A Dialogue Between Jim Marion and Robert Perry
In November of 2004, Jim Marion, author of The Death of the Mythic God: The Rise of Evolutionary Spirituality and Putting on the Mind of Christ: The Inner Work of Christian Spirituality, wrote me about his reactions to Path of Light. While his response was mostly favorable, he disagreed with the Course's view that the separation was a mistake. We had a brief dialogue about this, which he has graciously allowed me to post on the website.
I was troubled only by one part of the book, not by you, but by the Course itself. I do not agree with the Course that creation was negative, a catastrophe, etc. and that ego arose prior to the world in heaven. These are very ancient notions, attributed to certain Christian Gnostics, and rejected by Constantinople II, and I believe rightly so. Moreover, if God is perfect and we are God's perfect sons, and there is no sin (all true), then how could creation be a mistake or a "fall"? Space-time is an illusion of sorts to be sure, but not a mistake. I believe that prior to creation we were unconscious sons of God, partaking of his bliss much like the cells in our body partake of ours. By creation and incarnation, with its seeming separateness, ego, suffering, etc. we gradually become conscious sons. So it is not a mistake. It is our means of growth in conscious spiritual awareness. And, for eons, painful as it may be, it has worked.
Robert Perry replies:
I'm intimately familiar with the view of the origin of the universe that you express. It's one I respect, since I held it for many years myself. The Course's view is perhaps more similar to yours than you think. It agrees, for instance, with the idea that through experience in this world we enter the state of being "conscious sons." The major twist is in answer to the question, "How did the sons of God become unconscious in Heaven?" I realize that your answer most likely is, "They started out that way." The Course's answer is that they started out fully awake and then fell into unconsciousness, fell asleep. There are, I think, two advantages to this view. First, it gets God off the hook for creating unconscious sons who have to go through eons of suffering to reach their "target state." Wouldn't a truly loving God just create them at that end state to begin with and save them the mess? Second, it makes us less bound by the happenings of this world, I believe. If we have been placed here by God, in order to reach a truly new state, then it seems to me that we are, in a sense, tied to the wheel of time. This is less so if only we tied ourselves to that wheel, if the wheel is our own illusion, and we are already as perfected as we'll ever be, but just asleep for the time being.
Anyway, I realize that I'm not going to convince you. Your view has its advantages, which I feel I really "get" from being in that view for many years. I just wanted to point out that the Course's view has its advantages as well.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. For all I know the Course is right or at least as right as the traditional view. The points you make are very good ones. In the end so much remains a great mystery.
A couple more thoughts: If we were already conscious in heaven then why the need to grow in consciousness here (which the Course agrees we do)? Maybe God couldn't make us conscious ab initio like God can't make a square circle or 2 plus 2 to equal 5. In other words, maybe there are archetypal limitations within Creation itself, including us and our consciousness, that "prevent" God from doing things otherwise.