Interview by Kristen Noel
Los Angeles, CA, January 7, 2016
Photographs by Bill Miles
On a sunny January afternoon, in the Los Angeles home of Marianne Williamson – internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher, lecturer, and author of 11 books (4 of which were #1 on the New York Times bestselling list) – we convened for a Best Self Magazine soul chat.
Kristen: Twenty-four years ago, you published a book that is now deemed a classic — A Return to Love, awash with messages both timely and timeless. In ways it seems more relevant today than perhaps when it was first written?
Marianne: I don’t know if it is more relevant today, but it was more revolutionary then, because these conversations weren’t happening yet.
Kristen: But I think we still need it.
Marianne: When you are talking metaphysical information, it is eternal – it was needed 1,000 years ago and it will be needed 1,000 years from now. As with physical exercise, you never get to stop. You don’t just learn metaphysical information – you learn to apply it and to practice it…you never get to stop. You do that to hone your attitudinal muscles every day the way you do your physical muscles through exercise and yoga.
Kristen: How does a young girl from Texas grow up to become this fierce spiritual teacher, who went so far as to throw her hat into the political ring in a run for a U.S. Congressional seat?
Marianne: I started reading A Course in Miracles (ACIM) – and it says that the teacher is a half step ahead in time. My path hasn’t been that different than that of many people, it’s just that I started earlier. I started reading ACIM in the 1970s and by 1983, I had started lecturing on the books.
Kristen: I want to make sure that everyone understands what A Course in Miracles is.
Marianne: ACIM is a set of books. It has been referred to as a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy. It is not a religion. There is no doctrine, no dogma. It is a psychological mind training based on universal spiritual themes. And the goal of the Course is the attainment of inner peace. The training is in relinquishing a thought system based upon fear, and instead accepting a thought system based on love. It means aligning ourselves with the truth of who we are.
The consciousness that dominates this planet is not true to who we are. Our seeking to find meaning and happiness within the confines of the worldview and the structure that now prevails is fruitless. It’s hopeless, because that’s not where love can be found, that’s not where hope or meaning can be found, nor is that where peace can be found.
You make a choice, whether consciously or unconsciously, as to what purpose you ascribe to your experience here. If you ascribe to your experience on this planet that you be used as a vessel of love and your mortal experience be used as an exultation of that love, then you can find happiness and peace and purpose on this planet.
But if we live here with any other purpose in mind, grasping for something that this world can’t give us, then life is sorrowful and fearful and sometimes deeply destructive.
Kristen: How did you find the Course, or did the Course find you?
Marianne: Well, that’s true for anybody who picks up any book, really. I was at a cocktail party in New York City in the 1970s, and I saw A Course in Miracles on a coffee table and I picked it up. The introduction says, “This is A Course in Miracles. It is required reading. It is a required course.” And I thought, since when do you pick up a book and it tells you something is “required?” There was no author mentioned – I found the whole thing intriguing. While initially the language appeared like traditional Christian language, the words were used in very nontraditional ways. This was nonreligious language.
I didn’t forget the book, and a year later, after a series of ‘synchronicities,’ I arrived home to find the books in my apartment. My then boyfriend, who had been with me at that party, simply said, “I thought it was time.”
Kristen: I would be doing our audience a disservice if I didn’t bring forth your most famous quote, which I learned has often been misattributed to Nelson Mandela:
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.
Marianne: I can’t take credit for the basic concept – as the subtitle of my book A Return to Love says, this is based upon the reflections of A Course in Miracles. What is most exciting about that relatable quote is a basic tenet of the Course that says, You’re not afraid of your neurosis, you’re afraid of the possibility of greatness.
Kristen: When I came across your article, America, ISIL and the Power of the Atonement, in the Huffington Post, I was stopped me in my tracks. It is a reflection of your personal response to the recent Paris terrorist attacks along with a broader world spiritual view. I want to dig deeper into this with you and applaud you for writing it – boldly tackling these current events with your grace and your love, and for also calling out the platitudes of living a life of “love & light” hashtags. You really blew the lid off of many of these subjects, calling us out on our need to be accountable, to define our relationship to our spirituality, God, the body politic, and the planet.
