And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Here I am, standing on the summit of Heaven’s mountain with my guide Michael. We are surveying a vast plain stretching away into the distance.
“Who are all those people, looks like angels on horseback?”
“These are the Heavenly Hosts in training. We are now in Heroes’ Heaven, home to all heroes from the greatest leaders to the humblest foot soldiers. Those who were warriors on Earth, by role or profession, often volunteer for the Heavenly Hosts. Our crack troops wear russet, but the rest of them weren’t giving up their fine uniforms. It’s all ceremonial nowadays so they may as well look gorgeous.”
I gaze admiringly at the serried ranks, brilliant light ricocheting off their gleaming armour and plumed helmets. One figure stands out, plainly dressed but radiating charisma. “Who is that portly figure marching around? He looks familiar, but that’s never a cigar in his mouth? Surely Heaven is a no-smoking zone?!”
A pained expression crosses Michael’s face. “Strictly speaking it is, but exceptions are made for heroes, especially when engaged in essential work. And you’re right, it is indeed Sir Winston Churchill. He could have retired to one of the grandest mansions on the hilltop, but he said he’d grown up in a golden palace and just wanted to get back in the field. KBO!”
“Churchill is striding around as if he owns the place. Is he training the Heavenly Hosts?”
“On the contrary. He is a raw recruit who is himself being retrained. Like every human being who ever lived he made some blunders that he regrets profoundly, but rather than beating himself up he has gallantly volunteered for this challenging and vitally important work. The Heavenly Hosts work with spiritual energy for productive rather than destructive purposes. Their mission is Peace on Earth. So you see, it’s really not about the biggest bang.”
Churchill looks up and gives a jaunty wave; Michael salutes smartly.
“Well,” I opine brightly, “I’m glad to hear things have moved on since the good old days of smitings.”
“Don’t diss weather shamanism. It’s a highly skilled art. Nobody wields a thunderbolt like the Lord of Hosts. Nowadays the work is more about calming the waters than blowing up a storm. But he still wears the medal of his most famous campaign with pride.
“Yahweh likes to keep his hand in and so he has set up thunderbolt hurling contests for visiting OTs (‘Old Thunderers’ as Orpheus calls the ‘Brethren of the Skies’, to their amusement). Of course Yahweh always wins, much to the annoyance of JZ.”
“Jupiter-Zeus, to give him his full Greco-Roman title. He still wins at the Olympic Games, but never quite gets the gold in Britannia’s Heaven. Being semi-retired, Yahweh has now delegated smiting duties to Britannia who in turn is training up her new Sea Lords: Francis Drake, Robert Blake and of course Horatio Nelson.
“Love and peace are devoutly to be wished and worked for, but when the city is on fire it takes a top Sky God to control the winds and save his favourite temple from the all-engulfing flames. Sometimes only a miracle will do to boost morale and strengthen the resolve of the brave people – battered but unbowed. As the Lord Protector always says, it’s all about teamwork. Love, Law and Smitings, in descending order.
“Yes indeed, you’d be well advised. The Lord of Hosts is not renowned for his sense of humour. Even in your Age of Science he can fire a shot across the bows when he is displeased. It is rumoured he even struck his own cathedral with lightning when one of his servants stepped out of line.
“Gods?” said Xeno. “We don’t bother with gods. Huh. Relics of an outmoded belief system, gods.” There was a rumble of thunder from the clear evening sky. “Except for Blind Io the Thunder God,” Xeno went on, his tone hardly changing.
My gaze now travels over the sea of shining armour towards the far horizon where I detect shimmering movement. It looks like a troop of horse, but the movement is slower, more lolloping and the shape is wrong. Ah, here come the camel corps, and who is that at their head on the lead camel, his robes and headdress glittering gold and silver in the brilliant light?
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
“Lawrence of Arabia is a free agent who does his own thing, reporting directly to Britannia. Being an older soul, he is in an elite corps who are working directly to transform and redirect aggressive energies from war and conflict into creative and constructive activities.”
“Oh yeah, that’ll be the day.”
“Please drop your cynicism up here, Sybil, there’s no call for it. It’s very important that people understand what’s happening. These are turbulent times and you will need all the help you can get. Humanity is going through a major transition: from heroic younger soul values to civilized older soul values. It is a paradigm shift which impacts on every aspect of life. The primary purpose of the work in this dimension is to develop and strengthen the bonds between the spiritual and material worlds, enabling your ensouled species to harness higher energies for social and spiritual evolution.”
Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.
“What do you mean?”
“Younger soul heroes do their duty for queen and country, but the greater good only interests them if there’s something in it for them personally. Death or glory. They seek glory through deeds of derring-do, entranced by the drama and glamour of war. Their goal is to win at all costs, with little care for the consequences – human suffering, environmental destruction. Not all young soul heroes are warriors; some take to the arenas of politics, business, sport. What they have in common is that they all see their adversary as someone to be beaten, defeated, even killed. In Heroes’ Heaven we honour those who sacrificed their lives for their country or any sincere cause. But up here the nobler the cause and the character of the champion, the greater the spiritual glory.
