A lecture given at the Martinus Institute on 18th March 1956
For many people the expression 'The Kingdom of Heaven' is of no special interest. They seem to think that it covers something very naive something which in reality is just religious superstition having therefore no root in reality. This ignorance is not without risk. For someone who does not reckon with the kingdom of heaven is the same as someone who does not at all understand the existence in which he lives. But to live in an existence one does not understand is not in accordance with the meaning of life and can never, in any case whatsoever, mean happiness; for someone in such a situation cannot avoid living in permanent sabotage of his own life, his own fate. Indeed, has not the whole of mankind up to the present sabotaged his fate to a great extent? Has not one so called worldculture after another perished in blood and terror? And how is mankind preparing his future fate? Is training to sabotage life not mankind's main preparation? What about the so called atom bomb and hydrogen bomb? Has not a colossal amount of work been called for in order to arrive at these? And has it not cost immeasurable sums of money? And has not the raising of this money cost the work power and energy of millions of people? Has it not perpetuated the principle 'In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread'? And who can be confident about the future, a future which can produce hydrogen bombs, the terror of terrors or hell already tomorrow? Who is sure of surviving this hell? And how can a life based on hell or fatal attack and defense be anything but the life of an animal? Is not the defense of the poisonous snake a defense or an attack carried out by virtue of its lethal capacity to transfer its highly dangerous poison into its enemy's organism? Are not the lives of the lion and tiger, indeed all beasts of prey, based upon the destruction of other beings' lives? What difference is there between Man's life sabotaging defense and attack and the life sabotaging defense and attack of the animals? There is this difference: that Man's capacity to sabotage life in relation to the animal's capacity is as an earthquake in relation to a summer breeze.
There is also this difference between the attitudes of the animals and Man to this life sabotaging existence: while for the animals it is a matter of course and cannot possibly be otherwise, it is hardly such a matter of course for Man. A lot of people absolutely refuse to live on this basis for life as not being consistent with what mankind's greatest wise men and founders of religions have taught them. In churches and through schools mankind teaches its children that they must not kill, that they should love their neighbour and so on. And it has created laws which punish and even execute people if they murder other people or in any other way treat them unjustly. But at the same time it compels millions upon millions of its young men to be trained in murdering and killing, partly in hand to hand fighting with the enemy and partly in the operating gigantic murder machines, atom bombs and hydrogen bombs which can destroy large cities, their populations and artefacts in a matter of seconds. A greater sabotage of life cannot be imagined, can it? A greater and more extensive violation of life's greatest commandment, "Thou shalt not kill", cannot exist. Our zone of life is therefore many times worse than that of the animals. It is not a condition of life that people should kill in order to live. They only live in this zone of life because they believe that one must defend oneself with murdering and killing.
But the world has reached such a stage of evolution that it is in a position to shelter and feed a population many times greater than the present one. It has such splendid potentialities that life here on its surface could become a paradise for its people at any moment, just as soon as they can wake up out of the fatal superstition in which they live regarding the protection of life. We see here that the present dying world culture can be equated with the situation expressed in the parable of the Prodigal Son, where he was so degraded that he ate with the swine. To eat with the swine means the same as to live under exactly the same form of life as the animals; to protect oneself with weapons, to eat other living beings' organisms. This is the same way of life as the animals'. But we also know that the Prodigal Son stopped and returned to his ancestral home where he was received with great joy by his father. As an antithesis to this animal existence in which people live and call culture the 'kingdom of heaven' exists. This kingdom is not any imaginary kingdom or some sort of Utopia. It is a kingdom whose light shines forth but as yet is only seen faintly in its first weak dawn light. We can perceive this kingdom with our awake day conscious senses. We need not only look to what the Bible says about the kingdom of heaven. It is a much greater fact of daily life than what is expressed in the holy scriptures. Where and what is the kingdom of heaven? It is said that 'the kingdom of heaven is within you'. It is therefore a mental condition. This mental condition cannot therefore be what causes people to create so called evil, to kill and murder. On the contrary, it is the condition which causes them to have scruples when they have done something evil to humans or animals.
In all people there is a capacity which decides what they have the heart to do and what they do not have the heart to do. This is the humane capacity. That it is in the course of development in all people is seen to be a fact because it does not appear in equally great capacity among all people. In some it is not very far advanced. They have the heart to do very evil things to their neighbours. And in some it is so very strongly advanced that they haven't the heart to hurt other beings. Such beings do, for example, have the heart to be fishermen or hunters. They are therefore not totally excluded from sympathetic insight into the fate, the suffering which fishermen, hunters and butchers inflict on animals. One must say the opposite about vivisectors. It does not disturb these people in the least that they perpetrate such frightful sabotage of animals' lives. Here the mentality we call 'the kingdom of heaven' does not figure. Many people even pursue fishing and hunting as hobbies. It cannot be denied that these people here compromise themselves as veritable primitives even if they are also in possession of aristocratic or even royal titles. Indeed, it is mainly in these circles that one finds angling and hunting for pleasure. And of course the more slaughtered animals such a person is photographed with in today's widely circulated daily newspapers, the more their life sabotaging primitivity is emphasized for humanely developed people. It is not a condition of life that people should kill animals in order to live. Neither their flesh nor their skin is worthy food or clothing for developed people. They merely reveal the primitivity of the Eskimo or polar man a primitivity which must be considered as a temporary necessity for the primitive polar man who must live in ice and snow quite apart from the vanity which lies in clothing oneself in the fur of animals to enable one to display one's affluence to other people.
Although people cannot be blamed because they do not decide for themselves where they stand in evolution, this should not prevent them from perceiving that people do grow mentally from one condition to another. But the knowledge one aquires about this does not of course give one any right to blame other people for their continued inclination towards hunting, fishing, fur clothes and meat eating. That must continue until the people in question, with their insensitivity towards animals and living beings, have gone through so many retroactive fateful consequences in the form of suffering that they do not any longer have the heart to harm any living being. Everyone will eventually come to this point. And it is this growth of the capacity to have no heart to kill, to have no heart to harm either animals or people, which is the 'kingdom of heaven'.
It is therefore not a kingdom which can be created by any sort of politics or any dictatorship. It is a kingdom which grows in people in the form of their humane capacity. This capacity will lead all people to the point where they would rather suffer themselves than have others suffer. It will make people feel happy to be a joy and blessing for all other living beings. Gradually, as this mental capacity grows, it will remove all war, hostility, evil criticism, all unkindness and insensitiveness towards animals as well as towards people. This kingdom is therefore something which grows in all people. Here in some it is still only
a little seed like a mustard seed, but in others it is already about to become a great tree in which the birds of the sky can come and build their nests. It transforms every single person into a divine cell of love. The cells or units of love therefore are building up the whole of mankind to become a world kingdom in which everyone serves everyone else. No one will be able to bear that others should be worse off than themselves. The kingdom of heaven is therefore an organic development which takes place in the human mentality and which can be perceived physically and through this be seen to be a fact. All the great promises of peace on Earth, of good will towards all men, of Man's creation in God's image and so on, is therefore visible as physical fact. This, that one should love one's neighbour as oneself, is hereby made visible as science, true culture, beauty and joy.
Originally published as 'Det våbenlöse verdensrige eller himmeriges rige' in the Danish edition of KOSMOS, No 12/1983. Translated by Mary McGovern, 1985.
© Martinus Institut 1981
Published with permission from Martinus Institute