Sunday, August 21, 2011

Within the Kingdom of God & the Kingdom of God Within

"In the Kingdom of Heaven all is in all, all is one, and all is ours."
-- Meister Eckhart --
"The world inhabited by ordinary, nice, unregenerate people," observes Aldous Huxley, "is mainly dull (so dull that they have to distract their minds from being aware of it by all sorts of artificial "amusements"), some times briefly and intensely pleasurable, occasionally or quite often disagreeable and even agonizing." However, Huxley notes, "(F)or those who have deserved the world by making themselves fit to see God within it as well as within their own souls, it wears a very different aspect."
[Aldous Huxley, "The Perennial Philosophy," p. 75.]

In one of the most significant passages in the New Testament, Jesus, who had been perpetually persecuted for his views by the Pharisees, and thus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven exclusively in parables, speaks unambiguously to his persecutors. When asked by the Pharisees where the Kingdom of Heaven might be found, he replies directly, "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." (Luke 17: 20-21.) Then, in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, when asked by his disciples when the Kingdom of God would come, he replies: "It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it." (Gospel of Thomas, Verse 113.)

Thus, it may be seen, as Huxley observed (above), that our being and our environment take on very different aspects depending upon whether we have a mundane or supermundane understanding of their nature. Alluding to these two very different ways of seeing the world, Jesus (again, from the Gospel of Thomas, at Verse 77) tells his disciples: "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."

"It is in the Indian and Far Eastern formulations of the Perennial Philosophy," notes Huxley, "that this subject is most systematically treated.What is prescribed is a process of conscious discrimination between the personal self and the Self that is identical with Brahman, between the individual ego and the Buddha-womb or Universal Mind."

"The result of this discrimination," Huxley points out, "is a more or less sudden and complete "revulsion" of consciousness, and the realization of a state of "no-mind," which may be described as the freeedom from perceptual and individual attachment to the ego-principle. This state of "no-mind" exists, as it were, on a knife-edge between the carelessness of the average sensual man and the strained overeagerness of the zealot for salvation. To achieve it one must walk delicately and, to maintain it, must learn to combine the most intense alertness with a tranquil and self-denying passivity, the most indomitable determination with a perfect submission to the leadings of the spirit."
"When no-mind is sought after by a mind," says Huang Po, "that is making it a particular object of thought. There is only testimony of silence; it goes beyond thinking."
 "In other words," says Huxley, "we, as separate individuals, must not try to think it, but rather permit ourselves to be thought by it."
[Aldous Huxley, "The Perennial Philosophy," pp. 72-73.]

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