Four ways to create heaven on earth
Suppose you could stand above the earth and be wholly attuned to the dominant emotions being felt and broadcast by all of humanity.
What would you feel above all else?
I believe that the most overwhelming and pervasive emotion shared by all humankind is this: homesickness.
Whether we believe in God or not, no matter what religion we profess or creed we believe, we are all just homesick to our core.
I have been feeling this homesickness acutely for some time now. And my heart aches with compassion towards anyone else who feels it.
We may not be able to put a finger on it or label it or even conceive of it consciously, but it is always there. A deep and profound longing for home.
Home, the place of safety, acceptance, and unconditional love. Home, the place where we are not judged, blamed, and shamed, but held in a gentle and perfect compassion. Home, where we are known and understood completely to our core. Home, where we are truly seen.
Home, where our outbursts in anger and frustration, our addictions and cravings, our graspings and clingings are seen for what they truly are: not mere weaknesses and flaws, the product of a broken and fallen nature, but rather the cry of deep needs gone unmet, the cry for love and belonging, the clumsy attempts of an inherently good and noble soul yearning to be whole and happy.
I believe in a home we return to. But I also believe in one we create. And it starts with creating that home for ourselves in our own hearts.
Here are four ways to do so:
1. See your inherent goodness
You are not inherently flawed, but rather inherently whole and good. You have simply forgotten who you are.
What you have seen in yourself as “badness” has been merely unskillful actions based on ignorance. You have desperately been trying to meet your needs and be happy, but have not known how to do so.
Think of holding a newborn baby in your arms and looking into its eyes. Conjure that precious feeling of seeing the pureness, goodness, beauty, and love emanating from that perfect being.
Would you ever think to call that baby rotten to its core? The soul is appalled by the very suggestion.
Now remember: That baby used to be you.
As you have grown, your essential nature has not transformed into being inherently bad, flawed, broken, or deficient. Your goodness has been covered up by ignorance, lies, and deception.
When Christ charged you to be born again, He was not pointing out your badness; to the contrary, He was reminding you of your inherent goodness.
Being born again is not an admission of your badness, but rather a remembrance and acceptance of your goodness.
This in no way justifies or rationalizes unwholesome behavior. Rather, it is an invitation to come home to who you really are by acting with more kindness, love, and wisdom.
It is precisely by seeing your inherent goodness that wholesome action is elicited and true happiness is attained.
Home is your goodness — your true nature. Come home and rest in your goodness.
2. Forgive yourself
Paradoxically, in seeing your inherent goodness, all of the ways you have fallen short of your true nature will also be seen with piercing clarity, and felt with acute sorrow.
Forgive yourself. You have been doing the best you can. You see the pain you have caused for yourself and others, and that knowledge has made you wiser, more sensitive to the needs of others.
The resentment you harbor for yourself only takes you further and further away from home. Forgive yourself and come home.
3. Hold yourself in unwavering compassion
At its roots, the word passion means “sacred suffering.” The prefix com means “with.” Thus, compassion literally means “to suffer with.”
To hold yourself in compassion means to stop judging, blaming, and shaming yourself, to silence that vicious inner critic that constantly tells you you’ve fallen short, you’re not good enough, you’ll never measure up.
Instead, you truly see yourself. You see how you have been hurt and grieve for your wounds.
Every time you fall short, instead of falling into the habitual pattern of self-criticism, you immediately extend compassion to yourself.
For it is in self-compassion, not self-criticism that you are inspired to come home to your best self.
4. Make home for others
I once shared my acute feelings of homesickness with a friend. After holding me in compassion, he gently made a profound suggestion that I will never forget. He said, “Who are you giving home to?” (Thanks, James).
We offer home to others in the same way we offer it to ourselves: We see their inherent goodness — despite whatever they do in ignorance to cover up that goodness. We forgive them. We hold them in unwavering compassion, in spite of and especially in their most unlovable moments.
As we do so, their hearts are softened and opened. They are drawn to us and see our goodness and beauty. They reciprocate to us what we have yearned for.
And in the process, we create home for us all — heaven on earth.