“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus obviously knew that Heaven is close at hand but not within a person’s usual experience. He directed his students to go within to experience the Kingdom. Today there is scientific proof of what he taught. Today we would say that Heaven lies here and now, just beyond the reach of space and time, outside the physical realm of life. It is the realm of consciousness. It is the place where thought is the only currency. Would you like to visit? It is an easy place to get to. In fact, you have already been there but you might not have recognized it. To go, all one needs to do is remove space and time from the present moment. “How do I do that?” you ask. It is really quite easy. There is no secret. All the great mystics of the ages taught how to do it. However, it tends to hide out of sight in the labels we use. Before we take the journey, let us discuss for a moment what space and time really are, since that is the stuff we need to get out of our way.
First of all, science has established beyond doubt that space and time are not two separate entities. Albert Einstein coined the term, spacetime, to underscore the point that they are one. For most people, this is a challenging concept to grasp. Space and time seem to be so different. Yet water vapor and ice also appear to be two very different substances but we know they are two aspects of a single thing. One is just warmer than the other is. To illustrate the oneness of space and time, I like to use a coin analogy. Space is one surface and time is the other. The two sides cannot be separated. Slice the coin any way you please. You quickly realize you have not separated space from time; you have merely reduced the size of the piece. There are still two sides, one of space, one of time.
Keep slicing the spacetime coin. How small can you make it? Conventional wisdom says that no matter how small you slice the piece, you can always cut it once more. Actually, there is a lower limit to how small you can make it. We know that size as the Planck dimension and it is extremely small. In scientific terms, we write it as 10-35 meters. That is a decimal point followed by 35 zeros and a 1. It is billions of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom. Years ago, when I first read about this I actually got chills. Pieces of space; pieces of time. My goodness, the idea fascinated me and it still does. However, there is an established foundation for the concept of minimum sizes for things we usually think of as continuous. It has been known for nearly a hundred years that energy also comes in little pieces or quanta. We call them photons. Indeed, the notion of a minimum size or quantity is so fundamental to science that the term quantum physics was derived from it. At this small size, space and time lose their identity. Time no longer flows. Space is no longer bound by dimensions, either large or small.
What do we see if we shrink another step to 10-36 meters? Adding one zero takes us ten times smaller. By definition, that size does not exist in the material realm and for obvious reasons we cannot go there physically. However, thought transcends spacetime and what lies beyond. We can go there using our imagination. Einstein called the process gedanken: a thought experiment. Here is what we see: small particles of spacetime separated from one another. What is the substance that fills the “space” between the particles? It is consciousness.
Consciousness is here and now. It is omnipresent. Because one of its characteristics is the absence of space and time, it is accurate to say that its center is everywhere. The center is in you. The center is in me. Those centers are literally the same point because there is no space or time in consciousness to separate them. It is like a hologram where the entirety is present at every point. This is the scientific basis of the spiritual notion of Oneness. It is the most important spiritual concept there is. The opposite of Oneness is separation, an illusion brought about by the thought of spacetime within the physical realm. More specifically, it is an emergent property of the thoughts of the collective ego-mind. This is relatively easy to reason through. There is no time because there is no past or future. Since space and time are one, there is no space either. The past is merely a memory of what happened in the present moment. The future is merely what might become as the present moment evolves. When that future “arrives” it is not the future, it is the present moment. It cannot be anything else because there is nothing else. The present moment is where life occurs; it is the only place where life can be experienced.
I used to think of the present moment as nothing more than a narrow demarcation separating the past from the future. I was so wrong. The present moment is a vast eternity unbounded by space and time. It is my entire life experience as it is yours. Nevertheless, my ego-mind used to be preoccupied, mostly worrying about the illusory past and future. It actually ignored the present as much as it could. Even when my ego-mind contemplated something good, in short order it twisted the good into something bad – perhaps it began worrying about losing the good that I hoped to achieve, as one example. All this worry came about due to fear: fear of not getting what I wanted; fear of getting what I wanted to avoid; fear of not having enough; and fear someone else might get my share.
A journey to visit the kingdom of Heaven is all about quieting this chatter of the ego-mind, initially for short durations. Doing so dissolves the illusion of space and time. This is the cure for worry and anxiety. It is easy to do for a few minutes but not easy to do over the longer term. The usual way to begin is to meditate, to sit quietly, undisturbed, for perhaps twenty minutes and slow the chatter springing from the ego. There are many techniques people use to quiet it. A simple one is to focus one’s thoughts on breathing. Concentrate on air flowing into your lungs as you inhale, then concentrate on the air flowing out as you exhale. Fill your mind with the contemplation of the movement of the air as you borrow it from the universe to nourish your body and then to breathe it back. The marvelous thing is that the ego-mind cannot do two things at the same time. While it is contemplating life in the form of air entering and exiting your lungs, it cannot worry about what it fears. The past and future disappear and anxiety vanishes, at least temporarily.
When the chatter of the ego-mind stops, what remains is the experience of the kingdom of Heaven. In other words, to experience Heaven, one does not need to expend effort beyond simply undoing the chatter of the ego. You have experienced Heaven in the past but you might not have recognized what was occurring. For example, when you observed a thing of vast beauty, such as an extraordinary sunset, for a short period the chatter of your mind came to a halt and you experienced the awe of the moment. That feeling of awe did not come from the distant view; it arose spontaneously from within as the inner awareness of the kingdom of Heaven filled your consciousness. The sunset was merely the catalyst that stopped the chatter. The experience of Heaven – the feeling of awe – flooded into your awareness, filling the void so to speak, and leaving you filled with the positive sensation. Soon, however, the chatter started back up and your internal awareness of the pleasant experience was once again overwhelmed.
By this illustration, you can see that beauty is actually a flow of emotion from within, not the other way around. Joy and happiness also well up from inside in the same manner, as do all forms of creativity. In fact, the inner flow is the source for all that is real and good. It comes from nowhere else. On the other hand, anything that has its source in the outer world, be it a situation, circumstance or condition, whether good or bad, is not real. It is illusory. It cannot bring lasting good to you nor can it bring harm to the real you, the Spirit within.
The more you practice dampening the chatter of your ego-mind, the more you experience true Good in your life because you will be opening up to the flow of heavenly consciousness. As you cultivate a regular meditative practice over time, you find that it becomes easier and easier to silence the chatter. Indeed, you may find that it becomes your regular life experience. You may find yourself smiling spontaneously because of the sheer joy that expresses itself through you. As you come to realize that events that happen in the physical world cannot harm the real you, worry and anxiety will have a progressively lighter effect on you until one day you realize you can barely remember what it was like to experience those emotions. This is the experience of true happiness, of life without anxiety. It is what Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven. It is what some say is having a personal experience with God. It is a universe wide open to everyone to experience. All it takes is to be disciplined in thought and to stay present.