Tag Archives: Book Reviews

AWAKENING THROUGH THE HEART: A REVIEW OF A COURSE OF LOVE

Note: Published in Miracles magazine, May-June, 2015 (publisher Jon Mundy).

TITLE: A COURSE OF LOVE: THE COURSE, THE TREATISES, THE DIALOGUES
FIRST RECEIVER: Mari Perron
PUBLISHER: Take Heart Publications
PUBLISHED: Combined Volume, September 2014
REVIEWED BY: Celia Hales

Can you imagine “another Course in Miracles”? This phrase, “another Course in Miracles,” was the startling introduction that Mari Perron heard internally, shortly before she assented to scribe. She recognized the voice as Jesus. Within a week, he was coming through to her for a new Course with an internal impression of words—the same method that Helen has described in receiving ACIM. The three-year process of receiving (channeling) happened about 15 years ago, and it has been a well-kept secret since, apparently waiting for its time. Now Take Heart Publications has published a new combined volume of the three books scribed by Mari, and A Course of Love (ACOL) is coming into its own.

I interviewed Mari Perron a decade ago, a few months after I wandered into Barnes & Noble and found an enticing pink jacket on a white book with an intriguing title, A Course of Love. Mari is articulate, unassuming, genuine. She told me that those who have studied ACIM were identified for her by Jesus as the best audience for A Course of Love, because we are ready for it. I have found that A Course in Love answers questions that earnest seekers still have despite careful study of A Course in Miracles.

As you most probably know, there are several other individuals who have asserted that they have “heard” Jesus internally, and there are web sites and books arising from this phenomenon. Some individuals do believe that they channel Jesus “live,” that is to say, they speak words as they hear them internally. I make no judgments about these other works and manifestations. I ask you only to consider A Course of Love as particularly appropriate for those of us who are dedicated students/teachers of A Course in Miracles. A Course of Love says that it is a “continuation” of ACIM, and, as such, it describes numerous parallels between the two works. One seeking to channel, even Jesus himself, can only use the vocabulary that is in the mind of the scribe. Mari had read A Course in Miracles (by her count) seven times just prior to channeling A Course of Love. In my opinion, she writes with Presence and as an especially clear channel for Jesus’s purposes in writing A Course of Love. Here is what Jesus in ACOL says about this:
“Where the original Course in Miracles was a course in thought reversal and mind training, a course to point out the insanity of the identity crisis and dislodge the ego’s hold, this is a course to establish your identity and to end the reign of the ego.” (A Course of Love, C:P.8)

Some of us who have studied ACIM and emerged with weakened egos have, in the words of A Course of Love, “rejected” ourselves. We think that to claim our rightful place of identity with the Christ within lacks humility. A Course in Love says that such an attitude is actually borne of fear.

“You prefer selflessness to self because this is your chosen way to abolish ego and to please God.” (C:P.20)

But now we approach “final learning through the realm of the heart. This is where the confusion ends. This is why we call this course A Course of Love.” (C:P.44)

Some will read the first book (the “Course”) of ACOL to be a further refinement of A Course in Miracles–a refresher with added principles for those who have studied ACIM, a compendium of necessary thoughts for those who have not studied ACIM. As much as A Course of Love is believed to be a sequel to ACIM, ACOL can stand on its own because of the material in the first book. The second and third books (the “Treatises” and the “Dialogues”) represent the complexities of ACOL, to be read after the first book has been assimilated, after a break in reading. They have much depth, and their principles will require careful reading.

One overarching theme: We are being led from our emphasis on the mind, where we often think we need proofs, into an emphasis on the heart, which knows without having cognitive proof. Ultimately, we are told, we must combine mind and heart into what Jesus terms “wholeheartedness.”

In ACOL, we see the end of the illusory separated self, moving into our new identity as the Christ Self. We live in Oneness (unity) and in holy relationships (no longer special) with God and with others. Everyone is chosen (an ACIM declaration also). We move beyond old ways of learning to new ways of learning, new ways which include living in observation of our living rather than traditional means of study. Our seeking has an end, and that time is now. We are said to be now living in the time of the second coming of Christ, the time of the Holy Spirit having ended. We don’t need an intermediary any longer; we can approach the internal God directly, no longer being afraid of Him.

