A Course in Miracles and an Introduction to Integral Spirituality

Marianne Williamson Audio, Conversations, Perspectives, Spirituality 8 Comments

 
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arianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer. She has published nine books, four of which—including A Return to Love and Everyday Grace—have been #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Having developed her own unique message and teaching from her in-depth experience with A Course in Miracles, Bert begins the dialogue by asking about this central element of Marianne’s spiritual history. As Marianne explains, the Course teaches that there are only two fundamental emotions: love and fear. Fear is based on the false perception of separation, alienation, and limitation, and love is based on the correct perception of the spiritual nature of reality, which is always-already Free, Full, Sacred, and Blessed. Going on, Marianne explains that the Course doesn’t train one to love God, or love Jesus—the claimed “voice” of the Course—it teaches us to love one another, with forgiveness being the ideal spiritual practice and path to Grace.

A Course in Miracles grew out of the New Thought movement, which finds its own roots in Emerson and New England Transcendentalism. The Course uses the novel approach of adjusting one’s attitude or disposition towards qualities such as forgiveness, and through that technique, one can experience causal-formless and even nondual-unity states of consciousness. In the Course, it’s clear that to be spiritual is to be forgiving. An Integral Approach would go on to point out that the word “spiritual” has at least four different meanings, with the Course emphasizing and recognizing two of those four types: (1) the highest levels in any of the developmental lines; (2) a separate line itself; (3) an extraordinary peak experience or state; (4) a particular attitude. The Course specializes in states (#3) and attitude (#4), and an Integral Approach to spirituality — and an Integral Approach to the Course — would suggest checking in with the other two meanings as well — highest level (#1) and separate line (#2) — just to touch all the bases. Along these same lines, an Integral Map reveals that, along with nearly all the contemplative traditions past and present, the Course has little understanding of the developmental structures in consciousness (from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral to super-integral), and these structures are the basic levels (or “altitude”) through which developmental lines progress, as seen in the first two definitions of “spiritual.”

Developmental psychology has demonstrated that, cross-culturally, humans grow through the same basic structures in consciousness (along with their individual and cultural differences), and that these structures largely determine how one interprets one’s experience (although, again, the surface details vary widely from culture to culture and individual to individual). As an attitude- and state-training technology, the Course will work for nearly everyone at any level of development, but what it means to them will be very different. Although a forgiving attitude and causal and nondual states do have genuinely transcendent and universal qualities, an inner-city gang member, a fundamentalist Christian, and a liberal university sophomore are going to interpret the experiences provided by the Course — or any other contemplative training — extremely differently, even if the phenomenological experiences themselves were more or less identical. To say that we want to be aware of developmental levels, structures, or altitude is not to say that we want to unfairly rank or judge people, it’s to say that we can tailor the incredible gifts of paths such as the Course to make them more effective — it’s simply effective communication and skillful means.

Encouraged by Bert’s gentle and wide-ranging curiosity, Marianne goes on to comment on the central themes of several of her books, including A Return to Love, Everyday Grace, The Gift of Change, A Woman’s Worth, and Enchanted Love. Marianne speaks eloquently on the oft-ignored gifts of age, the importance of ritual in helping young women and men come into maturity, and how romance-as-spiritual-practice is one of the most advanced, and most rewarding, paths one can walk in this life.

Marianne is an engaging and passionate speaker, and we’d be thrilled to have you join us for this inspiring dialogue….

Reflections
As you listen to this conversation, you can use the Notes app in the bottom-left corner of your screen to record any reflections that may come up for you.
Marianne Williamson

About Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed lecturer, activist and author of four #1 New York times bestselling books. She has been one of America’s most well known public voices for more than three decades. On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.

Bert Parlee

About Bert Parlee

Bert Parlee, PhD serves as senior advisor at STAGEN in Dallas, complementing a private practice as Executive Coach, Leadership Trainer, OD Consultant and Mediator. His areas of expertise are training individuals, teams and organizations on how to bridge opposing perspectives, principles and worldviews, and thus to communicate more effectively in situations of difference, disagreement and conflict.

Notable Replies

  1. Two thumbs up (I’d give more if I had more! ;)) for every word Marianne Williamson speaks here! She never fails to instantly breathe the life back into me…clearing out the distorted views, fears, and general overwhelm that tend to begin “clinging” to us just by living in this modern world, when we/if we don’t feed ourselves with Truth on a regular basis. <3

  2. I have not yet listened to this podcast but I see her comments on love at the debates have become a meme. One person commenting that she is going to replace nukes with healing crystals (which is pretty funny actually). I see Bette Middler said she saw the big picture and was able to identify much of the sickness that is in todays world and in politics. I tend to not watch these debates and I am in danger of mis-characterizing what is dispersed through memes and tweets to summarize.

  3. The question of whether the American people are ready for Marianne Williamson as US President seems like an obvious “no” to me. Of course people will mischaracterize her message…for all kinds of reasons… I feel certain she’s expecting such comments from a certain percentage of the population, but I’m so glad she’s running anyway.

    Yes, those types of comments can be hilarious…and I’m sure even she sees the humor in them…but the humor can only be found within the mischaracterization of her message…not within what she’s actually communicating. In fact, I often think that’s where the most creative humor comes from…namely two completely different interpretations of one idea and/or statement…and how it’s can be very frustrating, if not impossible to bridge that gap between perspectives (we’ve all been there)…but “we” (the audience/onlookers) can view it from both angles and ROTFL seeing clearly what the problem is and know that there’s not a damn thing we can do about it but laugh. :))

    One of my “dear relatives” has a certain former Governor (3 guesses!) dubbed as “Governor Moonbeam” for similar reasons…Also kind of hilarious while at the same time, I adore and highly respect the guy and think he was a fine governor.

  4. I agree with lekawa about the mischaracterization of the message. One good example: she’s being called “bizarre” and “from another planet” because of her comment that one of the first things she would do as president would be to call the leader of New Zealand (and say that the U.S. was going to become the best/safest place for children to grow up).

    While I do think she could have done a better job of providing context for that statement, there was some context for it from a previous speaker on stage, who said gun violence would be the first thing he would address as president.

    I probably shouldn’t be, but I have been surprised at the number of journalists who seem to have no memory of the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 this year. 50 people were killed at a mosque and at an Islamic Center, and 50 more injured. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, acted quickly, saying she intended to make New Zealand the safest place on the planet for a child to grow up. By the end of the first week of April, laws had been passed banning military-style automatic weapons, requiring licensing for certain other types of firearms, and offering a program for people to turn in their guns. Many did, even before the offer was made.

    So this is what Marianne was referencing, and as I say, I do think more context was needed for the statement because the average person’s attention span is pretty slight. And Marianne is responsible for providing adequate context for people to understand her speech. And yet, one would hope that journalists would at least do a little research (e.g. visit her website to see her interest in children and gun law reforms, google “New Zealand” for the latest news from there, or any other thing that would quickly turn up some info to better understand her statement) or questioning or consider the context (i.e. previous speakers in the debate referencing gun violence right before Marianne spoke) before ridiculing her (or anyone in a similar situation).

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