И снова о смирении

снова о смирении

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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.

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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.

Revisiting Humility

revisiting humility

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.

Revisiting humility

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.

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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.

Some Small But Substantial Successes

Some small but subtantial successes

Step 84 of Steps to Knowledge is a review of the steps from Step 78, “I can do nothing alone” to Step 83, “I value Knowledge beyond all things.”

Some small but substantial successes

There were some seeds sown during this period. One seed that was sown was the idea that if I am going to advance, I’m going to have to be more accountable as to what I am practicing. This seed was sown in Step 80, “I can only practice.” Another seed that was sown was the idea that if I am going to advance, I’m going to have to have a certain awareness of my craving for social rewards. I’m going to have to develop a certain indifference to social rewards. This seed was sown in Step 81, “I will not deceive myself today.”

There were also some seeds that were sown earlier, but watered during this period. Step 78, “I can do nothing alone” is a watering of the seed sown in Step 45, “Alone I can do nothing.” Step 82, “Today I will not judge another” is a watering of the seed sown in Step 76 “I will not judge another today.”

Steps to Knowledge has mentioned the value of having a beginner’s mind, an attitude of humility, curiosity and enthusiasm toward the study of Steps to Knowledge. One of the good things about a beginner’s mind is not having expectations as to what kind of experience will occur in the study of something. It is as if Step 84 is answering the student’s question, “Is this how it’s supposed to look?”

“Review the practices and the instructions for the preceding week.Review your progress objectively. Realize how great your learning must be. Your steps now are small, but substantive. Small steps lead you all the way. You are not expected to take great leaps, yet each small step will seem like a great leap, for it will give you so much more than you have ever had before.”

Here is the word cloud for Steps 77 through 83:

Steps To Knowledge Steps 78-83 Word Cloud by Wordle. Some small but substantial successes

I have been using the website Wordle for creating these word clouds. I don’t know how Wordle creates these word clouds, but I don’t believe that Wordle makes any effort to put related words next to each other, or unrelated words far away from each other. Shortly after I made this word cloud, I felt an inclination to separate the words from each other, so that other people could arrange the words as they saw fit. Here are the separated words:

Steps To Knowledge Steps 78-83 Word Cloud with words separated. Some small but substantial successes

And since I am inviting people to do something, it seemed like a good thing to accept my own invitation, and make my own word cloud for Steps 77 through 83:

Steps To Knowledge Steps 78-83 Word Cloud Rearranged. Some small but substantial successes

I believe someone is reading this and thinking “I say, Douglas, you have a lot of time on your hands, don’t you?” Maybe, but I definitely thought about the Steps from which the words came as I rearranged the words. Who knows, maybe one day this will be a standard practice for engaging with the significance of a certain text. I can imagine my grandchildren saying “I have a clouding assignment in Language Arts class.”

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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 Will Keep My Hands To The Plow Today

I will keep my hands to the plow today, I'll keep trying and believing, like the Little Engine That Could

Steps 65 through 67 of Steps to Knowledge contain three separate critiques, or criticisms, or rebukes of what passes for normal life in the world. Step 65, “I have come to work in the world,” pokes at the idea that we just showed up here.  It rebukes the idea that our reason for being here reduces to individual and species survival. Step 66, “I will stop complaining about the world,” rebukes the idea that we are entitled to have the world conform to our ideals. Chances are good that the things I’m complaining about are the very things I came into the world to address. Step 67, “I do not know what I want for the world,” rebukes the idea that our preferences and anxieties are an adequate foundation for our mission in the world.  A student might ask “Is there anything I get to keep?!?”

I will keep my hands to the plow today

Step 68, “I will not lose faith in myself today,” answers that question “Yes.”  Do you have a beginner’s mind?  Keep that.  Do you have the resolve to go forward? Keep that.  Do you have the willingness to receive the assistance of your Teachers? Keep that.  Do you have the self-esteem required to approach the great mystery of your life? Keep that.  Keep and fortify all of the above.

I will keep my hands to the plow today. I believe where I’m going is a place I want to be. I believe I have friends helping me get there. I believe I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

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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.

Let’s Get To Business, Shall We?

Let's get to business, shall we?  These men will.  Well, after lunch, that is.

Let’s get to business, shall we?  Steps to Knowledge does.  Steps to Knowledge, as early as Step 6, “I have a true foundation in the world,” describes the world as a place to which we have come.  The world isn’t merely the scene of a biological accident.  The world isn’t just a karmic prison which we don’t escape until we have paid the last penny.  I wrote about this in more detail here.