As ACOL progresses, Jesus moves into a role no longer as teacher, but as a companion. He directs us to allow elevation of the physical body in Christ-consciousness, and to sustain that new identity in the “elevated Self of form.” This is the way of the future, a future that not even Jesus will predict. Having given up the ego and established a new identity, we are living in a way that is not in conflict with God’s will and our true will for ourselves. We are separate from God no longer, not even in illusion. Jesus speaks directly to us when he concludes:

“You will realize that you know what to do. Expect heaven on earth, you were told. This is what it is. There will be no doubt, no indecision. Your path will be so clear to you it will be as if it is the only path in the world and you will wonder why you didn’t see it all along. Expect this. And it will be.” (E.6)

Many who have loved A Course in Miracles will find much value in A Course of Love. Like ACIM, ACOL too must be read attentively and also slowly, approached with an open mind and a thoughtful heart. The words are beautiful. There are jewels here. And solace, oh, so much solace for the heart! Others, early readers of ACOL, have told me that the emphasis on the heart is very comforting, as well as helpful, to them.

A Course of Love has my enthusiastic recommendation.

A SPIRITUAL SOLUTION TO EXCESS WEIGHT: A Review of Marianne Williamson’s “A Course in Weight Loss”

Reviewed by Celia Hales.  Published in September/October 2011 issue of Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).  To order, visit Marianne’s web site at http://www.marianne.com and click on “Books and Audio.”  Also available in bookstores internationally.

Title:  A Course in Weight Loss
Subtitle:  21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever
Author:  Marianne Williamson
Publisher:  Hay House, Inc.

Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss is a magnificent contribution to the wrenching problem of being overweight in our society.  I see this book primarily as a loving instigator of a miraculous solution for the many who suffer from excessive eating and/or food addiction.  Weight Loss is affectionately dedicated to Oprah (Winfrey), who inspired it as a personal friend of Marianne’s and someone who herself has often spoken of problems with weight.  Marianne writes in the dedication of the book to Oprah, “To any reader who might feel that this book is a gift, please know that it was a gift from her.”

It is Marianne who writes of the solution, though, and her ideas are phenomenal.  We will appreciate that they are frequently, though far from exclusively, based on A Course in Miracles.  There is a solution to the never-ending cycle of overeating and dieting, Marianne says, and it is a spiritual solution.  She notes that if anything other than a spiritual solution had worked, those with a weight problem would be cured already.  She goes on to say that the problem originates in the mind, and this is what she calls the “fear-mind.”  (Here we see Marianne’s indebtedness to A Course in Miracles, though she uses a slightly different term.)  We need to turn to Divine Mind (again, a variation on terms from ACIM) for healing.  Nothing less than a full surrender to Love, or God, will solve the problem.

But we pray for a miracle, and Marianne herself has known one, and so she knows whereof she speaks.  Years ago she had a food problem, in that she would eat excessively and then starve herself to regain her slender frame.  Once she began working intensively with A Course in Miracles, and healed some of the neurosis that was causing her problems, she looked down at her body one day, and surprisingly, noticed that it was slim–and had become so without her starving herself.  She had not asked for a miracle, because she had not recognized that this was an area which she should surrender.  But God answered her.  And she says that He can do the same for any of us.  Indeed, none will know a permanent solution to weight loss until one does experience that miracle that only God can give.

We do prepare ourselves for a miracle, though, and Marianne’s book details a comprehensive program for a way to view ourselves differently, and thus invite the miracle for which we ask.  She includes exercises (especially writing letters to and from one’s “not-thin” and thin selves); rituals  (such as a ceremonial oil treatment for the body that will promote a love, rather than hate, for one’s body, and the buying of a single piece of fruit, a healthy food choice); ceremonies (in which we invite friends–an “inspirer” and a “permitter”–to help us along the journey); new cues in the environment (such as a home altar and a special table setting that, along with the other items that are meaningful to our journey toward weight loss, go on the altar, until these items are ready for use).

