Glory Be To God For Small Things

Glory be to God for small things. I find happiness in small things today.The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote “Glory be to God for dappled things.” As someone with freckles, I consider myself included in his song of praise. As I contemplate Step 85 of Steps to Knowledge “I find happiness in small things today,” I say “Glory be to God for small things.”

Glory be to God for small things

The word happiness is mentioned more times in this Step than in all the previous 84 Steps put together. Even though happiness hasn’t been addressed to a great extent by Steps to Knowledge so far, happiness is a result of some of the things Steps has been stressing. Things like being still, as taught by Step 8 “Today I will be still.” Things like observing more and judging less, as taught by Step 29 “I will observe myself today to learn of Knowledge.” Things like engaging with my mission in life, as taught by Step 33 “I have a mission in my life to fulfill.” Things like unwinding my emotional investment in my judgments, as taught by Step 55 “I will accept the world as it is.”

The Step said that small things can carry great messages if you are attentive to them. I don’t remember receiving any particular great messages from small things when I did this Step. I do recall slowly backing away from judging small things as insignificant or unimportant because they are small.

On further review, perhaps my individuality, my body and personality, is a small thing. Even though my individuality is to express life itself (Step 12). it will be gone after a while. Therefore, as I contemplate Step 85, as I contemplate finding happiness in small things, I rephrase myself, and say “Glory be to God for small things. Like me.”

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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.

Practicing Stillness

Practicing stillness is building a road to where things are known

Between Step 8, “Today I will be still,” and Step 69, “Today I will practice stillness,” Steps to Knowledge directs students to practice stillness on 13 separate occasions. My mind has a hunger to know, “Am I doing it right?”  Did I pick the correct internal point on which to concentrate?  Am I using the breath in the correct way? How do I know if I’m doing it right?  What am I supposed to experience?  But all these questions contain words or phrases related to judgment, such as “right,” “correct” and “supposed to.”

Practicing stillness

I believe that for many students, the experiences of these 13 different occasions of practicing stillness will vary greatly.  I think that is a good thing.  If students are observing their practice, they will notice when they were more devoted and when they were more ambivalent.  That’s a good subject for investigation.  Some stillness practices might have been disrupted by the physical environment.  Sometimes the mind is particularly insistent about something. Sometimes a number of things came together, and a small vacation is successfully taken from one’s mind and its concerns.  Getting from Step 8 to Step 69 involves discovering that stillness takes away a great deal of suffering and drama, and is thus a worthy enterprise.  Getting from Step 8 to Step 69 includes collecting data on what helps stillness and what hinders stillness.

Someone is reading this and thinking, “Well, what’s your stillness practice, Mr. Student-of-Steps-to-Knowledge?”  I’m happy to tell you, but I make no claim that it will work for you.

I sit on a comfortable couch.  If I am practicing stillness at night, I keep the room dimly lit with indirect light from outside the room.

I program the session by mentally saying once at the beginning of the practice period, “With each breath, I become more still, for I am worthy of stillness.” When my mind insists that I think about something, I mentally say “I will consider this later, but for now I will be still, for I am worthy of stillness.”  This is using the idea from Step 32, “The truth is with me. I can feel it” of taking a small vacation from one’s mind.  I imagine these thoughts floating up to the surface of my mind, as I sink further down toward the depths.

I steal a couple of pages from the playbook of A Course in Miracles.  Somewhere around Lesson 50, there are a number of Lessons where the practice is to “find the light within you.”  Another direction is to “sink back within the mind,” as if I am headed for the depth of the mind where things are known.  Therefore, what I consider to be stillness appears as an inner brightness to me. As I become more still, I regularly see my body in my mind’s eye, stretched out straight, my arms pointed to my left and right, rotating in all three dimensions, as if I was attempting a fancy 10-meter platform dive down to the depths of my mind.  I don’t understand why this is the case, but there it is.

I believe the fruit of a stillness session is being a little less unhappy about whatever I was most unhappy about the most before the stillness session.  I believe the fruit of a stillness session is being a little bit more open to different solutions to the problems I face. Practicing stillness is a good way for me to become a little calmer and more rapidly adaptive in life.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Внутренняя Тишина, или Пребывание в Здесь и Сейчас

Пребывание в Здесь и Сейчас, Тропарёво-Никулинский лесопарк, Москва

For English version click here.

