Episode 23: Marianne Williamson - The Gift of Change - Part 2
Marianne Williamson – The Gift of Change – Part 2
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Duncan Campbell: From time immemorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions through the work of western visionaries, such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning a dia (flow) of logos (meaning) -- beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now, as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome to Living Dialogues. I’m your host Duncan Campbell and with me for this particular dialogue, I am truly delighted to have once again my friend Marianne Williamson as my guest, author of “The Gift of Change: Spiritual Guidance for Living Your Best Life,” her most recent book. And so with that, I’d like to resume our conversation and dialogue with Marianne by referring to Larry Dossey, whose most recent book is titled “The Extraordinary Healing Power or Ordinary Things.” In that book, the opening chapter is entitled “Optimism” and it really, Marianne, has very much the theme of which you’ve said to where you talked about oftentimes when people in close relationships or marriages loose the perspective of the “Course of Miracles,” loose the perspective of the divinity within each one of us, they can become obstacles to each other’s soul progress, we might say, and a source of frustration and pessimism. What Larry talked about, in the way he expresses it, is optimism. You talk about it, I think, in a wonderful counter-intuitive way that’s very insightful. You call it positive denial, meaning that what we deny is the fundamental power over our mind of the kind of cynical perspective, or the perspective that somehow the world of illusion is what’s real and that there really is a kind of fictive or romantic or fantasy quality to the deep love of spirit. So, oftentimes in these very challenging times, these very uncertain times we’re in now, people seek refuge, a kind of defensive posture of denying the power and the fundamental reality of love and actually believing in the illusion of conflict and that it somehow is irresolvable, that really the only avenue to protect yourself from despair is a kind of cynicism and a kind of conflict orientation toward others and not believing in their greatness or your own greatness because if you do, you’re only certain to be disappointed.
Marianne Williamson: Well, the “Course of Miracles” says that faith is an aspect of consciousness. There’s no such thing as a faithless person. You know, it’s like an old Bob Dylan song where he said, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It might be the devil or it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Duncan Campbell: Right.
Marianne Williamson: See, the mind believes in something, has faith in something. The question is: do you have more faith in the power fear or do you have faith in the power of love? Do you have more faith in material forces or do you have more faith in spiritual forces? So many times, so the real issue is, for instance, of cancer. We have more faith in the power of cancer to kill us than we have faith in the power of God to heal us. Let’s say somebody would say about, would be talking about their disease and feeling that they are, you know, capable of healing or someone thinks that they are capable of success even though people have told them that this or that idea won’t work and somebody might say “you’re in denial.” And the issue is you can be in positive denial. You are not in denial of the fact that something has material power. You’re just standing in affirmation that there is a power even greater than material power. You’re not denying what is existing within this three-dimensional reality, but positive denial is you are denying the power of the material world to stand in your way. Recognizing that through the power of God within you, you are capable of being a space in the presence of which all obstructions crumble. I mean, was Moses in denial when he parted the Red Sea? He was in affirmation. He claimed the power of God and so a material power simply that held him back melted in his presence. I think that all the great Biblical stories are coded, subtle and not so subtle messages given to us. Whether it’s David and Goliath or Moses or Jesus and as you were talking about, Buddah, Hindu, I think all great religious systems tell these same essential messages and that is that when the mind is aligned with God’s power, when the mind is returned to the creator, you know. The word religion comes from the Latin root religio. Religio means to bind back.
Duncan Campbell: Bind back together, yes.
Marianne Williamson: When the mind is bound back to the truth of God, and in our heart becomes that intersecting point, you know that’s what the visual symbol of the cross, visual symbol of the cross and of the star of David both represent that intersecting point between the human axis and the divine axis. When we are in that state, we are empowered. Once again, I mentioned before that line that there is a power in us, but not of us that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and that’s straight out of Alcoholics Anonymous, actually, this idea that when we transform from a primary focus and identification with the mortal mind to the spiritual mind that lies within us. It’s all inside us. The power of God is not outside us but inside us and, of course, defines a miracle as a shift in perception. When we perceive differently, then there accrues unto us a power to remove whatever obstruction might otherwise hold sway for us in the material world. So you’re not denying that those obstructions exist, but you’ve denied their power over you when you were in your right mind.
