Friday, June 07, 2013

Double Dutch, Early Course, Early Christianity All Over Again

A Course in Miracles stands in the context of the Abrahamic religions, as Jesus did in his time: it transcends the framework, as Jesus once transcended his Jewish environment, without ever seeking to deny it. He merely went beyond it. But it was not until those who came after him that there was evident need to separate from Judaism, and then later of course Muhammed again took issue with the Christian interpretation of Jesus, as much as Christians had disagreed amongst themselves since the early days.

The emergence of Christianity, which was eventually consolidated around the theological interpretation of Jesus by Paul c.s. was merely the world's way of trying to put the genie back in the bottle. But the resurrection meant that it was too late for that, for ever since the baptism in the River Jordan, when Jesus heard the voice say: "Thou art my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Jesus was fully awakened, and he may have been before that time, but as some early Christian sects understood it, that moment was the resurrection. This was one of the more fascinating topics of disagreement in early Christianity - the disagreement about if the resurrection happened before or after the crucifixion, and as usual, theology became a huge distraction. Finally, this is a point that the Course clearly identifies with, namely that at the time of the crucifixion, Jesus was long since fully awakened and knew completely that he was not his body.

For those who are steeped in the Judaeo-Christian tradition it soon becomes clear that the Course uses that religious tradition for contrast, because it simply is the dominant context in the Western world. In content however, the Course is completely universal, and among others, students of the Bhagavad Gita could find themselves at home in it as well.

Personally, I "discovered" the Course in 1991, some 16 years after its initial publication. From 1991-1999, I studied intensely with Ken Wapnick and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Roscoe. It was in those years when the legal challenges occurred which eventually led to the voiding of the copyright on the first edition of the course by a somewhat cavalier judge in New York. So I watched that whole story unfold. I became aware of some of the many groups who sought to reinterpret the Course according to alien criteria, ranging from certain forms of Course fundamentalism all the way to various cultish phenomena. It always occurred to me that it was a replay of early Christianity, with comparable kinds of dogmatism creeping in and altering the message. And such is only natural after all; it is merely the ego at work.

Towards the late 90's I began to watch Course activities in Holland mostly through participation in some online groups. My primary motivation was a desire, as an expat, to keep my native language fresh. To a degree, I was amazed at how all the issues that we went through here were being repeated there, and sometimes it seemed as intense and disturbing as the arguments we had lived through in the States. Inevitably, this included almost every variation of what we had lived through in the early years of the Course in the US, including people advocating for the stolen versions of early drafts of the Course as somehow more authentic, as well as various other strains of Course related teaching, ranging from a Course Calvinism which wants to take everything the Course says literally, to various other mixed forms. In short, nothing had been learned from the American experience, and all the same issues seemed to have to be re-lived. Again the ego has a field day using the distractions of the form to avoid awakening by any means necessary.

Watching these developments from afar often brought to mind early Christianity for me, when nobody was following Jesus, but everyone was interpreting him their own way, starting with Paul, who simply produced the most seemingly ego-friendly version of Jesus, and literally rendered him suitable for Ceasar. At times it struck me like the opening scene of 2001 Space Odyssey, where the monkeys dance around that mysterious black cube. In my perception, this picture completely changed once the voice of Margot Krikhaar appeared on the scene. Even the work of Gary Renard, although undoubtedly very helpful in straightening out the message of the Course in the vernacular, still had the aura of being American even after the Dutch translations appeared. But with Margot the Course became Dutch in every sense, and found its authentic Dutch voice. Here was the girl next door practicing the Course, and experiencing a complete awakening.

At first, when I read Margot's first book, it seemed to me that it did not lend itself for easy translation, and perhaps its market was really just Holland. Later, a plan arose for a translation, and I was honored to be chosen as the translator. The translation was indeed hard, due in large part to the very casualness and informality of the book, but now it is finding a new audience in the English speaking market, and, not only that, I am once again lucky enough to be the translator. Interestingly, I am starting the translation of Margot's second book, The Great Liberation, immediately upon completion of Gary Renard's third book, Love Has Forgotten No One into Dutch. As always, synchronicity is at work again, for Margot's work touches a lot of the same themes as Gary's and working on the two so closely together is highlighting that for me.

As it is Gary Renard also personally went through a period of controversy a few years ago, but later he experienced at a Course conference in San Francisco, how many of these battling Course factions came together through his book, which cuts right through to the the essence of the Course, forgiveness, forgiveness and forgiveness. In short, most of us may argue with the Course at first, but in the end forgiveness carries the day, and that is exactly the point, and it is the reason why Jesus ask us in the Course to forgive him for not being what our ego wants him to be. In that light all the upheaval served the purpose of forgiveness.

Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done" (T.19.IV.B.8:1

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