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September 30, 2008

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary

Dear Friends,

October marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of my beginning to lecture on A COURSE IN MIRACLES.

I had not lived in Los Angeles long, when in l983 I began working at The Philosophical Research Center on Los Feliz Blvd. I had come to Los Angeles after a very painful period of my life, with little money, few friends and all that boundless, crazy courage that you have when you're still young.

It was at the PRS that I was asked to give my first lecture on A Course in Miracles. I remember how excited I was, and how hard I worked to prepare for that talk. Also - amazingly, given that I cannot say this about any one of the literally thousands of lectures I have given over the last twenty-five years - I remember exactly what I was wearing that Saturday morning! I remember my red skirt and red shoes, the white sweater, and my silver necklace that my mother had brought to me from Pakistan or Afghanistan. I even remember - how I love this - my beige pantyhose! And I cannot remember for sure, but I think there is a distinct possibility that I wore red lipstick as well!

Of course, that morning changed my life. Later in the afternoon, the President of the Philosophical Research Society called me at home and asked if I would like to give lectures on A Course in Miracles once a week for a whole year. And that was that. She had given me my career.

There are no words for the gratitude that I feel for the privilege of doing what I do. Not a day goes by that I do not consciously realize what a deeply fortunate person I am. I remember praying, on the day I first began reading the Course myself, 'Dear God, please use me." I hope that He has.

The last twenty-five years have not always been easy for me, but they have always been rewarding. I think now of all the extraordinary moments I have had, with so many people in so many places, and I am struck by the miracle of my life so far. There are no words with which I can thank God, or you, enough.

That girl in the red skirt is reaching across the years today, as I now contain within myself both maiden and crone. Thank you for taking the walk you have taken with me. I send you peace and gratitude and love...


Posted by mwblog at 8:28 AM

September 29, 2008

A Mighty Wind

(Originally posted on February 27, 2008)

Every once in a while, a mighty wind blows.

The political sentiments now storming America in the form of support for Barack Obama are a mighty wind indeed. For those trying to say this is all just hot air, it's time to point out that so is a windstorm. And storms have a function, in nature and in us. They blow away everything not built on a firm foundation, and make room for a lot of new growth.

I'm a boomer, so I know this feeling. We have been here before. We knew what Bob Dylan meant when he sang, "Something's going on here, but you don't know what it is….Do you, Mr. Jones?" And something is going on again. What we're experiencing here is a new conversation– something qualitatively different than the promises of effective problem-solving that pass for an excitement factor in his opponent's campaign.

Try to dismiss it though she might, someone who has the capacity to change a society's conversation has the capacity to change the society. From Bob Dylan to Gloria Steinem to John Lennon to Martin Luther King, Jr., people who use words to foster new thinking are the ones we see in retrospect to have opened doors to a better world. Hillary was right when she said Dr. King couldn't have passed Civil Rights legislation without Lyndon Johnson, but Johnson couldn't have done it without King, either. Johnson had the Presidency, but King had the vision. Today we have the historic opportunity – one that comes around only rarely – to have President and visionary be the same person.

A great national leader does not speak just to circumstances; he arouses a nation's soul. The idea that Obama could not only arouse our soul but also handle our circumstances (has he not handled a pretty formidable circumstance already, giving her such a run for her money?) seems far more probable to me than that Hillary could not only handle our circumstances but also arouse our soul.

Jefferson. Lincoln. Roosevelt. Kennedy. Damn right, their words mattered. Try googling "great speeches" and see what comes up. Great words and great speeches have changed the world because they have changed the way we see the world.

Washington-think is so old-fashioned, so treat-the-symptom-and-pretend-you-healed-the-disease, protect-the-status-quo type of stuff that millions gave up on it a long time ago as an agent of true social improvement. But while few of us are looking to the American government to save the world, we'd prefer that it not destroy it either. Obama was right when he said that we have to do more than just end the war in Iraq; we need to end the mindset that produced it.

At the end of World War II, in the last speech he ever wrote yet died before having a chance to deliver, President Franklin Roosevelt said, "We must do more than end war. We must end the beginnings of all war." The source of the debacle in Iraq was not an event; it was a mindset. The source of our environmental problems was not an event; it was a mindset. The source of every problem is the mindset that preceded it. And only someone who can speak to the source of a problem can eradicate its roots.

The ability to inspire new thinking is a more important ability in a leader today, than simply being a "problem-solver." We're always trying to solve something…. solve health care…solve the economy… solve social security, and so forth. Yet according to Carl Jung, our most important problems cannot be solved; they must be outgrown. Just figuring out who has a better plan with which to treat the symptoms of a problem is not the one who ultimately solves it. What we need is someone with a better state of mind, who will lead us to a better state of ours.

