Who has not found the Heaven--below

by Emily Dickinson


Original Language English

Who has not found the Heaven--below--
Will fail it above--
For Angels rent the House next ours,
Wherever we remove--

-- from The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology), Edited by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

These four lines by that reclusive American mystic, Emily Dickinson, proclaim a deep truth:

Who has not found the Heaven--below--
Will fail it above--


This statement has been getting mystics into trouble with orthodox religious authorities in every century. It is the assertion that heaven is not found somewhere ‘out there'--not in the future, not after death, not in some celestial otherworld. Heaven is here, now. It is within us and surrounds us, always! And--the most dangerous part of this insight—if we don't discover it here “below,” it won't be found elsewhere “above.”

A statement like this shatters the religious waiting game, waiting for death, waiting for the Second Coming (or for the Maitreya Buddha, or for a better rebirth, or whatever...) If the presence of Christ / Buddha-mind / fana / liberation is not recognized right here where we are, the passive expectation of it coming upon us some other day, at some other place, is sure to “fail.”

Another way of saying this is that, as we discover the heaven below, we find ourselves already dwelling in the heaven above. But, on the other hand, if we continue to deny the heaven below, we'll fail to discover the gateway to heaven above.

Dickinson says, “For Angels rent the House next ours, / Wherever we remove--“ No matter where we go, the Divine Presence is right there with us. We just have to knock on the neighboring reality and introduce ourselves...



Recommended Books: Emily Dickinson

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry
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