Robert Perry is one of the most respected teachers of the modern spiritual path A Course in Miracles.
A Course in Miracles is a course that is intended to be a spiritual path. The material is claimed to be channeled from Jesus in the late 60s and early 70s. In this conversation, Robert and I discuss the teachings of the course and how closely they align with the lessons from Near-Death Experiences. Robert and I discuss what “the Course” says about God, reincarnation, judgment, the purpose of life, etc.
Robert is the editor of the Complete and Annotated Edition of A Course in Miracles. He is the founder of the Circle of Atonement (www.circleofa.org) and has authored or co-authored over 20 books and booklets on the Course, as well as hundreds of articles, and has lectured throughout the U.S. and internationally. Perry’s goal has been to draw out of the Course a comprehensive understanding of the path that it lays down and to support students in walking that path. For more visit: https://www.circleofa.org or to start studying the course, https://www.coursecompanions.org
Hi there. Welcome to grief to growth podcast. Your host is Brian Smith, spiritual seeker, best selling author, grief survivor and life coach. Brian believes that the worst tragedies of life provide the greatest opportunity for growth. Brian says he was planted, not buried, and he is here to help you grow where you’ve been planted by the difficulties in life. In each episode, Brian and his guests will share what has helped them to survive and thrive. It is his sincere hope this episode helps you today.
Brian Smith 0:35
Hi, everybody. This is Brian Smith back with another episode of grief to growth and I’ve got a guest with me today. His name is Robert Perry, and I’m going to introduce Robert and they will have a conversation about a really fascinating topic that brilliant I’m excited about introducing you guys to Robert is one of the most respected teachers of the modern spiritual path which is called A Course in Miracles. Robert is the editor of the complete and annotated edition of A Course in Miracles. He’s the founder of the circle of atonement, which is a www circle of a.org. And I’ll put that in the show notes. And I’ll and Robert is also authored or co authored over 20 books and booklets on the course, as well as hundreds of articles. And he’s lectured throughout the US and internationally. Roberts goal has been to drop the course, draw out of the course a comprehensive understanding of the path that lays down and support students and walking that path. I’m really excited about introducing you guys to A Course in Miracles because I’ve always wanted to introduce you to different ways, different tools of understanding spirituality, and this is a pretty intense way of understanding it that’s, I think a lot of people be interested in. So with that, I want to welcome to the show, Robert Perry.
Robert Perry 1:45
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
Brian Smith 1:48
Robert. I’m really excited about talking today and I appreciate you doing this. The court A Course of Miracles. I first started probably five or six years ago, I was attended at Unity Church. They were talking about this thing called a Course of Miracles. So explain to me what is the Course in Miracles?
Robert Perry 2:07
Well, of course, the miracles is in form. It’s just a book, the three volume book with a text, a workbook and manual for teachers, but it’s really a spiritual path. The book is designed to lead you through a process of development, in which you first learn and internalize and experience and demonstrate a set of teachings.
Brian Smith 2:36
So what is what is the source Where did that Where did the Course of Miracles come from?
Robert Perry 2:40
Yeah, that’s, that’s part of its identity is is is is rooted in a very unusual and interesting story. A woman named Helen schucman what who was a psychology psychologist and at Columbia University in New York City. She and her colleague bill Thetford, Who was the head of the psychology department? Not at Columbia University, but at sort of a place associated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. They worked together for several years starting in 1958. So it goes back quite a ways. And they experienced a great deal of conflict in their own relationship, his colleagues, and also conflict in their department, and with other departments and medical centers, and just just everywhere in their professional lives, there was conflict. And finally, it got to be too much. And Bill Thetford sort of gave a speech to Helen schucman, in which he said essentially, there there must be a better way, there must be a way in which people can essentially get along with each other and cooperate rather than compete. And so she said, Okay, I’ll join you in that it was a rare moment of harmony between them and That seemingly, you know, ordinary non spiritual event. They knew it was life changing, but it didn’t have any spiritual content to it. They weren’t believers in anything. Helen professed to be a militant atheist. That was a trigger. She began. This was in 1965, she began having a series of interesting inner visions and heightened dreams, and also paranormal experiences. And then several months later, October 65, she heard an inner voice say this is A Course in Miracles please take notes. Wow, she began to take down yeah, very out of character for her take down a series of teachings by inner voice that she heard. And this process went on for about seven years. And she would take these these teachings down as she heard them word for word. In her shorthand notebooks, so she’d do it in handwriting and shorthand symbols. And then she would dictate what she’d taken down to her colleague, Bill Thetford, and he would type it up. Wow. And that was it was they called it their guilty secret. They didn’t they were they were afraid of losing their reputations professionally. It shared it with very few people. But eventually, it kind of they shared it with certain key people and it escaped into the wild. People began reproducing material on Xerox machines and a pressure group to publish it. It was finally published in 1976.
