Please Compare And Contrast

I’m making a mental note to show this image to someone who uses the phrase “You’re comparing apples to oranges” to suggest a valid comparison is not being made.  Venn diagrams have proven to be an invaluable tool for describing relationships between things.I hope to fill in the details for a Venn diagram like this showing what Steps to Knowledge and A Course in Miracles share in common, and the ways they differ.

I hope that this will help.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Introducing Alisa, New Blogger At Ascending Knowledge

I started blogging in October of 2003, and I have enjoyed the opportunities for self-expression blogging provides.  But most of my blogging activities have been solitary.  There is a step in Steps to Knowledge which describes life as “an inclusive network of evolving relationships.”  Another step declares that the world is attempting to become one community.  It seemed like it would be a good way to embody that spirit by inviting my fellow New Message student (and unfailing encourager) Alisa to write here at Ascending Knowledge.  Alisa introduces herself here:

Who am I? My name is Alisa. I was born in England, moved to the United States after high school and then to Moscow, Russia in 1990, where I have been living ever since. I came across the New Message from God fairly recently, in October 2012, after throwing out a request into the Universe to be shown some spiritual teaching that would knock my socks off after experiencing what I can only call a disappointing setback in my spiritual progress. I was miraculously drawn to the New Message text called The Great Love as revealed to Marshall Vian Summers on November 23, 2007 and, after exploring further, found the New Message from God website and registered at the Free School of the New Message, where I have since been participating in the school sessions and taking Steps to Knowledge. I am currently a beginning student on Step 175 the first time around. I am here to share some of my current experience as I take this mysterious journey.

How did I get here? I feel I have been on a spiritual journey all my life, so the concepts of the Greater Community, the Angelic Presence, the Unseen Ones, and the wider spectrum of intelligent life in the Universe offered in the New Message from God strike a familiar note deep within me and resonate with what I already seem to know. It is this intuitive sense, the mystery of it all, and the wanting to know more that draw me take these Steps and reclaim Knowledge as it is presented in the Book of Inner Knowing.

It is a common phenomenon for students of Steps to Knowledge to find people who are a little bit further along in their studies, and people who are not so far along.  I believe readers will find Alisa’s posts to be interesting.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

I Did My Best, It Wasn’t Much

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

Step 42 of Steps to Knowledge is another review, a review where the student is asked to examine the depth and care of his practice.  If the student is changing or adjusting the lessons to suit preferences or aversions, tastes or expectation, she can’t really expect what is promised.

Step 39 declares the power of God is within your Knowledge.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

An Offering Of Gratitude

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, a character had immortality thrust upon him by some highly improbable events.  Unfortunately, he didn’t take it very well, and eventually decided to use his gift to insult the universe.  That is, he would insult everybody in it. Individually, personally, and in alphabetical order.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Because if I were in Bowerick Wowbagger’s position, I would (among other things), visit each and every past and current student of A Course in Miracles, thank them for their efforts, and offer a sincere and heartfelt invitation to study Steps to Knowledge.  This blog post will have to do for now.

I have opined that a step in Steps to Knowledge recapitulates material in A Course in Miracles here and here.  I recently got the idea that it might be a good thing to write a few posts comparing and contrasting A Course in Miracles with Steps to Knowledge, and the larger body of material, the New Message from God, of which Steps to Knowledge is a part.  But I didn’t want to write anything without first writing “Thank you.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Who Has My Best Interests At Heart?

When I read Step 41 of Steps to Knowledge (“I am not afraid of the power of God.”), I recall various sections of A Course in Miracles.  I think this step recapitulates significant chunks.  In order to get Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the serpent had to make the suggestion, unsupported by any of Eve’s experience, that God didn’t really have her best interests at heart.  Someone, somewhere, suggested to the Prodigal Son that his father didn’t have his best interests at heart.  Here’s how the step describes it;

“It is painful to be separated from that which you love beyond all things, and the only way to maintain this separation is to malign that which you love, to give it an evil intent and then to engender guilt within yourself.”

People tend to get invested in their choices.  Fearing their choices are weak, they engage in various activities and relationships to fortify their choices.  Even when people are persuaded that a previous choice was an error, it takes a certain amount of time and effort to divest one’s self of the series of investments and fortifications related to that choice.  The price for separation is living in a twisted, confused, upside-down world.  Eve had to curse all the happy moments in the garden.  The Prodigal Son had to malign the kindnesses of his father.

