We are created with an inner restlessness that sends all of us looking for our True Self, whether we know it or not. There is a God-sized hole waiting to be filled. God creates the very dissatisfaction that finally only divine grace and love can satisfy.
We dare not try to fill our souls and minds with numbing addictions, diversionary tactics, or mindless distractions. The root of evil is much more selfishness, superficiality, and ignorance than the usually listed “hot sins.” God hides, and is found, precisely in the depths of everything, even and maybe especially in the deep fathoming of our fallings and failures.
If we go to the depths of anything, we will begin to knock upon something substantial, “real,” and with a timeless quality to it. We will move from “belief” to an actual inner knowing. This is most especially true if we have ever loved truly, accompanied someone through the mystery of dying, or stood in awe before mystery, time, or beauty.
This “something real” is what all the world religions point to when they speak of heaven, nirvana, bliss, or enlightenment. Our mistake has been delaying that inner state until after death. If heaven is later, that’s because it is first of all now. When we die before we die, we are surrendering to the Real, to our union with God ahead of time. Why wait? If God loves us now, why not later too?
Experiences of the Real here on earth are the pledge, guarantee, hint, and promise of an eternal something. Once we touch upon the Real, there is an inner insistence that the Real, if it is the Real, has to be forever. Call it wishful thinking, if you will, but this insistence has been a recurring intuition since the beginnings of humanity. Jesus promised the Samaritan woman that “the spring within you will well up unto eternal life” (John 4:14). In other words, heaven/union/love emerges from deep wellsprings within us, which can only imply it is already there. Why, since that is true, does most organized religion keep us concentrating on external “holy” things outside the self? The primary sacrament is the soul itself (I have the courage and authority to speak this way from experts like Augustine, all the Teresas, John of the Cross, and any mystic worthy of the name.)
Our task is simply to embody heaven now. We cannot “get there”; we can only “be there”—which ironically is to “be here!” Love, like prayer, is not so much an action that we do, but a reality that we are. We don’t decide to be loving. Love is our True Self. It is where we came from and where we’re going. All spiritual growth is no more than a matter of becoming who we already are.