Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. (Matt. 19:13)The foregoing is also described in Mark:
And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)One might ask, what is the big deal about children? Why would the kingdom of heaven belong to “such as these”?
Little children traditionally feel humbled in their circumstances (although today this is not always the case), as they look up to the adults around them with awe. This humble consciousness, as Jesus has stated elsewhere, is pleasing to God.
Why is a humble consciousness pleasing to God? Because this is the consciousness that pervades the spiritual world. This is also our original consciousness.
This is also why a humble person and humble activities attract us. Just consider how repulsive a proud, cocky person is to us. This is contrasted with how an honest, humble person is pleasing to us.
Why is humility pleasing to us? Because we are all humble by nature. That is our true consciousness.
Our pride, on the other hand, is the product of self-centeredness. Each of us living in the physical world are here because we became self-centered. We decided we didn't want to love and serve God anymore - we wanted to please ourselves instead.
This self-centeredness precipitated our fall from the spiritual world. Self-centeredness covered up our original consciousness, leading to pride, envy, lust and as they progress, anger and violence.
This doesn't mean we can't change. At any time, we can begin the journey back home to the kingdom of God. How? It starts with a single step: The determination that we want to return to God and a request to God to help us.
This admission - asking for the Supreme Being to help us - is the beginning of our journey because it assumes we are not in control. We need God. Just as the children Jesus was speaking to needed their parents, we need the Supreme Being. We cannot reach God's kingdom by ourselves.
This first step is also the beginning of change. We begin to change our consciousness from: "I can do anything I want," to "I need God." This requires humility.
Once we ask the Supreme Being to guide us, He will. He will begin to show us the journey home. He will introduce us to His guide, and they together will show us how we can change our consciousness.
We have to change our consciousness because we cannot enter into the spiritual world with our current consciousness. Consider a loud, boisterous drunken person coming from a local bar into a quiet concert hall where a solo pianist was playing. In the bar, the man might have swaggered around and talked loudly, pushing his way through the crowd. In the concert hall, he'll have to be well-groomed, polite, and quiet. He probably wouldn't even be granted into the concert hall in the first place, but if he did, he would likely disturb the audience and the soloist by talking loudly and disturbing everyone. He would likely get escorted to the door.
In the same way, a proud, cocky person could not enter into the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, everyone is humble, loving and giving. Imagine such a place! This is precisely what we try to imagine (as in John Lennon's song) this world could be - if we could just get people to be more humble and giving to each other.
However, this is practically impossible, because this physical dimension is the place where those who are not humble, and not giving dwell. This is the place where those who are only looking out for themselves go. In other words, this is hell.
Oh, but you don't think this is hell? What about people being raped, murdered, ravaged by diseases, suffering from starvation, dying from cholera and so many other diseases - is this not hellish enough for you? How about being put in jail by a brutal government or attacked by terrorists - is this not hellish enough? Perhaps because these things only happen to others? Or perhaps because the body feels comfortable for the time being?
This is illusion. Your physical body is dying. Every moment brings your body closer to death. Every body dies at some point.
And eventually, every physical body will be subject to excruciating pain and disease.
So what is hell? Hell is being away from God. Hell is that place where those who are self-centered go. Yes, there might be worse hells than the current body we have on now. But a more hellish condition is only right around the corner. At any time, the body could be subjected to a painful diseased condition. At any time, the physical body could get hit by a car or train or even a building or a tidal wave. Then the pain would come. Then it would be hellish.
Many ask: If God exists, why is there so much suffering in the world?
In fact, the suffering in the world is actually created by us. It is created by our greed and self-centeredness. God simply created a perfect mechanism where what we do to others comes back to us just as we dealt it out. Either in this physical body or our previous one(s), we determined our current situation by how we treated others. Whatever we have subjected to others before is now what our bodies are experiencing (we are reaping what we sowed).
We have to remember, however, that these physical bodies are not us. We are the spiritual individual that is operating the body, just as a driver operates a car. We step into the body and drive it around for awhile. Then it dies, and we exit the body.
We might also compare this to a video game. In a video game, each person assumes a virtual icon for the duration of the game. We do not become the video game icon. We simply use the icon to travel through the game. During the game, our icon must abide by the rules. Depending upon what we do in the game, our icon might be punched, blown up or even killed.
But then at some point, the game is over and we can turn off the computer and walk away unscathed.
It is the same with regard to the body. Currently we are in the illusion that we are these bodies, but they are only virtual machines we are using while we are within the physical world. Whatever suffering the body receives does not happen to us. When the body dies, we, the spiritual individual, steps out. This might be compared to waking from a dream.
Why do we take on these physical bodies then? Because we became self-centered and wanted to get away from God. So God built this virtual physical universe where we could focus upon our self-centered desires and pretend to be the center of the universe.
But we aren't the center of the universe, and this physical dimension was also set up to teach us this reality. Every reaction within the physical dimension is set up to teach us that we will be happier when we return to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
While the Supreme Being has let us forget Him for awhile, He is giving us the freedom to return to Him or not (i.e., we can keep getting physical bodies and forget Him indefinitely if we wish). But He loves us, and knows we will be happier when we return home to the spiritual world.
So He continually sends us subtle messages - many in the form of consequences of our activities: We can either hear these messages or ignore them - that is our freedom.
But as Jesus is indicating here with his discussion of children, in order to get home, we have to change our consciousness. We have to change from being cocky and self-centered to being humble and God-centered.
If God is the center of our lives, we will depend upon Him and take shelter of him just as a child takes shelter of his parents.
And if we depend upon Him, just as a child depends upon his parents, He will guide us back home to Him. This is because the Supreme Being loves us and wants the best for us.
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)