Back by popular demand -- and newly updated by the author -- the mega-bestselling spiritual guide in which Marianne Williamson shares her reflections on A Course in Miracles and her insights on the application of love in the search for inner peace.
Williamson reveals how we each can become a miracle worker by accepting God and by the expression of love in our daily lives. Whether psychic pain is in the area of relationships, career, or health, she shows us how love is a potent force, the key to inner peace, and how by practicing love we can make our own lives more fulfilling while creating a more peaceful and loving world for our children.
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed lecturer, activist, and author with six New York Times bestsellers. Her books include Tears to Triumph, A Return to Love, A Year of Miracles, The Law of Divine Compensation, The Gift of Change, The Age of Miracles, Everyday Grace, A Woman's Worth, Illuminata, and A Course in Weight Loss. She has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah and Good Morning America.
This book changed my life, but I NEVER recommend it to anyone because it found me at a time that it could provide answers to my own personal questions. It has, of course, a huge following and the backing of its own sizeable foundation, so obviously I am not the only one who was able to gain from it. Anyhow, if it finds you, may it find you lost and leave you found, as it did for me.
This book is the source of the famous quote which is often misattributed to Nelson Mandela, "'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us'....." I mostly read the book because it was the source of this famous quote. Overall it was a good book--there were some interesting ideas and engaging anecdotes to illustrate them. However, I didn't give it five stars because I felt that it was somewhat repetitive and a tad wandering. I didn't feel that the organizational scheme was especially strong. Also, I was a little irritated by her continual shifting in the way that she referred to God. Sometimes she referred to him as a person, but sometimes she referred to him as this mystic love force that is in all of us. It’s interesting that she is sometimes very aligned to LDS thought—such as in her idea that we have been alive and will be alive forever since life extends beyond the body; yet some of her other ideas are very unaligned. If you can overlook some of her new age mumbo jumbo (one part that is especially controversial is her suggestion for victims of aids/cancer to write letters to the disease) then you might enjoy the book.
Now that I’ve given you the caveat, let me share some of the interesting things about the book. Basically the whole book is based on her perspective on love and how we need to change the world by letting God’s love shine through us. She calls this being a miracle worker. I would say her biggest premise is that we are not hurt by love that we are denied, but we are hurt by love that we deny others. I think it’s often true—forgiveness brings healing. She also asserts that the opposite of love is fear, the only moment that matters is the present moment, what people say or do is not who they are (p. 96), and we need to surrender to God by giving up attachment to results (p. 56).
Actually one of my favorite quotes from the book isn’t the famous one. She says, “The experience of love is a choice we make, a mental decision to see love as the only real purpose and value in any situation. Until we make that choice, we keep striving for results that we think would make us happy. But we’ve all gotten things that we thought would make us happy, only to find that they didn’t. This external searching—looking to anything other than love to complete us and to be the source of our happiness—is the meaning of idolatry. Money, sex, power, or any other worldly satisfaction offers just temporary relief for minor existential pain” (57). This reminds me of Moroni 7:46. If we don’t have charity—we have nothing. I think that scripture isn’t just Heavenly Father chastising us and telling us that if we are not charitable we are bad people and we are cast out. He’s saying that everything else of this world will fall away—(as Marianne Williamson would say everything else is an illusion) but only charity is lasting and will bring true happiness.
One of my favorite anecdotes is a good way to sum up the book. She shares the story from another book “Quantum Healing” by Dr. Deepak Chopra. For a research experiment in the 1970’s rabbits were fed a toxic diet to study the effects of high cholesterol. However, the researchers noticed that one group of rabbits was inconsistent and experienced fewer negative symptoms. It was discovered that the only difference was that the student feeding those rabbits liked to take them out of the cages and pet them. The point is that love can have effects unexplained by science which is something I believe. The idea sort of ties into the next book I am reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
I normally don't rate books that I finish as one star but I simply had to with this nonsense. The author is clearly clueless about the real world. I did limp to the end of this but it was a truly painful experience and I was tempted to throw the book against the wall, and/or light it on fire several times.
