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Illuminata: A Return to Prayer Paperback – November 1, 1995
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Prayer "...changes people at a cellular level, and with each one who changes, others are brought miraculously closer to enlightenment." Prayer thus can save the world. Marianne Williamson, celebrated author of A Return to Love, meditates on the nature of prayer and its collective power in this commentary, and offers actual prayers that address our hopes and struggles.
The first part of Illuminata expresses the inimitable Williamson conviction in the collective spiritual revolution at hand. "We seek to replace an old, oppressive order, not so much politically or socially, but within our minds where it lives and works," she writes with unbridled energy and urgency. Although her examples of individuals who exemplify this change can be daunting, still they offer vivid pictures of human courage and generosity. For instance, she cites the character played by Ben Kingsley in Schindler's List as exemplifying selfless acts of generosity in a tormented world. This suggests that her book is a kind of path through human spiritual evolution. Indeed, for Williamson, illumination is "...the spiritual tunnel through which the soul finds its way out of ego-bound darkness into mystical light."
We are reminded that the purpose of prayer is not to gain an object of desire, or relief from one's hounding problems, or even results that are particularly discernible. The purpose is to experience God. To that end, Williamson offers seven sections on prayers, making this a practical text as well as a spirited commentary. The reader will find a vast range of prayers--daily; celebratory; those that seek relief from depression and despair; prayers for ritual; and prayers that expand into the larger realm of social justice (such as "Amends to the Native American"), demonstrating Ms. Williamson's ongoing commitment to join the political and the spiritual.
From the Inside Flap
Marianne Williamson's bestselling A Return to Love ended with a prayer in which she asked God to help us "find our way home, from the pain to peace, from fear to love, from hell to Heaven." Now, in this stunning new collection of thoughts, prayers, and rites of passage, Marianne Williamson returns to prayer.
Prayer is practical, Williamson tells us. "To look to God is to look to the realm of consciousness that can deliver us from the pain of living." Illuminata brings prayer into our daily lives, with prayers on topics from releasing anger to finding forgiveness, from finding great love to achieving intimacy. There are prayers for couples, for parents, and for children; prayers to mend broken relationships and prayers to overcome obsessive and compulsive love. There are prayers to heal the soul, prayers to heal the body, and prayers for work and creativity.
Williamson also gives us prayers for the healing of America, including two prayers that have had powerful effects on audiences at her lectures: a prayer of amends on behalf of European Americans to African-Americans and one to Native Americans. How, Williamson asks, can we expect anyone to forgive when we have made no formal apology?
Another section includes rites of passage, ceremonies of light for the signal events in our lives: blessing of the newborn, coming of age, marriage, and death. There is also a ceremony of the elder, for moving into midlife, and a ceremony of divorce, in which a gentle transition is provided for both the couple and their children.
"Read my prayers or someone else's," Williamson says. "By all means, create your own." Illuminata is a way to bring prayer into practical use, creating a sweeter, more abundant life for yourself and the people you care for. "No conventional therapy," she says, "can release us from a deep and abiding psychic pain. Through prayer we find what we cannot find elsewhere: a peace that is not of this world."
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Top Customer Reviews
It is as if Williamson understands, and I suspect she does, how tired my own heart grows at times as it travels its lifelong spiritual journey. Is striving to better oneself really worth it? Is it a good thing to be a good person in a dog-eat-dog society? Or is the harsh reality that the one who plays in mud, who is willing to step on another's back, who plays hard to get, who is a master of manipulation, who never blinks at putting oneself first, is inevitably the one who wins the prize? Perhaps. More times than I care to know. And still.... the lifelong struggle to better oneself is, yes, worth it. If only for that final moment when one faces one's own image in the mirror of self-judgement.
"Illuminata" is a book of prayers. There are prayers to begin the new day - and to end it. There are prayers for strength, for health, for happiness, for the renewal of faith, for forgiveness. There are prayers for friends, for family, for lovers. There are prayers to heal nations. There are prayers to overcome addictions, betrayal, emptiness, obsession, loss, greed. There are prayers to mark moments of routine, of tradition, of ritual, of ceremony. The prayers are separated by Williamson's simple, but insightful meditations.
Like many of us, I don't pray nearly as often as I should. Many of my prayers are spoken not in words, but in the way that I touch someone I love, in the manner with which I greet my morning, in the silence I keep when my heart requires healing. But sometimes we need the words to pray. Although I have rarely used her exact words, Williamson's prayers have taught me... that to speak to God is to simultaneously speak to our deeper and higher selves. It is an exchange that is necessary. It is a part of that lifelong journey that we cannot, must not avoid. And, as Williamson writes, we do indeed change the world... one heart at a time.
Marianne reminded me that truly loving someone is forgiving them and possibly having to let them go - and letting them go with love, forgiveness, protection and blessings.