Jesus spares us nothing in his teaching. As always, he does not equivocate. Heaven is, or its not. God’s Kingdom, which is God’s children, God’s off-spring, completion. God is incomplete without us. That is why God is so continuously nudging us to come home — the home we have never left, actually. Although we think we are somewhere or elsewhere, we are nowhere out side the thought of God. We are God’s thought. We have no will, life or mind separate from that One glorious place to be. The only place we can be.
We are in the habit of making up a world that in God’s mind simply isn’t. Nothing can happen in God’s mind that is not perfectly love. So if we think there is such a place and condition, there isn’t. We, in the mind of the only Power that exists, can think we are some other place. But we dream only. And we dream on. God either is, or God isn’t. And God is. We dream the isn’t.
The poor are fortunate to be the Kingdom. Isn’t it like Jesus to use what we might consider the “least among us” to identify as the fortunate poor. He does that because those of us who are not poor are much more likely to be clueless about what God’s world is, since we are doing so well on our own. We believe. Why would we think about God’s world when we are busy, far too busy, “managing” our lives: bigger houses, better cars, better colleges, better, better, better. Not to mention bigger wars, armament that kills greater numbers — a signal there is something better than what we already have. This is the kingdom of the ego, not such a pretty place. But we seem to endure. We do have a little trouble ruling this kingdom of course. But someday we think we’ll get it right.
Ah, but the ego (we) are so “powerful” we even think that avoiding such “riches” is virtuous. A number of us think that resisting what we think completes us is a virtue. Many who do that spend lifetimes here in arduous work, trying to make real the extras we collect, then not knowing how to get rid of, or resist them. Jesus said, “Resist not evil.” I think because resisting makes real what is not. We are masters at making the unreal real. It is one of the ego’s favorite cards to play out. I think Jesus always wants us to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of what I am thinking or doing in this world.” Perhaps its condition will spell out its poverty for us to see.
But it isn’t enough to be poor to realize the Kingdom of God. We have to admit, fully believe, we are poor. Otherwise we just don’t get it.
One of the gospels, Matthew, adds the phrase “poor of spirit.” That is a step in the direction of understanding that Jesus isn’t referring to material things in his words about God’s Kingdom. I think, rather than adding the reference to “sprit” as Matthew does, just “poor” was exactly what Jesus wanted us to hear. Poor being in the place where we actually think there’s not enough of God’s gift to go around, or to satisfy us. We need something more. We surrender to the thought, “our way just is not working. There must be a better way.”
On the other hand, those who are in the state of poverty this way, believing in scarcity, (as I am for sure most of the time), God’s plan for salvation probably sees this as a good thing. A word about “we”: (please forgive me for the we statements here. I hate being alone in what I think. If you think otherwise about yourself as I write this, go on thinking that way and ignore my “we” statements. And I do believe there is on “I” to experience with “us” who we really are.”
When we think we are poor we believe there’s something missing. If we believe in God, who has all power, there cannot be anything missing. God does not create parts of, to be developed later into what is whole. God says, “Let there be….” and there is. Our dream here is a constant belief we need something, lack something, God creates scarcity, parts of something greater, our wholeness in union with God. There is no wholeness of mind in a dream. We have half a mind perhaps, we believe. Or, we’ve lost our minds. Fortunately, no matter what we believe about this subject, God doesn’t. Either God is insane or we are. I prefer the latter. Dreams aren’t real. No matter how much we think we can make them real in the dream. As the dream takes place for us, Jesus tells us God is real, God is All Who gives all to All. It is the fulfillment of God, however, that we dream on and on, without much thought about God’s participation, except our mouthing prayers that are prayers, but we cannot hear the answer from God, or refuse to listen to it. Adam changed God for us into a smaller non-being who punishes us for generations to come. As a result we believe the unbelievable, impossible thought, insane thought: God is small, Who Creation is incomplete, faulty and poses questions like “How could God let this happen?”, referring to the suffering in the world we make. That is a question only the ego could ask. For it is asked within its own made up world. God has nothing to do with it. We have nothing to do with it. We are dreaming.
Speaking again of Adam, remember he is put to sleep by God in the Bible. Nowhere else in the Bible is he awakened.
For me, I’m grateful for this one belief. My restoration to sanity. I believe I am being restored to sanity here in this world and that grace that this implies is to be carried out with my accepting the Atonement for myself. That’s not “atonement” in the sense that I must atone for my sins, but in the sense that I don’t have to atone for anything but my belief in separation from God. Which cannot be. “At-one-ment” is the true meaning of this word. I am as God created me. I just have mistakenly forgotten who I am. And that is insane. Of course I have many other believes that compete with my belief about restoration to sanity: worry, fear, lack, I’m going to lose what I have, or not get what I want….. are just some.
A belief in restoration to sanity by a Power greater than oneself is in the Twelve Steps, as Step Two, which Bill Wilson wrote in the program of recovery that he laid out for suffering alcoholics in the 1030’s: (“We”) “Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” This Step occurs at a key place for the alcoholic: admitting powerlessness over alcohol and admitting powerlessness over a life of unmanageability. Alcoholics, some extremely rich, many very poor, most just of some means, reaching insanity in the fight to conquer “incomprehensible demoralization” over their terrible dilemma: their inability to stop drinking, yet seeing death as a strong possibility, or jail, or institutionalization in the near future, (from the book Alcoholics Anonymous) are clearly poor. It does not mater how much they have, materially or otherwise. They are among the poorest lot to see in this world. I grew up in New York City in the ’30s, not too far from the Bowery, where all wants, beliefs, pain and suffering are evened out amongst the least of us perhaps right within one of the richest nations in the world. However, don’t believe one has to wind up any place like the Bowery or Skid Row to suffer. There’s plenty of suffering to go around wherever we wind up in Jesus’ definition of poor.
Bill Wilson being one of these who had millions and then millions over again, only to be finally entirely lost, knew what it was to be poor. Although his geography was slightly different, by just ten or so New York City blocks, he knew what it was to be poor. And he knew he himself would not begin to recover as a sober person for the rest of his life, without being poor. And of course the miracle of being a founder of the only program that successfully affects the lives of millions of sick alcoholics, now, and most likely as long as the world goes on.
Alcoholics, and I’m sure many other groups of the suffering, who come to know the poverty of the soul (although an impossibility in itself) know what poor means. Accepting Reality, our very poorness opens up, as this Beatitude states the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is the only Beatitude that states its promise as right here and now. All the others are about things that will happen in time. Beatitude One is a condition of the mind, now; the moment where we must be to hear God’s direction very clearly. The only place God is, in the moment, now, where we join with God, as God’s thought.
Jesus decided to tell us in the Sermon on the Mount one of his greatest truths, we are complete no matter what we think, completely in and of God. Nothing else matters in a world made to dispute this. We are as God created us. Not what we think we need, or think God needs from us, to reach God. I often think how much Jesus must have loved the Twenty Third Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” I think he read it as “I cannot want, for all has been given to me, I need just pass this on through “for-giving”, to see this in everyone, as we reach out in compassionate understanding of those who still perhaps believe they need. Everyone has all with God, because God has given all to All. For those who believe otherwise, it is our purpose for being in this world, to give, no matter how much they believe they have, or have not. Our job is to see their’s is the Kingdom. Our devotion to that is the measure we recall as our own poverty and through that knowing, our own identity.