“Older souls, on the other hand, understand the horror and shame of war. They do everything in their power to prevent it except as a last resort. If grim necessity takes them onto the battlefield they will do all in their power for damage limitation with the aim of rebuilding a better world from the ashes.
“Look over there, you may recognize that eminent Victorian.”
“William Wilberforce … a hero after my own heart! And his companion also looks familiar … Martin Luther King! How wonderfully appropriate that they should be together in Heroes’ Heaven.”
“You’re right, they are indeed task companions, continuing to work for the greater good: as below, so above. Martin Luther King was a rare and exalted visionary hero who stood on the mountaintop and beheld the Promised Land in his earthly life. Both these heroes are honoured as exemplars of the power of love for social and spiritual transformation.
“Older soul warriors are more likely to channel their dynamic energies into projects that champion positive and constructive goals such as the fight for social justice, environmental campaigns, any enterprise that advances the causes of peace, happiness and spiritual evolution. They truly believe in such noble values as liberty, equality, community and compassion, and are willing to sacrifice their own comfort, advancement, even their lives to achieve these goals.”
It is not enough to say ‘We must not wage war.’ It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace.
“Do you have any questions?” asks Michael.
“Yes, I do. I can see that this is a great place for grand heroes. But what about less celebrated, everyday heroes?”
“You need to understand that this is heaven for ordinary heroes just as Asphodel Meadows is paradise for ordinary people. Here are those who worked hard all their lives to help and support others, often doing tough and unpopular jobs bravely and cheerfully in the face of adversity. These noble spirits include members of the social, medical and emergency services, often working 18-hour days – firefighters, doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and miners. Here all are promoted to glory with no distinction of rank, which is immaterial up here. Everyday heroes far outnumber the great leaders, a little of whom goes a long way.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” I say sincerely. “But I don’t see many women around. I do hope Heroes’ Heaven has a place for Heroines.”
“Of course! Please ignore the misogynistic teachings of fundamentalist priests and theologians, who are deluded younger souls. The truth is that the soul is non-gendered and equal, whether taking a male or female form on the material plane. What you see up here is simply the appearance of the last body these souls inhabited on earth. Discarnate souls have discovered and are in touch with their inner opposite gender which makes them whole. This insight is harder to remember and maintain down on earth, but that is part of the challenge of life as an ensouled species.”
I nod approvingly, then gasp as before my very eyes Michael transitions from a hunky Adonis into a still hot but undeniably female form. I blink and he’s back; I blink again and he’s a lady; I blink again and she’s a lord. “OK, I get it – gender fluidity. Next!”
Michael smiles and shrugs. “Nevertheless you make a good point. There are many souls who were formerly in female bodies, led heroic lives, and have now taken their rightful place in Heroes’ Heaven. Some fought their hearts out as bravely as the men; others expressed their courage through service; all have done their bit to make the world a better place. Look over there in the shadow of the mountain.”
I gaze in the direction Michael is pointing and notice a lamp shining softly yet brightly in the darkness. As my eyes adjust, I see it is held by a woman in a long gown whose other hand rests gently on the brow of a wounded soldier.
“We have a whole corps composed of heroines dedicated to the common good. It is led by Florence Nightingale, who is a true Daughter of Britannia.”
“So with all these great heroes throwing their weightlessness around, who’s in charge? Is it Saint George?”
“Saint George is out of action at the moment, in rehab learning to love the dragon rather than sticking it to him. The dragon in his turn has to learn to forgive Saint George rather than blasting him to kingdom come with his new improved firepower. Celestial dragons are a noble order of being, who bring great spiritual power and good fortune to those who befriend and team up with them.
“The heroes report to the Lord Protector, who knows about keeping order and making diversity work, except for a few of Britannia’s favourite warriors who report directly to her, including T E Lawrence, and of course the Sea Lords. You will learn more about the social organization of this place anon. Warriors are much easier to organize, taking naturally to hierarchy whether or not they are in the army. They are an action role, looking for kings and commanders to serve and carry out their vision.
“Things were much simpler under the Tyranny when everyone knew their place whether angel or archangel, principality or power, sitting at the top table or squeezed in by the skin of their teeth. Now we are a Democracy and of course it’s all love, peace and harmony, but it takes a bit longer to get through all the red tape, take everyone’s point of view into consideration and reach consensus. On earth they didn’t always get on well together, but here in heaven of course we’re all on the same side and singing from the same hymn sheet. The generals, true to their nature, sometimes try and impose the rule of the sword, but the Lord Protector reminds them that we are now a parliament of saints and this time the experiment will not fail.”
Responsibility for working for peace lies not only with our leaders, but also with each of us individually. Peace starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighbouring communities and so on. When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
Dalai Lama XIV