Spiritual Development in Humankind
Spirituality at Different Individual and Societal Stages
What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is entirely in the mind, and the mind is aside from the physical realm. The physical realm emerges from the mind of God, and consequently from the one mind we are part of. Nothing in the physical realm is spiritual; it is all the scenery in which the drama of our eternal lives is played out. The scenery is not the play; the mind uses the scenery as props to grow and become more like God.
Our minds are eternal and ever evolving. Our essence is that we are continually, unceasingly becoming. And the direction of that evolution is established in the universe. We don't devolve into less spiritually mature beings. All of humankind, one person at a time, is evolving toward a greater sense of a unity we recognize as loving. Regardless of how primitive a person seems to be spiritually (displayed in cruelty, hatred, lack of remorse, murder, and all other behavior we would call abhorrent), that person is evolving toward unconditional love. The eternal being who played the role of Hitler during one Earth incarnation will eventually be a highly evolved spiritual being who will teach others about love and compassion.
We could use the analogy of a rock crystal. The form a rock crystal takes is determined by the molecule that composes it. A molecule of crystal has a silicon atom and two oxygen atoms (SiO2). From these little seeds carried by water, over millions of years at temperatures around 400 to 500 degrees F, two miles below the surface of the Earth, a crystal grows. Today, we go to Arkansas and dig the crystals out of the ground where they've been exposed after the two miles of rock above the crystals has eroded away.
The rock crystal evolves naturally. It's in the nature of the universe, the mind of God, for these molecules to become crystals. Humankind is similarly destined to grow in spiritual maturity to become highly evolved spiritual beings--it's in the mind of God.
However, rock crystals form in this way in specific conditions in various areas of the Earth's mantle. And just as the conditions in the Earth's mantle change over millions of years to make formation of crystals, conditions in society, the collective minds of many people, change to make spiritual development more or less likely. These molecules will eventually become crystals because that's their destiny, just as we eventually will become highly evolved spiritual beings. But the development may be retarded or enhanced by conditions.
We have free will and may create conditions that enhance or retard the inevitable spiritual evolution humankind is experiencing. Today, after the suppression of spirituality for two millennia by the church and the trivialization of the inner self by science since the seventeenth century, our spiritual development has been retarded. We are spiritually immature, not even realizing it. Our conception of spirituality is bound up in the church; development of the inner self, the mind, to be spiritual isn't a consideration in most of humankind.
That's changing now. The conditions for us to continue our spiritual development toward the inevitable spiritually mature beings we will become are emerging. We are entering an age of spiritual enlightenment during which we will catch up to the remarkable intellectual development humankind has experienced over the last four centuries. We who have lived through the last half of the twentieth century have witnessed sea changes in intellectual development during the technological age. The world of the first decade of the twenty-first century is entirely different from the world of the post-war period of the 1950s when I was a child. We may expect that the development of the spiritual age over the next decades will result in the humankind of the twenty-second century that is as spiritually different from us today as we are technologically different from people of the seventeenth century.
Spirituality and spiritual evolution aren’t goals; there is no arrival. They are processes.
Spirituality for a Hebrew during the Exodus was different from spirituality for a first-century Jew. Spirituality for a Sadduccee was different from the spirituality described by Yeshua ben Yosef. Spirituality for the bishops of the Council at Nicea was different from the spirituality for modern-day Evangelicals. Spirituality for someone at age 13 is different from the same person’s spirituality at age 25 or at age 60. Spirituality for the person with antisocial personality disorder or for Adolf Hitler is different from spirituality for the Dalai Lama or Mahatma Gandhi. Different economic, social, and national contexts create different definitions for spirituality. Different levels of development among individuals create different definitions of spirituality.
For a person with a lower level of spiritual development, spirituality may be working at not killing someone when he becomes angry; he just hits them once. That may be a large step in his spiritual development. We are not justified in judging that person's spirituality as bad or ungodly or deviant because he hasn't entirely stopped being violent. If such judgments were valid, some more spiritually mature person would be judging us as bad or deviant for thoughts and actions that we regularly engage in.