Brian Smith 5:34
Interesting, yeah, I did not know that the full history of that. So this is a person who as you said was a professed militant atheist and started having these these channelings I guess rights download essentially. Right,
Robert Perry 5:46
right. And the the source of the material. This is something that is controversial and uncomfortable for many students of it, but the source of material clearly speaks as if this is Jesus talking.
Brian Smith 5:58
Yeah. Well, you know, it It’s really interesting that, you know, a lot of us have faith in the Bible. And we and we say that’s the word of God. And that’s not even necessary professed to be channeled. So there’s no reason why I was it said, I was attending a Unity Church when I came across the Course of Miracles. And one of the tenets actually was a church before that it was at United Church of Christ. And one of the things he used to say was, God is still speaking. So if God could could inspire people 2000 years ago, then certainly God could inspire people today. So
Robert Perry 6:31
well, Christians believe that, of course, at least in theory, and you know, people people do have experiences of Jesus all over the world and not just Christians. So it’s not something that in theory is considered at least by a lot of people to be impossible.
Brian Smith 6:47
Yeah, well, I on my program, and in my life, I talked to a lot of people who’ve had near death experiences and seeing Jesus is not uncommon when you have a near death experience. So I know I know it feels a little bit uncomfortable. Maybe to say this course this material is channeled by Jesus. But for me and for my audience, I think it’s not not that big of a reach. But I think, as the Bible says, I kind of the proof is in the pudding. It’s like, what what type of what type of fruit is this tree bearing? And when you talk about A Course in Miracles and being a spiritual path, that thing is doesn’t lead to development, does it lead people to be better people?
Robert Perry 7:22
Well, I think very often, it has absolutely, you know, life changing positive effect on people’s lives. I think that we’re still trying to get a handle on what this book is and what we do with it and what it says and I think for a lot of people it gets gets misused. But I know so many people count the course as absolutely key to turn their lives around and making them more loving and forgiving, and generous people. Yeah,
Brian Smith 7:54
and that’s been my experience. I haven’t gone through the course as I was telling you before we get started recording I’ve kind of dabbled this A little bit, when I was going to the Unity Church, they had a weekly teaching on it. I went to that a couple times. And I downloaded the app, which gave me some little bits of it here and there. But my experience of people that have been through the course as you said, they, they like just rave about how it’s changed their life and change your perspective. And one of the things that I think is key to getting through this life and being and doing it well, is understanding who we are. And I think a lot of us have forgotten who we are. And that’s one thing that I got out of when I did study, the course is that we’ve forgotten who we are as human beings and why we’re here and I think the course does a pretty good job of explaining that.
Robert Perry 8:40
Yeah, that’s a core teaching of the course. And in talking about that, I often reference your death experiences, because one of the things I’ve I’ve been into them for, I mean, since life after afterlife came out in 75. But but in the last 10 years or so, I’ve really gotten into MDS because there is an enormous amount of crossover between the truth that people learn in their MD. And the teachings and of course, the miracles. In fact, a colleague of mine and I have about five six years ago now wrote a very lengthy article, comparing the teachings of A Course in Miracles with the philosophical perspectives people take away from MDS that got published in the Journal of near death studies, which is the you know, the peer reviewed journal that you know, for MD studies. And it was very long article because there is an enormous amount of crossover there. So, what the course teaches about what we are who we are, is that we may appear to be humans, but in fact we are divine beings. In our true nature, we are pure spirit, there’s no bodily component. We are limitless, we are perfect, we are holy, we are made of pure love. We are the kind of being that if we knew we were that being we would have unlimited self esteem. And what I find one of the things I find out of many things so interesting about nd ease is that people often have this experience where they say I was still myself. But I was not. You know that the human I knew I was not a body. And sometimes people experienced themselves exactly as of course, miracles teaches us that they were just pure spirit. There was no form. They were eternal. They were without limit. And it’s fascinating to see those reports when that’s exactly what I read in the course.
Brian Smith 10:48
Yeah, well, I my personal belief is truth is truth, no matter where it comes from, right and and there is a CS Lewis called the Dow, the Dow, that there’s just a ternal truth that predates even existed. And it comes to us through many, many channels. And it comes to us for various religions. It comes through us. Some of it’s in the Bible, some of its in Christianity. And I think some of its come through the course. And you’re right. It’s really interesting the overlap between the near death experience and what the course teaches. And that, to me is what resonates with me that that rings true from the course is that is this this thing of who we are. And I think that’s one of the biggest problems we have on our Earth right now is, as mankind, we’ve forgotten who we are. And that leads us to all kinds of mistakes and problems and I think returning to those roots and understanding could, you know, provide a miracle good, could actually be miraculous.
