RETURN TO LOVE
by: Marianne Williamson
Reflections on the Principles
of “A Course in Miracles.”
PREFACE (Random excerpts)
One day in 1977, I saw a set of beautiful blue books with glittering gold lettering sitting on someone’s coffee table in New York City. I opened one to the introduction. It read,
“This is A Course in Miracles. It is a required
course. Only the time you take it is voluntary.
Free will does not mean that you can establish
the curriculum. It means only that you can elect
what you want to take at any given time. The
Course does not aim at teaching the meaning of
love, for that is beyond what can be taught! It
Does aim, however, at removing the many blocks
to the awareness of love’s presence, which is our
I put the book back on the table. (pgs. xiii and xiv)
I wanted that “awareness of love’s presence” that I had read about, and over a period of the next five years I studied the Course passionately. As my mother said at the time, I “read it like a menu.” In 1983,................
A Return to Love is based on what I have learned from A Course in Miracles. It is about some of the Course’s basic principles as I now understand them and relate them to various issues that affect our daily lives. (pg. xv)
Americans are not that big on philosophy. We’re very, very big on action, however, once we understand the reason for it. As we slowly begin to understand more deeply why love is such a necessary element in the healing of the world, a shift will occur in how we lives our lives within and without.
My prayer is that this book might help someone. I have written it with an open heart. I sincerely hope you will read it with an open mind.
Los Angeles, CA
w hen we were born we were programmed perfectly.
We had a natural tendency to focus on love.
Our imaginations were real creative and flourishing, and we knew how to use them. We were connected to a world much richer than the one we are connected to today, a world full of enchantment and a sense of the miraculous.
So what happened? Why was it that we reached a certain age, looked around, and the enchantment and the miraculous feeling was gone? I’ll tell you why ---- because we were taught to focus elsewhere. We were taught to think unnaturally. We were taught a very bad philosophy, a way at looking at our world that contradicts who we are. We were taught to think thoughts like competition, struggle, sickness, finite resources, limitations, guilt, bad, death, scarcity, global warming, loss, etc. So; we began to do as we were taught and we began to think about these things, and so we began to know them. We were taught that things like grades, being good enough, looking pretty, money, and doing things the right way, are more important than love.
We were taught that we’re separate from other people, that we have to compete to get ahead in the world, that we’re not quite good enough just the way we are. We were taught to see the world the way that others had come to see it. It’s as though just as soon as we got here we were given a sleeping pill. The thinking of the world, which definitely is not based on love, began pounding in our ears the moment we hit the shore,.
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here!
The spiritual journey is the relinquishment----or unlearning----of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts. Love is the essential fact. It is our ultimate reality and or purpose here on earth. To be daily consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and all others, is the meaning of life. Meaning doesn’t lie in things. Meaning lies in us. When we attach value to things that aren’t love----the money, the car, the house, the clubs, travel, the prestige-----we are loving things that can’t love us back. We are searching for meaning in the meaningless. Money, of itself, means nothing. Material things, of themselves, mean nothing. It’s not that they’re bad. It’s that they’re nothing. NOTHING!
We came here expressly to co-create with God by extending love. Life spent with any other purpose in mind is meaningless, contrary to our basic nature, and surely ultimately very painful. It’s as though we’ve been lost in a dark, parallel universe where things were loved more than people. We overvalue what we perceive with our physical senses, and undervalue what we actually know to be true in our hearts
Love isn’t seen with the physical eyes or heard with physical ears. No!, the physical senses can’t perceive it at all; it’s perceived through another kind of vision. Metaphysicians call it the Third Eye, esoteric Christians call it the vision of the Holy Spirit, and still others call it the Higher Self. Regardless of what it’s called, love requires a different kind of “seeing” than we are used to----a different kind knowing or thinking. Love is the ultimate knowledge of our hearts. It’s a whole “world beyond” that we all secretly long for. An old, ancient, forgotten memory of this love haunts all of us, all the time, and beckons us all to please return.
Love isn’t material. It’s energy. It’s the feeling in a room, a situation, a song, a person. Money can’t possibly buy it. Sex surely doesn’t guarantee it. It has nothing at all to do with the physical world, but it can be expressed nonetheless. We experience it as kindness, giving, mercy, compassion, peace, joy, acceptance, non-judgement, joining, and intimacy. Fear, however, is our shared lovelessness, our individual and collective hells. It’s a world that seems to press on us from within and without, giving false testimony to the meaninglessness of love. When fear is expressed, we recognize it as anger, abuse, disease, pain, greed, addiction, selfishness, obsession, corruption, violence, hatred, and ultimately war.
Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed, but can only briefly be hidden The world we knew as children is still buried within our God-given minds. I once read as delightful book called The Mists of Avalon.. The mists of Avalon are a mythical allusion to the tales of King Arthur. Avalon is a magical island that is hidden behind huge impenetrable mists. Unless the mists part, there is no way to navigate your way to the island. But unless you believe the island is there, the mists won’t part. Avalon symbolizes a world beyond the world we see with our physical eyes. It represents a miraculous sense of things, the enchanted realm that we all knew as children. Our childlike self is actually the deepest level of our being. It is what and who we really are, and what is real does not go away. The truth doesn’t stop being the truth just because we’re not looking at it. Love merely becomes momentarily clouded over, or surrounded by mental mist. Avalon is the world we all knew when we were still connected to our softness, our innocence, our spirit. It’s actually the same world we see now, but informed by love, interpreted gently, with hope and faith and a sense of wonder. It’s easily retrieved, because perception is a choice. The mists part when we believe that Avalon is behind them. And that’s what a miracle is: a parting of the mists, a shift in perception, a return to love.
Part I: Principles
Part II: Practice
8. The Body
“There is no place for hell in a world
whose loveliness can yet be so intense and
so inclusive it is but a step from there to
“The journey into darkness has ben long and cruel, and you have gone deep into it.”
What happened to my generation is that we never grew up. The problem isn’t that we’re lost or apathetic, narcissistic or materialistic. The problem is we’re terrified.
A lot of us know we have what it takes—the looks, the education, the talent, the credentials. But, in certain areas we’re paralyzed. We’re not being stopped by something on the outside, but by something on the inside. Our oppression is internal. The government isn’t holding us back, or hunger or poverty. We’re not afraid we’ll get sent to Siberia. We’re just afraid, period. Our fear is free-floating. We’re afraid........... ..........We’re afraid.........We’re afraid.
“You are in God”
GOD IS THE ROCK
There have been times in my life, and they still happen today, though they’re more the exception now than the rule, when I have felt as though sadness would overwhelm me. Something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, or there was some conflict between myself and someone else, or I was afraid of what was going to happen or not happen in the future. Our lives inn those moments can be so painful, and the mind begins an endless search for things that could make us feel better, or even change the situation. What I learned from A Course in Miracles is that the change we’re really looking for is inside our own heads. Events are always in a flux. One day they love you; the next day you’re the target. One day a situation ....
“The Thought God holds for you is like a star, unchangeable in an eternal sky.”
You are a child of God! You were created in a blinding flash of creativity, a primal thought when God extended Himself in love. Everything you’ve added on since is useless. When Michelangelo was asked how he created a fine piece of sculpture, he answered that the statute already existed within the marble and he had but to chip off the excess. God Himself had already created the Pieta, David, Moses. Michelangelo’s job, as he saw it, was to get rid of what surrounded God’s creation.
So my friend, it is with you. The perfect you isn’t something you need to create, because that has already been done by God. The perfect you is the love within you. Your job is to help the Holy Spirit remove the fearful thinking that surrounds your perfect self, just as excess marble did.................
“For in God’s hands we rest untroubled.....”
“There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve.”
What I we truly believed there is a God—a beneficent order to all things, a force that’s holding things together without our conscious control? What if we could see that great force working in our daily lives? And, what if we believed it loved us somehow, and really cared for us, and always protected us? What if we believed we could afford to relax all the time? What if?
The physical body is at work every moment of every day, an array of mechanisms with a brilliance of design and efficiency all of our human efforts have never been able to even start to match. Our hearts beat, our lungs breath, our ears hear while our eyes see, our hair grows as do our nails, And we don’t have to make them work—they just do. Planets revolve around the sun, seeds become flowers, embryos become babies, and all without any help from us whatsoever. All of this is built into a natural system. You and I are also integral parts of that marvelous system, too. We can let our lives be directed by the same force that make all this happen----or we can do it ourselves. To trust in the force that moves the universe is faith. Faith isn’t blind, it’s visionary. Faith is believing that the universe is on our side, and that the universe knows what it’s doing.
“Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond
every restriction of time, space, distance, and limits of any kind.”
“Before the glorious radiance of the kingdom, guilt melts away, and is transformed into kindness and will nevermore be what it was.” “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. They reflect a shift in how we think, releasing the power of the mind to the processes of healing and correction. This healing takes many forms. Sometimes a miracle is a change in material conditions, such as physical healing. At other times, it is a psychological or emotional It is a shift not so much in an objective situation----although that often occurs----as it is a shift in how we perceive a situation. What changes, primarily, is how we hold an experience in our minds----how we experience the experience.
“The Holy Spirit’s temple is not a body, but a relationship.”