Marianne: Those of us who are into spirituality and higher consciousness – we should be the biggest grownups in the society. We should not be the disengaged, sometimes ditzy, self-centered, infantilized people over on the sidelines saying, I just don’t want anything toxic in my life. There’s nothing positive about that. There’s nothing positive about failing to yell FIRE if in fact the house is burning down.
If you know what changes one’s life, you have a clue to what could change this world. We are the last people who should be sitting on the sidelines of the great social, economic, and political issues of our day. We have a gift that we are withholding if we do not enter into the conversation.
There are principles that guide how our lives unfold and there are the same principles guiding how our collective life unfolds. There is karma, cause and effect for an individual, and there is karma for our nation.
If a country is reaping karma, whoever happens to be standing there will be affected by that karma. The drama of a nation will affect the citizens of that nation.
There was an astonishing thing that happened after 9/11 – a very powerful moment when everyone was saying, “Why do they hate us? I didn’t know people hated us.” People honestly didn’t know. We had been so misinformed, so uninformed. The truth had been so obfuscated. Our corporatized media had made foreign correspondence such a tiny part of the news. The average American didn’t know what was happening in foreign policy. Now Americans are finally waking up, because the situation has become so critical.
Looking at the invasion of Iraq alone, the truth of the matter is that – beyond the fact that this country had not attacked us, had nothing to do with 9/11, or may not have had weapons of mass destruction, and looking beyond the superficial layer of George Bush and Colin Powell — you already knew that there was great disagreement about this.
You cannot overestimate the significance of the stupidity, the horror, and the immorality of our invading Iraq…and it exploded this hornets’ nest. It has become popular, even among those who supported the war, to admit that that was a mistake. That is an example of a country so not in touch with its soul. To simply say that, with all the soldiers from America who died, all the people over there who died – it was a ‘mistake,’ a mistake? Do you want to go a little deeper with that? In spiritual healing, you have to face the horror. You have to enter into a deep understanding of what you have done in order to atone at the deepest level.
Kristen: It’s not just about shining a light to extinguish the darkness, it’s about bringing our darkness to the light. You use the term ‘purification.’ We as individuals, as a nation, and as a collective, need to engage in this process of purification to bring our darkness to the light.
Marianne: What ACIM says is that “miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.” This idea of faux spirituality, where we don’t really go deep, is not going to change the molecular structure of the universe. Realigning yourself with truth will, and that means purifying yourself of false thought. False thought is thought that has deviated from compassion, deviated from righteousness — ‘right-use-ness’— and led to the behavior that does the same.
There is a principal in Judaism, in Christianity, and in ACIM: It’s a powerful concept called atonement.
Atonement is a sort of cosmic reset button.
It is where you go back to the mistake and you own that you made it. In Catholicism, it’s confession. In Judaism, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, is known as the ‘day of atonement.’ In Alcoholics Anonymous, you have to take a “fearless moral inventory” to admit the exact nature of your wrongs. That is the purification process.
Abraham Lincoln established a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer in 1864 – he said that a nation must confess its sins. While today we might not use that exact language, it is about recognizing when you are wrong.
Arrogance is the nicest thing you can say about the trend in American foreign policy since the end of WWII. When we look back at something such as America’s ‘regime change’ – this is such an example of a euphemism. That means you go in and you kill the people who don’t agree with you, and you make things go down the way you want them to go down, even though you are supposedly a democracy.
If you know what karma means – ACIM says, “you create what you defend against” — you would not only know that a certain action was wrong, you would know that it would reap consequences. So people who understand how the universe operates need to be shouting, “Don’t go there!” And when the inevitable consequences appear, we should be the ones saying, “Okay, this is what we have to do – first of all, we have to admit what we have done it and then we have to atone for having done it.”
