Keep Your Hand On The Plow by Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson singingThe last verse of the poem “Freedom’s Plow” by Langston Hughes declared:

A long time ago,
An enslaved people heading toward freedom
Made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
The plow plowed a new furrow
Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody,
For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow
Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!

When I shared the poem, I didn’t share the song which was its exclamation point. I am correcting that omission now.

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

Heard the voice of Jesus say
Come unto me, I am the way.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.
When my way gets dark as night,
I know the lord will be my light,
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

You can talk about me much as you please
the more you talk, gonna stay on my knees.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

When I get to heaven, gonna sing and shout
Be nobody there to put me out.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.
I know my robe’s gonna fit me well,
I tried it on at the gates of Hell.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.

Hold on
Hold on
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on

* * *

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.

Some Literary Comparing and Contrasting

Literary Analysis

This is another post in a series comparing and contrasting the books “A Course in Miracles” and “Steps to Knowledge.”

One significant difference is that A Course in Miracles includes a text of roughly 290,000 words, while Steps to Knowledge does not.  The Workbook for Students of A Course in Miracles contains 365 lessons, as does Steps to Knowledge.  Some people might consider it reasonable to compare Steps to Knowledge with the Workbook for Students.

I find Steps to Knowledge and the Workbook for Students to be roughly equal in readability, both relatively free of idioms.

I had a thought today which I have never had before.  The thought is, since different people read the text of A Course in Miracles at different rates, the people will have many different states of mind when they study a particular lesson.  Therefore, there will be a wide range of outcomes when students study A Course in Miracles.  There might not be as wide a range of outcomes when students study Steps to Knowledge.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  Is this a bug or a feature?

*

* * *

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 Venture Forth

I Wish To Venture Forth, forest near Moscow, RussiaI wish to venture forth to explore what Steps to Knowledge offers me. Step 41 was a crucial milestone for me in affirming and acknowledging the power of God. This Step calls for not being afraid of the power of God, and not only should I not be afraid, I “must venture forth to explore what is most natural.”

The day I reached this Step, my attention kept being drawn to a poem by Robert Frost called The Road Not Taken, the last lines of which I found very significant.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

To me Robert Frost’s poem is very ambiguous. I like to think the last sentence means that he made the right choice. But does it? He was ambivalent at first, he wondered if he might regret his choice, since both roads looked equally inviting and who knows where the other one might have led. He would never know, so he took a leap of faith.

I Wish to Venture Forth

So it was with me. I made a choice over twenty years ago, I ventured forth on an uncharted journey, and it has indeed made all the difference.

This is why the poem so resonated with me when I did this Step.

After stating that I must venture forth, it goes on to imply that if I do, it will be “like breaking new ground and coming home all at once.”

And it has.

* * *

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.

Claiming Strength Is Trickier Than It Looks

Don't QuitThis is my second post on Step 44 of Steps to Knowledge “I wish to know my own strength.”  I’m continuing the practice of showing each sentence of the step, and offering commentary.

“How can you approach your strength when you feel weak and helpless, when you feel unworthy, if you are burdened by guilt or confusion or in anger blame others for your own apparent failures?”

There’s a certain amount of poison that has to be sucked out of a person’s soul in order for them to approach their strength.  Maybe they didn’t quite catch everything in Step 24, “I am worthy of God’s love.”

“To claim your strength means to release all that holds you back.”  See the previous sentence.

“You do not release your obstacles by claiming they do not exist. You release them because you value something greater.”

I have a certain investment in my obstacles.  It is an investment in attention, practice, rehearsal, sharing with others, enrolling others in their obstacles, and so forth.  Am I ready to sell guilt and confusion, so that I can buy strength?

“Their obstruction is merely the sign that you must pass through them.Your own strength is then cultivated.”

Am I allowed to recall that I can close my investment in some things, so that I can invest in other things?  I can do that?

“You seek your strength, and you use it to find your strength.”

I have to cultivate my strength to find my strength?  That seems a little self-referential, but there it is.  I have to declare my strength to find my strength?  I have to bring forth my strength to find my strength?  I have to create my strength to find my strength?  Maybe.  I’m still thinking about this.

“We wish for you to know your strength and to utilize it on your own behalf.”

Could it be that the mission I have in my life to fulfill is something that requires my unadulterated strength?

*

* * *

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 God?

