‘Dante rencontre Béatrix’ – Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin, 1898 – Wikimedia
There is a guard posted at the entrance of the Kingdom of Heaven. Mind you it’s a gentle guard, open, benevolent, understanding, but she has her ways. Not everybody can enter. You need to fulfil some precise requirements. She has seen it all — people wanting to enter with all their heavy luggage. Trunks after trunks of thoughts, beliefs, hopes, memories, loaded with cumbersome feelings. People have such unreasonable faith! That’s when she smiles gently:
— Well, you need to empty yourself… It’s not the way to qualify for happiness. Besides I guess that with such a heavy load on your back, you must be coming with your share of suffering. Suffering is not wanted here. It’s a no go. You cannot enter with it. Sharpen your vision first.
— But… are you some kind of select, private club? Can I not come as I am? With all my sore feelings and my crap?
— Mmm, technically you can, but you must first present us with a correct identity. We need to know who you are — without your feelings and your crap, as you said. Without your sorrow and self-pity, without your dreams and hopes, all your fears and concerns, your prayers and righteousness. Without all the things that situate you and render you like a self which you never were. You need to know who you are before all that you think define you. Did you ever look at it?
— Then look now. Look for that portion of yourself which you could never depart from. Come only with your essential self — this is the open sesame for this gate. Rid of everything in yourself that can be rid of. Be yourself the guard of your own being. You have been the one preventing yourself to know your bliss. Unknowingly, you have been left at the entrance of your true self. You have been all this time at an arm length of it, as you are today. Extend your being to my being. Recognise your very being to be the portal to your self. Be this divine threshold.
— I think I see what you mean! But how could this ever be maintained?
— Nothing needs to be maintained. Your essence is your nature, the self that you have been endowed with of all eternity — the one you can never let go of. Recognise it. Be conscious of yourself being this essence. Be this ‘I am’, which is the very portal of the Kingdom, and you will see yourself as being already inside the Kingdom you were looking for.
— Right. That’s quite a thing to do, if you allow me to say. And what about my body? Can I take it with me?
— Nope. Your body will be a hindrance here. For your body is not your body. It is mind veiling itself to itself. And you won’t be allowed to come with your world either. For the other simple reason that the world is not the world. It is yourself veiled by the five senses. The world will make you think that you are separate from it. That’s why thought, feeling, body, and world have to be temporarily discarded. Because of their veiling power. They will prevent you to recognise your true identity. So disengage yourself from them all. Be disinterested for once. You won’t regret it. Quit your dream. Don’t be an addict of a thought about yourself. Detoxify your self from yourself. Find the pure ‘I am’ that is nestled in the middle of your experience. Claim your sainthood. Saints can enter the Kingdom in the same way that Yogis can enter Nirvana.
— I think I’m understanding you now. And I can only thank you for your time. But by the way, what is your name?
— I am…
— Yes, and you are?
— I am.
— I think we’re not understanding each other…
— Please don’t get stressed. ‘I am’ is my name. That’s how I can be guardian here. I am the measure of the entrance to the Kingdom of God. Be the I am that I am and you will find yourself owning the key to the portal to your self. And you’re now free to pass the gate of your true being. The Kingdom of Heaven is yours. Here you can do whatever you want. No restrictions are imposed. And nothing needs to be discarded anymore. So don’t forget all your precious belongings behind.
— Are you joking with me? You mean my thoughts, my feelings, my body, and my world? Can I take them all again with me?
— Not only you can, but you must. This is not a prison camp, but a settlement of freedom. You are allowed all your precious belongings again. Only be aware that much of it might get lost along the way. They might leave you of their own accord, rendered useless and neglected by your new understanding, bored from your ignoring them. Your thoughts, feelings, body, and world that were once an impediment are now simply seen to be the thousand nuances of being. Keep only that which makes you and your world beautiful. Be an artisan of beauty. And pass on the love that was given to you as a result of your understanding. Once you have recognised your identity as pure being, nothing can threaten you. Peace is the supreme temple of god’s being. And ‘I am’ is the rock on which you can now build your life. Did you know that, in Christianity, the word for ‘rock’ in ancient Aramaic is ‘Cephas’? Cephas (translated as Peter) was the name Jesus gave to his first apostle. He said: “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). So Jesus gave Peter the keys of the Kingdom, and made him the gatekeeper of Heaven. So in a way, I am your Saint Peter. Or rather ‘I am’ is your Saint Peter!
Text by Alain Joly
Painting by Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin (1860-1943)
– Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin (Wikipedia)
– Other texts at ‘Eternity with a Smile’…
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