There is something peculiar and paradoxical about New Age spirituality and that is fully embodied and exemplified by the personality of Marianne Williamson. Who is this famous Marianne of www.marianne.com? Daughter of an immigration lawyer in Texas, she went to the Claremont colleges in California but apparently did not graduate with a degree. Instead, she experimented with sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. Rather than getting a regular professional career in law or medicine, she became a single mother, a bookstore manager, and then a spiritual teacher. Eventually, she published A Return to Love around 1992, made it to Oprah, and skyrocketed to NY Times bestselling author status. Now she is one of Oprah's best friends and teaches her interpretation of New Age spirituality on cruise ships, very much like the character Elizabeth Costello in J.M. Coetzee's novel by that name. She hobnobs with the rich and famous and is very wealthy herself. She has founded charities but has also garnered tremendous criticism for her temper and judgmental qualities. She is sexy for her age and dresses more than well when she goes in front of her rapt audiences. Her lectures, however, are all variations on the same material she published in her first book--A Return to Love. In fact, her jokes are canned, as in this one she told a couple of years ago, which in fact came from her first book published in the 1990's: "I studied with an Indian guru, but I wondered to myself: what does he know about life when he doesn't even date?" As Marianne herself repeatedly states, A Return to Love is "Cliff Notes" to A Course in Miracles, which is often considered the scripture of the New Age. However, because the Course is a channeled text that sees Christ in everyone and forgiveness as the sole purpose of life, it can be hard to decipher for the average reader. This is where Marianne comes in: as the interpreter. She uses her own experiences to illustrate Course lessons and readers love her not only because they can better appreciate the Course after reading her but they must also share her foibles, as they are known to laugh at her jokes, despite them having been told countless times.
This is my "go-to" book for hope in life... If this quote from the book doesn't get you, then it isn't for you (Although I first read it 20-odd years ago, it still gives me a smile on a cloudy day)....
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Like another reviewer said, I mostly picked this book up because I wanted to read more from the person who said: "'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us'....."
I don’t really know how to rate this book, because for me it was rather uneven.
It highlighted some things I take to be universal truths (that are represented in a range of religions, not only Christianity) and often did so in beautiful language. A few examples: 1. Whether we think with love is entirely up to us. When we choose to love, then life is peaceful, the meaning of heaven. When we turn away from love, then life is painful, the meaning of hell. 2. Accepting people as they are has the miraculous effect of helping them grow. Those who tell us what's wrong with us paralyze us with guilt and shame. Those who accept us let us feel good about ourselves, to relax and to find our way. 3. As you let your own light shine, you unconsciously let others do the same. 4. Most of the time we get sidetracked by our egos. Which of course causes us a lot of pain. The Soul just wants to open up to life experiences without any judgments. Our egos on the other hand need life to be intricate and seek for all kinds of guarantees in order to “enjoy” life. 5. "It’s easy to forgive people who have never done anything to make us angry. People who do make us angry, however, are our most important teachers. They indicate the limits to our capacity for forgiveness."
However, it also framed things in examples that for me felt dated or fell flat. Or frankly were way too preachy/evangelical for my tastes. Some examples were overly involved and the section on healthy and /body was misguided at best. Particularly around the source of illness in the body. Although I think illness, like all aspects of life, can be a source of learning, her description of it veered into suggesting the ill became so because they had something specific to learn or because they didn't love enough - which is reprehensible at best. For purposes of length, I am not providing specifics on the areas I didn't like as I'd rather focus on what good I could take away. But I also wouldn't recommend this book to others.
Updated: In the time since I have read /reviewed this, I have learned more about how she moves in the world and come to the conclusion that her methods and principles bring more harm into the world than positive. I had forgotten about this review until someone "liked" it recently, so I feel compelled now to come back and amend it to note that. Had I know then what I know now, I wouldn't have spent my money to buy this book even with the "good quote." The universal truth type benefits of this book can be found elsewhere without the collateral damage to those she has stigmatized/harmed (both the mentally and physically ill in various ways and settings, including her own non-profits) and those who have had the misfortune to work with her.
As anyone who's seen my frequent updates on here could probably tell, A Return to Love was a gut check and affirmation of so many things I've been feeling, experiencing, and processing lately. It's been on my list for a while, but reading it now felt like divine timing given the other things occurring in my life at the moment. The book essentially stresses the importance of going into any and every situation with love at the forefront. Williamson does use Christian symbols and figures throughout the text, but because the foundation from which they're coming is so focused on love, it doesn't feel like a Christian conversion ploy like some other books may.
I connected the most with passages from the Relationships and Work chapters because those are places I was actively working on before and while reading this book. However, the whole book has gems on gems on gems. It's definitely for those with an open mind, but perhaps it can also be the text to open one's mind?
