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March 22, 2006

Rick Tarnas Amazing New Book

Dear Friends,

My friend Rick Tarnas (The Passion of the Western Mind) wrote an amazing
new book called Cosmos and Psyche. There's a great interview with him on Candadian radio that you can access:

http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/archives/2006/031906.html

Enjoy,
Marianne

Posted by mwblog at 8:23 AM

March 14, 2006

Praying Away the Bird Flu

If and when (God forbid) the bird flu explodes into full-scale catastrophe, there will be no lack of prayers, prayer vigils or religious healing services. All of a sudden we will turn our attention in droves to prayers for God to heal us. I would be praying as much as anyone were that to happen, but I'll be darned if I'm going to wait until then. I'm praying right now that He will send this thing away.

That is what I find perplexing about so much of of organized religion today. For all its emphasis on doctrine and dogma, where is its emphasis on the power of prayer when we are confronted with our collective problems? If prayer works at all, then it works on everything. God can address group concerns as well as individual entreaties: He didn't part the Red Sea so only one or two could walk through. Religious leaders should be exhorting everyone, right now, to pray for God to turn away what could conceivably become one of the most horrific experiences of our lifetime. Either you believe in the power of prayer or you don't -- and if you do, this is not the time to refrain.

There is Biblical reference to the "prayers of the righteous," suggesting God bends His ear just a little bit more to the truly pure of heart. And perhaps that's where we would be stymied in any spiritual effort to pre-empt the bird flu. For a pandemic means a disease that strikes everywhere, all over the world, and a prayer for healing is a prayer for love. How many people are ready to pray for everyone?

We can realize the oneness of humanity -- or we can continue to withhold our capacity for universal compassion, stay stuck in the same self-centered spot and passively accept whatever fate seems to have in store for us. But at this point, on the issue of the bird flu denial is pointless. According to the most reliable scientific predictors, what it has in store for us if it happens -- is nothing short of terrifying. While scientific efforts progress at full tilt, any additional work we can do to ward off the disease or at least ameliorate its effects is of the utmost importance And yet, we are stymied by our own resistance to pulling out all the stops when it comes to praying for the entire world. It confronts us with our own narrowness and spiritual selectivity to be told that we should include everyone in our compassion. Yet a young mother struggling for her own life, tending to her baby who is struggling for his or hers, would not really be so different were she in Africa or in Boston. It would appear that anything we might do to ward off this potential scourge would be a very good idea indeed.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it's said that every problem comes bearing its own solution. What the bird flu bears is the challenge to become a deeply, universally loving species. And why is that? From a spiritual perspective, it is so that our prayers will carry power to break the code on one of the most pernicious viruses to ever strike humanity. If enough of us pray, if enough of us forgive, if enough of us meditate, if enough of our hearts melt, if enough walls come down, if enough of us turn away from that which is not love and embrace that which is, then it will change the structure of the universe. And then the virus will have no need to come here. It will have made its point, and we will have gotten it.

In A Course in Miracles it is written that some people would rather die than change their minds. Some people would rather die than accept that the purpose of our lives is to learn to love everyone, whoever they are and wherever they are. Not to like them necessarily, as Martin Luther King, Jr. used to point out -- but to still love that spark of divinity which God has placed in every heart. And when we do, we see nothing the same way that we saw it before. Our minds open, our hearts open, and our prayers take flight. We become natural healers, of ourselves and others. And then a flu, however pernicious, becomes just one more opportunity for us to wield the power of God's love to heal all things.

This flu is going to change us -- it will either change us now or it will change us later. It will either transform us through wisdom or it will transform us through suffering. The choice is ours -- whether the bird flu will bring us to our knees now, as we pray for God to turn it away; or later, when we're left simply praying for the strength to endure the pain.

We don't have to simply wait for the thing to get here. We can remember who we are, why we were born and what our power is. We can pray away this flu, that through the grace of God, it will go back to the nothingness from whence it came. But the spectre of its coming will have left us a valuable gift -- the remembrance of what we're truly made of, and that we're made of it together. Our fear of the bird flu will decrease in direct proportion to our willingness to embrace our oneness as a human race. Such is the mercy and the greatness of God, that such fear shall have been dissolved in the presence of so much love.

Marianne Williamson

-- Published in the Detroit Free Press

Posted by mwblog at 5:20 PM