Finding out that this world is Heaven is crucial for human survival. Otherwise in the frenzy of dissociation, our shadow games will annihilate the planet. John Robinson's passionate and finely researched book will inspire seekers to open their enlightened eyes and see the world as it is, and start working in Sacred Activism to preserve it. Andrew Harvey, Author of Son of Man, The Direct Path, and The Essential Mystics.
|Publisher:||Hunt, John Publishing|
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FINDING HEAVEN HERE
By John C. Robinson
O BOOKSCopyright © 2009 O Books
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Story of Creation
"... this is it. This is Eden." Joseph Campbell (Mythologist)
"Every prayer was fulfilled, every possible desire for the whole world consummated; for His Kingdom had come and I had beheld it with my very eyes." Katharine Trevelyn (Mystic)
"On our notion of heaven may well rest the measure of the rest of our entire spiritual life." Joan Chittister (Benedictine Sister, Author)
Although the idea of Heaven on Earth seems as farfetched as Heaven itself, in actuality this "place" lies as close as sun sparkling on water on a pond outside your window, the gently moving branches of the trees in your yard or the sound of children laughing in the next room. From famous saints to everyday mystics, people from every religion and era have described Heaven on Earth from their own experience of it and you, too, can learn to see it.
The father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth and people do not see it. Jesus (Christianity)
You might wonder where one finds Heaven on Earth. Is it hidden away in some long-forgotten valley, as portrayed in tales of Shangri-La? Does one have to climb to the top of the highest peak to see it? No, but the best way to answer this question comes not from geography but from allegory. You see, Heaven on Earth arrives through a change of consciousness - a paradigm shift, if you will. It does not exist simply as a physical location. Allegories are the kind of stories that symbolize such transformation. In fact, the Judeo-Christian creation story provides a particularly good allegory for our purposes. Therefore, to help you understand where Heaven on Earth exists, I'd like to share with you a creative retelling of that story as a way of explaining the origin, nature and eventual disappearance of Heaven on Earth. The story goes like this:
This world is not the antechamber: it is the palace itself. Levin Faitel (Judaism)
The Story of Creation
In the beginning, only Divinity existed as a realm unto itself: pure consciousness and potentiality. Wishing to know itself in a new way, the Divine burst forth in a fiery expansion of light and matter evolving the entire cosmos from its own essence. The Divine became the Universe and, in an act of infinite love and generosity, gave birth to a holy place called Earth. Divinity suffused everything with its own unique and unfolding nature (sea, rocks, plants, animals, weather, seasons). Thus Creation became a second divine realm - the physical world as a manifestation of Divinity.
Heaven is here on earth, and earth is there in Heaven. Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhism)
Among all the creatures that evolved from the Divine, one developed the unique capacity to think abstractly, to form concepts about the world and even to reflect on its own existence and relationship to the sacred. This creature was a part of Divinity becoming conscious of itself and of the Universe - a wondrous epiphany. Thus, the human species came into being. In time, the human capacity for thought produced many marvelous inventions, including religion, agriculture, literature, architecture, science, engineering, medicine, and technology - a divinely inspired explosion of human creativity.
At the same time, however, something strange began to happen: Human beings became so fascinated with their concepts about the world that they began to mistake their concepts for the world itself. In other words, people increasingly saw only what they thought. Soon names, ideas, beliefs, and stories constructed a third and separate mental realm - the World of Man, and the sacred ground of Creation gradually disappeared from consciousness. Worse, entranced by the power of concepts, people began to view the natural world as simply a source of wealth or raw materials, a place to be conquered, controlled, used, and discarded. They stopped listening to the voices of Creation - such as the disappearing species, the shattered ecosystems and the displaced indigenous peoples - that spoke instead of damage, degradation and suffering.
This is the Kingdom of Heaven. Ramana Maharshi (Hinduism)
Now at the center of humankind's third realm was the idea of self, a concept that became both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, the self-concept allowed individuals to look within and discover much about their psychological and spiritual nature. On the negative side, however, the self-concept simply became too important. Humans became obsessed with this idea and soon everyone worried about the worth, goodness, beauty, power, wealth, and importance of the personal self. Tragically, this self-centeredness spawned ever-increasing competition, conflict and even warfare.
