Perhaps the most famous of all of Christ’s quotations, as well as one of the most disregarded, is found in Luke:
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke.17.20-21)
We, however, are held in thrall by the things of this world, our attention dispersed into the world around us, and we look for heaven and God precisely where Christ tells us not to look, turning spirituality into the superficial and formalistic worship of external objects and historical events.
As our focus becomes more and more external, the lower rational mind gains strength and becomes more and more affronted by the irrationality of spiritual and religious claims. This is when the champions of atheism become increasingly vocal and adamant – not without cause!
Jesus was aware of this problem. So he presented his Teachings about the kingdom of heaven through parables in which he paints a picture of the kingdom by using images and symbols that bypass the rational mind and sink directly into higher levels of consciousness.
Here is one example:
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the heavens come and make nests in its branches. (Matt.13.31-32)
Here, the kingdom is likened to a tiny seed. It is the ‘smallest of all seeds’ because at our usual level of consciousness we give it the least importance! But if the man takes it, and plants it within (‘in his field’), it grows into a huge and magnificent tree – the symbol of enlightenment, thrusting upward through the levels of Being, from roots in the earth to branches in heaven. The ‘birds of heaven’ that nest in its branches are the angels.
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