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Heaven On Earth: The World Beyond Thought

by John C. Robinson, PhD, DMin


The world is not what you think it is. For me, this realization resounds as one of the most important insights on spiritual path and marks the beginning of a truly remarkable journey we are all called to take: the journey to Heaven on Earth. What does this life-changing insight really mean?

Let’s begin with the problem of thought. Anybody who has ever tried to meditate learns that we think constantly. We name and explain everything. Stories and beliefs about who we are, what’s wrong with our life or the world, and what should be done about it blanket reality with a dense veil of thought. We actually create a second world existing only and entirely in the mind. As Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with out thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” And as we all know, this mental world is rarely very loving or pretty.

But there is another world just beyond this veil of thought: a pristine, incredibly beautiful, infinitely holy, already perfect, and endlessly fulfilling paradise. Described by the mystics from virtually every religious tradition, it goes by countless names: Eden, Heaven on Earth, the Garden of Shiva, the Pure Land, Creation, Shangri-La, and the Kingdom of God. It lies all around us and those who have seen it never forget.

Describing the moment his vision cleared, the popular Jungian writer Robert Johnson recalled, “Suddenly I was in a glorious world. It was pure light, gold, radiant, luminous, ecstatically happy, perfectly beautiful, purely tranquil, joy beyond bound…It was all that any mystic ever promised of heaven, and I knew then that I was in possession of the greatest treasure known to humankind.”

Remembering a spontaneous encounter with Heaven on Earth, Katharine Trevelyan exclaimed, “The wonder was beyond anything I have ever read or imagined or heard men speak about. I was Adam walking alone in the first Paradise…Every flower spoke to me, every spider wove a miracle of intricacy for my eyes, every bird understood that here was Heaven come to earth…Every prayer was fulfilled, every possible desire for the whole world consummated; for His Kingdom had come and I had beheld it with my very eyes.”

Likewise, the 17th century mystic Thomas Traherne beheld, "The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold...The green trees when I saw them first through one of the gates transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things...The city seemed to stand in Eden, or to be built in Heaven."

Interestingly, each of us once encountered this original world of innocence in early childhood, though most have forgotten. Author John Masefield, however, confided, “It is difficult for me to describe the ecstatic bliss of my earliest childhood. All that I looked upon was beautiful, and known by me to be beautiful, but also known by me to be, as it were, only the shadow of something much more beautiful, very, very near, and almost to be reached, where there was nothing but beauty itself in ecstasy, undying, inexhaustible.” As the mystics often tell us, words are rarely adequate to convey the unbelievable splendor of this clarified vision.

Sadly, the conceptual world of thought inevitably replaces the innocence of early childhood. Parents, teachers, peers, and media convince us to leave the garden of original perception, “grow up,” and accept the world defined by culture, filling our consciousness with its frightening ideas, standards, beliefs, and concepts. Fraught with competition, danger, and struggle (“It’s a dog-eat-dog world”), we grow increasingly wary and we soon lose our original home. Culture and beliefs, not God, kick us out of the Garden.

I have seen Heaven on Earth over and over again all my life. I saw it first in childhood but lost the courage of divine sight upon encountering the negating blindness of the adults around me. None of them could see it any longer. No wonder they were so unhappy! Still, sensing Heaven’s presence everywhere, I eventually learned how to see it again. And I must tell you that what I see is always breathtaking and astounding! The world becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful, and absolutely perfect just as it is. Endlessly fascinating, it is a mysterious realm at once enchanting, holy, serene, and alive! Around and through it dwells an aware and loving Presence that thrills me with joy. Here I find no ugliness, corruption or lack, for here everything pulsates with Divinity. Problems, effort and goals dissolve instantly in its timeless consciousness. Heaven on Earth is always here. It never left, we did.

Actually we often glimpse Heaven on Earth – in a glorious sunset, a moment of deep loving or joy, the miracle of childbirth, spontaneous mystical experiences, the relief following a close brush with death, and so many other ways. Unfortunately we quickly and habitually seal these perceptual openings with more thought and explain it away rather than stopping in our tracks, dropping to our knees, and SEEING!

How do you learn to see Heaven on Earth again? It comes with practice, determination, and confidence. It arrives when we learn to stop thinking, heighten awareness, and experience the world exactly as it is in the Presence of Divinity. It happens when we are willing to be happy for no reason and love unconditionally because that is our true nature. It happens when we replace our fundamental reality beliefs with the absolute conviction that this is Heaven. And as Heaven on Earth reappears in your home, garden, job, neighborhood and town, an entirely new life becomes possible.

I believe that the most important spiritual goal on Earth is to come home again – to release the world of identity, time, and story and find Heaven on Earth here and now. Indeed, the whole spiritual journey is about dissolving the false thought-driven world and directly experiencing the sacred “isness’ of Creation. As Anne Bankcroft describes, “By becoming awakened to the isness of creation, we find ourselves in Nirvana – or Heaven – fulfilled to running over, and wonderfully in accord with all beings – human, animal or mere substance.” Mathew Fox summarizes simply, “The kingdom is here when we are awake enough to see it…the coming of the kingdom depends upon our consciousness.”

And this journey home is in fact critical to our very survival as a species, for continued life on this fragile garden-planet may now depend on this shift in consciousness. The Catholic-Hindu mystic Bede Griffiths explained, “This earth and all that is in it, and the whole cosmic order to which it belongs, has to undergo a transformation; it has to become a “new heaven and a new earth.”…This is the ultimate goal of human history and of the created universe…” And Andrew Harvey, the scholar of mysticism, adds, “Finding out that this world is Heaven is crucial for human survival. Otherwise in the frenzy of dissociation, our shadow games will annihilate the planet.”

Would you be willing to step beyond thought into Heaven on Earth here and now? All you have to lose is your chronic fear and unhappiness. What’s holding you back?

John Robinson holds doctorates in clinical psychology and ministry and is an ordained interfaith minister, author, and mystic. He has taught extensively at men’s gatherings, professional conferences, churches and retreat centers and is the author of three previous books on the interface of psychology and spirituality. His new book, Finding Heaven Here (O-Books) will be published early in 2009. Dr. Robinson lives on an island in the Puget Sound of Washington State. www.o-books.com


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