There’s Nothing Like This Anywhere Near Here

This is another post in a series of posts comparing and contrasting A Course in Miracles with Steps to Knowledge.

A Course in Miracles is written in the language of historic Christianity.  All human suffering can be traced back to human choice for human independence (the “separation”).  Human suffering is described in terms of the suffering of Jesus.  Redemption from human suffering is described in terms of atonement, and so on.

Just as there are occasional, infrequent instances of poetic language in Steps to Knowledge, there are occasional, infrequent references to Christianity, like this one:

“Upon each hour today, repeat this statement [“Today I will not judge another”] as you witness yourself and the world around you. Repeat this statement and feel its impact. Release your judgments for a few moments, and then feel the contrast and the experience that this will provide for you. Do not judge another today. Allow others to reveal themselves to you. Without judgment you will not suffer under your own crown of thorns. Without judgment you will feel the presence of your Teachers assisting you.” (Step 76, “Today I will not judge another”)

I have a suspicion, a hypothesis, that there are occasional, infrequent references to all of the world’s major religions in Steps to Knowledge, but that I’m just not literate enough to notice them.  Fortunately, great literacy is not a requirement for studying Steps to 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.

Obon: The Ancestors Are Coming To Visit For A Few Days

I recently discovered something that I didn’t know.  I discovered that my city of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, and the city of Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, are sister cities.  There has been some form of communication between the two cities since 1955.  Another one of these sister city activities took place yesterday, the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival

I’ve read that the Obon (お盆) festival has just ended in Japan.  It has been practiced in Japan for the past 500 years.  While it has its roots in Buddhism, other belief systems have contributed to the practice.  The idea is that the spirits of our ancestors come to visit us for three days.  Various things are done to honor the presence of the ancestors (offerings of food, ceremonial dances), and on the third day, floating lanterns are lit to guide the ancestors back to the world of the dead.

Anything that’s been done for 500 years works for somebody.  I was adopted at birth, and I don’t know my biological parents, or any of their family.  But they are all there, to greater or lesser degrees, in the form of my DNA.  Everyone’s ancestors were winners in passing on their genes, so maybe there’s something to this contemplation of the ancestors.

No one was killed during this festival in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I’m sure there are people reading this who reject the very premise of the Obon festival. It is my observation that just about everybody believes at least one thing that someone else, somewhere not only does not believe, but believes to be ridiculous.  I consider this a corollary of Step 5 of Steps to Knowledge, “I believe what I want to believe.”

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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.

Pondering Humility: How Can I Be Great If I Am Small?

I have often pondered the meaning of the word “humility.” I have frequently experienced times when the bubble of self-importance I have inflated for myself bursts and I am brought back down to earth with a resounding thud. And paradoxically, these are times of the greatest learning, times when I feel stripped of all the false assumptions I have conjured up about myself and am left bare to meet the true me face to face. And this me is not an unworthy, lowly scumbag, but a me who, despite my limitations, can transcend them to receive greatness. At this point I am teachable; I recognize my limitations and smallness, which gives me the freedom to accept greatness. To me, this is humility.

I found another definition of humility that resonates with the definition I have come to understand.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that humility is an appreciation of oneself, one’s talents, skills, and virtues. It is not meekness or self deprecating thought, but the effacing of oneself to something higher. Humility is not to think lowly of oneself, but to appreciate the self one has received. In recognition of the mysteries and complexities of life, one becomes humbled to the awesomeness one is and what one can achieve. He also said that true humility is the consciousness of standing in the presence of greatness.

In this village on Lake Onega in the north of Russia, I was made to feel very small, I fretted and felt like a lowly scumbag, so I asked for clarity. And I was rewarded with humility. In his article “On Humility,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks goes on to say, “Humility — true humility — is one of the most expansive and life-enhancing of all virtues. It does not mean undervaluing yourself. It means valuing other people. It signals a certain openness to life’s grandeur and the willingness to be surprised, uplifted, by goodness wherever one finds it.”

So when Step 46. I Must Be Small To Be Great says, “Allow yourself to be small, and you will experience that greatness is with you and that greatness is part of you,” I think to myself, this seems like a paradox, but it is not, it is humility.

This was my experience after feeling small.

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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.

Why Do I Need Teachers? Let Me Count The Ways

The idea of the Teachers of God was introduced in Step 22 of Steps to Knowledge, and elaborated on in Steps 23, 24, 25, 28 and 36.  They are being mentioned again in Step 47, but as part of larger discussion about the nature of learning.  I quote from the Step:
“You have been prepared through relationships for everything that you have learned, whether it be a practical skill or a deeper insight.”

