Today is our son Michael’s birthday. He now resides in Heaven. Still, I woke this morning wondering. Are there birthdays in Heaven? And, where is Heaven anyway?
In the Christian tradition, we talk about Heaven as though it were a location in the sky. The notion of Heaven or building the “Kingdom,” as we like to say, has almost become cliche´—an overused notion of what it means to follow Christ.
In the context of human development, this “location in the sky” premise would arise at the concrete level of awareness. People at this stage need a place, a concrete visualization of where their loved ones reside.
I’m thinking it’s not an accident that today is the day I promised to blog about the Causal Tier of human development. This is the tier about soul. It’s the stage where we begin to more fully realize union with God.
Here. Now. On this earth.
It probably won’t surprise you, then, that it’s a stage that few people experience. As in only 1% of the population.
Think Gandhi or Mother Teresa.
The Causal Tier and Christ Consciousness
For a Christian, the Causal Tier means we begin to embody the mind of Christ. For a Buddhist, it means bodhisattva, reaching the consciousness of true compassion. And, so it goes. Every tradition has a different way of expressing this later stage of consciousness.
The point is this. The Causal Tier is about awareness of awareness. In the early stages of the Causal Tier, our negative projections and emotional addictions to the flesh begin to melt away. We learn to be in this world but not of this world.
People who evolve to this tier embody love and compassion. They are present in the moment, yet somehow detached. Waking up and into the Causal Tier allows them to live from a peaceful core of existence regardless of their life circumstances.
The man on the cross did just that. As a people at the concrete stage of awareness, we couldn’t grasp it 2,000 years ago. We struggle with it still.
How does one, after all, reconcile the paradox of suffering and love? God as man?
The Causal Tier Beyond the Big Sky Heaven
What if Heaven isn’t a location in the big sky but a way of being and seeing in the world? What if the mind of Christ is available to us in the here and now?
On this Good Friday, April 3rd, my son Michael’s birthday, I rejoice.
I rejoice in the suffering and the resurrection because I know that this sacred day represents hope. I rejoice in knowing that the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place. Scripture tells us that it’s a spiritual realm—a space were we come into union with God. A space where we come before the King.
Heaven exists within the Causal Tier of human existence.
There’s comfort in knowing that the spiritual realm is available to us as we walk through the daily challenges of life. We are, after all, called to be image bearers. Our very nature is to seek the face of God. When we’re separate and apart from His presence, we are splintered, somehow incomplete.
The good news is we don’t have to wait until we die to know the love of God. We can enter this Causal Tier of union with Him now. It’s not easy because the distractions of the world—our addictions, our desires to be right, perfect, wealthy,our lust for power, control, and approval—all get in the way.
It’s not easy, but, it’s possible.
For me, the path is clear: Let go of the distractions and keep your heart and mind on God.
A tall order.
I fail every day.
Jesus left us many parables to explain the essence of Heaven. Parables were necessary He said because He knew our concrete minds would not be able to grasp the causal essence of Heaven.
No Birthday Cake Without Michael
On this seventh April 3rd without Michael’s physical presence, there will be no birthday cake, no party, no outward festivities.
I woke this morning also wondering why I’ve done so darned well living without Michael all these years.
Yes, I miss the sound of his voice and the smell of his hair. The way he always said some crazy yet profound thing that made me laugh. Yes, I miss those concrete aspects of his physical body.
Even so, to my surprise, I don’t grieve the way a mother might.
I think it’s because Michael and I are in union with one another in this spiritual realm called Heaven. Michael is not up there somewhere in the big sky. He’s right here in my heart and mind every single moment. Wherever my husband and I are —there also is Michael. And, whenever two or more are gathered . . .guess who shows up?
I haven’t yet mastered this causal tier experience of God quite yet. Still working on it. But, thanks to the resurrection and the light, I know that the spiritual realm is at hand. I know that my son is in good hands.
As Jesus said, “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father” (Matthew 13:43).
Happy Birthday and Happy Easter, Michael! Shine on! Shine on!
[callout]This post is part of a series written by Sharon Spano, PhD. The series is titled, The Stages of Human Development. To learn about the stages of human development, read my posts:
- Stages 1 & 2: The Impulsive and Opportunistic Stages
- Stage 3: The Rule-Oriented Stage
- Stage 4: The Conformist Stage
- Stage 5: The Expert Stage
- Stage 6: The Achiever Stage
- Stage 7: The Pluralist Stage
- Stage 8: The Strategist Stage
- Introduction to the Causal Tier