Monday, February 23, 2009

The Kingdom within

Peter Head commented on my last post: "April, the picture contradicts the text. The picture represents the Kingdom of Heaven (the heavenly temple) as something outside of "man"; with the stream of living water coming not from within but from without - from the Lamb and God on the throne."

That was my point. I set these side-by-side with the hope that my readers would consider the differences and become curious about this.

In many esoteric traditions from the late first century onwards, apocalyptic expectations such as the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven as heavenly Jerusalem at the end of time ruled by the Lamb of God, become "interiorized". I understand this to be largely the result of the No-Event - that the end did not come, and didn't look like it was coming. So people in more esoterically-oriented churches and communities began to focus on bringing about the fruits and promises of the apocalypse in the present moment. They understood the Kingdom as an internal experience, their bodies as already transformed into angels, the Lamb or Man enthroned within them, and so forth. This is a phenomenon I am very interested to study, and have been tracking for some time now, and wrote extensively about in my books on the Gospel of Thomas.

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