What do we value? How much do we value it? When we clarify these questions, we establish the value of our goal. Then, we consciously bring this value to all our thoughts and actions, measuring our behavior against the criteria set by our values. The means for accomplishment reveal themselves as we clarify our intentions.
How many times have I contemplated the phrase, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (Christian Bible, Luke 17:21)? Dozens? Hundreds? Probably thousands.
I became aware of this passage in the early 90’s through the work of John Randolph Price. The phrase that often accompanied this one was, “As above, so below; as within, so without”.
The concept embodied by and promulgated through this passage has become fairly mainstream (it was not mainstream in the 90’s): Introspection is the doorway to higher truths.
For most of you who are doing any kind of personal or spiritual development work, this should be fairly familiar, exemplified in these now-common ideas:
- The answers are within you
- Your thoughts (within) create your reality (without)
- Remember who you are
- Come home to yourself
- If you meet the Buddha on the Road, kill him (in other words: you are your own guru, your own Buddha, don’t look to another)
Looking within is the gateway to discovering deeper truths, ultimately revealing The Kingdom of Heaven.
During the first two rounds of these Journeys, the Guiding Thoughts encourage this type of introspection. Contemplation begins with the self.
During the third round, the “we” round, the Guiding Thoughts point us toward a collective, and our interconnectedness with a group. How big you imagine that group is up to you; some people see a small group of 3 or 4, others imagine whole communities, networks, cities, nations, or our global community. (Ultimately, We is the Oneness of All…)
Today’s contemplation did two things that almost made my head explode.
- Combined with something I learned yesterday, it turned my understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven upside down.
- It gave me an incredibly clear, stark picture of the practical implications, relevant for today, of this Guiding Thought.
Broken down, here it is:
- What I learned yesterday: The phrase the Kingdom of Heaven is within you is a poor translation of the original Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, and even of the Greek. A better translation is the Kingdom of God is in your midst, where “your” is plural, referring to a village or community.
The Kingdom was based on a community’s acceptance of the poor, the hungry, the bereaved, and the shunned. (Chilton, Bruce. Rabbi Jesus: an Intimate Biography. Doubleday, 2000. p. 137)
Applied to today’s Guiding Thought, the values and goals become our collective values and goals: what do we value? Moreover, how do we want our culture and society to reflect those values? What are the means for accomplishment?
This lead to…
2. The we is identified as everyone in the United States (or whatever country you are from), everyone in our global community, and every living being that makes up life on planet Earth.
What do we value?
In the US we are figuring this out rapidly, en masse, through observing and experiencing the consequences of behaviors, attitudes, and decisions of our leaders which we do not value.
As a society, we are being given the gift of a spectacle showing us how old, outdated, and destructive our past values have been–after all, as a society, we bought into everything we are seeing today for decades, though on a much smaller scale. Now it’s all erupted and in our face, so we can see clearly what we have created through our past values.
As a national community, we are rejecting those values, and collectively embracing new values.
We are in a transition, and experiencing the turmoil that goes along with the clash of values. The old values still have power in our collective consciousness, and we, collectively, have not come to a mass agreement about what the new values should be (much less the systems or institutions to reflect those values). We are rejecting the old values with nothing concrete yet to replace them.
The same transition, is occurring on a global scale, with a backdrop of a global crisis of diminishing eco-systems and resources, and an increase in pathogens (affecting the most vulnerable humans: women, children, the elderly).
Through the spectacle and foibles happening in the United States, other nations are sharpening their clarity regarding what they value; political societies are questioning the value of economic systems that oppress people and destroy the earth in pursuit of “wealth” represented by numbers in a computer.
People are questioning the value of political leaders who sell out the citizenry and natural resources to the highest bidders.
People are questioning so called “human” values, when our systems, institutions, and social structures promote violence, war, racism, degradation, and other “inhumane” activities. Who are we as a people, as a race? What do we value?
We got ourselves into this. Time to get ourselves out.