Date Published: July 10, 2020
My life has been a roller coaster filled with loss, pain, illness, failure,
heartache and suffering. (Life can be so much fun, right?) It has also been
filled with PURE JOY – the joy of spiritual awakening, wonderful people,
world travel, long bike rides, hiking up mountains and the heart-warming
adventures that come from taking the road less traveled. When I was 23 I had
a profound spiritual enlightenment experience and since then my life has
been about exploring how I can wake up to that state more fully and help
others to as well. This book shares my adventurous and ultimately triumphant
story of finding happiness through inner transformation. It explains how
going “crazy” can actually be a good thing and how when things
fall apart, that’s the doorway to something more.I believe that
we’re all in this together. It is my hope that by sharing what I know
others can find joy in the middle of their own difficulties and ultimately
find their way home.
Note: I don’t use the word God in Chapter 7 to mean an old man in the sky. I use the term God because I grew up with a Jewish mother, but I mean God in a broader sense, like you might use the word Spirit or the Divine. Hope that helps!
Creating Heaven on Earth
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Is heaven on earth even possible? I mean just look at all of the violence, anger, illness and atrocities committed against individuals and whole groups of people. Listen to what’s on the news every day and it can seem like we’re already in hell. The concept of heaven – of light and bliss, peace and joy – just seems too farfetched sometimes. While that is unfortunately true I’m going to use this chapter to start from a dark place and show you that it is possible for each of us to choose heaven and to create it ourselves – even in the midst of darkness.
In 2018 two police officers were shot and killed during an inmate transfer near the Wyandotte County Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. My stepmom works at the courthouse and told me that these were two kind, good people and that the shooter could have fled after he shot and wounded the female officer. Instead he walked up and shot her again to make sure that she was dead.
My stepmom is one of the most loving people that I’ve ever met, but she’s struggling right now – and I think rightly so – to not hate this person and to not want capital punishment for him. We all know that feeling. We want retribution. We want bad things to happen to “bad” people. The same sentiment is felt outside of the law enforcement community when someone is wrongfully killed by a police officer. It’s also felt when we feel threatened or we feel that our values are threatened. So often we want to prove that we’re right and others are wrong – to make them feel as bad as they made us feel. It feels good to know that I’m right and I feel right about my being right. I’m right! (Or so I tell myself.) BUT, if we’re serious about wanting to alleviate suffering, then it’s essential that we respond to these everyday, real, crappy situations by opening our hearts and minds as much as we can (as my stepmom is doing) to see the situation from different angles and to work toward justice instead of retribution.
Heaven on earth – that personal and later communal experience of peace, joy, safety and security – doesn’t come from homogeny, from everyone being the same. It comes when we can recognize, accept and appreciate our differences, both the “good” and the “bad.” It doesn’t mean that we forget the wrong that has been done to us or to others. It doesn’t mean that we overlook injustice. It means that somehow we have to find the courage to work toward justice and trust that it will be done in time. It means that we accept the fact that as smart as we are, we can’t see all of the details, all of the ramifications of a decision. What we can do is our best to participate in ways that feel right to us, and then, allow room for that something more to create a better outcome than we could imagine.
When hate seems like the best response, we can pause and remember that “hurt people hurt people.” Most people don’t do horrible things unless horrible things have been done to them. That man that killed those officers deserves justice and he will get it. But perhaps rather than turning hatred on him we can surrender that response and remember that we all have lessons to learn here. Perhaps being sentenced to death is how he learns his, or perhaps not being sentenced to death and being given time to understand the effects of his actions is how he learns them.
How could I know what’s best for him? What I do know is that hate breeds hate and it can spread like wildfire. Nelson Mandela. Eleanor Roosevelt. Ghandi. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa. All of these people knew that you can’t make a better world out of revenge and hate. A better world can only be created with forgiveness, justice, love and imagination. It’s not about coming up with a perfect solution. No solution can be perfect in the worldly sense. To the limited view of the mind, compromise doesn’t make sense and it often doesn’t feel like enough. Perfection isn’t possible in the relative world, but by trusting the love that lives inside of us, we can get close.
About the Author
Kimberly Herndon has traveled the world and studied various spiritual paths to enlightenment to determine what makes us truly happy. Kimberly has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. She also has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from the
Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. She is from Overland Park, Kansas, and lives in Denver with her boyfriend, their human baby and two fur babies.