During this series of steps, I noticed that Step 88, “My Higher Self is not an individual” is the only step in Steps to Knowledge which uses the phrase “Higher Self.” The Step 91 Review also contains a word which appears only once in Steps to Knowledge. That word is “showmanship.”
“Learn how to learn. Learn about the process of learning. Do not use learning as a form of showmanship. Do not use learning to try to prove your worth to yourself. You cannot prove your worth. It is beyond your efforts to prove it. Your worth will demonstrate itself when you allow it, which you are now learning to do.”
What am I trying to prove? In earlier steps, students have been challenged to develop listening without preference and seeing without preference. Can I learn without preference? Can I learn without enlisting my learning as a foot soldier in my quest for your appreciation? I surmise that the rebuke of showmanship is giving an indirect reminder of the conversation about worth started in Step 24, “I am worthy of God’s love.”
Here is the word cloud for steps 85 through 90:
On further review, I believe there are better uses of my time than separating out the words in the word cloud so that they can be remixed the way I like.
What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove it to? Can I justify your love? Should I justify your love? Would it be progress to just abandon the whole enterprise?
I am recalling this poem by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks as I ponder the rejection by the New Message from God, of the idea of strengthening preferred outcomes when praying for people.
How long will you be frightened of the future?
Why do we seek to strengthen preferred outcomes? If the chain is followed back far enough, is it because we believe that we will not survive if we don’t?
In the context of this poem, the word “sheikh” refers to a more spiritually advanced individual, and the disciple is a disciple of the sheikh.
A sheikh and a disciple are walking quickly toward a town
where it’s known there is very little to eat. The disciple
says nothing, but he is constantly afraid of going hungry.
The sheikh knows what the disciple thinks. How long
will you be frightened of the future
because you love food? You have closed the eye
of self-denial and forgotten who provides.
Don’t worry. You’ll have your walnuts and raisins and special desserts.
Only the true favorites get hunger for their daily bread.
You’re not one of those. Whoever loves the belly
is brought bowl after bowl from the kitchen.
When such a person dies, bread itself comes to the funeral
and makes a speech: “O corpse, you almost killed yourself
with worrying about food. Now you’re gone and food
is still here, more than enough. Have some free bread.”
Bread is more in love with you than you with it.
It sits and waits for days. It knows you have no will.
If you could fast, bread would jump into your lap
as lovers do with each other.
Be full with trusting,
not with these childish fears of famine.
How long will you be frightened of the future? Until the day when the one who provides, provides new eyes with which to see. In the meantime, please pass the trusting.
We are now entering one of the great seasons in the liturgical year of the New Message from God, the Steps Vigil, observed from May 26 to June 14. It commemorates the 20-day period over which Steps to Knowledge was received in 1989. It is therefore a special occasion, as the 25th anniversary of the entry of Steps to Knowledge into the world.
I’ll say it again, it makes me very happy that you’re all here, and as I’ve been listening to the presentation this evening, recalling what life was like for me twenty-five years ago, and, I was being led to many different places. Sometimes, without any sense whatsoever. Partly because it was a test. Would I go wherever I had to go? Even carrying a family with me, with very little support. And, I had to go three thousand miles away, to receive Steps to Knowledge, and the revelation that would continue from that point.
But I just wanted to say, that, as Patricia mentioned, I was pregnant, with not only Steps to Knowledge, but with the revelation itself. Ah, it was really uncomfortable, knowing that something big was going to happen. Not today, not this week, not this month, not this year, until certain conditions were met that were beyond my understanding. About a week or two before Steps began, I was told it would begin. But not when, exactly, just it’s going to happen soon. And, reading through my journal, about these first days, of Steps to Knowledge, I think I was greatly relieved that it was beginning. But when it did begin, I was very insecure about whether I could do this. And, having a sense of its importance. But once I began, it began. And was recorded and transcribed, as you read it today.
I am grateful for that, and I think, certainly the most important, to me, part of the revelation I’ve ever received. Because, somehow, this is, this is the means, and it’s important to know why it was given at the beginning, before the entire teaching was received. Only a small part of the teaching had been received prior to this. If anything happened to me, or should I have failed, you would have the pathway. When you contrast this with the great revelations of the past, where the pathway was established long after the messenger was gone, by people who did not know him, and the problems associated with that, you can see why it was so important that Steps, practically came first. And, as Patricia mentioned, it did anchor all of us in the study, I began Steps pretty much right away. It took me a year and a half, studying every day, to get through Steps that first time. And it was a real journey for me. It was new ground, for me, even then. So I consider it so essential.
