Chapter 23: The Hidden Kingdom

Down the Rabbit HoleJesus says that the Kingdom or Landscape is here, among us, and yet it is hidden from people or the world at large. Who are those who see "the Kingdom of the Father?" Jesus poetically implies that there is a network of sages who are not known by the world, who are hidden from view and whose value is not recognized. In John 3:8, he claims: "The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." These sages can be found in all corners of society. They have not been granted a degree by some accredited university or institution. They have not been awarded any medals or taught specific skills. They were not necessarily born into privileged families and did not earn a respected position in society through hard work. They are not necessarily rich or poor. They have not done something or earned their place. They live in that Landscape because of their perception. But they also often live in inner seclusion because the world cannot accept or understand their perception. And if they are daring enough to speak openly, they are rejected or dismissed as insane. To the world, to that machine that is in a constant daily grind, they are unrecognizable because their values are not the world's values; but paradoxically their impact is all around us. Their light can be felt because it is much more powerful than the shadow in which the majority often stand.

In John 9:1 we read: "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, 'Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.'" Orthodoxy interprets this passage to mean that God placed that blind man there so that Jesus could not only demonstrate mercy but also his heavenly power in front of an audience so that they may believe in him. In my opinion, Jesus was saying that every situation or every person with whom we come in contact embodies the radiance of the Father. It is a jumping off point into that Landscape. Every situation is an opportunity for a revelatory connection, especially those occasions that are bound by discomfort, insecurity and suffering. Every person is a miracle, a point of illumination and has the potential to provide us with a clue to lead us directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, to an awakening to the Kingdom of the Father. In the case of the blind man, his situation facilitates seeing the radiance of the Father by evoking compassion or perplexity. His state is pregnant with the possibilities for an awakening. People get caught up in surface forms, namely the physical blindness of the person, and rarely see beyond them to a transcendent truth or idea. This does not in any way lessen the burden or suffering of the blind man; rather it is a heightened opportunity to recognize that people can come together and become teachers to each other, knowingly or unknowingly. In our current state, no matter what that may be, we hold a key, a piece of the puzzle to being born of the Spirit.

Jesus' ministry suggests that the world is alive with wonder and mystery. This idea is manifested in the physical world all around us. We need only to lift a rock, almost anywhere on earth, to see a world teeming with life. In addition, Jesus suggests that through suffering, we come to know the kingdom of the Father. We will discuss this further in subsequent paragraphs but suffice it to say that, as we turn with compassion to others, we trigger a spark, an awakening in us and go past suffering to the Kingdom of Heaven. Furthermore, Jesus counseled us saying that this light of the Kingdom of the Father can be made manifest through what we might consider good or evil. Everything that casts a shadow stands in light. And to date, most Christians have been standing in Jesus' shadow. Truth however transcends all things, including dualities such as light and darkness, good and evil. As Jesus states in a strange passage from Matthew 5:45, "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." This passage has nothing to do with morality or ethics but with going past dualities. It is a recognition and acceptance of the fact that everything and everyone has a profound or significant "purpose" in being the way he, she or it is. Most Christians consider Judas, for example, to have been evil for betraying Jesus. But he was an instrument of God as much as Peter, an actor in the story of Jesus who had to play a role, an essential means for completing the mission of Jesus. From this perspective, everything under the sun performs the will of God, not by choice or by fate but through a mysterious, mutual, orchestrated and whole movement.

It can be argued then that all people are prophets for each other in the sense that they influence and play a role in each other's lively drama. Whether through joy or through pain, through illness or health, through life or death, all things aspire to awaken us and sometimes shake us to that Kingdom of the Father, that Landscape. Jesus’ statement about loving our enemies is not so much a commandment as much as a realization of these ideas here. Every person, whether friend or foe, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, is a potential prophet or teacher, because he or she could hold the key, a word of wisdom, an act of compassion or treachery, that may change our lives entirely, force us to confront our insecurities and fears, and lead us to be born of the Spirit. Wisdom can be realized through good and evil. All of creation stands knocking at the door of our perception.

Moreover, the term prophet, I believe, has been consistently misinterpreted in our day. A prophet is really a sage who has recognized certain patterns or has been gripped by them and is able to reveal these patterns, expressed through certain language, to the community in which he lives. These patterns are somehow part of the dynamic blueprint for the whole human being. In psychology, they are sometimes referred to as archetypes. And though his "prophecies" may sound strange and mystical, the prophet's words usually contain an element of familiarity for the average member of the community who does not perceive these patterns. Somehow, the prophet's words resonate and pierce through to a very intimate part of the individual whose life is guided unknowingly by these patterns. To those who have not had this experience or do not perceive these patterns, a prophet is God's messenger, someone endowed with divine powers, a soothsayer or predictor of the future. A prophet then is perceived to be someone who has great insight, who can "see" into the lives of others, and who can read the hearts of men. His insight comes from his own experience or suffering. He can divine the future in the sense that he recognizes the beginning and end as part of the pattern. In practical words, when someone brings skeletons out of his own closet and resolves his issues, he has the ability to perceive the same skeletons in other people’s closets - precisely because the experience of dealing with these particular skeletons is universal; he recognizes the pattern. A prophet then is someone who has the power to potentially bring humanity out of exile because he has already taken those steps. Jesus for one is considered to be a prophet by other religions, specifically Islam. This idea, in context with our topic, leads me to declare that Jesus sought to make prophets, or at least sages, out of all of us.

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