There are as many perspectives on Heaven, likely as there are people on the planet. For some it is physical realm in which peace prevails and they never age. For others, it is a reward for a life well lived here on Earth. Still others feel they have to sacrifice joy here to have it there. My take on it is that we can create Heaven on Earth by our thoughts, choices and actions. What would your life be like if you lived as if this terrestrial realm could be celestial?
One of my favorite stories is one that I think of as ‘feeding each other in heaven’. When I looked it up just now, I found a Hassidic Jewish version, a Christian version and a Chinese version:
There is an ancient Chinese parable about an old man who knew he would die soon. He wanted to know what Heaven and hell were like. He visited a wise man in his village to ask “Can you tell me what Heaven and hell are like?” The wise man led him down a strange path, deep into the countryside. Finally they came upon a large house with many rooms and went inside. Inside they found lots of people and many enormous tables with an incredible array of food. Then the old man noticed a strange thing, the people, all thin and hungry were holding chopsticks 12 feet long. They tried to feed themselves, but of course could not get the food to their mouths with such long chopsticks. The old man then said to the wise man “Now I know what hell looks like, will you please show me what Heaven looks like?” The wise man led him down the same path a little further until they came upon another large house similar to the first. They went inside and saw many people well fed and happy, they too had chopsticks 12 feet long. This puzzled the old man and he asked, “I see all of these people have 12 feet chopsticks too, yet they are well fed and happy, please explain this to me. The wise man replied, “in Heaven we feed each other”
“There is an old Hasidic story of a rabbi who had a conversation with the Lord about Heaven and Hell.‘I will show you Hell,’ said the Lord, and led the rabbi into a room containing a group of famished, desperate people sitting around a large, circular table. In the center of the table rested an enormous pot of stew, more than enough for everyone. The smell of the stew was delicious and made the rabbi’s mouth water. Yet no one ate. Each diner at the table held a very long-handled spoon–long enough to reach the pot and scoop up a spoonful of stew, but too long to get the food into one’s mouth. The rabbi saw that their suffering was indeed terrible and bowed his head in compassion.
‘Now I will show you Heaven,‘ said the Lord, and they entered another room identical to the first–same large, round table, same enourmous pot of stew, same long-handled spoons. Yet there was gaity in the air: everyone appeared well nourished, plump, and exuberant. The rabbi could not understand and looked to the Lord. ‘It is simple,’ said the Lord, ‘but it requires a certain skill. You see, the people in this room have learned to feed each other!’”
A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell”.
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.” “It is simple,” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”
When I consider the people in my life, both living and in their own version of heaven, I imagine that kind of endlessly long table, filled to overflowing, not only with food, but the nourishment of joy in each others’ presence. There is music, dancing, everyone’s favorite dishes, fireflies lighting up the night, a campfire around which people drum and cavort. I am sitting with my parents, grandparents, as well as other loved ones who have passed, a long line of ancestors and those who they never had the chance to meet in this lifetime. I welcome new guests at the table each day….today, perhaps you will join us and bring your friends and family as the tribe grows incrementally and the overlapping soul circles widen.
http://youtu.be/kBMCFPQSeJY In My Heaven Mary Chapin Carpenter
Many people who visit Beliefnet are familiar with A Course In Miracles, and like me, have been students for a number of years. I was introduced to this 3 book series in the early 1980’s, which according to the website is: A unique, universal, self-study spiritual thought system that teaches that the way to Love and Inner Peace is through Forgiveness. Drs. Helen Schucman and William Thetford, were given the directive “This is a course in miracles, please take notes.”, by one whom they came to understand was Jesus, so take notes, they did. For nearly 4 decades, the concepts of love, miracles and forgiveness, has touched lives, including mine, reminding me that miracles are a natural part of life, and that in every moment, I can view the world through the eyes of love or fear. Most of the time, I choose love and my life is dramatically altered as a result.
Last night, I found myself in an experience that when all was said and done, I had one of those transformative moments. Since being widowed in 1998, I have been in a few relationships and in between, on those ubiquitous dating websites. I drift in and out of visiting them, wondering whether someone with whom I would want to ‘dance’ in partnership is there, who many be wondering if I’m there, open to meeting him. Two days earlier, I had received an email from a man who thought I was ‘fascinating’ and wanted to be in touch, so we began an email correspondence. We agreed to speak on the phone last night, so after a few back and forth messages, we did so. A meandering conversation ensued in which we shared a bit about our histories, life journeys, political ideologies, our take on religion/spirituality, family…. One thing I was taken by, as a part of me ‘observed’ the conversation, even while immersed in it, was how comfortable I was with just ‘being’ without attempting to impress, woo, seduce, dazzle, or otherwise win someone over, as I would have a few years ago. I had no investment in whether this man was the ‘One’. Although we spoke for more than an hour, since it seemed we both enjoyed the lively conversation and he told me I had given him alot to consider, I knew that it wasn’t going any further and that really was ok. A kind email from him this morning, reinforced that as he said that my instincts were correct and that “we were just too different.” There wasn’t a sense of ‘awwww’, but rather ‘ahhhhh’; since I learned a few things about myself and what I want.
1. I choose a partner for whom I need not ‘translate’ or explain my life; someone who has walked a similar journey.
2. I choose to be with someone with whom I share similar values and beliefs.
3. I allow for someone in my life, as my friend Jackie offered on a phone call yesterday, with whom I need not rescue, rehabilitate or rationalize. Believe me, I have done all three in relationship and it ain’t pretty.
