This article might more accurately be entitled "How the Course Found Me." It happened in June, 1985, at Findhorn Community, a spiritual community in Scotland, not far from Inverness and Loch Ness (home of the alleged monster). Findhorn is famous for its garden, grown according to the instructions received directly from the plant devas and elementals themselves.
This was all new to me. I had closed my real estate business in Dallas, traveled for a while in the (former) Soviet Union, and was embarking upon an inner quest. Findhorn was a good place to start. It challenged my limited, traditional Christian roots, which I had abandoned a decade earlier and replaced with nothing. People at Findhorn operated on a whole different level of reality, of which communicating with plants was just one example. I learned of all sorts of levels and realms that existed beyond the physical world which I had held to be verifiable and reliable.
In a way, that depressed me. First of all, I had just left the business world, and now I discovered a cosmic corporate ladder which I must climb! Secondly, listen as I tried, I never heard a peep out of any of those green peas or cabbages. However, the residents that I met at Findhorn were extraordinary:loving, clear-eyed, beaming, happy. Whatever they were doing, it seemed to be working. But I felt left out.
Then I had my first rebirthing. It was a cosmic experience. I vividly realized that there was no division between material and spiritual. One wasn't real and one theoretical. Nor was I being cut off from the more subtle energies. It was I who was building the barrier, with my cynicism and skepticism. It was I who wouldn't open up to new possibilities. From that point on I decided to believe everything. How relaxing! No longer did I have to be cautious and critical and determine what I would accept and what I wouldn't. You say you just saw Pan in the garden, playing his flute? Far out! What tune was he playing?
Rebirthing fascinated me. I read every book I could find on rebirthing and went off to the island of Iona to spend a week. Each morning I did self-rebirthing before I got up for the day. On the second morning I was beginning to glimpse the enormous change I was going through. My entire view of the world and how it operates was under revision. Not only would I need to figure out a new way to be in the world, but my entire past needed to be re-interpreted as well. This seemed like an enormous undertaking.
As my mind was pondering this heavy burden, it appeared like a huge slag heap, a giant pile of debris blocking my way. Surmounting it seemed an impossible task. Then, paralleling my thoughts, from a source that I didn't question or attempt to identify, three words entered my awareness. They seemed totally independent of my own thought system, and gently spoke the message: "I will help." Immediately, in the image I was seeing, I noticed a small conduit tube at the bottom of the slag pile, like the kind used to run electrical wires through a cement slab. I knew instantly that this was a way past the pile, without having to climb or circumvent it. A great feeling of relief and peace spread over me and all the difficulty and strangeness evaporated.
The next week, back at Findhorn again, I was in the bookstore at Cluny Hill, the hotel for guests. It was my last day before going to France where I would hole up for a couple of years. What a marvelous opportunity it was, to take time off for this purpose, but I still had no particular path or focus. I didn't know what form the promised help would take.
Unbeknownst to me, a month earlier in May, 1985, an important event had taken place. The new Empire Edition of A Course in Miracles had been released in England, an all-in-one paper-bound edition published by Arkana in a 5" X 7.5" format. (You may remember at the end of the video "The Story of A Course in Miracles," this event is discussed by Bill Thetford and Judy Skutch with the wife of the Dean of Westminster Cathedral.)
As I stood in the bookstore at Cluny Hill, in June of 1985, the new Empire Edition Courses had recently arrived. Someone, I know not whom, came up to me and handed me this rather thick book with its green cover and rather strange title. Before I could respond, he/she (I don't remember which, perhaps an androgenous angel) said, "Buy this book, it will change your life."
My old farmhouse in France was just a shell, which I worked on during my stay. Each morning I would awaken in my hammock, which was strung across my only habitable room (the kitchen). Before I would even get up I would pull the string to turn on the light and pick up my Course from the nearby table. As the morning sun crept down the valley, lighting the ascending rows of rugged mountains like some Ansel Adams photograph, I would be overwhelmed by the message I was reading. From the very first words I knew I had found a great treasure. Or, rather, it had found me.
I lived in that postcard setting for most of two years, doing the Workbook lessons in one year and nine days. Only when I returned to the States in 1987 and began to respond to my old environment in different ways did I realize the extent to which I was changed. The material world that I had thought was so reliable was now clearly illusory. And those spiritual values which I had dismissed, and which had seemed to be theoretical and distant, had now become my solid, unwavering companions. My perception of the world had greatly changed.
The story continues. I still use that same Empire Edition of the Course. It is taped together and the pages are yellowing. Most of the margins are crammed with comments and ideas, the passages marked and highlighted and circled and starred and coded. I still haven't held any meaningful conversations with the vegetable kingdom. Nor have I received more messages from that voice in my mind. But the promise has been kept. The help is here, and every day, with heart-felt gratitude, I appreciate it more and more.
Robert Ferre', with his wife Ruth Hanna, founded One Heart, a spiritual resource center in St. Louis.