Marianne never tells us how rapidly to go through the 21 lessons.  Perhaps she realizes that the one driven to find a solution will read through the whole very quickly.  But then those with a weight problem will return to study the solution that she recommends.

She explains repeatedly that the mind is what must be healed, before the body will respond.  We are trying to find solutions to our distress in food, and food is not a good place to go.  The self-loathing of the compulsive overeater is described throughout this book; it is the body to which these emotions are attached, but the body is not the real culprit.  The body is only the place where these unprocessed emotions have been played out.  These unprocessed emotions are from a past that has had its share of pain, whether in traumatic events (such as rape or sexual abuse), or the word of our culture that the blossoming body of the adolescent girl is no longer appreciated by some with whom the girl has been most closely associated, such as her father (who is not accustomed to dealing with his little girl as a woman).  We should not underestimate the power of these emotions in dealing with weight gain.  We “hide out” in a big body to escape the pain of living in a thin one; we are afraid of being thin.  Marianne says that the fear of being thin is actually what keeps the compulsive overeating in place.

She stresses the importance of healthy food choices, recognizing that many with a food problem, paradoxically, do not appreciate food enough, but too little.  We are eating for comfort, to quiet the demons inside, but we are not truly tasting what we eat.  She counsels easing into healthy choices, giving an example of her love affair with grapes, which satisfied her longing for sugar gradually, as she also sometimes ate cake.  She emphasizes, in a comforting way and the way of one who knows whereof she speaks, that our best days with food are ahead of, not behind us.

A Course in Weight Loss is carefully written.  One can tell that much time and energy went into its compilation.  This is not an intuitive book; this is one that has been reasoned out for the maximal effect upon its desperate readers.  And those with a weight problem will not come away disappointed.  There are many who read everything that Marianne writes.  She is, in fact, often described as the one whose name is most recognized as a student/teacher of A Course in Miracles.  Marianne, once again, has come through in this book with an illuminating contribution to her canon and to her large audience of returning readers.

The book is both inspired and inspiring.  Weight Loss is first recommended to those with weight issues, but is also recommended to others who love Marianne and/or want to read some very practical applications of A Course in Miracles to the problems in our lives (regardless of how much we might weigh).  My secondary recommendation to everyone is not the intent of Marianne, though.  Her words of wisdom never leave the central thrust of helping those who have obsessive, compulsive eating habits.  In reading between the lines, though, we find gems that can help us all.

We can be sure that A Course in Weight Loss will be, and, indeed, has already been,  received enthusiastically and gratefully by individuals in our society with both weight issues and other urgent needs.

VISUALIZE; a Review of Shakti Gawain’s “Creative Visualization”

by Celia Hales

Gawain, Shakti.  Creative Visualization; Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life.  ISBN 1-57731-229-5.  Available on the Internet and in bookstores internationally.  Originally published by Whatever Publishing, 1979.

This is a contribution that cannot be underestimated.  An early New Age book, Creative Visualization has remained in print and well-received for decades.  I personally knew most of it by heart at one point in my life, so taken with it I had become.  Its basic message is the same as another New Age author, Jane Roberts, who channeled an entity named Seth, proclaiming, “You create your own reality.”  If I had to sum up what Creative Visualization  says, that would be it.

Shakti tells us exactly how to “create your own reality.”  A thin book (my early copy has 127 pages), there are numerous short chapters, making skimming to find your desired passages an easy task.  She is heavy on affirmations as a way to create one’s own reality, and she gives many examples of positive, life-affirming affirmations that, if said silently, aloud, or written, will presumably have the power to do all of those wonderful things that she promises.  She does not overlook the power of negativity to negate any desired good, and she offer hints of what to do to find one’s own blocks to creating the reality that we desire.  Paper and pencil are not far behind for Shakti.  As much as she champions imagining, she also asks us to do the work of changing our reality by writing about what we want and why, as well as what we don’t want, and why we keep getting it.

There are five parts to this masterpiece:  (1) basics of creative visualization; (2) using creative visualization; (3) meditations and affirmations; (4) special techniques; and (5) living creatively.

