Donna Quesada: In preparing for this interview, I came across something you said along these lines… you said, it’s easier to act our way into a new way of being than to think our way into it.
I suppose this is what you mean… to take on a daily practice that most would consider “spiritual” as a way of reconditioning our hearts?
Marianne Williamson: Well, that that line actually sounds like a paraphrase of something that I have quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous, where it says it’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. The reason I think that’s an important statement is because I think a lot of people are waiting till they’re enlightened before they do what they came here to do on the planet. I think it’s important that we realize that the world can’t wait for us to become perfect. The world can’t wait for us to become enlightened when you look at the people who have done the most to serve the world and to heal the world. They weren’t enlightened masters necessarily, you know? They weren’t saints. They just got out there and they did it. That’s exactly right. And also, you know, I love Jean Houston’s concept of the sacred world. You know, all of us are wounded. But you know, I think it’s Carolyn Myss who talks about wound-ology.
Donna: One of my favorite writers. Yes.
Marianne: We’ve become obsessed with our wounds. We’re all wounded. But when you decide to live, whether or not to act from your wound… sometimes you know you’re triggered and you did it, despite yourself… but to me, that you can act yourself into a new way of thinking means you’re wounded… yes, you’re hurt, etc. You can. You’ve got to stop using that as an excuse for why you’re not showing up for yourself and for the rest of the world.
Donna: It’s a way of saying, don’t get yourself trapped in victim consciousness.
Marianne: Victim Consciousness is so hot these days, isn’t it? It’s trendy. It’s everybody’s excuse. You know, there’s… in the great biblical stories, the great scriptures, are codes and the idea of the crucifixion into the resurrection. The consciousness… Well, within the midst of the crucifixion, is what then determines how long it takes to get to the resurrection. It’s supposed to be a symbolic three days and some of us tend to cling to the cross and make that three days 600 years, or whatever, and it doesn’t have to be…
Donna: The analogy being, don’t stay there. You’re keeping yourself trapped.
Marianne: Chained. Oh, absolutely. And you’re putting it on your calling card and using it as your as your identification for the rest of your life and you’re getting a lot of people to join with you and you’re very brave to admit it and all that crap. We don’t have time for that. We don’t have time. You do your inner work; you cry, you grieve. You find your tribe of support, whether it’s therapy, support groups, all of those things. Of course, we have to do that. But to make that our excuse for not going out there… I mean, there are times of deep trauma, of course, where for a while you’re gonna have to heal, but it has become a way of life for many of us, in ways that I think are dysfunctional and inappropriate to the times.
Donna: What is your daily practice, Marianne?
Marianne: Well, I have, a few feet away from me… it’s where I’m sitting now… my coffee table… And I have a Course in Miracles on the coffee table and every day I open it up and I’m very clear. You know, I don’t know of any serious religious or spiritual path that does not emphasize the power of the morning. Because when you wake up in the morning is when you your mind is most open to the impressions that will dominate your mind and your nervous system throughout the day.
If you wake up in the morning, you go directly for Twitter and directly for Instagram, directly for Snap Chat, your emails, or news. You’re just downloading the stress of the world. And then there’s no reason to be surprised why you’re depressed by noon. If you take a bath… you take a shower, you brush your teeth, because you don’t want to take the dirt from yesterday on your body into today.
But if you don’t meditate, right… reflect mindfulness, whatever your practice is, then you’re taking yesterday’s stress on your mind, regardless of how clean your body is. And so for me, I’m very aware that if I do my Course in Miracles in the morning, or if I’m doing my Transcendental Meditation that day, I have a different nervous system. That doesn’t mean that I will be an enlightened master all day. You know, we all fall off the wagon, the spiritual wagon, so to speak. But I know from my own experience, that when I have done my lesson that morning… when I have taken time, that the chances of my falling off that wagon are greatly diminished. The chances of my falling really far are greatly diminished. And my chances of being able to atone… get what I did wrong and get right back up and self-correct, are greatly increased.
There was a French philosopher, centuries ago, who said… his name was Blaise Pascal, and he said, every problem in the world derives from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone. We need to cultivate silence. We’re all being assaulted by modernity. Nobody has any impulse control right now. Everybody has what in Yiddish is called Shpilkes…
Donna: I know shpilkes! Like cabin fever. You just don’t know what to do with yourself.
Marianne: Yeah, like in that movie. Remember that movie? With Diane Keaton many years ago, called Baby Boom? Yeah, and underneath the table, her name… but you know, it’s not funny. Look at the people who have ruined their careers because of it, you know, a tweet that they wish they hadn’t sent. This is not a time in the world to not be careful.
