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Someone recently asked me: “If the Promised One has arrived, isn’t he supposed to bring with him the kingdom of heaven on Earth? Where is it?”
It’s a good question, especially in the midst of what seems to be a very dark and troublesome time. But I’m pleased to be able to answer that, yes, the Kingdom of heaven is, in fact, here on Earth now.
I live in it.
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Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha'i Faith, announced its advent in 1863 and invited everyone to enter it. Here, in his message to the Pope, Baha’u’llah invited the world’s Christians: “O followers of the Gospel! Prepare the way! The Day of the advent of the Glorious Lord is at hand! Make ready to enter the Kingdom.” By following his teachings, the global Baha'i community has established this kingdom.
The kingdom consists of people from every race, class, every religious background and age, who live in harmony with each other because we all recognize that we are first and foremost spiritual beings, that is, we are all children of God. Our differences are seen as the source of beauty and interest, not a cause for division and hatred.
It is a kingdom where kindness reigns, where gossip and backbiting have been strictly forbidden, where we look upon and encourage a person’s good qualities rather than amplifying any bad ones.
It is a kingdom where all of the glorious spiritual truths taught by all of God’s holy messengers are understood to be in harmony, while man-made dogma has been left behind.
It is a kingdom in which the glorious truths of both religion and science are understood to be in harmony with each other.
It is a kingdom where authority rests with elected groups of volunteers rather than with paid clergy. These groups are trained to apply spiritual principles in a consultative decision-making process and prayerfully strive to do away with the harmful effects of the ego because ideas no longer belong to any individual — rather, they belong to the group.
It is a kingdom illuminated by the light of the glory of God, and which receives regular guidance from on high, in accordance with His revealed directions.
It is a kingdom in which the desire for material things has been subsumed by a desire for spiritual qualities. It is a kingdom in which everyone gives a portion of their wealth for the relief of any poor amongst them.
It is a kingdom in which the fear of death has been replaced by the certain knowledge of a much larger life beyond this world, a kingdom where death is understood to be merely a temporary separation from friends and relatives.
It is a kingdom which rejoices in the knowledge that the promises of God, found in all of the scriptures of the past, concerning the coming of His Anointed One and the renewal of His Covenant, have been fulfilled.
Within this kingdom, the Tree of Life is found, whose leaves are, as the Baha’i writings tell us, “for the healing of the nations.”
Because I live in this kingdom, I can travel to all the countries of the world and, in spite of their different cultural ways, I can find people who welcome me as a brother. The kingdom is small, but it is growing. Its members stand at the gates, ready to welcome people who come in.
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The most amazing thing about this kingdom is this: Its gates are now open wide. Everyone can ascend to it and enter it. All one needs to do, to ascend to this Kingdom of heaven on earth, is to be willing to let go — let go of those things which belong to the worldly kingdom below, which most people still cling to so intently.
While I look with compassion on all who now suffer and share in their sorrows, I do not share in their despair, for I know that this kingdom will endure.
Indeed, the kingdom of heaven on Earth has arrived. It welcomes and transforms all those who wish to enter.