Duncan Campbell: I think that’s a very important distinction because it really, to me, represents what I have felt for many years is the next level of consciousness that’s emerging on a planetary basis as you do and as many people have experienced and are feeling. Sometimes it’s called a third consciousness. It’s called the noetic consciousness by Tear Deshardaux [sp?] or the supramental by the great Indian saint Aurobindo, any number of names for it and yet, what it is to me in one way of thinking about it is a both/and consciousness. It’s not an either/or consciousness. So this perspective of positive denial does not pretend that the world is not seemingly real to us. It does not pretend that it’s not there. It does not pretend that these dramas that we are faced with including death, conflict, war, and all the rest of it are not something we’re actually experiencing, but what it says is that there is a both/and perspective. Yes that’s true but there’s another perspective here, which you’re calling positive denial, what Larry Dossy and the medical context calls optimism or the power of prayer that we don’t have to believe either that cancer’s going to kill us or that somehow the cancer isn’t there. You can…
Marianne Williamson: You know what Deepak Chopra said on Larry King the other night was “Believe the diagnosis but don’t believe the prognosis.”
Duncan Campbell: Excellent, yes.
Marianne Williamson: I think it was fascinating when he said…
Duncan Campbell: Excellent.
Marianne Williamson: You know, someone tells you what the medium temperature is in New York, it’s not telling you what the temperature is in New York today. If someone tells you the medium income in L.A, it does not tell you what your income is if you live in L.A. and I think his point was so powerful: “listen to the diagnosis, but not the prognosis.” Don’t let the prognosis define for you what you think is possible. Also in the “Course of Miracles” it says that the line in the Bible, “Heaven and earth shall be as one.” What that refers to is the notion that when we have achieved all those phrases you called whether it’s noetic or Christ consciousness, vision of the Holy Spirit, God consciousness, whatever, when we achieve the ultimate crowning glory of human, spiritual human evolution. To say that heaven and earth shall be as one, the Course says, means they will no longer exist as two separate states. You know when you were talking about the both/and, the “Course of Miracles” and talking about Jesus, it says, “He lived on the Earth, but he thought the thoughts of Heaven.” He lived on the Earth and thought the thoughts of Heaven and thus, in him Heaven and Earth became as one. That’s why I think that when people are spiritually transformed, we don’t become fuzzy thinkers, we don’t become woo-woo. I think a truly spiritually transformed mind is deeply grounded. I know in my own life, to whatever extent I’ve achieved any spiritual wisdom or perspicacity, it has made me more comfortable in my skin, not less, more comfortable in my skin.
As a matter of fact you know, the Course says that everyone feels on some level that you’re an alien here and that’s because you are. I have found in my life and anyone does to the extent to which I’ve really accepted that my life is not about this planet, that this is just an experience I’m going through, but that my home, the Course says, we’ve all felt alien here, you are, your home is in heaven. To the extent to which I know that, it’s counter-intuitively made me more comfortable in my skin. I’m more grounded. Knowing that this is not my ultimate home has not made me resist this plane. I think I resisted the material plane, not knowing that’s exactly what I was doing, but I think I resisted my material existence more when I thought it was the be-all and the end-all. I think that counter-intuitively when you know it’s not is when you become more comfortable in your skin because you have a context for your material experience and you appreciate it almost even more as the glorious moment, really ultimately just a moment in your life, that it is. So this idea that we will become people who live on the earth but think the thoughts of heaven means that it will be a beautiful Earth. It will be a beautiful Earth when we have seen beyond it.
Duncan Campbell: And in fact, in the words of Jesus himself, he said that, “You shall be as I am and you shall do things even greater than I.” And so in that sense, not only did he not encourage a kind of sense of specialness of himself or idolatry, the very opposite of that-- the sense that we all have the power within ourselves to bring together the heaven and the earth. Another access point to that for people might be Joseph Campbell’s comment about “follow your bliss” because he said that when we align our energies with those of the cosmos, we become, in a sense, a channel or a vessel through which the infinite energy of the cosmos flows into time through us. And some people call that “finding the grail.” Other people call that enlightenment. Other people call that “joining Heaven and Earth,” but it is the same thing that you’re speaking of, that actually we become more who we really are when this happens rather than, as you put it, something, a person that’s more vague or abstracted from quote, “everyday reality.”
Marianne Williamson: You know there’s a part in the Course speaking of Jesus and his role in all this that I love because the way the Course posits Jesus as an evolutionary elderbrother, he’s called Elderbrother. He’s someone who has achieved in consciousness a state that is potential enough, but the potential isn’t any greater in him. He’s just a name. He is one name, actually, just one name for the actualized potential of all humanity and one of the things he says in the Course, he says, “I am not an ego-oriented teacher. I look forward to the day when you have achieved my level. Until that day, however, ask me for whatever help I can be to you.” I thought that was so magnificent because I think that we’ve all either been or experienced the ego-oriented teacher who really had some ego investment and you’re never quite knowing as much as they did. I thought that was a really beautiful presentation of the idea that the internal teacher has no ego investment and you’re not getting to where it is. But until you are there, any aid, any comfort, any insight, any guidance, any wisdom is available to you should you ask.