Donna: Speaking of practical, I love that you brought up the practical and that this stuff is not supposed to be way “out there.” People think of spirituality and they think that it’s somehow, you know, some untouchable kind of practice, but it’s just as simple as sitting quietly. And so, for people who are looking for something very, very tangible, is that what helps you get “unstuck?” And I’m sure that dealing with what you deal with, you know, as busy as you are… you’ve been stuck on numerous occasions. What is the greatest tool for getting unstuck?
Marianne: Well, first of all, you know, the Course in Miracles, which… I’m a student of the Course, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on truth. It doesn’t claim to be a better articulation of universal spiritual themes than any other. I just think about it because it’s my particular… it’s been such an important training for me and the relinquishment of a thought system based on fear… in order to accept… instead of a thought system based on love…
The Course in Miracles says several times… this is a practical course. Now, it’s not as simple as just sitting quietly. It’s the hard work of forgiveness. It’s the hard work of recognizing your own character defects and blind spots, atoning for your mistakes, making amends and apologizing to others. Recognizing when you have been a, an instrument of blame and judgment rather than an instrument of love and forgiveness.
With the issue of being quiet… that’s the space in which you can do that work. But it’s not as simple as just sitting quietly, but the sitting quietly… and what the Course of Miracles calls that holy instance… is what gives you the opportunity to do that inner work. You know, when you go to the gym, you do yoga, you do whatever you do to work on your physical muscles. You do that in order to be able to move powerfully in the world. Spiritual exercise is the flip side. You do it in order to achieve stillness and non-reactivity, so that you don’t spin out. Now if you’ve already spun out, it can be really difficult to get yourself to sit quietly, but that’s why meditation in the morning is so important. You’re developing the muscular turret in that attitude… the musculature of stillness and a quiet mind. There is, in both Judaism and in Christianity and possibly and others as well… the notion of the small, still voice…
Donna: The small, still voice within… I think that’s a Quaker concept.
Marianne: Oh, absolutely. It’s Quaker definitely because that’s the whole practice of Quakers… you’re sitting, listening. The problem is, the world is so loud that it’s screaming at all of us all the time. And that assault of modern days that I was talking about, and the Course in Miracles says the ego speaks first, and the ego speaks loudest. So, you have to cultivate the quiet mind to be able to hear the intuitive guidance that comes from the mind, and the heart aligned with the nervous system. Out of that comes wisdom.
We’ve all had… maybe we haven’t. All I know… I have made big mistakes and you look back and you think, what was I thinking? Well, there’s one that comes to mind right away. All I had to do was take the weekend to think about it and I could have asked that person. May I… I could have actually asked if I can pray about it. I could have been open about that. If that person hadn’t been open, I could have just said, “Could I take the weekend to think?” In other words, we don’t provide enough opportunity for ourselves to say… before you act… to look within ask your gut, ask other people, don’t make decisions reactively or quickly, and that’s what we do too often on this planet. And that’s why we’re in the shape we’re in.
Donna: You know, I love the way you incorporate the beautiful wisdom from all of the different religious traditions. I also come from a partly Jewish background, but I’ve, you know… I love Buddhism and I love everything beautiful from every tradition. And I wish that we were more open about taking the beautiful fruits from all of them. How do you think that that would help us awaken as spiritual beings, if we were more inclusive in our thinking, what would that take?
Marianne: In The Course of Miracles, it says… the Course is not a religion. It is a psychological mind training based on universal spiritual themes. If you look at all the great religious systems, look at Buddhism, look at Hinduism. Look at Islam, look at Judaism, look at Christianity. There are these themes of humility and mercy and forgiveness and love. Now, in our country, one of the primary pillars of our system of our Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. And this was radical in 1776. And it’s even radical today. There are people in the world who are punished for wanting to practice a religion that is different than the religion that is approved of.
But in our freedom of religion, it not only means the freedom of someone to worship however they wish, but also the freedom of people to not worship at all, if they don’t choose to. When you say what part does this have to do with our awakening… The whole idea of a free society is that no one owes it to you to agree with you. No one owes it to you to pray the way you do, or to pray at all, or to not pray. No one owes it to you to live the way you think that they should live. The whole idea of a free society is that everybody should be able to do whatever they want. As long as it doesn’t hurt other people. That’s a radical concept.
Donna: It’s the libertarian principle, isn’t it?
Marianne: Well, no, you don’t have to be libertarian… because libertarians say that government should have nothing to do with it. It’s very much not the libertarian principle. I’ll tell you why. Because if you were going to say that anybody should be able to do whatever they want to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, you know, the role of government is to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone. So, the fundamentalists, the Libertarian says, do whatever you want to do. The democratic ideal is that there is a balance between individual liberty and concern for the common good. So there does need to be an appropriate vessel for saying, “you want to start that factory?… You want to make money with that factory?… Good. Go for it, but if you’re going to be spewing carcinogens in the river, not okay!”
