A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” (1996) by Marianne Williamson is considered a must-read of the modern spirituality. It is based on Williamson’s discovery of A Course in Miracles. The book uses Christian terminology, but Williamson explains that God that she talks about is love, and that we should come to realize that we’re all one with God/love, and to surrender our life to him.
A Return to Love is based on the teachings of a three-volume work called A Course in Miracles, channeled and written by Helen Schucman, a professor of psychology at Columbia University. Marianne Williamson, as one of the teachers who study and interpret this work, was in her mid twenties when she discovered this spiritual thought system, and A Return to Love is to date the most sold interpretation of it (mostly thanks to the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey).
Williamson proclaims how the principles of Hell, God, You, Surrender, and Miracles form a spiritual practice with ramifications that give meaning to relationships, work, body, and Heaven. She notes:
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment, or unlearning, of fear and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.
According to her, once we let our lives be guided by love, we become miracle workers – and the miracle is a change from a thinking based on fear to thinking based on love. Miracle is about thinking with love towards everything, and unlearning the patterns of fear we grew up with. Love and fear are the only two fundamental emotions, and it’s a choice that we must make. Whenever we choose love, we choose peace.When we don’t, we choose pain.
- Preface – the author explains what A Course in Miracles is, and that this book is about the practice of love, as strength and not a weakness, as a daily answer to the problems that confront us. She says that love is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth
- Introduction – we have learned to base our life on fear, and the spiritual journey is the relinquishment, or unlearning, of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.
Part I: PRINCIPLES
- Chapter 1: Hell – the problem of an entire generation is that everyone is terrified, and paralyzed in certain areas. People begin to realize that the problem is in themselves, but they don’t know what to do about it.
- Chapter 2: God – God, in her interpretation, is the love within us. She expleins how people shouldn’t fear God, but instead they should surrender to God – because it means surrender to love.
- Chapter 3: You – “The perfect you isn’t something you need to create, because God already created it. The perfect you is the love within you.” According to her, “accepting the Christ” is merely a shift in self-perception – it’s actually accepting love. We are one with God/love, and what makes us believe that we’re separate from it is our Ego.
- Chapter 4: Surrender – she explains that faith is “to trust in the force that moves the universe”: Faith believes that the universe is on our side, and that the universe knows what it’s doing, and we should trust it as well. Surrender is process of emptying the mind, and making the decision to stop fighting the world, and to start loving it instead.
- Chapter 5: Miracles – “In asking for miracles, we are seeking a practical goal: a return to inner peace”; we should change our mind about the world, because “if we think we’re magnificent creatures with an infinite abundance of love and power to give, then we tend to behave that way”.
Part II: PRACTICE
- Chapter 6: Relationships – the author discusses forgiveness in relationships, giving up judgement, making the choice to love, relinquishing fear, working on ourselves, communicating love and making a commitment in order to improve our relationships, because “when you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter”.
- Chapter 7: Work – she defines that success means “we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others”, and we should put love first, in business as well as everything else. She discusses personal power, money, goals and says that we should accept every challenge related to work as a part of the God’s plan for us, because “The news isn’t how bad things are. The news is how good they could be”.
- Chapter 8: Body – Williamson says that, as we are spirits within the mind of God, we need to understand that “it is not the body but the mind that is in need of healing, and the only healing is a return to love”. Healing begins with “healthy thinking”, and we will save our body when we save our mind. She also says that birth is not a beginning but a continuation, and death is not an end but a continuation.
- Chapter 9: Heaven – “Heaven is a decision I must make”, and that is the decision to love and to be happy. We all have capacity for brilliance, and we should practice love as a spiritual practice. She suggests that we should do it through meditation, because meditation disciplines the mind, and alters the patterns in our brain. She also says that the end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into Heaven, that will happen when we collectively accept love and forgiveness of what went before.
This book has impacted me deeply. I couldn’t really deal with reading “A Course in Miracles” itself—too much biblical-speak for my tastes—but Marianne’s take on it did the trick. I have little cards with some of her words on them on my walls and whatnot. That’s how important it is.
A Return to Love is an excellent, inspiring book. Williamson points out that happiness is a choice and then shows how to make that choice. There are detailed steps about how to change our thoughts and therefore our experience of life. Reading A Return to Love helps to increase the sense of self-worth.
The most amazing part of the “A Return To Love” book is how to deal with problems. Marianne Williamson gives examples of patients who entered into a conversation with their illness, being honest about their feelings and seeking to understand what it is trying to tell them. The letters are really inspiring, and we may be inspired to heal in similar ways
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