Robert Perry 11:41
Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, if we had if we really believed not only that we are divine beings. But if we believe that about other people, that regardless of what they’ve done, they’re not sinners. They still have limitless value. They are equal. No matter what appearances may say, if we had that picture of others, I mean, we’d be living in a completely different world.
Brian Smith 12:08
Yeah, and I guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it is a course kind of a systematic way of getting from here to there.
Robert Perry 12:15
That’s what it’s about. Yeah, it’s, it’s not just a set of teachings, it’s a course. So it’s informed, modeled after like an educational course where you’ve got a text, you’ve got a workbook with practical exercises, you have a manual for teachers, for those who in some sense, will, having studied and practice the principles go on to teach them that it’s trying to take you through a whole process. So for instance, the text is like a series of lectures. It’s not it’s in it’s in written form. But each section in the text and there is about 250 of them will introduce a new subject, rolling in old material, referencing old material and building on that but then adding something new. So it’s like you’re in a Very long lecture series.
Brian Smith 13:03
So, what are some of the teachings? We talked about the fact that we are divine beings? And we’re all equal? What are some of the other teachings from the course?
Robert Perry 13:12
Well, I mean, it’s hard to know where to start, I guess I’ll pick a starting place. But the course is I often say it’s like an ocean, there are hundreds and probably thousands of concepts. And they all interweave with all the other ones. Mm hmm. So there’s an enormous amount of depth and variety of wisdom in there. But from my standpoint, it really starts with the courses view of God. Hmm. And in my experience, in sort of outside of traditional spirituality, when you’re in alternative circles, you know, new thought, new age, Eastern spirituality. I think we tend to shy away from the whole God topic, because a lot of us feel a bit scarred by God in traditional religions. Yes. So what the course does As it presents a very different vision of God than the traditional one, but also very different than what you tend to encounter in alternative spirituality. Traditionally, you know, God is, is loving and wrathful. Right, right. And we’re all very familiar with that. And we tend to, you know, for those of us who grew up in church, like I did, we tend to, you know, carry some of that, you know, fear of God. Mm hmm. And I think that tends to fuel how we are once we perhaps leave traditional religion, we gravitate towards a God who above all is safe. And I think therefore, we tend to gravitate towards a somewhat impersonal God.
Brian Smith 14:43
Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. Yeah.
Robert Perry 14:46
You know, where God is more like a presence or an energy or a suchness. Then Yeah,
Brian Smith 14:51
I I have to confess to that, you know, I grew up in a church with this guy who was judgmental, and and I was I just had this conversation with someone yesterday because We’re studying near death experiences, we’re reading a book about it. And in the book, the author kept using the word God and one of the chapters and this person pushed back and said, I almost put the book down. You know, it really turned me off because you kept talking about God so much. So there, there is in that new age, New Thought near death community, there’s almost as pushback against the personal God. So how does the course address that? Well,
Robert Perry 15:24
the course is picture of God which I think is practically identical to what near death experience there’s so often experience which I can get to in a bit, but but the course is picture of God is not an impersonal God. It’s almost as if if you took the traditional God who has this loving side, he cares about us, he wants the best for us. He wants to spend eternity with us. And he has this raffle side where for some reason he because he’s just he has to punish us for our sins and He has to throw people in hell forever and, you know, the sins have to be paid for and The vision of the traditional nutritional view the crucifixion, where someone had to pay. If you take that picture, and you just completely remove the wrathful side, so that so that the God of the course, is literally incapable of even the tiniest hint of anger. There’s, he’s just the course uses the language of he but doesn’t understand that there’s no gender to God. Right. But still, this God has a kind of personhood. He has no form no body, he has no limits. He’s pure spirit. He doesn’t change. He He’s absolutely infinite. But he still has thoughts. He still has feelings. He still has will and intention. He has a plan for our salvation. But in all of that, it’s He is just love personified. If you could take love and make love conscious, so that love was a person. Mm hmm. That’s what this God would be like. So he is absolutely pure, overwhelmingly intense love for each for all of us as a whole. And for each of us individually. And what I find so interesting about MDS? Well, again, one of the things is that people frequently have and one of my favorite MD books is by Jeffrey long, God and the afterlife. I don’t know if you’ve read
Brian Smith 17:39
I’m not familiar with that one now.
Robert Perry 17:40
Yeah, it’s really good one. He details all these experiences where people have encountered with God and they are remarkably consistent. Mm hmm. And they are so striking because the god they encounter has personhood. You can tell from their story. Yeah. But what they encounter is unbelievably on earthly love. So one of my favorite were my favorite quotes about this, as this guy was saying that he said he was in front of the great light. He said it had to be God. And he said, it was like, how do you put he said, it was like, you’re standing six feet from the sun. He said, only instead of heat. You experience love. Wow, infinite love. And that’s what that’s what you hear people describe again and again from their nd ease. A love that makes the best love on earth seemed like an absolute drop in the bucket. Like 1,000,000th of the real thing, something that we can’t understand or describe. It has to be experienced to know what they’re talking about.