Duncan Campbell: Oh, I think that’s so beautifully said and so relevant, Marianne because you know in the seventies, the eighties, and the nineties and even today, many people have turned to other religions, the eastern religions-- let’s say Buddhism or Hinduism or whatnot-- as some other way beyond their tradition in which they were born, which could be no tradition, looking for purpose and meaning. And if one brings that same confused egoic consciousness that wants to play small, that wants a safe place where it can project its own greatness onto a teacher or a professor or a political figure or a CEO, and in a sense hide from one’s own greatness, then it doesn’t matter where you go to find meaning. You’re still facing the same dilemma and many teachings that are called spiritual teachings that hold themselves out that way unless the teacher really is a non-egoic in that way can be yet another, and maybe even deeper, trap than what one’s trying to escape from in the first place.
Marianne Williamson: You know, I think one of the things that is unfortunate in the United States, in western culture in general, is that we do not honor the tradition of the spiritual teacher. And we have a pretty popular delusion, I think, in the United States that the spiritual teacher from the eastern traditions is a holy and pure tradition whereas in the United States, or in western civilization, anything like a spiritual teacher is almost something suspect. And so I think that many people have woken up to see, you know one of the things I’ve seen in my life is I don’t care whether people are rich or poor, left or right, no matter what, there are people who present themselves like jerks everywhere and there are people who present themselves in their holiness everywhere. And no culture, no group of people have a monopoly on getting it right and no group of people really has a preponderance of getting it wrong because getting it right and getting it wrong has to do with the human potential that lies inside all of us.
But I think many people have awoken in the last few decades to the fact that a spiritual teacher in the east, the fact that they come from an eastern tradition, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily in such a pure place and the fact that someone is a spiritual teacher from the western traditions is not something that should be cause for suspicion.
You know, I’ve often joked in my own career that I think I have the only career where, you know if you’re a doctor or a lawyer or even an artist all kinds of professions, if a lot of people come to you, it makes someone think hmm, here she must be good. I’ll check it out. But I think in western civilizations, certainly in the United States, if someone is speaking about spiritual matters and a lot of people listen to them or go to them to hear them, and hopefully this is not as true now, but I know when I stared in the eighties, it was definitely true in the eighties and the nineties. If a lot of people go to hear you, it must mean you’re not the real thing or it must mean you’re more suspect as a snake oil salesman or something like that. So I think in the United States and American civilization, it would be very helpful and I think it’s happening now but the idea that a spiritual teacher is not someone necessarily who thinks they’re smarter than you are, not someone necessarily who wants for you to give your power to them. I think being a spiritual is much like being, I always liken it to a Russian literature professor, you know. The Russian literature professor is not claiming to be Dostoyevsky. The Russian literature professor is not claiming to be Tolstoy. The Russian literature professor is someone who can say, “I have read a lot of Tolstoy. I have read a lot of Dostoyevsky. I have thought about this stuff for years and perhaps something I might have to say about them will help you digest the material, understand it with greater insight and that’s all.”
Duncan Campbell: And I think that’s a very interesting and subtle point to be made here because it’s really a two-way street. When the disciples let’s say, or the students, come to a teacher, whether it’s a professor or a spiritual teacher, and they project you know, their own insight onto the teacher or their own greatness, as you put it in your book, onto the teacher, the teacher if they’re really good like a really good therapist will recognize that, what they call, transference and basically lead the student back to their own awakening and offer the helpful insight and experience. And so oftentimes, the teachers, either in the west or the east get seduced by the intensity of the projection of the students or the disciples and unless they do their own work continuously, it is very easy for people to get taken in by their own celebrity. And then we have all of those examples you know in the worlds of celebrity where people you know die of drug overdoses or they get inflated and then the media in some sense inflates them in order to take them down. And there are all those kinds of travails and paths if you do start to live your mission or live your purpose. You come out of hiding as it were as Jesus did after thirty years and he comes out and he announces what he has to announce and of course a lot of conflict was generated by that. In the end, he was crucified but then he was resurrected and people have to be ready for that and to stay in constant awareness no matter whether they’re on the student side or on the teacher side. And I think you make an excellent point there culturally because I remember that Viva Conando [sp?], the great student and teacher himself, student of Robert Krishna and the great spiritual yogi that he was came in 1893 to the conference on world religions in Chicago, the parliament of world religions, and from the time he opened his mouth until the time he finished an hour later, you know, the world changed in the west and understanding the great wisdom that is accessible in a complimentary way from the east. And he said, “the east needs to become more active and the west needs to become more quiet.” And what I’ve seen in my travels, say to India and my experience in the west is that people in India in that tradition that really honors the future in a very centuries-old way, they listen when you speak with respect. People in the west have been taught to listen to people with suspect.
Marianne Williamson: That’s right.
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