We are ready
These chapters are being written with the idea of helping the readers to understand religion and to practice it. Anyone who is sufficiently interested in the subject of religion to read what is here written, is probably at a level of evolution at which a great effort now will take him near to the topmost rungs of the ladder which lead from the human to the superhuman kingdom. It is for such as these now literally to “lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:12, 19). They need now especially to turn their attention to the cultivation of the finer qualities of human character, and more especially to the cultivation of spiritual consciousness, and become established in it. So that just as now it is quite impossible for them to lapse into savagery, so it may become equally impossible for them to turn aside from the path that leads unto life eternal.
This being so, we are now in a position to trace the course of human evolution at its final stage–that is, at the stage which leads from the human to the superhuman kingdom. This stage is generally known in mystical theology as The Path. There is a clear reference to it in the Christian gospel, where Our Lord Jesus said: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). The book of Job speaks of “a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” (Job 28:7). That is, there is a way that neither the highest development nor the subtlest interior sight can perceive on its own–by purely natural evolution. Rather, it is revealed by God unto those who say to Him, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalms 27:8), for “Thou wilt shew me the path of life” (Psalms 16:11). Those who walk that path discover for themselves that “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Psalms 4:18). There are references to the same concept in the sacred literature of other great religions, especially in Taoism which is based on the idea of The Way (Tao).
“Few there be that find it.” In any generation those who find this Path and tread it are certainly few compared with the great mass of beings who form the human race, yet we must never lose sight of the great fact that all human beings will one day find that Path and tread it to its end: the Kingdom of Heaven.
Much has been said already about the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God. It is an expression which occurs frequently in the Christian Gospel in the words of the Lord Jesus Himself.
What Is It?
The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God is the whole of that condition of consciousness which lies immediately above and beyond the stage of merely human consciousness. It is an inclusive term for those stages of evolution, however many there be, beginning at the point where the human soul becomes conscious of his own divinity, and continuing by higher stages to so intense a realization of oneness with God as we, who are only at the human level, could not understand, even if it could be told to us. For us at present such an explanation of the term is surely sufficient. We use the term the Kingdom of Heaven for that which lies above and beyond our own human kingdom in much the same way as we use the terms The Animal Kingdom, The Plant Kingdom, and The Mineral Kingdom for those levels that lie immediately below our own. It is obviously difficult for one who has not as yet experienced the conditions of the Kingdom of Heaven, even at the level immediately ahead of the human kingdom, to give any really satisfactory account of those conditions to others who likewise have not yet experienced them. Nevertheless, something profitable may be said about those conditions, and we may attempt some sort of description of the life of that Kingdom–which, even before we attain to it, our imaginations may picture with eager anticipation.
We can at least get some idea of those conditions of enlarged consciousness by a comparison of our own human consciousness with the consciousness of an animal. Take the most intelligent type of animal that we know, such as a dog or a horse, and bring it into a picture gallery. It will have no appreciation whatever of the beauties that we can see there. Similarly our animal friends cannot understand in the least such things as motor cars, machinery, television sets, literature, and even games. Their consciousness is not large enough to comprehend them. Some of them seem to appreciate music to some extent–just to the extent that it seems to please them, but that is all. Most of them have the capacity for making friends both with other animals of their own kind, with a few of other kinds, and with us human beings–even to the extent of sacrificing their lives for their human friends. That friendship of animals for us is something to be greatly admired and enjoyed and to be profoundly thankful for. Yet, after all, in spite of their capacity for friendship, how little of the life of even a child can the most developed animal understand. The consciousness of an animal compared with that of a human child is very, very limited. And equally limited is the consciousness of even a well-educated, highly-civilized human being compared with that of a superhuman being, such as a saint or an angel. If, then, we can imagine a being whose consciousness is as much more fully developed than that of a human being as the consciousness of a human being is wider and fuller than that of an animal, we will have some idea of the condition of consciousness of those who are now in the Kingdom of Heaven.
