1. Lecture on Heaven


There is a joke about a spiritual event that happens in the central concourse of a famous university. Two large rooms open off this concourse. The first of these bears a sign that reads ‘Heaven’ and the second a sign that reads ‘Lecture on Heaven’. The first room is empty but a large crowd has filled the second, waiting for a lecture.

How can this be? An answer may be found in the maxim ‘You can’t see God and live.’ Seeing God is Heaven but the encounter shatters whatever ‘you’ used to be. The one who aspires to enlightenment is never the one who is enlightened, because the separate seeking one ‘dies’ in the course of fulfilling their aspiration.

We cannot see God and live but the issue for serial lecture-goers is that we aren’t (yet) prepared to die: to let go and lose ourselves in the transcendence of separation that Heaven is. It is a safer and more popular option to hear about the adventure than to risk losing oneself in it. For this reason, the first room is empty and the second full.

Ego can rejoice in brilliance while savouring the fine points of a lecture, secure in the knowledge that it won’t be asked to die as long as the talking goes on. Coordinate-less Heaven, on the other hand, is much scarier: an option regarding which one is well advised to be prepared in advance, to know what to expect and so forth.

There is a point to careful preparation – via books, courses, workshops etc. – but only up to a point where we are asked to let go in trust and step beyond the knowing structure of our conditioned identities to experience the freedom and transcendence of the Unconditioned. Such moments invariably arise and invariably demand surrender.

We can be prepared to approach our moment but never so well as to eliminate the element of risk associated with it. Ego must relinquish its defensive urge to be in charge to savour the abundance of greater life. Yielding it ‘dies’ – becomes a different (kind of) ‘ego’, over and over until finally it is ready to surrender absolutely. Unity is Consciousness beyond separation. It is the stuff of Heaven and realising this is not the same as knowing about it.

All traditions talk about moments of surrender and the need for them. Preliminary talk is required to help bring these into view and establish them as survivable. Beyond that, talk may well be countervailing, leading to over-ripeness and tendencies to procrastinate in the hope of minimising whatever our ‘trial’ must be. Trial cannot be avoided because from it ego learns that it’s possible to let go and still survive.

This redeems the apparently defensive nature of ego, moving it beyond whatever the conditioning forces of its past have been. If on the other hand we are called to trial and refuse, we are liable to lose our way. The only thing we can do then is await an occasion of new challenge and let go into it with more awareness than was possible before (0).

Notes:

(0) My Sacred Plays have been criticised just once, by someone who has never been: my website, she said, suffers from a glaring lack of photographs and testimonials. This evidently makes my testimony suspect. I like to keep www.sacredplay.info promotion-free and don’t subscribe to mall psychology. On this occasion, however, with reference to the difference between going to Heaven and a lecture, I will quote one message from a newcomer who attended ‘Birthing’ in May 2012: ‘Thank you for your guidance through the Birth process. I have never felt so safe in my life before, it allowed me to let go…’ Feeling safe and letting go, beyond paranoid reflection, is our Path to Heaven.

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