One of the most profound realizations I’ve had in recent years is that the Second Coming is something that we can effect through our “repentance” (metanoia = a change of mind, or conscious perception of the world).
I don’t mean to say that we bring it about directly, because there is a real element of Grace involved (ego is absent, so “we” end up not “doing” anything in the end), but it is not something that we wait around for as an event in an indefinite future. We can do something now (“works,” practices, service), which can reveal Heaven on Earth, and which eventually reveals the Christ. This has been known in the past, but we’ve largely forgotten it in our modern culture.
If we only wait for Christ, thinking Christ will supernaturally appear one day, without doing anything to bring the Christ here and now, then I think we may misunderstand Jesus’ teaching. If we want to see the Christ, if we want to experience the Second Coming, if we want to have that radical experience of Grace, and Joy, and Bliss, and Peace, of Love and Forgiveness, and Knowing, there is much we can do.
What do I mean by Second Coming? Traditionally this has been understood as the Second Advent of Christ, the Parousia (Presence or Arrival), when Christ returns to the Earth to rule and reign. Many traditional Christians seem to envision this as a future day when Jesus will return in the clouds of heaven, descending with concourses of angels from the sky, the righteous will be raised up, and Christ will destroy all the wicked in the process. But this is a literal interpretation of the scriptures. I think the scriptures are speaking metaphorically of a real and radical change of heart and mind within the person, which radically changes their perception of the world.
So what is the real Second Coming? I think it is when the ego-self within us “dies,” passes away from our consciousness, and we see directly our true nature, our divine nature, the True Self within us, and this has been called the “Christ.” It is realized not only as our deepest True Self, but the true nature of every other being that ever was or will be. It is God Incarnate in all of creation, every grain of sand, every blade of grass, every drop of rain, every slug, every spider. God has arisen in all lifeforms, and Christ is that Life that lives in all of Life, in all of Creation, in all of Nature. It is God having taken on form, taken on consciousness, taken on materiality, taken on Life.
How does this happen? It takes a change of mind, or “repentance,” a change of consciousness and perception. Our ego is the active thought-filled mind, that being we think we are. It is wholly absorbed by thoughts, usually in strategizing how to aggrandize itself, or in criticizing itself or others. When this thinking mind falls away from consciousness, we come to realize what we truly are, and it is not this thinking mind. We come to perceive directly our being, our life, our consciousness, the activity that makes us a living soul, our Spirit. And we see this throughout the whole of creation. We see ourselves throughout the whole of creation. It is a Pure Love far beyond comprehension. We see all “others” as our very Self. They are us. We are One.
How is this done? There are many forms of meditation and contemplative prayer that have been practiced throughout history in order to have this Beatific Vision, this Revelation. They are means and ways of facilitating changes to consciousness, and have been used in both the East and the West. In Eastern traditions, various meditative yoga practices or paths that lead one to know their Self (or Atman), which is realized as one in the Supreme Being (or Brahman), in Hinduism. Or, in Buddhism, through meditation and other paths one comes to realize their Buddha-nature, Buddhahood, or the Tathagata, the deepest truest nature of reality, the Dharmakaya. Or in Taoism, one realizes harmony with the Tao in one’s self. In Christianity, the Eastern Orthodox Church has had a practice known an hesychasm, a form of contemplative prayer, used to attain this experiential vision and knowledge of God. In the West, other forms of contemplation have been used such as centering prayer, or quietism. There are many forms of practice, even beyond meditation, which seem to all be directed towards changing the activity of consciousness within the brain/mind of the individual in order to attain this divine vision.
What is happening in the mind? Usually meditative practices are used to quiet the thinking mind, or ego, of the individual in some way. They are a means to bring the active mind to stillness, silence, and open awareness of what is. They often use a meditation object like a seer stone, rosary, flame, flower, dish of water, or other focus such as the breath or body postures, in order to focus the mind on a single thing, and to continue to bring attention back to that one thing, until thoughts stop arising in consciousness, and consciousness becomes pure, open, clear, clean, undefiled, fresh, new, pristine, transparent, like crystal. Everything is seen once again in its wholeness, its beauty, its sacredness, its glory, which is usually obscured by the thinking mind. We can’t see things as they really are, because the mind is too busy judging, categorizing, and overlooking everything. But when the thinking mind falls away, everything gradually or suddenly opens up into a brightness that is truly incomprehensible and stunning. We know like we’ve never known before, but not in words, concepts, images, but the direct raw unfiltered percept of experience and consciousness itself. And this is humbling, astonishing, shocking, fascinating, mysterious, wonderful, awe-some, terrible, nothing, everything, and more real than real. It is Eden once again, and we’ve just awakened as Adam or Eve.
We feel new, forgiven of all past error (because there is no ego to have any error, it’s a “salvation” or “liberation”), freedom, whole, complete, perfect, holy. Everything is seen to be exactly as it should be, and everything is seen as an absolute loving miracle in itself. Life and consciousness are seen as the very reason for all existence, to know directly this experience of Life and Love and Being.
All words to describe it are far too inadequate. But it can happen. It happens every day to people all over the Earth. They witness the Christ, in themselves and all beings, and they come to know heaven here and now. When we let go of ego, of that thinking mind that thinks it knows, that judges everything, there is a change of consciousness that happens which opens up our understanding, and suddenly we know, we see, we realize Life. And then we know what we should do.
Love all people as our Self. Why? Because they are the Self. They are what we are, and we see this directly—we are all Christ. Underneath the appearance of duality, we are not separate, we are not independent, but deeply connected and fundamentally One in each other, and One in God. When we see ourselves as One with each other, we will know we are in the Christ and in the Father. We are all of that One Being that is Life and the Cosmos.
That is what Christ does, eternally, forever and ever. Christ Loves, and is Beloved for Loving. Christ succors the suffering, wipes away tears, lifts up the poor, feeds the hungry, gives shelter to those without a roof over their heads, treats all Life with respect and honor, goes about doing good, is selfless, bringing justice and mercy to all those in need, sees the beauty in all Nature, the miracle of Life, is not caught up in ego agendas, selfish agendas, but does what is right in every moment, because it is the right thing to do for Life, for Love, for Humanity, for God. We make, we create, we bring beauty, goodness, and truth into the world. We know this, it is throughout the gospels, yet we often don’t seem to believe it or act it.
This is the Christ, and it is in all of us. Our ego makes us blind to it, and so it rests dormant in us, waiting to be known, realized, and embodied. Our Self is waiting to know its Self once more, in us. But there is much we can do to remove those blinders, strip the scales which block our eyes, put off the “natural man,” and know who we really are in God, in this Universe, in this Life. And this is life-changing and world-changing. It is a rebirth, an awakening, an enlightenment, a salvation, a liberation, a redemption, a resurrection, a Second Coming.