Внутренняя тишина, или пребывание в здесь и сейчас – очень ценное состояние в Шагах к Знанию. Эта тишина впервые упоминается в Шаге 8. Сегодня я пребываю в здесь и сейчас и расширяется в Шаге 9. Внутренняя Тишина, Где Тайное Становится Явным. Эти два шага тесно связаны друг с другом, Шаг 8 нежно подталкивает, призывая не огорчаться, если по началу ничего не получится. Он дает подсказки, предлагая, чтобы я сосредоточилась на какой-нибудь внутренней точке, либо во моем воображении, либо в физическом теле.

Когда я впервые попробовала войти в состояние внутренней тишины, я выбрала так называемый «третьи глаз» как точку сосредоточия, и представила себя, как будто иду внутрь от этой точки по светящему дорожку в глубь темного пространства усеянного звёздами, необозримое и тихое. Там находятся и источник сияющего света и некий образ, который можно назвать «наставник».

В связи с этим, мне вспомнилась сцена из фильма «Мастер и Маргарита» Михаила Булгакова, хочу поделиться.

Шаг 9 расширяет понятие внутренней тишины, рассказав о том, что случится, когда ум достигнет этого состояния и пребывает в здесь и сейчас. Это состояние расширяет восприятие и позволяет проникновение в более глубокий ум, где Знание пребывает. Тем самим, почва приготовлена для большего откровения и способности проникнуть в сущность вещей. Этого расширенного восприятия можно достичь во время специального упражнения или во время любой повседневной деятельности.

Последнее мне особенно понравилось, ведь специально найти время и подходящее место для этого упражнения для меня затруднительно. А во время повседневной деятельности, например, пока гуляю по зимнему лесу, вполне соответствует тому состоянию внутренней тишины или пребыванию в здесь и сейчас.

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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 Lesson In Stillness

A Lesson In Stillness, Troparevo-Nikulino Park, Moscow, Russia

In this post I wish to present a lesson in stillness.

When I pondered on how best to illustrate my practice of stillness, I recalled a scene from a Russian film based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita, one of my favorite books of all time and so superbly screened in this movie.

(This video is not the one I originally posted to go with the comments below, but it contains part of what I am referring to.)

Here I see Pontius Pilate entering into stillness. He lies on his couch and drifts away from reality, setting off with his dog, Banga, along the path of light cast by the moon. He meets Yeshua, whom he is surprised to see alive, since earlier that evening he had been told of his execution. Yeshua tells him that since he is walking along beside him, he is indeed alive and can talk to the procurator as long as he wants.

They talk of cowardice being the most terrible sin. Pilate admits his cowardice, but begs to be understood. “Have pity on me, philosopher! Do you, such an intelligent man, really think that the Procurator of Judaea would ruin his career for the sake of a man who had committed a crime against Caesar?” Yeshua just looks at him in response.

In this moment of stillness, in this encounter, Pontius Pilate recognizes the error of his ways, his cowardice, and says that although this morning he had not been ready to risk his career, now, in this moment of recognition (in stillness where all thing can be known–my comment), he would do anything to save this innocent dreamer, this miraculous healer, from execution.

‘You and I will always be together,’ says Yeshua. ‘ Where one of us goes, the other shall go too. Whenever people think of me, they will think of you.’

Pilate asks Yeshua to pray for him and is reassured by his nod in return.

This, I believe, is a good illustration of a lesson in stillness when all things can be known.

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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.

Stillness Is A Place of Knowing

Stillness Is a Place of Knowing

Step 8. Today I Will Be Still and Step 9. In Stillness All Things Can Be Known first introduce the concept of stillness that continues to grow in significance as Steps proceed.  These two Steps go hand-in-hand, Step 8 leading the way with a gentle nudge, telling me not to be discouraged if early attempts prove difficult. It suggests that I begin by focusing on an internal point, either imaginary or somewhere in the physical body.

When I did this Step and first attempted to enter stillness, I chose to focus on the place we call the Third Eye, looking inward from that spot and picturing an entire galaxy opening up inside my head, vast and quiet. There was light and some form I might call a Teacher. As I entered deeper into stillness, I would penetrate further into this galaxy of heavenly bodies, walking slowly along an illuminated path.