The way I see this, when anyone has the thought, “Hmm…maybe I should learn more about this particular subject,” if it is traced back far enough, it is another way of saying “Perhaps if I learned more about this particular subject, I could contribute something more to a certain relationship than I am currently contributing.”  The very thought that I should care goes back to relationships.

Even in the area of practical skills, people have things they don’t know that they don’t know about themselves, and they have things they don’t know that they don’t know about the thing about which they want to learn something.  I consider it a miracle that learning takes place as often as it does.

People will vigorously protest that they know how to learn.  But the same people will also vigorously protest that they know how to eat.  I willingly grant that people know how to put things in their mouths, chew them and swallow them.  But how many of these people have health issues because they’re eating too much of this and not enough of that?  And why are they eating too much of this and not enough of that?  Some people’s learning is more profitable than other people’s learning, just like some people’s eating is more healthy than other people’s eating.

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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.

2013 Encampment Press Release

The Denver Post picked up the press release that was sent out to publicize the 2012 Encampment of the New Message from God.  Other attendees wrote accounts of their Encampment experience here and here.  Here is the press release for this year:

Annual “Hajj” held in Colorado for the New Message from God

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 12, 2013 — On Sept 5th, followers of the religious movement, the New Message from God, will convene in Estes Park, Colorado for their fifth annual five-day gathering.

Based on the revelations of Marshall Vian Summers, the New Message from God spans 9200 pages of text and 820 recorded discourses. Now translated into 16 languages, the New Message from God has spurred the growth of a diverse religious body with members in many countries. The 2013 Encampment will see pilgrims from across North America, Europe and Asia.

The Encampment is a five-day event focused on the revelations and practices that constitute living the New Message from God. Of primary focus are the pillars of being a student of the New Message:

1) Studying the revealed texts and spiritual practices contained in the New Message from God

2) Advocating for a unified world response to climate change, depletion of the Earth’s resources and the oppression of women and the poor

3) Sharing the New Message from God with others

4) Giving to support the emergence of the New Message from God in the world

5) Honoring Marshall Vian Summers as God’s Messenger

The New Message from God began in 1983 when Summers had a mysterious and shocking encounter in which his mind and voice were “overtaken by an Angelic presence” who told him to “record”. His followers claim that what emerged from his voice thereafter were the words of a new testament containing an unprecedented revelation for humanity.

Just as Muslims consider Muhammad to be the messenger from God, students of the New Message consider Marshall Vian Summers the messenger through which God is now speaking again. For them, the annual Encampment is the equivalent of the Islamic Hajj, except that at this historic pilgrimage God’s Messenger will actually be present.

Summers claims his revelations are not based on Christian or Muslim traditions; however, the New Message from God states that Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad were all messengers and that approximately once every millennium, God sends a message and a messenger to deliver something new and unprecedented to the human family.

For more information about the 2013 Encampment or to interview attendees, please contact Will Burrows at 1-303-938-8401 or society@newmessage.org.

SOURCE The Society for the New Message from God

RELATED LINK:http://www.newmessage.org

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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 Prefer To Consider It This Way…

Many people are recalling the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on this day in 1945.  I prefer to think that humanity, my people, have successfully gone 68 years without using a nuclear weapon in warfare.

The conventional wisdom in my world is that the atomic bombing prevented the casualties and destruction which would have ensued in an invasion of the Japanese mainland.  As my father experienced a unsuccessful kamikaze attack on his cargo ship off the island of Okinawa, this idea is not implausible to me.  I realize there are alternate opinions, like this one by John V. Denson.  Would I have made a wiser decision than President Truman?  I’m not sure.  I’m not sure it’s profitable for me to even contemplate such a thing.

I am pleased to report that there has only been one nuclear test that I know of in the past twelve months, the North Korean nuclear test of February 2013.  That’s a positive development, considering our history of nuclear testing.

But what to do next?  Like I know.  Don’t we already know that wars have their seeds in covetousness, wanting something that somebody else has?  Don’t we already know that covetousness has its seeds in ingratitude, having issues with what we have?  Don’t we already know that good fences make good neighbors?  Don’t we already know that weakness is provocative?  All I know is that I need to get out more.  I’m hearing a verse from the song “The Last Resort” by The Eagles in my mind’s ear:

Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
‘Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here

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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.

How Much Of The Message Is The Medium?

This is another post in a series of posts comparing the books “A Course in Miracles” and “Steps to Knowledge.”

