Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.–Luke 17:21
All in the mind
“In silent meditation Jesus sat beside a flowing spring. It was a holy day, and many people of the servant caste were near the place. And Jesus saw the hard drawn lines of toil on every brow, in every hand. There was no look of joy in any face. Not one of all the group could think of anything but toil” (Aquarian Gospel 33:1, 2).
These two verses show the truth of Sri Ramakrishna’s frequent assertion: “The mind is everything.” We are in Buddhist territory, and Buddhism rejected the caste system, yet here are “many people of the servant caste.” How amazing–Buddha’s teachings free them from the absurd idea of hereditary caste, yet they clung avidly to the imprisoning ideas he long ago repudiated.
When reading about “the hard drawn lines of toil on every brow, in every hand…no look of joy in any face” we should not be quick to react emotionally, for we are told why they were so miserable: “Not one of all the group could think of anything but toil.” So it was all in their mind. Remember, this is a holiday and they are not working, but instead of relaxing and enjoying themselves they are all gloomy and glum. Why? Because they are slaves in their minds, reveling in their victimhood. We will see this when Jesus in his compassion starts reasoning with them.
“And Jesus spoke to one and said, Why are you all so sad? Have you no happiness in life? The man replied, We scarcely know the meaning of that word. We toil to live, and hope for nothing else but toil, and bless the day when we can cease our toil and lay us down to rest in Buddha’s city of the dead” (Aquarian Gospel 33:3, 4).
“Buddha’s city of the dead”? This shows that no matter how surrounded people may be with freeing wisdom, if they choose ignorance and bondage that is exactly what they will get. I have seen this in nearly every ashram I have visited. No matter how wise and worthy the guru may be, and how many hours are spent listening to the guru’s teachings, there will always be some that act as though they have hardly heard of God, much less the subtleties of Indian philosophy. They are walking bundles of misery and resentment, what Yogananda called “spiritual skunks,” stinking up the place that is fragrant with holiness and the highest wisdom.
Heaven at hand
Perhaps those that choose to be miserable are more to be pitied than others who cannot help it for:
“Jesus’ heart was stirred with pity and with love for these poor toilers, and he said, Toil should not make a person sad; men should be happiest when they toil. When hope and love are back of toil, then all of life is filled with joy and peace, and this is heaven. Do you not know that such a heaven is for you?” (Aquarian Gospel 33:5, 6).
One of the reasons so many people in ashrams–especially in India–are so miserable is that they live in a useless, pointless, and idle manner. Their minds have gone to seed from years of indolence and they are no longer fit for this world or any other. Swami Vivekananda and Swami Sivananda understood how destructive it is even for sadhus to fall into this morass and become worse than nothing. They wisely required that ashram inmates engage in useful work to keep their minds in shape and also to give them self-respect. Sivananda used to tell those that came to the ashram that he intended for them to become competent in all areas of ashram work. The idlers fled, but the fit remained and became proficient in spiritual life.
Jesus understood the right principle of work–which is the entire message of the Bhagavad Gita. So he followed the precept of the Gita: “Let the wise show how work is holy when the heart of the worker is fixed on the Highest” (Bhagavad Gita 3:26). For work is an expression of hope for betterment, as Jesus points out. When work is done in the right perspective, life becomes a heaven on earth.
Writing this I see vividly in my mind’s eye a tiny laundry that was run by a Chinese family very near where I once lived in Hollywood. At that time I was living right next to the Self-Realization Fellowship Church and immersing myself in the study of yoga while at the same time attending college. (I spent a lot more time at SRF than school–a wise choice.) Heaven was opened to me, right in my grasp, through the wonderful practice of meditation. One day I wandered into the hot and steamy laundry and saw the harried faces of the parents and their little children as they drudged along to make a living. Looking at them I thought: “If they knew how to meditate, they would be living in Paradise within their hearts. How happy they would be!” A prayer of gratitude flew up from my heart to God as I turned and went back out onto the street. No, I did not evangelize them because they knew right where they, too, could find what I had learned. They passed it every day. It was a matter of choice, conscious or subliminal
A wrong perspective
“The man replied, Of heaven we have heard; but then it is so far away, and we must live so many lives before we can reach that place!” (Aquarian Gospel 33:7).
Right there in India, amid the teachings of Buddha, they thought heaven was the goal, and that it would take lives for them to be good enough for it. Lots of return tickets to planet earth–might it be that they wanted it that way?
The right perspective
“And Jesus said, My brother, man, your thoughts are wrong; your heaven is not far away; and it is not a place of metes and bounds, is not a country to be reached; it is a state of mind” (Aquarian Gospel 33:8).
In an audience in 1999 Pope John Paul II described heaven as “neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but that fullness of communion with God, which is the goal of human life.” Both Jesus and the Pope agree with me!
“God never made a heaven for man; he never made a hell; we are creators and we make our own” (Aquarian Gospel 33:9).
The Pope also defined hell as “the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.”
So it is all up to us whether we live in heaven or hell–and how high or how low. Physically there seems to be only one world, but people live in vastly differing degrees of heaven and hell. People who live in the same “world” group together and say theirs is the only world, but fortunately it is not true. In C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce (a book I certainly recommend) the main character discovers that anyone can pass back and forth from heaven to hell easily. It is matter of simple choice. (Shaw presented the same view in the “Don Juan in Hell” section of Man and Superman.)
