It was 20 years ago that best-selling author Marianne Williamson appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show with her book “A Return to Love,” based on the principles in “A Course in Miracles.” Since then, it has sold more than a million and a half copies, been published in 23 languages, and spent 39 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.
And today, the book remains “as timely now as ever,” said Oprah on a recent Super Soul Sunday discussion with the author.
“In a Course in Miracles it says the thought system of the human race is dominated by fear, and it has been for ages and so enlightenment is an unlearning of the thought system based on fear, and instead the acceptance of a thought system based on love,” Williamson explained. “Love is about letting go of the fears that stand in front of our hearts and letting in the love, and then acting from that.”
Reading from book Oprah said: “The reason so many of us are obsessed with becoming stars is because we are not yet starring in our own lives. The cosmic spotlight isn’t pointed at you, it radiates from within you,” which sparked a discussion about the law of attraction and obtaining what we want in life. Williamson had an answer for her.
“A lot of this talk of ‘if you think it you can get it’ … the difference between magic and miracles is that magic is when you use your mind to tell the universe what you want. Miracles are when you ask the universe what it wants and how you can serve it,” she said, explaining every one of us has an individualized curriculum for their lives, and we are constantly learning – even when we are waiting for the next thing that we believe will make us happy.
“A lot of times people think, ‘I want another relationship or another experience or another job,’ in order for ‘it’ to be happening, but ‘it’ is our being the people that we are capable of being, and the perfect lesson for us to practice being who we are capable of being is whatever is happening now … people think some day my path will start, but whatever is happening in this moment is the path,” she told Oprah.
The Course says a miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love, but when our hearts are closed off, we are “deflecting the miracle which would otherwise be happening,” said Williamson.
A practice she shared with Oprah is for us to open our hearts is to ask, “Who do I need to forgive? Where am I holding a grudge? Where am I not giving? Because only what I’m not giving can be lacking in any situation. Where am I showing up with attitude? Where am I showing up with unkindness?”
In her workshops, she often sends people home with the homework of praying for whomever they consider an enemy or someone who betrayed them or hurt them. She asks they do this for 30 days, every morning for at least 5 minutes if they can.
“The course says your greatest power to change the world is your power to change your mind about the world,” she explained. “Our minds are joined. There really is no place where you stop and I start, so if I pray for you, if I pray for your happiness, either you will behave differently or I won’t care.”
She also explained what she called “Divine Compensation,” (she has a new book based on this coming out in November) where if anyone does something to harm us, the universe jumps right on it because it is “self-organizing and self-correcting.” This means the universe will make sure that if something is taken from us from another person in the material world, it will be given back us. But if our hearts remained closed, we won’t be open to receive it.
“Just like the embryo turns into a baby and the bud blossoms, your life is already programmed in the mind of God to its highest creative possibility,” she said. “Everything fabulous that could happen is already programmed in the ethers of the universe. The blueprint is already there.”
Oprah asked, “So does it matter then what I do?” and Williamson said it matters that your heart is open and that you are coming from a place of love and not fear.
“It’s like a file in a computer. If my heart’s not open, I don’t download the possibility on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a file – an undeletable file – but if I don’t bring it down to the screen, if I stay in bitterness, what I’ll get on the screen is bitter. That doesn’t mean it’s not on the computer. And the title of this file is “God’s will.”
It’s not the circumstances in life that make us unhappy, it’s that we are looking at them through the filter of fear, Williamson told Oprah. The prayer she uses from the Course is “Dear God, I am willing to see this differently.”
Another practice she recommended is to “blast them with love.” This means, before we go into a meeting, on a job interview, or anything else in life, we send love in our minds to the people and the situation. We can say, “the only thing going on here is, I am going to bless that person, they are going to bless me. I don’t know if I’m supposed to get that job. My only agenda is that God’s will be done – the downloading of the file,” she said.
For more on Marianne Williamson, see our coverage of her live workshop in Los Angeles called “Enchanted Love,” looking at “A Course in Miracles” view of intimate relationships, which is the cover story of our June 2012 issue.