In the beginning, Shakti emphasizes the importance of relaxation to effective visualization.  Once relaxed, she invites us to encourage the images to flow; if we have trouble doing so, though, she encourages us by saying that “seeing” is not absolutely necessary to the process.  Just thinking about the desired goal, quality, or object is enough.  She notes that many of us will be ambivalent about consciously creating for ourselves that which is good when so many in our world are suffering.  She affirms that we would not do harm to others by wishing for the good for ourselves; we will reach out to our brothers and sisters as well.  She calls this “outflowing,” and it is essential to effective creative visualization.

She provides a good number of exercises in the middle portion of the book.  These will help tremendously if one does them rather than simply reads about them.  My favorite is the “pink bubble technique,” in which we are encouraged to place our goal in a visualized pink bubble (pink being the color of the heart), and then imagine it floating away into the universe above, waiting to manifest on earth.  Never does Shakti recommend straining, or “efforting,” to reach a goal.  This exertion does actually hinder the manifestation, she affirms.  If we feel too much efforting, we are not ready, or the goal is not right, and we are counseled to hold off and to reconsider.

The paper-and-pencil tasks are found in the fourth part on “special techniques.”  My favorite here is the treasure map, which actually makes of our attempts a game.  We draw what we desire, making it as personal as possible, and placing an image of ourselves on the map itself.  Always, though, we say a mantra that we image this goal for the good of everyone concerned, that this or something better will manifest.

An important chapter is the short conclusion of the book, in which she says that her life is her greatest art.  We are trying to craft a life, not trying to just make a series of achievements to prove anything to anybody.  We are creating our reality.

A Course in Miracles had just been published (1975) when Creative Visualization first appeared..  There is no indication that the former influenced the latter.  But  both are part of the oft-quoted perennial philosophy that Aldous Huxley described so well in his book by the same title.

Shakti has done us a glorious service by bringing us this book, which she attributes to her inner guide.   While she never says that the book was channeled, she does make the “guide” comment.  It seems obvious that Shakti’s attunement with the universe helped to write this book.  Recommended without reservation, as so many others have said as well.

ACIM IN ESSENCE: A Review of Jon Mundy’s “Living A Course in Miracles”

by Celia Hales.  Posted here with new title.  Reprinted from Miracles Magazine (publisher Jon Mundy).  Book is available on the Internet and bookstores nationwide.

Title: Living A Course in Miracles
Subtitle:  An Essential Guide to the Classic Text
Author: Jon Mundy
Publisher: Sterling Publishing

Jon Mundy begins his monumental task of writing Living A Course in Miracles by saying, “A Course in Miracles is the wisest, sanest, deepest book I know (p. 3).”  This first sentence in Jon’s book is one with which virtually any long-time student/teacher of ACIM would agree.  Jon concludes this first chapter (referring to studying ACIM intensively): “We are going for nothing less than enlightenment (p. 11).”

In Living A Course in Miracles, Jon Mundy, an esteemed ACIM writer and lecturer, does his most profound writing to date.  Living is an  essential read for any serious student/teacher of A Course in Miracles.

Organization of the Book

Living A Course in Miracles is a 259-page work in three parts:  (1) basic terms and concepts (a necessary prelude to what will follow); (2) the metaphysics of miracles (for those who want theory); and, finally, the most lengthy part, (3) living A Course in Miracles, the practical application.  Jon waits until the third chapter of the first part to truly introduce A Course in Miracles–an unusual feature, but one that works.  The second part tackles some of the difficult metaphysics set forth in the Text, and, characteristically,  Jon makes these difficult concepts much easier to understand.  The third part echoes ACIM‘s emphasis upon the practical, for we are told within the pages of ACIM that it is with the practical that we are most concerned.

Jon has his own narrative, which forms the backdrop for numerous quotations from A Course in Miracles and other readings.  Some of the very best passages from the Course are chosen.  Most are from the Text, with some from the Workbook for Students, and a few from the Manual for Teachers.

