What Do You See When You’re Watching The Wheels?

John Lennon Park, Havana, Cuba What do you see when you're watching the wheels?
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go

John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”.

Many years ago, I heard a preacher instruct his listeners to “set their day in order” when they pray in the morning. In other words, mentally and verbally rehearse what you plan to accomplish that day, the things for which you hope to give thanks when you go to sleep that night. It’s possible that the preacher in question got this idea from Stephen Covey and baptized it, as I heard this right about the time that “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was published. The point is that I have adopted this practice into my family of practices, with the minor adaptation of writing down my plans for the day.

What do you see when you’re watching the wheels?

After a relatively active and stressful week, I resolved yesterday to not have a great deal of resolve to do anything in particular. I thought to myself “I might just sit and watch the wheels go round,” a reference to the 1981 John Lennon song. I then had a thought I wasn’t expecting. A voice in my mind’s ear asked “When you sit and watch the wheels go round, what do you see?” I thought that was an excellent question. This was my answer.

“I see people doubling down, practicing justifying judgments, justifying assumptions, justifying the detrimental practices of Step 80 [“I can only practice”], winding [as opposed to unwinding, their investments in judgments, assumptions, etc.], taking bigger investments in their contingent, concocted selves, no matter how far it takes them away from their true selves, from life, from the mission and relationships for which they came into the world, rushing deeper into a troubled dream with their fingers in their ears.”

Christian musician Don Francisco recorded a song called Adam, Where Are You? with the following lyrics:

Though the curse has long been broken
Adam’s sons are still the prisoners of their fears
Rushing helter-skelter to destruction with their fingers in their ears.

I was thinking about those lyrics as I wrote my answer. I make no claim that this is a correct answer. I only claim it’s what I see when I’m watching the wheels. What do you see when you’re watching the wheels?

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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.

Get Your Hand Out The Flame

Wookiefoot sings "And if you cant stand the pain, then get your hand out the flame"In my experience, the band Wookiefoot is a 21st century Minnesota version of the 1970’s Anglo-French band Gong. I’ve never quite been able to figure out whether Wookiefoot is really a religious group that just happens to make music, or a band that just happens to traffic in paleo-hippie spirituality. They seem to like Rumi, so they can’t be all bad. For reasons I don’t fully understand, enjoying the music of Wookiefoot is a rite of passage for my children.

Get your hand out the flame

I’m telling you this because Wookiefoot recorded a song that had a sympathetic vibration to my study of Steps to Knowledge. It was on the album Make Belief, which had the singular misfortune of being released on September 12, 2001. The song is called Out Of My Way. I’m including the lyrics because someofthelyricsaresungveryquicklyandtendtoruntogether.

and if you can’t stand the pain then get your hand out the flame
and if you don’t like to lose get your ass out the game
and if you don’t like the cold then you had better fly south
and if you don’t like the taste then get the shit out your mouth

get out of your way

how come every damn time i get it but i never get it right
cuz my pants get caught on fire or a needle in my eye
i think i’m gonna hit rock bottom but i fall right through the floor
i hear the opportunity knocking but i never get the door

no i don’t really know
why this place fucking sucks but i don’t want to go
this place fucking sucks but i just can’t leave here

how come every damn time i get it but i never get it right
just a victim to my vengeance anger bitterness or spite
i sabotage myself almost every single day
i can’t get out of my way

and if you don’t like my touch you can hide in your shell
and if you want to eat shit you had better get used to the smell
and if you leg bone is broke then you can learn how to crawl
and if you can’t stand up you better get ready to fall

how come every damn time i get it but i never get it right
cuz my pants get caught on fire or a needle in my eye
my blessing or my tragedy both living in the same beast
hiding underneath the bed with a double sided blade to cut me

i can’t get out of my way

 

Would you like to stop feeling the burning? Then get your hand out the flame. Steps to Knowledge has been addressing self-destructive practices in Step 80 “I can only practice” and Step 81 “I will not deceive myself today.” The person singing this song is at least aware of his self-destructive practices, which puts him ahead of a lot of people. I recently told two of my children that the students of Steps to Knowledge are people making significant efforts to get of their way, to get out of the way of Knowledge, their true self which is not apart from 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.

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 Practice Being Still And Knowing Today

I will practice being still and knowing today.

Some people might think that Step 82, “I will not judge another today” of Steps to Knowledge is merely a recap of Step 76, “Today I will not judge another.” It is more than that. It is more than that because of some things that happened between Step 76 and Step 82.

I will practice being still and knowing today

In Step 79, “I will allow uncertainty to exist today,” I considered the possibility that I wasn’t entirely certain about my judgments. I considered the possibility that my judgments weren’t worthy of my betting my life on them.

In Step 80, “I can only practice,” I was told that judgment was one of a number of unexamined, habitual, detrimental practices that I was going to have to slowly back away from if I wanted to advance.

