The great teacher, Jesus, said that the kingdom of God is within you and that you can’t find it by looking for it outside yourself. When we use the preposition within, we are not talking so much about a physical place. If you operated on me, I don’t think you would find the kingdom of God in there. But within our being there is a reality that can be known.
What is a kingdom? It probably has many qualities to it, but ultimately a kingdom is a world. And if it is the kingdom of God, presumably it’s a wonderful world. You cannot find a world of wonder by observation. You could be in the most wonderful physical place, but you won’t find happiness there if you haven’t found it within yourself.
Early in my life, one of my spiritual teachers would quote Jesus’ saying, The Kingdom of God Is Within You,and then say, “Let it out!” But how does it get out?
The world within comes into the world around us because we open to the world within mentally and emotionally. The world within is a world of potential. It is the essence of what could be in the world around us. So we open to the world within when our thoughts and feelings turn to an awareness of the possible—what could manifest in our life. The world within is a world filled with the power of universal love and the intelligence of the cosmos. So we are opening to the world within when we turn thoughts and feelings to an awareness of that reality and let it flow through us.
We can’t know the substantiality of the world within by measuring it. What would you measure it with? You know the substantiality of the world because when you open to it, you are filled with it and it begins to fill the world around you. So you verify its substantiality through experience, and you invoke experience through opening to it.
This world within is a seed for the world without. For that seed to be planted and sprout and grow and become the world without, we have to open up to it and allow it to come through us, so that what was in terms of time and space infinitesimally small gains scope and stature in our world. But for that to happen, a person has to open to the world within, welcome it into heart and mind, and then act on the feelings and thoughts that are activated by it.
That seed is the only thing in your life or in anyone’s life that you can open up to fully and not be bound. It is the truth that sets us free. No matter how wonderful anything is in the world around us, opening up to it without opening up to what’s within imprisons a person. It doesn’t start off like that in the beginning. But the more a person is opening up to what is outside of them without opening up to what’s within, they find themselves bound. They will not be free. I can guarantee it.
I just spent two weeks at Glen Ivy, in Southern California. It is nestled against the Santa Ana Mountains on the inland highway to San Diego, with live oaks, clear mountain water coming down Cold Water Canyon, and a hot springs that has been a healing place for people for centuries. It is a beautiful place, and I love the experience it engenders for visitors. But if a person does not find a way to let the world within them out, there is no place in the world without that is beautiful enough to make up for it.
When Emissaries of Divine Light first came to Glen Ivy in 1977, there had been a flood that came down Cold Water Canyon, devastating the property. So it had been largely abandoned. We saw its potential, but it wouldn’t have been inspiring to most people. So if you perceive beauty and wonder in the world of Glen Ivy, the inherent nature of the place is a big part of that. But there wouldn’t be many thousands of people having the experience they do at Glen Ivy except for the people who have let the world within them out. That is what has transformed Glen Ivy.
Looking for the right person will not set you free. You may think you’ve found the perfect person, and even if they are the perfect person, they can’t set you free. You will be in chains. I can guarantee it, if you do not open to the world within you. It could be somebody you love deeply, a life partner, a child, or a parent. It could be an esteemed teacher or leader. If you do not open up to what is within you, that relationship will eventually lead you to an experience of bondage. I don’t care how great that leader is, I don’t care how wonderful that partner is, or how much you love that child. You will not be free if you do not open up to the kingdom within you. It’s the only thing you can give yourself to completely and totally—no fear, no risk, no downside, no side effects!
Here is the essential factor in a human life. So many people have lost touch with their connection to what is within them. They may be involved in some kind of religious or spiritual practice, but what we’re speaking of here is a matter of the heart primarily. While clear thinking plays a part in opening to the kingdom within, you can’t think your way into the experience. There must be an opening of the heart if the kingdom within is to come out.
It is a world waiting to be born. Just add water and it grows in your life. There is a reality you can’t observe with your senses; you can’t see it with your eyes or hear it with your ears. But you can see it and you can hear it with your heart. It’s not subject to scientific observation or measurement, although when a person opens to it, what can be measured about them changes.
Is there a reason why we should accept what we see and perceive with our senses and believe that it is real, but then reject the perceptions of the heart that tell us what is within us and what is within all things? When we do perceive the world within, and open to it, it is undeniably real. We are perceiving what is within us and within all things. The creek running down Cold Water Canyon is not just water. There is an essence to it; there is an inner reality to it, and to all things. When somebody else looks at you and has a conversation with you, and they are aware of that reality within you, don’t you feel ennobled? I think all of being is like that. It likes to be seen for what it is. But if we’re only looking with our eyes, we’re only seeing, at best, half the picture.
Can we just accept that we’re living in a world of great depth, a world that has a physical component but has many other components to it as well? I believe we are made to navigate our world with that awareness. From that perspective, if you watch people who are moving through their world with a lack of awareness of the kingdom within all things, it does seem like they’re stumbling around in the dark, bumping into things, making a mess, because they are trying to navigate the outer aspect of the world. So let’s find our own capacity to open deeply, to get down on our knees, however we do it, to yield totally and completely to what’s within us. If we do that, first and foremost, we can find our right relationship with everybody else and everything else. That becomes easy.
Years ago, when I first began to assume responsibility for leadership of Emissaries of Divine Light, somebody commented to me, “It must be really hard to meet the expectations of all the people who participate in Emissaries of Divine Light.” I said, “Yes, I guess so—but it pales next to the responsibility that I feel to what is within me.” There have been people who, along the way, have been disappointed in me and thought I did things wrong, and other people who liked what I did. But what’s true for me, and I believe for all people, is this: Our responsibility to the people around us is important, but not nearly as important as the responsibility we have to the calling that we feel from inside and our openness to that. Can you imagine living your life, feeling that calling, and not answering it clearly and fully with everything that you are? I can’t imagine doing that. I think that would kill me. Actually, that’s true for anybody. Ignoring the power of love and the intelligence of the world within eats a person up inside. Opening up to the calling of the reality within us, we are set free.
If we answer that calling fully and completely, we live in joy and fulfillment and happiness. That doesn’t mean life is always going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that there are no challenges in life. But even through those things, we have the joy and the fulfillment of answering our calling, of acting with integrity in relationship to the reality that’s within us, knowing that that same reality is within all things, all people, all places.
We are meant to be a sanctuary, a tabernacle, a temple for that reality. In fact, the whole world is. That’s what Glen Ivy is all about. Glen Ivy has been created by people who had the wild idea that this could be a living temple. Of course, the only way that the earth and the world become a living temple is as there are people who are living temples. We are amazingly made to open up to the inner kingdom. We have a capacity of thought and feeling that is made to be a portal to that reality.