I Am The Self I Deserve (And Other Self-Esteem Issues)

Who am I?

There is a grand total of 220 unique Google results for the exact phrase “I am worthy of God’s love,” which is step 24 in Steps to Knowledge.  It’s not one of those things I hear people say on a regular basis.

The top search result for this exact phrase is its presence in Steps to Knowledge.  What does this mean?  I think it means that whether this idea is true or false, whether this idea is right or wrong, Steps to Knowledge is a bold, loud and forthright proclaimer of this idea.

The first sentence of step 24 repeats the step, adding the word “indeed,” repeating the pattern of step 22.

And just when I think it’s safe to surmise that this is point of step 24, the very next sentence delivers an even more barbed point.  This point is repeated in the first paragraph.

You are indeed worthy of God’s love. In fact, you really are God’s love. Without pretense of any kind, at the very core of yourself, this is your True Self.  It is not the Self you yet experience, and until you do experience it, do not pretend that this is your experience. But hold in true awareness that this is your Self. You are a person, but you are greater than a person.  How can you be unworthy of God’s love if that is what you are? Your Teachers surround you and provide that which you are so that you may experience yourself and your true relationship with life.

This is not the first time the phrase “True Self” has appeared.  It first appeared in step 10 “What is Knowledge?” and appeared again in step 16 “Beyond my mind is Knowledge.”

The sentence “I am the self I deserve” could be punctuated in a number of ways at the end. But which way would make it the most truthful?  I am the self I deserve.  I am the self I deserve?  I believe the punctuation Steps to Knowledge offers is “I am the self I deserve!”

Google doesn’t show this exact sentence to have been written anywhere yet, but I believe it is a succinct way of saying the point of step 24:

Knowledge is the love of God, and my True Self.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

I Can Handle Not Understanding Something

Bewilderment

If I read something and I just don’t understand it, it means either I need more background material, or the writer didn’t put enough of an emphasis on being understood.  I am pleased to report that this is not one of my issues in my study of Steps to Knowledge.  I am further pleased to report that this most likely will not be an issue for most people studying Steps to Knowledge.  I know this because I have taken steps 1 through 23, and submitted them to various online readability metrics.

The Gunning fog index is based on the length of sentences, and the percentage of complex words in a given text.  The resulting statistic is the number of years of formal education considered necessary to understand a text on the first reading.  The Gunning fog index of steps 1 through 23 is 10.66, meaning a sophomore in high school would have a fighting chance of understanding it on his first reading.

The Coleman-Liau Index is based on the lengths of words and sentences.  The resulting statistic is the US grade level thought necessary to understand the text.  The Coleman-Liau Index of steps 1 through 23 is 9.31, meaning a freshman in high school might be able to understand it.

The Flesch-Kincaid grade level is based on the lengths of words as measured in syllables, and the lengths of sentences. It is the formula used by the US Department of Defense to measure the readability of technical manuals.  The Flesch-Kincaid grade level for steps 1 through 23 is 9.10.  In addition, there is a metric called Flesch reading ease, where comic strips are between 90 and 100, and complex legal documents are between 0 and 10.  The Flesch reading ease for steps 1 through 23 is 56.69, which is consistent with the 9.10 grade level.

On the one hand, Steps to Knowledge isn’t all that difficult to understand.  On the other hand, Steps to Knowledge provides a succinct, clearly worded and reasonably friendly challenge to my everyday interpretation of the world.  It does a certain degree of violence to the self I consider myself to be when left to my own devices.  It brings an indictment that that self is a false, imagined self which is apart from life.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath TagoreWhen I was looking for an image to go with the word “possibility,” I encountered the Emily Dickinson poem “I dwell in possibility.”  While that poem is a very fine poem indeed, as I contemplated sharing it, I recalled another poem with a closer vibration to this blog.  This poem is from Gitanjali (available for Kindle for free; go ahead, I’ll wait)

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

I interpret the word “free” in the line “Where knowledge is free” to mean “unfettered, unchained, unrestricted,” as opposed to “without cost.”  Whether one is talking about the secrets of nature, or the great mystery of one’s life, knowledge cost someone something. Whether one is talking about the original discovery, or the sharing of the discovery at a later date, knowledge had a price in time, effort and trust.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