A Forest is a Temple of God

There was a time when I felt very ambivalent about the word “God.” However, Steps to Knowledge often refers to God and the New Message from God is the source. Shouldn’t this have raised my hackles and if not sent me running from the room, at least made me want to retreat, quietly closing the door behind me?

Perhaps, but I did neither, instead I stayed in the room and decided to examine my ambivalence. What do I have against the word “God?” And I decided it was because I associate it with religion. But I don’t consider myself a religious person, I don’t go to church, and I don’t read the Bible, although there was a time in my life when I did go to church and there was a time in my life when I did read the Bible. I like the Bible, if the word “like” is appropriate in this context, I find it a source of infinite wisdom. I did not particularly like going to church though. It just never felt right, its walls were too confining.

Then I found that if I substituted the word “God” for “Higher Power,” my ambivalence lessened. In a forest grove with its majesty, air and light, I felt the closer presence of a Higher Power, so I substituted church for the forest and embraced the power I felt there.

And by the time I embarked on Steps to Knowledge, I was ready to acknowledge that “you find God in a pure impulse, in a timeless moment of recognition, in the desire to act beyond the sphere of your own personal interests and motives, in the recognition of another, in the motive to give, in the inexplicable experience of affinity. These are translatable. This is God in action. For you, this is God.”

Step 38 says that God knows the way to Knowledge, Step 39 reminds me that the power of God is with me, Step 40 tells me to feel the power of God today, and Step 41 asks me to affirm that I am not afraid of the power of God. With these tools in my arsenal and additionally armed with the affirmation “the power of God represents the mystery of [my] life” (Step 39), all ambivalence flew out the window for good.

* * *

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 Want The Strength To Do What Must Be Done

Christ Washing The Disciples Feet - Dirck van Baburen

I experienced a certain difficulty finding something particular to say about Step 44 of Steps to Knowledge “I wish to know my own strength.”  I finally decided to just give each paragraph of the step, and offer commentary.

“This affirmation you may find very acceptable because of your immediate need for it in your current circumstances, but the affirmation is far deeper than you may at first realize.”

This is the fourth instance of the word affirmation, the previous instances being in Step 41 “I am not afraid of the power of God,” Step 31 “I wish to see a world I have never seen before,” and Step 27, “I have a wisdom that I wish to discover.”  I believe there is someone reading this and thinking it would be a good idea to harvest the affirmations from Steps to Knowledge and use them separately.  I don’t think that’s a good idea, as the power of these affirmations have a lot to do with the context in which they are found.

“You have far more strength than you have claimed, but it cannot be fully realized until its application is directed in a manner that truly regenerates you and brings forth your true abilities.”

At this point, I’m recalling the Marianne Williamson quote “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  But we don’t want to have a strength that demonstrates itself merely in using more resources and dying with more toys than a herdsman in Mali, or a Pakistani bricklayer.

I want the strength to do what must be done.

*

* * *

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.

Compare And Contrast: Who, Where, When, How, For Whom

Compare and Contrast

This post is continuing the thread of comparing and contrasting the books “A Course in Miracles” and “Steps to Knowledge.”  I don’t seek to prove anything in particular in this thread, I plan to put information that is kept in different places in one place.

Data points can be seen as similar or different depending on the scope in which they were viewed.  For example, both A Course in Miracles and Steps to Knowledge were written in the 20th Century, but one was published in 1976, and the other was published in 1989.  I’m going to give the data, and leave the decision about the significance to you.

I am using the ACIM website, the New Message from God website, and the introduction to Steps to Knowledge as data sources.

Who: Helen Schucman (1909-1981) was the scribe of A Course in Miracles.  Marshall Vian Summers is the messenger of Steps to Knowledge.

Where: A Course in Miracles was scribed in New York City.  Steps to Knowledge was received in Albany, New York. (What is it about New York?)

When: A Course in Miracles (the text, the workbook for students, and the manual for teachers) was scribed over a period of almost seven years (October 1965 to September 1972).  Steps to Knowledge was received over a period of 20 days (May 26, 1989 to June 14, 1989).  I find that significant.

How: Helen Schucman describes her experience:

“The Voice made no sound, but seemed to be giving me a kind of rapid, inner dictation which I took down in a shorthand notebook. The writing was never automatic. It could be interrupted at any time and later picked up again. It made obvious use of my educational background, interests and experience, but that was in matters of style rather than content. Certainly the subject matter itself was the last thing I would have expected to write about.”

