Friday, August 3, 2007

Spoken Miracles

Visitors to the Yahoo! group on The Disappearance of the Universe will recognize the name of Martha Lucía Espinosa immediately, and know that there was a discussion on the forum about her plans for this upcoming book, which is based on a hint that was contained in DU, namely that the 365 Course quotes contained in that book provide a complete summary of the Course's teachings, which one could use for daily meditations etc. Because of her editorial choice to present these "quotes" as a "sayings collection," I felt a discussion of the book was in order here.

Those of us who have really worked with Gary's books are in no doubt that they are inspired material, for they speak to us on so many levels all at once, and they clearly represent yet another dimension to facilitate our learning of the Course, by re-casting it in the framework of Gary's conversations with his friends, the ascended masters Arten and Pursah. Gary's experiences with Arten and Pursah, and with learning the Course, on one level are nothing but a dramatization of our own learning opportunities with the Course, inviting us to empathize, and identify with Gary as Course student par excellence, as he goes through his own slapstick routines of Course learning. Clearly, in preparing this little book Lucía has discovered yet another dimension in which this material operates, which she reflects in her choice of title. Not only was the Course spoken to Helen Schucman, the 365 quotes from the Course were again spoken through Gary's books during his conversations with Arten & Pursah. And Lucía heard the spoken quality in those quotes, in particular also because of the context of the Thomas Gospel  which permeates Gary's work, in as much as his own discovery of having been Thomas in a prior life, as well as Pursah representing the recollection of that lifetime, which is obviously central to the book. Throughout Gary's books the focus is on what "J" really did say, 2000 years ago as recorded by Thomas, and today in the form of ACIM, and to clear away the clutter of subsequent interpretation and distortion, and to get back to what the words were meant to say as they were spoken by the speaker.

The Thomas Gospel is fast becoming the symbol of hearing the authentic teaching of Jesus, before the distortions of it began to accumulate in the narrative Gospel tradition which came later, and which was never again to get out from under the heavy editorial influence of Paul, whose first letters are contemporaneous with the Gospel according to Mark, which in and of itself has perhaps the least amount of Pauline influence, but nevertheless already shows some of the influences that were to distort the teachings of the living Jesus into the dead body of Christian dogma (eucharist etc.). Pursah's kernel of the 70 authentic sayings in the Thomas Gospel help us find the "historical" Jesus in pure form, free of the materials that were added on later. In Spoken Miracles, Lucía hears a kernel of the Course, almost as a sayings tradition, which can speak to us in a very direct way as a refresher of the Course - though it could also be an introduction to the Course. The book represents Pursah's Cliff-notes for A Course In Miracles, and as such it is a wonderful way to straighten us out, if we get wrapped around the axle with the ego's complications again.

Lucía's own introduction is fascinating, and may serve to make the material accessible to many seekers. No doubt few might have wandered as widely and at such a young age as Lucía has, starting with studying a form of Gnosticism at age 13, but as she meandered through various spiritual and religious traditions, she touches seemingly on anything that is around in the contemporary landscape, including a brush with the dogmatic certainty of fundamentalist judgment and the Leave Behind series, to which Gary also offers some choice comments in the course of his books. The Course itself emphasizes in the first entry of the Manual for Teachers, that God's Teachers come from anywhere and everywhere, from any religion or no religion, and in that spirit Lucía's wide ranging explorations will offer many readers the opportunity to recognize themselves in her, and thus to hear again the still small voice inside, which leads us to truth in the end.

Reading the book is a mind-blowing experience, for even if we already realized the rich crystalline structure of the Course, until Gary came along, most of us would have thought a popular introduction to the Course was an impossibility, and a meaningful summarization equally an impossible task, except that it turns out that DU, like a Russian doll, contained this supposedly impossible summarization. It just took Lucía's faithful scribal work to free it up from its rough shape and to polish the diamond. This resulting little gem of a book truly astound us with the brilliance of the Course on yet another level, as impossible as that seems. I've studied the Course for too long to venture a guess how this book would strike someone who came to it without a knowledge from the Course, it seems to me that very much like the sayings of Thomas it would evoke a hunger to know and understand more of the thought system that was being implied more than explained in them, in which case it could lead people to the Course. As a refresher for long standing Course students, it is definitely... well... if I may say so: refreshing! It could be used as the thoughts for the day for a year long refresher program, or also simply read, or you could dabble in it.

Last, not least, this book is also a great buy at $9.95, and in a way it provides a more portable Course than the portable Course - the small format edition of the Course from the original publishers, which is still more luggable than portable. So for a weekend trip take this one along if you are traveling light!  And I supect that just like The Disappearance of the Universe itself serves as an introduction to the Course for many people, this little book too may become a first invitation to the Course for a great many people - kind of a no risk trial.