And I do want to make one other comment, and that’s the language of Steps to Knowledge. It is so simple, which means its so translatable. Even someone with very poor English could read this book. It does use some religious terms, but it’s not fraught with metaphysical terminology. You could teach your ten-year-old to do Steps to Knowledge. Maybe you should. And yet, as it was mentioned, there’s levels of teaching going on in Steps. And when people do Steps to Knowledge for the second time, I hear so often about how they see things they never saw before. In part, because they have new eyes to see now. There’s many different layers to Steps to Knowledge. You cannot exhaust this.
There are times when I feel I am missing some essential point. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself, but I have found that working through such times of confusion often leads to new consciousness.
I have shared on Step 36. My Life Is a Mystery to Explore before in this space, but I will elaborate some more now. I shared earlier that when I did this Step, I had the desire to explore my life, I wanted to delve beneath the surface and discover something greater, more meaningful, more profound. I still have this desire, I still strive for comprehension, I still recognize a deeper yearning. Yet still I feel I may be missing some essential point. I often wonder if I am merely construing everything to suit my personal preferences. I suspect, however, that my personal preferences abide on the surface of my mind and, while they are a part of me, they do not represent the true core of my being, my True Self.
Step 36 says that if I am seeking for greater meaning, which is true meaning, I must penetrate the surface of my mind. It also mentions my Teachers again, now calling them Spiritual Teachers. These Teachers were first introduced as the Teachers of God in Step 22.
I wrote in my notes that I felt some doubt about having my own Spiritual Teachers who are looking out for me personally, supporting and guiding me. Who are these teachers and why are they interested in me? Is this not just wishful thinking? Or perhaps, again, I am missing some essential point here, my notes say.
However, I am told in this Step that the quality of my relationship with my Teachers is essential to give me strength and encouragement. They know the way to Knowledge, they have passed this way before, and they are seeking to share it with me. I am willing to trust that this is so. If this is part of the mystery of my life I am to explore, I am up for it.
Am I missing some essential point?
I did this Step on December 13, 2012. Today I can say that I have been able to develop a deeper relationship with my Teachers. When I enter stillness, they are there, they give me strength and encouragement. They tell me I am doing fine, but I am still learning and I still have a long way to go. How do I know this? I see my Teachers in my mind’s eye and I hear what they are conveying to me in my mind’s ear. If I am missing some essential point, I think that is natural. After all my life is a mystery to explore and mysteries are not unraveled in one day, or even one year. Finding the missing essential point may take quite some time.
I am on a mysterious lifetime journey and I trust that any essential point I am missing will eventually be revealed.
Этот Шаг призывает к рассмотрению последней недели занятий (Шагов 29-34), но без осуждения. Я должна просто рассматрывать какие наставления, что я делала, и какие результаты я получила.
Мои записи к этому шагу свидетельствуют о том, что я была довольной своими результатами. Я писала о том, что я уже начинаю жить этими шагами, дышать им, они становятся неотъемлемой частью моей жизни, моей души. Знание говорит мне разными способами. Оно проявляется интуицией, проницательностью, неожиданным озарением, какой-то идей, мыслями, пробуждениями, даже тогда, когда я специально о чем-то каком не думаю. Я занимаюсь обедненными делами, а вдруг проникаюсь озарением истины. И я хочу держаться за это состояние как можно дольше.
Меня привлекло это предложение потому, что сегодня я смотрю на себя и пытаюсь себя не осудить. Есть черты моего характера, которые я хочу устранить, эмоции, которые я хочу раздавить потому, что, как мне кажется, они не соответствуют восстановлением Знания.
Смотри, но не осуждай
На фото, которое я выставила, есть дефект. Я его не сразу заметила. Я видела только сияющие лепестки яблоня, изумрудные листья, залитые солнцем, белый цветок на зеленом фоне. Затем, через какое-то время, заметила насекомое, такое черное, рогатое. И сразу другие мысли возникали, осуждающие. Тьфу, гадость какая! А почему собственно? Насекомые тоже являются частью природы, тоже имеют право на существование. Пусть сидит на цветке, я, что, раздавить его собираюсь? Да нет! Вот и не надо раздавить свои эмоции, может они гадкие, может они некрасивые, но он тоже имеют право на существование. С насекомом ничего сделать не могу, а со своими негативными эмоциями я могу поработать, развивать их в нечто более полезное и достойное. Я смотрю, но не осуждаю. И ты смотри, но не осуждай.