Spirituality is a process, not a destination. And so, when we ask what spirituality is, we have to ask “What is spirituality for this person at this age in this society at this time of history?” We’ll have different answers depending on what we define for each of those characteristics. None of these is the “right” spirituality. None is “correct.” Each was appropriate for its people at its time.
The spirituality of one stage is no less spiritual than that of another stage. The results work out differently. They fit the person’s state of mind at the time.
In 1692 and 1693, 19 men and women convicted of witchcraft were hanged, and one 80-year-old man accused of witchcraft was crushed to death under heavy stones. The spirituality of the Christian Puritans, with their narrow, superstitious view of God and humankind wasn't wrong or bad. It was simply an ignorance about spirituality, God, and humankind. The spirituality of those who kill doctors performing abortions isn't wrong; however it results from quite retarded, primitive spiritual development. That person's inclinations were formed by a church that inculcates intolerance and hatred in its members; those teachings are at a low level of spiritual maturity.
I have no qualms about describing levels of spiritual maturity, but reject calling any level right or wrong. The actions in the physical realm may be abhorrent, and we may call them right, wrong, evil, bad, or good, but the actions have nothing to do with spirituality--they are simply the results of the spiritual being who is growing at a spiritual stage.
As a result, we can see spiritual stages in growth, and say that growth toward higher spiritual levels is desirable, but not that any stage is right or wrong.
These stages are directly proportional to the degree of love, freedom to act, free access to truth, inner direction, unfettered exchange among people, humility, rejection of the material realm, trust in the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, servanthood, and selflessness on the one hand, and fear, control of behavior, withholding and distorting knowledge, external structure, mistrust or denial of the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, ceremony and ritual, grandiosity, use of enticements from the physical realm, exaltation of some above others, and focus on the self on the other hand.
Individuals and societies will always be in a process of becoming, and no stage is more right than another. Individuals and humankind are going through through distinct phases in spiritual development. One conception of those stages follows.
Obedience Through Fear Stage
At the lowest stages of spiritual development, people have no regard for others, for the Higher Power, for nature, or conscience. Unfortunately, some religions have within them these characteristics. A religion with rudimentary spirituality is marked by the requirement of obedience to laws established by physical-realm shamans, priests, or rulers. People who obey are rewarded with approval by the group, rewards from the leader, and the promise of rewards from the gods. People who disobey are sanctioned, punished, warned of punishments from the gods, and often killed. Examples exist today.
The most primitive religions are the agrarian religions with gods that require sacrifice, elaborate ritual worship, obedience to long lists of rules, and obedience to the high priests. The more spiritually mature the religion and society, the greater the presence of love, freedom to act, free access to truth, inner direction, unfettered exchange among people, humility, rejection of the material realm, trust in the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, servanthood, and selflessness; that is the spirituality Yeshua described.
The encouragement or discouragement of spiritual growth are directly proportional to the amount of control or amount of freedom an organization encourages and permits members to have. A controlling organization with complex rules, hierarchies of power and position, control over spiritual life, and secretiveness will impede spiritual growth. An organization or society whose conceptions of spirituality are marked by fear and control of behavior effectively shut off higher spiritual development. A free organization that encourages members to think for themselves, look inward for answers, approach the Higher Power and the universe without fetters or direction, and share all thoughts and sentiments with candor and acceptance of others and other beliefs, encourages spiritual growth.
Thus, the first requirement for individuals and a society to grow in spiritually maturity is to abandon the primitive spirituality that is based in fear and control. As long as that religiosity dominates the consciousness of the people, higher spiritual development cannot occur. They are mutually exclusive; they cannot exist together in the individual or society.
At the "obedience through fear" stage, religions also prescribe laws that have no bearing on growing spiritually. They grow out of the tradition of the people and times of the religion.
This "obedience through fear" stage of spiritual development is very much alive today.
- Restrictions on sexual activities and eating.
- Restrictions on alcohol or drugs.
- Praying only to a specific God in specific times, places, and conditions.
- Approaching God or using God's name in prescribed ways.
- Following certain sacred activities and avoiding others.
- Keeping certain days as sacred.
- Giving money or offerings to God.
- Abstaining from physical realm activities at certain times.
- Performing rituals in the prescribed manner at the appointed times.