Being swept up in Obama's inspirational ability is not naïve; thinking inspirational ability doesn't count for much, is in fact naïve. For in the ability to inspire lies the ability to command the most powerful forces of all. No plan, no piece of legislation, no Washington strategy or political maneuvering would alone be enough to change the probability vector of America's future. For that, we would need a mighty wind. And a mighty wind now blows.

----- Marianne Williamson

Posted by mwblog at 8:59 AM

September 27, 2008

My Journey to Obama

By Marianne Williamson

(Originally posted on January 29, 2008)

I didn't start out with him.

I thought people were projecting wildly onto him, making positive assumptions that he had not earned and filling in empty spaces in his resume with mere hopes of substance. But the longer campaign season has worked for me; having watched the candidates move through time, I've seen who's grown and who hasn't.

And I've ended up with Obama.

I'm perplexed by the question often presented by his opponents, "Yeah, but how is he really going to change things?" To me, he already has. He has awakened the sleeping giant of American democracy, and that is the greatest antidote to every problem we face.

Then there's the "Yeah, but it's all just pretty words" argument. Oh please. Kind of like, "Of the people, by the people, and for the people"? "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"? "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country"? And "I have a dream"? Are we to think words never actually changed the world? For me personally, he had me at "Yes, We Can."

Of course, there's the notion that someone else might know what to do from Day One, given how much experience she's already had in Washington. But one of the things I like about Obama is that he hasn't had more experience in Washington. I think he's had just enough to know what he's doing, but not so much that his consciousness has been completely permeated by the rules of that game. When I think of the American government, I'm reminded of a line oft said in Alcoholics Anonymous, "Your best thinking got you here." I don't support Obama because of his position on specific issues; I support him because of his worldview.

To quote Einstein: "We will not solve the problems of the world from the level of thinking we were at when we created them." Obama is a dreamer, and I say Good for him. Only Bobby Kennedy's mythic idealist – who "dreams of what hasn't been and asks 'why not?'" -- will have the power to lead with a new state of consciousness. And nothing short of a new state of consciousness will create a new state of the world.

Obama is a risk -- as is any new President, actually -- because we don't really know where he would lead us. But his main opponent, in my mind, is a greater risk -- because we do. She has clarity and brilliance about a world that is, but he has visions and intimations of a world that could be. He's the natural heir to Bobby Kennedy's mantle of a pioneer who seeks a newer world. There's a wagon train behind him, and I'm on it.

Because I am a dreamer too.

Posted by mwblog at 9:08 AM

September 25, 2008

And Now, Her Greatness

By Marianne Williamson
(Originally posted on June 8, 2008)

There is something about politicians -- particularly Democrats, I think -- that makes them rise to their best when they're making concession speeches.

All the way back to Michael Dukakis, I remember thinking as I heard him concede, "Well if you'd been that person during the campaign, you might have won!" When Al Gore conceded to George Bush at the end of the 2000 debacle, he showed at last the deep passion that had been so obscured by his wooden delivery on the campaign trail. And Hillary Clinton finally broke through on Saturday; she showed at the last some humility and authenticity, the absence of which had made so many of us unable to support her in her campaign against Obama. She lost the election, but it looks like she won her soul back. And with that, I think she restarted her career.

There is a psychological principle that people hear you on the level that you're speaking from. If it's all in your head, then someone hear you with their head. But if it's coming from your heart, then someone will hear you with their heart. And that's not just metaphor; it's brain functioning. Throughout her campaign, with almost every word she uttered, Hillary Clinton spoke to us from that smart head of hers. And like everyone, she was fated to crash into a wall with that. No matter how smart we are, we don't break through to our greatness until our mind has been humbled. There is a higher intelligence than the intellect, and that is the ceiling Hillary was not able to break through. She depended on intellect, force of will, external alliances, and political strategizing -- while Obama subsumed all those things under what Mahatma Gandhi called soul force.

Until Saturday, that is. The loss of this campaign seems to have taken Hillary Clinton to her knees, and who among us cannot appreciate the pain of that. But it is everyone's destiny to finally get there, not as an end to anything but our own outsized egos, and the beginning of the process of finding our true selves.

I did not support Hillary Clinton in her race for the White House, but as she gave her speech on Saturday, I found myself spontaneously getting up from my seat, giving her a standing ovation in the middle of my hotel room and applauding her loudly as she spoke. What ended for her is small compared to what finally has begun for her. She has always been good -- and now, at last, I have a feeling that she might become great.

Finally, she spoke from her heart. And my heart heard.

Posted by mwblog at 9:15 AM