…in your review, use this as a guidepost: “I will look, but I will not judge.”
This review covers the past week of Steps from 29 thru 34, instructing me to do this with as little judgment as possible. To merely look and see what was instructed, what I did and what the result was.
My notes for this Step say, “all in all, it is amazing how Steps are beginning to live, take up residence in me if you will, on a daily basis and merge into an overall greater awareness about myself and life in general. And insights come uncalled for, or when I am not specifically thinking about or practicing Steps. For instance, the affirmation ‘I want to see a different world’ from Step 31. I Wish To See A World I Have Never Seen Before suddenly opened up yesterday as I was doing something else and became so clear and understandable. Like a flash of insight that I want to hold on to.
“And so it is as I move on through Steps, I realize that what has gone before remains with me, embedding itself in the core of my being, even without me being consciously aware of it, to erupt in moments of inspiration and insight when I can truly say that the truth is with me, I can feel it!”
I did this review on December 12, 2012 and was pretty upbeat about it.
One phrase spoke to me in particular. My notes begin with: “This idea that
the less you attempt to use your life, the more you will be able to understand it, appreciate it and work with its intrinsic mechanism for your greater advancement
is beginning to strike home for me.”
Today as I post on this review and reread the Step, a different passage speaks to me.
You are learning now to become objective about your life without repressing the content of your emotions. Instead of attempting to destroy one aspect of yourself, you are simply attempting to cultivate another.
This speaks to me because today I am looking at myself, but trying hard not to judge. I am trying to repress the content of my emotions, trying to squelch a part of me I do not like, a part of me that does not seem to resonate with Knowledge.
Looking but not judging
Look at the photo I posted. What do you see?
At first I saw luminescent white petals, sunlight illuminating the leaves, the contrast of sparkling white and fresh green. It took me quite a while to notice the bug. When I did, I thought it detracted from the beauty of the blossom. It seemed like a blemish on an otherwise unsullied soul. My thoughts became judgmental. Upon further reflection, however, I decided the bug had every right to its place on the flower. If I liken the bug to the emotions I wish to repress and destroy, I am given a different perspective. I may not like my emotions, but I do not need to repress or destroy them. I am looking but not judging.
Since I make this request to whom it may concern, please understand that I’m not seeking absolution from you, at least not in the formal sense.
Will you hear my confession?
It has been my blessing to know John Stewart and his family for about ten years now. I first met him in the glory days of the regional blogfleet called the Minnesota Organization of Blogs (MOB). This picture was taken at Keegan’s Irish Pub in Minneapolis, a MOB gathering place in 2005. At the time, I only knew John by his nom de blog of The Night Writer. There was a season where his wife and two daughters were blogging as well, earning them the well-deserved title of “Minnesota’s first family of blogging.”
In the time I have known John, I have read many blog posts he has written. We have had a number of conversations, both in person and online. I have never read or heard an unkind word fall from his pen or his lips. I consider John to be an unashamed, unapologetic Christian, but he’s not a stuck-up sticky-beak or a pompous puffed-up pea-brain about it. I consider him as someone who has successfully navigated between the Scylla of spiritual timidity, and the Charybdis of spiritual pride and arrogance. As far as I know, he is doing his small, necessary part to forward the gospel, and is content to be doing his small, necessary part. I am grateful that he is in my world.
John recently entered a new season in life when he was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s disease”). As ALS is but one of a family of diseases, John has decided to call it “Uncle Lou.” He is blogging about it here. He seems to have a certain conviction that he will confound this disease. Will he? I don’t know. But even if he doesn’t, I believe he will sing his noble death song and die like a hero going home. I believe he will live his life the way he has lived his life in the presence of many witnesses (including me).
Will you hear my confession? I confess I am disquieted when I consider the possibility that there are “Job’s comforters” out there, people thinking, “Well, if John really was a man of God, he wouldn’t get such a weird, scary disease.” Fortunately, if such people exist in my world, they are keeping their mouths firmly shut.