4. Someone had asked me a few years ago if I wanted a male version of me. I laughed and said “Of course not. How egotistical would that be?” and then it occurred to me, that on some level I do. I welcome someone with enough in common that we mesh/merge our lives and with enough differences to make it interesting.
5. Last year, in the midst of a reading with a reputable psychic named Corbie Mitlied, she told me that my relationship “will be with your Muse.” and I wondered if that meant that the person with whom I would be in love, would also be a creative guide, or if the Muse itself would be my focus. I waver back and forth between those two inquiries, but lately, have come to think that it is the latter. There are times when I simply can’t wait to write, like the act of creation of ‘word paintings’ is an experience of love making and that Creativity itself is a lover who woos and seduces me.
6. I slurp all of the juice from the bottom of the glass. He had asked about whether I had space in my life for a relationship since I have so many activities in which I am engaged. I explained that my life is full and rich and the people in it are my treasures, and yes there was room for more. I asked if he had a favorite beverage and he said that it was water. If he was thirsty, would he drink it all or leave some at the bottom of the glass? He said he would drink it all. So it is with me, since I know that the glass will always refill. I need not hold back in anticipation that someone could show up today.
Last night’s call was another chapter in the book of my life and as I turn the page on this new day, I am eager to see what I will discover and as I let go of what I don’t want, I make room for what I do. I thank this man for helping me turn that page and perhaps the corner around which even more ‘me-racles’ await.
http://youtu.be/TtGY4G7II6s Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
I saw this cartoon today and it gave me a chuckle since I use the term ‘spiritual amnesia’ to describe blessedly brief moments of Forgetting that Everything is All Right which is actually an acroynm for the word FEAR. How does that work, I wonder? It seems that I (and maybe you too), get caught up in how I think things should be and how other people oughta act. When they aren’t that way, I have a few choices. I can wonder what’s wrong with this picture or what’s right about it. It’s so easy to find fault, but so much more pleasurable to find contentment and cooperation. When in doubt, go for a win-win. Times when I become spiritually amnesiac also look like worry that that my needs won’t be taken care of. How silly is that? I remind myself that I have survived everything that has ever happened in my life, since I am here to tell about it. That includes loss, death, illness, injury, robbery, accidents, losing a home in Hurricane Andrew, raising a child solo after being widowed, and working in a challenging and sometime dangerous setting. I would bet that if you look at your own life, you will shake your head in amazement at what you have made it through and wonder what got you through it all. For me, it was the 3 f’s of faith, family and friends and I’m grateful for them all.
Messages from Spirit (again, whatever that means for you) come in the form of dreams, animal messengers, literal messages in the form of words that show up in meditation, song lyrics, calls from friends….open to receiving their guidance. I look at many of my life experiences as the Nestea Plunge in which I fall backward, trusting that I will be safely caught and held. When I question, the answer I get is “Have I ever dropped you? Have things ever not turned out even better than you, with your over the top vivid imagination could have conjured?” and I have to laugh and then sigh and then agree. And so it is…
http://youtu.be/fN5l-52LQRc Bhaya Naash Mantra (Sanskrit Mantra For Overcoming Fear -Durga Devi Mantra) sung by Jitender Singh
One of my favorite shows from the 1990’s is Northern Exposure. The town of Cicily, Alaska is inhabited by quirky and delightful characters ranging from a New York City born and bred, Columbia University educated doctor who received his schooling via a scholarship from the state of Alaska and his agreement was that he go there to serve as a physician to pay off the debt, to a female pilot who dropped in from Michigan who has outrageously bad luck with boyfriends who die under weird circumstances, with whom he has a love/hate relationship, from a radio D.J. philosopher to a grandiose retired astronaut who owns most of the town. The two Cicilians I am shining the spotlight on in the Bliss Blog today are Ed Chigliak and Ruthanne Miller. Ed is a 20-something year old young man abandoned at birth and raised by the native tribe in the region. An aspiring filmaker and Shaman in training, he is simultaneously naive and wise; always searching for his roots and wings. Ruthanne is the older woman who runs the town’s general store. A transplant from somewhere in the ‘lower forty eight’, she had made Cicily her home for the past 30 years or more. Feisty, with a vibrance that belies her age, she is determined to remain fiercly independent. Ruthanne has just turned 75 and to Ed’s dismay, he comes to the conclusion that his friend is really old and knocking on death’s door. He attempts to protect her from herself and ends up realizing that she has a full, rich life left.
He is puzzled about a birthday present for her and finally comes up with a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ At her birthday party, he hands her a jar of soil and tells her that it is only a part of her gift. He then takes her to a majestic spot high in the mountains, overlooking a spectacular vista. “This is it.”, he informs her. “What, Ed,” Ruthanne replies. “Well, not all of it. Just from here to here,” he points out a plot approximately six foot by six foot. He hesitantly continues, “It’s a place for your gravesite. Do you like it?” After considering several responses, Ruthanne answers “Well, yes Ed, it’s a lovely spot to spend eternity. Now what shall we do?” Ed looks confused and then answers her, “What do you want to do?” A twinkle forms in her eyes and she says with playfulness., “Dance on my grave. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, wouldn’t you say?.” Together they dance with abandon.
Everyday we are called on to step out of our comfort zones and expand our horizons. How often do we answer the call? We may fret about our limitations as Ed did. We may celebrate our experience and age as Ruthanne did. When in doubt…..dance~
http://youtu.be/LEU2gCSQ7jY Northern Exposure