The shorthand was later transcribed by William Thetford.

Steps to Knowledge was originally recorded on audio cassettes, and later transcribed.  Marshall Summers describes various days of his recording Steps:

May 27: “Felt so much pressure. Two intense sessions of recording. Felt really “out there” afterwards. It was difficult to be with people.”

June 1: “49 Steps in 4 hours with several breaks. Very powerful.”

June 8: “77 Steps today. Felt the Presence all day. I could not do much after this.”

For Whom: The voice dictating A Course in Miracles identified itself to her as the voice of Jesus.  The voice speaking through Marshall identifies itself as the voice of a group of unseen spiritual teachers who describe themselves as Teachers of the Greater Community.

I hope this helps.

*

* * *

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.

Errors May Be Serendipitous

Serendipity and Serendipitous

 

 

 

 

 

 

Errors may be serendipitous

I like to describe my experience of taking Steps to Knowledge so far as a series of serendipitous events. Serendipity is something I am very partial to.

Wikipedia describes it this way:

“Serendipity is not just a matter of a random event, nor can it be taken simply as a synonym for “a happy accident” (Ferguson, 1999; Khan, 1999), “finding out things without searching for them” (Austin, 2003), or “a pleasant surprise” (Tolson, 2004) ..

The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines serendipity as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a satisfactory or beneficial way, understanding the chance as any event that takes place in the absence of any obvious project (randomly or accidentally), which is not relevant to any present need, or in which the cause is unknown.”

It goes on to say:

The serendipitous can play an important role in the search for truth, but is often ignored in the scientific literature because of traditional scientific behavior and scientific thinking based on logic and predictability.”

I added the bold italics to this phrase, since this speaks so loud and clear to me.

Errors may be serendipitous

When I reached Step 26. My Errors Give Birth to My Knowledge, this serendipity thing rose to its full height and opened in full bloom. It suggests in this Step that I not justify my errors, but what if I turn them around into fortuitous events that take me in a direction I was not intending? What if they bring me to value truth and in this leads me to true Knowledge?

One particular error I made in the summer of 2012 led me to the New Message from God and set me on the journey to Steps to Knowledge in October 2012. Call this what you will, but I call it serendipitous.

The corner of Route 54 and Unexpected Road

* * *

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.

Knowing God And The Details Thereof

Hubble Deep Field

Can God be known by a human being?  The God of the Bible seems to not only say “Yes!” but to describe it as a thing to be pursued.  The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah declared

This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24, New International Version)

Jesus, in what some call his “high priestly prayer,” declared

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Albert Einstein declared “I am not interested in this phenomenon or that phenomenon, I want to know God’s thoughts – the rest are mere details.”

In my undergraduate days, the book Knowing God by J. I. Packer generated a great deal of reading, study and reflection.

Step 43 of Steps to Knowledge confirms all of the above, and adds a new idea, that not only is it possible to know God, not only is it desirable to know God, it is my will as well.

“Your will is to know God. That is your true will. Any other desire or motivation is to escape this, which represents your will. It is your will that has become fearful to you.You are afraid of what you know and most deeply feel.This leads you to find refuge in other things that do not represent you, and in this you lose your identity and attempt to construct an identity that is related to those things which you have sought for escape. In isolation you are miserable, but in relationship happiness is regained.”

For me, this step feels similar to Step 41, particularly the part about how we malign what we love to fortify separation.

*

* * *

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 Know Nothing Now

Peanuts--I Know Nothing

When I began Steps to Knowledge in October 2012, I thought I already knew something, I thought I was starting from a place of accumulated knowledge based on past experiences, on lessons learned, on a certain treasure-trove of facts and figures I had accrued over my life. However, I quickly learned that the Knowledge it refers to in Steps has nothing to do with what I thought knowledge was up to this point in my life. So if I were to ask the same question as Sally Brown, which I did when I reached Step 3. What Do I Really Know?, the only answer I could truthfully give is “I know nothing now.”

This is by way of a first post as I test the waters as a guest blogger at Ascending Knowledge. I have to admit feeling a certain amount of honor at being invited to post here, while also feeling a certain amount of trepidation: Am I up to the task? Will I meet the expectations? Will I be able to share in a coherent way? But nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say, which is precisely the way I feel about taking this mysterious journey called Steps to Knowledge.

*

* * *

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.