I Practice To Be Strong and Competent

A teaching by Marshall Vian Summers, March 16, 2019

Marshall Vian Summers recently gave a teaching to the Worldwide Community of the New Message from God. In this teaching, he offered a number of practices for people to follow. Before giving these practices, he spoke of the relative importance of practice.

“You know, when I meet people of different faith traditions, if I have an opportunity to speak with them, I always want to find out what they practice, not what they believe. I don’t care what they believe, really. It’s important in the sense that it determines their behavior and their perception to a large extent. But I really want to know what they practice because that’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s what really matters. It’s what people do, not what they think about doing.”

I practice to be strong and competent

I practice to be strong and competent

There was something Marshall said during this teaching that started a train of thought in me.

“We practice the great practices [inner listening, stillness, looking without judgment, learning how to direct your mind at will, always knowing where your mind is going, objectively questioning your assumptions and beliefs, stepping back from who you think you are or what you think life is] to develop skills to reemploy the mind to develop new neural pathways of how the mind is going to function: a new way of responding to other people, responding to conflict, responding to beauty, responding to degradation. We’re building skills to be able to be in the world in a new way. And we’re doing this in such a way that we become immortal beings in the world to be of service, rather than being in the world with some vague notion of our own that we have a greater life somewhere, somehow, above and beyond this existence.

Instead of being trapped by the world, we are being fed by Heaven.

So our practice now is skill building. And I want you to really think about that. This is not a reward system where every time you practice you get a reward. Every time you do a trick, you get a cookie. Good boy. [Emphasis mine]

No. We’re practicing to become strong and competent. There’s no emphasis on mastery here. The emphasis is on competence and functionality. In fact, the New Message says there are no masters living in the world. Mastery is beyond anything that can be achieved here. So let’s take that out of the picture. Anyone who claims to be a master or appears to be a master is still a student in the world.”

What if I like a reward system?

In what is knows as the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus used the word “reward” seven times. He instructed his disciples to avoid practicing almsgiving, prayer and fasting in front of other people. There were people who did these things to appear righteous in the eyes of other people. Jesus said that those who did these things have already received their reward in full. He mentioned that those who practiced in secret would be rewarded by the Father who sees what is done in secret. But he didn’t elaborate on what the reward would be.

The Matthew Henry Commentary suggested that the reward would be at the final judgment. But I found that not fully satisfying. I believe Christians would say (among other things) “We practice almsgiving because we would want to treated that way. We practice almsgiving because we are cultivating the Christlike virtue of generosity. We practice almsgiving because we are practicing seeing Christ in the guise of the poor.” They wouldn’t see themselves as doing a trick and getting a cookie. Likewise for the practices of prayer and fasting. I believe Christians would consider these as practices for developing Christlike character. I practice to be strong and competent. So do they.

What do you seek from your practice?

I think what I’m trying to say is this. If there are thoughts within me that associate practice with a reward system, then I need to think it out again. If there are motivations within me that want to do a trick and get a cookie, then I need to grow up a little bit. Someday someone will ask me, “Douglas, why do you do these practices and not those practices?” And I will say “I practice to be strong and competent.”

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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.

We Raise Our Flag And Anthem

We raise our flag and anthem
International Flag of Planet Earth, created by Oskar Pernefeldt, 2015
We raise our flag and anthem
Oskar Pernefeldt, creator of the International Flag of Planet Earth

The New Message from God tells us repeatedly that human unity is not just a good idea. Human unity is a requirement for survival in a future of big, ongoing disruptions. A future world of diminishing resources, less hospitable climate, environmental degradation, and extraterrestrial intervention. I therefore take encouragement in action taken to promote human unity. The person taking the action is Oskar Pernefeldt. The action is creating an international flag for planet earth.

We raise our flag and anthem

We raise our flag and anthem
Astronaut with International Flag of Planet Earth

In 2015, Oskar was a student of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. As part of his graduation project, he designed a flag for the world. I consider this a project requiring not only graphic skill, but a certain openness of heart and mind. This flag must be more than a beautiful design. It must be a graphic proclamation of human unity.

How does this promote human unity?

Seed of Life pattern in Temple of Osiris, Abydos, Egypt

The pattern of the flag of planet earth is a variation on a ancient pattern. This pattern has come to be known as the “seed of life.” It is part of a larger pattern called the flower of life.


The Seed of Life embedded in the Flower of Life

This pattern has been seen in temples of many faiths in many nations. I consider this a feature in prospective world flag. It’s important that any flag for planet earth not have a strong association with any ethnicity, nationality or religion. I find the multiple symmetries of the pattern to be satisfying. Many people see flower images when they look at this pattern. I see chain mail and strength. Each circle is held in place by a number of other circles. I find the seven circles of this pattern to be particularly satisfying.

“In the meeting place I sit beside betwixt the points of heaven
I befell a friendly atmosphere revolving around seven
Oh that number mystified my soul captured within feelings
Those of doubt and understanding hand in hand they set me reeling”

Jon Anderson – “Song of Seven

We husband seven continents

We raise our flag and anthem

I am taking inspiration from Oskar Pernefeldt’s design to make my own attempt at human unity. Last year I dreamed of an anthem for the world. This year, I am writing one.

We chant the human family,
We sing humanity!
We husband seven continents,
We nurture seven seas!
Pursuing Heaven’s freedom
With open heart and mind,
We raise our flag and anthem,
We sing of humankind!

In my mind’s ear, I hear the melody “Aurelia,” composed in 1864 by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. I realize that using a Christian hymn tune could be a disqualifer, but it’s what I hear. Someone is reading this and thinking, “Douglas, humanity is not ready for these words!” But I say that one day we will be. It took 39 years between the time Jana Gana Mana was first sung at the India National Congress in 1911, and the time it became the national anthem of India in 1950. I will learn patience today. We raise our flag and anthem.

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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.