In Conversation with Marianne Williamson

Personal Development Marianne Williamson can best be described as a spiritual activist, with a strong belief in the power of the spiritual dimension to motivate individuals to discover their own self worth. She is also a passionate peace activist, having co-founded the Global Renaissance Alliance (GRA), a worldwide network of peace activists whose objective is to harness the power of nonviolence as a social force for good. Marianne is perhaps best known as an acclaimed author with a string of best sellers to her name, including A Return to Love and Enchanted Love, among other works. ntpages caught up with her ahead of an Australian appearance at ‘I Can Do It! 2011’ – a conference hosted by Hay House Australia and featuring a veritable who’s who of high profile authors, including Deepak Chopra, Robert Holden and Doreen Virtue amongst others.

Spirituality is central to your work and teachings – how does this relate and differ from religion per se?

“The word religion derives from the Latin root "religio," which means "to bind back." The purpose of the religious experience is to bind us back to the truth within. The journey back to the love in our hearts is the essence of the spiritual journey. A problem is that over the centuries, the institutional realities of organized religion — doctrine, dogma and so forth — have often mitigated against the actual religious, or spiritual, experience. That is why many people are seeking a spiritual experience that is not necessarily bound to the ecclesiastical strictures of organized religion. The spiritual quest is still religion, in its purest form; it's just not exoteric, or externalized, religion.” 

How does your message differ from that carried by a Christian?

“I am a student of A Course in Miracles, which is a psychological self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy. The course is not a religion at all. There is no dogma and no doctrine, and it is based on universal spiritual themes. While it uses traditional Christian language, the terms are used in psychologically relevant ways that sometimes do not align with traditional Christian teaching.”

You are very much about making a difference – tell us a little about some of your peace activism?

“Like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe the love in our hearts can heal not only our personal relationships, but our social and political ones as well. I published a book in l998 called "Healing the Soul of America" and I founded a grassroots campaign in the United States to support legislation to establish a US Department of Peace.”

Explain your concept of oneness and what its objective is?

“On the level of the material world, we are all separate bodies. But on the level of spirit, there is no place where one of us stops and another starts. ACIM says we're like sunbeams to the sun simply thinking they are separate from other sunbeams, or waves in the ocean that are thinking they're separate from other waves. "There is only one begotten Son" means that we're all it.” 

Tell us a bit more about love and how this can be central to our success as an individual?

“It's simple really, isn't it? In the most practical terms, love simply makes us nicer, more attractive people. We're kinder, more understanding, more insightful, more hopeful…and who doesn't want to help us, play with us, work with us and so forth, when that's the case? Most important of all, love gives us the ability to forgive. And until we have that, we are stuck in the past and unable to move forward. That's about as big a contribution to our lives as could be made by anyone or anything.”

How can I, as an individual, make a difference?

“Each of us has our own internal guidance system. As we contemplate, reflect, meditate, pray and so forth, we begin to hear more clearly the small still voice for God. Then love rather than fear begins to dominate our lives.” 

What message do you have for all your fans in Australia?

“How grateful I am to visit, and how much I appreciate the support I've received for my work over there. Australians are great; everybody knows that:”

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. — MARCUS AURELIUS