I Can Handle Being Told About My Folly

possibility

Steps to Knowledge has already informed me of my participation in humanity’s great folly of founding beliefs upon wishes. (Step 5, “I believe what I want to believe.”)  I can handle being told about my numerous mistakes.  I can handle being told about my failures to learn from my mistakes.  I have a hard time being told about my possibility. Steps to Knowledge doesn’t do this very often, as if it might be taken as flattery, but it does it on Step 23:

“God’s Plan is invisible and recognized by very few because very few have the openness of mind and the quality of attention that will allow them to see what is obviously occurring around them, which at this point is not obvious to them at all.Your Teachers love you, surround you and support you, for you are emerging into Knowledge.This calls them to your side.You are one of the few who has the promise and the opportunity to emerge from the sleep of your own imagination into the grace of Reality.”

I would really rather not consider this too important.  I would really rather just go on to the next idea.  But that could be part of the point, to flush out otherwise hidden pockets of self-loathing.

On the other hand, the relatively insignificant Mojud was addressed by Khidr as “Man of bright prospects.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Party Was Over Then Too by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen in concert

Poetry helps from time to time.  This poem is from the book Book of Longing.

When I was about fifteen
I followed a beautiful girl
into the Communist Party of Canada.
There were secret meetings
and you got yelled at
if you were a minute late.
We studied the McCarran Act
passed by the stooges in Washington,
and the Padlock Law
passed by their lackeys in Quebec,
and they said nasty shit
about my family
and how we got our money.
They wanted to overthrow
the country that I loved
(and served, as a Sea Scout).
And even the good people
who wanted to change things,
they hated them too
and called them social fascists.
They had plans for criminals
like my uncles and aunties
and they even had plans
for my poor little mother
who had slipped out of Lithuania
with two frozen apples
and a bandanna full of monopoly money.
They never let me get near the girl
and the girl never let me get near the girl.
She became more and more beautiful
until she married a lawyer
and became a social fascist herself
and very likely a criminal too.
But I admired the Communists
for their pig-headed devotion
to something absolutely wrong.
It was years before I found something comparable for myself:
I joined a tiny band of steel-jawed zealots
who considered themselves
the Marines of the spiritual world. It’s just a matter of time:
we’ll be landing this raft
on the Other Shore,
we’ll be taking that beach
on the Other Shore.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

True Or False, Right Or Wrong, They Mean It

This Time I Mean It Day

A new idea was introduced in Step 22 of Steps to Knowledge, the idea of the Teachers of God, whose presence can be felt, who are here to love, support and direct their students. Some people may read this and think, “Ah, well, this is a useful, empowering construct, a helpful metaphor.”  But Step 23 is the first step in Steps to Knowledge where all the words of the previous step “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God” are present in the next step in the same order “I am loved, surrounded and supported by the Teachers of God.”

The first two sentences of the step suggest that there is some awareness that this is a challenging idea:

The truth of this will become self-evident as you prepare, but for now it may require great faith. This idea may challenge existing ideas or beliefs, but it is true nonetheless.

I am amused by the use of the word “self-evident” in this step, because I have used that word in working definitions of Knowledge here and here.  The word “true” is used many times in Steps to Knowledge, but relatively infrequently in the context of saying “x is true,” where x is a proposition.  This is the second time this has happened in Steps so far.

Therefore, if anyone is going to go forward in the study of Steps to Knowledge, the idea of the benevolent presence of the Teachers of God is an idea to seriously consider.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Today by Mary Oliver

 Mary Oliver, October 2010I’m sharing this poem for a number of reasons.

One, Mary Oliver is a deeply beloved American poet, and has been a deeply beloved poet for many years.

Two, there has been a gap in my education, in that I have not read very many of her poems.

Three, her most recent volume of poetry, A Thousand Mornings, published in October of 2012, has been warmly received by lovers of poetry.

Four, I have been reading little bits of A Thousand Mornings, and taking great happiness in them.  Mary Oliver says more in the things that go unsaid in the spaces in between words and lines than a lot of people do in the words and lines.  Got that?

Five, I consider this poem to vibrate quite sympathetically with the experience of studying Steps to Knowledge.  I’m patiently waiting for an opportunity to use the phrase “voodoos of ambition.”  Mary Oliver seems to have originated that phrase.

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Who Am I Surrounded By Again?

