I absolutely LOVE this.
I am a bhakta and also a follower of Christ, so I love finding the parallels between the teachings of Christ and other traditions.
When I read this quote, what I see Pema Chödrön describing here is being in the world, but not of it, as Christ taught. It’s anchoring the kingdom of God right here in our very lives, in the present moment in which we live.
In Luke 17:21, Jesus says, "Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Not in the future or in the past, but right here in this moment. Not found in the “worldly” things like money, fame, or whatever most of society defines as “success.” But here on Earth nonetheless.
In the love we have for our friends and our enemies. In people’s kindness, generosity, and open hearts. As we hunger and thirst and work for justice and equity. As we bow before the Lord and humbly ask for help. And in God-given wisdom, love, grace, mercy, and compassion that grow within us, like yeast moving through bread dough.
The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount describe this so beautifully. I call it the upside-down, inside-out world. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.
In the Beatitudes Jesus says “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” referring to the poor, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
This is a map, a geography. This is where we need to stand in order to be people who anchor the kingdom of God here on earth.
And, as Pema Chödrön teaches here, it is through renunciation of our attachments to worldly success/possessions/etc. that we come into the contact with the real, with the kingdom of God, with the true perfect divinity of the present moment.
When I remember this I feel relief. Relief from the exhausting grind of capitalism, the comparing of myself to others, and the constant feeling that I’m not measuring up to my expectations of myself and the expectations of others.
Part of why I love the teachings of both Ram Dass and Christ is because they help keep me more grounded in a larger perspective, a more cosmic reality in which what is important is much more simple and pure than what the ideas of worldly success deem important.