|Marianne Williamson: Interviewer Robert Plath is Founder and Executive Director of the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, sponsor of the 13th International Forgiveness Day celebrations, including the Forgiveness Masters Workshop.
Interviewer Will Chang is Producer of the 13th International Forgiveness Day celebration and the Forgiveness Masters Workshop.
Will Chang: In a previous interview with Unity Radio, you have said, the rehearsal is over, the time is now, whatever obstacles we have to miracles happening we can release them, and forgiveness is the key. What would you say about forgiveness?
Marianne Williamson: In the Course of Miracles, it says that we are not perfect, or we would not have been born, but that it is our mission to become perfect here. I think, most people, certainly people on a spiritual path, are feeling, what you might call an intensified sped-up lesson plan these days. Sometimes you might be feeling that “I’ve been working on love, spiritual development, personal growth for so long, how is it is possible, that I’m stubbing my attitudinal toe at this point on some grudge that I can’t give up, some judgment, some unforgiveness, some anger,” but actually what’s been going on is we’ve all been given our advanced course in love, as it were, and there is no advance course in love that does not include an advance course in forgiveness. It’s easy to love people who behave in the way we want them to, it’s easy for us to have compassion for people who have shown compassion for us, but that’s not an advance course in love, pretty much anyone can do that. The advance course in love is when, a friend is in fault, someone who has betrayed us or some injustice has been done to us. That’s when we find out how we’re really doing at this thing called spiritual growth.
What I have seen in my life and what I see in people around me and what I think that the world is called to right now, is that higher love, that sees beyond people’s mistakes, allows the past to be the past, and allows the world to be reborn, as it were. It is amazing how difficult it is to do this, it is amazing how much resistance we have to giving up our thought that someone did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing and somehow if they did or if they said something differently we would be okay.
Even as I say this, I am impacted, by how hard it is for me. Even as I say these words, I am dealing with this one person whose transgression as it were, if you can even called it that, was not even all that great, in worldly terms, but whatever the trigger, whatever the primal nerve that was cut by those words, my difficulty in simply letting it go, only proves to me, once again, how big an issue this is. How hard it can be to let go our grievance for someone, but also how extraordinarily profound is the realization, that the part of you that doesn’t want to let it go, is the part of you that identifies with the separate self.
That if you were to forgive, then you would be letting go of your sense of separate self, and that is the death of the ego and of course the ego does not want you to forgive. One of my favorite lines in the Course of Miracles, is that the Christ in you cannot be crucified, the part of you that can be offended, the part of you that can be insulted, that part of you that can be transgressed against, is not the real you anyway, it is just the sense of who you are. The real you is an eternal spirit that is flowing along in perfect harmony and perfect bliss and these, ultimately small times, personal transgressions, mean nothing. Now, I am not being glib here about serious injustices and betrayals and transgressions, they do exist, all the way to the level of heinous crimes, but I think it is safe to speculate that the majority of people reading this article, aren’t dealing with unforgiveness having to do with serious betrayal, so much as unforgiveness having to do with, what in the big scheme of things, not even all that big of a deal.
Robert Plath: How do think forgiveness works both internally and in the real world? How do you see that interaction so that we can make a difference on what’s going on in the world?
MW: Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we are preaching forgiveness and we’re not at least, trying to make it real in our own lives, our words lack moral authority and our energy lacks credibility. I know from my own career, while people are not expecting me to be perfect, I know people are expecting me to be making an honest effort, as well they should, that’s why in my own life I have difficulty with myself, in my inability to forgive sometimes.
RP: What do you think about International Forgiveness Day as something that could be of real value in the world?
MW: I think that International Forgiveness Day is an idea whose time is finally coming, because people see situations such as the Israelis and Palestinians and realize if we can’t give up our attack thoughts and our attack behaviors against others, based upon injustices of the past, there is no hope for this world.
But at the same time, we are recognizing the profound interface between personal spiritual development and collective spiritual development and that why I’m saying that I don’t have much moral authority telling the Israelis to get over it, or telling the Palestinians to just get over it, if I, who have suffered a fraction of what they’ve suffered, can’t get over it in my own life.
WC: In many ways, President Obama has really set a tone of higher love, of calling for us to leave the past behind, to forgive, and to work forward to the future. What are your thoughts of Obama?
MW: I think he has clearly opened a window. I think the heightened consciousness in our country and our world, created a space out of which he could emerge as a leader. He has, in turn, created a space where each and every one of us can emerge in to the next stage of our personal contribution. His voice has been like a tuning fork of consciousness. I am reminded of a Carl Jung line that our biggest problems cannot be solved but must be outgrown. Many of us saw in him, as someone who was beckoning us to follow him, not simply because he can solve this or that he can solve that, because many of us realize that some of our biggest problems have become, as they would say in AA, are unmanageable, they bespeak a level of consciousness that no longer is sustainable. And we have heard in Obama, a call for that next level of evolutionary development. He has both sounded and echoed the next stage of planetary conversation.
WC: What would you say to us here in the Bay Area who have been very much followers and pioneers in our consciousness movement? What is our challenge, what is our call?
MW: The Course in Miracles says that there is a highly individualized curriculum for every individual. God doesn’t reveal to me your next assignment anymore than God reveals to you, my next assignment. I think that our job is not to presume to know anybody’s next assignment. Our job is rather to support each other in knowing that we have one, because we all do. Two, expressing faith that you have what it takes to carry it out, because we all do, and three, to be proactive as possible, in expressing enthusiasm, as well as support, for the emerging Self in all of us.
I would say to anyone reading this article, just how deeply grateful, that after 26 years of doing what I do, that anyone would still care what I have to say… how exciting it is, for all of us, to realize, to experience what we are experiencing now, this collective sense, that love is on the move.
RP: Eckhart Tolle talks about the evolution of man, with the idea of forgiveness keeps bringing us to the now, to the Holy Spirit.
MW: The now is what the Course of Miracles calls the holy instant where the past is over, it only exists in our mind, and unforgiveness, is by definition, a focus on what someone did before this instant. That’s what unforgiveness is. And forgiveness means if it’s not happening in this instant so it’s not really happening and if it is not love then it wasn’t real anyway. If it appeared as loveless, it is interpreted as a call for love. Easier said than done.
WC: In closing, eight years ago, I helped produce the Masterpeace conference at Stanford, and you came to give the closing keynote, you led us in an incredible visioning. Two weeks later was 9/11 and our hopes and dreams were shattered. Now we feel that the politics of fear has been defeated and the curtain has dropped and now we have a whole new world that we live in. What vision do you have for this world?
MW: Remember, we heal through a kind of detox, that love brings up everything unlike itself. So when you pray to God, for instance, to take away your anger… everything that could tempt you into anger is on its way to your door. When you pray and ask for peace, every aspect of yourself which is not at peace is placed under a microscope and a magnifying glass for you to take a very good look. I don’t think it’s so accurate to say that we prayed for peace and then our dreams were shattered. I think it is more accurate to say that we prayed for peace and the universe said, “Oh, really?”
RP: What projects are you working on now?
MW: I am writing and speaking and like everyone else I know, I’m thinking long and hard about what I should do next.
RP: Thank you, Marianne, for taking the time for this interview and we look forward to honoring you as a Champion of Forgiveness on International Forgiveness Day and for your teaching the Forgiveness Masters Workshop.