Stillness is a Place of Knowing

Step 9 takes up the baton from Step 8 and carries the physical practice of being still a step further to embrace what happens when the mind attains the capacity to be still.

It says:

Stillness of mind allows a greater mind to emerge and to reveal its wisdom. Those who cultivate stillness with a desire for Knowledge will be preparing themselves for greater revelation and true insight to emerge. The insight may emerge during practice or during any normal activity.

I recall being highly happy with the suggestion that insight might emerge during any normal activity. I wrote in my notes: I realized it is important for me to be able to practice stillness wherever I am and whatever I am doing, without making special preparations and being in what I consider the “right” place. In other words, I strive for stillness being my normal operative mode. Perhaps this is a tall order, but I am aware that insights do indeed emerge as I go about my normal activity.

I wish to show a graphic example of how stillness is a place of knowing in my next post.

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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.

It’s Been A While Since I Thought About Step 8

This is the second posts in a series of seven posts describing my experience of Step 49 of Steps to Knowledge, where I am instructed to review my engagement with the first 48 Steps.  I am writing what I wrote when I did the Step, sometime in January of 2011, with any additional commentary if needed.

Step 8 – Today I will be still – “I thought ‘You don’t need to tell me how to be still, buddy.’  So while I didn’t do the Step exactly as instructed, I did the Step”  I notice my breathing becoming both slower and shallower as I enter stillness.  I also notice a certain inner brightness, unrelated to the amount of light in the room.

Step 9 – In stillness all things can be known – “Being still is building a bridge for Knowledge to emerge in an unguarded moment.”  An unguarded moment as in “a moment where I’m not guarding the idea that I am my body, or that I am my individuality.”

Why Am I Doing This, Anyway? – “‘a troubled dream,’ ‘a fever dream.’ I’m taking comfort that I’m not just waiting for the Reaper.”  A Course in Miracles uses the phrase “dreams of fever” to describe what passes for reality for most people.  It is my sincere hope that my study of Steps to Knowledge will be helpful to others, that it will help my life to be something better than a troubled dream.

Step 10 – What is Knowledge? – “Unlike my little self, Knowledge has no desire to be separate.  I think I’m trying to approach Knowledge, but it says here Knowledge is my True Self.  My True Self is calling my little self to ItSelf.”  I’ve heard the little self called the ego, the concocted self, the secondary self, the constructed self, the imagined self, and so on.

Step 11 – I am not apart from life – “A recap of ACIM [A Course in Miracles].  The Separation is unreal, unhappy perception, does not exist.  We consider perception as reality, but reality is far happier.”  The perception which passes for reality is that we are not included in life, the reality is that I am not apart from life.

Step 12 – My individuality is to express life itself – “Just as the body is a communication tool, my individuality, my little self, is to express life.  Thinking about expressing breast milk.”  Let me explain.  Nursing mothers occasionally express milk to be consumed at a time when they’re not available.  In the same way, life is expressed through my individuality.  Thinking of the body as a communication tool is one of the sections of Chapter 8 of the Text of A Course in Miracles.

Step 13 – I want to be separate to be unique – “The price of Separation is infinitely higher than the payoff of uniqueness, or what ACIM calls specialness.”  Everyone is at a different station of separation or prodigality: some are headed for the far country, some are coming to their senses in the pig pen, some are on their way back to their father’s house.

Step 14 – Review “As far as I know, I did the Steps as given.  I can so see myself in my mind’s eye moderating a group of people who are at various stages of Steps.”  This hasn’t happened yet.  I am not an early adopter by temperament, neither do I have a history of early adoption, but I believe I am an early adopter of Steps to Knowledge.

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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.

Chinese Steps To Knowledge Sudoku

Chinese Sudoku 1 Final

This is part of my desire to get out more, to become more aware and literate of other nations and cultures.

Sudoku puzzles usually have the numbers from 1 through 9 in the boxes.  But there is no compelling reason why numbers have to be used instead of symbols.  I have selected certain words from the first few steps of Steps to Knowledge and looked up Chinese versions of these words for the symbols.

