"…the kingdom of God is within you." - Christ Jesus (Luke 17:21)
"My kingdom is not of this world:" - Christ Jesus (John 18:36)
For spiritual seekers the world over, finding the kingdom of God within ourselves is somewhat like searching for the legendary Atlantis…it is evasive and hidden behind the mists of time and forgetfulness. Still, however elusive our spiritual home seems to be, there are a few stepping stones of understanding that make the mist begin to dissipate, however slightly. These stepping stones bring an awareness of the kingdom, and its authenticity, which we didn't have before. Walking over these stones, we come into actual sightings or remembrances, which give glimpses of heavenly reality, right here, where we are. Understanding begins to dawn. Then we began to discern how the healings of disease and death, poverty and hatred can occur right where we are, in just the manner that Christ Jesus and his disciples employed.
Three Such Stepping Stones:
Perhaps the first stone to encounter is the clear comprehension of what was meant by the kingdom of God being "within" us. Clearly, this doesn't mean within our physical bodies, for the material parts of our bodies have no place to hide such a kingdom. No, the 'within' reference can only pertain to our consciousness…our mentality…what we think with, perceive with, and believe with…what we call our mind. It must be there, somewhere deep within our present consciousness, that an awareness of our heavenly home and circumstance sleeps or resides, though we know it not.
There is a reason for this seeming lack of spiritual knowledge or amnesia. With every baby born, physical gestation and birth presents a new identity to this material universe--an identity with a consciousness which seems to be wiped clean of all memory, any past existence, or any knowledge. An infant cannot even feed itself. All the new identity knows, it learns from pre-natal influences and after its entry here. This kingdom of material existence is what the child learns and holds as reality. As it develops and progresses both physically and mentally, another reality can present itself to thought: an awareness of a nebulous, invisible, reality--a spiritual reality. Some individuals have this spiritual sense of things as children; some aged adults have still not experienced it. But we each control our own consciousness, and we determine how open or closed it's walls and borders are to anything outside of what we've been taught.
Now, through these spiritual intuitions which we welcome or let in, we develop a faith in the unseen. We consider the possibility that "things" are not what they seem--that life itself is not what it appears to be. We see that perhaps the evils of this world are not all-powerful. This means that perception based on the physical senses alone is no longer trustworthy or adequate to perceive reality in its fullness and goodness. This realization is the second stepping stone to pass over. It is possibly the most important stepping stone to find, because it's the hardest to get past. For only by realizing the deceptive nature of physical existence does one eventually progress to the realization that Spirit is the true substance, and not the shadow, of all things created.
In this human condition, humanity has the cart before the horse. The learned conviction of material reality as substance and spiritual reality as merely a shadow has to be reversed. It is spiritual reality which is the substance, and the externalized universe of physical form which is its shadow. The science of physics must ultimately bow down before the reality of metaphysics, because matter is not the source of anything---it is the effect of thought. When deserted by the consciousness or intelligence which formed and animated it, matter decays into nothingness. Matter was not created by God; it's too temporary and imperfect. Man "creates" or manifests material form out of his own conscious, mistaken perception of being. Consciousness is able to image it's concepts into form. We do it all the time; we fill the world with the material forms we produce out of consciousness.
If one's belief system can permit this possibility, that material existence is an educated, collective state of self-deception, one has crossed a great ocean. Only by doing so does one begin to quit crediting God, the infinite Intelligence, with all the imperfections and evils of the world. God, who is the source of eternal, spiritual life to all creation, must no longer be seen as a deity which "calls" his children home through death. Disease and death serve no purpose for God. God created no disease and no death. No one and nothing can kill or destroy what God creates. This is what Christ Jesus tried to show. All that ever dies is the belief in physical life…for life was never physical, nor spiritual selfhood subject to the flesh. That's how Jesus, no doubt, healed the appearances of such things--by knowing their unreality in God's spiritual kingdom, and realizing, instead, the presence of the spiritual, eternally whole identity which God created. His vision of that was so great, he could call Lazarus (from Lazarus's own belief in the grave) and resurrect himself in the same way.
If the reader thinks denying disease and death as realities is extreme, notice this particular statement by the master: "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22: 31, 32). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been "dead" to us more than a thousand years (I think) when these words were said. Yet, they had never been in such a state as dead to God. That means their real being was never really dead; they were only "dead" to those who thought they were physical beings in the first place. To realize that one doesn't die materially, one must first comprehend that no one really lives materially. No one was ever really born physically, of the flesh. It's a state of self-deception, for all life is spiritual.
The third and last stepping stone presented for contemplation is to realize that, if our real kingdom is not a material or physical reality, then we are not citizens of this 'world' and universe of material form. Our kingdom is simply not of this world, however much it seems to be. We are always in the true, spiritual creation, the kingdom of God, no matter where or what our circumstances appear to be humanly. There is only one kingdom--one creation--and that is the spiritual creation and divine harmony, ever present and waiting to be called forth and experienced. In this invisible kingdom, we're still at one with our Source--the divine Intelligence we call God--and our heavenly home has never left us. God, our source and loving Parent, has never left us. We fell asleep, spiritually speaking; and just as we try to awaken ourselves from within a bad dream, our divine selfhood from within is trying to awaken us from the Adam dream of a false and material existence apart from God.
We should listen to that spiritual voice within, whenever we hear it; for from its spiritual glory, our real Self is calling us to re-clothe ourself with our true identity as Spirit's child. We shouldn't wonder that it sounds like our own thought; for It's our own forgotten Self from the kingdom calling us, and not a stranger at all.