As individuals, we are very decent people. I love Americans. We’re not the most sophisticated people and we have a bit of a vulgar side, but the world knows we have spunk, a let’s go do it spirit. It’s what has led me to my career and it’s what led you to yours. Let’s go do this!
Kristen: It’s the American Dream.
Marianne: And that’s what’s so beautiful, but we also have a collective capacity for grandiosity and denial, which is dangerous.
Kristen: Shove it under the rug.
Marianne: And then there is this very corporate code of don’t complain, don’t explain. Our government has been enacting that for many years. It has resulted in terrible problems. Not only has this enabled people to look away, the system has counted on the American people looking away. That’s why after 9/11, many people were asking, “Why do they hate us?”
Kristen: I was there. I was living in Manhattan and was with my baby that morning. I lost childhood friends. I sat waiting to hear if a particular friend had made it out of one of the towers (she hadn’t). I also believe that another thing happened that day – that seeds were planted for a fear-mongering crisis. There was an uprising of people saying, “We’ve got to do something about this.”
Marianne: I am not a pacifist, per se. In the first few days, there was a pregnant moment and we could have gone a different way. About a week after the event, I remember watching a round-table panel discussion led by Dan Rather on television. Everyone on the panel had lost an immediate family member. At the end of the program, Rather asked them, “Do you want revenge?” The unanimous answer was “no,” because they couldn’t bear to think of others experiencing the same suffering. We need people to know who we are. When the heart breaks – the heart is open; you don’t go into anger. You actually go into a more loving place. At the end of the program, Rather said, “Well, I want revenge. I want it to be fierce and I want it to be swift.”
During those first critical moments is when leadership matters. We were led and guided into anger. The fear was already there. When you look at the Churchills of the world – Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower — they were such sober, mature men. They did what needed to be done; there is no doubt about that. Interestingly, when Franklin Roosevelt referred to the Nazis, the phrase he used was ‘unworthy men.’ Look how different the language was. There was no doubt that they needed to kick ass militarily, and they did.
Kristen: In the Huffington Post piece you said, “I do not believe it was immoral to stop Hitler, I believe it would have been immoral NOT to. But no one – no governmental leader, no general, and no politician – really knows what to do about ISIL now. Only God knows. And he will speak into our ears once we have spoken from our hearts and, preferably, on our knees to him.”
Marianne: You can liken the Nazis to an operable tumor that could be, and was, brilliantly surgically removed. ISIL is not like that. ISIL is more like a cancer that has already metastasized. And as we have learned with Iraq, when you use invasive measures, it only spreads the cancer. So once again, what do those of us on a new spiritual path, speaking from a new thought paradigm, have to offer here? We ushered in a conversation of holistic integrative healing, a model embracing body, mind, and spirit.
Seeking to address ISIL through only military measures is analogous to overemphasizing allopathic healing, where you simply hope that, through external remedies, you can eradicate or suppress the symptoms. That’s not going to be enough here.
There is a social immune system. This is the gift of Mahatma Ghandi: Love not only heals individual relationships, but heals political, social, and economic relationships as well.
That’s not a kumbaya viewpoint – if anything, it takes more thinking, deeper thinking.
In order to apply our spiritual healing, we need to begin with a national atonement.
I want to be clear, I’m not coming from a blame America mentality. There is a difference between blame and responsibility.
I often ask audiences, where were you in the run up to the Iraq invasion? Were you even looking? Did you protest? Did you have a NO WAR sign in your front yard, or did you go la-di-da? Did you say, Well, all I can do is be positive and I don’t want negative things in my life? That is not spirituality – it’s an excuse for not helping.
The time of so-called spiritual students who are not reading up and keeping abreast of what is going on — the ditzy factor — is over.
