There’s another level

I have this idea that’s been floating around in my mind, that there are two levels to the world we live in:

  • Level 1: the most obvious level, the physical world with all its systems and structures, economic exchanges, and social rules.
  • Level 2: the higher (or deeper?) level, the place where we see each other for who we really are, we see what’s really going on, we operate from intuition/spiritual understanding, we create value and send it out and we receive value as we need it from others, who are also doing the same…

Of course I’m not the first one to have such thoughts.

This is every hippie dream, utopian vision, every commune creator’s blueprint. Let’s make things better! they say. Let’s build a better world. This system is terrible. It’s hurting people. Let’s try a different system.

Communal, utopian, intuitive visions don’t seem to have a great track record when they meet cold, hard reality.

And the naysayers seem to get a kick out of their failure, which is just stupid and spiteful. Um, hello, are you aware of the problems in the world? Why wouldn’t you mourn if someone fails to improve things? Why wouldn’t you hope and pray that somebody, somewhere, has some sort of plan that can get us out of these messes we’ve made and into some sort of reality that doesn’t depend on war, fear, greed, and oppression to function?

Eh, most people are too committed to their own systems to root for another, even if it is, unquestionably, better for everyone.

Still, Level 2 seems like a fantasy. A beautiful one, but not a real one.

In Christian circles, we would say, That’s what heaven is, dear. You can’t expect heaven on earth. That’s not how it works.

Hmmm. I agree, kind of. I do agree that this picture, this idea, this Level 2, this visionary utopian fantasy is the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God.

And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:20-21

For a long time, I’ve thought of Level 2 as something that exists in a purely spiritual/mental way. Like an alternate reality, but not one that’s real in the physical, tangible, measurable way we think of things being real.

But I think it is real, just as tangible, measurably real as anything.

We keep getting something backwards.

I think we don’t have to build it. I think we don’t have to construct it. We don’t have to buy 150 acres and invite our 50 closest friends to start a commune (I mean, go for it, and invite me, but you don’t have to do that).

I think it already exists.

It’s not a different system; it’s a different way of seeing.

It’s not an escape or alternative to the reality we’re stuck with; it’s a different way of living in this reality.

If you remove fear from the world, right now, what would happen?

Violence, greed, denial, oppression, and control would cease. No one would need them anymore. No one would feel the urge to hurt, or to hoard, to defend or preserve, to oppress or control, if there were no fear.

And what is fear but a way of seeing?

When Joe and I watch those extreme snowboarding videos, he smiles and feels excitement. I feel my heart rate rising and start getting panicky. He sees fun, adventure; he feels interest and joy and adrenaline. I see danger, so I feel fear.

We’re watching the same thing.

How we see things determines how we experience them. How we experience them determines how we feel about them. How we feel about them determines how we respond to them.

The habitual ways of seeing, experiencing, feeling, and responding add up to a way of living.

The kingdom of heaven is within us.

We just need to see it.