In 1968, for the first time in history, we were all entranced with the picture of the earth "rising" on the moon. There it was, this fragile, blue, living wonder, in the middle of this hostile and unforgiving blackness.
We didn't really realize at that time what a momentous event it was. Not because of the technology it represented or man's desire to explore the stars, but because of the shift that it brought about in our view of the universe and our place in it.
Our old mode, still active in the subconscious of most people on earth was suddenly and irreversibly altered.
No concentric crystal spheres
No heavenly host
No god sitting there looking down
No domain of divine beings
Just blackness... endless blackness
With the appearance of that image our old mythologies at once collapsed. Our cultural models of the universe were forever altered.
For millennia, we had thought of heaven, our idyllic afterlife, as a physical place, out there somewhere. But, beginning with Galileo looking out there and finishing with Apollo looking back from there, we were now seeing with new eyes and there was nothing. Whoa!
The truth is, and always was, heaven was never a place... It was always a state of consciousness Christ himself said quite plainly, "The kingdom of heaven does not come with observation. Neither can you say 'It's over here or it's over there' for the kingdom of heaven is within you." Funny how the guy who plainly said it is not out there is still imagined to be be sitting out there somewhere. The first step in realizing the kingdom of heaven within is to stop looking for it without. In other words, stop looking for happiness in people, places, possessions, accomplishments, attainments, states of mind or emotion or fleeting experiences of pleasure. But this shift of attention is a bit baffling. When we turn our attention inward, at first we are dumbfounded by the blackness. There does not seem to be anything there. We turn within and think we are going to see some thing. But that blackness, that emptiness, IS the very kingdom we are looking for. With a little bit of patience and perseverance, that emptiness will begin to transform right before your awakening consciousness. Then you will clearly see that the kingdom of heaven is not a place but the state of eternal stillness and it is here and now.