We are delighted to share the full text of our exclusive interview with Marianne Williamson, taken from our new Autumn 2018 issue. Marianne will be visiting Dublin on Wednesday October 10th 2018, from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m. in the Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Co. Dublin. For more information and tickets, go to seminars.ie. To learn more about Marianne and her work, go to marianne.com.
We interview Marianne Williamson ahead of her Dublin trip
by Aisling Cronin
Marianne Williamson is one of the world’s most renowned spiritual teachers, authors and speakers. Seven out of her twelve published books have been New York Times bestsellers. One of her powerful statements in the classic A Return to Love – “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us” – has become a guiding light for spiritual seekers around the globe.
When we asked her to summarise her extraordinary career, Marianne simply said, “If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life isn’t about the big dramatic moments that stand out, so much as it is about the consistent effort to live a better life. It’s up to us to make any one moment stand out, by standing tall within it.”
Marianne will be speaking in Ireland on Wednesday October 10th 2018, from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m. in the Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Co. Dublin. Ahead of what is sure to be an inspirational talk, we spoke to Marianne about her thoughts on Ireland, world politics, Aretha Franklin, and how the famed A Course in Miracles – a remarkable 1976 book written by Helen Schucman, who said that she channeled the words directly from Jesus – has touched her life.
During your seminar in Dublin, you’re planning to talk about how we can learn how to transform our lives for the better, based on the insights you have gained from A Course in Miracles. We would love to know more about that subject. Have you had the opportunity to travel to many places in Ireland before, or are there any particular locations in the country that are special to you?
One trip I took that remains with me is when I went to Knowth and Dowth. Extraordinary. What amazes me about Ireland is that, unlike most civilisations, it was as amazing in ancient times as in contemporary times. That’s not all that common, you know. Newgrange and James Joyce? Seriously. Not many countries can claim that kind of thing.
The world has heard a lot about Ireland recently, and I’m curious about your own transition from external emphasis on religious dogma to the internals of spiritual growth. Obviously there have been some tragic lessons learned, and hopefully the principles of A Course in Miracles can help to shed some light on your path ahead. People studying and teaching the Course in Ireland are doing tremendous work, and I just hope I can add to the conversation with whatever insight I’ve gleaned.
The teachings within A Course in Miracles have been central to your life and work over the years. When did you first encounter this book, and what is the greatest gift that its teachings have given you?
I first saw A Course in Miracles when I was in my mid-twenties. The greatest thing it has taught me is that the lesson to be learned is always my own: my own need to forgive, to rise to the occasion, to be kinder, to be more generous, to accept people as they are, to be less judgmental. There’s always a temptation to make the problem about other people, but the Course is adamant that the work is always on ourselves.
‘Only a politics of love overrides a politics of fear.’ This is a truly beautiful quote from your book Healing the Soul of America, and as the book celebrates its twentieth anniversary, that quote has never been more timely. What do you envisage when you speak of a ‘politics of love’? We all know what a politics of fear looks like – all we have to do is switch on our television or read the news online – but how do you envisage politicians, or indeed, ordinary people relating to each other when they come from a place of pure love?
The same principles that guide us in our individual lives should guide our politics. If the point is to be a good person, then the point should be to be a good society. A good economy. And so forth. I think the economic principles that now organise our societies should be replaced by humanitarian ones. We’ve allowed money to become a false god, seen as the source of human happiness; but in fact, it’s the other way around. Money doesn’t create happiness so much as happiness creates money. When people are happy we’re naturally creative. We naturally manifest. A politics of love is one in which we see love as the bottom line, politically and economically as much as in our personal interactions. Politics is the work of our collective journey, and the effort to increase our compassion should be a political as well as a personal goal.
Are you optimistic about the future of our world? Do you have hope that humanity, as a whole, can move away from its old, self-centred ways and learn how to live from a love-centred perspective?
Hope is a moral imperative, so yes I have hope. But I also understand how evolution works. When a species’ behaviour becomes maladaptive for its survival, it will evolve or it will go extinct. And humanity’s collective behavioural patterns today are definitely maladaptive; the survival of our civilisation as we know it is not guaranteed. As it says in A Course in Miracles, “There is a limit beyond which the Son of God cannot miscreate.” So these are sober and sobering times, but yes, I have hope. I believe in my gut we’re going to turn things around.
Your recent tribute to Aretha Franklin was deeply moving – you said that her music ‘was more than the music of my soul: she was in many ways the opener of my soul, a light on my path, a goddess who chanted what I could not chant and cooed what I could not coo and howled from the depths that I had not yet reached.’
It’s not an accident that Aretha began singing in her church as a child. That connection between her spiritual roots and her musical expression is part of an age-old pattern, seen among all peoples at all times, that dates back to the earliest temple experiences. This is not just sociological data; it is a spiritual fact. God and sex came together in that woman like nothing before and nothing since. Even in her early 20s, she sang with the soulful wisdom of an ancient. She cried out from her amazing depths, and in so doing, delivered us to ours. She did for us what all great artists do: she reminded us of what is truly true, she viscerally realigned us with our deepest selves. We were incredibly blessed to have her among us in our lifetime.
I have long believed that while many gifted artists, singers, musicians, or writers may not overtly describe themselves as ‘spiritual teachers’, their work nevertheless touches our souls in a way that is hard to explain.
All great artists affect me that way. Art is spiritual and spirituality is an art. What great artist isn’t “channeling”, and what spiritual teacher isn’t creating something beautiful?
What is your advice to those who have just started to get in touch with the spiritual side of their being – people who could be described as ‘newly awakened’, or who have just begun to understand that there is more to life than materialism?
Just know that forgiveness is the key to happiness. Whomever you haven’t forgiven, there’s your work. Once you know that, it becomes a full time job just monitoring all the crazy ways we judge and attack each other in our minds.
What are your plans for the future? I know you are planning to release an online video course with Hay House, based on A Return to Love and your experiences with A Course in Miracles. Are there any further new books or other projects in the pipeline?
I have an online class that will be coming out soon called Teaching The Teachers, specifically geared towards those are healers, therapists, teachers or coaches. It’s time for me to start passing on some of the things that, as a teacher, I’ve learned along the way. I hope it’s helpful. The universe is asking all of us to step it up now. Anything any of us can do to help each other do that, feels to me like the thing that matters most.
Marianne’s upcoming Irish seminar will take place on Wednesday October 10th 2018, from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m. in the Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Co. Dublin. For more information and tickets, go to seminars.ie. To learn more about Marianne and her work, go to marianne.com.