Living in the complicated World of Man, people increasingly betrayed and then forgot their divine nature and homeland, and this forgetting created a fourth and final realm: Darkness. It became a murky hidden space filled with the pain, anger and grief accumulated by each new generation of children told to deny their divinity and believe instead that only the World of Man mattered. Those who felt this inner pain usually believed it was a sign of weakness and tried to overcome it by constantly improving their self-concept, or, if that failed, by finding ways to medicate the hurt into numbness. Some even pictured this Darkness to be far away in a horrible underworld called Hell. In either case, few wanted to visit this seemingly grim and gloomy landscape, not realizing that it was the World of Man, not Darkness, which had become increasingly grim and gloomy. Their tragic lack of understanding about this realm caused them to miss its precious gifts and opportunities. Yet, people's original divinity had not ceased to exist; this amazing, but greatly underutilized, source of healing and creativity simply lay hidden in Darkness.
If on earth there be a paradise of bliss, it is this, it is this, it is this. Firdausi (Sufism/Islam)
With diminishing joy, people in the World of Man concluded that they had been expelled from Creation. Some viewed this expulsion as divine punishment for their pursuit of knowledge, no longer remembering that humans had lost interest in the direct perception of Creation in the first place. Entranced by the power of the intellect and the grandiosity of the self, they had forgotten how to see the divine realm. Because they no longer witnessed or believed in Creation here on Earth, people erroneously imagined that both the Creator and the sacred world had relocated somewhere else, far away, in a place they called Heaven. That realm, they assumed, existed beyond this physical life.
Seduced by the imagined possibilities of self-importance, people decided that by acquiring enough wealth, power, fame, or perfection they still could find a substitute Heaven on Earth. As the World of Man grew ever more powerful, so did the forces of selfishness, greed, narcissism, and grandiosity.
As time went on, people occasionally would catch glimpses of the original world - for after all, Creation had never left and seeing it was still possible - but most, enmeshed in the World of Man, disbelieved their eyes and hurried on to the next problem, self-improvement project or grand activity. A few rare individuals, however, stopped to look more closely and realized that Heaven existed not just in the future but here, now, on Earth as well. More importantly, they discovered that whenever they sensed Divinity's Presence Heaven on Earth appeared all around them - in their gardens, families, and communities; Heaven was just another name for Creation. Some of these people became great mystics, prophets, or social activists. Others just lived in simple happiness or service. In either case, for these few the World of Man and its underlying Darkness had become transparent, allowing them to see the radiance of eternity.
There is another heaven and earth beyond the world of men. Li Po (Taoism)
Sadly, the vast majority of people in the world still failed to see Heaven on Earth and instead continued under the spell of destructive and erroneous beliefs. As a result, exploitation of nature and war between peoples continued, bringing the human species to the edge of extinction. The most desperate believed that only the apocalyptic end of the world itself would bring Heaven on Earth. Few understood that the future of humankind depended on all people finding and sharing Heaven on Earth right here, right now.
This revised creation story symbolizes humankind's journey away from the first-hand experience of Heaven on Earth as Creation itself to our current global crisis. This allegory also hints at how tremendously important it is for us to make the journey home to Heaven on Earth. In fact, survival in this fragile garden called Earth depends upon it.
Earth's crammed with heaven/And every common bush alive with God ... Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Poet)
A Word About the Word God
Having discussed the problem of concepts associated with the World of Man, it is probably a good time to talk about the concept of God. As a work on spirituality, Finding Heaven Here concerns itself directly with God. Unfortunately, we have so many names, images, and conceptions of God that the word itself can lead to confusion, debate, even conflict. For example, God may be conceived as masculine or feminine, life-giving or destructive, loving or punitive, and we often color the name with personal opinions or views from our own particular religion. While writing this book, someone advised me to substitute neutral phrases like "Ground of Being," "Pure Potentiality," or "Pure Consciousness" in place of God, which I often do, but they can also produce confusion along with the inevitable question, "Don't you mean God?"
The visionary sees the whole visible universe transfigured. Evelyn Underhill (Religious Scholar)
In the end, I chose to refer to God simply as Divinity or Presence. For me, these terms are equivalent and interchangeable and refer not to an idea or belief but to the infinitely loving consciousness encountered in first-hand mystical experiences. Most importantly, please feel free to replace the words I have chosen with whatever word, phrase, or concept with which you're most comfortable, the one that gives your spirituality its sense of holiness, reverence, and meaning. And remember, this is a journey into the Divine not a comparative religions course. Whatever word you use for God ultimately should help you experience the Divine rather than intellectualize or debate it.
