This essay is shared by Guy Finley
Seen or not, everyone everywhere is looking for his or her “heaven.” Watch people closely and this search becomes terribly evident. The man seated at his desk dreaming of when he will have his life to himself; the woman at the luncheon counter trying to resolve some relationship issue in her mind. From the more than obvious to the totally unexpected, one thing is clear: All of us, moment to moment, are looking for a little peace, a little happiness of our own. Some of us seek this heaven in worldly things, within plans for a better tomorrow filled with new pleasures. For others bliss is someone to hold, or being held rapt by some natural wonder. And some are sure that their conditioned idea of heaven is the same as living in its grace.
But, regardless of where in this world one seeks his or her heaven, two things ought to be clear: First, these heavens of ours never last. They lose their luster. Reasons always abound but in one way or another, reality collides with our dreamboat; and as it sinks into life’s unknown and unwanted waters goes with it our hope that “this time” we had made it! Second, it isn’t until we have had enough of coming up “empty” that it occurs to us that not only have we been looking for heaven in all the wrong places, but maybe, just maybe, what our heart longs for isn’t to be found where we have been searching for it. The ancients teach, “Why seek ye the permanent in the passing, the eternal in the temporary?”
I live on top of a small mountain in southern Oregon where each morning, from a chair seated next to a large window in my small house, I sit quietly and watch the world turn. Right outside, usually less than ten to twelve feet away from where I am seated, it is as though Mother Nature mounts a wildlife parade just for me. Deer, wild turkey, gray tree squirrels, rabbits, and more than a dozen species of birds all congregate and then move through an area just beneath a cluster of spreading oak trees. The birds come for the seed I provide in a number of stations, and the turkeys come for their table scraps. Why the rest appear as they do is anyone’s guess. Maybe they just enjoy the party!
At any rate, come early March, signs of spring appear and this change means many things to my visiting friends. For most birds, mating season begins in earnest. This usually means lots of singing, posturing, and aggressive, territorial behavior. While for some of the other creatures, this time heralds a season for giving birth to young conceived some months before.
But regardless of these varying conditions, one thing remains in common to one and all; and it is apparent to anyone watching with an eye willing to observe and learn: these creatures are constantly active. They are as alert and as sensitive to life going on around them as is a silk spider web responsive to the slightest summer’s breeze.
And along with this natural feature of all wild creatures, in fact very much at the root of what enables them to expend so much vital energy, is another highly noticeable behavior: their lives are a never-ending search for food. Apart from propagating their own species, feeding themselves is their principle work on this earth. Which brings us to the point: The silent turning of the seasons, the latent desire of all creatures to fulfill the purpose for their being, the invisible hand that ensures that necessary supplies of food stuffs will be there for them at the right moment; these elements, their balance and concert with one another all speak of what the Wise have called the “Invisible Eternals.”
These Invisible Eternals are the unseen Timeless Principles that sit behind the expression of our physical world, and that are to its existence as is the sun to the shadows that pay silent witness to their creator. To be able to see these Eternal Forces as the true backdrop of a greater reality is to become a witness to an Intelligent Universe at work.
For the one who would become consciously aware of these Invisible Eternals, the same is brought into a whole new order of reality where intelligence action and harmony are as one thing; herein the Light shines upon and animates all creatures alike. Even conflict serves something greater than its lesser causes.
This journey of awareness between one’s first glimpse of this Higher Reality, and one’s realization of it as the ground of one’s own being, is the true spiritual path and task of those who would know and be known by Truth. And we are created to enter this Higher World, to know this heaven and its Love while we dwell on earth. Make no mistake about this.
All Scripture, the Wisdom teachings regardless of origin, confer this same truth. To take one example, the great Christian mystic Boehme points out that Christ taught, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them the eternal life.” Here Christ did not say, “You may know life eternal in a time to come (i.e., after death),” but now, in this life.
If anyone has “eyes to see” these Invisible Eternals – where the celestial is hidden in the common – and “ears to hear” the truths about themselves and their relationship to these everlasting Principles, then such a person is ready to begin the inner work required for the next step to make this change in their being. Yes, it takes work; and any who teach otherwise mislead.