I initially borrowed this book from the library, but I'll definitely be adding this to my collection sooner rather than later. The subjects explored and tackled are things I know I'll be grappling with and addressing for the length of my life and I look forward to having this text to help me through it all.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"
Ok, this book is what every confused cristian needs to read! LOL This book is too amazing to write a short review so I will try to sum it up. We all are born into a certain religion but sometimes we don't know exactly what to believe. We follow certain rules our belief system has set up but not enough to be considered a good cristian, or a faithful catholic, etc. So I think that a lot of us end up giving up on religion and God. Big mistake! God is Love, that is what I learned through this book. Yes..you've heard that a million times before but after re-learning it through this book you will finally comprehend just what that means. We are not bad people, no matter what we've done. We are made to the image of God who is Love. When life goes wrong and we are wounded some of us act in a wrongful way out of fear (the Ego) and seperate further and further from our starting point (Love) but we can return to love whenever we'd like....by shifting our perception...by not giving in to the ego's illusions...by not allowing our mind to be controlled by fear. It is so much deeper than I could ever summarize but the lesson to be learned is one that will stick with you for the rest of your life...if you trully grasp this concept and put it into practice you will not see your world the same ever again...you will discover where it is that you have to go when you are at your worst, lowest, and weakest moments in life. Words could never explain how grateful I am to have read this book at my age...it avoided many years of wandering through life feeling confused, lost, and alone.
You cannot say a book is for everyone, no matter if they have a religious affinity or not, and then make it very, very Christian. I, personally, believe in treating people with kindness, to be open and warm towards new encounters and that fear tends to be a detriment, but that's about where my agreement with this book ends. I worry a lot about some of the phrasing here, especially when it comes to harmful relationships as well as mental, chronic and terminal illnesses. Suggesting everything can be overcome with pure thought and praying for a miracle instead of proactively doing anything is ludicrous. Also, the notion that some people get sick, because they were loveless or the world treated them without love ... what?
Words cannot express my distain for this book. If someone recommends this book, they do not understand relationships. It pains me that there are counselors like the one who wrote this book that suggest such things as "pink and blue sunglasses". A book that says women wrote to him who were in abusive relationships and because of this book, knew they needed to respect their husbands and things would change, if pure mockery of the art of therapy and everything I stand for. If you're having marital problems, please find a counselor that is competent and don't read stupid "how to make your marriage better" books.
I had such high hopes for this book, and it was but I didn't expect the religious turn the book took on me.
I have loved the quote from Marianne Williamson ever since I first heard it in a yoga class during meditation (and still do): Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is not our darkness but our light that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. ...
Yet this book started out on a strong note and then went down for me. I listened to the audio version read also by the author herself, and her voice just didn't connect with me. Something was amiss and I can't say what. She was sincere enough. She read it well enough. Yet something about this book didn't hit the right chord with me, but there were valuable lessons too so and for that, and reasons outlined below, I'm giving it a 3 star.
Why didn't I like it so much? To be honest, it was the deeply religious tone. I felt excluded immediately. I had no idea about the turn this book would take with the constant role of the Holy spirit and God as the author articulates each and every one of her points. This is not just a spiritual book, it is a deeply religious book with christianity at the center of the driving thoughts.
But beyond that, I stayed with the book because I was initially mostly in agreement with the author in the ideas she was sharing around a course in miracles, until I was no longer in agreement. I did not feel that I can just as easily subscribe to this happy world of hers when everyone is deep down very good no matter what they have done in their past live. And some of the concepts were rather shallow.
Williamson has a beautiful way of describing and I did want to share some of my favorite quotations from A Return to Love: 1. Whether we think with love is entirely up to us. 2. When we choose to love, then life is peaceful, the meaning of heaven. When we turn away from life, then life is painful, the meaning of hell. 3. Love is the only thing that's real, and when we think with love, we are co-creating with God. When we think the opposite of love, lovelessly, we are hallucinating. 4. Denying love is the only problem and embracing it is the only answer. Love heals all of out relationships. The future can really be programmed in thus moment. All we need is a gentler perception. All we need is to ask for a miracle, a new beginning, a life unlike the past. 5. The only way that we can find someone wonderful is to be wonderful ourselves because to the ego, self-acceptance is death! 6. The narcissistic personality is looking for perfection which is a way to make sure that love never has a chance to survive. 7. If we don't already believe it, nobody can convince us that we okay. 8. Unconditional love is the death of ego. 9. *my favorite* Accepting people as they are has the miraculous effect of helping them grow. Those who tell us what's wrong with us paralyze us with guilt and shame. Those who accept us let us feel good about ourselves, to relax and to find our way. 10. As you let your own light shine, you unconsciously let others do the same.
