Kingdom of God is Within You
Excerpts from The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
One Gains Access to Kingdom of God
"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, 'Lo here!' or, 'lo there!' for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Jesus addresses man as the perennial seeker of permanent happiness and freedom from all suffering: "The kingdom of God—of eternal, immutable, ever-newly blissful Cosmic Consciousness—is within you. Behold your soul as a reflection of the immortal Spirit, and you will find your Self encompassing the infinite empire of God-love, God-wisdom, God-bliss existing in every particle of vibratory creation and in the vibrationless Transcendental Absolute."
The teachings of Jesus about God's kingdom—sometimes in direct language, sometimes in parables pregnant with metaphysical meaning—may be said to be the core of the entirety of his message. ...
Taken together, these and Jesus' other declarations about the kingdom of God provide for a comprehensive understanding of the simple statement in the present verses that God's kingdom is to be found not by "observation"—use of the matter-tuned senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch—but by interiorization of the consciousness to perceive the Divine Reality "within you."
"The kingdom of God does not come in response to sensory observation; neither can they find it who say, 'Behold, it is here or there somewhere in the clouds.' Rather, concentrate within and you will find the sphere of God-consciousness hidden behind your material consciousness."
Many people think of heaven as a physical location, a point of space far above the atmosphere and beyond the stars. Others interpret Jesus' statements about the advent of the kingdom of God as referring to the coming of a Messiah to establish and rule over a divine kingdom on earth. In fact, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven consist, respectively, of the transcendental infinitudes of Cosmic Consciousness and the heavenly causal and astral realms of vibratory creation that are considerably finer and more harmonized with God's will than those physical vibrations clustered together as planets, air, and earthly surroundings.""
Material objects cognized as sensations of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are constituted of a play of forces originating and existing beyond the observational capabilities of human consciousness. The incipient origin of all material forms and material vibrations lies in Cosmic Consciousness. Matter is condensed physical energy; physical energy is condensed astral energy; and astral energy is condensed prototypic thought force of God. Hence Cosmic Consciousness lies hidden within and behind the layers of matter, physical energy, astral energy, and thought or consciousness.
As in the macrocosm, so in the microcosm of the human body: Cosmic Consciousness, which is marked by ever new joy and immortality, is the creator of human consciousness and as such lies within it. From the infinite Cosmic Consciousness, individual souls were conceived; these individualized ideations of the thought of God were cloaked in two further layers of external manifestation by condensation of magnetic causal forces of consciousness into the astral body of luminous life energy and the mortal body of flesh and blood.
Thus the kingdom of God is not separate from the kingdom of matter, but is both within it—pervading it in subtle form as its origin and sustainer—and beyond it, existing in the infinite mansions of the Father beyond the circumscribed physical cosmos. ...
That is why Jesus said it is futile to look for heaven with the consciousness concentrated on material vibrations—identified with bodily sensations and pleasures and earthly comforts.
In the kingdom of matter and body consciousness man finds disease and mental and physical suffering; but turning within to the inner kingdom he finds the Comforter, the Holy Ghost or Cosmic Vibration of Aum, manifesting in the subtle cerebrospinal centers of spiritual consciousness. To be carried along the outgoing stream of material consciousness is to be swept willy-nilly into the hades of Satan's kingdom—the realm of earthly attachments and limitations of the mortal body; to follow the inwardly flowing stream of consciousness by meditating on Aum is to reach the blissful kingdom of God that exists behind the opaque obstruction of the physical being. ...
For every body-circumscribed soul the kingdom of God awaits discovery by those who delve within in meditation to transcend human consciousness and reach the successively higher states of superconsciousness, Christ Consciousness, and Cosmic Consciousness. Those who meditate deeply, concentrating intensely within their state of silence, or neutralized thoughts, withdraw their minds from material objects of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch—from all bodily sensations and disturbing mental restlessness. In this focused stillness within, they find an ineffable sense of peace. Peace is the first glimpse of the inner kingdom of God.
Devotees who at will can thus interiorize their minds and concentrate fully within the resultant peacefulness will definitely find entry into the kingdom of God-consciousness. That realization gradually unfolds itself as omnipresence, omniscience, ever new bliss, and visions of the realms of eternal light in which all liberated souls move in God, materializing or dematerializing themselves at will. No one can enter this heaven of Cosmic Consciousness unless through the gates of devout concentration and meditation he can penetrate his consciousness deeply within himself. That is why Jesus said unequivocally, "The kingdom of God is within you," that is, within the transcendent states of your soul perceptions. ....
Asana & Relaxation
As a first step toward entering the kingdom of God, the devotee should sit still in the correct meditation posture, with erect spine, and tense and relax the body—for by relaxation the consciousness is released from the muscles. The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained. Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind. In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul. In the body, life is templed; in the mind, light is templed; in the soul, peace is templed. The deeper one goes into the soul the more that peace is felt; that is superconsciousness. When by deeper meditation the devotee expands that awareness of peace and feels his consciousness spreading with it over the universe, that all beings and all creation are swallowed up in that peace, then he is entering into Cosmic Consciousness. He feels that peace everywhere—in the flowers, in every human being, in the atmosphere. He beholds the earth and all worlds floating like bubbles in that ocean of peace. *
* "Firmly holding the spine, neck, and head erect and motionless, let the yogi focus his eyes at the starting place of the nose (the spot between the two eyebrows); let him not gaze around in various directions.
"With serenity and fearlessness, with steadfastness in brahmacharya, with the mind controlled, with the thoughts centered on Me, the yogi should sit, meditating on Me as the Final Goal.
"The self-governed yogi—he whose mind is fully under control—thus engaging his soul in ceaseless meditative union with Spirit, attains the peace of My being: the final Nirvana (deliverance)" (God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita vi:13-15).
The inner peace first experienced by the devotee in meditation is his own soul; the vaster peace he feels by going deeper is God. The devotee who experiences unity with everything has established God in the temple of his infinite inner perception. ....
God's kingdom is within you; He is within you. Just behind your perceptions, just behind your thoughts, just behind your feelings, He is. Every grain of food you eat, every breath you take, is God.
You are not living by food or oxygen, but by the Cosmic Word of God. All powers of mind and action that you use are borrowed from God. Think of Him all the time—before you act, while you are engaged in activity, and after activity. In fulfilling your duty to man, remember foremost your duty to God, without whose delegated power no duties are possible. Feel Him behind your senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Feel His energy in the arms, and legs, and feet. Feel Him as life in each exhalation and inhalation. Feel His power in your will; His wisdom in your brain; His love in your heart. Wherever God's presence is consciously felt, mortal ignorance melts away.
Those who are wise never miss their daily engagement with God in meditation. They make it the consuming goal of their existence to contact Him. All who persist with that sincerity shall enter the kingdom of God in this life; and to abide in that kingdom is to be eternally free. (The Second Coming of Christ, p.1177)