by Ken Page: I’m most honored to have Marianne Williamson share her insights with readers of this blog. Marianne is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer, and one of America’s most beloved spiritual teachers. She is the author of ten books, four of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. In this interview she articulates her vision of the spiritual path to love; a vison she will be teaching in her Enchanted Love Workshop.
Ken: Marianne, thank you for so much for sharing your insights with readers of this blog. Your work has helped so many people embrace a whole new understanding of spirituality. For me, your lectures and writings have been truly life-changing.
Marianne: Thank you so much.
Ken: What guidance would you offer single people who are searching for a healthy, loving relationship?
Marianne: Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it. There is a current mythology in our culture that anytime we meet someone and have that “enchanted evening” experience, that experience of looking into the eyes of the other and falling hopelessly in love– that this is nothing more than a delusion; a mutual projection, a fantasy that will only last until reality sets in.
The spiritual perspective is exactly the opposite. It says that this enchanted evening experience was in fact a temporary experience of enlightenment; a kind of temporary gift from the gods to show us the romantic mountaintop, so that we will have such an appetite for it, such desire to return to its bliss, that we will be willing to do the inner work necessary to climb back up there ourselves.
That moment when most western psychotherapeutic traditions would argue that reality set in, is actually the moment when, from a spiritual perspective, unreality set in. It’s the moment when the personality-self, in its egoic nature, reasserted itself. At that point, due to childhood wounds and past triggers, we could not avoid the temptation to attack, to defend, to find fault, to make conditions on love, to withhold our approval, and so forth.
Enlightenment is the key to everything, and it is the key to intimacy, because it is the goal of true authenticity. Moving through the ring of fear that surrounds our illumined self. Working through all the issues that lead us to attack, defensiveness, anger, neediness, controlling ways, grasping, avoidance. Those are all ego. And as we surrender those things which form walls around our hearts, then we attain the true authentic self.
And when we are in that place of illumined authenticity, then we are at our most intimate. Because how much more intimate can you be than the realization that we are each other? And we become more intimate with life itself, because we are truly “naked and unembarrassed.”
At that point the specific “assignments” of love, including the intimacy assignments, flow naturally. And we go beyond just being able to attract that love. We are able to do the even more important work-and that is to hold on to it once it gets here!
Ken: Marianne, what about the people who are saying, “That all sounds great, but love never seems to get here. I’m too old. I’m physically handicapped. I’m out of shape.” What would you say to people who are despairing of the possibility of finding love in their life?
Marianne: Many people are despairing of the possibility of finding love. And some of the people who are despairing the most are in their thirties and forties and looking just great. Physical circumstances have very little to do with either our capacity to love or to attract love. No one can say this stuff doesn’t work until they’ve actually tried it. And few of us have tried it.
Love knows how to form itself. God will do his work if we do ours. Our job is to prepare ourselves for love. When we do, love finds us every time.
Ken: What would you tell readers about how to prepare themselves for love?
Marianne: The ego mind both professes its desire for love and does everything possible to repel it, or if it gets here anyway, to sabotage it. That is why dealing with issues like control, anger, and neediness is the most important work in preparing ourselves for love.
No one is longing to meet a desperate needy, angry, withholding, controlling person. If your beloved is out there they can’t pick up your signals if you’re dwelling in those spaces within yourself. That’s number one.
Number two: Spirituality is about the intersection of the human and the divine. So not only is there inner work to be done, there’s also outer work to be done. You might open the door to your own house or apartment and take a brutally honest look: Is this someplace that would feel like home? That would feel comfortable and comforting to the person with whom I desire a romantic attachment?
There are so many assaults on the dimensions of love these days. From computers and televisions that are on all day, to various electronic equipment that we keep in the bedroom, treadmills in the bedroom, and so forth. We arrogantly assume that the nervous system doesn’t really need to be coaxed into romance. That romance comes from some other place.
Well, if you’re under thirty years old, that might be true, because evolution over millions of years has invested a lot of hormonal power into your wanting to have sex no matter what the environment is, just so that the species can procreate.
After about thirty, nature has gone on to better candidates and we become more personally responsible for creating both internal and external environments that foster romantic and erotic love.
So many of us have not attended to the deeper issues in ourselves; in our minds, our hearts, and in our external manifestations that keep love at bay. We instead concentrate on making a list of what we’re looking for in another person. We would be better off making a list of the aspects of our own lives that we can either point to as places where we are prepared for love, or point to and recognize as places where we still need work.
Ken: So, in a way, you’re saying “Start right where you live, right in your home.
Marianne: Inside and outside. One of the problems we have is that Madison Avenue has suggested that this would cost money. The ego says, “I don’t have time to cultivate romance.” Or, “I don’t have the energy.” Or, “I don’t have the money.”
It doesn’t take money to have a beautiful robe. It doesn’t take a lot of money to put fresh flowers in the house. It doesn’t take money to turn off the television and cultivate real bonding time.
And even though modern life in many ways is nothing short of exhausting, we need to take responsibility for what is necessary to combat the stress and exhaustion of modern life.
There are serious lifestyle decisions to be made if you wish romance in your life. And it’s not that those issues are difficult so much as that they are different. The ego would call them silly, even cheesy:
“Candlelight, really? Soft music, really? Take the food out of the plastic container, really? Pick up the clothes off the floor, really?”
But those things genuinely affect brain chemistry. And the brain, as I’ve said–once you’re over thirty, anyway–needs to be coaxed. The part of the brain that is watching the television and is on the computer at the same time, preparing to jump onto the treadmill for 15 minutes, might be able to lead into sex, but it would be hard put to lead us to romance, or to real authentic human connection.
You have to make a space in your heart, in your mind and in your life itself for authentic human connection.
Ken: Marianne, these insights are at both challenging and hopeful. Is there anything else you would like to share with single readers?
Marianne: Real intimacy; real love has to do with a joining of the mind, a joining of the spirit, a joining of the heart.
If we want the real thing, we have to create and cultivate a sacred space for it. Making the time, saying the prayers, doing the meditation, dealing with the issues in ourselves. Practicing greater generosity, greater mercy, greater compassion, greater forgiveness to the person who is in front us in order to experience what intimacy really is.
I also realize, as a student of The Course in Miracles, that these spiritual keys that seem to have nothing to do with romance, have everything to do with romance. Because they have everything to do with our capacity to bond with another human being. Facing our own fears, our own issues, our own character defects, our own wounds. And knowing that until and unless we deal with them, they will keep us separate and incapable of love.
Ken: So, by dealing with these issues, we will be more able to open our hearts and our lives to love.
Marianne: Well, when we do those things love is simply there. Love is all around us all the time. Love is the ethers that we swim in. Love is the amniotic fluid of the soul. The issue is that we, with our fears, our attacks, our judgments, our blame, and our constant emphasis on the realm of the body rather than the realm of love, eclipse the experience of true love.
And the work of intimacy, of course, is to learn to both show your own illumination, and to see it in a way that the physical eyes cannot reveal. In a way that only the heart can reveal: the illumined beauty in another person.
Ken: Marianne, thank you so much. These are immensely important insights.
Marianne: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, Ken Once again, that’s what my upcoming workshop will be, and also I’m writing a new book about this. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to work some of it out.