My Gift Of Gratitude

my-gift-of-gratitudeI am rummaging through various online logs, reflecting on the year 2013.

My gift of gratitude

At the beginning of the year, I was on Step 202 of Steps to Knowledge.  Today, I am on Step 320.  I had only done 98 steps between October 2012 and October 2013, so I would like to think this is an improvement.

I am grateful to Marshall Vian Summers, his family, and his associates for the many efforts they have made to make Steps to Knowledge and its related materials available to the world.

I am grateful for my fellow students of Steps to Knowledge.  You can meet a few of them here. I have met a number of these people in person.

Someone reading this is thinking “But Douglas, what has this quest accomplished for you?” I believe I’m suffering a lot less over the things in the past that didn’t go as planned.  Why?  Because I’m taking my own medicine about idealism and judgment.  I believe I’m using the phrase “That is a possibility…” more, and using the phrases “That’s wrong…” or “That’s just pure evil…” less.  I’d like to believe I’m a little bit less opinion-possessed, and a little more open to not believing everything I think.

At the beginning of this year, I was blogging on Step 5, “I believe what I want to believe.”  I recently blogged on Step 67, “I do not know what I want for the world.”  Some people have made some nice comments.  It definitely has been helpful for me to write about the Steps.  It has caused me to think things I haven’t thought before.

I have great gratitude for Alisa’s contributions to Ascending Knowledge.  I don’t have the money right now to hire a marching band to perform at half-time at the World Cup Final, and spell out “THANK YOU ALISA!” in big block letters, but maybe you can see the picture in your mind’s eye.

As I offer my gift of gratitude, I recall the words of Dag Hammarskjöld: “For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!”

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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.

Idealism Is The Mother Of Judgment

The Idealist by Luke Hillestad. Idealism is the mother of judgment

The Idealist by Luke Hillestad

Suppose your beloved were to say “Here’s what I really love about you…,” but instead of describing you as they know you really are now, they described an idealized version of you.  It might be a person you may wish to be someday.  It might be a person you are working toward becoming.  But it’s not you as you are now.  How would you feel?  Would it bless you?  It might be interesting, but would it be love?

Idealism is the mother of judgment

It’s as if I weigh other people in a pair of balances.  In one balance, I put the person as they actually are.  In the other balance, I put my ideal of the person.  The person as they are is invariably found wanting in comparison to my ideal. The person as they are is then the subject of judgment.

And worse, I do the same thing to the world.  The world as it is now is wanting in comparison to my ideal of the world.

A gentleman shared an opinion with me that all advertisements reduced to the generation of discontent, saying that people don’t measure up to a certain ideal, but they will if they purchase a particular product or service. Marketer Seth Godin concurs when he writes “Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.

Steps to Knowledge doesn’t say this, but I do.  Idealism is the mother of judgment.  Idealism is the fertile soil in which the noxious weed of judgment takes root.  Idealism is the Petri dish which the bacteria of judgment consider an all-you-can-eat buffet.  You get the idea.

If idealism is the mother of judgment, what remedy does Steps to Knowledge propose for this predicament?  Step 29 “I will observe myself today to learn of Knowledge,” and Step 30 “Today I will observe my world,” address the practice of judgment.  Step 29 offers observation as an alternative to self-judgment, and Step 30 offers observation as an alternative to judging the world.  I consider Step 54, “I will not live in idealism,” and Step 55, “I will accept the world as it is,” to operate in parallel to Steps 29 and 30, except that Steps 54 and 55 are addressing the cause of judgment instead of the practice of judgment. Step 54 encourages the student to drop her ideal of herself.  Step 55 encourages the student to relinquish his ideal of the world.

Some people find the idea of accepting the world as it is to be unacceptable, as it would imply accepting the world’s errors.  That concern is addressed in the Step:

“Therefore, in your two 30-minute practice periods today, concentrate on accepting things exactly as they are. You are not condoning violence, conflict or ignorance in doing this. You are merely accepting the conditions that exist so that you may work with them constructively. Without this acceptance, you have no starting place for true engagement. Allow the world to be exactly as it is, for it is this world that you have come to serve.”

If you are a biological accident, if you have been born here against your will, if you’ve been thrown into the world, you might have reason to hate the world, and to cultivate that hatred.  But if you’ve come to serve the world, that whole complex of idealism and judging and hating is something over which you’re going to have to get.

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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.

Idealism Has A Fatal Flaw

Some people say a bodhisattva is an ideal human being, but idealism has a fatal flawEvery human world view has a concept of the ideal human being.  It doesn’t matter whether the world view is religious or materialistic.  The ideal human being of a particular world view has a certain set of attributes and qualities.  These qualities are demonstrated by engagement in some activities, and avoidance of other activities.

The New Message from God has a relatively nuanced approach to this.  Steps to Knowledge teaches that certain practices should be embraced, such as observation, compassion and contribution.  Steps to Knowledge teaches that certain practices should be avoided, such as judgment, blame and assumption.  So it is reasonable to say that if a person studies Steps to Knowledge, he will become a certain kind of person.

But the New Message from God doesn’t identify a particular individual as the ideal human being.  Someone is thinking “Well, what about this Marshall Vian Summers person you go on and on about.  Is he the ideal human being of the world view of the New Message from God?”  My answer is “If he is, he’s not supposed to be.”  He is the Messenger of this New Message, and he shares his message by his life, but if we put him on a pedestal, if we make him the ideal human being, then he failed, then we failed.

Idealism has a fatal flaw

Some time ago, I mentioned that in the late 1980’s, the organization of Marshall Summers made a series of five cassette tapes containing messages Marshall had received.  One of these tapes was on the development of Knowledge.  On this tape, it was taught that ideals and idealism was a hindrance to the emergence of Knowledge.  I don’t remember why this was this case.  But Step 54, “I will not live in idealism,” elaborates.

“What is idealism but ideas of things that are hoped for based on disappointment? Your idealism includes yourself, your relationships and the world in which you live. It includes God and life and all realms of experience that you can imagine. Without experience, there is idealism. Idealism can be helpful at the beginning, for it can start you moving in a true direction, but you must not rest your conclusions or your identity upon it, for only experience can give you that which is true to you and that which you can fully accept. Let not idealism guide you, for Knowledge is here to guide you.”

When the word “true” is used as an adjective in Steps to Knowledge (as in “a true direction,”) I am currently hearing the phrase “genuine and effective” in my mind’s ear.  Idealism can be helpful at the beginning, for it can start you moving in a genuine and effective direction.

Still, idealism has a fatal flaw.  What is this fatal flaw?  The violation of experience.  I have offered as a working definition of knowing something “an experience of something being self-evident which inspires consistent action.”  If we don’t have experience, we don’t have knowing.  If experience is being violated, then a false self which is apart from life is being created.

Kabir (translated by Rabindranath Tagore) has an exclamation point he would like to provide:

THERE is nothing but water at the holy bathing places; and I know that they are useless, for I have bathed in them.
The images are all lifeless, they cannot speak; I know, for I have cried aloud to them.
The Purana and the Koran are mere words; lifting up the curtain, I have seen.
Kabîr gives utterance to the words of experience; and he knows very well that all other things are untrue.

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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.