Where Is It and How Do We Get There?
Throughout history, great minds and everyday folk alike have pondered what an ideal world might be. What would a utopian world look like? What if all the wars came to an end? What if the world was how God intended it to be? These questions often provoke different thoughts; some of us might picture a pastoral landscape in which people live in harmony with nature and each other, while others may picture a futuristic city-state in which technology has advanced to such levels as to create ideal circumstances for its inhabitants. And some of us simply picture the lives we live today with a little more love and understanding. How does the ideal world look to you?
While none of us have seen a utopian world, it is perhaps inherent in human nature to desire it. Father Moon named the uniting factor of all the major religions as that “they all hold a peaceful world as their ideal. They all want to see a kingdom of heaven, utopia or paradise. Religions have different names for this ideal, but they all seek such a world.” So what seems to be standing in our way?
Heaven on Earth
Father Moon believed that “the fundamental reason that wars occur is not religion or race. It is connected to what lies deep inside human beings. People like to attribute the causes of armed conflicts to such things as science or the economy, but the actual fundamental problem lies within human beings ourselves.”
If the fundamental problem lies within ourselves, then shouldn’t the answers lie there also? In Luke 17:20-21, when the Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus told them: “the Kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus and Father Moon both point to the fact that the basis of a world of war or a world of peace is something that begins within the individual.
The Keys to Heaven
Jesus’ statement that God’s kingdom begins within us is extensively explored by Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina, in his philosophical treatise “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” In this work, which has influenced thinkers such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Tolstoy points out differences between the actions of “Christian” states and the lessons that Jesus Christ taught. He also points out the aspects of the institutionalized Church which he also felt did not reflect its founder’s philosophy.
What is significant about Tolstoy’s treatise is that he puts forward the importance of making one’s faith personal. Can someone believe something on your behalf? Can another person or entity develop your relationship with God or explore your higher consciousness? Tolstoy wrote: “There is one thing, and only one thing, in which it is granted to you to be free in life, all else being beyond your power: that is to recognize and profess the truth.”
So then, how can we create our own kingdom of God in our lives? How can we find a sense of balance and personal utopia in our thoughts and emotions? Tolstoy believed that Jesus taught this through his acts of goodness and heart of forgiveness in the face of abuse and mockery. Tolstoy wrote: “Satan can never be driven out by Satan. Error can never be corrected by error, and evil cannot be vanquished by evil.” This notion of goodness in the face of everything serves as a basis from which we can build God’s kingdom in our own hearts.
Igniting Heaven Every Day
While it has always been a challenge to establish a perfect world, we are always free to find joy, love and happiness in our own hearts. But how do we practice these grand ideas in the everyday? It is perhaps the culmination of the little things that adds up to the greater picture. What can I do to bring my family closer together? Which of my friends have I not spent enough time with lately? How can I better serve my colleagues?
The possibilities are diverse and endless. What things have you done lately to help create your own little piece of God’s kingdom? When do you feel the presence of God’s kingdom the most?
Want to take the question deeper? Check out Tolstoy’s philosophical treatise here.