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by Erika Ginnis (from a Sunday talk originally given in the late 1980's)The Kingdom of God is something that we have probably all heard of at one time or another in our lives. I know that I heard about it at Church in Sunday school, there have been references to it in movies, books, in conversations. I can always remember asking myself "now where is this Kingdom of God anyway?". I have images that I also associated with heaven; gold streets lots of houses for the people to live in, maybe a castle where my image of God lived. This was a kingdom like in a fairy tale. I also had images of this kingdom being in a land of milk and honey which as a child I took literally, as I did many things, and I thought of rivers that would flow with this milk and honey mixture, I thought this was sort of odd but kind of neat and that God had a great imagination.
Now I also as I got older created more ideas about the Kingdom of God, these were more forbidding in some ways, in that is was still a place somewhere, but that it was not only hard to find but might appear at any time with out you knowing about it, so you had to be really really good to make sure that if it were to ever appear in front of you that you could find a way to get in.
One thing that all these ideas had in common was that they all put the kingdom of God somewhere in physical reality and somewhere out side of myself. and this meant that I had to look outside my self for this "place" and if I did ever find it I had to prove to someone else, also outside myself, that I was worthy of entering in and staying there. Does this sound at all familiar?
Have you ever found yourself looking to the outside for your spiritual truth? Now as I said before when I was a child and I heard bible stories I took them quite literally, but one thing that I have learned is that spiritual information is often spoken of in analogies or parables, and that this helps us to hear in the body about something that is spiritual in nature.
There are many spiritual teachings and teachers that have used parables, the man Jesus taught in parables a great deal and there are examples of these all through the new testament. I have gone through phases of being comfortable and uncomfortable with the Bible, since it has so much importance placed on it. I normally don't quote much from it for that reason. However I do see it as a great source or spiritual information, although for me personally I don't see it as the only source. But since I do have an affinity with the man Jesus, I will use in this talk some of the things that have been attributed to his voice.
From Mark 4:11 'He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables".
He used stories and examples from the time he was on earth to speak to the people of that time, and so he used the images common to those times. These stories carry an incredible amount of spiritual information in them, both for the people in biblical times and for us in the present. When you take them literally you can miss a lot of what is being communicated on a spiritual level.
I believe that Jesus taught us that the kingdom of God is within. He actually says this in John 17:21 " Neither shall they say lo here, or lo there for behold, the kingdom of God is within you"
I can again remember hearing this and saying O.K. where in me is this kingdom? Where am I keeping it? Taking a physical perspective and thinking of it as stored some where physical. But what I really hear him saying is that it is a spiritual place, that is has to do with ourselves as spirit and our connection to the All there Is. That everything that we need, all our information is within, the door (so to speak) to the kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Divine, Nirvana, Samati is within us. That entering into this state of beingness has to do with each of our individual emergence into our awareness of ourselves and of the Infinite, remembering our spiritual origins and bringing that awareness into our lives, into our bodies.
I also hear information about the center of the head or sixth chakra where we can focus ourselves as spirit and experience our spiritual perspective. That this takes commitment and perseverance but that it is possible. I believe that one of the great lessons that Jesus taught us, is that all these things are within us, he taught us by doing it and telling us that we each could do this for ourselves.
When I was writing this talk I found so many parables of the kingdom of God that I knew I couldn't fit them all into one sunday so I chose a few that I would like to share. As you listen to each of them allow yourself to use them as allegories or symbols for your own personal spiritual path and see how they apply. I will also give some of what I hear, but the answers that you most need to hear will come from within.
The first quote is from Matthew 19:23-29
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, " I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, Again I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God". When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Peter answered him "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, " I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."
One of the things that I hear in this passage is that the cares of society and our "riches" can make our spiritual journey more difficult. Not that riches or fields are bad, I actually believe that the Universal presence is in fact doing it's darndest to heep abundance on us all. But that if we spend all our times WORRYING about being "rich" and trying keep up with "the Jones" so to speak, if we make that our first priority it will make it very difficult to remember that we are actually spirit, and allow what is truly ours to flow to us. I also hear in that passage that what seems like something overwhelming to us from a limited perspective is not at all difficult from a spiritual perspective and that when we recognize ourselves as a part of the Infinite Creation that all things are possible.
The next parable is from Mark 4:26-32
"He also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain---first the stalk, then the head then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts a sickle to it, because the harvest is come." Again he said "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when it is planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in it's shade."
I hear about faith in these stories and about non effort, this person scatters the seed and then doesn't worry about it, simply lets it grow and then harvests it when it is ripe. That speaks to me of patience and allowing things to be in their time, trusting the process, and that the seeds grow whether it's day or night which says to me that our spiritual journey is happening all the time.
The mustard seed can also show us that something that we view as small or insignificant, when planted and allowed to grow can be the grandest thing in the garden. That the spiritual awareness of ourselves and of the Infinite Universal All can start out as seeming like a simple thing, such as turning within... but can bring us more than we could ever guess, allowing us to begin to experience the Kingdom of the Divine. The kingdom that exists within us all.