Brian Smith 18:55
Yeah, you know, it’s funny because as you were saying that I was thinking about Some of the people I’ve interviewed my friend Penny with Brad who had several near death experiences, and tried to describe the love of God. And you were saying you’d seen my interview with Tony Woody. Yeah, I you know, as I was watching his face, he was just like, I wish I could describe and he goes on for like five minutes describe it and says, I can’t describe it or so it’s very common with people at the end the ease so that’s again, that’s what i what i hear the course say that. I hear people within the east side, that’s what rings true to me that that must be true.
Robert Perry 19:28
And if it’s something that feels true, even though it’s not part of our conceptual, you know, framework right now, like what religion has has taught us that
Brian Smith 19:41
Yeah, that’s a good point. Because when I think about it, you know, there there does seem like the Eastern religions tend to depersonalize this force, you know, for lack of a better word or source and, and then the western religions that personalizes God made him into just a big man, with all with all the problems that we have, right and with the dual side of humans, you know, we can be good and we can we can be bad.
Robert Perry 20:04
Yeah, what I like about Tony’s description, I mean, he’s get so I’ve seen a video of his and then I also listen to your podcast. And he gets so passionate and what he talks about is the best way I’ve come to be able to describe it. So he had the experience like nearly 40 years ago. Yeah. And he’s been ever since trying to think of the best way to describe what he experienced that says something by itself.
Brian Smith 20:30
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So that’s, that’s that’s one plus for the course. I think that this this, and I’m really glad you brought that up, because something I didn’t really understand about it. But I think it’s very important because for myself to speak personally, I was scarred by the idea I had of God and it scarred me for a very, very long time. And then I think as I said, I didn’t really think about this to put it this way. I think I overcorrected. And I took ID personalized guide and and then I hear near death experiences say Well, God is love. It’s like well But love is got to be at least somewhat personal. I mean, it’s it can’t get ever totally depersonalized love. Oh, yeah. And if you look at their, their reports that they are spoken to God, you know, they’re often sent back against their will. So there’s true. They feel tremendous power and intelligence. So yeah, I mean, even when they they don’t say it was a being, it’s clear that there are personal qualities to the god they experienced. Yeah. So. So what about why we’re here? That’s I think that’s another big question people have, you know, what is the purpose of this life? And so what is the course talk about? How does it How does it address that?
Robert Perry 21:45
Yeah, well, the course like I say it starting point is God. And to get to why we’re here I probably should say a bit about its overall worldview, which is really different than our conventional worldview or anywhere else. With that we’ve encountered in normal society. But the great thing about that worldview is it makes love and forgiveness makes sense. Very often, we want to love we want to forgive, but it seems like it’s not rational. Right? It’s like given what they did, given who they are, how can I love them? How can I forgive them? It’s not rational. What the course does is it gives a whole worldview in which in light of that worldview, suddenly it does make sense. It is the rational response to love someone regardless to forgive them regardless. So so to kind of give a short version of that worldview, we start with this God who is pure love and pure spirit. And he creates But like any creator, he creates, after himself, like himself, you know, an artist creates out of what’s within him. And so this God creates all of us. He doesn’t create a physical world. Or universe, he creates us as spirit. Okay, and we are just like him. We’re we are pure spirit, we’re perfect. We’re absolutely loving. We’re so loving, that we’re holy. There’s no imperfection or sin or error in us at all. And we’re eternal, we’re forever. But in the course never quite says exactly how it happened. A lot of us fall asleep to that state. We decide to separate from God. We can’t actually separate because we’re part of God, we’re in God. So we just fall asleep to where we are, and to who we are. And in this state of sleep, where you know, in sleep, you kind of don’t know what’s going on. You You’re not really rational. You don’t really know where you are you think you’re in in dream environments. When you’re really in bed. You can’t even dream you’re somebody else. Not the person you are. In this sleep, we begin to experience a collective dream. And that dream, according to the course is the origin of the physical universe, from the courses standpoint, and it’s it has a lot of teachings you can find in places or at least similar teachings you can find. But it also has very bold departures. And one of his points of departure is it says, Look at this world, everything dies. Things are in competition. There’s, you know, things are characterized by separation. We’re all locked in these bodies where we can’t really join with others. We’re always in our little cubicle. Yeah. We’re vulnerable with God with a loving God. Create a world like that. So one of the things the chorus says is, God is he is not mad God is not mad. Yet only madness makes a world like this Hmm. So from Of course, the standpoint This world is our dream of being separate from God, we’re not really separate from God, we’re, you know, just like a dreamers in bed, we are in God. But we’re having a very lengthy, very stable, very long term dream that we’re dreaming together, in which we dream, that we’re the separate humans that are just full of flaws and foibles, and that when we’re in competition with each other, and so on. And so from the courses standpoint, our our purpose here is to go through a developmental process of healing the mind that streaming so that it can ultimately wake up but it’s not about like, just getting out of here. It’s about we wake up through a developmental process in which we become more loving and forgiving people. More More giving people and through that we thought to learn that hey, maybe we’re not so flawed as we thought, maybe we’re divine. There’s that old poem that says To err is human to forgive divine? Well, if all you do is forgive, wouldn’t you become convinced you’re divine?