Jon’s commentary is voluminous, but in easy-to-understand prose with a logical progression.  His quotations, which are necessary to keep our minds on ACIM,  flow seamlessly throughout the narrative.  Nothing jars.  And neither does it simply seem a flow of quotations from ACIM and other sources.  The narrative has its own logic, well-planned and executed.  Jon is emphasizing, without saying so, that the Course is the latest manifestation of the perennial philosophy that Aldous Huxley wrote about so eloquently.  Jon too has eloquent writing, eloquent writing that is obviously heartfelt.   Living is a pleasure to read and an inspiration as well.

In addition to ACIM, Jon quotes many spiritual writers and other renowned figures in history, whether they were known as religious figures or not.   Jon is an expert in the history of mystical literature, and this expertise shows itself conclusively in Living.  In addition, Jon tells with his own lighthearted manner a number of personal anecdotes that illustrate his emphasized points from ACIM.  The tone of the book throughout is scholarly but not overly serious.  It has its own vibrancy, because we see some of Jon’s personality shine through, a fact that was probably unintended.   Jon keeps the light touch, a necessary prerequisite to having a readable book.

The Audience

As mentioned earlier, this work is an essential read for students/teachers of A Course in Miracles–whether one is new to the three volumes or is a long-time reader.  The interpretations are all true to the spirit of ACIM.   I have studied ACIM intensively for 30 years, and I found little in Jon’s interpretations with which to disagree.  Jon does not bring his own agenda to his writing.  He stays close to his chosen quotations, and so the reader may be reassured that he/she will not be misled by what Jon has written.

If I had to choose, I would say that Living is best intended for the new student, though there are interpretations of passages from ACIM that even the long-time student/teacher may have found difficult.  In his own inimical way, Jon makes the difficult understandable.  The quotations (set off in italics) are a gift in themselves; being among the finest material in ACIM, a reader would do well, once the Jon’s work has been read and his interpretations taken to heart, to turn through the pages just reviewing the selected passages from A Course in Miracles.

What Living A Course in Miracles Says

At its most basic, Living is a summation of ACIM.  But to say that is to miss a lot.  There is so much more weaved into the narrative by Jon.  He even includes an interesting take on difficult terms in ACIM in which he makes the terms come alive.  And he includes his own “lists” of interpretations, for those who want an overview without going back to ACIM itself.  Living is a fascinating read, never dull, always holding one’s attention and moving one forward to the next page and the next.

To give a flavor of what Living is like, I am going to quote from Jon on three puzzling concepts in the Course, all discussed in the first part of Living.  Jon’s history with the Course makes sure that he is the right person to make these assertions, and they illustrate what we find throughout the work.

Jon has picturesque writing, as exemplified in this quotation.  Here he characterizes the tiny, mad idea which started our illusions and our apparent separation from God (though not real, we perceive this separation as real):

“Like a mirror which is dropped and shatters, a kind of fractal splintering off of consciousness occurs, breaking repeatedly into trillions upon trillions of individual pieces of non-reality (pp. 48-49).”

What an inspired way to say this!

A common misconception about the Course is the following, which Jon explains brilliantly:

“Attack cannot occur without judgment; and ‘anger is never justified’ (T-30.VI.1:1).  The word is never, not sometimes.  The ego would love it if the Course said that anger was sometimes justified.  Then we could have debates about the times it was and the time it is not justified.  This does not mean we should never get angry; it just mean I have slipped into fear, something has gone wrong with my thinking, and I need another way to look at things (p. 53).”

Jon also succinctly explains a frequent problem of why we are innocent and never have “sinned”:

“If it really was possible to be separated from God, then sin would be real. It is precisely because sin is an illusion that it is not real.  It is actually impossible to be separated from God.  We just think that we can be and that gives birth to the ‘dream of sin’ (W-193-5:4).  Sin is not to be confused with error.  Error or mistaken perception calls for correction (p. 64).”

These are just three of the examples of outstanding interpretation by Jon.  The book is filled with such gems.  I chose these three because they occur early in Jon’s work (and will welt your appetite for more), and they are not easily found in explanation within the pages of the Course.  Jon has aptly synthesized the Course after years of continual study and teaching.