The words are 知识, Zhīshì (“knowledge,” as in “I am without Knowledge now“), 知道, Zhīdào (“know” or “I know,” as in “What do I really know?“), 要, Yào (“want,” as in “I want what I think I know“), 认为, Rènwéi (“think”), 相信, Xiāngxìn (“believe,” as in “I believe what I want to believe“), 复习, fù xí (“Review“), 还, hái (“still,” as in “Today I will be still“), 寂静, Jìjìng (“stillness,” as in “In stillness, all things can be known“), and 神秘, Shénmì (“mystery,” as in the sentence “It [Knowledge] is the great mystery of your life” in the step “What is Knowledge?“)

I have created puzzles like this in the past, as I have been curious as to how much the symbols would increase the difficulty of the puzzle.  I would like to think this puzzle has a nobler purpose.

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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.

The Truth Could Have Unforeseen Consequences

Step 17 of Steps to Knowledge. Today I want to hear the truth. Portrait of Paul Miller by Richard Avedon

Step 17 of Steps to Knowledge, “Today I want to hear the truth,” is the third step so far to have the word “today” in it.  It was previously encountered in Step 8, “Today I will be still” and Step 15, “I will listen to my experience today.”  I mention this because I believe that what is meant by the word “today” is not “today and only today,” but “today and every day from now on.”  But my mind is more comfortable at the thought of “today” as “today and today only.”

Some people might consider this step and say “Well, of course I want to hear the truth.” But this is more than just all the propositions that are true.  What if the truth was that you needed to leave your job?  What if the truth was that you needed to get into a different line of work?  What if the truth was that you needed to leave where you lived, and move to a large city, 1,800 miles away?

What if the truth was that you are not the person you have imagined yourself to be? What if the truth was that you were a much better person than the person you have imagined yourself to be?  There would be a certain degree of shock to discover that.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Unexpected Treasure

Step 15 and Step 16 of Steps to Knowledge link to each other similar to the way Step 8 and Step 9 link to each other.  People doing Step 8 ask “Is this stillness thing important?” and Step 9 replies “Indeed yes, for in stillness all things can be known.”  People doing Step 15 ask “Is this inner listening thing important?”  Step 16 replies, “Absolutely, because beyond your mind, beyond the turbulent surface that most people identify as their minds, lies Knowledge.”

Step 16 declares that Knowledge, the great mystery of a person’s life, a person’s True Self, which is not apart from life, has things to communicate; thoughts, impressions, inclinations and direction.  As I think of this, I recall the words of King Solomon in the book of Proverbs regarding the benefits of receiving and striving after wisdom:

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. (Proverbs 2:9-11, New International Version)

Near the end of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44, New International Version)

Many people fail to find the treasure because they are deceived by the ordinary appearance of the field in which the treasure is buried.  People wonder, “Can there be anything of value in that cacophony of restless, wandering thoughts which is my mind?”  The answer of Steps to Knowledge at this point is “Yes, but it’s going to take some practice to be able to sort it out.”

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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.

This Stillness Thing Is A Big Deal

If Steps to Knowledge were to be considered as an educational text, I believe it would be seen as introducing new ideas with a certain degree of subtlety.  For example, the final sentence of the final paragraph of Step 4

Understanding this [that there is a difference between what I think I know, and what I know] may be upsetting and disconcerting, but it is absolutely essential for you to give you the impetus and the desire to discover your true foundation in the world.

…contains a reference to Step 6 “I have a true foundation in the world.”  A similar thing happens in this step, where the final sentence of Step 8 introduces Step 9 “In stillness, all things can be known.”

Another piece of evidence about the importance of stillness is the association of stillness with not one, but two Uncommonly Capitalized terms in one sentence.

Stillness of mind allows a Greater Mind to emerge and to reveal its Wisdom.

This Greater Mind might emerge during the practice of stillness.  The Greater Mind might also emerge while doing some prosaic task, like dicing onions.  Each time of practicing stillness is building a pathway, building a bridge, between the surface of the mind, where all things are deliberated, and the depths of the mind, where all things are known.  I don’t know that this is so, but it is as if this Greater Mind required an unguarded moment to reveal itself.

Perhaps if I put this step together with the working definition of knowing something that I wrote about in the post on step 4, then perhaps this sentence makes sense: “In stillness, I experience things being self-evident, and receive inspiration for consistent action.”

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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.