But why have we come to the world?  In Step 18, “Today I feel the truth arising within myself,” we are told we have come into the world to find certain individuals.  In Step 34, “I am a beginning student of Knowledge,” we are told there are specific things we have come to do.  I consider it most pertinent that that statement comes in the step directly after Step 33, “I have a mission in my life to fulfill.” In Step 55, “I will accept the world as it is,” we are told we have come to the world to serve.  Step 65, “I have come to work in the world,” adds another clue to the mystery of why we have come to the world.  Step 65 is also the first step to use the phrase “I have come” in the step itself.

Let’s get to business, shall we?

Step 65 is the first step since Step 33 to directly address the idea that there is a mission to fulfill, that there is work to do in the world.  It is as if Steps to Knowledge sowed a seed in me in Step 33, and came back to water it in Step 65.  Are we told what the mission is, what the work is?  No.  We are only told what it is not.

“Your work is greater than your current employment. Your work is greater than what you are currently attempting to do with people and for people. Your work is greater than what you are attempting to do for yourself. Understand that you do not know what your work is. That will be revealed to you and it will evolve for you, but understand today that you have come to the world to work.”

I have a thought that if I had a direct experience of my work which I came to the world to do, at the time I did Step 65, then I would be terrified out of my senses.  I would run screaming from wherever I was, knowing full well that there was no place to run screaming to.

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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.

Can I Make My Soul A Little Bigger?

This is the fifth post in a series of seven posts regarding Step 49 of Steps to Knowledge, where I am directed to review my practice of the first 48 steps.  I am sharing what I wrote at the time I did this review, with additional commentary as needed.

Step 29 – I will observe myself today to learn of Knowledge – “I remember I started exercising the day I did this Step.  When I’m doing more observing, less judging, Knowledge sneaks in in an unguarded moment.  I didn’t do very well in practicing exactly on the hour, but I practiced a good bit.  I commented on this Step.”  Starting to exercise was definitely a positive development.  Yes, I consider unguarded moments to be valuable.  I now use the alarm on my cell phone to remind me of hourly practice.  It’s a great conversation starter.  I don’t believe my private commentary on this step will be all that helpful.

Step 30 – Today I will observe my world – “Again, like the day before, I didn’t do the Step hourly, but I did it a lot, I considered the possibility of looking on the collapse of America without judgment.”  If you either know me, or read this blog, then you have observed or surmised that I have a certain amount of fondness for, or attachment to, the United States of America and the ideals it seeks to embody.  Contemplating the possibility of looking on the collapse of America without judgment took a great deal of stretching my soul beyond its previous dimensions.

Step 31 – I wish to see a world I have never seen before – “I recalled the ‘Judgment and love are opposites…’ step from ACIM [A Course in Miracles].  I also recalled the John Lennon song ‘Watchin’ the Wheels Go Round.’  Again, I wasn’t good on timely practice, but I practiced a lot.”  Lesson 352 in the Workbook for Students in A Course in Miracles is “Judgment and love are opposites.  From one come all the sorrows of the world.  But from the other comes the peace of God Himself.”  This is more of what I mean when I talk about the overlap between A Course in Miracles and Steps to Knowledge.  The actual title of the John Lennon song is just “Watching the Wheels.”  I find it much less angry than many earlier John Lennon songs.

Step 32 – The truth is with me.  I can feel it. – “I remember mocking this Step, saying the line from 2001 ‘The truth is with me, Dave.  I can feel it.’  I believe there was a big gap between the day I did 31 and the day I did 32.  Holidays?  I commented on this step.”  When Dave Bowman is shutting down the HAL 9000 computer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL says “My mind is going, Dave.  I can feel it.”  Did I need some comic relief? I shared my further commentary on Step 32 here.

Step 33 – I have a mission in my life to fulfill – “I remember not enjoying this step, because I was ok with the idea, but never seemed to fulfill it.  I remember thinking it could mean I would be a fanatic, my life organized around my great mission.  On the other hand, I might be fanatic, but normal about it.”  I seem to have issues with either being a fanatic, or being thought of as a fanatic.  Did St. Joan of Arc have a problem with people thinking she was a fanatic?

Step 34 – I am a beginning student of Knowledge – “I remember this Step taking away the pressure from the last Step.”

Step 35 – Review – “I did the Review.  Looking without judgment is the current answer to everything that stinks.”  I remember making the phrase “I will look, but I will not judge” into a little song that I sang over and over around the time I did this 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.

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.

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.