Jon’s Qualifications

We would need someone, like Jon Mundy, Ph.D., who has been “in” on the Course from the beginning,  to write such a cogent analysis.  He was introduced to the Course shortly after its scribing, and the scribe Helen Schucman was a kind of “mother figure” for Jon.  He has, through the years, been close to the well-known  scholar Kenneth Wapnick, who is an early principal with continuous lifetime contributions to ACIM.  Jon has also welcomed others students/teachers of ACIM over the years.  He is the publisher of Miracles, a magazine that is known for its inclusiveness.

Jon has not had an easy life, and this struggle has honed him and made him ready as one who has derived great benefit from ACIM in the course of the struggle.  He has had a number of near-death experiences.  He has “crashed and burned” (his phrase) several times, including being forced from the United Methodist Church because he was preaching A Course in Miracles.  Jon has written about this experience of forced resignation repeatedly, leading one to realize that this was a pivotal point in his life.

Jon lectures on A Course in Miracles internationally, and part of his lecture is a lighthearted persona that makes humorous remarks.  This lighthearted vein finds its way into this work, as we have noted, and Living is the better for it.

CONCLUDING

Living A Course in Miracles concludes with a favorite quotation of students/teachers of A Course in Miracles:

“Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God. (T-189.7: 5)”

In the final analysis, after finishing Living, we will want to do the same.  But we will have been made richer by our dipping into this absolutely extraordinary work.  An astounding contribution, recommended enthusiastically.

MARIANNE’S GRACE; A Review of Marianne Williamson’s “Everyday Grace”

Review by Celia Hales.  Revised with new title and reprinted from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).

Williamson, Marianne.  Everyday Grace; Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, and Making Miracles.  Riverside Books, 2002.  ISBN 1-57322-230-5.  Available from <http://www.marianne.com&gt;.

There is a passage in A Course in Miracles that spotlights the way of the seeker and the mystic in this world, a way of being in the world but not of it.  The passage reads, mysteriously,

There is a way of living in this world that is not here. . .you smile more frequently.  Your forehead. . .serene, your eyes. . .quiet.  And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. (W-p1.155.1:1-4).

Marianne’s gift to us in this book first spells out her powerful view of the theory behind this way of living:  miracles happen; we are helped (Marianne says by angels); judgment blocks the way; love is the best means to get to a worthy end; we need to be in silence rather than do all the time.  She then moves on in the bulk of the book to a very practical application of her truisms:  She takes us through a mythical, hour by hour, day of practical effects, and she always follows through on the hard questions (never leaving us to wonder, what did she mean by that?).  Marianne concludes her manual of graceful living by heartfelt meditations on the value of meaningful ritual in our lives, really keeping the Sabbath, the real observation of holidays, a way through thorny relationship problems to the gem of a holy relationship, and, finally, the world as our community, the place for our spiritual activism.

How close does Marianne adhere to A Course in Miracles?  Very close indeed.  True, she uses the word “magic” to connote a sense of wonder (unlike ACIM), and she frankly appropriates the term “mystical” to the way of living in this world that she proposes (also something ACIM doesn’t do).  But I am reminded always in Marianne’s writing of the passage in A Course in Miracles:

There is a course for every teacher of God.  The form of the course varies greatly.  So do the particular teaching aids involved.  But the content of the course never varies. (M-1.3:1-4)

In Everyday Grace, published in 2002, Marianne returns to her roots as a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles more than any of her books to that point since her first, A Return to Love.  In content and tone (always prayerful, ever gentle), Everyday Grace is more akin to Illuminata than any other.  (She is appropriately billed  as the author of Illuminata on the book jacket.)

Marianne is now a mature woman, a “wise woman,” if you will.  She expresses a sincere humility with still a willingness to learn, but it is clear that she has now walked far along the mystic’s path.  She has seen darkness, but she has also seen some light, and it is her gift to us that she herein does not put her light under a bushel, but claims the power she now has through the understanding her pathway has thus far given her.  It is clear that Marianne’s Everyday Grace comes from the heart, a heart honed by prayer, meditation, A Course in Miracles, and the common bonds and wisdom of spirituality’s gentle messages.

