8.26.2008

The Slinky of Divine Ascent

And, friend, know that always
Experience teaches one, not words.
A ladder rising wondrously to heaven's vault:
Ten steps that strangely vivify the soul.
Ten steps that herald the soul's life.
A saint inspired by God has said:
Do not deceive yourself with idle hopes
That in the world to come you will find life
If you have not tried to find it in this present world.
Ten steps: a wisdom born of God.
Ten steps: fruit of all the books.
Ten steps that point towards perfection.
Ten steps that lead one up to heaven.
Ten steps through which a man knows God.
The ladder may seem short indeed,
But if your heart can inwardly experience it
You will find a wealth the world cannot contain,
A god-like fountain flowing with unheard-of life.
This ten-graced ladder is the best of masters,
Clearly teaching each to know its stages.
If when you behold it
You think you stand securely on it,
Ask yourself on which step you stand,
So that we, the indolent, may also profit.
-St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent
The nature of acquiring and learning, of transforming data into knowledge, can be illustrated as traversing a spiral. Picture a Slinky set at an angle, with one side higher than the other. If you were climbing along the track of that slinky, you’d find yourself climbing upwards, then down, continually coming around and around to the same ‘position’ upon it, but with each successive circuit, a little bit higher than before… and then downwards again, though never quite as far down as before, and always coming back up just a little bit higher than the previous time.
-Blogodidact (http://ping.fm/k8xQB)

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