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.
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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."