“Can Heaven be a place on Earth?”
What began as an interesting question became a quest to: 1. learn what people of various faiths and backgrounds believe about Heaven, 2. to learn how we are connected in our needs, hopes, and values, and 3. to find a way to connect these concepts with life in the present moment, right here on Earth. What resulted was a compilation of concepts about Heaven from a variety of religious faiths and philosophies. From that list I was able to identify seven meaningful characteristics of Heaven that we could strive to accomplish living on Earth.
1. Living in Community
The first characteristic of Heaven focuses on our connection with people. We look at the world from the perspective of Self, but from the time before we are born, we need others. In order to thrive, in our human condition, we need to interact and live interdependently with others. Mahatma Gandhi expressed it this way:
“Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.”
In this spirit, we can examine how we relate to one another in our families, our circles of friends, our local and larger communities. How do we communicate with each other? Do we take the time to listen and understand, or do we make assumptions and rush to judgment? Do we look at each other when we are speaking, or do we look away and miss the expression and body language that would help us to understand what is said? Also, how can we improve the way we address the needs of our community members and create a true spirit of living in community? How do we break down barriers between self and other, so that we can love others as we do ourselves? A Chinese proverb states:
“If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
The building of community starts from self to family, then from family to the larger family of the world. Heaven on Earth is realized through living in community.
Next Post: Identifying characteristic #2: A Place of Great Joy, Happiness.