Life After the Presidential Election
An Interview with Marianne Williamson
By Randy Peyser
Known for her ability to articulate spiritual concepts that motivate
individuals to discover their innate worthiness and to deepen their connection
to the Divine, Marianne Williamson is the author of “A Return to Love,” as well
as seven other highly-acclaimed books, four of which have been #1 New York Times
bestsellers. She is also the co-founder of the Global Renaissance Alliance whose
mission is to harness the power of non-violence as a social force for good. In
this interview, we discuss life after the presidential election and her new
book, “The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for a Radically New Life.”
Randy Peyser: Recently, I met a woman who said right after the presidential election, she called her doctor because she just had to get some Xanax. The doctor told her that his phone was ringing off the wall with others who were calling for the same reason. Depression is rampant and many people feel powerless. Where can we go from here?
Marianne: The aftermath of this presidential election was a very depressing time for many of us. There were — and are continuing to be — lingering doubts about our democratic process and whether it is even still working. Any conscious person has plenty to be sad about. We have to feel that sadness in order to move into the deeper spaces of ourselves where hope lies. The last thing we want to do during such times is to numb ourselves inappropriately, because anything that masks or blocks the pain too much also blocks the wisdom that comes with it. Faith gives us the power to stand strong during times of darkness — not only waiting for the light, but invoking the light.
RP: You say that “to be peacemakers, we must let go of our judgments.” In your new book, The Gift of Change, you relate a story involving a car accident that speaks to this. Can you please share that story?
MW: I was asking God to heal me of my judgments regarding those who had connections to the Bush administration. During a meditation, I envisioned a terrible accident. I was scrambling to save a man’s life who was trapped inside a car. Once I pulled the man out, I realized he was Donald Rumsfeld. When that happened, I felt as though God was trying to show me that Donald Rumsfeld is just another human being, and that when I get to that rock-bottom realization, I will not only be a more advanced, spiritual student, but probably more effective politically as well.
RP: You say that, as “miracle workers” we are asked to: “see forgiveness as our function, and to relinquish all other goals we have invented for ourselves.” How can we forgive when our judgments are so strong?
MW: I don’t think that we can do it without God’s help. Attack and defense are built into the mental fabric of the world in which we live. Escaping that toxicity, first within ourselves, and then in the world, takes a bit of Divine intervention, and that is what a true spiritual path offers — Divine help in shifting our thought patterns from fear and blame to love and blessings. A true spiritual path is a mind training in which we build the mental musculature to think in a more loving and more forgiving way.
RP: Each time we have an opportunity to forgive what happens for us?
MW: You either learn the lesson and become even better at it than you were before, or you postpone the lesson and it will come back around in a different form.
RP: When we pray, you say “we talk to God as though we are giving Him a shopping list. Please do this for me, and that. Amen.” What should we be asking God for?
MW: The highest level of prayer is not where we are asking God for anything, but more where we are devoting ourselves to Him and asking what we can do for Him.
RP: You advise us to let go of our personal agendas and to be available to hear what God has in store for us. How can we determine the difference between a goal that’s coming from our ego, versus following God’s plan?
MW: The goal that is most important is that God’s will be done in a situation, and that we become the people He would have us be. It is a natural law that when we are dwelling within the fullness of ourselves, we are a conduit for the highest possibilities to come forth. As long as I have asked, I am taking the most powerful position in favor of great things happening. It is not, “Dear God, may I have a great career;” it is more like, “Dear God, may I be a person whose thoughts are so aligned with Yours, that a great career, and everything else for that matter, will naturally unfold.”
RP: You offer a beautiful prayer from A Course In Miracles: “Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? And what would you have me say, and to whom?” That says it very simply, and in fact, the truths you are talking about are simple. From your book, I have learned that our interactions with God are not meant to be complicated.
MW: Life on earth is complicated; life in heaven is very simple. Our job is to bring the two together.
RP: You say that “God has a blueprint for creating peace on Earth,” and that “pieces of it are ready to be downloaded by anyone who asks to receive his or her part.” I think that in regards to bringing heaven and earth together, by quieting ourselves, we get to be part of this blueprint.
MW: Absolutely. The blueprint is not a rational plan; it is more a spiritual illumination that is downloaded into the mortal mind when we are open to receive it. When we are still and at peace in the arms of God, we are in a receptive mode and the plan can then come into us and through us.
RP: You also make the very valid point that most of us are not meditating anymore. Everybody is so busy. You encourage us to prioritize our spiritual work.
MW: We always have excuses, and so often, we resist the things that are best for us. Whether it’s physical exercise or spiritual exercise, there’s a part of us that resists doing the things that would make our lives better.
RP: I believe that you offer a recipe for personal transformation where you say: 1) name your character defect; 2) surrender it to God, and 3) ask him to remove it.
MW: So many times we don’t want to look at our own character defects, the part that we’re playing in keeping our lives stuck, or in creating this or that disaster. As A Course In Miracles says, “Only when you see the part you’ve played in creating a problem do you see that you can change it.” Taking an honest look at ourselves is an important part of the spiritual journey.
RP: You talk about our generation as being “spiritually lazy” and how “we’re the only generation in the history of the world that wants to reinvent society over white wine and brie.” When people say, “We’ve tried so hard,” your reply is, “No we haven’t. Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony made the supreme and noble effort. Most of us are making little effort to change, but are feeling frustrated that the world is not changing...”
