Meditation: Be the Kingdom

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A central text in the Buddhist tradition – the Diamond Sutra – offers this key piece of advice:

A bodhisattva should develop a mind that alights nowhere

We can understand a bodhisattva as simply someone on the path to awakening, so this essential wisdom is offered to you and to me – to each one of us.

It is an encouragement to guard against getting stuck, against turning the world into a collection of comfortingly familiar objects, against taking possession of an all-too-well known and understood reality, against opting for safety and control rather than the risk of intimacy and life in all its ungraspable fullness.

Where our minds most often alight is on that curious object of possession, our self. This is where we can get stuck and barricaded off from life itself, which is always a flow and never a thing. Our experience of self, right now, with all of its embodied joys and hopes and pleasures and frustrations, is a wonderful place to start (the only place, in fact), but it is not a final destination, not a place to alight, to settle for, to take possession of.

In all his teachings Jesus is pointing, and guiding us, beyond the self, into the movement of true intimacy that awaits us. It is always and instantly accessible, indeed it is our essential nature. This beyond-the-self mind is a consciousness or – more accurately – the shared reality which Jesus variously calls the Kingdom or the Spirit:

You cannot tell by observation when the kingdom of God comes. There will be no saying ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘there it is!’; for in fact the kingdom of God is within, among and between you.
Luke 17:20-21

The wind blows where it wills; you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from, or where it is going. So with everyone who is born of the spirit.
John 3:8

This shared reality is open, open-ended, uncapturable; it is invisible and ignored by most of us most of the time. But if we find a way of taking our attention off what we think of as ourselves, and of daring simply to open to what IS, then we will see and know that the kingdom is everywhere.

Our practice of meditation is one way towards such opening. As we take our attention off ourselves, we make the unexpected discovery that this is how we become most truly ourselves. It’s not about finding the kingdom, earning the kingdom, achieving the kingdom or even being IN the kingdom. It is simply being the kingdom.

The kingdom is not a place of peace. It is peace.

Jim Green

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