I Do Not Know How To Ride Or Fight (Yet)

Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage. Joan told her voices "I do not know how to ride or fight"
I confess a certain curiosity and admiration of St. Joan of Arc (ca. 1412 – 1431). I have written a few posts about her in the past two years.

I do not know how to ride or fight

Joan of Arc lived during a time when France was internally divided between two hostile factions, the Armagnacs and the Burgundians. Joan’s entire life took place during the Armagnac-Burgundian civil war. Furthermore, a large portion of northern France was under English subjugation.

When she was 13, she began to experience inner voices speaking to her, whom she identified as St. Margaret, St. Catherine, St. Michael, and others. I consider these voices to be the voices of Joan of Arc’s Teachers, who are mentioned in Step 22, “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God” of Steps to Knowledge.

When she was 16, the voices encouraged / insisted / commanded her to help Charles VII of France. She demonstrated instances of inexplicable knowing which caused people to take her seriously. For example, Joan knew of the French defeat at the Battle of the Herrings outside Orleans in February of 1429 before others in her region. Joan knew the location of the sword buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine. Joan knew of a secret prayer Charles VII prayed months before they had met.

Joan at the siege of Orleans, Jules Lenepveu, 1889. Joan told her voices "I do not know how to ride or fight."

Joan at the siege of Orleans, Jules Lenepveu, 1889

She was well-known for helping the French lift the siege of Orleans in 1429. About a year after that, she was captured. She was tried for heresy and witchcraft by an English-friendly ecclesiastical kangaroo court. She was burned at the stake in 1432.

I share all of this with you because I thought about St. Joan of Arc during the 2014 Encampment. One thing I recalled was that not everyone joyfully received Joan’s claims that saints and angels had spoken to her. When Joan first spoke to the Armagnac commander Robert de Baudricourt, he sent her home, saying her father should give her a whipping. Another thing I considered was that Joan must have realized how she appeared to other people. She protested to her voices “I am a poor girl. I do not know how to ride or fight.” But her voices persuaded her, and not long after that she both rode and fought.

I wrote the following in my Encampment notes for Day 2

God told Joan of Arc to save France. God is telling me (and my colleagues) to save the world. Joan insisted “I do not know how to ride or fight.” I don’t know how to cleanse a dirty river, or grow my own food. God told Joan, and me “Too bad.” Joan rode and fought. I seem to need to get smarter about some things.

Perhaps if Joan had said “I do not know how to ride or fight yet,” her voices might not had to have been so insistent. I therefore consider it non-well-formed for me to say “I do not know how to do thus-and-such an activity” without qualifying it with the word “yet.”

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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.

It Was For This That I Was Born

They won the Champions League Final in 2008, but do they say "It was for this that I was born" ?

Between Super Bowl XLVIII and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Americans are finding great opportunity to satisfy their hunger for dramatic athletic competition. Why is it such a great thrill? Is it seeing the successful execution of a well-laid plan? Is it the experience of your tribe defeating its enemies? I say it is the closest many people get to an experience of their greater purpose, the reason for which they came into this world.

Step 71 “I am here to serve a greater purpose” of Steps to Knowledge declares “You are here to serve a greater purpose, beyond mere survival and the gratification of things you may think you want.” In my life, I have seen many athletes reach the highest pinnacles of their sport. Out of those many occasions, I have never heard an athlete say “I came into the world to win this game.” Out of those many occasions, I have never heard an athlete say “It is my purpose in life to run faster than others, or jump higher than others, or demonstrate more strength than others.” Out of those many occasions, I have never heard an athlete say “It was for this that I was born”

I do know someone reported to have said “It was for this that I was born.” I have written multiple times about St. Joan of Arc in this space, as someone who demonstrated the hallmarks of Knowledge: profound intuition, great insight, inexplicable knowing, wise perception in the present and in the future, and wise understanding of the past.

Joan of Arc Leaving Vaucouleurs by Jean-Jacques Scherrer "It was for this that I was born!"

As Joan of Arc was leaving Vaucouleurs to begin her mission to save France she was asked by a woman: “How can you make such a journey when on all sides are soldiers?” to which Joan responded:  “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to messire the Dauphin.  It was for this that I was born!”

I make no claim at this point to be able to speak of something and say “It was for this that I was born!” I do claim to aspire and to work to reach that day.

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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.

Dreaming Of A Unified Humanity

Dreaming of a unified humanity

I have had a conversation with one of my children, who will be called “Child” for the purposes of this blog post.  This conversation took place over the past couple of years in various times and places.

Child: Dad, what would you do if you knew you could not fail? (I believe Child heard someone ask this as part of a motivational speech.)

