descending into heaven

for the most part, the human condition is a lonely one. and though we are social beings by nature, we are also spiritual orphans, abandoned by god, and left longing for the comfort of deep familial connectedness. we grope, adopting religions and philosophies to placate the empty hands of our souls. most humans adopt the notion that our creator is transcendent of this world, out of our reach, beyond the horizon. many hope, at best, to “meet the maker” at the end of this terrestrial ride. as i sit this morning watching the sun rise behind a magnificent plume of clouds, i am inspired to share the experience of my descent into heaven.

I carry the assumption that there is some sort of governing intelligence or force that created all of this. whether it is within me (projecting everything around me) or transcendent of me (and i am a miniscule component of everything), or some combination of the two, doesn’t really matter. i do accept that whatever did create all of this is so far beyond the grasp of my rational mind that i simply accept it. i feel the presence of it.

up to now, i have pretty much gone with the assumption that we are dropped into this sensual heaven and mental purgatory to experience, to live, to grow, to evolve, and in the process, to acquire some wisdom in regards to our position in the cosmos. to me, the spiritual path has appeared like a ladder upon which i ascend closer and closer to some sort of nirvana, or a “yellow brick road” at the end of which i will find oz, reap my just reward for a life examined. this perspective was my conditioning. this was my assumption.

this morning, as the sun climbs over the clouds, i am pondering a different possibility. today, i ask the question, “why would something of infinite intelligence need or want to create a world that is somehow incomplete and in need of evolving to higher levels of perfection?” why wouldn’t the cosmos just be created perfect in the first place and sit in the eternal bliss of an ever-perfect state of flux? let’s face it, god doesn’t have to evolve! what if this world is perfect and time, space, matter, and energy are the media through which this perfection is expressed? instead of being lowly creatures flopping around like clumsy puppies who haven’t grown into our paws, what if we are chosen beings privileged in every moment to this ride through perfection? what if all of our judgements of “good”, “bad”, “right”, “wrong”, “higher”, “lower”, are manifestations of ingratitude? what if all of this hierarchical thinking is the expression of a consciousness that has yet to embrace and appreciate the perfection of the astounding and endlessly fascinating world in which it exists? i’m going to leave these rhetorical questions for now.

we are royalty to the kingdoms of this world. the empires of color, sound, aroma, flavor, texture, emotion, imagination are all bestowed upon us at birth. we don’t have to earn them and they remain available to us all the time. the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds are all but kaleidoscopic and hallucinatory in their variety and intensity. we have all been granted the ultimate privilege- that of life itself. no matter what our circumstances, it is still our gift.

today, i am not thinking about the nirvana i might achieve after this lifetime (or others). i’m not thinking about heaven after the good life lived. today, i am absorbed in the intensely brilliant orange of the geraniums in front of me, in the sound of the waves lapping the shoreline in the distance, in the sensation of the warm, moist breeze on my skin, in the spicy fragrance off the dry hills around me, and in the lingering bittersweet flavor of coffee on my tongue. today, now, in this moment and if only in this moment, i am filled with gratitude and appreciation. i am grateful for this amazing experience of life itself that i have paused to appreciate. today, i don’t need to ascend to any height above this lovely ground. today, i have focused my sight down to earth and have descended into heaven.

©2006 chris spheeris