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” Before I read A Curse in Miracles, I studied a great many other spiritual and philosophical writings. It felt as though they led me up a flight of stairs to a giant cathedral inside my mind, but once I reached the top of the stairs, the door to the church was locked to me. The Course gave me the key that opened the door. The key, very simply, is other people. Heaven, according to the Course, is neither a condition nor a place, but rather, the “awareness of perfect oneness.” Since the Father and the Son are one, then to love one is to love the other. Right? The love of God is not outside us. There is a famous line in a song from the play Les Miserables that says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” The “face of Christ” is the innocence and love behind the masks we all wear, and seeing that face, touching it and loving it in ourselves and all others, is the real experience of God. It is our divine humanness. It is the high we all seek.
In every relationship, in every moment, we teach either fear or love. “To teach is to demonstrate.” As we demonstrate love towards others, we learn that we are lovable and we then learn how to love more deeply. As we demonstrate fear and negativity, we learn self-condemnation and we learn to feel more frightened of life. We will always learn what we have chosen to teach. “Ideas leave not their source,” which is why we are always a part of God, and why our ideas are always a part of us. If I choose to bless another person, I will always end up feeling more blessed myself. If I project guilt onto another person, I will always end up feeling more guilty.
Relationships exist to hasten our walk to God. When surrendered to the Holy Spirit, when He is in charge of our perceptions, our encounters become holy encounters with the perfect Son of God. A Course in Miracles says that everyone (everyone) we meet will either be our crucifer or our savior, depending on what we choose to be to them. Focusing on their guilt drives the nails of self-loathing more deeply into our very own skin. Focusing on their innocense sets us free. Since ‘no thoughts are ever neutral’ every relationship takes us deeper into Heaven or deeper into Hell. ( It is your choose to make with each encounter)
“I am only here to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him who sent
me. I do not have to worry about
what to say or what to do. because
He who sent me will direct me. I
am content to be wherever He so
wishes, knowing He goes there with
me always. I will be healed as I let
Him teach me to heal also.”
Success means that we go to sleep at night knowing in our heart that our talents and abilities were used this day in a way that served others. We’re compensated by grateful looks in people’s eyes, whatever material abundance supports us in performing joyfully and at high energy, and the magnificent feeling that we did our little bit today to save the world. The Atonement means putting love first. In everything! In business as well as everything else. You’re in business to spread love. Your screenplay should spread love. Your hair salon should spread love. Your agency should spread love. Your life should spread love. The real key to a successful career is realizing that it’s not separate from the rest of your life, but is rather an extension of your most basic self. And-----your most basic self is love.
Each of us has a particular part to play in “God’s plan for salvation.” The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal to us our function and then to help us perform it. ‘The Holy Spirit asks us if it’s reasonable to assume He would assign us a task, and then not provide us with the means of its accomplishment.
A Course in Miracles teaches us to ‘avoid self-initiated plans, and to instead surrender our plans to God.’ A Course in Miracles also says that the ‘only real pleasure comes from doing God’s will.’ The crux of salvation in any area of our life is a shift in our sense of purpose. Relationships, careers, bodies----all these areas of our lives are reborn in spirit when we dedicate them to God’s purposes, asking that they be used as instruments through which the world can be healed.
People ask themselves, “Do I want to serve God, or do I want to be happy instead? Since certain organized religions have represented the spiritual life as a life of sacrifice and austerity, it can be real hard for some people to imagine that a life lived close to God is a life full of joy. A Course in Miracles says the ‘only real pleasure comes from doing God’s will.’
God does not demand sacrifice. The life of sacrifice is the life we live before we find a higher sense of identity and noble purpose; the sacrifice of the memory of how magnificent we really are, and what an important job we were sent here to do. And that’s a lot to sacrifice, because when we can’t remember why we’re going somewhere, we have a hard time acting on full throttle once we get there. Love gives energy and direction. It’s spiritual fuel. Don’t ask God to send you a brilliant career, but rather ask Him to show you the brilliance within you. It is the recognition of our own God-given brilliance that releases it into expression. Stable, meaningful external effects don’t occur until we have experienced an internal stirring. Once an internal stirring has occurred, external effects cannot fail to happen. It’s the law. We are all capable of an internal stirring, and are in fact coded for it. It is our potential for greatness. Achievement doesn’t come from what we do, but from who we are. Our worldly power results from our personal power. Our career is an extension of our personality.
“The body was not made by love.
Yet love does not condemn it and
can use it lovingly, respecting what
the Son of God has made and using
it to save him from illusions.”
