(This article first appeared in Miracles Monthly, July, 2004 / Vol. 18, No. 5, published by Community Miracles Center, San Francisco, CA. (415)621-2556 / miracles@earthlink. It is used here by advanced permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.)
What is A Course in Miracles®? This is a question that I am asked over and over, on a regular basis. I answer to the best of my ability and in accord with my growing understanding and relationship with the Course. Sometimes I end up feeling, however, that my answer is not quite good enough. Well Robert Perry has just made my job a whole lot easier. I now need only refer the inquirer to Chapter Two in Robert Perry's newest book Path of Light—Stepping Into Peace With A Course in Miracles, an expertly thought—out, deeply thorough and comprehensive introduction to the Course, as well as a much needed map which brilliantly navigates us through seemingly uncharted waters.
It is not uncommon for students of the Course to struggle with its use of language, writing style, as well as the unique concepts it puts forth. In Chapter Six, Robert presents us with a system for reading the Course in a manner which offers maximum comprehension and affords the student the ability to reap the bountiful harvest which the Course is offering us, "Enlightenment involves untangling a knot in the mind, and study of spiritual truths is an essential process. ... We must approach it [the Course] not as if we are learning a new batch of information, but as if we are being taught a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world." (p.131) He then goes on to say that, "... while we may think normal language is understandable and the Course is incoherent, the reverse is actually true: We will never be able to make sense of our world, yet one day the Course will make perfect sense to us. Its teaching is our true native tongue." (p.134) Then, as is the case throughout the book, Robert presents us with material from the Course which supports what was just read, except now, through Robert's singular talent, a quote which may have previously been confusing, shines forth brilliantly with greater meaning and understanding. This is one of Robert's gifts to us. The man has sincerely immersed himself, body and soul into the rich and complex waters of the Course and has emerged with all manner of treasure, which he graciously and masterfully offers to us in this wonderful new book.
Path of Light is written by a man who has obviously awoken to his "special function", and is fulfilling it with the insight, grace and respect that can only come from a life surrendered to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I myself have never quite absorbed the concept of the special function, nor believed I had one until I read what Robert had to say about it.
"In my experience, the special function is absolutely for real (that is as real as anything is in this unreal world). There really is a specific role that has been assigned to each one of us. This role lies there silently waiting for us, almost like some kind of electronic mechanism in sleep mode, waiting for a signal to set it in motion. That signal is usually sent by some critical shift or breakthrough in our inner development, some new plateau we've reached in our journey up the mountain. At that point the mechanism comes to life, and starts to exert a pressure on our lives, pushing us to take certain paths instead of others, nudging us into meeting certain people, awakening new interests in us. All the while it is sending us hints about what our function will be. Some of these hints will be actual snapshots of that function, though even while looking directly at them, we'll probably not appreciate their significance. The time will come, though, when we begin to mentally link one snapshot to another. It then occurs to us, that Someone has been sending us a series of pictures of the same thing, and that this thing is no small matter; it is our destiny. Now we can start to actively pursue this destiny. Part of what spurs us on is our recognition that the function we're glimpsing suits us perfectly. It is as if some Mind that knows us better than we know ourselves has locked into us and unerringly seen the best in us—our talents and abilities, our buried aspirations and dreams, our deepest yearnings for the sublime—and wrapped it all into a package that is the perfect vehicle for expressing the best in us." (p.179)
Is that good or what? I know that I've practically lifted this whole section, but I just can't help it! In fact the entire book is chock filled with beautifully descriptive passages which display a profound understanding of the Course concepts, many of which are coming to life for me for the first time. This guy really gets it! More importantly, he knows how to help us get it.
Another favorite section of mine is the section on Heaven, where Robert first starts off describing what seems to be the nature of our dilemma here in what we call the world.
"Heaven is the complete absence of all the painful and limiting elements we experience here on earth. We spend our lives trying to avoid suffering here, yet our suffering is an automatic consequence of the basic nature of space and time. Space involves finite objects that are separate from each other, that often clash and collide, and that are vulnerable and eventually disintegrate. So what? you might ask. The problem is that in space we are one of those objects, which means that we experience ourselves as tiny, alone, in conflict, easily damaged, and doomed to die. Time means change. Time is a churning river in which objects constantly arise, change and pass away. While we ride this river, we are at its mercy. We arise and change and pass away, and we see everything around us do the same. Nothing is stable, nothing can be counted on. We see friends turn into enemies, we see loved ones disappear, and we see our own body begin to crumble, before the river's current drags it down and it vanishes. The very nature of space and time chews us up and spits us out. How can we be happy in such a realm?" (p.74)
Good question Robert, no wonder I have been having such a hard time.
I met Robert Perry only once, at Miracle Experience #19 (September 2002), at which he was our guest speaker. What came through loud and clear for me, even before he uttered his first words, was his love, respect and appreciation for the awesome gift that is A Course in Miracles. There are people who teach the Course and then there are those who are Teachers of the Course. Robert clearly falls into the latter category—so when I found out that he was coming out with a new book which focused on the Course as a path to be walked rather than merely a teaching to be studied, was I interested? You bet I was. Ready to take my practice to the next level, it was my hope that Path would provide me with the tools I felt I needed. I was not disappointed. Path of Light, a work of art in its own right, confirmed my initial take on Robert Perry and his complete and utter dedication to understanding the Course, practicing it, and helping others to do the same. Robert, I sure am glad you woke up to your special function. We are all the better off for it.
"The Course speaks of Great Rays streaming out from behind each body, 'so unlimited that they reach to God.' When we see this we are actually seeing a piece of reality, a little part of Heaven." (p.93) In Path of Light, Robert Perry helps us to come a little bit closer to seeing that "little part of Heaven." Thank you Robert.