Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Translating Awakening in Love

"Translation however demands more than knowledge and dedication. For translation is at the same time interpretation. Translation demands more than the knowledge of both languages. Translation demands understanding." (J.W.Kaiser as quoted in The Gospel as a Spiritual Path, p. 89)

Those words are always with me. They come from J.W. Kaiser's reflections on the job of translating the Gospel according to Mark, and express his awareness that many gospel translations are so horribly inadequate, because the translators may be good linguists, but in most cases evidently foreigners to the inner process which the gospel story conveys. This makes complete sense once one understands the fundamentalist nature of all religion, and why it consistently mistakes the manifest content for the meaning, and thereby obfuscates the meaning. The Christian tradition is the living proof, starting with the substitution of the worldly institution of the church for the spiritual community of joining with Jesus in the mind.

Our experience in learning the Course is full of the same pitfalls, and Margot Krikhaar pays attention to this in her book Awakening in Love, which I'm currently translating. Being a bit of an intellectual, she sees in herself, and thus helps me as her reader, and in this case translator, to see in myself the tendency of wanting to master A Course in Miracles, and in this way many of us fall for the temptation to mistake intellectual mastery of the material for the practice of it, when in fact it is nothing but an ego-tactic to prevent us from practicing the Course at all costs. After all, if I already understand it, why should I have to practice it? What a wonderful way of keeping Jesus out of the house once again: No need today.

Such are my current adventures in this translation process - constant opportunities to recognize my own struggles with the material of the Course through her account of her own experiences, and at the same time that process of recognition and the subsequent forgiveness naturally helps me again as a translator. I find myself getting completely "in" to the material.

The story of the book is the story of Margot's life, first upto finding the Course, then with the Course, progressively practicing it, up to the point of her experience of awakening. Finally in the second half of the book, there is her own unique summary of the path of the Course in twelve topical recaps that were channeled from Jesus, and which give an amazingly compact rendering of the most important features of A Course in Miracles.

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Awakening in Love" by Margot Krikhaar

I've started some preparatory work on the translation of the book Ontwaken in Liefde, by Margot Krikhaar - the English title of which will be Awakening in Love. It is a remarkable book by Dutch author Margot Krikhaar, about her journey with A Course in Miracle, told in fresh language, evidently born from first hand experience. Her presentation is so personal and completely disarming that it invites us in, and there is much the reader can identify with, but even if not, it invites to self examination about what happened in our own lives at similar stages.

The title is very evocative of the basic message of the Course, that once the obstacles to Love's presence are forgiven all, what the ego imagines will be the destruction of it, ends up being a non event, the loss of what never was and an awakening in Love - enlightenment or resurrection are other words for it - because the only thing left is love, if nothing else because love is an absence, and impossibility, of conflict. After all, in oneness, there is nothing to disagree with, and all our fuss was just a silly mistake.

And, while I was working on translating the beginning of the book, I read a recent entry in her online diary, here: Margot Krikhaar Diary 8/29/2011 (in Dutch). In this entry she relates a probably last visit with her now 14 year old son, last because she is dying of cancer, and saying her goodbyes. In her usual frank style she shares how she still had difficulty dealing with what had clearly been a dysfunctional relationship in her life, because she was never able to really connect with this child, who was more his father's son than hers from very early on. She also shares about her experience of the presence of Jesus as she is looking at all of those issues for the last time, and forgiving them - by literally looking at them with him and then letting them go. And finally she shares how, much later, back home she has an experience of great relief that her mother role was lifted from her, completing yet another forgiveness opportunity in her life.

In parallel, I was reminded again of Prospero's speech in the Tempest:

 Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
 As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
 Are melted into air, into thin air:
 And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
 The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
 Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
 And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
 Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
 As dreams are made on; and our little life
 Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
It is another classical reflection of this letting go, and the experience of the disappearance of the universe, as it is called in the title of Gary Renard's book.

Or, to mention yet another parallel from literature, one might think of Herman Melville's Moby Dick,  which is brilliantly interpreted by Jed McKenna, in his book Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, as being the account of Melville's own spiritual awakening - after all Ishmael, who is the writer of the story in the observer seat, survives the ordeal of the ego's hero of this particular nightmare, Ahab, and merely observes the events, realizing in the end that nothing happened.

It brings to mind the Course's definition of the miracle:
1. A miracle is a correction. 2 It does not create, nor really change at all. 3 It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. 4 It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. 5 Thus it stays within time's limits. 6 Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings. (ACIM:W-pII.13.1)

At this point we might remind ourselves that the Course has set out with the observation that the meaning of love is beyond what can be taught, our job is merely to remove the obstacles to the awareness of love's presence (Introduction), after that, the rest will speak for itself. In this context we can see how the mind who dreamt up all the characters in the play, and all of the stage settings and the story, finally let's them go - and the Course's forgiveness process is merely a shortcut that can help some people to speed up this process, of letting go of all the roles of our false self.
To look at it yet another way, here we may understand the often misconstrued Jesus quote, about the poor chances of a rich man entering the Kingdom. Since he always speaks in parables, what he means is that as long as we take the dream roles in the world seriously, by investing them with meaning, we are holding on to nothing, and it is this that makes us rich by investing in this world, which then prevents us from following him to the Kingdom.
It is the Course's forgiveness process which allows us to forgive first the characters in the dream, and increasingly more and more ourselves for our dream roles, until with Prospero we can let it all go. The process culminates in what the Course terms 'accepting the atonement,' being the full realization that nothing ever happened, and that God's reality (and our own, since we are his son) remained utterly unaffected, and with that we re-awaken in love.

5. The cause of pain is separation, not the body, which is only its effect. 2 Yet separation is but empty space, enclosing nothing, doing nothing, and as unsubstantial as the empty place between the ripples that a ship has made in passing by. 3 And covered just as fast, as water rushes in to close the gap, and as the waves in joining cover it. 4 Where is the gap between the waves when they have joined, and covered up the space which seemed to keep them separate for a little while? 5 Where are the grounds for sickness when the minds have joined to close the little gap between them, where the seeds of sickness seemed to grow? (ACIM:T-28.III:5)

Copyright, © 2011 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.