Brian Smith 26:16
Yeah. Well, it’s really fascinating because I think one of the things that every religion or philosophy tries to figure out is why why are we here? What’s the purpose? And so when you say this is a dream, that’s a little bit different why for it, but it does come back around to there is some purpose behind it because I, what I’ve been I’ve kind of come to is this is like a, like a classroom or like a school or like a gym or like a boot camp. All these different analogies that we can use, where we come here, we feel the separation, we forget who we are for a little while, so that we can build our strengths, build our character, and that the lack that we experienced here, the forgiveness these are all ways that we can build ourselves and make ourselves No stronger beings
Robert Perry 27:02
yeah and I would absolutely agree with all that and what the course would do is just kind of give a little caveat saying we don’t actually strengthen ourselves our real selves are already perfect. Yeah but but in terms of these minds that are caught in an illusion and in a dream they become more and more in touch with that underlying perfection and and yeah, it the way it looks is one develops character character that becomes ultimately godlike.
Brian Smith 27:32
Yeah. So the forgiveness how does that come into it? So if we have this understanding, why does it make forgiveness Make sense?
Robert Perry 27:39
Well, because if, if this, you know, generally when we’re trying to forgive somebody, we feel mistreated by them. Right? And it can it can get very deep and serious. What’s going on? Is that we think, Okay, well, that was all real. They are that selfish person. hurtful, cruel person. And they objectively did hurtful things to me. Those things may not have injured my body, maybe they did, but they definitely injured my mind and heart, my, my, my soul, perhaps in my belief, and therefore, because I really got hurt, I really lost. They really did it. Maybe in some sense they gained from that they at least gained a sense of having the upper hand. Yeah. Based on all of that, why does it really make sense to forgive them? Right? I mean, is it even is even logical is it just does it so so there’s something else that says I’d love to be free. I’d like to free them to I’d like to forgive but it just doesn’t seem to make sense in the courses view as a whole worldview in which it does because in this view, who I am can’t really be hurt. Not really, right who’s They are can’t really become sinful and bad. And who and because of who they are, when they attack me, they don’t gain anything real. They just end up losing, they feel worse about themselves somewhere inside, they feel guilty somewhere inside. Because being a holy and divine being, when they behave like that, they just feel bad. Even if on an ego level, they feel Yeah, I’m superior because I put so and so in their place. Yeah. And so they’re still holy and divine. I’m still holding divine, they haven’t become sinful, I haven’t been injured. And therefore it makes sense to let it go in light of how precious they are. And in light of the fact that underneath it all, we we are still united, and you’re still in harmony.
Brian Smith 29:54
I like I liked when you said let it go. Because as you’re going through that, it’s not even I think we get to the point where it’s If there’s nothing to forgive, it’s not a matter of forgiving, it’s a matter of letting it go. Because as you said, and it’s interesting, we’re having this conversation because I’m reading a book by a guy who says he’s enlightened and he’s given like the idea of being enlightened how to become enlightened. And one of the things he says is kind of what you just said, there is no real injury. And this is really kind of an illusion and a dream and even though it still feels very real, or and, and the other thing you were you were talking I was thinking about is, not only do we think the other person’s sent, we ascribe, we ascribe motives of that person. They hurt me on purpose, you know, that hope they stepped my foot, but they did it on purpose, like Like, there’s something like they’re going to gain something out of it. So if we can raise our perspective and really understand that people don’t hurt people on purpose. It’s It’s It’s an error. It’s usually it’s a mistake. And even the word sin in the Bible is to fall short. It’s not It’s not an evil thing.
Robert Perry 30:55
Yeah, well, I I actually do believe in the core stuff. Teach that we hurt each other on purpose. Mm hmm. Okay. But, and you know, I’ve heard people on purpose. hate to say, but but the core says we do that in the thought that we will gain from that right only only an evil person would gain from intentionally hurting somebody else. And the course says, The attacker always loses. And therefore it says that attack because it, it causes loss in the attacker. It’s really a call for help. That person has lost from the experience and their loss calls out and says, Can you help me and the help that we can give them is forgiveness.