Donna: Not okay.
Marianne: That’s the appropriate use of democracy, right?
Donna: Yeah, well, here I agree. And I want to talk to you also about, you know, on top of bringing an awakened perspective to politics, you still have time to develop your own courses, like your new course, which I was just reading about… Developing Your Wings; Embodying Mysticism in the Modern World. I really must tell you how beautiful this strikes me. And I’m hoping that you can tell us more about that. And how this fits into to your, I guess, your plan as a teacher and Awakener if you will…
Marianne: If you could say, you know, when Martin Luther King said the quote I mentioned earlier, we must have the quantitative shift in our circumstances and the qualitative shift in our souls… He didn’t say that one was more important than the other. You know, there’s the masculine and the feminine. There’s the inhale… On the exhale, there’s… I don’t see either part of life, you know, politics or spirituality, more or less important than the other.
Donna: They go together…
Marianne: Well, if you do believe that everything you do is infused with the consciousness… If you do believe that you can only… 1) even discern what spirit is asking you to do if you have a quiet mind. And 2) even if you know what it is you’re supposed to do, you’re not going to be able to carry it out unless you have a nervous system and alignment of heart and mind that enables you to be the person who can do it, then you realize that you’re limited in your capacity to help create material change, unless you do cultivate that inner work.
Once again, the Dalai Lama saying to save the world, we both have a plan. But no plan will work unless we meditate because we must become the people… We must become the people who can discern what needs to be done and who have the strength and the wisdom and the power to carry it out.
Now also, I think it’s important to realize and to remember… we all know this, if you go to the gym, and you get to the point where you like, you know, you say “Oh, I like the way my body is looking. I’m doing okay”… You don’t get to then say, “I don’t have to go to the gym anymore. I don’t have to do yoga anymore.”Because right after a certain age, if you’re not working and keeping those muscles up, they’re headed down.
Well, the same with attitude. No. Gravity… negativity, anger, neediness victimization… if you’re not working on keeping those attitudinal muscles strong and vital…. They’re headed down you know? I always said… All my lectures… I say at the end… So, I have a little formula that might help you always end with in the morning, kick ass in the afternoon. If you don’t take care of your inner self, you are limited in terms of how much you can really contribute to the external world… to making the changes that are necessary at this time. Particularly because of what you and I were talking about at the beginning.
This is a perilous moment in human history. We have to show up. We have to rise up and we have to demonstrate courage beyond that which most of us have exhibited in our lives. We didn’t think that this would happen. We were not a generation that expected this rendezvous with destiny, as FDR would call it, but it’s here. And there’s no more data that’s, you know, the era of data accumulation… data collection is over. Both spiritually… We’ve all read the same books now. Okay, we’ve all lived in caves. We all know the basic principles, we know them. The issue now is doing that hard, sometimes messy and painful work of learning to apply them in our own lives where we ourselves are stuck where we ourselves have character defects, and the same with a world… how much more data do you need? We’re killing ourselves. How much more data do you need? The UN came up with a study just today saying the earth is on track to becoming unlivable. Now the question is, how do we become the people that we need to be to interrupt the status quo? The status quo will not interrupt itself.
Donna: And that’s what your course is designed to do… to awaken us to our own spiritual power, so that we can all be more effective as individuals on this planet…
Marianne: Well, I think that many people, myself included, you know? We have to practice developing those attitudinal muscles. The reason the course is called Developing your Wings… You know, when you and I were kids, and we would read about evolution, and over on the left side of the page, it was like an ape, right? And then on the right side of the page is homo sapiens, standing erect, then I think one day homo sapiens, standing erect with the arms down, will be the center of the page and then we’re gonna start seeing those arms coming up, you know? Firstly, it comes up and you know, hallelujah, and then ultimately…
Wings are metaphorical. Metaphysical wings mean our power to look at the world in such a way that we are a cause rather than an effect of the material madness of these times. So yes, it’s a six-week course, weekly classes. Me going through the basic principles once again, not that you necessarily learn those things, which we don’t already know. Now, that’s not the zeitgeist of this moment. Most people who attend these kinds of classes, know it. But the Course in Miracles says enlightenment begins as abstraction… abstract concept, that we then take the journey without distance from the head to the heart.
Listen, if it was just a matter of knowing the abstract concepts, that would be an enlightened master and I’m not, but I’m not because even though truth is simple, life is complicated. And we all have to do the work of moving through our own resistance to change.
Read and Watch Part 3 Here: Awaken Interviews Marianne Williamson Pt 3 – When You Are Loving, Good Things Are Going To Happen
Read and Watch Part 1 Here: Awaken Interviews Marianne Williamson Pt 1- Love Is Our Ultimate Identity and Our Purpose On This Planet