There was a part of the book which I loved and it spoke to my passions (which are now also my businesses:) Do your gift ONLY if you have to. If you can't NOT do it, then forget it. Do what you love, do what makes your hear sing and never do it for the money. What we give we will receive and what we withhold will be withheld from us.
Business lesson here was powerful: If you genuinely have something to say then someone has to genuinely hear about it. We don't have to invent an audience so much as to serve them once they get here. Serving 3 people is as important as serving 300!
And perhaps one of the best phrases in the business part of the book was this: The miracle is to think of our profession however small as healing the universe.
Preachy. Although the first 10 pages are amazing, it falls flat very quickly. The “love is all you need” approach is way too hippie for me.
The author promotes love as the answer to everything (yes, all the world’s problems). She says that only love is real, nothing else is. So when we aren’t thinking with love, we are hallucinating; thus, we live in a world of mass hallucination. It may sound poetic, but I find this approach to be far from reality and the complexity of life. Anything that claims to entirely solve someone’s pain is untrustworthy; suffering is a part of human’s condition—it cannot be removed, only learned to live with.
Overall, I find modern spirituality odd. It simplifies the human experience and promotes the love of the universe (aka God) as the answer to everything. Maybe I am not mature enough for such a spiritual awakening; maybe it’s just total nonsense.
“The return to love is the great cosmic drama, the personal journey from pretense to self, from pain to inner peace.”
[Wherein I out myself as a believer] I picked up this book after attending one of Marianne Williamson's weekly lectures here in Los Angeles. I'd found the talk itself unfocused and difficult to track, but I'd been blown away by the Q&A period afterward: it's rare to witness a speaker that good at speaking off the cuff, especially to different (and thorny, and wide-ranging) personal issues; girlfriend was in the zone completely, channeling the bejangles out of some kind of benevolent spirit—and one with a delightful sense of humor to match its deep compassion.
I tore through the book, both because it's written simply and because so much of it made sense: that God (or "God", if you're not there yet) is love; that you will always feel better living in love than in fear; that lying and obfuscation are the enemies of happiness, and so on. I must have been halfway through before I realized that the stories it contained seemed familiar because they were—I'd read them in this very book, back in December of 2011, just after a miracle you'd have thought would humble me, but a good two months away from finally giving in. I am my stubborn mother's willful daughter, to be sure.
I have not read A Course in Miracles, but if this book accurately translates its principles (and there's no reason to think it doesn't), ACIM is a mixture of Eastern (Hindu, Buddhist) and Western (Judeo-Christian) philosophies, heavy on the Western/Christian. (And a lot of the language she uses to translate is straight out of 12-step, which, again, leads right back to Christianity.) Which is to say that there's nothing in here that's particularly revelatory, and plenty that is sensible. I'm not sure that as a philosophy, ACIM would survive deep scrutiny—and there are plenty of skeptical and Christian sites on the web that state just that. But except for the last dozen pages or so, which get into some pretty trippy ACIM interpretations of Christian symbolism, it provides a sturdy enough framework for spiritual growth, with dozens of lovely prayers and metaphors for hewing to a path of love.
I was torn between a 2 and 3 rating for this book. It started out very strong, and I really connected with it. Though not a strictly religious person, I could deal with the light religious tone in the beginning as it seemed more to supplement the messages she was trying to get across. However, as the book continued, the religious themes seemed to become more the purpose of the text, though oddly coupled with examples from her personal life that often seemed to contradict themes from previous chapters. The book supposedly focuses on love and serving God, yet in her examples she was often meanly sarcastic and self-righteous, which ultimately turned me off of the text.