Kristen: You boldly stated:
Spiritual seekers should not be infantile, fuzzy-brained, naïve observers merely standing on the sidelines with nothing to contribute but loving hashtags, while the world community faces an unprecedented crisis.
Marianne: That’s why some people say I’m too tough! [laughing]
Kristen: This article felt to me like the synthesis of the body of your life’s work. You thread it all together, reminding us that it’s about love and God and that we can’t separate these aspects of our lives. We can’t toss out platitudes and think that’s enough.
Marianne: Those of us who are mothers or parents know that if you love your child, that means you are going to do whatever it takes to protect them – to say no to them out of love for them. Being a lover has fierceness to it.
Shortly after my career began, the AIDS crisis burst onto the scene in Los Angeles and around the world. From the very early days of my career, my work was involved with the real deal, real human suffering. So when it became all about the latest from Lululemon, I could never relate. There’s more going on here. I never saw the separation. This is why I talk so much about Martin Luther King and Ghandi in my book, Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens. This isn’t about reinventing wheels. When you read about Ghandi’s philosophy of nonviolence, wherein he intersects and interfaces spirituality and political activism, this is the force by which he led the movement to oust the British Colonial Empire from India. Martin Luther King traveled to India and brought home those principles to the struggle of civil rights in the United States.
Kristen: Sometimes it feels as if there is this great divide between those who are so entrenched in dogma that they cannot see beyond the text of their doctrine and others, who in either the name of science or higher education, deny religion. How do we bridge this spiritual conversation between these two factions?
Marianne: Don’t concern yourself with what other people are hearing. Don’t concern yourself with needing to bridge anything for anybody else. Demonstrate and be the bridge. It’s a free country and that’s the beauty of it – we don’t all have to think alike. And when it comes to this conversation, we don’t need to worry about the people who aren’t interested in it.
Our job, and what you are doing with your work and what I am doing with mine,
is to help harness the energy of those who are interested in the conversation. So don’t worry about other people. Worry about articulating to the best of your ability what it is that seems to be true to you. You wouldn’t be guided to do your magazine, and I wouldn’t be guided to the work I do, if it were not obvious that this is a resonant field. People don’t need us to spoon-feed them.
Kristen: I still think it brings forth the delusion of separateness, seeing ourselves as separate from one another.
Marianne: In alchemy, there’s a beautiful term called separacia, in which all the elements are separated out in order to come back together again at a higher level. So it is beautiful that some people are Jewish, or Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Buddhist, agnostic, and it is beautiful that some people are atheistic, etc. Especially in America, we are a religiously pluralistic nation. The goal should not be to diminish all of that, but rather to celebrate it. In celebration of who I am, and as long as I feel that you honor that, I am more likely to be able to join with you at a higher level and see the universality and commonality.
Kristen: That’s the conversation.
Marianne: It’s like with race – I heard someone say that we should aspire to be a color-blind society. No, we shouldn’t. Color-blindness is a handicap. What we want to be is a society in which we see and celebrate the beauty of all the colors.
Kristen: In A Return to Love you said,
Some people think that if we surrender to God, we’re giving up personal responsibility. But the opposite is true. We’re taking the ultimate responsibility for a situation by being responsible for our thoughts about it
Marianne: Once you realize that God is inside you, surrendering to God is surrendering to what is highest in your own mind. He is in your mind as you are in his. I always say, what is put on the altar – is then altered. When you put a situation in the hands of God, that is the same thing as saying, I put my thoughts about this situation in the hands of God. I am willing for a force in me, but not of me, an internal teacher, a thought-adjuster, a bridge of perception, to reorder my thinking here. Because when my thinking is reordered, I am changed on the level of cause, and then and only then will the effects be altered.
Kristen: Okay, so I’m going to ask you to guide us through your process. Fear enters into your realm, anger enters into your realm – how do you pull yourself out of it?
Marianne: Dear God, I am really a neurotic mess today. I really need help here. And if I’ve meditated in the morning, my chance of ever moving into that place is vastly diminished.
