Clearly, we are here to do something on earth. That is the obvious aspect of life. We have a physical being in this physical world. There is an aspect to our life that is not so obvious. We could call it our spiritual life. But that phrase spiritual life tends to evoke the idea of an essentially physical life trying to become more spiritual. That approach ignores the fact that we already have a spiritual life. There is a reality of our being that is beyond our physical, mental or emotional experience. We have the opportunity to experience what is happening in our spiritual life. For most people, there is a lack of awareness at that level and therefore an attempt to make it through the physical life as best one can, maybe with the thought that it would go better if there were spiritual things that came into it.
If a person lets an awareness of their spiritual life blossom, it does have implications for the worldly levels of experience. The usual idea is that the spiritual ought to be in service to the worldly, that we ought to somehow appeal to the spiritual to make the worldly better. Most religious approaches are on that basis, and so are most so-called spiritual approaches. Is it possible that that approach is exactly backwards? Is it possible that this whole system, the worldly and the heavenly, if put in those terms, works when the worldly serves the heavenly, and not the other way around? Not when, from a worldly standpoint, we appeal to the heavenly and ask that it be in service to us, which is really what most of what is called prayer adds up to: “Please, God, do what I think You ought to do to make me happy.” Of course that doesn’t work very well.
One of the experiences that people desire most to make them happy is love. There are two kinds of love—love from the worldly perspective and love from the spiritual perspective. From the worldly perspective, the love that is given and received is seen from the perspective of “me and mine.” That’s the easy kind of love. That’s the when-I-feel-like-it love. That’s the cheap love. It’s cheap because it doesn’t take much from us, and it’s cheap because it’s also not worth very much, because anybody can love when they feel like it. Anyone can love in a self-serving way. And really, when it comes right down to it, that kind of love isn’t worth the name. It certainly doesn’t last very long. That’s the kind of love that people want on their own terms. They want it from other people and from life itself.
So what’s the other kind of love? It is love that transcends “me and mine,” love that isn’t on my terms. It’s the love that a person offers, not because they feel like it or don’t feel like it. This is the love that a person gives into their world and to other people because they have discovered that it is their nature and that to be true to themselves they have to be true to that nature. And yes, it comes out differently in different circumstances. There are people who are closer to us on a personal basis and there are people who are further away. There are people who can receive the love that we have to give and are open to it, and there are people who are not. But for this kind of love, none of that changes it in our essential experience, because this is love from the spiritual dimension of who we are. This love is of an aspect of our being that doesn’t rely on what someone just said to us or how we woke up this morning.
In ancient scripture, in both the East and the West, the spiritual dimension of being is pictured alternatively as a throne or a chariot. The well-known movie Chariots of Fire is rooted in this verse from the story of Elijah (2nd Kings, 2:11):
Behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Ezekiel’s vision of “a wheel in the middle of a wheel,” with what appeared to be a throne above, speaks of the spiritual dimension of our being in this way (Ezekiel 1:26):
Upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
In Hindu scripture the same reality is depicted as Arjuna’s chariot, with Krishna as the charioteer.
By definition, a throne is the seat of the sovereign. In the spiritual dimension of our being, love rules. Love is sovereign. Whether or not it rules in the earthly part is, at least to some degree, up to us as human beings. It already rules in the heavenly aspect of who we are. Love is the power that sits on the throne in the spiritual dimension of our being. It is the charioteer. In other words, the expression of love is supreme, and the dictates of love are supreme. From an earthly standpoint, we have the opportunity to ignore them and decide that we will live our life, but on our own terms, and that we will love on our own terms.
If we love on our own terms, we also get truth on our own terms. We get that kind of truth that justifies the way we want to love and live. This is our truth, what’s true to us—at least, what seems true, what we experience as true, and what we say is true to justify our expression of love. And just as the love of “me and mine” isn’t the reality of love, this kind of truth isn’t what’s really true. It is what we might call truth. What is really true is the reality of the One who sits upon the throne of our being.