A gem of a book–not to be missed!

LIVING IN THE NOW; A Review of Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”

Reviewed by Celia Hales.  Revised and reprinted from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).

Tolle, Eckhart.  The Power of Now:  A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.  Novato,     California:  New World Library, 1999. (Originally published in Canada by Namaste Publishing Inc., 1997.)  224 pages.  ISBN:  1-57731-152-3.  Available on the Internet and in bookstores internationally.

Students of A Course in Miracles will want to read Eckhart Tolle’s book because it can deepen their understanding, honed through studying ACIM.   In Eckhart’s words, “in essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching. . . .Let me show you how to go more deeply into what you already have.”  There is no conflict between ACIM and The Power of Now.  Eckhart’s contribution is the amazing truth that he is one who (to use ACIM terminology) has been transported over the bridge, the little gap has closed, and he has awakened.  A Course in Miracles reads, “Healing is of God in the end.  The means are being carefully explained to you.  Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.  (T-1.VII.5:9-11)”  For us, ACIM explains the means; but The Power of Now can assist us in our pathway to Awakening.

Did Eckhart learn “our” way?  No.  His path was the way of pain, a deep depression and anxiety that consumed him until his 29th year.  One crucial night all of that suffering was lifted from him through an experience of revelation.  Only later did he read and come to understand what had happened to him.  And ACIM was part of his study; the influence shows up in both quoted passages and core ideas from ACIM, restated and elaborated in Eckhart’s personal renditions.

Eckhart emphasizes living the present moment as the key to Enlightenment.  In this, he echoes ACIM (T-13.IV; T-13.VI; T-15.I), but Eckhart’s message is not a primary focus of ACIM.  Because Eckhart learned through pain, he elucidates this way in some detail, calling our propensity for suffering the “pain-body.”  In this, he runs counter to ACIM, which asserts, “There is no need to learn through pain.  (T-21.I3:1)”  Eckhart says that becoming more “conscious” when the “pain-body” has awakened can dissolve it and smooth the way to Enlightenment.

He describes “portals” to the “Unmanifested” (God):  going deeply into the body (as a way to bring one to the Now, the main portal); intense present-moment awareness (again, the Now); the cessation of thinking; surrender; silence; awareness of space, and “conscious death” (the final portal).  These are concepts described in ways unlike ACIM, but there is one very important concept shared by the two works:  the primacy of relationships in our pathway back to God.

Eckhart devotes one lengthy chapter to “enlightened relationships” (what ACIM calls “holy relationships”).  He declares relationships as embodying a primacy:  There is “no greater catalyst for transformation.”  Certainly ACIM students would agree.  ACIM writes of “holy encounters” and “holy instants” in which we see no past in our brothers (and therefore are living in the present, something Eckhart extols).

One Cautionary Note

I found it could be depressing when reading Eckhart to realize ever more deeply that I was not yet enlightened (or “awakened,” to use ACIM‘s term).  I found ACIM‘s reassurance helpful:

Do not despair, then, because of limitations. . .If you would be heard by those who suffer, you must speak their language.  If you would be a savior, you must understand what needs to be escaped. . . .God takes you where you are and welcomes you.  What more could you desire when this is all you need. (M-26.4:1,3-4,10-11)”

I also appreciated rereading M-22.2:4-9:

It is only the end that is certain.  Anywhere along the way, the necessary realization of inclusiveness may reach him.  If the way seems long, let him be content.  He has decided on the direction he wants to take.  What more was asked of him?  And having done what was required, would God withhold the rest?

Eckhart Tolle’s embodiment as one to whom God has reached down and lifted up, to whom God has taken His “final step” (M-28.1:8) makes Eckhart a human authority.  He is one for whom it can be said:

It [direct union with God] can, perhaps, be won after much devotion and dedication, and th en be maintained for much of the time on earth. (M-26.3:3)

ACIM students should purchase The Power of Now because it will help us to “go more deeply” (Eckhart’s words) into what we already have.