Less Judgment, More Observation

Less Judgment More Observation

On the one hand, many people are familiar with the teaching of Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 7:1-2, New International Version) On the other hand, Christians are instructed to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11, New International Version)  There is some fine print about the “Do not judge…” passage.

The word “judgment” has already appeared multiple times in Steps to Knowledge, and in all the instances so far, the context is that it is a hindrance to one’s knowing.  Judgment could be thought of as a habit of mental or moral sloth, a refusal to further examine the context or motivation of someone or some action.

Error exists, and it is something to avoid, because it has painful consequences.  Is judgment an error?  It looks that way from my perspective.  Someone will ask, “Then what should I do instead?”  The answer given by both step 29 and step 30 is to observe.  In step 29, I’m observing myself; in step 30, I’m observing the world.  The phrase “without judgment” appears 4 times in 7 sentences in step 30.  I surmise from this that I’m not supposed to observe so that I can come to a more informed judgment.  I’m being asked to cultivate observation, and starve, de-cultivate, the habit of judgment.

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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.

What Is This Great Truth?

Dissatisfaction

From time to time, I am not pleased with my study of a step in Steps to Knowledge.  I have an unhappiness that there is something there I’m supposed to realize or experience, that I’m not experiencing.  I feel that way about Step 25 “I am at one with the greatest truth in life” these days.  But instead of trying to analyze it further, I’m going to share something which approaches the step from another direction.

I have already shared the poem “Last Night, As I Was Sleeping” by Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly.  I have had a desire to find music that goes with this lovely poem.  The details can be found here, but to say it succinctly, the music is composed by J. S. Bach, arranged for classical guitar by Rick Foster, and performed by David Franzen.

People seem to have taken a certain degree of enjoyment in this.  And as I think on this, I think that maybe the great truth to which Step 25 is referring is “my true self is not apart from life, my true self wishes to intensely participate in 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.

I Can Handle Being Taken Seriously

A Young EntrepreneurWhat do I mean by “being taken seriously?”  I mean “being taken at my word, as expressed in my actions.”  Why am I bringing this up?  Step 26 of Steps to Knowledge placed a great emphasis on using error for development.  Step 27 uses the phrase “being served by your experience:

“This point of view of being served by your experience is something you must cultivate. It does not justify the experience itself. Understand this. It merely gives you an opportunity to use your experience for your advancement and your empowerment.”

The point of this is that if a student has come to step 29, “I will observe myself today to learn of Knowledge,” it would be reasonable to think that he is agreeable with the idea of using error for development.  It would be plausible to think he accepts the idea of using his experience for his advancement and his empowerment.  The assigned practice for step 29 is to observing one’s experience on an hourly basis.  The assigned practice isn’t a person, but if it were, it would be a person that takes the student seriously, as if the student was a person who has just done steps 26 and 27.  Got that?

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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 Who Did You Meet?

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

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

One thing that is interesting about this particular review is that it is the first time the word “prayer” is used in Steps to Knowledge:

We shall begin our fourth review period with a special prayer.

“I accept my Knowledge as a gift from God. I accept my Teachers as my elder brothers and sisters. I accept my world as a place where Knowledge can be reclaimed and contributed. I accept my past as a demonstration of life without Knowledge. I accept the miracles of my life as a demonstration of the presence of Knowledge and I give myself now to cultivate that which is of the greatest good within myself to be given to the world.”

Here is the word cloud for the steps under review (steps 22-27):
Steps to Knowledge Steps 22-27 Word Cloud
I’m not happy with the shape of this word cloud, but I’m seeing that experience and error are things by which I must practice being served. The final paragraph of the review talks about the value of the review, not just for me, but for the people I will serve in the future.  Part of my development is being aware of how people learn (or don’t learn) things.

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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.

There Are Some Things Here You Have Seen Before…

Affirmations

It takes a good bit of personal strength to get to where Steps to Knowledge wants to take me.  It takes a certain ability to not care too much about what my culture thinks about things.  So I experience a certain amount of comfort when I see something in Steps which I’ve seen before.  And the something is an affirmation.

Affirmations have been around for a long time.  In some Christian circles they are called “confessions”  They have been a cultural fad, they have been culturally mocked to scorn.Stuart SmalleySome people have had more success with affirmations than others.  Some people have a greater internal and external consistency with what they affirm.  What am I being asked to affirm?  “I have a wisdom that I wish to discover.”  Out of all the affirmations in the world, this one is only found here.  When I read this, I think “I wish to derive value from my errors, mistakes, wrong decisions and poor choices.”  When I read this, I think, “I wish to experience the love of God which I’ve been told that I am.”

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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.

Do Not Be Overrighteous, Neither Be Overwise

Too CleverSometimes people get a little too clever for their own good.  One of the drawbacks of downloading the .pdf version of Steps to Knowledge is that the guidelines as to how to do Steps effectively is in a separate .pdf file than the steps themselves.

I believe there are some people who are thinking they might steel themselves against the new ideas they are encountering by looking ahead of whatever step they are on.  The introduction says to avoid that:

“Do not skip ahead or alter the sequence to practice lessons that you find to be attractive. Each lesson is designed to take you one step at a time.This provides a safe and successful passage in your approach to Knowledge. Follow and utilize the step for the day. It is perfect for that day.”

Someone is thinking “Well, that’s all well and good for you, you’re further down the road than the step about which you are writing.”  This is true, but I’m only going to write about what people might get from a particular step and the steps leading up to that step.  Got that?

Don’t try to be too clever by reading ahead.  Don’t try to be too clever by doing computer searches on particular words to see the contexts in which they are used in later steps.  Got that?

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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.

What Shall I Do With My Errors?

Error dialog boxes

I recall step 26 of Steps to Knowledge as a particularly helpful step for me, because it pointed out the difficulties with culturally conventional approaches to errors.  It also gave some ideas as to what one should do.

The first thing to do is to resolve to derive value from error.  Deriving value means to learn what is real and what is not, to learn what is important and what is not.  I had a season of life where I was involved in the writing of scientific papers.  Part of the process was to edit a paper after it had been reviewed by other researchers.  My mentor encouraged me to extract every last drop of possible improvement from the comments of the reviewers.

Another thing to do is to look for cues and precursors.  For example, it has been known for some time that people who are overweight have reasons for eating other than hunger.  Sometimes they eat from boredom, or from loneliness.  Part of the resolution of these issues is becoming aware of the things that were done, or left undone, that supported the error.  A painful error doesn’t just leap out of nowhere by itself; it has a gang of aiders and abettors, it has a complement of accomplices.  Deriving value means identifying the accomplices, and subjecting them to the same scrutiny.

I believe someone is reading this and thinking “That sounds like a lot of work.”  Perhaps, but I consider it a fair price to pay for the experience of being able to say to myself, “I’ve learned my lesson.”

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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.

Why Can’t I Forget My Poor Choices?

Torment of St. Anthony by Michelangelo

There are many people who manage to avoid the meta-mistake of justifying their mistakes, only to be tormented by their mistakes of the past.  They wish to forget the pain and suffering their mistakes caused, and sometimes think that if they forgot their mistakes, they could escape the torment.

Unfortunately, this is another variation on the theme of redacting one’s experience, creating a false self which is apart from life.  The cost is much higher than the benefit.

Furthermore, if I really could forget my mistakes, what would keep me from making them again?  What would keep me from an endless cycle of suffering?  It’s just not worth it.

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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.

Why Can’t I Justify My Wrong Decisions?

Vain Quest

The attempt to justify error is a vain quest, a philosophical dead end, an exercise in self-deception.  But why do so many people try to do it then?  Why do people attempt to make the claim “A decision I made which caused pain and suffering to myself and others was really right and/or reasonable?”

People would rather not admit that they couldn’t keep from scratching the itches of the animal soul.  People would like to believe they’re more than animals, even if they sometimes act like one.  People would rather not confront what Carl Jung called the “shadow.”

People wish to anesthetize themselves from the pain their mistakes have caused themselves and others.  While there may have been some value obtained from the poor choice, an effort is being made to assert the non-existence of the suffering involved, or to minimize the heartache.  In any case, the effort to redact one’s experience is a project of dishonesty, a construction of a false self which is apart from life.

Some people might say, “Well, I learned something from my errors that I might not have learned any other way.”  I pondered on this for a while.  In the story of the Prodigal Son, there was a wise, obedient son who learned of his father’s goodness without having to go through the tribulations of his foolish brother.  Could that be the reason the older brother was in the story?  To show that it’s possible to learn some other way than the hard way?

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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.

Love by George Herbert

George Herbert, English poet and priest

I’m sharing this poem because it seems to go along nicely with the thoughts and feelings someone might have when contemplating step 24 of Steps to Knowledge, “I am worthy of God’s love.”

LOVE bade me welcome, but my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And you know not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.

This poem can be found in many places, including The Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1918

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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.