What is the real truth of heaven? Cultures worldwide have their own notion of heaven, whether it is in the Western world or in the East, north, or south. The Hawaiian word for heaven is lani, and o lani means “of the heaven.” In French, it is paradis, a familiar-sounding word to English speakers. In Asian culture, heaven is nirvana. In traditional Norse culture, it is Asgard and Valhalla. It is believed that some Native American tribes named their conception of heaven as the happy hunting ground.
Today, in the Western world, many people believe in heaven. That belief is decreasing, or even entirely absent for others. In the United States, 73% of the population believe in heaven, and 62% believe in hell, according to the Pew Research Center.
If a person views their life based only on modern science and humanistic values, they might omit an awareness, or even a belief, in heaven. In my own life, I had a chance to be a witness to that in my father. He was an amazing man—loving, devoted, intelligent, strong, and courageous. As the end of life came nearer, I watched how frightening that was for him. He did not believe in heaven, and therefore the end of his physical life was like hitting a wall. Everything was going to go blank. It was all going to be over. And if that is how you think about things, and that is what your awareness is, how frightening is that?
I cannot know all of what was in my father’s heart and on his mind. But it did make me think about heaven back then, as he came to the end of his life.
Today, I am thinking about my own life and the experience of people around me. I find myself reflecting on our culture and on what heaven really is. It can be something that we project into the future. It is sometimes called the afterlife. So we can think of it as something later. But what if heaven was simply a name for invisible factors of reality that are present now? By its very definition, heaven is not the part of reality that is in physical form. It is not this world—it is another world, somehow above, inside, or parallel to the world in which we live. It is a world of essence and potentiality; it is a world of divine power.
How do we know this to be true? Not because we find a way to jump out of this world into heaven. We have the opportunity to know heaven when we turn to it, tune in to it, and feel inspired and empowered by it.
For a person who has the repeated experience of this in whatever way, the invisible creative source becomes real. If they are running a race and feel tired, this is the motivation within them that brings them a second wind. If they feel discouraged, out of love, or fed up with the world, they turn to something inside—to heaven. They find love there, and love pours into them and through them into the world. They have firsthand proof that heaven is real.
In cultures around the world, heaven is the home of God, is it not? Or, depending on the culture, the gods. Valhalla was that, and so was Mount Olympus. Even in some Western traditions, it is the home not only of God but of his angels, Jesus, and the saints.
Heaven is the home of Being. It is not only a source of energy—a source of light and love. It is the home of divine presence. And so, when we turn to heaven, we can perceive that presence.
Traditionally, in many cultures, you might go to heaven when you die. And very special human beings ascend into heaven in life. But what if ascension into heaven was something very real, available to us all?
Albert Einstein introduced this equation in his theory of special relativity.
E = mc2
The “E” represents energy, and the “m” represents matter. The theory expresses that energy and mass are the same physical energy and that there is a mathematical formula that defines how they can be changed into each other.
Though matter is seldom converted to energy all at once, nonetheless there are fantastic amounts of potential energy within an object, with even a tiny mass. There is enough atomic energy within a paper clip to equal the atomic energy of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Thankfully, the paper clips on my desk are behaving themselves— they are not exploding this morning!
Someone estimated that if the human body were ever converted totally to energy, it would be the equivalent of the output of 20 nuclear power plants for a year.
In lesser ways, we are constantly converting mass to energy. As I was on a hike on Friday, I was meditating on how we as human beings are mechanisms for converting mass to energy. And if you are walking in the mountains, it is apparent that you are converting the food you ate the past few days into energy, and it is powering you on your hike. We have a daily experience of the conversion of mass to energy. So this is not just theoretical for you and me.
But there is more to it than that. Some of my most powerful meditations are while I am walking or hiking. As this process of conversion from mass to energy transpires, my lungs are heaving, and there is also something happening in consciousness. I just start becoming aware of all kinds of things that I was not aware of before. On Friday, I began to think about the fact that, for us as conscious human beings, some of the mass we convert to energy we then convert to consciousness. Energy transmutes to consciousness, and we experience that, moment by moment, in our life.
This is the ascension of substance, or mass, as it transmutes into energy and then into consciousness. Our consciousness is not separate from the vast pool of consciousness that lives in the heaven of the cosmos. So are we not participating in the heaven of the cosmos as we engage in this process of ascension? Are we not knowing heaven?
Here is another gee-whiz scientific fact plucked from the headlines of our news. Three days ago, scientists released an image of Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A Star), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Its mass is four million times the mass of the sun, and it has a huge gravitational pull to go along with it. The entire galaxy is rotating around Sagittarius A*, including us space travelers on Planet Earth.
Could Sagittarius A* be a portal to heaven for the Milky Way galaxy? Some have supposed that within every creative field, there is a black hole. Within our core as a human being, there is a black hole. It is a window of heaven. There is radiation out of that window, descending into us. And the substance of our world is ascending through that window.
The world in which we live is being sucked up into the black hole, into the heaven, through us. If that is true, we are ascension machines. The worldly reality is ascending into heaven through us, as human beings, as much as we let it. And a higher reality is descending out of heaven through us.
