A Course in Miracles, The Global Renaissance and Other Divinities:

An Interview with Marianne Williamson

by Mary Grace McCord

In her hometown of Houston, the name Marianne Williamson still conjures up images of a quirky bookstore owner whose own literary tastes were purely metaphysical.

In the 1970s this feminist booksmith envisioned and manifested a non-retail sanctuary, in which readers as well as writers regularly gathered together as comfortably as extended families do for the holidays. Then and now, she was way ahead of her time.

By the early 1980s, the Unity Church Course in Miracles had so enthralled Williamson that she felt called to Los Angeles to start a “Miracles” lecture series. Was it a barren wasteland, or fertile, virgin territory?

Williamson jokes that the first miracle was her surviving in this unpaid ministry for two years before she gained a sufficient word-of-mouth following to command a living wage. Over the next dozen years in LaLa Land, without the benefit of advertising, Williamson soon became “a spiritual leader to the stars”—although she modestly declines the opportunity to name-drop who her most famous clients are.

She now lives in Michigan and, as single parent to a preteen daughter, spends considerably less time traveling and lecturing. Williamson now ministers to a Detroit-area Unity Church congregation of 2,500-plus.

She is a best-selling author whose books include A Return to Love (which she jokingly calls A Course in Miracles Cliff Notes), Illuminata (whose prayers and essays address all emotional aspects of life and death), A Woman’s Worth (celebrating each season of womanhood), Enchanted Love (the soulmates’ guide to creating spiritual and romantic unions), and Healing the Soul of America (which urges constituents not just to meet face-to-face with their representatives but to join together with their political leaders in healing prayer).

In word and in deed, she also advocates spiritual political activism through her association with The Global Renaissance and its Citizens’ Circles, a network of 200-plus non-denominational local chapters. Visiting Birmingham in conjunction with The Human Potential Foundation, Williamson granted Vibrations this exclusive interview.

Q: First, please us give a quick overview/summary of The Course in Miracles.

A: Simply that everything we do is motivated either by love or by fear. It takes diligent internal work, for us to actively transform our fearful thoughts into loving intent but once we do, we manifest goodness in our personal life that permeates everywhere we go and affects everyone whose lives we touch...it can travel everywhere, throughout the world.

A “distant” example would be, try to imagine communicating from a position of love when you write a letter to the IRS. On a more local level, imagine communicating love to the dog that voids in your yard—or, more appropriately, to its owner. Imagine saying, ŒYou must have a lot on your mind; you must not have noticed that your dog soiled our property. I know you wouldn’t mean to cause any distress.’ Imagine extending that same benefit of the doubt to everyone, always. It’s not being weak or cowardly. It’s being direct without being shameful, just stating what you need without assessing blame.

Q: Those who study A Course in Miracles know that whenever we are angry and frustrated about any injustice—ecological, racial, whatever—our negative emotions only add to the chaos.

A: Clearly, the very first course of action is to heal ourselves. How can we become an instrument of peace if our own heart is judgmental, unforgiving? We must also keep in mind the difference between taking blame and taking responsibility. You and I never enslaved anyone, but we are part of the collective consciousness that did. There’s no denying it, and to own this awareness is to begin healing ourselves.

In order for the African-American and Native American populations to forgive our past injustices, doesn’t somebody have to apologize? I can disagree with the sin of racism and seek every peaceful means of transformation, but the moment I sink to its depths with self-righteous anger or even passive avoidance, then I am every bit as lost as if I personally inflicted these sins on my brothers and sisters.

Q: How do we convey these sentiments to political leaders?

A: Always acting from a position of kindness, we sincerely inquire that they explain their positions to us, one-to-one if possible. If they start with the double-speak, it’s very empowering to say ŒI don’t understand your point,’ or ŒPlease explain that more clearly; I still don’t hear your position (or your intent) on the issue we’re discussing.’

Q: As human beings with opinions and emotions, how can we shift ourselves towards that empathetic insight that leads to the real outreach of a warm and living, healing hand?

A: Meditation, pure and simple. First we master our own minds with meditation; we dismiss the ego-driven brain by opening up and amplifying the sacred heart.

I think it’s so important to teach group meditation because this inward process can quickly alter brainwave patterns. The wave shift is easily measured with EEG; it’s pure science, blended up (she laughs) with a nice measure of sweetness and light.

Q: So the group energy contributes to our collective ability to converse at a deeper level. Does that mean that power meetings at the office could also benefit from a moment of silence right at the beginning, before our egos all get assembled at the table?

A: Preferably before our egos “get the memo” to assemble! During the Viet Nam war, the terms “peace movement” and “anti-war movement” were considered synonymous, but it was FDR who said that it is totally insufficient to merely try to stop war.

Roosevelt said that instead we must stop the beginning of war. The same applies to racism, pollution, and all things toxic.

The ancient Greeks identified three kinds of love. Eros, the romantic, hormonal stuff; Philia, the love for all who are similar to us; and Agape, the sweeping unconditional love for all. The latter is what we’re after, and workplaces, neighborhoods and nations are all big on Philia—I can relate to you because you dress like I do and have a similar educational and/or geographic background.

Obviously, Eros isn’t going to transform humanity—it that were the case, I could’ve done so single-handedly by now (laughs), and so could we all.

For more information: www.marianne.com.

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