Many people have found the literary style of A Course in Miracles worthy of investigation.  The style element I recall the most is the use of iambic pentameter, or “da-Da da-Da da-Da da-Da da-Da” as the rhythm of a line

Every lesson in the Workbook for Students of A Course in Miracles after lesson 99 is written in iambic pentameter.  It was not something I was expecting.  I didn’t even know what iambic pentameter was when I studied A Course in Miracles.  I remember thinking “It’s curious that many lessons have the same rhythm.”

There are occasional, infrequent instances of poetic language in Steps to Knowledge, like this one:

“It [the power of Knowledge] can be seen in the innocence of a child’s eyes; it can be imagined in the greatness of the movement of galaxies.” (Step 235, “The power of Knowledge is becoming evident to me.”)

My experience of the literary style of Steps to Knowledge is that of simple, direct, forthright declaration.  Right or wrong, true or false, it means what it says.  And that is a style consistent with this description of Knowledge:

“All things you truly need will be provided. It is when you want things that you do not truly need that your awareness of this becomes confused, and this leads you into dark speculation and grave disappointment.What you need will make you happy; what you don’t need will make you confused.This is very simple, very straightforward and very direct. Knowledge is always like that. Knowledge affirms that which is essential. Here your approach to life becomes simple and direct.Thus, you experience life as simple and direct.” (Step 253, “All things I truly need will be provided for me.”)

Just like the song on my lips and the song deep in my soul have to be the same song for me to progress, the literary style of a book and its content have to be singing the same song.

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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.

Are Limitations Underrated?

If the Mona Lisa was painted on a grain of rice instead of a canvas, would it be less beautiful, or more beautiful?

If words of wisdom were written on a human hair, would they be less wise?

Step 46 of Steps to Knowledge “I must be small to be great,” declares “Recognizing your limitations allows you to work in a limited context very successfully.”  What I’m seeing at this point is that part of the mission of my life, part of the constraints of that mission, is working within the limitations of my own individuality, an individuality which is to express life itself.

But some people have issues with their individuality.  Some people wish they had a different size.  Some people wish they had different shapes.  Some people wish they had different colors, and so forth.  They are like the clay pot complaining to the potter “Why did you make me like this?”

There must be millions of effective and useful chemical and electrical interactions that go on in the human body every day.  Do we think about them?  I, for one, am thankful that I don’t have to think about making my heart beat, breathing, digesting, etc.

The same idea applies to the mind.  Some people wish they had some different kinds of intelligence than the ones they have.

I join in with David in giving thanks for the limited context in which I work.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14, New International Version)

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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.

Stillness Has Quite A Lot Going For It

I am writing this post to ponder some more on my understanding of God. In Step 38, I was very drawn to the words “God is very still, for God is not going anywhere.” This sentence is preceded by “In stillness and quiet everything becomes apparent” and followed by “As you become still, you will feel the power of God.” Step 9. In Stillness All Things Can Be Known tells me, “Those who cultivate stillness with a desire for Knowledge will be preparing themselves for greater revelation and true insight to emerge,” and goes on to say, “The insight may emerge during practice or during any normal activity.”

A normal activity for me every summer, and fall too, for the past twenty odd years is fishing. Let me hasten to add that the attraction of this activity is not in the fish as such, I am by no means a fisherman, rather the attraction is in the environment in which these fish are caught. It is very conducive to stillness. Sitting by still waters as they reflect the glory of the elements has a way of evoking a deeper stillness within that allows true insight to emerge and things to be known. And these things are permanent, for God is not going anywhere.

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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.

United We Stand

United we stand, divided we fall. A photo my daughter took recently at the Berlin Wall caught my attention and made me think of Step 45. Alone I Can Do Nothing. I will remind you that I am a beginning student of Steps to Knowledge and this is my first time around. I anticipate doing the Steps again and again because they are too vast and profound to “get” their message the first time. I acknowledge this fact, so permit myself the liberty this time of not penetrating too deeply, but allowing each Step to speak to me as it will today.

The day I reached Step 45, I gained a little more insight into the value of joint effort. Most days, I tend to lead a very sheltered life, I tend to isolate and like to do things alone, relying as little as possible on others, doing things “my way.” There may be some merit to this sometimes and in some circumstances, but it is not the way of the world. Step 45 brought me to a greater awareness that I can do nothing alone, that I have limitations, but so does everyone else. However, together, each making his or her own small contribution, we can move mountains and alter the face of the 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.