This reality was seen by Ezekiel as wheels within wheels, “way up in the middle of the air,” as the old gospel hymn put it, with the throne above. Not really in the air, as such, but in higher vibratory dimensions of our being, wheels within wheels, Creation all being held by the One who sits upon the throne and who doesn’t choose whether or not to love, who doesn’t pick and choose how they will be in the world.
All of this is the truth of heaven. How does it become the truth for a human being—not only a vision or a belief but actual awareness and experience? It becomes actual awareness and experience when a person comes to terms with the conditions they have insisted upon for their life, consciously or unconsciously: “I will only love like this, and if this. These are the circumstances under which I will give of myself, if it serves ‘me and mine.’”
These terms often seem to be a person’s independence. It may be thought to be the refusal to serve the dictates of someone else, or of someone else’s reality. Fair enough, if that is what it really is on a truthful basis. Often, stubborn independence hides the attitude of serving “me and mine” that a person assumes will bring freedom, but which is actually the person’s prison. And it doesn’t matter how big “mine” is—whether it’s my family, my culture, my country, or even humanity as a whole. The attitude is part of a person’s resistance to the most real thing about them—the One who sits upon the throne.
Putting it that way, it sounds like this is one who is separate from you, or separate from me. But the One who sits upon the throne is the reality of our being, in our heaven. When I say “our heaven,” I don’t mean it from the earthly standpoint, that we own this heaven—we have a heaven that follows us around wherever we are. In truth, the opposite is true: it is the heaven of the One who sits upon the throne; and this earth belongs to that One as well, beginning with our physical bodies.
Any true spiritual path has at its core the imperative of surrender to that One. Jesus’ saying was that you find your life by losing it. That is the surrender teaching. You find your life by losing it. You find your capacity to love by losing the small way by which you love, the conditional way by which you love. The Bhagavad-Gita, too, speaks of utmost surrender. When there is utmost surrender of the small way we have lived and loved, the One who sits upon the throne is seen and known and entered into. We become that reality.
For each of us, the truth is that there is One who sits upon the throne. That One not only emanates the reality of love but also the reality of truth—the specific design and control of our being. Looked at from a human standpoint, you could say that the reality of who we are is very bossy, especially bossy when it comes to our life experience. It is a good thing that it is. We apparently cannot get too much in the way of that bossiness when it comes to the running of our physical bodies. There is wisdom and an intelligence that keeps all our vital functions going, without us having to consciously work it all out. Thankfully, there are the dictates of the truth of our being that take care of that.
Of course, the words dictates and bossiness allude to a very human way of thinking. In the King James Version of the Bible, divine wisdom and intelligence are spoken of as “the ordinances of heaven.” For most of us, when we think of the word ordinances, we think of parking tickets and the like. But there is absolute order that proceeds from the inmost place of who we are, which brings the dictates of love, the ordinances of heaven, for us.
You could be in total bondage to this One and be free—and, in fact, it is the only way that you could be free. Yes, free of all the bossiness of other people in the world, but mostly free from the dictates of your personal version of the truth that tries to create a world for “me and mine.” That is the worst kind of tyranny that a person could suffer, the worst kind of bondage, because it keeps a person from their own inner nature and from the expression of that. It presents the lie that we can be free by serving ourselves. And given that our own nature is to love unconditionally, without thought of reward, it keeps us from the very heart and soul of who we are. We embrace who we are as we surrender to the character of love that is at our core.
There are wheels within wheels, way up in the middle of the air, as it is put. There are wheels within wheels in the heaven of our being together. There is our creative generation at that level of things. As we are open to it, we become increasingly aware of that generation and its significance and application to what we are doing in physical form. For starters, it is healthy for the physical body. It brings life, and it brings creation and our capacity to create together.
This is the heaven that has been spoken of through the ages—not the kind of heaven you go to after you die, not the kind of nirvana you achieve after many lifetimes, but a reality that we have the opportunity of accepting, here and now, as we make space for it. It is a space of complete and absolute surrender to the One who sits upon the throne. And the reality of that surrender brings not weakness but the only kind of true power and strength a person could know. We become the rider of a chariot of fire.