Can I Follow Instructions? Can I Take What I Get?

This is the third post in a series of seven posts regarding Step 49 of Steps to Knowledge, where I am instructed to review my practice and experience of the first 48 steps.  I am sharing what I wrote when I originally did this step, with additional commentary as needed.

Step 15 – I shall listen to my experience today – “I don’t remember doing this step very well, but I’m sure I did it.  Listening without judgment is good fer what ails ya.”  What I meant is that I didn’t have much of a memory of my doing this step.  I consider “good fer what ails ya” to be the only correct spelling of this idiom.

Step 16 – Beyond my mind is Knowledge – “I did the Step, but I don’t remember hearing any deeper inclinations at the time.”  Does this mean I failed at the Step?  Not necessarily.  The Step 49 review states:

“You will find as you proceed that some of your failures will lead to greater successes, and that some of what you thought of as successes may lead to failures. This will underscore your whole system of evaluation and will lead you to a greater recognition. This will make it possible for you to be compassionate towards yourself and towards others whom you now judge for their successes and their failures.”

I have a tiny bit of mountain climbing experience, and from this I know that some paths which seem easy at the time result in dead ends, and some paths which seem unnecessarily difficult at the time are actually the paths with the highest probability of success.  Therefore, the ability to take what I get from following the directions is important.

Step 17 – Today I want to hear the truth – “The truth totally disrupted my ideals to be a hero, a hunger-ender, an apostle, a Jedi Knight.”  I’ve only been told all my life by people that they have great expectations of me.  They have quoted the Bible verse “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48, New International Version).  I have consistently disappointed both my expectations of myself, and other people’s expectations of me.  I managed to simultaneously flunk out and get kicked out of theological seminary.  I was ineffective at higher and higher levels of volunteering in the Hunger Project.  The disappointment of ambition is an important milestone.  Why am I telling anybody anything about anything?  It’s what I do.  I hope it helps.

Step 18 – Today I feel the truth arising within myself – “I did the Step, but I confess to be bewildered as to all the Steps that say ‘Feel this,’ ‘Feel that.’  The text [of Step 18] was helpful.  I have to become the better person I want Knowledge to make me, in order to approach Knowledge.  The whole Wizard of Oz thing.  I remember thinking ‘Yeah, right, like I know my true goal in life.'”  In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard gave a task to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion which required them to bring forth the qualities they desired from the Wizard (intelligence, empathy, and courage, respectively).

Step 19 – Today I wish to see – “I did a hockey puck and a spoon, and I recall that I tried to imagine how the puck got its scratches, and that the light I saw reflected off the spoon was not the spoon.  Just looking at something is loving that thing.  Everything in nature (including me) will reveal its secrets to me if I look at it without trying to impose my thoughts and wishes on it.” I was improvising on the quote from American scientist George Washington Carver:

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough. Not only have I found that when I talk to the little flower or to the little peanut they will give up their secrets, but I have found that when I silently commune with people they give up their secrets also – if you love them enough.”

Step 20 – I will not let doubt and confusion slow my practice – “I did a rock, and something else.  It’s as if they knew that at this point, doubt and confusion might arise.”

Step 21 – Review – “I did the review, and followed the instructions to chill out.”  Ok, ok, the instructions didn’t literally say to chill out, but they did say to avoid making conclusions and observe the line of development.


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