It’s going to take some work to walk this back.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Tiny Twinges In The Tomato Aspic

My mother, like many women who grew up in the American south, served my family tomato aspic from time to time.  At that time, one could buy canned tomato aspic at the grocery store.  It was firm enough to retain its shape when it came out of the can.  My mother would cut it into 1-inch tall cylinders, and arrange it on a bed of lettuce with a dollop of mayonnaise on top.  As a child, I took satisfaction that tomato aspic was flexible enough to wiggle when pushed around, yet firm enough to not fall apart.

I’m sharing this memory because I recalled it when I read this sentence in step 40 of Steps to Knowledge (“Today I will feel the power of God.”):

All the seeming powers of your world—the forces of nature, the inevitability of your death, the ever present threat of illness, loss and destruction and all appearances of conflict—are all temporary movements in the great stillness of God.

God is still because God isn’t going anywhere.  God isn’t going anywhere because God is already everywhere.  Perhaps another way of thinking of the power of God is to think of God as impervious, that there isn’t anything that happens that makes God any less.  Step 40 calls everything that happens “temporary movements in the great stillness of God.”  I call them “tiny twinges in the tomato aspic.”  It takes all kinds of people.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

What Is The Power Of God In The World?

Does God micromanage the world?  Or does he merely set the ground rules and let nature take its course?  What do you think of when you think of the power of God?  Moses parting the Red Sea?  The walls of Jericho falling flat before Joshua?  The miracles of Jesus, with the resurrection being the exclamation point?

Step 39 of Steps to Knowledge (“The power of God is with me”) opens up another angle as to the power of God in the world.  It says “The power of God is with you.  It is within your Knowledge.”  At first, I found this less than satisfactory.  What’s the connection between experiencing things as self-evident, and healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out devils?  As I pondered this further, I considered the idea that the power of God in the world is the conviction of the person who knows something.  Joan of Arc knew something.  The founders of America knew something.  And what they knew has had a lasting impact.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

St. Joan of Arc and Knowledge

During the time I studied step 37 of Steps to Knowledge (“There is a way to Knowledge”) and step 38 (“God knows the way to Knowledge”), I entertained some thoughts as working hypotheses: 1) There have been Christians from time to time who have reached Knowledge, the great mystery of a person’s life, their True Self which is not apart from life, 2) those who did so considered their Teachers as saints and angels, and 3) St. Joan of Arc is an instance of one of those individuals.

The story of St. Joan of Arc is told in many places, and has touched the hearts of many people.  But there are certain aspects of particular interest to me. It has an instance of inexplicable knowing (Joan asking for the sword her voices told her was buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine).  It has an instance of someone declaring the mission in their life (Joan declaring as she embarked on her mission “I am not afraid, for God is with me.  I was born for this!”)  I realize someone is going to read this and think “Well, maybe France deserved to be divided and subjugated by foreign powers.”  I consider that a conversation for another time.

No one remembers Bishop Pierre Cauchon, the leader of the ecclesiastical kangaroo court which sentenced Joan to death.  No one remembers the person who lit the flames.  I believe that Joan would be pleased at the long-lasting peace between England and France, the Entente Cordiale of 1904.  I believe Joan would be pleased to see a unified France.  One day there will be a saint of whom someone will say “I believe St. So-and-so would be pleased to see a unified world.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Freedom’s Plow by Langston Hughes

This poem is my way of celebrating the 237th birthday of the United States of America.

This poem is a deep, warm, cleansing shower for the soul of any American who despairs for the future of the country.

This is the Langston Hughes poem that every school child in America should be made to memorize and recite. Don’t get me wrong, “I, Too, Sing America” is a great poem, expressing some great thoughts and feelings in just a few words, but this poem could remove so much poison from so many people if it were read and studied by American children.

I feel like I’ve made a contribution to America today, just by reading this poem. I will sleep well, tonight.

When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-
Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world,
On the great wooded world,
On the rich soil of the world,
On the rivers of the world.

The eyes see there materials for building,
See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood,
To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help,
A community of hands to help-
Thus the dream becomes not one man’s dream alone,
But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone,
But your world and my world,
Belonging to all the hands who build.