Materialism, Religiosity, Spiritual Apathy, Agnosticism
At this stage of spiritual growth, fear is less prominent, but people still know little about spirituality or how to grow spiritually. Much of humankind is in this stage now. It is marked by ignorance, superstition, religiosity, spiritual apathy, and an agnosticism about things having to do with the Higher Power and the eternal nature of the self. At its basis, this period of time is materialistic, meaning it believes the material realm is all there is to life and the afterlife is a vague notion that has no relevance to this life. Religions are focused on the material realm and misunderstand spiritual growth. As a result, they keep adherents from exploring and understanding spirituality. As Carl Jung said, “Religion is a defense mechanism against having a religious experience.”
As long as people are in the grips of materialism, religiosity, spiritual apathy, and agnosticism about the Higher Power and afterlife, humankind will continue to sink into the tar pit of death, destruction, hostility, war, greed, cruelty, crime, violence, self-centeredness, and insensitivity. There is no force in the physical realm that will evolve humankind away from those impulses except a widespread tragedy that decimates humankind and leaves the survivors with only each other for sustenance and comfort.
We live in a spiritual dark ages that is permitting humankind to continue rushing headlong into materialism and self-destruction.
The American culture is predominantly in this stage. It results in the homicide rate we have, murder by law, killing animals for sport, deception and manipulation as the norm in commerce and government, and the sentiment that the world’s problems must be solved by aggression. It results in $470 billion being spent on defense when $40 billion would be enough to provide the infrastructure needed in the third world, ensure women's health worldwide, and eradicate hunger. America does little to help humanity have more peace and tolerable living conditions.
In the United States, 78% to 98% of the people claim to be Christians. However, adherence to religious creeds, regardless of how widespread, is allegiance to physical-realm notions that have no relationship to spirituality. They have no life in them.
Among some today, there is an early awakening to the real nature of the universe, the Higher Power, the afterlife, and spirituality. That is a gradual dawning, an acknowledgement that we are eternal beings having a physical experience and that we are one with each other. It appears in concerns for world peace, feelings of oneness with nature and the cosmos, an understanding that there is an afterlife, the understanding that we are all spiritual beings growing with one another toward love and compassion, and an acknowledgement that the Higher Power, unconditional love, and benignant agency are alive in the universe. Intermingled with this early awakening is doubt, fear of death, apathy toward things spiritual, a focus on sensual pleasure and acquiring physical realm wealth, and an enjoyment of some measure of violence. This is a transition period where people have their feet in both worlds.
Today, more people, even in the churches, are assembling in small groups where they can feel closer to one another and enjoy social interaction. However, the content of most of the groups remains the study and discussion of narrowly prescribed religious rules and sacred texts, without discussions of spirituality and spiritual growth. The movement away from passive church meetings to small groups is an encouraging development, but doesn't yet show signs of helping humankind develop spiritually.
The Good Neighbor Society
The good neighbor society was described by Yeshua. It is based on love, compassion, caring, forgiving, and love of humankind for one another and for God. Integral to it are impulses from a desire to be part of the group, so the spirituality isn’t entirely internalized. The group wants harmony and caring, so as a group, we provide it. Rules and admonitions about compassion and love are still part of the society because people need the boundaries and guidance.
Yeshua’s teachings about love, compassion, forgiveness, and servanthood serve as guidelines for people earnestly working at having peace, brotherhood, and harmonious relationships. The lessons are still being learned and people need to talk about their own doubts and difficulties in comprehending and applying them.
Some in this society are still materialistic, so there is still some animosity, competition, and hostility. That makes it more difficult to display the fruits of the good neighbor society, but those who are part of this society spiritually outnumber the others, so there is more love and compassion than greed and self-centeredness in the culture.
The standards focus on love, compassion, and other-centeredness, but the rewards and sanctions are still provided to some extent by the leader, the group, or the god. The leaders will be pivotal in establishing this society. Leaders will provide the teaching or model and adherents will be expected to obey the teaching and emulate the model to be accepted by others in the group or society.
And so the leader teaches, “Love others as yourself,” and the adherents strive to do so. They look forward to being like the leader and the group rewards them for their efforts. However, the direction for the thinking and behavior still comes from outside the person. A person who strives to follow the teachings and model eventually may develop the inner direction, and that person’s children, seeing the loving behavior as natural and normal, may develop the inner direction that doesn’t require the rewards of the group or leader to follow the teachings. For those in the group, however, the teachings require work and the people are gaining some strength and resolve from knowing others are rewarding them for the behavior.