Brian Smith 31:39
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think that’s that is a better way of putting it and I completely agree with that. So if someone’s interested in the Course of Miracles, how do you get started because I was saying to you earlier, it’s pretty daunting. It’s a it’s a big thick book.
Robert Perry 31:55
It is pretty daunting and is a big thick book, my experience and this is why I’ve got a job, people need help with it usually, I think it’s helpful to know that, you know, the course may be your path, but it may just be something you benefit from, you know, in a minimal way or something in between. So there’s even though it is a course and it is a spiritual path, different people are meant to have different relationships with it. So I, I recommend, while I do recommend the addition of the course that my organization put out, it goes back to the original words that that Helen schucman took down. So it’s less edited. It’s, it’s purple, and it’s called the complete annotated edition. Okay. People tend to find it easier to get into. Okay, um, our website has a ton of helpful articles articles on it, hundreds actually. We also have a program an online program called course companions. And what that will do is you can sign up to go through the text, or the workbook or the manual for teachers are all in the sequence. And you’ll get an email each day that tells you what your reading is. And that will also give you about 1000 words of commentary on that section or lesson and then helps you apply it.
Brian Smith 33:23
Oh, wow. So so I could go to the circle of a.org is that right? And I could find this course companions there.
Robert Perry 33:31
Yeah, you could there’ll be a link to course companions is its course companions.org. That’s the current address of the program. And then their, their weekly live classes. And twice monthly, live Sunday gatherings and there’s a lot going on, and if they have Facebook discussion group and saw us a lot going on there. But that basically takes you by the hand and walks you through the whole book. Now people take a while deciding they Want to be walked through the book? Yeah. So all I would say is just, you know, look into it. Read some of the course, I would recommend our articles on ciclova.org. There is a lot of teaching out there on the course, and very, very different things are said. Yeah, sure. So you’ll have to decide, you know, what approach you gravitate to my approach. And my organization’s approach is very much. Let’s draw out what the book says regardless of our preconceptions. Mm hmm. You know, we all soak up a lot from spirituality. It’s a very eclectic marketplace out there. And we tend to bring those, you know, concepts that we’ve learned into a Course of Miracles. And for me, the beauty of the book is it’s constantly saying things I never expected to read. Mm hmm. And they’re things that I find, you know, thought provoking and wise and practice. So I’m always trying to draw out what the book says, regardless of what we expect it to say. And regardless of what anyone out there is saying about the book.
Brian Smith 35:09
Yeah, well, I just said, I’ve dabbled a little bit. And one of the things that I found really, really helpful. And I think I said this early in the interview, I think we’ve forgotten who we are. And we all kind of need to wake up. And then of course, talks about even it actually in that language. Yeah, and anything that could get me outside of my day to day thinking of I am this body, this is all there is. And when I was actually on the list that was sending me a little bits at a time, and they would say, to look at something intensely Look at that, and realize that that’s not what you’re seeing. And it really helps you kind of lift to change that perspective. And these little practices that we can do on a daily basis, can cause us to start to wake up, you know, to absolutely truly are.
Robert Perry 35:53
Well, the workbook, which is the second volume of the course. It’s it’s basically all about the spirit. Practice, the course is teaching us and it believes that we’re not going to get there. Unless we are practicing during our day. Yeah, applying these teachings. The course also teaches the workbook teaches meditation techniques. It has a heavy focus on prayer towards the latter half of it. It’s different kinds of prayer, but it’s still prayer. Yeah. So the course wants us to be doing various mental practices that it thinks if we do them, they will wake us up.
Brian Smith 36:30
Yeah, that’s the thing that I’m starting to realize that everything that I’ve been studying over the last however many years, it’s all about practice, whatever, whatever path path you’re on, it’s about practice. It’s not a matter of you can go to church once a week and just become enlightened or you can read one thing. It’s it’s about what are you doing day to day, you know, what are you and what can you incorporate into your into your daily life that really kind of elevates your thinking?
Robert Perry 36:56
Yeah, it’s really tempting with spirituality. Isn’t it? With a Course of Miracles, in particular to think if I just can talk about it long enough and cleverly enough and knowledgeably enough, I’m there. Yeah. And it just doesn’t work that way. Yeah.
Brian Smith 37:13
So well, that’s really, that’s really helpful. And I appreciate you giving me a deeper understanding of what it is and giving my audience and understanding what it is and how people can maybe start to get into it by going to your to your website, circle of a.org. And, and starting there and reading some of the articles about it and see if it’s, if it’s a path that appeals to you, is it for me, kind of having something that’s structured is appealing, and something that says, Okay, these are the steps that you need to take. So, really appreciate everything you’re doing with this?