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar would tell you to believe in your dream.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me (without missing a beat): I would unite the warring tribes of humanity. (Out of all the times that question is asked, I believe that response is rare, but there it is.)

Me: Have I told you about Joan of Arc? (I have other children, and I forget which speech I have given to which child)

Child: No, what about her?

St. Joan of Arc dreamed of a unified France, living at peace with England.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me: Well, she lived in France in the early 1400’s, during a time when France was divided between different groups, and oppressed by England.  When she was 13, she began to experience inner voices speaking to her, whom she identified as St. Margaret, St. Catherine, St. Michael, and others.  I consider these voices to be the voices of Joan of Arc’s Teachers, who are first mentioned in Step 22, “I am surrounded by the Teachers of God” of Steps to Knowledge. (Child is aware that I am studying Steps to Knowledge, and also recognizes that it is a relatively unknown, out-of-the-ordinary text at this time.  Out of filial piety, Child regards my study of Steps to Knowledge with polite, inquisitive skepticism.)

When she was 16, the voices encouraged / insisted / commanded her to help Charles VII of France.  She demonstrated instances of inexplicable knowing which caused people to take her seriously.  She was well-known for helping the French lift the siege of Orleans in 1429.  About a year after that, she was captured, tried for heresy and witchcraft, and burned at the stake.

(The instances of inexplicable knowing included (among other things) her awareness of the French defeat outside Orleans in February of 1429, her knowing the location of the sword buried behind the altar at the church of St. Catherine, and her communication to Charles VII which conclusively settled the question of the legitimacy of his birth.  No, I didn’t say all these things to Child on this one occasion.  I believe the term for this is a “composite.”)

Child: Couldn’t the angels have put out the flames and broke the ropes when she was being burnt at the stake?

Me: Maybe, but instead they helped her to be brave, forgiving to her killers, and faithful to what she knew to be true. (I blew the chance to say “If the angels put out the flames and broke the ropes, what would they have to do after that?”)

Dreaming of a unified humanity

Me: Joan of Arc had a dream.  Her dream was that of a unified France, living at peace with an England that respected its borders.  It didn’t happen in her lifetime.  It took a little less than 500 years for it happen.  In 1904, England and France signed a peace treaty, the Entente Cordiale.  They have lived at peace with each other for the past 109 years. (It was 476 years between the time Joan’s voices directed her to come to the aid of France, and the signing of the Entente Cordiale.)

Britain and France have been at peace for 109 years.  Dreaming of a unified humanity

Child (with facial expression of realizing something): Well, maybe in the same way that it took 500 years or so for Joan of Arc’s dream to come true, it might take 500 years for your dream of a unified world to come true. That doesn’t make it any less wonderful of a dream. (I hope it will happen faster, but I took great joy in those words. I take great joy in sharing them with you.)

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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.

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! 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.

And Who Are These “Few” Of Whom You Speak?

In the previous post, I mentioned the teaching of Jesus that only a few find the road that leads to life, and the poem of Kabir ending with the line “The true path is rarely found.”  I suggested that the few who make the rare accomplishment of finding the true path are called saints.  I will now elaborate on this.
The Greek word translated as “saint” in some New Testament versions is “hagios,” which means “set apart, holy, sacred.”  Hagios is also used as an adjective, translated as “holy.”  When the apostle Paul greeted the Christians in Rome in Romans 1:7, he used hagios.  Curiously, the New American Standard Bible translates the word as “saints,” while the more recent New International Version uses the phrase “holy people.” The Bible called the Temple hagios, as it was set apart for a different purpose than other buildings.  The Bible called the city of Jerusalem hagios, as it contained the Temple, which was hagios, while other cities did not.

I believe many Christians would agree to calling themselves holy in the sense of “set apart for a different purpose.”  I believe many Christians would agree to calling themselves holy in the sense of “being a container for something holy.”  Some Christians would go with both senses.  On the other hand, very few Christians would claim to having gotten to the end of the narrow road which leads to life.  Many Christians claim to be working on entering through the small gate, and working on walking on the narrow road.

While I accept the claim Christians make of being “in development” or “under construction,”  I’m unwilling to call someone who’s still in development a saint.  The Catholics have stricter conditions, as they realize that people they canonize will be emulated as role models.  On the other hand, a Catholic saint is not just an exemplary person of impeccable character, but also someone who has had an encounter with the mysterious, the miraculous, the inexplicable, in their life.

I don’t claim to be very literate regarding Catholic saints, but one Catholic saint who resonates for me is St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431).

When I think of her, my soul rings and sings with the thought “Ah, the real deal!  The real McCoy!  The genuine article!”  Perhaps I will go into the details of her life in another post, but for now, I merely wish to offer her as an instance of someone who found the road that leads to life, someone who found the true path which is so rarely found.

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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.