I confess that I want the words of Mark 16:18, “they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” to be true in my world, but they are not.
Will you hear my confession? I confess dissatisfaction as to why that should be the case. Was Mark 16:9-20 an extra addition, as some people claim?
I confess I don’t want there to be “fine print,” provisos or qualifications to the promises of God.
Will you hear my confession? I confess I don’t want fine print to be necessary, but it seems like it is.
I confess that I want to be the one that lays hands on sick people, and they will get well, but I’m not. Everyone has different gifts.
Will you hear my confession? I confess that I want it to be a practice of the New Message from God to pray for sick people to get well, but it is not. There definitely is a practice of praying for other people, but it focuses on the qualities I believe the other person needs for resolution, as opposed to strengthening a preferred outcome. I haven’t written about it yet because it is addressed in a later Step.
I confess that I want Marshall Summers to heal the sick, but he does not. He has never advertised to do so. I don’t believe he ever will. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for him to share his message if he did.
Время от времени моя гордыня выходит на первый план. В таких случаях, следует думать снова о смирении.
В книге «Шаги к Знанию», Шаг 34. Я – начинающий ученик Знания как раз помогает смирит гордыню. Хотя я занималась этим Шагом почти полтора года назад, сегодня, сочиняя этот пост, я снова осознаю тот факт, что я всего лишь начинающий ученик, что я не должна прийти к преждевременным заключениям и нет у меня особых достижений, нуждающихся в защите.
Когда я вспоминая об этом, когда я чувствую себя уязвимой и беспомощной, когда моя гордыня указывает на то, что моя самооценка зашкаливает и придется приземлиться с размахом, то значит время наступило для очередного урока смирения. И это хорошо. В этот раз я наткнулась на другую статью Николая Бердяева о смиринии.
Снова о смирении
Приведу цитату из неё:
“Смирение есть проявление духовной мощи в победе над самостью. Эгоцентрическая ориентировка жизни есть главное последствие первородного греха. Человек закупорен в самом себе и все видит из себя и по отношению к самому себе. Человек помешан на самом себе, на своем “я”. Мы все грешны эгоцентризмом. Со стороны нет более комического зрелища. Эгоцентризм искажает все перспективы жизни, все видно в ложном освещении, ничему не определено надлежащее место. Нужно подняться на высоту, выйти из ямы эгоцентризма, чтобы увидеть мир в истинном свете, чтобы все получило правильные очертания, чтобы увидеть горизонт. Нужно увидеть центр бытия не в себе, а в Боге, т. е. в подлинном центре, и тогда все становится на свое место. Смирение по онтологическому своему смыслу и есть героическое преодоление эгоцентризма и героическое восхождение на высоту геоцентризма. Смирение есть выход из асфикции своего замкнутого “я”, своей затверделой самости в дыхание мировой жизни. Смирение не только не есть отрицание личности, но оно и есть обретение своей личности, ибо личность может быть найдена лишь в Боге, а не в затверделой и закоренелой самости. Смирение не только не противоположно свободе, оно есть акт свободы. Никто и ничто на свете не может принудить меня к смирению, кроме меня самого, лишь через акт свободы оно приходит. Оно всегда есть приобретение большей свободы. Смирение есть глубоко внутреннее, сокровенное явление. И одним из самых страшных извращений христианства было внешнее и рабье понимание смирения. Только через духовный акт смирения побеждается ressentiment, больное самолюбие человека. Всю жизнь стрелы попадают в больное от самолюбия человеческое сердце, и человек бессилен против этих стрел, он истекает кровью. Только духовное смирение может защитить человека от этой мучительной боли. Смирение прежде всего направлено против самолюбия и есть сила, защищающая от больного самолюбия.”
Очень полезно думать снова о смирении. Может быть, если это случится почаще, я смогу когда-нибудь смирить свою гордыню раз и навсегда.
I find revisiting humility to be a rewarding pursuit, something an arrogant soul like myself needs to do every once in a while.
As a beginning student of Knowledge, I do, like everyone else for that matter, occaisonally have the odd bad day. And this just happens to be one of them as I share on a Step I did quite some time ago. I reached Step 34. “I Am A Beginning Student of Knowledge” on December 10, 2012. Today I am on Step 335. Much water has flown under the bridge, so to speak, yet today I feel I as though I am back at the beginning, back trying to find my way. It is just one of those days. A good day to remind myself again that I am a beginning student of Knowledge and revisit humility.
