Belinda Carlisle once sang that heaven is a place on Earth and that in heaven love comes first. She wasn’t wrong. You don’t have to die (and believe in the right god) to get to heaven. Heaven is actually an attitude, and one you can create for yourself.
We believe that Heaven is within us and that we experience it to the degree that we become conscious of it.
The Kingdom of Heaven means the kingdom of harmony, of peace, of joy, and of wholeness. It is an inward kingdom. […]
Heaven is not a place but an inward state of consciousnes.
My experience with Christianity in Norway suggests that the idea that we cannot and should not be happy here in our physical lives, is an idea that still exists. This is one reason why I don’t “get” Christianity. There is such a happy message hidden in the religion (you are already saved, loved, protected), but gets overshadowed by constant reminders of the merits of suffering and of our failings as humans every single day.
So what is heaven on earth? What is the kingdom within?
Jennifer Jones has been struggling to figure that out herself, in her own blogpost on heaven.
I wonder, since there are literally hundreds of beliefs and descriptions regarding heaven, each resonating or delighting those who hold the particular belief, maybe heaven is whatever we envision as our perfect place?
Maybe Heaven is not so much a place to go to but a state in which to exist?
Maybe the Kingdom of God is not outside somewhere in space but inside our hearts?
Jennifer then goes on to imagine creating heaven for everyone. But if heaven is within each of us, then heaven is something each of us must create for ourselves. We must discover within our own self where our peace of mind, our sense of protection and universal love resides permanently, and then bring it forth and focus on it.
So what is hell? Ask someone who has lost a child too early, or who suffers from clinical depression, or is terrified of school because of the bullying, or who hates the person they see in the mirror. There are many other examples. You can see that what they have in common is that the mind is filled with worry, loss, negativity and other feel-bad stuff. And truly, that is hell. When you feel disconnected from what sustains you, from what encourages you, when you cannot see yourself or your life containing anything good, safe or supporting, when you feel that you have only a past and no future, you are visiting hell.
So it does seem to be all in the mind. That does not mean that any feeling of living in hell because of circumstances just requires you to “cheer up”. Far from it: That would be dangerous. The grief of losing a child is real and grieving is a process. Clinical depression is an illness which should not be left to its own devices. Schools and parents need to address bullying. And that mirror image? If you can’t find something good to say to it, go find a psychologist. Please.
For the rest of us who are generally OK and generally healthy, but habitually experiencing life as a struggle, as ugly, as difficult, gray and unsatisfying, a good look at our own expectations may be in order. So many of us do expect life to be hard. And we are told it is. We are told life is unfair, too.
But what if life is actually easy? What if it is such a natural occurrence or experience that it just operates without effort? That’s not as silly as it sounds. If you look around this planet, you’ll see innumerable instances of life surviving everywhere. The interesting thing is that life tends to do that with the least amount of effort possible. Here’s an example:
Lions hunt antelopes. That’s a given. Do lions hunt all antelopes? No. They only hunt the ones they think they’ll catch. In other words, they look for the easy kill – a lone or weakened antelope, for example. An animal that will be easily separated from the herd. Does this support the herd? Well, yes. It lets all the stronger, healthier antelopes get away. The abundance of the Universe makes enough antelopes to feed lions and still have antelopes.
Humans got tired of hunting for seeds, and started growing their own. They got tired of doing their own walking, and domesticated horses and camels and elephants for riding. (Imagine domesticating an elephant!) Nowadays, lazy humans use machines where manual labor and animal power used to rule. Crows and monkeys use tools, too.
So, basically, everything living finds a way to get on with their life with the least amount of effort.
And you may be thinking it’s less effort to let things slide and just keep believing the negative. Actually, it isn’t. Problems are always a distraction, not something that adds interest.
So imagine a world, a life, where you wake up in the morning, and you feel rested and you also feel good about the day ahead of you. The people in your life are loving and you are loving with them. You have a safe home, plenty of nutritious food to eat, a well body, and a sense of contentment. You feel useful and needed and your life feels fulfilling to you. Whatever you do for a living, delights you. It’s like being paid to do a beloved hobby. You genuinely like yourself. You smile and laugh a lot.
Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it. So how do you get there?
Start by realizing it’s already here. It’s about where you put your focus. Everything you think is wonderful about heaven, imagine is now manifesting in your life right now. You don’t have to die and leave this planet first. Find what nurtures you, what brings a smile to your face. There are so many books out there that suggest finding your joy, the color of your parachute, your authentic self, etc. and they are all about finding what makes you bloom. So I won’t repeat their messages here. I will tell you to be aware of your inner critic. We all have that voice in our head that criticizes us, reminds us of our mistakes and stupidities. That is hell talking (actually, it’s ego, but ego feeds on fear and isn’t the kingdom within). The key to heaven is to love yourself. Be your own best friend. Pat yourself on the back, take note of the things you do well, the successes you’ve accomplished, the positive feedback others give. Start giving those things more weight. Make a list of your blessings (i.e. count them). As you shift from an expectation of things needing to go wrong or be difficult, you will discover more and more of the things that go right and just flow without effort.
Eventually, you’ll stop hell from being a part of your reality and it’ll be easier and easier to recognize heaven on earth, within.