What is the nature of this inner work that we must do, and how can we be sure it is required of us? When is this work to be done, and who or what determines all of the above? These are the questions that seekers have been asking since time began. For now, one thing ought to be clear: To enter the Everlasting World where the Light of Conscience is awake within Itself requires first that we learn to align ourselves with the Eternal Principles that are its secret foundation. And then, as our faith grows in the Goodness of this Higher Ground, that we surrender ourselves, our will, to the Truth of its Eternal Being.
Our need to discover and realize these Invisible Eternals cannot be over-stated because, the truth is, we are their embodiment. It is this same fact that makes it possible for us to awaken to their existence, align ourselves with their will, and to realize our oneness with them. Now let’s take one of these Timeless Principles and see how exploring its Wisdom increases our own.
One Timeless Principle that is evidenced throughout creation is that all things “lesser” have their origin in something “greater.” For instance, the branch owes its being to the vine from which it originates; the rivers run back to the seas that give them birth. And so it is when it comes to these Invisible Eternals; amongst them are found “greater” and “lesser” Truths.
With these insights to guide us, let’s look into one of the greatest of these Principles taught by every great teacher since time began. In these so-called progressive times this all but forgotten Principle is as simple as it is prophetic: “We reap what we sow.” Share this fact with someone who hates his life and he will hate you for the truth you tell about why he feels as he does!
Everywhere you look today people are only concerned with getting what they want, when they want it, and as fast as possible. The fires that fuel their appetite (for this envisioned success) create so much smoke that they lose sight of the fact that all they reap for their insistent sowing is one regret after another. And of course when things go badly there is always someone to blame.
If we are ever to realize our Timeless True Self, if we long for heaven on earth while we live here, then we must sow the seeds that help bring that Higher Life into fruition. One cannot expect to reap what one does not sow, and imagining or hoping for a higher life is not the sowing of true spiritual seeds any more than dreaming about climbing a mountain is the same as reaching its top.
To sow spiritual seeds means that we do spiritual work. Spiritual work is always interior work first, even if, as a matter of course, this work becomes manifested through some outer or social action. What is this interior work by which we sow the seeds of the celestial within us? Following are four ways to work at sowing the seeds of a Higher Life.
1. We must learn not to burden others or ourselves with our disappointments, fearful future visions, or past regrets even as, in the same moment, we learn to ask truth for more insight into those unseen aspects of our present nature that is, at once, reaping its regrets even as it sows more of the same dark seeds.
2. We must learn to sit quietly with ourselves and wait patiently for the Light of God’s Peace to replace those dark, noisy thoughts and feelings telling us we have too much old baggage to make the Journey Home. Each time we sow these seeds through some quiet meditation, we reap the strength that comes with realizing that this Silence that comes to us is our real Home.
3. We must learn to remember our intention to start our whole life over every moment we awaken to find ourselves reliving some past conflict. To sow these seeds of a refreshed outlook born of remembering that our True Life is always New, is to let go of who we have been and to begin reaping a life free of anger and fear.
4. We must learn to look our fears, our weariness, our anxiety, directly in the eye and, instead of seeing what is impossible (according to their view of life) sow the seeds of a whole new possibility by consciously daring to doubt their dark view of things. Our refusal to identify with self-limiting negative states reaps us the reward of realizing ever-new and higher realities.
The key lesson here is that it is not enough to just sow seeds in this physical life, regardless of how sublime they may seem when we set them out. Even those seeds that “succeed” in rewarding us for our effort can only grow forms that must fall in time. If we wish Heaven, Wholeness, Love, and Light to fill our lives, then we must sow their Eternal Seeds within us. That is the Work.
Make your own list of ways to work at sowing the seeds of a New Life, being careful to remember the infallible Principle behind another of the Invisible Eternals: the inner determines the outer. Set your self to the task of being an inwardly awake person and watch how you begin to reap the awareness that makes all things possible.