In Step 81, “I will not deceive myself today,” one particular type of judgment, self-condemnation, was examined in detail. While self-condemnation has certain social rewards, it is yet another unexamined, habitual, detrimental practice from which to slowly back away. I get the idea from this that the other detrimental practices mentioned in Step 80 most likely have certain social rewards as well.

Therefore, if I put Step 82 together with what has happened since Step 76, I get that 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.

While Step 82 is “I will not judge another today,” it seemed good to state it positively, saying what I will do instead of what I won’t do. In the light of Step 80, it seemed good to state Step 82 in terms of what I will practice. When I stated Step 76 positively, it came out as “Today I will keep looking and wondering.” The total package of not judging involves looking, listening, being still and knowing. Therefore, the positive wording of Step 82 should be taken together with the positive wording of Step 76.

Today I will keep looking and wondering. I will practice being still and knowing today.

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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 Luxury Of Self-Condemnation

You can't afford the luxury of self-condemnation

Step 80, “I can only practice” of Steps to Knowledge, gives the idea that what passes for normal life contains a number of unexamined, habitual, detrimental practices. Practices such as confusion, judgment, projection of blame, guilt, disassociation, inconsistency and self-hatred.

The luxury of self-condemnation

Step 81, “I will not deceive myself today,” continues on this path, adding more detrimental practices to confront in one’s self.

“Do not be comfortable with assumptions or the beliefs of others.” As early as Step 4, “I want what I think I know,” we were told that assumptions are rarely founded on experience. The word “assumption” has been used a number of times so far in Steps to Knowledge. It has been consistently described as something too weak to take you to the great mystery of your life. It has been consistently described as something to examine and penetrate.

“Do not accept generalities as truth.” Generalizations have been known for some time to be impoverishments of experience. This is the only instance in Steps to Knowledge of either “generality” or “generalities.”

“Do not accept appearances as representative of the reality of another.” As I thought of this, I recalled a couple of Bible verses. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16, New International Version) John wrote “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2, New International Version). What is the reality of another? The great mystery of their life. The mission they have in their life to fulfill.

“Do not accept the mere appearance of yourself.” See above.

There is one detrimental practice, the practice of self-condemnation, to which an entire paragraph is devoted.

“You must enter uncertainty to find Knowledge. What does this mean? It simply means you are giving up false assumptions, self-comforting ideas and the luxury of self-condemnation. Why is self-condemnation a luxury? Because it is easy and does not require you to examine the truth. You accept it because it is acceptable in this world, and it gives you a great deal to talk about with your friends. It evokes sympathy. Therefore, it is easy and weak.”

As someone who has engaged in a good bit of self-condemnation over my errors and disappointments, I bear witness to these words. Examining what actually happened takes some work, work that is not required to engage in the luxury of self-condemnation. I believe most people will not freely admit that they are just a little bit scared of people who are showing strength and courage. I believe most people will not freely admit that in their strongest and most fearless moments, they notice that other people are just a little bit scared of them.

«Alisa writes: I think that the last two sentences of the paragraph above contain a very potent thought. Apart from it being true at the personal level, I think our world leaders would do well to consider this in their dealings with other world leaders.»

It takes a certain mental rigor, a certain strength, a certain courage to even search for what Steps to Knowledge is offering. People who are comfortable with being safe and weak, for whatever reason, have quit by now, or are thinking about it.

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

What Are You Practicing?

Degas painted these ballerinas practicing. What are you practicing?

I recall attending a Bible study on the book of James. The leader of the Bible study said “The tongue and the mind are great battlefields for the Christian.” Because of this, the Bible instructs Christians to engage in certain intentional activities of the tongue and the mind. The apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:18-19, New International Version). Paul instructed the Philippians to think on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8, New International Version)

What are you practicing?

A Course in Miracles frequently used the word “practice” to describe the activities associated with its lessons. The word “practice” appears over a thousand times in A Course in Miracles.

Steps to Knowledge builds on these ideas and takes them a little further in Step 80, “I can only practice.” Life is practice. Everyone is a practitioner of something or other. Life is the strengthening of something. Everyone is making something bigger and more significant in their life. They do this by paying attention to it, talking about it, and practicing it.

It does not follow that everyone’s practice is beneficial. Steps to Knowledge declares that the practice of most people is to their detriment:

“You practice confusion, you practice judgment, you practice projection of blame, you practice guilt, you practice disassociation and you practice inconsistency. You strengthen your judgments by continuing to exert them. You strengthen your uncertainties by continuing to emphasize them. You practice your self-hatred by continuing to influence it.”

It seemed like a harsh assessment at the time. But it doesn’t take a great deal of wisdom to observe that people get a lot of what they practice. The study of Steps to Knowledge involves, among other things, slowly backing away from these detrimental practices, and slowly approaching more beneficial practices.

What are you practicing? What are you a practitioner of? What are you strengthening? What are you building? What are you making bigger and more significant in your 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.