Robert Perry 37:46
Oh, well, I’m glad to be here. It’s great to talk about it. And it’s interesting to hear your experience because you’re exploring all kinds of things and you’re taking away some of the same messages about the importance of practice. About how There is nothing to forgive the course says that exact line I think a couple of times. That’s this whole approach to forgiveness when you realize there’s nothing to forgive. Forgiveness becomes automatic. Yeah. So so many of the things that you’re saying, you know about we forgotten who we are, you’re picking up from elsewhere. But they’re also found in the course. And it’s interesting to see that
Brian Smith 38:20
it really and like I said, I, you know, I started as a fundamentalist Christian. I remember reading CS Lewis years ago. Sure. And he, and he talks about this concept of the towel, which at the time was shocking to me, because he was saying the truth is not just in Christianity, it’s it’s everywhere. It’s eternal. It’s ubiquitous, it’s all over. And it can’t help but come out. And what I’ve found in my studies is, it’s all over the place. It’s no, it’s not just in Buddhism, it’s not just in Taoism, it’s not just in Christianity. It’s not even just in the course these are just different ways sure of looking at it, and then you pile on top of that the near death experience and what scientists come to understand Consciousness now. And, you know, a lot of scientists are finally saying that consciousness precedes the material, which is what the Bible tells us. Right? That first there was God, you know. So that’s consciousness. So all these things seem to be kind of, you know, coming together. And it’s wonderful that we can choose which path that we want to take, that all leads to the same place.
Robert Perry 39:22
Yeah, I personally believe I’m a big believer that God has a plan, not just for the world, but for each one of us. And I think part of that is there is a certain path that’s that’s kind of assigned to us. Yeah. And if it’s a Course of Miracles, then there’s nothing you can do about it. If it’s not a course in miracles, there’s nothing you can do about it’s not your path. Yeah, no, I think that God would be very ineffective. If, if he talked through one thing in this world. I mean, what kind of a God would would that be? I think that that that God and the Spirit are shining through everybody. open window all over the world. Hmm.
Brian Smith 40:02
Speaking of paths, what is the course say about that about? Because that’s a question that we talk about a lot in the groups that I’m in, because frankly, a lot of us has been been through tragedy, right, we’ve been through I’ve lost a child, you know, things like that. So what is the course say about a plan for the world or a plan for us as individuals?
Robert Perry 40:20
Well, what, just to back up slightly, the course says that God, as God is almost so transcendent of this world that to deal with us in this world. He works through an intermediary that the course like Christianity calls the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is his voice through which he’s speaking to us, and we can still communicate with him, even though he’s totally beyond form. We’re like completely formed bound. So the idea is the Holy Spirit has this plan, which is also God’s plan. And there’s kind of two dimensions of it. One is that there’s a plan Like a general plan for salvation, the general plan is that everyone learns to forgive to the point where they’re like perfect at it. And then we all kind of wake up. And and the reason that’s forgiveness is that what we’re trying to do is to get back to love, but you can’t love really, while you’re holding unforgiveness. unforgiveness says, I’ve got a reason to withdraw love. Right? So so to get to pure love, we have to go through process of letting go all the stuff that gets in the way of love. So the general plan from the courses standpoint, is that everyone learns to perfectly forgive even if you don’t use the language of forgiveness, you can still learn, you know, the inner gesture of forgiveness. But then more specifically, the course says that the Holy Spirit has a plan for for each one of us in each situation throughout each day and so What we need to be doing and the course provides training and this too is constantly asking, you know, what do I do here? What do I say here? How do I see this situation? What’s my role here? And so if we do that, the course says we will make very different decisions. We’ll move through life in concert with God’s plan for our lives. Okay. And ultimately, we’ll get to what the course calls our special function, which is that we each have a specific role in the salvation of the world. We have unique strengths, that maybe we we develop them for the sake of our ego, but we can they can be repurposed, and they can be strengths the Holy Spirit uses so that we can actively carry out a role. That’s our small contribution to the salvation of the whole.
Brian Smith 42:51
Wow, that’s really cool. One other question want to ask you? Does the court say anything about reincarnation?
Robert Perry 42:58
It does. And doesn’t okay. Ah, the the author, the voice that Helen schucman heard. He did have little references to it. But when it’s addressed directly in the course, what he says is that it’s not really important. Now that basically there’s a trap in thinking that you’re kind of at the effect of your past. I mean, the whole idea of forgiveness is the past really doesn’t matter. And so what happens with reincarnation, it very easily can tie us to thinking well, I did all these terrible things in the past, or terrible things were done to me, or I was really a special person in the past. So from the courses standpoint, reincarnation, there is a potential trap there. There are potential benefits in the idea that maybe I’ve been in all these different bodies, but there was still a stable, unchanging me That has been there all along. So whatever I am, it’s not of this body tied to this body, that’s a potential benefit. So this main message is, you know, what we need to do is get free of what the course calls the ego. And that’s something we do now. Okay, so that’s, that’s the focus. Therefore, the issue of reincarnation is kind of beside the point. I don’t personally think it happens. But it’s not part of the thought system of the course just because, you know, it’s not as it says, essential to salvation.