“Let the body have healing as it purpose.” In the world of bodies, we are all separate. In the world of spirit, we are all one. Citing the Course, we heal the separation between the two by shifting our awareness from .”body identification” to “spirit identification.” This will heal the body as well as the mind. We think we’re separate because we have bodies, when in truth, we have bodies because we think we’re separate. The Course says that the body is “a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea.” But that doesn’t mean the body is bad. Like everything else in the world of form, the mind ascribes to it either fearful or loving purposes. The ego’s use of the body is to maintain the illusion of separation: ‘The ego uses the body for attack, pleasure and pride.’ The Holy Spirit’s use of the body is to heal that illusion: “In this sense, the body does become a temple to God; His voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.”
A dear friend of mine once told me that we’re not punished for our sins, but by our sins. Sickness is not a sign of God’s judgement on us, but rather, our judgement on ourselves. If we were to think that God created our sickness, how then, could we in all fairness, turn to Him for healing? As we’ve already established, in God is all that is good. He creates only love, therefore he did not create sickness. Sickness is an illusion and does not really exist. It is however, part of our worldly dream, our self-created nightmare. Our prayer to God is that He awakens us from the dream.
When any one of us awaken, the entire world is instantly brought closer to Heaven. In our asking for healing, we are not just asking for our own health, but rather we are asking that the very idea of sickness be removed from the mind of God’s Son. As shown in A Course in Miracles, “If the mind can heal the body, but the body cannot heal the mind, then the mind must be stronger than the body.” Forgiveness is the ultimate preventative medicine as well as the greatest healer. We heal the body by remembering that it is not who we really are. We are all spirits and not bodies, we are eternally healthy and we are incapable of sickness. These are merely statements of the truth about ourselves, and it is always truth that sets us free.
Illness is a sign of separation from God, and healing is a sign that we have returned to Him. The return to God is merely the return to love.
“Heaven is here. There is nowhere else.
Heaven is now. There is no other time.
“Heaven is a decision I just made.” “God’s will is that we be happy” now. In asking that God’s will be done, we are instructing our minds to focus on the beauty on life, to see all the reasons to celebrate instead of mourn. Usually we figure out what we think (or know) would make us happy, and then try to make those things happen. But, you see, happiness isn’t circumstance-dependent. There exist people who have every reason in this world to be happy who aren’t. And, conversely so, there are people with genuine problems (I mean real big ones) who are happy. The key to happiness is the decision to be happy. (That simple)
There has been a lot of talk in the recent few years about “allowing our feelings.” It’s an important concept, but one that can be used by the ego for its own purposes. Most of the time, when you hear someone say “feel your feelings,” they really mean feel the negative ones. “Feel your pain, “ ”feel your disappointment,” “feel your anger.” “feel your shame .“ But we need support in feeling our positive feelings just as much as we need support in feeling our negative feelings. It is the experience of genuine emotion of any kind that the ego resists. We need support and permission to feel our love, to feel our satisfaction and , yes, to feel our happiness. There is an old cliche, “You can see the glass is half empty, or you can see it’s half full.” You can focus your attention on what’s wrong in your miserable life, or you can choose to focus on all that’s right. BUT, whatever you choose to focus on—you are going to get more of it. Creation is just an extension of thought. Think lack—you get lack. Think abundance ----and you get more!
Resurrection is actively called forth. It represents the decision to see light in the midst of the darkness. In the Talmud, the Jewish book of wisdom, the Jew is told how to behave in the midst of the darkest times. “During the time of the darkest night,” says the Talmud, “act as if the morning has already come.”
Happiness is a sure sign that we have accepted God’s will. It’s a lot easier to smile than to frown. (It takes less muscles also) It’s real easy to be cynical. In fact, it’s and excuse for not helping the world. Whenever people say to me, “Marianne, I’m so depressed about all the world hunger,” I say to them, “Do you give five dollars a month to one of the organizations that feed the hungry?” The reason that I always ask is that I’ve noticed that people who participate in the solution to problems, don’t seem to find themselves as depressed about those problems as the people standing on the sidelines doing nothing. Hope is born of participation in hopeful solutions. We are happy to the extent that we choose to notice and then to create the reasons for happiness. Optimism and happiness are the results of good spiritual work.
A Course in Miracles states, “Love waits on welcome, not on time.” Heaven merely awaits our acceptance. It is not something we’ll experience “later.” “Later” is just a thought. “Be of good cheer,” said Jesus “for I have overcome the world.” He realized, and so can we, that the world has no power before the power of God. It is not real. It is only an illusion. God has created love as the only reality, the only power. And so it is!
Source: A RETURN TO LOVE
Copyright @ 1992 by: Marianne Williamson
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
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A Course in Miracles
Copyright @ 1975, Foundation for Inner Peace, Inc.
Church of the Science of God
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© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993