There was a Buddhist monk whom people jokingly named Wintermelon because he seemed a completely useless blockhead. One day he left the town and was never seen again. He left behind a piece of paper on which he wrote a poem that concluded with the words: “I walk through the streets and no one guesses that Paradise [Sukhavati] is within.” Once an over-educated wiseacre in China met an old woman who was walking along the road muttering the mantra of Amida Buddha. “old lady,” he sneered,” are you thinking that you will go to Amida’s Paradise when you die?” To his surprise, she emphatically shook her head No. Being a confirmed fool, he tried another tack. “Where is your Amida Buddha, then?” She smiled, tapped her chest, and walked on. He never got the idea, but we can.
A phrase that could easily slip by us is this: “We are creators.” If we believe the Biblical statement that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27), that we are gods (Psalms 82:6; John 10:34-36), this is only logical–of course we have the ability to create our world, our life. We create heaven or hell, and it is silly to pray to God to do for us what we are intended to do. It is even more foolish to blame God or anyone else for the state of our life and mind. If we don’t like the way things are we can change them–but not without unlocking the power to do so through the practice of yoga. Without yoga all the philosophy and good thoughts and deeds in the world mean very little. The wise center their attention–even their identity–on being a proficient yogi. Think of it, we have done everything at some time in our past lives, and where did it get us? Why not toss the nonsense aside and become real yogis? We are on the shore of the Ocean of Infinity. Why are we paddling around, wading out a bit, swimming about a while, and then coming back to shore? It is time to plunge in and swim to the Other Shore of which Buddha spoke.
Once a man came to Sri Ramakrishna and related this: “I had a strange dream. The world was all covered with water. Endless water on all sides. A few boats were afloat. They all went down in a sudden swell. I and a few others boarded a ship when I saw a brahmin walking across the shoreless ocean. I asked him, ‘How can you walk over water?’ The brahmin said with a little smile, ‘There is no problem here; there is a bridge running straightaway under water.’ I asked him, ‘Where are you going?’ ‘To Bhavanipur, the city of the Divine Mother,’ he replied. I said, ‘Wait a little; I shall also go with you.’ The brahmin said, ‘I am in a hurry. You will take time to get down. Notice this road now and come afterwards.’”
How long will the road wait? It is just beneath the surface of our mind; we need only discover it by the means of yoga.
Creative people often intuit beyond their conscious reckoning and come up with words worthy of the greatest scriptures. Such is this passage from Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” This is absolutely true. We must sail with the tide or remain stranded on this foreign shore for another life…and another…and another.
What to do!
“Now, cease to seek for heaven in the sky; just open up the windows of your hearts, and, like a flood of light, a heaven will come and bring a boundless joy; then toil will be no cruel task” (Aquarian Gospel 33:10).
There is no “tomorrow” or “over yonder.” There is only the eternal Now and the eternal Here. We need only open up to them, to “see” in the truest sense. Just as light comes immediately into a place darkened for countless years, so the inner Light will come as soon as we remove that which is between us and the Light. We need to roll away the stone from the tomb so the Life within can come forth. Jesus taught the way to do this, as we will see in Chapter Forty. It is all within.
“The people were amazed, and gathered close to hear this strange young master speak, imploring him to tell them more about the Father-God; about the heaven that men can make on earth; about the boundless joy” (Aquarian Gospel 33:11, 12).
We must understand that God is our origin, that it is back to God we need to go, wandering children that have at last understood the folly of separation. There must be an opening of the secret inner door into the kingdom of heaven and its boundless joy.
Finally Jesus gives a symbolic picture of humanity’s dilemma and its solution:
“And Jesus spoke a parable; he said, A certain man possessed a field; the soil was hard and poor. By constant toil he scarcely could provide enough of food to keep his family from want.
“One day a miner who could see beneath the soil, in passing on his way, saw this poor man and his unfruitful field. He called the weary toiler and he said, My brother, know you not that just below the surface of your barren field rich treasures lie concealed? You plough and sow and reap in scanty way, and day by day you tread upon a mine of gold and precious stones. This wealth lies not upon the surface of the ground; but if you will dig away the rocky soil, and delve down deep into the earth, you need no longer till the soil for naught.
“The man believed. The miner surely knows; he said, and I will find the treasures hidden in my field. And then he dug away the rocky soil, and deep down in the earth he found a mine of gold.
“And Jesus said, The sons of men are toiling hard on desert plains, and burning sands and rocky soils; are doing what their fathers did, not dreaming they can do aught else. Behold, a master comes, and tells them of a hidden wealth; that underneath the rocky soil of carnal things are treasures that no man can count; that in the heart the richest gems abound; that he who wills may open the door and find them all” (Aquarian Gospel 33:13-23).
How wonderful are these truths which can be realized by all of us. Those Jesus spoke to may have been unsophisticated in philosophy, and surely were illiterate, but they understood it was a practical matter, not beautiful theory.
“And then the people said, Make known to us the way that we may find the wealth that lays within the heart.
“And Jesus opened up the way; the toilers saw another side of life, and toil became a joy” (Aquarian Gospel 33:24, 25).
So it is. So shall it be.
Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: Getting to the Essence