Kristen: How long do you meditate?
Marianne: I do the Course in Miracles workbook every day, and most every day I do transcendental meditation, which is 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. In those situations where you’ve got too much going on, that’s when you risk getting lost in your craziness. You can say, Dear God, I am angry but I am willing not to be. I am really scared, but I am willing not to be. I am filled with anxiety, but I am willing not to be – so please send your spirit into me, into my thinking. And I place this in your hands. This is a practice ACIM calls the “Holy Instant.” It’s an attitudinal muscle, it’s not just an intellectual shift.
We meditate to cultivate the capacity to be still within, just as we do physical exercise to cultivate the capacity to move. Physical exercise so you can move, spiritual exercise so you can be still. And in your stillness, you are not a nutcase! [laughing]
We are all affected by this barrage of modernity today – from the computer, from the news, from emails, from everything else going on – it’s all just constant.
Kristen: Constant connectivity.
Marianne: It’s essentially an ADD culture and we’re all caught up in it. That’s why meditation and the cultivation of inner peace are so important, because then you go out into the world and you help to transform it.
Kristen: There’s an idea that anything that takes us out of the present moment is an addiction.
Marianne: The ego is an addiction to fear-based thinking.
Kristen: When we think of addiction we think of alcohol and drugs, not our phones or electronics…
Marianne: It’s being lured into fear-based thought, which is what addiction is.
Kristen: So talk to us about our ego. Is ego Edging God Out, or is there a need for our ego?
Marianne: This gets into semantics. I had a therapist who once talked about negative ego and positive ego. Different books and different teachings have different jargon – the way the Course uses it is similar to the way the ancient Greeks used it. It is the idea of a small, separated self. It is the false belief that I am separate from you, which is the central delusion. And as long as I believe that I am separate from you, I will be insane in my perception of you and who I am in relationship to you. That delusion is held in place by the physical senses – because in this three-dimensional reality, I am separate from you: you are over there and I’m here. On the level of the quantum field of ultimate reality, there is no place where I stop and you start. So with my physical eye, I see us as separate, but with my third eye – vision of the Holy Spirit, or whatever words you want to use – I know there is no place where I stop and you start. So what I do to you, I am actually doing to myself. And then you begin to really understand that what I do to someone in Iraq, I do to myself and so forth.
Kristen: And what I withhold from you, I withhold from myself.
Marianne: The training of enlightenment is not a learning process, it is an unlearning process. We are unlearning the thought system that the ego-mind keeps in place. The ego is nothing in itself; it is the absence of something. Darkness isn’t a thing – it is the absence of light. You turn on the light, and darkness is gone.
Love is to fear what light is to dark.
Fear is the absence of love. Dark is the absence of light. If I am in any situation with any other purpose than to love, I am vulnerable to neurotic thoughts, anxious thoughts, fearful thoughts, angry thoughts, and crazy thoughts.
The Course says that every thought creates form on some level. If I’m extending love, things happen. When I’m projecting fear, things happen too. The cause of all negative manifestation is fear.
Kristen: Do you believe we can insert this spiritual conversation into the realm of politics?
Marianne: I already have in this conversation with you – talking about ISIL, for example. Another thing that I think is very spiritual is talking about the corruption of our democracy.
The founding of our country as a democracy did not just represent a huge step forward in the political world. It was a huge step forward in the spiritual unfolding of the world – because what the idea of democracy represents is that, to the best of our ability, we will create a society in which people are able to fly at full wingspan. That’s the American dream!
What has happened in the last few years is that we have devolved. We have subconsciously recreated what is essentially an aristocratic system – call it an oligarchy, corporate-ocracy, whatever you want to call it. But it’s reverting to a system where only a few people are entitled. If only a few people can afford to get educated, if only a few people can afford health care, and if only a few people can just afford to make it and have any disposable income whatsoever, then the basic resources of our society have been shifted into the hands of a very few. That’s what has happened.