A long time ago, but not too long ago,
Ships came from across the sea
Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers,
Adventurers and booty seekers,
Free men and indentured servants,
Slave men and slave masters, all new-
To a new world, America!

With billowing sails the galleons came
Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together,
Heart reaching out to heart,
Hand reaching out to hand,
They began to build our land.
Some were free hands
Seeking a greater freedom,
Some were indentured hands
Hoping to find their freedom,
Some were slave hands
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
But the word was there always:
Freedom.

Down into the earth went the plow
In the free hands and the slave hands,
In indentured hands and adventurous hands,
Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands
That planted and harvested the food that fed
And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands
That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls
That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses
Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands,
Indentured hands, adventurous hands,
White hands and black hands
Held the plow handles,
Ax handles, hammer handles,
Launched the boats and whipped the horses
That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor,
All these hands made America.

Labor! Out of labor came villages
And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats
And the sailboats and the steamboats,
Came the wagons, and the coaches,
Covered wagons, stage coaches,
Out of labor came the factories,
Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores,
Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured,
Sold in shops, piled in warehouses,
Shipped the wide world over:
Out of labor-white hands and black hands-
Came the dream, the strength, the will,
And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it’s Manhattan, Chicago,
Seattle, New Orleans,
Boston and El Paso-
Now it’s the U.S.A.

A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said:
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL–
ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR
WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS–
AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY
AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,
But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too,
And silently took for granted
That what he said was also meant for them.

It was a long time ago,
But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said:
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
WITHOUT THAT OTHER’S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too,
But in their hearts the slaves knew
What he said must be meant for every human being-
Else it had no meaning for anyone.

Then a man said:
BETTER TO DIE FREE
THAN TO LIVE SLAVES
He was a colored man who had been a slave
But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew
What Frederick Douglass said was true.

With John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark,
And nobody knew for sure
When freedom would triumph
“Or if it would,” thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery,
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
The slaves made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
That song meant just what it said: Hold On!
Freedom will come!
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
Out of war it came, bloody and terrible!
But it came!
Some there were, as always,
Who doubted that the war would end right,
That the slaves would be free,
Or that the union would stand,
But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation,
We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land,
And men united as a nation.

America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud,
Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold
Great thoughts in their deepest hearts
And sometimes only blunderingly express them,
Haltingly and stumblingly say them,
And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there,
Always the trying to understand,
And the trying to say,
“You are a man. Together we are building our land.”

America!
Land created in common,
Dream nourished in common,
Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!
If the house is not yet finished,
Don’t be discouraged, builder!
If the fight is not yet won,
Don’t be weary, soldier!
The plan and the pattern is here,
Woven from the beginning
Into the warp and woof of America:
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
BETTER DIE FREE,
THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans!
Who owns those words? America!
Who is America? You, me!
We are America!
To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
We say, NO!
To the enemy who would divide
And conquer us from within,
We say, NO!
FREEDOM!
BROTHERHOOD!
DEMOCRACY!
To all the enemies of these great words:
We say, NO!

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

This poem can be found in a number of Langston Hughes poetry books, including The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Better Yet, There Is A Way To Knowledge For Me

Step 38 of Steps to Knowledge “God knows the way to Knowledge” inspired a similar response in me to the one inspired by step 37 “There is a way to Knowledge.” God had darn well better know the way to Knowledge!  But step 38 added something in which I took comfort; the idea that other people had found and taken a successful way to Knowledge for them.

The Kabir poem “Music” gives the idea that there are people who undertake certain sets of practices because someone else did in some time and some place, and were successful. Are they engaging in something that is necessary, but not sufficient, or is the whole enterprise doomed from the beginning because they are imitating someone else instead of exploring the mystery of their own life?

Someone reading this just thought “Well, what about atheists?  Are they just out of luck with this Knowledge thing?”  Atheists can experience things as self-evident, in a way that inspires consistent action.

Thinking about step 38 encourages me to think that one inner meaning of step 37 is “There is a way to Knowledge for me.”  Thinking about step 38 encourages me to think that one inner meaning of step 38 is “God knows the way to Knowledge for me (and He’s not hiding it from me, either.)”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.