The notes I wrote on December 10, 2012 for Step 34 actually show a certain amount of awareness and sound thinking: “Recognizing that I am a beginning student is always humbling and always paves the way to new learning. I am happy to be in a position to learn, not draw any premature conclusions, and not have to defend my accomplishments. I am waiting for the light of truth to shine upon me and I have no doubt that it will as long as I remain open and willing.”
Today, from my vantage point higher up the mountain, one year and a little over five months later, it was brought abruptly and even brutally to my attention that I am still very much a beginning student of Knowledge, which is why I am revisiting humility. It seems I have still not learned my lesson. Not only are premature conclusions way out of line, I have no accomplishments to defend, even if I wanted to. I am still naively waiting for the light of truth to shine upon me. And not only that, in my arrogant hope that as long as I remain open and willing it no doubt will, I have succeeded in bringing myself back down to earth again with a resounding thud.
All is not lost however. Remembering that I am a beginning student has its rewards, since it prompted me to think again about humility and look further. In the process, I came across an interesting article called “A Lesson in Humility.” One passage struck me in particular and spoke directly to my experience. I share it here.
Allowing the lesson of humility
“From my own personal experience, I can understand how difficult it can be for someone who has an inherent inclination to ‘arrogance’ to allow the understanding of humility. It feels like a loss of identity, a sense of deep defeat/failure, a strong feeling of vulnerability and helplessness – in fact, whenever you get these feelings you can be sure that you are learning a lesson in humility …
“The only deal is that you won’t stop being given the lesson until you learn it – much as you would hope that life would just give you a break, it doesn’t. Sometimes, what feels like an achievement or a build-up of success or an experience of joy ends up being a setup to bring you the lesson of humility – what’s called the ‘high before the crash.’ If you allow the intended growth you wouldn’t need to learn the same lesson again, but most of us are too hard-headed and hence there are a few repeat lessons until we finally learn. The lessons usually come from the things that you value the most – for example, if relationship is what is most important to you, your lessons will come from your experiences in a relationship, and if career is what’s most important to you, you lessons will come from the field of your career.”
The “high before the crash” mentioned here is so familiar to me. It is precisely what I am referring to when I talk about “being brought back down to earth with a resounding thud.” I have been shown today that even though I have supposedly moved on from Step 34 and being a beginning student, I still have a long way to go. Sharing in this space and being reminded of where I was and where I am now is certainly humbling. Remembering that I am a beginning student has its rewards, and I will no doubt be revisiting humility time and time again.
Steps to Knowledge has gone to great lengths to discourage the practice of judgment, and encourage the practice of observation in its place. Judgment is a practice of not knowing. Judgment is a practice of not looking. Judgment is a practice of not listening. Judgment is a practice of not being still. Judgment is a practice with certain social rewards. Judgment is a practice I must slowly back away from if I want to attain to what Steps to Knowledge is offering. I must strengthen the practices of knowing, looking, listening and being still.
Don’t believe everything you think
In Step 90, “Today I will make no assumptions,” this conversation is taken a step further. If I make a judgment, I am declaring “This thing is good,” or “That person is bad,” regardless of what further observation might yield about the person or thing I am judging. If I make an assumption, I am declaring “This is true,” or “That isn’t true.” I therefore consider assumption to be a detrimental practice of mental sloth, just as I consider judgment to be a detrimental practice of moral sloth.
The word “assumption” appears 14 times in 8 different steps, before appearing in Step 90. The context in which the word “assumption” consistently appears is that assumptions are not founded upon experience, and are therefore weak. Assumptions are inadequate in the face of life’s opportunities and challenges. Assumption is the use of language and imagination to create a self and a world not founded on experience, and therefore apart from life.
It may take a while to unwind the multiple layers of assumptions, redactions of experience and denials of experience which pass for reality. But at the very least, I can stop adding layers to this house of cards. I can cultivate a certain degree of skepticism regarding my assumptions. I can take the page from the Buddhist playbook “Don’t believe everything you think.” I can keep observing, keep coming back to my experience. Will I? Let’s just say I’ll make a determined effort.