son

may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom

you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus

Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before

the world existed. I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.

They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that

everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them,

and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that

you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of

those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I

have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I

am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they

may be one, as we are one.”

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