I hope this meditation helps us bust through whatever blocks there might be in our own heart and mind to an awareness of heaven and that we then see the span of our own lives from that perspective. With that awareness, we have the opportunity to speak, act, and live from the vast pool of cosmic consciousness. This is the consciousness of God, if we want to use that word, speaking into the human experience. What would change if we saw our life that way?
The span of our human life looks different from that perspective. The event of our eventual passing looks different. It will likely be at least uncomfortable, and possibly painful. It will probably not be without sadness, and perhaps even some regret. There might be sentimentality that transforms into great love and gratitude. Perhaps it will be all those kinds of things. And yet, from that larger heavenly perspective, there is a sense of the ongoingness of life. Maybe it is similar to moving house.
You move house, leave the neighbors, and leave the backyard. If you grew a garden there, you are saying goodbye to the garden. If you had a place of work that is associated with where you live, you might be leaving all your co-workers. There is perhaps some sadness and a sense of gratitude and of the goodness of the cycle. But you are simply moving house. And then there is the excitement about what is unknown in the new location.
In the case of what lies in the future beyond this human lifetime, there is a lot of unknown. It is unknown what our next assignment shall be. And yet, where there is an awareness of heaven present, there is a sense of excitement, and even delight, along with the other feelings we might have about the past—sentimentality, gratitude, love, and joy in the glory of the cycle we are part of in this lifetime.
This perspective changes intergenerational relationships. Keahi Ewa and I just led the Becoming a Sun Workshop. More and more often, I have the experience of looking around at a group of people and realizing, Wow! I am the oldest dude in the room here! I had that experience in this workshop. I looked around, and the next oldest person was Brian, and I was pretty sure he was quite a few years younger than me.
There was no way around the fact that I had experienced many more things than the people with me, just because I had lived longer. Accentuating this was the fact that the book upon which the workshop is based, Becoming a Sun, contains stories from my life that I reference in the workshop. And so, I caught myself doing what I have watched senior people do all my life—tell stories about their past experiences. Oh no! Now I am the person doing that!
There are many human factors in intergenerational relationships. But when all of us know heaven, the intergenerational factors shrink in significance. They are not so all-defining as they were when we identified ourselves in terms of our human lifespan. We are experiencing something that transcends the human, and yet we are experiencing it through the human together. It does not deny the cycles of a human life. But it does put them in perspective.
That is true whether you are in your earlier years or later years. There is the opportunity to know heaven and one’s place in heaven. Perhaps we are getting the feel of what it is like to live and express from that place and know that we have heavenly powers available to us.
We have the power of heavenly love. It includes the love for the personal, human dimension of other people. And yet it is the spirit of the people we are with that we love with a love so all-compelling. We have that power of love that is natural to us when we come from that place. We have light to bring to the world in which we live—to our own soul and to each other. Enlightened understanding comes from this transcendent place we call heaven.
Whatever shape our bodies are in, we can feel the gift of life that we have to give. Bodies tend to creak through the years. There are patterns of pain and disease that show up, one way or another. And yet, as those things happen, it is an excellent time to remember heaven—not the one hereafter but the one now—and feel the life that animates the body in the middle of all that. I am that life. That is me, creaky body and all. That is me, whatever my body is up to.
Yesterday, someone was referring to the illness of a friend. It was a bit dreary to say, but ultimately true, that with the way things go in this human life, if one thing doesn’t get you, another will. So we could make a big deal about the one thing that shows up. And there is something to do to take care of whatever shows up. I’m not pretending it’s nothing. But still…if it isn’t this, it’s going to be something else. So, what is the point of endlessly lamenting whatever has shown up, whether that relates to another person or yourself? Yes, acknowledge that it might be a serious matter. But still… Who are we? Where do we live? What do we know?
Depending on how you look at it, you might see the whole human lifespan as a lifelong decline into the nothingness of death. That’s dreary! But if you look at it from the standpoint of heaven, something is ascending through you the whole time. And something is radiating down through you the entire time. Heaven is activating something through you right now, whatever age you are. And if the end of this lifespan is drawing nigh, can’t there be excitement about the next assignment, even though you probably don’t know what it is?
If you were a Viking, you might look forward to feasting with the gods in Valhalla. If you are a Christian, you might look forward to being with Jesus in heaven. Can you be excited about whatever is next without imaging what the form of it will be?
Meanwhile, we are here now with the opportunity to know heaven and bring our heavenly powers into this world. While there are, inevitably, parts of our human experience that break down in some way over time, our capacity to love surely grows. If we open to it, we inherit the power of love, the power of the universe, the power of heaven.
This massive source of love carries far more mass than is evident by the weight of our human body and far more energy than is apparent on the outside. Love pours out of this window of heaven because we are here. There is love flowing forth and energy ascending through consciousness into the vast cosmic pool of consciousness that we call God. It is from that consciousness that we emerged into the world, into form. It is to that consciousness that we return all things.
This is how we know heaven as something real. It becomes far more than a belief in something we hope we experience later—a belief we either accept or reject. It becomes a reality we know now.