And he said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you have a change of heart and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Jesus says, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, “See here! Or see there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21

I have shared freely that I found heart based spiritual practice and living through Buddhism and Yoga, although I was raised in a Christian tradition. Jesus was a proponent of leading through the heart, though much of his teaching has been buried under ritual, regulations, standards, and minutia about positions on various moral and political topics du jour. Ironically, this mimics the problem of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day in the Judaic tradition. Jesus regularly called them on their errors and urged his followers to follow him, as Judaism had become an externalized political and social movement. He patiently outlined the path of inner transformation. The remainder of formal church requirements pale in comparison to the urgency and significance of his instructions about how to be made over inside out through liberal application of love – albeit there is necessity to live according to law, but by Spirit!

His simple message of love, for self and neighbor, so much like the Buddha’s, Patanjali’s, and other ancient and contemporary saints, seems a footnote in a long document of sanitary requirements of formalized religion. Jesus departs from these traditions through additional requirements to pursue holiness, a pursuit facilitated through the Holy Spirit granted at conversion. The Son of God alone is capable of granting salvation. An old friend of mine asked me a couple of days ago how I balance fitting in and being accepted in society and replied, “I simply no longer alter behavior based on what other people think.” Not relevant.

True spiritual practice moves an individual out of the head and into the heart; off a printed page and enlivened within the fabric of a person’s character. This renders intellectual arguments, rules, and regulations moot, as practice becomes intuitive. It drops all pretense, pride, and false feelings of superiority. It was through studying eastern traditions that I recognized the exclusivity of the teachings of Jesus. Who would not want those things? Who would not enjoy living each day, with every breath and step, walking in compassion for self and others? This is the entry point of heaven on earth!

We are mistaken if we think for a moment, we benefit ourselves or others through proud intellectual arguments and taking sides on issues over walking in true love and compassion for other sojourning beings. It is only through heart-based practice and living we find optimal mental and spiritual health. Living in love is living in truth. I have had the opportunity to spend significant time with seniors, including several with various forms of dementia, some of whom I have known for quite some time. One of the things I have found most interesting is the blossoming of love which occurs as intellectual strength is lost. Out of the head; into the heart. There is beauty in every condition. It’s a good mantra.

For more information on my wellness and transformational change programs, visit my site at www.theomshanty.com. More classes will be coming soon. I hope to get to know you, and interface through my blog. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. (Peace in Body, Mind, and Spirit.)