THE THREE STEPS AS KEY TO ONGOING PRACTICE

    Virgil speaks to "Dante the pilgrim" at the entrance to the Earthly Paradise.  Virgil says:

No word from me, no further sign expect
FREE, UPRIGHT and WHOLE [is your WILL].
Henceforth your WILL gives guidance that
it would be an error to neglect.

 Whence over yourself, I crown and mitre you.
 

Here we catch a glimpse of the goal.  ---->    Goal – God – the Good – the Whole – the Great Mystery

One caution:

        The mystics would understand if we said that the goal for each human is to become God -- to grow into the measure of the God-image within them.  To become the unique, unrepeatable manifestation of the Whole that they are.  However, this is  attractive only if one has a very big notion of God.

Sullivan’s "Law:"  Whatever God is, God must be greater than the best human that has ever  been.   If your God is smaller than that, it is an idol.  Then you have two choices:  Become an atheist or get a bigger God.
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     The great work is this -- to grow into a mature love -- to move day-by-day

                                        Enslaved                                                                                 FREE
                  from being       Askew / off center                                 to being                     UPRIGHT
                                        Incomplete or partial                                                              WHOLE

                                         Enslaved to old habits                             we seek to be                FREE
                                                        to old stories
                                                        to old emotional reactions

                                         Off center and not directionally "true"       we seek to be                UPRIGHT

                                          Incomplete or Partial                               we seek to be                WHOLE

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What is the dynamics of this transition?  The three steps bring us back to ourselves -- again and again.

 1)  White Stone Step -- mirror-like --  to see with two-fold consciousness what I am in my false center
                                     &  what I am in my possibility of being Free, Upright and Whole

                                     Confess the double vision --                                HAIL -- Heart aware, insight into love
                                      I am not here what I am at core.
                                      I am not now what comes to meet me.

                 Here a sense -- one eye on the undisciplined appetites (the nafs-al-amaran of the Sufis),
                                          the other on the One -- Dante sees this image of Oneness, Wholeness in the Great Heavens
                                                                                                                                                in the whell of the zodiac.

 2)   Black Stone Step -- rough-hewn, cracked in sign of cross  ---      to go into the darkness, into unknowing
                                                                                                              to surrender,  to allow heart to break
                                     Enter the darkness
                                     Sorrowing, surrendering, contrite of heart
                                     Let heart be touched, broken, bereft of borders.

 3)  Red Stone Step -- to move into action -- love and self-sacrifice

                                      Give love for love is born to be given away, given "a way."
                                      Repair and heal, amend and be whole.

 James Mark Baldwin:  Every genuine act of self-sacrifice is also an act of self-enhancement -- and,
                                                I would add, the self that is sacrificed is not the self that is enhanced.
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Think of it this way -- think of a cone with a flat piece of paper over it -- in the cone a golden ball, thedeep center;
                                                    on the surface a dot on the two-dimensional paper -- not in alignment with the true center.

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    As for the three steps, we can map them onto a circle in a way similar to the way Budhism see practice --
                    as having an insight-resolve phase, a meditative phase and an action phase.

    In the image below, think of these three phases around a circle;  The White Step is at the top of the circle.
                        The movement is clockwise -- downward and inward as in autumn to winter -- the Black Step.
                                                                       upward and outward as in sparing to summer -- the Red Step.
 
 

   White Step
   Insight into doubleness
   Confess - see and say




                                                Red Step                                                              Black Step
                                                Action                                                                   Meditation
                                                Satis-facere                                                         Contrite --
                                                Doing -enough                                                     heart broken
 
 

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Instead of PRIDE, let us speak of being in a False Center

                                 Rx:  Humility or coming to appreciate our true size
 

                                                        I can lose my true size by falsely seeing myself as
                                                                                  ABOVE others
                                                                                            *
                                                                                            *
                                                                                            *
         I can lose my true size by                                             *                                  I can lose my true size by
          falsely caring for my false self                 ***********************            falsely "caring" for others
         I can lose my true size by                                             *                                   I can lose my true size by
         falsely seeing myself OPPOSED to others                    *                                   falsely seeing others OPPOSED to me
                                                                                            *
                                                                                            *
                                                        I can lose my true size be falsely seeing myself as
                                                                                  BELOW others

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 Placing myself above others is PRIDE in the negative sense -- also called vainglory
              Dante mentions pride of birth, pride of talent, pride of power.

                      Rx:  HUMILITY -- humus, humor -- returning to my place in the web of earth life.

 Placing myself below others engenders ENVY -- we see life as a see-saw  --
                 if you are going up, I must be going down.

                     Rx:  GENEROSITY -- able to celebrate the good things that come to others

 Placing myself opposed to others engenders ANGER.

                     Rx:  BEING PEACE -- making peace with justice -- creating the conditions for harmonious living.
    Here is a beautifulexplanation of what the word "Namaste" means

In India, when we meet, we often say Namaste,
which means, I honor the place in you where the
entire universe lives.  I honor the place in you of
love, of light, of truth, of peace.  I honor the place
in you, where, if you are in that place in you, and
I am in athat place in me, there is only one of us.
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To recap:

    consider the  three steps to be taken over and over and over:

         White Stone Step:  Confession --  Insight/Resolution   -- mirror-like
                                    to see with two-fold consciousness  what I am in my false center
                                                                                    &  what I am in my possibility of being Free, Upright and Whole

         Black Stone Step:  Contrition -- the Descent into Darkness, Stillness, Surrender
                             -- rough-hewn, cracked in sign of cross  --- to go into the darkness,
                                                                                                    into unknowing, to surrender,  to allow heart to break

         Red Stone Step:  Satisfaction -- the Ascent into Service
                            -- to move into action -- love and self-sacrifice
                                 Repair and heal, amend and be whole.

    In this way, Purgatory -- seen as daily practice in this life -- becomes the work of our deepening.

                        To reverse false separateness and all its manifestations:   above, below, oppose
                                (and recovering a sense of our true size and deep beauty in interconnection with
                                        all our brothers and sisters)
                        To reverse our tendency to escape form the work (and recovering enthusiasm)
                        To reverse the substitutions for the work  (and finding right relationship to
                                                                                            success, consumption and sexual energy)

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                                                                                                        copyright October 2001, John G. Sullivan

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