✩ 5 stars ~ “Do you prefer that you be right or happy.” • “In punishing others we end up punishing ourselves.” • “a shift, from perceiving prisons as houses as punishments to perceiving them as houses of rehabilitation.” • “When we consciously change their purpose from fear to love, we release infinite possibilities of healing.” • “When we attack back (and defense is a form of attack), we initiate a war which no one can win.” • “But it’s far better to communicate then to suppress our feelings.” • “If anger comes up, it’s too be accepted.” • “The ego is our pain but it is what we know and we resist moving out of it. The effort it takes to grow out of painful patterns often more uncomfortable then remaining within them.” • “The entire world is blessed by the presence of healed people.” • “We can grow from any experience and we can transcend any experience.” • “Forgiveness remains the only path that leads out of hell.” • “As we love we shall be released from pain, as we deny love we shall remain in pain.” • “Your life should spread love.” • “My real job is to love the world back to health.” • “If we wait for the world’s permission to shine we’ll never receive it.” • “Don’t go to work to make money, go to work to spread joy.” • “If we’re going to set any goal, let us set the goal of being healed of the belief that God is fear instead of love.” • “When you get serious about the universe, the universe gets serious about you.” • “The more we give, the more we have.” • “Our devotion then becomes our work and our work becomes devotion.” • “My weight had nothing to do with my body but my mind.” • “It’s death itself that is just our imagination.” • “Optimism and hope are results of spiritual work.” • “If we could be as little children the world would finally grow up.” • “In heaven everyone is allowed to be successful.” • “Heaven is within us” • “Our wounds are simply our opportunities to heal.” • “A big nation like a big individual admits when it has made mistakes, atones for it’s errors, and asks God and man for a chance to begin again.” ~ as someone who has deconstructed from christianity & has experienced religious trauma at first i found the christian terminology in this too be a little triggering & i wasn’t sure if i should read it. ~ i did though & oh my god am i glad i did! ~ bc even though this book has the terminology i found myself realizing that this book isn’t pushing any doctrine. ~ this book honestly touched me in so many ways & honestly this book kinda changed me & my mindset. ~ i consider myself a universalist and this book seriously help confirm my beliefs & i’m so happy rn bc of it. ~ I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! 💖 ~ Marianne Williams FOR PRESIDENT 2024! ❤️✨
I have to admit that I didn't know too much about A Course In Miracles until just recently when I "inherited" a congregation of Science of Mind followers for my Interfaith Church that I pastor. Science of Mind (not to be confused with Christian Science & Scientology) is a way of approaching strength and struggle by framing ones mindset to see results. Like most theology and spiritual ways, it is subject to debate and validity depending on who is reading it and their own personal agenda and bias. I am very objective, and open minded, so I try to use spiritual helps as all positive things and glean wisdom from them and apply it to various groups and individuals. A Course in Miracles was bad mouthed by many Christian groups as "New Age" and heretical. It is really quite far from it if one applies it with common sense. I would dare say that this wonderful book, A Return To Love is filled with many Judeo /Christian principals and prayers. It is actually more "Christian" in it's opinions than many bold faced Christian books that I have read on self-help.
I feel A Return to Love can be used by all, regardless of creed and faith background. It offers some amazing perspectives on everyday struggles that we face as humans, and offers hope and advice that is easy to apply and doesn't insult your intelligence. Ms. Williamson is a wonderful writer who is very down to earth in her words while addressing some highly spiritual topics. She uses humour well, and shares many examples from her own life. No high horses are found in this guide for life.
Mine the wisdom out of it and apply it. I think you will see results and agree that much of her advice is sound and spiritually positive. I wish you deep peace and healing light.
read for a friends spiritual book club she is hosting. I was unimpressed for a couple of reasons.
1. I think this book is a little too "this is what God is". I'm always uncomfortable with anyone who attempts to define God to me ~ especially Marianne what's her name?! Exactly! Who is this person? Someone who read another set of books and course stuff and is writing about what she experienced. I'm glad God means something to her, I just don't really feel like she's the authority in "this is who God is".
2. I'm not a big fan with self help books. I'm one of those rare people who are happy. I'm through my time angsty years and have moved comfortably into my 30's with a happy husband and lovely children.
Will I need a self help book in a year? 10? 20? maybe. the answer is probably.
But for now, I don't. And even if I did, THIS is not the one I'd pick.
I have yet to find a book or an Audio book that reaches as deep into you as this one does. A Return to Love is a great Book, but it is a truly incredible Audio book! The tone of her voice, and the way it's spoken is so perfect, that you hear every word, and feel she is talking directly to YOU! I have listened to 100's of Audio books over the years, and have not found anything close to this one. Deepak, Millman, Lucado, Dyers, and as much as I hate to say it, even Mariannes other audios don't hold the magic this one does. If someone has found an audio that gets as deep into your soul as this one does, PLEASE write me and let me know what it is. And Marianne, Please consider doing an Unabridged version of the audio. If you have not listened to this audio book yet, and are looking for some spiritual enlightenment, you have no idea what your missing out on here! Buy the Tape, even if you have read the book!!! Time and time again, I have gone back and listened to this tape, and it never loses a bit of the magic I felt the first time I heard it. This Audio will remind you of so much you have forgotten through the years. The best Audio book I have EVER listened too!
