Step 80, “I can only practice” of Steps to Knowledge, gives the idea that what passes for normal life contains a number of unexamined, habitual, detrimental practices. Practices such as confusion, judgment, projection of blame, guilt, disassociation, inconsistency and self-hatred.
The luxury of self-condemnation
Step 81, “I will not deceive myself today,” continues on this path, adding more detrimental practices to confront in one’s self.
“Do not be comfortable with assumptions or the beliefs of others.” As early as Step 4, “I want what I think I know,” we were told that assumptions are rarely founded on experience. The word “assumption” has been used a number of times so far in Steps to Knowledge. It has been consistently described as something too weak to take you to the great mystery of your life. It has been consistently described as something to examine and penetrate.
“Do not accept generalities as truth.” Generalizations have been known for some time to be impoverishments of experience. This is the only instance in Steps to Knowledge of either “generality” or “generalities.”
“Do not accept appearances as representative of the reality of another.” As I thought of this, I recalled a couple of Bible verses. Paul wrote to the Corinthians “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16, New International Version) John wrote “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2, New International Version). What is the reality of another? The great mystery of their life. The mission they have in their life to fulfill.
“Do not accept the mere appearance of yourself.” See above.
There is one detrimental practice, the practice of self-condemnation, to which an entire paragraph is devoted.
“You must enter uncertainty to find Knowledge. What does this mean? It simply means you are giving up false assumptions, self-comforting ideas and the luxury of self-condemnation. Why is self-condemnation a luxury? Because it is easy and does not require you to examine the truth. You accept it because it is acceptable in this world, and it gives you a great deal to talk about with your friends. It evokes sympathy. Therefore, it is easy and weak.”
As someone who has engaged in a good bit of self-condemnation over my errors and disappointments, I bear witness to these words. Examining what actually happened takes some work, work that is not required to engage in the luxury of self-condemnation. I believe most people will not freely admit that they are just a little bit scared of people who are showing strength and courage. I believe most people will not freely admit that in their strongest and most fearless moments, they notice that other people are just a little bit scared of them.
«Alisa writes: I think that the last two sentences of the paragraph above contain a very potent thought. Apart from it being true at the personal level, I think our world leaders would do well to consider this in their dealings with other world leaders.»
It takes a certain mental rigor, a certain strength, a certain courage to even search for what Steps to Knowledge is offering. People who are comfortable with being safe and weak, for whatever reason, have quit by now, or are thinking about it.
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