Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is "Heaven"?

When we think of "heaven," we often think of it as did our twelfth-century ancestors, as "in" the "sky," or beyond it, in outer space somewhere. This is, in fact, one of the meanings of the ancient symbolic Greek word for "heaven"-- where the birds fly. So, when we pray to "our Father who art in heaven," or to the heavenly "Mother," we might think of Her/Him as being far away, somewhere out in the galaxy.

These old notions have a powerful grip on the childish imagination, as does the primitive, backwards idea that God has many human characteristics, like the ancient and backwards Jehovic mythology. Do ants "pray to the great Ant in the sky"? Do dogs "pray to the great Dog in the sky"?

Probably not. But if they had the imagination of human beings, who knows? The point is, we tend to see God according to our limitations and our training. And very primitive peoples, such as the Hebrews of four thousand years ago, also saw their "gods" as "very human."

Each human being in our world has a place where she/he lives. So, the old gods also had places where they lived-- often on sacred mountains such as Sinai or Olympus. Only much later did God become recognized as "omnipresent," which means "present everywhere." In other words, they lived on earth. And still others lived in the sky, above the clouds.

It was impossible for primitive peoples to fly above the clouds, as we have now done, and as we do thousands of times every day. They could not know, as we now do, that there are no "gods" in that sky.

What is the solution to this complex mystery/drama called "heaven"? It is this: Heaven is not a place. It is a dimension, or universe. It is what is called in physics "an alternative universe." It is accessible not by airplanes or space-craft, but only by the mind.

To understand, let us examine the parable of the mind as a complex interior "radio." That "radio," for all of us, almost all the time, is tuned to one station or channnnel-- WRLD. This is our everyday, commmmon, ordinary world. We cannot change this channel, except in most profound meditation (interior prayer or silent prayer), or when we die. The mechanisms of this radio make it usually impossible to "tune in" to other "channels" (such as WBLS, "bliss," WSTY, "ecstasy, or WHVN, "heaven.")

So, "heaven" is not "out there," but "in here." It is attunement to another universe, as "real" as our everyday world. It is not "far away."

Thus, ancient enlightenment traditions assure us that "God is closer than your hands and feet, closer than the air that you are now breathing in." But to "know" God personally as pure Love, we must allow the "interior radio" to "change channels." This cannot happen from our efforts; it occurs by pure grace, from "God's side." In time, for the enlightened, this "alternative universe" becomes even more real than the everyday world. She becomes "atuned" to God, to Love, and this is her perfect joy, her complete fulfillment, ecstasy, satisfaction, and pure

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