I knew of this book for a long time, but never read it. However, after a difficult breakup with my fiancee, it was recommended that I read this. Actually, one of the main reasons why i never read it is because I thought it was for women (a chick book). Swallowing my pride and needing something profound to read, A Return To Love was exactly what I needed. Also, as a hardened military guy; I allowed myself to 'feel' her experience through me.
I'm happy that i allowed myself to loosen up and be healed by reading this great book. Overall, I think I'm a better man for it.
I read this because I heard RuPaul say it had changed his life, and I'm pretty curious about the kind of self-help RuPaul reads. I thought this was just OK. The advice was solid, though it felt out of touch at times, like a few of Williamson's values don't align with mine. It was really interesting to see how often AIDS was brought up though, as it was written at the height of the American epidemic. There were some quotes that I copied down, finding resonance in them:
"You are a child of God. You were created in a blinding flash of creativity, a primal thought when God extended Herself in love. Everything you've added on since is useless."
"The perfect you is the love within you. Your job is to allow the Holy Spirit to remove the fearful thinking that surrounds your perfect self, just as excess marble surrounded Michelangelo's perfect statue."
"When we choose to love, then life is peaceful. When we turn away from love, the pain sets in."
"Faith isn't blind, it's visionary."
"Everyone we meet will either be our crucifier or our savior, depending on what we choose to be to them. Focusing on their guilt drives the nails of self-loathing more deeply into our own skin. Focusing on their innocence sets us free."
"Do you prefer to be right or happy?"
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Regardless of the value that people get from this book, it shouldn't be confused with actual reflections on the principles of "A Course in Miracles". It's not apparent that Ms. Williamson has read or understood ACIM. I think what the title means is that this is the stuff she was thinking when her mind wandered while studying ACIM. So maybe "Digressions from" rather than "Reflections on" would be more accurate.
I was told by my therapist to read this book. I looked it up and panicked because it sounded very religious. I am atheist and asked her about it. I said, "are you sure I should read this? It seems very religious." She said "no, it's not religious, it's more of a self help book." Needless to say, I am getting a new therapist.
Before I get into the review of this particular book, I'd just like to reiterate how much I enjoy Marianne Williamson's style of writing. Honestly, the only reason I picked up this book (before reading it I had no idea what "A Course in Miracles" was, so why would I bother reading reflections on the principles of it) was because of the way her book, "Everday Grace", was written. I love her thoughful asides and allusions to experiences in her own life; it's as though she's talking to me and we're having a conversation where I'm getting know a little bit more about her with every book I read, rather than me just reading words on a page.
So back to "A Return to Love". I'm actually glad I didn't know anything about "A Course in Miracles" before reading this because I believe it would have tainted my reactions to Williamson's points; I have experienced reading a book and reading someone else's reaction to it and being completely turned off because that was not how I interpreted it. Reading "A Return to Love" with a clean slate helped me stay open to her version of the Course's principles.
Initially I thought I would be inundated with Christian references - Williamson explains that a lot of the terminology in the Course relates to Christianity - and while there were numerous instances of theological ideas, especially Christianity, I didn't feel overwhelmed by them. Williamson presented them in a way that, if I didn't already know they were Christian, I wouldn't have known they were related to a particular religion at all. And I never felt as though she was pushing religion at all; everything was kept very open and she acknowledged the fact that not everyone will see things eye-to-eye with her.
I can't evaluate the actual principles suggested in the book, since they are not Williamson's own ideas, but I can comment on her extrapolations. The majority of the time I found her insight thoughtful, truthful and refreshing; however, there were definitely times (particularly in the last chapter) where I felt she was stretching it a bit. I had a hard time grasping how she was relating Easter and Christmas to every day life choices; though in hindsight, I guess I should just accept those ideas since I had no problem with the concept of crucification and resurrection as it relates to our lives.
The one thing I took away from this book is that a strong faith and truly believing that you will never be handed anything that can't make you a better, stronger, wiser person is the foundation for a happier life. It's not going to be easy and I'm still resisting the idea of giving up control of my life but I think it's worth exploring; my desire to control everything hasn't worked out for the best, maybe this is a better solution.