I support Bernie Sanders for president. The reason I feel so strongly about him is that I believe in the conversation of income and equality. This is not just about money, but also about justice; this is about democracy.
Kristen: The true American Dream!
Marianne: The true American Dream. Not enough people can get into the club or have access to the things necessary for a fair chance of really making their dreams come true. I think with Bernie, there is more than a political passion; there is a passion for the actualization of human beings, and that’s why democracy is important.
That’s why getting the money out of politics is, I believe, the greatest moral calling of our generation.
Kristen: What about getting more women into politics?
Marianne: Well, more women are getting in. We have a woman running for president right now, and if she wins the nomination fairly for the Democrats, I will certainly be voting for her. More women are running. I know from experience, as I ran for Congress, that it’s rough in many ways, but I think less so than it was a few years ago. Things are getting better. Look, we haven’t come all the way, but it’s important to remember the strides we have made in all of these areas, for example with race, gender, and gay rights.
Kristen: Did you have to be asked several times to run?
Marianne: No, my calling to run for office was very definitely an internal calling. There was clearly a voice that guided me to do this. Where I made my mistake was that I didn’t allow that same voice to guide every moment and every decision throughout the process. I got involved in ‘politics.’ Not in terms of the issues – I never compromised there, but in terms of running a campaign. I fell for the belief that you were supposed to do what those people tell you to do, because they ‘know.’
Kristen: Would you do it again?
Marianne: If I ever felt the calling – which I don’t. It’s not there now. Right now I’m very excited about the candidacy of Congressman Alan Grayson, who is running for the Senate in Florida. I’m excited about Bernie Sanders and I’m excited about the issues. I’m very excited about the issue of getting money out of politics. I do think we need a Constitutional amendment that will establish public funding of all federal campaigns. Running for office is one of the ways to harness a conversation — an important and powerful way, but it’s not the only way. It’s our citizenship that matters – using whatever our platforms are to bring forth the important conversations.
Particularly for American women, I feel it is our responsibility to be a moral force on the planet. One thing I admire about you, is that while doing a magazine about higher consciousness, new thought, and spirituality, you are not steering away from these really adult conversations. I think that’s another thing – we need to stick together and have each other’s back, work together, sisterhood…all of that.
Kristen: You’ve spoken recently about ‘spiritual malignancy’ and how we are kind of living in this existence where it is all about me. You had me laughing out loud when you wrote, “It’s all about me, but I wonder why my relationships aren’t working out.”
Marianne: [laughing] That’s exactly right — that’s how it will be until we shift from me to we.
Kristen: You implore each of us to do our deep underground spiritual work. It doesn’t have to be on the political or public stage. You said,
To become a miracle worker means to take part in a spiritual underground that’s revitalizing the world, participating in a revolution of the world’s values at the deepest possible level.
Marianne: There is a very intimate relationship between personal transformation and global transformation – it’s not either/or, it’s both/and.
The salvation of the world is the change of heart, the change of consciousness.
Kristen: Would you say that there is a war on consciousness or that many of us are sleepwalking, or perhaps both?
Marianne: I certainly don’t think that there is a war on consciousness. You and you alone decide what you are going to think. The only war on your consciousness is inside your own head. The ego is constantly making war on your consciousness. But those are internal chains that bind you, not external. Are we sleepwalking? First of all, even that question implies my judging where other people are. And that’s not aligned with the discipline of spirituality.
Among other things, remember – you don’t need the majority of a system to change the world. The majority didn’t wake up one day and say, Let’s free the slaves. The majority didn’t wake up one day and say, Let’s give women the right to vote.
Kristen: …or, I have a dream.
