The riveting tale of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov as described in Crime and Punishment tops my list of favorite books. It is one of very few novels I’ve read more than once.
Dostoevsky was a master at delineating the human condition in all its rich textures and sharp edges. In my case, he was too good.
At a critical point in the story, the main character, overcome with guilt, falls into a feverish, semi-delirious state. And each time I read the novel, I, too, became sick with fever. That is the degree to which the superb writing and psychosomatic transference subsumed my psyche.
Exquisite art transcends its frame. And literary craftsmen cast magnificent spells.
What makes this description of a Russian genius relevant to our study of A Course in Miracles is this: the world we experience is a deeply engrossing, seemingly real piece of fiction. The drama so captivating we forget it’s merely staged.
Much like a movie where we fail to remember we are theater patrons and instead relate to the performances on screen.
In my youth I had zero interest in horror films. Yet even I couldn’t resist the claim that The Exorcist would “scare the hell out of you.” Indeed, it most certainly did!
And yet it was just a strip of celluloid plastic streaming through a light projector. How could that lead to any reaction whatsoever?
Because we stop identifying with the lump of flesh in the theater seat and connect with fleshless figures weaving cinematic magic.
As we read in A Course in Miracles:
The world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. (W-pI.53.3)
And so we stubbornly cling to our insistence that the world IS real. We’ve mistaken fiction for fact and ache accordingly. Movie after movie. Book after book. Our manufactured crimes and self-inflicted punishments add up to a frighteningly gruesome horror show.
But there is another way.
Like resplendent art - using our experiences to transcend experience.
By gently observing our emphatic conviction that the drama surrounding our body and the world represent reality, we begin the process of loosening the delusion and undoing the madness.
And like Raskolnikov we find redemptive healing from the inner light of truth.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll further explore the concept of “reality as art” and how that awareness can lead us to peace. I look forward to seeing you then.