This stage has some materialism because the rewards for following the guidance are affiliation with the group and satisfactory relationships, laudable but are not inner-directed drives to spiritual behavior. It’s possible, at this stage, to talk about ethics and moral behavior in groups or society because unethical and immoral behavior are alternatives. At the next stage, they are not even considered alternatives.
This stage in humanity's spiritual development is spirituality with guidelines promoted by leaders. The guidelines approach unconditional love and compassion with self-consciousness about working to achieve the goals. In other words, they don't arise spontaneously out of a love that would never consider an alternative. The person must hold the guidelines as models.
The guidelines are such admonitions as
- Rush to forgive.
- Make peace.
- Be a servant.
- Do not judge.
- Seek and thank God.
- Look forward to a distant afterlife, a heaven.
These are important only as long as humanity may transgress in ways that need forgiveness; hostility exists that requires peacemaking; people have needs that someone most think about the need to be a servant; judgments are made and people should avoid making them; God is seen as separate and needs to be approached; and the afterlife is a great mystery not fully understood or fully embraced.
This is the stage most speak of today when they use the term, "spiritual." They describe a sense of the sacred, a conscious experience of the divine, approaching the transcendent and universal. All those are words describing a presence outside of and separate from the person.
We would expect the extra-spiritual requirements such as ritual and doctrine to fall away at this stage. They become superfluous because all of the laws have to do with personal interactions.
This is the level of spirituality Yeshua described, with an obvious implication that the kingdom of God would be the last level, beyond this one. However, in the years following his death, no society developed even to this level of spiritual maturity.
This is the “following models” stage.
This is a summary of the issues that are prominent at this stage of spiritual development explained by Rev. Richard Batzler, Ph.D.:
In the light of the globalization of life and culture now in process, the personal and social ethical principles proposed by the world religions in the past need to be re-thought and re-expressed. For example, world religions should emphasize the corresponding moral obligation of nations and ethnic groups to make use of nonviolent methods for the resolution of conflicts; they should encourage civil governments to respect every religion without patronizing one in particular; they should work for the practical acceptance of the dignity of the human person and a more equitable distribution of material goods and of opportunities for human development; the cause of human rights, especially the right to choose and practice one’s own religion or no religion; the solidarity and harmony of the human family; the stewardship of the earth and its resources; the renewal of their respective spiritual traditions; and inter-religious understanding through dialogue. (Rev. L. Richard Batzler, “What is Spirituality and how do we apply it to expand the quality of life?” Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc. Volume 15, No. 3 The Searchlight - September 2006. Retrieved from http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~thegroundoffaith/issues/2006-10/index.htm#1.1.What%20is%20Spirituality%20and%20how%20do%20we%20apply%20it%20to%20expand%20the%20quality%20of%20life_Rev.%20L.%20Richard%20Batzler,%20Ph.D.%20(USA)%7Coutline May 24, 2007).
Characteristics of the Good Neighbor Society
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. (Albert Einstein)
The individuals in society will have developed into good neighbors when they show love, concern, and compassion for others, have less hostility and strife, feel a brotherhood with all others regardless of nationality, race, or creed. At this level, each person will be striving to follow the models given to humankind by Yeshua and others.
Today, our government, organizations, and families operate by majority rule, resulting in conflicts and difficulties. The minority is always striving to have its way over the majority, at times violently. When the majority holds sway, it lords over the minority. People use battle vocabulary to describe the strife: “win,” “antagonists,” “our side,” “the other side,” and so on.
In the good neighbor society, people will solve conflicts by having consensus. Consensus doesn’t mean “majority.” Instead, it means that all involved, with different points of view, needs, and convictions come together to address issues without feeling that their viewpoint must win. Instead, they feel that some action will emerge from the discussions that will be different from any those involved could envision. It will be created from the rich diversity of viewpoints present.
Everyone in consensus decision-making owns his own viewpoint and expresses it openly, without deception or manipulation. Others honor that viewpoint and work at making sure it is heard and considered. The discussion focuses on finding a solution that considers all viewpoints. In the end, the body comes down to an action plan and when the vote is cast to see who supports it, all raise their hands, even those who believe the solution is not what they want. They have been heard and are willing to support the solution wholeheartedly. They set aside their own requirements and support the decision of the group.
At the same time, the group has incorporated measures to make sure those whose viewpoint is different have been incorporated. It could be that the group will reexamine the results of the solution after a period of time to assess whether the concerns of those whose viewpoint wasn’t adopted were correct in their concerns. An adjustment can then be made.
Whatever the solution, it will be different from anything any member might have envisioned because it will benefit from the richness of all viewpoints. Most importantly, everyone supports the efforts of the entire group (government body, organization, family) to act in ways that benefit all members and society. There is no animosity or strive. The members are not contentious with each other.
Our government today is based on the primitive concept of trial by combat because that dominates law today and law dominates politics. In it, all involved are combatants and using whatever means necessary, they believe, will result in the fairest, soundest result. Defendants and plaintiffs are antagonists, bent on winning at whatever cost. Republicans and Democrats are diametrically opposed to one another, regardless of the issue, the higher ideals, or the welfare of the people they represent. They battle in the ring to see which gladiator will remain standing at the end of the melee, using net, sword, or bare hands as necessary to ensure their victory and the defeat of the opponent. This is a primitive, destructive view of relationships and of governing.
Those in government have no understanding of servanthood and ideology. They are pragmatists and capitalists. They see worth only in gaining for themselves, their parties, and their constituencies material advancement and wealth. They have no conception of the ideal or of ideology—what George Bush called and could not understand, “the vision thing.” Politicians should be the leaders, understanding humankind and the advancement into spiritual maturity better than anyone else. They should be able to explain it and apply it to their decisions, showing their constituents the reasons for their decisions that inspire them. People should be sitting at the feet of the politicians to understand humankind and their place in the universe better. The wisdom that pours from their lips should be inspiring and give all who hear hope, confidence, and a model for their own lives. The politicians should be the gurus and the avatars of our society.
Instead, those who have agreed to represent groups of people must see themselves as servants, seeking the highest good for their constituents and the generations of people who will follow. In the good neighbor society, they will consider humankind’s development, and what will happen with the groups they represent as humankind evolves. They will see the need to help educate those they represent so they grow in their understanding of how humankind can be more compassionate, cooperative, and loving, in a brotherhood that recognizes no boundaries. They will then represent those views when they meet with others. They will cooperate without isolation from other groups, and will lose any political identity as the seek the common good.
In the good-neighbor society, people will not assign worth by education, position, age, or intelligence. The deriding terms used to refer to people in certain service occupations will fall away. Each person can be proud of his or her job.
That is the way individuals and society will think and act in the good neighbor society.
Litta Ballow, 94, may work until the day she dies, if she can still get around. . . . Ballow, who works 23 hours a week at McDonalds . . . doesn’t mind remaining in the work force. . . . She says she likes working with young people and enjoys the customers. (“At 94, Litta’s still lovin’ it at McD’s” Scott Miller. The Pantagraph, May 17, 2007.)
Servanthood – Loss of the Self in the Other
At the next stage of spiritual development, the person loses self in the other. This is the stage of love, compassion, and servanthood. Being more concerned with the other than with the self has become a natural part of the person’s being and there is no need for external rules, rewards by the group, or the promise of rewards from the god. A person at this stage is compassionate because that’s all he can imagine being. He is more interested in the wellbeing of the other person than his own because it’s unthinkable not to be. When someone points out that he is a remarkably giving, loving person with no thought to his own wellbeing, he is startled because it never occurred to him—it’s just that it’s like breathing in and out, a natural part of his being.
And so rules aren’t necessary. This person doesn’t need the admonition to “Love your neighbor as yourself” because he couldn’t imagine not being a servant and giving entirely without taking. He just does it. His joy is entirely in seeing the other person as joyful. He doesn’t have to think about how to love because he is entirely loving. He doesn’t have to consider whether to help or serve because he always helps and serves.
The person at this stage has a new, profound sense added to thinking and feeling. It is a strong sense of intuition or knowing. This sense is the core, eternal spirit, prominent in the person’s consciousness. It opens up the universe, divine mind, and communication with the spirit guides and those in the afterlife. As such, it is separate from the physical realm and inaccessible until the person reaches this stage of spirituality.
At this stage, there are no rules. There is no money because every person is anxious to serve and money is superfluous. There is no conflict because every person is anxious to make the other comfortable and feel satisfied, so when an interaction that might result in conflict arises, this person has already given entirely of his own needs or position to favor the other person, without having to think about it. It’s automatic.
Discussions of ethics and morality are superfluous at this stage. There is no sin, unethical behavior, or immoral behavior because no one considers any alternative but servanthood.
This is the “servanthood” stage.
Heaven on Earth
The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. - Yeshua ben Yosef (Luke 17:20-21)
Heaven on earth is a potential, not a place. It already exists, but we are not living in it. It will become a reality for us when we change the reality we are creating in our assumptions and perspectives.
Andrew Cohen uses the term “ecstatic compulsion” to describe a drive from within toward creation. The sex drive, he explains, is an ecstatic compulsion. No rules or requirements are necessary to feel it. Creation at the big bang, he implies, was an ecstatic compulsion from the universe to create.
In heaven on earth, people will have ecstatic compulsions: to care for others, to give all they have for others, to relinquish control to others, to be servants to others. It won’t simply be a choice or a well-thought-out goal—it will be a compulsion, as natural and as irresistible as the ecstatic compulsion for sex.
There is already an ecstatic desire to be loved and to receive compassion. That is already part of our being; perhaps it is the root of our being. That will remain, but it will be satiated so it isn’t thought of and is never thwarted. We desire to be close, sexually, psychologically, physically. We desire to be understood and accepted. The ecstatic desire to be joined, to be one, is in our music, gatherings, and the underlying symphony of the universe. It is unnatural for us to be separated, to feel that we are anything less than one with others, with God, and with the universe. “There are only two commands,” Yeshua said: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Be one. Be joined. Dissolve separations.
Spiritual maturity is the earnest, cosmic endeavor to eliminate separation and all things that separate, to feel and live the oneness that is our basic nature. To eliminate the ignorance that tells us there is a separation, the illusion that because we’re in separate bodies on the physical plane that we’re really separate. Gradually, we reduce and eliminate the illusion. That is the goal of our spiritual development in this world. To know we’re one; to act knowing we’re one. We are one with God, with humankind, and with nature. Until we know our oneness, without reservation, we will continue to live in ignorance and destroy ourselves and nature.
The highest stage of spirituality that is within our sight is love without law. I say this is within our sight because there will be spiritual growth beyond even this goal, that we cannot understand or envision now. We know that from the descriptions of "higher realms" of spiritual evolution described by those in the afterlife. This is simply the ultimate end of spirituality.
In this stage of spirituality, we would never have a thought of anything but love for all others. We see ourselves as one with them and our highest delight is their happiness. We serve without ending, give without reservation, and love unconditionally. There is no need for law because there would be no occasion for violation of law. There is no forgiveness because there are no transgressions. There is no non-judgment because judgment is unthinkable. There is no need to make peace because hostility is extinct.
At this stage, perfect love, perfect oneness with others, unconditional love, and complete disregard for self make law unnecessary. Compassion is unrelenting because love is without bounds.
Love and gratitude are automatic—second nature. They are not even identified as love or gratitude. It isn't necessary to name them. They are part of the person's nature as much as the heartbeat. Just as a person drinks without thinking "I have to bring myself to greater thirst" and eats without feeling "I have to find it in myself to be sufficiently hungry." A person doesn't give thought to heartbeats, thirst, or hunger. They are part of the person's nature and come without effort. That will be the nature of love. We today, looking at those people in the future, might remark about the remarkable love they have, but they wouldn't notice it. It would be natural life for them.
At this stage, the only emotion is love and the emotions that grow out of it. Fear of separation, conflict, or death are gone. There is sadness at separation and physical suffering. There is compassion. There is concern and frustration that someone endures physical suffering or loss. But fear of separation, conflict, or death are gone.
The afterlife is a stage of life just as birth, youth, adolescence, and adulthood. It is not feared and is discussed openly. People about to die prepare for it and embrace it.
As a consequence, closeness to the Divine is synonymous with closeness to others. It isn't necessary to seek God; it's just to feel God. We don't reach out to God—we reach out to others and in so doing reach God.
This stage of spirituality isn't separate from others—it isn't asceticism or nondual awareness in a contemplative mood with lost of self and loss of others. It is a communion with others that knows no separation. Servanthood is an earlier stage and implies every person sees himself as a servant and the other as the served; at this stage, however, servant and served are one.
In this stage of spirituality, the words "good," "bad," "right," "wrong," "righteous," "sinful," and all the other judging words disappear. Instead of saying "Good man," we would say, "That made me very happy." We would describe what the action did or how we felt as a result of the action. "Good" and "bad" would be primitive, judgmental words long gone from our lips.
In the future heaven on earth, people around each individual will provide support during periods of difficulty in the physical realm. That doesn’t mean they’ll take over control and diminish the person’s responsibility, control, and free will. They will intervene as much as they judge necessary for the person’s wellbeing and condition. People will understand how others learn and grow. They’ll be able to provide counsel and guidance at the level the person needs to be able to recover and advance in learning and sophistication. They will not create a dependent relationship and relieve the person of control or take control from the person. In this realm, people will understand how children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and elder adults learn and grow. Every person will encourage, foster, and celebrate that growth toward spiritual maturity. The entire society will realize the importance of spiritual growth and participate in it with individuals at all ages and stages.
The ultimate goal for us in our spiritual development is to have our individual heaven on Earth and to have a society that inaugurates heaven on Earth. This level of development may be difficult for people to envision because our current society is so egocentric and materialistic. Individuals acting in this way would be set upon and devoured. No group in society operates in this way, although some such as the Mennonites are closer than any group to it.
In this stage of spiritual growth, neither majority vote nor consensus is necessary. Every person is so bent upon being a servant to every other that no one would ever consider seeking something for self over another. When a decision has to be made, everyone will be striving to find a way to satisfy everyone else’s needs.
All viewpoints would be put on the table and everyone would work to find a solution that considers every viewpoint. The desire to have others’ viewpoints represented would be predominant in every person, so creative alternatives would come from all, regardless of what any individual’s thoughts were at the outset.
However, it will require that we live in a society with others who are also spiritually mature. For us to enjoy the heaven on earth Yeshua envisioned, we will have to be servants to all others, and they will have to be servants to us. We must love unconditionally, and others must feel unconditional love towards us. Until most individuals in our group or society are unconditionally loving, servant-minded, compassionate, non-judgmental, we will not be able to fully have the heaven on earth that is our birthright. Since we won’t attain that in our lifetimes, we can only look forward to helping the people of the seventieth generation after us have it. But we may be among those people.
These concepts are difficult for us to grasp. They are at the horizon of our understanding. We need to go there to be able to understand them. And then, we'll have a new horizon to which we'll go.
If you are a materialist or consumed by a religion, these concepts will be beyond your horizon. You'll need to travel to the horizon you can see before you can see to this horizon.
Read Yeshua ben Yosef's conception of the heaven on Earth
Read a description of the heaven on Earth stage
of humankind's spiritual development
Second-Nature Assumptions in the Heaven on Earth
The heaven on Earth will not be a place. It will be a common set of assumptions; it will exist in our minds. The result is that it will permeate life.
It will result from each person having certain assumptions or beliefs so much a part of their mind that it wouldn't even occur to them to consider that the alternative is true. In our society today, these are such commonly held believes that are so much a part of us, without doubt or consideration, that we don't ever consider the alternative:
We would say "Of course" to these statements. We never would consider the alternative. The fact that we take the assumption or belief for granted means it's part of our nature, as much as our heart or liver. We take for granted that we have a heart and liver and that they'll function fine. We have the same certainty about some assumptions and beliefs.
- We wear clothes in public.
- We give someone money to take an item out of a store.
- We speak quietly in a library.
- We don't curse in a worship service.
In the heaven on Earth humankind will eventually live in, a young person growing up will simply assume these things are true, without ever considering the alternative:
We are all immortal, eternal beings. There is never a thought that someone would disappear or stop living. The young person never even heard someone suggest that, and would call it weird if someone even mentioned it.
We all strive every day to grow spiritually. "Of course, what else would we do," the young person would smirk. "How would you become spiritually mature," she would continue, knowing without question that our highest goal is to grow spiritually. Any other goal in life is simply unthinkable.
We each are looking for every opportunity, every moment, to serve the people we meet and give everything we have to them. Our only concern is their welfare. As soon as someone comes into sight, we're trying to find ways to serve them.
"Wouldn't you like a little something for yourself," we might ask the young person who grew up in the heaven on Earth society. "Why?" he would respond. "How can I make sure you have everything if I keep something?" He laughs, "'Something for myself.' That would be strange." But he would never judge you for saying that. He has never judged someone, and himself has never felt judged. He wouldn't know what judgment meant, even if some twenty-first century person made a judging statement.
We are one mind. The resident of heaven on Earth will look at a store clerk and know they are one mind. They're in separate bodies, but that doesn't affect the mind.
"Why don't you pretend you don't have a new shirt and the clerk will give you one," our twenty-first century minds might ask. "I don't understand," the person reared in heaven on Earth would respond. "You talk strangely. Why would I want to say something I know isn't true?" She wouldn't even understand the question. There would be no words for "deceive," "lie," "cheat," "fool," "manipulate," or any other word that indicates one person feels separate from another and can thus keep secrets. In heaven on Earth, there is no word for "secret."
We love one another without a thought of not loving someone. We are beyond the expression of love because there is nothing but love. We are love. No one would think of not loving; everyone loves without reservation. No one is a stranger. Everyone is a beloved.
"Don't you have special friends," we might ask the child living in heaven on Earth. "What is a friend?" he would respond.
The concept of "friends," "buddies," "family," "neighbor," all imply that only some people are most loveable and others are not loved as much because they're "strangers." In the heaven on Earth society, there are no strangers, friends, buddies, family, or neighbors. All people will be loved equally. Someone just coming into town will be loved as much as we love our children.
That's very difficult for twenty-first century people to conceive, but it is the natural end of loving unconditionally. There will be no jealousy, envy, hatred, or anger. There will be only love; that is unconditional love. Loving family members or friends more than others means there are conditions upon the love. There will be no conditions.
At every opportunity, we leave what we're doing to help someone grow spiritually. Every moment is an opportunity to grow spiritually, and we're available to help others when they ask or the moment arises naturally.
"I don't think I understand it all," our twenty-first century mind might say to the heaven on Earth child. She would stop what she was doing and sit squarely in front of us, looking intently and warmly. "I will help you," she would say, almost childlike and naive. "What is on your mind?" And with that, she would listen and explain, without judgment. If that meant staying with us for hours, she would do it. She would never consider leaving us while we were still feeling perplexed.
We pick no flowers, harm no animals, and do nothing to the atmosphere that might change it in any way. We are one with nature, and any effect on it that we have is unthinkable. Everything we do aims to preserve it exactly as it is now or improve upon it without doing damage.
We are one with the Higher Power. There are no churches and no ministers. Why would anyone need such things to bring God to man when we are already one with God? We take God for granted, just as we take our hearts for granted. We don't need to have special times to thank our heart for beating, but we owe our lives to it, and we know it always continues to act for our welfare. That is how we will know God.
There will be no need to commune with God or become closer to God or come to know God. Those ideas wouldn't even exist. They would never come into a person's mind. The residents of heaven on Earth and God are one.
The intuition that guides us is the Higher Power and beings on the other side of life. We would never consider that their desire might be to do anything but help us grow spiritually. The notion that they might not be there when we ask for help is just not considered. It never comes to mind. Instead, a continual dialogue with the inner voice that is the Higher Power and those on the next plane of life continues in the mind. We speak about it openly with each other. "I just received a revelation that we should find Marge to see whether she is ill." They would follow that guidance without question.
We can hardly conceive of this place. It seems fantastical, even absurd. But it is the extension of our consideration of the spiritual teachings of the luminaries such as Yeshua ben Yosef. This is where those teachings lead us. Heaven on Earth will be very different from what we live in now. But it is in humankind's future.