Pilgrimage: (pil'gre-mij) n. A long journey, especially one made to a sacred place. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary
The ordeal of being true to your own inner way must stand high in the list of ordeals. It is like being in the power of someone you cannot reach, know, or move, but who never lets you go; who both insists that you accept yourself and who seems to know who you are. Florida Scott-Maxwell (85 y/o Jungian Analyst)
All theology, like all fiction, is at heart autobiography. Frederick Buechner (Professor of Religion, Author)
Despite the compelling views and convictions of the World of Man, Heaven on Earth remains an ever-present and all pervasive reality shining in everything. Although this chapter tells the story of my pilgrimage to Heaven on Earth, it also speaks of our common struggle to see the world again with new eyes, eyes able to see Divinity in everything. I found Heaven on Earth, and so can you.
As you read this chapter, indeed as you read the whole book, I make one request: Take it seriously. The cynic rarely finds Heaven on Earth while the motivated seeker who approaches Heaven with an open mind and heart finds it everywhere. If you limit your vision with negative beliefs, you'll miss the magic this book has to offer.
A Psychologist's Spiritual Journey
I have been searching for Heaven on Earth my whole life, following an invisible compass setting that would never let me go. Whenever I strayed too far afield from this setting, I felt restless, lost, or discouraged. Sometimes, on the other hand, when feeling especially peaceful, rested, or centered, an indecipherable joy would erupt inside - an intuition of a place I already knew but could not quite identify. This unyielding compass led me through countless spiritual writers, practices and experiences. It has driven my writing and pushed me relentlessly past traditional dogma and beliefs. Long before I knew what I was searching for, this unseen arrow held my course and knew its destination. Then, at long last, I realized where I was going and why.
I am a retired clinical psychologist. I spent nine years in college and graduate school studying the nature, causes, and treatment of psychological disorders and three decades working in the profession in numerous settings and capacities. Although I learned a great deal about the psychological basis of human suffering, my understanding always felt incomplete. In my heart of hearts I knew there was something missing - something fundamentally spiritual about our suffering and our joy, a dimension of reality as important and verifiable as anything psychology studied. Only recently did I realize that this spiritual dimension was the experience of Heaven on Earth. Let me explain how I arrived at this realization.
As a child, I sensed a pervasive, radiantly beautiful, living mystical reality shining all around me. Running in summer sunshine, bare feet on grass wet with morning dew, myself and all things bursting with the energy, consciousness, and joy of Creation, life felt too full to contain. Spirit filled the world with implicit love, its light illuminating natural beauty like a colorful stained-glass window, its presence a great invisible tide moving through everything. Though at the time I couldn't express these sentiments in adult words, I remember the joy of this experience nearly lifting my feet off the ground.
Because clarity and enlightenment are within your own nature, they are regained without moving an inch. Lao Tzu (Taoist Sage)
Meandering through grassy fields like a mystical explorer, I touched rough-hewn bark, studied daffodils and smelled the subtle fragrances of earthy flowerbeds in the noonday heat. Birds' songs virtually hypnotized me with their sweet melodies. Everything appeared precious and timeless, and I had no thought of yesterday or tomorrow. I adored - almost worshipped - my mother and father for their magnificent beauty, natural charisma and angelic presence. Everything seemed fascinating, perfect, spacious, and complete and I unquestionably assumed this wonderland would be mine forever.
Then, gradually, insidiously but insistently, beliefs and expectations from the World of Man descended upon my bright and colorful existence. For example, it dawned on me one day that love had become conditional. Shocked and amazed, I realized that people - even parents - create fixed judgments of you based on some snippet of behavior, and these judgments can determine how much they love or want you.
Standing in the living room one day, I watched my older brother pretend to conduct a symphony with remarkable mastery and flair. He obviously knew things that I didn't, things that apparently made him admirable and important in the eyes of family and society. Even my mother stopped working in the kitchen to watch in awe and pleasure. I had nothing comparable to show for myself. Instead, in an outburst of jealousy and envy, I pushed my little brother, for whom love had not yet become conditional, to the ground simply for being younger.
Excerpted from FINDING HEAVEN HERE by John C. Robinson Copyright © 2009 by O Books. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Story of Creation....................3
Chapter 2 Pilgrimage....................9
Chapter 3 The Promise....................23
Chapter 4 Heaven's Compass....................37
Chapter 5 Cycles of Spiritual Experience....................54
Chapter 6 Presence....................65
Chapter 7 Transformation....................80
Chapter 8 The Last Veil....................94
Chapter 9 Story Time....................107
Chapter 10 Living in Heaven on Earth....................117
Appendix A Source Material For Chapter 3....................129
Appendix B learning From Heaven's Compass....................169