Surrounded Iislands by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Step 22 of Steps to Knowledge introduces a new idea, “the Teachers of God.”  Students have a certain degree of incredulity when considering the idea “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God.”  When the first sentence of the first paragraph of the step says “You are indeed surrounded by the Teachers of God,” it suggests a certain anticipation of questioning.  The word “indeed” in this sentence is the first use of the word “indeed” in Steps to Knowledge.

What are these Teachers like?  The word “who” is used to refer to them, and they are said to have undertaken a training in many ways similar to Steps to Knowledge.  It is therefore reasonable to think of them as individuals.

Where did they get this training?  “Though given in many different forms, in different eras, in different worlds, a very similar kind of training was given to them that was geared wisely to their former state of mind and circumstances in life.”  This is the first time the idea of individuals from different worlds is mentioned in Steps to Knowledge.

These Teachers aren’t human, are they?  No.  If one counts our world as one of the “different worlds,” then there might be Teachers who were human at one time.  There might be a great many Teachers who have never been human, as there are a great many different worlds in the universe.  I consider this step to require a number of deep breaths between the time one reads the step, and the time one goes on to the next step.

Are these Teachers extra-terrestrials?  That would be implied by the “in different worlds” text, wouldn’t it?  The step says we cannot yet see or hear them, but we can feel their presence.  If I am surrounded by these Teachers, but cannot yet see or hear them, then they aren’t the kind of extra-terrestrials associated with UFO sightings and abduction experiences.  The practice of this step is to feel the presence of the Teachers of God.  I take comfort that it wasn’t the first time I was asked to feel something.  Since the step said “Do not give in to doubt or confusion,” there is a certain anticipation of the need for a number of deep breaths.

I believe someone is reading this and wondering “What does the presence of the Teachers of God feel like?”  I was still struggling with the idea of practicing feeling something.  I could imagine that if Teachers such as the ones described here really did exist, their presence would have a very calming and assuring feeling, as they had already done what I was trying to do.  On the other hand, I wasn’t asked to imagine something, I was asked to feel something.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some students decided not to take the necessary deep breaths at this point.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some students said to themselves “Everything I studied so far in steps 1-21 has been really helpful, but I’m going to take this Teachers of God thing with a certain degree of skepticism.”  There is a certain anticipation of this skepticism, but there is also a statement saying this engagement is a necessary part of the package:

“Do not give in to doubt or confusion, for you must prepare to have the reward that you seek, and you must know that you are not alone in the world to have the strength, the confidence and the resource of Wisdom necessary to achieve that which you were sent here to achieve.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

While The Fast Is Officially Over, I May Want To Continue

Continental breakfast

The fast to which I am referring is the fast from borrowed expression, officially launched on March 15.  I realized I was not following traditional fast protocol by announcing it, so I didn’t write anything further about it until now.

I had some interesting experiences while undertaking this fast.  For example, I was having a conversation with my 19-year-old son:

Me: My poetry blog is blocked in China.
Son: Why is that?
Me: Because I have a poem by dissident poet Li Bifeng there.
Son: Maybe if you took it down, you could get them to unblock you.
Me: The prophets were reviled, the prophets were persecuted, the prophets had all manner of evil spoken against them falsely.
Son: *silence*

You may think I was breaking the fast by sorta-kinda quoting Matthew 5:11-12.  But left to my own devices, I would have said, “Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'”  I would have been completely oblivious to my son tuning out to Yet Another Bible Quote.  I would like to believe he didn’t tune out as much this time.

I seem to be putting a little distance between me and the person I quote when I quote someone.  It’s as if I was saying “my little pud opinion is relatively irrelevant, but this Great Person said Something Important.”  It has taken me quite a while to figure out that people in my world want to know more about what I know, and how I came to know it.

Mary Sagar is the person who challenged me to this fast.  She challenged me to a fast of Twitter and online news before I attended the 2012 Encampment of the New Message from God in September 2012.  This makes her 2 for 2 in terms of making successful fast recommendations to me.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

And What Did You Hear?

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

The review in step 21 of Steps to Knowledge is a review of steps 15 through 20. Just as step 19 was about seeing and just seeing, this review is about reviewing and just reviewing, looking at the steps, looking at how I practiced, and looking at what happened when I did what I did.  I am encouraged to resist the temptation of drawing a conclusion, as it is still very early in the game.

If you want the truth about something, you must practice today (and the next day, and the next day, and the next day…).

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.