On several occasions over the last week or so, Cynthia Bourgealt and her books have come to my attention; one of my good friends is reading The Wisdom Jesus. Generally speaking, anyone who studies religion and esotericism in any depth has probably already covered much of the territory she presents, but I thought I would take a look at one of her works, so I'm reading The Wisdom Jesus. For those first introducing themselves to the idea she explores, it seems to be quite good.
While considering her words, I was struck by the discussion about the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ, she points out, says that the Kingdom of Heaven is within; yet I feel that the words may be misleading, even though they are supposedly the words of Christ Himself.
There's truth to the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is within; but the words themselves assign the Kingdom of Heaven a location. Whether we perceive it as being inside us or outside us, it becomes a physical location, a place. Yet it is not defined by place; it is defined by state.
A Kingdom is a condition, not a place. The condition is that in which there is a king and there are subjects. So it is a condition, an order, a special and specific form of relationship. It could be anywhere; because the condition of kingship and that of the kingdom depends on the existence of the king and the subjects, not the location. Because, traditionally, kingdoms always needed locations to exist, we would conventionally think of them as being locations, not conditions; yet it was emphatically stated by Swedenborg that the Kingdom of Heaven determines proximity not by geography, but by state. And in the same way, our relationship to higher principles is determined not by location, but by state. So there is no place for the Kingdom of Heaven to arise, except within Being; and there is no geography of heaven, except in so far as it is defined by the inner state.
When Christ says the Kingdom of Heaven is within, he does not call us to the place within ourselves, but the relationship within ourselves. What is our relationship? We cannot acknowledge any order within us until we see how we are; there has to be a conscious recognition of this order, of the existence of a king — or, at least, the potential for one to exist — within us in order for kingdom to be possible. And we are taught, in every teaching, including Gnosticism, esotericism, and even "that good old-time religion," that we aren't the king. It is our state, our location, that does not allow for a kingdom to exist. Kingdom comes through relationship, not through discovery of a place.
Perhaps this is the danger of subscribing too enthusiastically to physical yoga practices. They attempt to locate energy quite specifically; and although this is possible, they deceive us into believing that the locations, for example, the chakras, are what is important, and not the relationships between our parts. More specifically, not the relationships between our parts, which are indeed important — but the relationship between our parts and something higher.
We seek a new inner order which will come under an authority. This order isn't locational; it is experiential. So it is the movement of inner experience that creates the question of kingdom, not the fact that we have an inner which might serve as a location for a king.
More on this in the next post.