In the New Testament, Jesus encourages people to think of the kingdom of heaven as something near, or at hand. Also, the “Beatitudes” show many blessings that are part of people’s experience of heaven as if they are available at any time, not just in some future afterlife. The many parables of what the kingdom of heaven is like all revolve around the idea that heaven is not just a place, but an inner experience.
This task is about making a conscious choice to enter into a heavenly state of mind.
Consider this hypothetical example from a friend of mine. “It’s late at night, and the kids are all in bed. I hear the baby crying in the next room and I know that my wife is exhausted. I decide to get up and calm the baby so that my wife can sleep. As I open the door and head down the hallway, treading quietly, my bare foot steps on something sharp. It’s a small metal matchbox car left in the middle of the hallway by one of the older children. As the pain shoots up my leg, I think, ‘Why is this bad thing happening while I’m in the middle of a good deed? It’s so unfair.’
“Then I realize that I was feeling meritorious about my kind-hearted attempt to let my wife sleep. I remember the teaching that the good I do is really the Lord’s good as I make myself available to his leading. I smile and continue down the hall to comfort the baby. I think, ‘Tomorrow, I will remind the older children to pick up toys after playing with them.’ Then, another thought flows in: ‘It could have been worse. Maybe this will prevent a more serious accident in the future.’ Then, another thought, a principle that ‘nothing ever happens, even if it is painful, unless the Lord can bring something good out of it—even in the case of my stepping on the little matchbox car.’”
My friend made the choice to shake off a negative reaction and, right then and there, enter into heavenly thoughts and feelings.
For most people there is tremendous inertia to react negatively. It’s the way we’ve been spiritually wired for millennia. Negative emotions are often right at the surface, “near” and “at hand.” It is also easy to justify negativity, either aiming it at others, “Those kids should know better!” or at oneself, “How could I be so stupid!”
But any situation like this can also be an opportunity to see the truth that heavenly thoughts and emotions are also right at the surface, “near” and “at hand.” It may not be as easy, but it is much more worthwhile.
Throughout the Word, the nearness and at-handness of heaven is symbolized by doors and gates, sometimes closed, other times open. The Lord even encourages us to think of Him as the door. “I am the door; anyone who enters in by Me shall be saved.” John 10:9 Swedenborg explains that the internal meaning of “to enter in by the Lord” is “to approach him, to acknowledge him, to believe in him, and to love him.” Swedenborg – Apocalypse Explained #916
In order to change your state, imagine heaven being right on the other side of a door or gate. Just open it and go right through. The keys are (1) recognizing the door, (2) recalling some basic spiritual principle that provides a heavenly perspective, and (3) praying to leave the negativity behind and to experience a positive, heavenly state.