Brian Smith 44:38
Well, you know, it’s interesting, because I could, I could, I felt so completely agreeing with that too, because I so many people get so caught up on reincarnation, and it frankly, I would say that same thing, it’s not really that important. I have to live this life right here right now. And so I’m not really concerned about past lives and not really concerned about future lives. I don’t see how that benefits me to get too caught up in that. So that’s, that’s my kind of thing. I think it probably happens, but I don’t think it’s the way we think it is, I think I don’t think that Brian will ever exist again, I think there might be like a larger oversold that I’m part of that we’ll come back and have different experiences but I don’t really get caught up in it. But you did touch on another thing I want to talk about because they use the word ego. And that is a real trigger. I guess for me anyway in a lot of new age teaching because we were constantly It was a battle our ego egos a terrible thing. What is the course say about ego?
Robert Perry 45:35
Well, of course has an interesting and perhaps somewhat different approach to the ego. What it says is the ego is a belief in being a separate being who’s basically separate and on your own. Mm hmm. It does characterize that belief in very negative terms that he is it’s not just sort of, you know, I’m afraid it’s, it’s I want to gain from attack, I want to put others beneath me, I want to be at the top of the heap. And the ego is view the ego, to me explains the terrible things that happen in this world that we do each other when we do unbelievable things to each other. But from the courses standpoint, the key is it’s just a belief. It’s a false identity. And so no matter how attacking the ego may be, and how self centered how egocentric how egotistical, it may be, it’s not who we are. We’re still as in the courses language, we’re still the Son of God. And so we’re still holy, we’re absolutely pristine. We’re untainted by anything the ego has had us do now. So we have to have this interesting balance in the course, where we realize that’s not me. But we also don’t underestimate how much we tend to identify with the ego.
Brian Smith 47:06
Yeah, you know, as you’re saying that I, because the thing is I think about in terms of what for us is an ego and super ego, right? So I think what people call the ego, I tend to think of the ID, the right. And so I think the idea of being a separate self as a false belief, not as an entity as something to be attacked, but as a belief to be let go of, then I can get with the ego is a bad thing, because I’m not a separate person. But on the other hand, as a human being, and I’m in this body and a Hammond separate person. So there’s, we have this kind of dual identity. We have our real self, which is this magnificent divine being but I am trapped in this body. But but the false belief that I need to get what I need to get at the expense of you and I’m on my own. That’s something that we really need to overcome.
Robert Perry 47:56
Yeah, well, that’s everything you said. I think The course would agree with that. And it’s view of the ego has a lot of ID in it, a lot of forming in it. So what it wants us to do is learn how the ego works. Understand that so much of our thinking is the voice of our ego. Yeah, exactly. And then be able to stand apart from it and feel like there is an AI. That is not the ego. Yeah. And then I can that helps me Let it go.
Brian Smith 48:31
Yeah, that that is the key. That’s what I’m starting to find. That is really the key is being able to separate and take that higher view and look at myself and say, that’s not really who I am. Yeah, because as
Robert Perry 48:43
identifying with the ego that makes us feel guilty that makes us feel sense of low self worth. It makes us feel afraid. To the extent that we can say, That’s not me, then we can be free.
Brian Smith 48:55
Yeah, absolutely. Robert, I know you have another appointment to get to Really appreciate you taking the time to do this today. I’m hoping that this resonates with some people because like I said, I’m trying to give people different paths, the path so you can find the path that you need to be on, as you said, a course is not for everybody, but I think it’s maybe for a lot of people. So this has been a really great time, Lord understand all this.
Robert Perry 49:20
Oh, it’s been a wonderful conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Brian Smith 49:22
Yeah. Well, I want to give your name against Robert Perry The website is circleofa.org. And also, of www.coursecompanions.org.
Robert Perry 49:33
Is that correct? Or is companions.org
Brian Smith 49:35
companions. org. Robert, thanks a lot. Have a great weekend.
Robert Perry 49:40
Thank you for having me. Thank you. All right.
Brian Smith 49:46
Well, I hope you enjoyed the episode. I want to make it really easy for you to reach me. So just send me a text 231996 and simply text the word growth. gr o w th fact you can right now just say hey Siri, send the message. 231996. And when Siri asked you what you want to send, just say growth. You can do the same thing with Ok, Google. Thanks a lot. Have a wonderful day.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai