Music by Kabir, Translated by Robert Bly

Kabir Weaving

Kabir is the one doing the weaving in this picture.  We know he was raised by a Muslim family who worked as weavers in the Indian city of Varanasi (also called Benares).

Robert Bly

Robert Bly translated 44 of Kabir’s poems in 1993.

Have you heard the music no fingers enter into?
Far inside the house
entangled music –
What is the sense of leaving your house?

Suppose you scrub your ethical skin
until it shines –
but inside there is no music,
then what?

Mohammad’s son pores over words,
and points out this
and that
but if his chest is not soaked dark with love,
then what?

The Yogi comes along in his famous orange,
But if inside he is colorless,
then what?

Kabir says: Every instant that the sun is risen,
if I stand in the temple, or on a balcony,
in the hot fields, or in a walled garden,
my own Lord is making love with me.

 

I read this poem, and I cry out “Let the music play within me!”  I read this poem, and I cry out “Let my chest be soaked dark with love!”  I read this poem, and I cry out, “Let me be as colorful on the inside as the Yogi is on the outside!”

This poem can be found in The Kabir Book

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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 Could The Way To Knowledge Be Like?

 

Steps to Knowledge, Step 37. There is a way to Knowledge

Since the name of the book is Steps to Knowledge, when I look at step 37 “There is a way to Knowledge,” I think to myself “There had darn well better be!”  It should be noted that Steps to Knowledge does not assert that it is the only way to Knowledge.

“There is a way to Knowledge. It requires skill and desire. Both will take time to develop. You must learn to value the true and not to value the false, and it takes time to learn to separate the two and to recognize them. It takes time to learn that the false does not satisfy you and that the true does satisfy you. This must be learned through trial and error and through contrast. As you approach Knowledge, your life becomes more full, more certain and more direct. As you go away from it, you reenter confusion, frustration and anger.”

Star Trek TOS Whom Gods Destroy
Many voices claim to be that of my true self.  Are any of them right?  The practice for this step is to contemplate ways to get to Knowledge.  I wrote down about a page worth of possibilities when I did this step.  I would like to believe that some of the things I wrote down worked for someone at some time, but I don’t claim to know this.  How am I to attain to the mystery of my 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.

My Soul Is A Site For Spelunking

 

Cave of Crystals, Mexico

I recall many years ago being shown a diagram with four quadrants, where one quadrant is what we know and others know about ourselves (our public selves), what we know about ourselves that others don’t know (our secret selves), what others know about us that we don’t know (the “bad breath area”) and the part of us which neither we nor others know about us.  Steps to Knowledge teaches that a person’s mission in life resides in that mysterious portion of life. This is taught in Step 36, “My life is a mystery to explore.” Part of the price of admission for getting to where Steps to Knowledge is going is the willingness to explore that unknown, undocumented region.

Another part of the price of admission is the recognition that not everyone is interested in taking this journey, and releasing other people from the requirement that they appreciate this journey.  I’ve already been told once that I’m not like most people, but I still sometimes have a hard time thinking of it as a benefit rather than a problem.  Step 34 spoke of emotional honesty as a hallmark of Knowledge, so I believe that flattery would not be a strategy to get people to go forward.

Gold tried by fire

As I thought about this step, I recalled the proverb of Solomon: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise.” (Proverbs 27:21, NIV)

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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.

Oh, What’ll You Do Now?

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
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

Step 29 of Steps to Knowledge “I will observe myself today to learn of Knowledge,” was about observing myself without judgment.  Step 30 “Today I will observe my world,” was about observing the world without judgment.  Step 31, “I wish to see a world I have never seen before,” was about affirming the intent of observing the world without judgment.  Therefore, I find it no great shock that the step 35 Review of steps 29 through 34 is an opportunity to review one’s practice without judgment.  There is a special phrase for the step 35 Review: “I will look, but I will not judge.”

Here is the word cloud from steps 29 through 34:

Steps to Knowledge Steps 29-34 Word Cloud
Feel the truth, practice today.  The world needs your practice.

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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.

A Beginner’s Mind Is Trickier Than It Looks

Beginner's MindI consider it a significant accomplishment when someone develops a certain degree of expertise in any art or science, while retaining the attitude of a “beginner’s mind,” the felicitous combination of openness, enthusiasm, lack of preconceptions, and optimism which is the fuel of many accomplishments.  It takes a certain degree of humility.  Step 34 of Steps to Knowledge, “I am a beginning student of Knowledge,” encourages this beginner’s mind attitude.

I consider it a certain accomplishment to get to step 34.  Some significant thresholds have been crossed by students.  On the other hand, it’s only 9 per cent of the way in, which means no student is in any position to say “Ah, well, I can imagine what the rest will be like,” or “I’m clearly capable of this,” or “This is miles beyond me.”

The only downside of the beginner’s mind that I can see is that the beginner sees a wide range of possible outcomes and consequences for their actions, and maybe this wide range doesn’t really exist.  At this point, I wish to share a quotation from the book Greater Community Spirituality.

“Beginning students always think they are on the verge of accomplishment.  Intermediate students think they are on the verge of mastery.  Advanced students realize they are on the verge of simply learning the next step.”

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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.

Could I Have A Mission In My Life To Fulfill?

Mission ControlCould I have a mission in my life to fulfill?

Isn’t just surviving a noble fight?

Could I have a mission in my life to fulfill?

Doesn’t everything that should be done, and everything that should be avoided, reduce to “women and children first,” species survival?

Could I have a mission in my life to fulfill?

Just because the “heroes of faith” mentioned in Hebrews 11 (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, etc.) had a mission, does it necessarily follow that I have a mission?  Weren’t there countless people who lived during the days of these exemplary individuals, whose mission, if they had one, was unrecorded?

Could I have a mission in my life to fulfill?

Could my mission be where my deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meet?  (And should that phrase be banned from commencement speeches?)

Sovereign LORD, you alone know.

Step 33 “I have a mission in my life to fulfill” is the first appearance of the word “mission” in Steps to Knowledge.  The question “Could I have a mission in my life to fulfill?” is answered with an emphatic, full-throated “Yes!”  Not only do I have a mission, but I’ve had a mission all my life.  I had a mission before I was born, and that mission will be reviewed after I die.

I have had seasons in life where I believed I had a mission in life to fulfill.  I have also had seasons in life where I was fully persuaded that if I had a mission in life to fulfill, I had failed at it.  So I came to this step with a certain mixture of hope and regret.  As I did the practice of dwelling on the idea that I had a great mission in life, I got the idea that if I really did have a great mission in life, I would organize my life, my circumstances, my practices, my relationships, around the fulfillment of that mission.

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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 Does The Truth Feel Like Now?

Great waves

I have a number of things to say about step 32 of Steps to Knowledge “The truth is with me.  I can feel it.”

The practice of this step is a recap of the practice of step 18, “Today I feel the truth arising within myself.”

This step offered two separate strategies for getting past the constant restlessness of the mind.  One is using the breath.  There are much more sophisticated breath techniques that people use, than what is being offered here.  The other strategy doesn’t have a formal name that I know, but I call it “consoling one’s mind.”

“If something permeates your mind and you have difficulty releasing it, tell yourself that you will look at it a little later, but that right now you are taking a small vacation from your mind.”

I don’t know whether this works for other people, but my mind finds this comforting.

This is a step where I wrote down something about my experience of doing this step in December of 2010.

“What does the truth feel like?  I can only speak for myself.  The truth doesn’t feel like the truth value of any particular proposition.  The truth feels enormous, far greater than anything I could feel at any given moment.  The truth feels in motion, up to something, purposeful.  The truth feels like it will take me to other parts of the truth, if I am in its motion, if I am in its current.  The truth bears witness to itself, supports its greater purpose.  So I am seeing the image of the ocean currents, as my image of the truth.  I haven’t seen these words in this order, but I grasp, ‘In stillness, truth is felt.’  And a very comforting feeling it is indeed.  The feeling that truth can be felt is a very comforting feeling.”

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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.

Mulla Nasrudin’s Painful Return On Investment

Mulla NasruddinI have multiple reasons for sharing this.  I enjoyed the book “Tales of the Dervishes” by Idries Shah.  I recently found another Idries Shah book at a local bookseller, “The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin,” which I found to have a very high laugh-per-dollar ratio.  There were a couple of Mulla Nasrudin stories in Tales of the Dervishes.

I liked this particular story, because I had just mentioned in the previous post that it might be a good thing to practice becoming less invested in judging.

Mulla Nasrudin, as everyone knows, comes from a country where fruit is fruit, and meat is meat, and curry is never eaten.

One day he was plodding along a dusty Indian road, having newly descended from the high mountains of Kafiristan, when a great thirst overtook him. “Soon”, he said to himself; I must come across somewhere that good fruit is to be had;

Waigal, Nuristan(Kafiristan is a historical name for the modern-day Nuristan Province of Afghanistan)

No sooner were the words formed in his brain than he rounded a corner and saw sitting in the shade of a tree a benevolent-looking man, with a basket in front of him.

Piled high in the basket were huge, shiny red fruits. This is what I need; said Nasrudin. Taking two tiny coppers from the knot at the end of his turban, he handed them to the fruit-seller.

Without a word the man handed him the whole basket, for this kind of fruit is cheap in India, and people usually buy it in smaller amounts.

Nasrudin sat down in the place vacated by the fruiterer, and started to munch the fruits. Within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, fire was in his throat.

Guntur Red Chilis(Probably because these were the fruits he was eating.)

The Mulla went on eating.

An hour or two passed, and then an Afghan Hillman came past.

Nasrudin hailed him. “Brother! These infidel fruits must come from the very mouth of Sheitan!”

“Fool!” said the Hillman. “Hast thou never heard of the chilis of Hindustan? Stop eating them at once or death will surely claim a victim before the sun is down.”

“I cannot move from here,” gasped the Mulla, “until I have finished the whole basketful.”

“Madman! Those fruits belong in curry! Throw them away at once.”

“I am not eating fruit any more,” croaked Nasrudin, “I am eating my money.”

 

I’m open to the possibility that Nasrudin was “taking one for the team” for the purposes of our instruction.

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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 Wish To Be A Fairer Witness To The World

A Child WitnessIs it even possible to see things as anything other than what we are?  I’m not sure, but step 31 of Steps to Knowledge offers an affirmation of a desire to see something other than what is suggested by my own thoughts.  Yes, the word affirmation was used.  Yes, the actual affirmation “I wish to see a world I have never seen before,” is only found in Steps to Knowledge.

There are at least two threads going on in this step.  One thread is the idea of practicing observation without judgment, practicing not wanting to take delicious enjoyment in judging, practicing becoming less invested in judging.  Got that?

The other is strengthening the idea of hourly practice.  This is the third consecutive step involving hourly practice.  If I wish to engage with an idea, thinking about it on an hourly basis is a great way to do it.  On the other hand, if I’m having issues with the idea, or issues with the premises of Steps to Knowledge, I find any number of creative ways to forget my hourly practice, or not think about it as much as the step would suggest.

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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.

Thinking A Little More About Judgment

 

Caught in the trap

Some people struggle with the idea of observing without judgement.  Some people have difficulty with the execution of such an idea, as they have cultivated a habit of judging and are somewhat attached to it, somewhat invested in it.  Some people reject the very premise of such an idea, suggesting judgment is a necessity for survival.  But those same people usually affirm the teaching of Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1, New International Version)

I have previously mentioned the Matthew Henry Commentary in this space.  Henry wrote that there are people whose job it is to judge (rulers, authorities, etc.) and Jesus didn’t come to abolish those jobs.  There was another occasion when Jesus told his disciples they would one day judge the twelve tribes of Israel, but that day is in a redeemed future.  To judge someone is to presume an authority I don’t have.

To judge someone is to declare consent to be judged according to the same standard by which I have judged someone.  Some people have not considered that consequence to be the case.

One gentleman I spoke with conjectured that, other things being equal, we tend to judge the people who we consider to be least like us.

After some pondering, I consider the command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” to be a particular instance of the command “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31, New International Version).  The command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” could also be considered as a special case of “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31, New International Version)

Could it be that this command “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” is a trickier command to keep than it looks?  Could it be that we really do love our neighbor as ourselves, but we have a certain degree of self-hatred, for we know we’ve fallen short?  Could it be we would like to judge others, so we don’t seem so bad by comparison?

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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.