Marianne: Social change occurs because a very small group of people, who are usually considered outrageous radicals by the status quo of their time, have a better idea and history bends in their direction. It’s a critical mass – it’s nowhere near a majority. Some people say it’s Pi – that’s less than 4 percent. So don’t worry if the majority of people are sleepwalking. People are always sleepwalking, but societies change. Civilizations change because of those who are not sleepwalking. So once again, don’t worry about people who don’t agree with you. Concern yourself with harnessing the power and the social potential of the conversation that humanity needs in order to move in another direction. And the questions are, what does that look like, how do we do it, and how can each of us serve the process?
We don’t have time to indulge worrying about those who don’t agree. Build deeper connectivity with those who do.
Kristen: And to that point – talking about the youth of our world, it’s through the lens of our children that we are reminded of what is possible. In what direction would you like to see things shift for them?
Marianne: I don’t see what’s possible through the lens of children. What I do see through the lens of children, particularly as a mother, is how critically important it is that we bring forth what is possible. Children remind me of the urgency of the task. God reminds me of what is possible.
We need to move from fear to love, from blame to blessing, from judgment to forgiveness, from focus on past or future to present, to focus on us rather than just me.
You naturally attract others who are of that same kind of higher frequency, what the Course in Miracles calls ‘Mighty Companions.’ You will find yourself co-creating in synergistic relationship with other people doing better things. That’s what we need to do personally.
On a political and social level, we need to change the basic organizing principle of our society from economics to humanitarian values, from economics to brotherhood. Right now, our bottom line as a functioning society is short-term economic gain for multinational corporations and banks, represented by very few citizens. We need to change that to true democratic principles, which include a real concern for justice: economic justice, criminal justice, and brotherhood. This country should not function as a business. We are not a business.
Children don’t work, so they can’t fund the lobbyists running through the halls of Congress the way the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the private prison builders, and the defense contractors can. So if you are only making it about money, which is what we are doing today – those lobbyists represent people who are saying to Congress, “Do what we want you to do or we are going to give money to those other candidates running against you.” We need representatives and presidents that say, “My charges are the children, the citizens of this country, and the health of the democracy.” Once again, that’s why getting the money out of politics is the most important issue of all.
Kristen: How do we get the money out of politics?
Marianne: There are a lot of organizations doing very good work – Wolf PAC, Mayday, Lawrence Lessig at Harvard, New Hampshire Rebellion. I personally support Lessig’s idea of a constitutional amendment. People say: But a constitutional amendment takes so long – but that is what was needed to give women suffrage, that is what was needed to abolish slavery…it does happen, and it can happen. Anything less than that is going to continue to drive the corruption of our democracy. It’s a system of legalized bribery.
Kristen: Given all that we have touched upon here this afternoon, what wish would you leave us with? How do we return to love?
Marianne: The beauty of what is going on today is that the vast majority who are watching this right now, who are reading your magazine and so forth…are already attracted to this conversation. They already know what they need to do:
Pray more, meditate more, forgive more, be kinder, be more compassionate, be more responsible, have deeper ethics and integrity. The issue for most of us is not that we don’t know what to do. This issue is that we don’t do it enough.
The issue is not that you don’t know what spirit is telling you to do — you might not like what it is telling you to do. There are many books and teachings; mine are among thousands. Many of us know what the spiritual teaching is that calls to us, and we are doing it. Many know we should be doing it, and we are not. Others of us don’t know. Your prayer should be, Dear God, show me how I can be a vessel of love. Show me the teaching that will train my mind – and books will fall at your feet.
Kristen: …or land on your dining room table. [laughing]
Kristen: Aaaaah — Marianne, you are a divine gift.
Marianne: Thank you. So are you. It takes one to know one.
Kristen: Thank you, I am humbled by that. You are beautiful inside and out. Please keep rockin’!
Marianne: I will try my best! And best of luck with all of the work you are doing. Do you want to say a prayer? [illuminated]
Dear God, We surrender to you all that we have and all that we are. Use us for purposes of love. Make us the people that you would have us be, and do what you would have us do – that we might be the vessels that cast out all fear, for the peace that casts out all conflict. May this world be blessed. May all living things be blessed. And so it is, we all say. Amen.