The Kingdom of Heaven is spread out upon the earth,
yet men and women do not see it.”
– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas
So much of spirituality these days seems to be an attempt to turn ourselves into superhumans. It is a war against imperfection, an attempted genocide against what is unfamiliar and therefore frightening in ourselves and each other. Maybe it has always been this way.
But what was wrong with being human in the first place? Is being fully human a cop-out, somehow less than we deserve, some kind of denial of our cosmic inheritance? Have we been led to believe that there is another world, a better world, a more perfect world, a Kingdom beyond this one? If we “accept” this moment as it is, are we missing out on something greater? Is acceptance only a first, naive step on a long journey towards the stars? Have we been hoodwinked into separating mortality from immortality, the ordinary from the extraordinary, duality from nonduality, the ground from the groundless? Do we deny or reject or look down upon this present incarnation, this body, this present moment, in hope of some future heavenly and transcendent realm? Do we long for something “better”? Why exactly do we separate our humanity from divinity in the first place? Why this primal separation of ‘Oneness’ from everything else? Can you see the irony here? What are we afraid of, exactly?
Being human was never the problem, was it? The problem began with a denial and rejection of our humanity, and a loss of humility – through a pushing-away of so called ‘human’ thoughts, sensations and feelings, the move away from human experience, and a search for some other experience, some superhuman experience, some better experience, some more ‘awakened’ realm of consciousness. Thus began the war between wholeness and separation, between light and dark, between God and the devil. The flight from Here. The escape from Home. The journey down the yellow brick road, towards the Emerald City, with the forgotten fragments of the one Self.
We forgot our humanity, and lost our humility – and our humour.
But it was a war that never really happened, because the separation never really happened. In waking up, we discover a deep and unconditional embrace of this moment exactly as it is. We find a reality that is whole, undivided, and indivisible. There can be no war here, because there can be no cleft in reality. There can be no Emerald City separate from Kansas.
A total welcoming of ourselves in all our broken humanity is what we discover. The lion, the tinman, the scarecrow, all three are beloved to us, even in their imperfection. We are, each of us, Jesus on the cross, and in our brokenness, in our imperfection, in the midst of our shattered bones and broken dreams the light of God shines through, the light of awareness itself, illuminating the ‘ordinary’, rendering it extraordinary beyond words, and we wonder if it wasn’t always that way. Perhaps it was. Perhaps we just missed the obvious. Perhaps there’s no place like Home.
The touch of a loved one’s hand. The winter breeze gently caressing your cheek. That strange music we call birdsong. The intensity of joy. The familiar kiss of uncertainty. The liquid love of fear. Life in all its bitter-sweet beauty and fragility. All of this was never merely ‘human’, some ‘illusory’ block to our cosmic inheritance. The Wizard of Oz could not deliver what he promised. No, that was the dream borne of fear. This life was always our deepest longing made manifest, disguising itself as an ordinary moment, so that we spent forever and a day looking for it, travelling far from Home only to wake up to Home again, exhausted but so, so relieved.
From one perspective a dirty joke was played on an innocent victim. From another perspective, this was grace beyond understanding. A journey of grace, by grace, to grace.
There are no ordinary moments. Young children know this. We have always known this, deep down, for we were young children once, and secretly we still are. We just pretended to be ‘grown ups’, that’s all. Life is still the cosmic adventure it always was.
It is not the ‘me’ that awakens. Awakening cannot enter the story, for it is beyond time and space and cannot be some kind of conclusion for a ‘person’. The awakening is from the mirage of ‘me’, with its projects, its plans, its conclusions, its incessant seeking for more, and its never-ending holding up of an image, including the image of myself as some kind of Wizard of Oz, some superhuman, some Christ figure, some hyper-awakened being sent down from heaven to awaken the mortals and the ignorant and the unlucky.
For some, this realization is sudden. For many, it is gradual, over a lifetime. For all, it is timeless, and for all, the destination is the same – Kansas, Home – and the destination is the origin, and it all points to this moment exactly as it is, right now. Stunningly ordinary, yet as vast as the universe, as rich and as full as the Ganges at sunrise, as precious as that look in your child’s eyes, so easily forgotten, so soon remembered.
There’s no place like Home – the present moment. The Emerald City, however colourful and exciting, doesn’t even come close to the intimacy and majesty of a single instant of being alive. Only empty magpie-promises live in that shining city of light and darkness, and the following, following, following, following, following of false prophets living and dying for profit.
There’s no place like Home. Click your heels together three times and say it. Nothing to lose.