Saturday, July 06, 2013

Translating Margot Krikhaar's Second Book "The Great Liberation"

It is a total delight to be working on Margot Krikhaar's second book, The Great Liberation, which to all intents and purposes was the platform for her formal teaching of the Course. The first book was more "girl next door does the Course," and as such invited the reader to look in the kitchen of one who steadfastly practiced the Course and experienced her complete awakening in this lifetime.

Subsequent to the first book, Margot quickly became a prominent teacher of A Course in Miracles in Holland. This second book reflects her thorough preparation for her teaching and the complete integration of her own learning, to which readers of her first book were a witness.

Although this second book is much more rigorous and structured than the first, it retains Margot's delicious sense of humor and her light touch. Early on she describes the two broad categories of how people can get off on the wrong foot with their practice of the Course. Essentially, one is to totally focus on the theory and forget the day to day practice, by which it becomes a vaporous intellectual exercise that is all in your head. And the other is the route of ignoring the theory and working only on an emotional level with all the seemingly reassuring statements in the Course, and misusing them as affirmations or mantras. Naturally there are many variations on these themes.

Margot's treatment of these extremes of reacting to the Course are spot on, based on what I have seen personally in my years working with ACIM. Most specifically though, it made me reflect on my own experiences in my early years with the Course. Personally, I had studied a lot of the "apocryphal" literature and its provenance, and had been acquainted with the Thomas gospel early on, when it was translated for the first time in the late fifties (in Dutch, in 1959). Along with it, I had read a fair amount of Plato, and Plotinus in Greek, and was in the habit of reading my New Testament in Greek, though my primary focus remained on the Gospel of Mark, which I believe to be relatively the least embellished of the canonical gospels. I had also studied some of the early Christian history, and various Gnostic teachers, only to become more confused as I went along.

In my younger years, I'd experienced my parents leaving the very liberal protestant church they had belonged to and where I was baptized (Remonstrant Brotherhood). They left within 2 years after my birth, though they clearly retained a sense of a relationship with Jesus and his gospel but seen in a very different light, and with a sense that his church was within, and not in some building. When the first public presentations about the Thomas gospel took place, I remember a certain level of excitement when they went to a speech by Prof. Gilles Quispel, who was the first translator. There was an excitement about the notion of getting to know how Jesus sounded in the original, before he was turned into a little Christian by Paul c.s. in later years.

My mother had  spent some time with the Oxford movement before settling in the Remonstant Brotherhood for a few years, and my father's spirituality was more widely framed, with religious and spiritual traditions from around the world, including Hindu teachers like Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Ramakrishna, as well as Buddha, Lao Tse, and (then) modern authors from Tolstoy and Dostoyevski, to Romain Rolland, Áldous Huxley, and Herman Hesse. Professionally, he was a psychiatrist, and very much in touch with the spiritual undertones of what he did. Never mind all that, it seemed as if my mother in particular had a very strong sense of awe for certain "mysteries of the faith," and she would convey an attitude that mirrored the "Ours is not to reason why." type of respect. There were questions you weren't supposed to ask. Her conviction seemed to be that revelation was our only hope, but I was never satisfied with that. So, when I finally found A Course in Miracles,  at age 40, it came as quite a relief, and I could wholly appreciate Helen Shucman's famous exclamation: "Finally, God for intellectuals." In the Course there is never a question you can't ask, although Jesus can be quite annoying with his answers, at times pointing out that our questions are not really questions, but trick questions that are really veiled statements.

For me the Course instantly clarified the whole early history of Christianity, about which I've written since then in my book Closing the Circle: Pursah's Gospel of Thomas and A Course in Miracles. For one thing it became clearer than ever how much Jesus was never a Christian, but just bombarded into one by those who came later and exploited his teachings for their own ends, in similar ways to what is happening with A Course in Miracles today. He was certainly never a Gnostic; the later gnostics merely co-opted some of his vocabulary, but to consider Jesus a gnostic in the formal sense would be completely anachronistic.

The big thing for me was that the Course answers every question and explains everything, and never stops its full accounting of the ego system, which only serves to lift the veils of "mystery" which that insane thought system uses to protect itself, and clothe itself in an appearance of meaning, when it has none. At the limits of what can be explained, the Course has established complete confidence and accountability with the reader, and merely states that only experience can go beyond the words, so if they made sense so far, you might want to try to do what the Course is saying. In other words, the whole thing provides a full and complete transparency and accountability, and nowhere appeals to blind "faith," but to experiential validation.

There are times when the ego just short-circuits with the material of the Course, and for a moment it seems incomprehensible, but always those blockages are resolved if we trust our experience, and they can be gone beyond. The answer always is that things must be first forgiven and then understood.

Margot's book is very much informed by her own experiences as we already know from her first book, and the fact that she speaks from that deep knowledge of the Course's process makes this book, while it is a rendering of the Course theory primarily, into a valuable guide for many who are first becoming aware of A Course in Miracles.

Copyright, © 2012 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.