MW: It’s significant to remember that abolitionists didn’t have faxes or cell phones, or even typewriters. The odds against them were seemingly insurmountable, but they had a true and righteous idea that all people should be free. They were bolstered and aided by that idea. The same is true today because an eternal principle is at work. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “No lie can last forever.”
RP: You also make the point that Susan B. Anthony did not live to see the results of her efforts, which gave women the power to vote.
MW: As they say, “You need to be fully invested in an effort, while being detached from the outcome.”
RP: That sounds easier said than done. How can we can detach? Does that mean to surrender to God?
MW: Most of this is easier said than done. A spiritual path is about an overall detachment from the material plane in a way. The miraculous shift in our lives is a shift from body identification to spirit identification.
RP: Realizing that we are not children of the world, as much as creators in Spirit...
MW: Children of God. A Course In Miracles says that “we are heir to the laws of whichever world we identify with.”
RP: Can you talk about the power of the Holy Instant?
MW: In terms of A Course In Miracles, the Holy Instant is the building block of enlightenment. It is any given moment when we allow our minds to dwell fully in the love of God, detaching from the fear-based thought forms that dominate our world. With practice, most of us make it one moment at a time. The moment when we succeed is a Holy Instant.
RP: I noticed that you repeat one phrase a number of times in your book: “Only what we are not giving can be lacking in any situation.”
MW: That is the line from A Course In Miracles that does more for me than any other. We’re constantly in situations where something isn’t working the way we wish. We instinctively blame someone else, or some factor outside ourselves. Yet, A Course In Miracles says, “Only what we are not giving can be lacking in any situation.” So to train your mind to think along those lines — “What am I not giving here?” “Who am I not forgiving?” “What am I not contributing?” “What is the goodwill that I am withholding?” — radically transforms where we dwell within a situation. And where we will dwell within a situation determines whether or not we have any transformative power there.
RP: You state that “the illusion we are separate is the source of all our pain.” To shift from separation to relationship, you encourage us to visualize “a golden light radiating from our hearts, which extends beyond our bodies and casts a light unto the entire world.” Then you invite us to “imagine a friend or foe standing next to us and see the same light in them,” and “let their light merge with ours.” Have you ever done this with someone who you consider to be a foe?
MW: Yes. I think it would be a very good idea for all of us to do this with the Moslem world in general.
RP: Do you believe that everything is in Divine Right Order in the world, even if it might not appear to be?
MW: No. But I do believe that every situation has the potential for Divine Right Order, because no matter where we go, God goes with us. The philosophy of A Course In Miracles is that, while we have freewill and can direct our minds away from Divine Order, God has placed the Holy Spirit in our minds to turn us back to the Divine when we ask Him to. In that sense, all things contain the seeds of Divine Right Order.
RP: So, it is up to us to pray for that?
MW: Yes. Now, A Course In Mir-acles says that this world in which things are not in Divine Right Order is itself a vast mortal hallucination because, in fact, only love exists as an eternal and ultimate reality. But that doesn’t mean we are to avoid the world or ignore it, or claim that it is in Divine Right Order. It is absolutely not in Divine Right Order and our mission on this earth is to claim it for that realm.
RP: Regarding our role as “miracle workers,” you encourage us “to think with so much love that fear begins to lose the false authority by which it rules the world.” Then you invite people to “think of a world in which there is only love and hold that thought for several minutes each day.” You further state, “Our thinking will lead to our acting to make it so.”
MW: That is exactly my point.
RP: One of your stories involves three people who lost their loved ones at the World Trade Center. They were being interviewed by a journalist who asked them if they wanted revenge. None of them did. All of them wanted the violence to stop. The only one who wanted revenge was the journalist! Why do you think that was?
MW: Heartbreak has a way of taking us back into our “right minds,” and realization of our oneness with other people. When war is theoretical — when someone else is fighting it, or you can distance yourself emotionally from the horror of it — it’s easier to commit to it. The closer violence comes to you, the more committed you become to trying to transform it.
RP: You say that “we believe more in the limitations of the world, than in the limitlessness of God. If we were to open up more to the limitlessness of God then any manner of miracles could be possible.”
MW: That’s such an important point right now because, as you said earlier, so many people are depressed, which is understandable. I’ve been depressed myself over things that have been going on, but we need to remember the first sentence in A Course In Miracles: “there is no order of difficulty in miracles.”
RP: You state “All who meet will someday meet again until their relationship becomes holy. I’m wondering, how holy does our relationship have to become?
MW: I think that a holy relationship is one in which we are able to find peace
with each other because we radically accept each other as we are. That is from A
Course In Miracles. I don’t think that it necessarily means you will meet the
other person in this lifetime, although perhaps you will, but it does open the
mind to patience. If you didn’t get it right with someone, pray about it,
forgive, process the relationship in a more spiritual direction and just know
this will come around again.
Marianne has recently created “The Miracle Matrix,” where individuals can connect in an online spiritual community, participate in teleclasses, learn about a new political consciousness based upon the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and be part of a grassroots effort to establish a Cabinet-level Department of Peace within the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. For further information, visit www.marianne.com.
Randy Peyser’s latest book, “Finding Our Way: Conversations with Today’s Visionaries” debuts in February. Visit her website at www.randypeyser.com.
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