But even so, the idea that such a comparison will present will be an idea only of the extent of a superhuman being’s consciousness, not of its quality. To arrive at some sort of idea of the quality of consciousness of a member of the Kingdom of Heaven we must again draw on our imagination. Using the knowledge that we already possess of the end and aim of human evolution, we may picture a collection of people in whom those qualities which we aim at acquiring have been perfectly developed. Further, we may picture them living and working together with a single aim and as a single unit. The end and aim of our human evolution is that we may realize and appreciate our oneness with God and with each other. That will be our condition when we have fully developed those godlike qualities that we know are in existence deep within our own being, and that by our actions and reactions in the world in which we live are gradually being brought to the surface. As regards its quality, a complete realization of oneness marks the condition of the consciousness of those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Struggling Up The Ladder
The strife and confusion that we know so well–both within our own individual souls and in our relations with others–are due to the lower self or personality of each one of us which, it should be remembered, is but a fragment of the soul working continually for its own separate interest, and not for the interests of mankind as a whole. This condition of strife, as we described earlier, is due ultimately to the law of material growth–“each for himself”–warring against the law of spiritual evolution–“each for all”–in one and the same person, and to the confusion at the physical level of the differing currents of evolution. That condition of strife is all over, passed and done with, by the time a human being leaves behind him the human kingdom and enters the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition in which there is no strife.
In an earlier stage upon the way to the Kingdom, the lower personality is, so to speak, drawn up into the life of the soul, and this union is made more complete during the further stages along the way. Someone at those stages is still a human being, though he is on the Path that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. But he is such a human being as looks out upon life–his own life and the lives of others of the human kind–from the standpoint of a soul, and no longer from that of a fragment of a soul very largely dominated by the material conditions of his embodied life. For at the stage in which he enters upon the superhuman stage, the soul is itself drawn up into the life of the spirit, and at that moment realizes and becomes conscious of his own divinity. That is to say, he who was but a human being, such as ourselves, then becomes fully conscious on all the planes of nature below the second plane. (See the diagram of the Seven Planes in Chapter Two.) He remains himself, and yet he is at the same time all others as well. He is conscious in all other centers of consciousness as well as in his own. Such is the consciousness of oneness, God Consciousness.
The Citizens Of The Kingdom
Bearing this in mind, it is possible now to conceive the quality of the consciousness of those, however many there be, who now form the Kingdom of Heaven. There may be millions, yet they are one. All strife with others has been left behind before the Path was entered or whilst the Path was being trodden. And strife within themselves is no longer necessary, or even possible. For, though they continue to evolve, the critical stage of evolution–the stage of severest conflict between the spiritual and the material, the human stage–has been safely traversed and left behind. They are many, and yet they are one and act as one. They are distinct from each other, and yet they never act, think, or plan, as we so often do, each for his own interests and for his own advantage. Such self-interestedness at that level is altogether unknown, and is indeed impossible. That is the main difference, as regards quality, between the condition of life in the Kingdom of Heaven and the condition of life, as we know it so well, in our human kingdom.
As to the number of those who have attained to the Kingdom of Heaven we cannot have any idea. But those who know of these matters tell us of a thin stream in every age passing from our world to theirs. May we soon be of that number!
The Work Of The Kingdom
Before we leave this fascinating subject it must be pointed out that not all who attain to the Kingdom of Heaven engage, in that condition, in the same work. Some, it is true, have as their main work the helping of us, their younger brethren, who still form the human race. Such as these are the Saints and Masters. Others have work to do outside the human race and beyond the planet Earth. Others, again, join the Angelic evolution, and still others may pass right outside the creation and return into the Bosom of the Father, the transcendent realm beyond all relativity whatsoever, where all evolution is forever at an end.
Furthermore, they are not all at the same level. There are many stages of evolution beyond that which leads from the human to the superhuman kingdom. “From glory to glory” (II Corinthians 3:18) they pass on and on to heights and states of consciousness which we cannot possibly conceive. It is important to remember this, especially in view of the consideration of the nature and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we must attempt almost immediately.
Such, very briefly and fragmentarily, is the condition of consciousness, both in extent and quality of superhuman beings, such as the Saints, Masters, and Angels. Such, too, it should never be forgotten, is the condition into which we who are now human are invited to press, saying with Saint Paul: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
The Kingdom of God is within us, we are told by our Lord Jesus (Luke 17:21), and in the light of what has been described here we can see how true is that encouraging assurance. The Kingdom of God is within us, and we are also told to take it by storm (Matthew 11:12). That is to say, to labor to develop the qualities which are essentially those of the Kingdom of Heaven, and which, when developed, will admit us, so to speak, automatically to the fellowship of our elder brothers: a fellowship which is described as “The Communion of Saints,” our Lord Jesus and our Mother Mary being “the Saints of Saints.”