From Tears to Triumph, Part 2, with Marianne Williamson
Continued from last month’s issue: Parvati Magazine spoke with Marianne Williamson about her new book, From Tears to Triumph.
Parvati Magazine: I also want to talk about another big theme in the book, you say that it is important to bear witness to another person’s suffering, that speaks to our core as compassionate beings. Can you speak to this theme of inherent interconnection?
Marianne Williamson: Yes, one of the things I talk about in the book is that we should not want to desensitize ourselves to our own suffering. The extent to which I desensitize myself to my own suffering, I’m more apt to desensitize myself to your suffering. For example, during the run-up to the Iraq war, I could not believe the conversation we were having in America. We were talking dropping bombs—terror, horror, fire onto millions of men, women and children who had not done anything to us. I was horrified by how easily Americans were willing to acquiesce to this insanity. Where did that get us? When we are treated without compassion, we are like–oh my God, how can they do that to us? What about when we treat others without compassion?
I have seen this in my life: I feel that suffering gives you x-ray vision into other people’s suffering. It’s like that line: “Whoever you meet, you can bet they are going through a great war.” Part of the problem of the modern psychotherapeutic model is that it does focus so much on individual suffering. I’m suffering because of my divorce. I’m suffering because of my breakup. Sometimes that keeps us from realizing that we are all suffering. Interconnectedness is simply a truth– at the level of spirit, there is only one of us here. So whatever you’re doing to anyone, you’re doing it to yourself. Realizing that interconnectedness is not just a theory but actual fact, it really changes things because you become much more careful, not only about how compassion is an act of generosity towards self, and how withholding it is an attack on self.
PMAG: Do you have any further thoughts about Earth interconnection?
MW: Absolutely. A Course in Miracles says that you are like sunbeams to the sun, who are thinking you are separate from other sunbeams. You are like waves in the ocean, thinking you are separate from other waves. There is really no place where one wave starts and another stops. Because on the level of quantum reality. which is ultimate fundamental truth, there’s no place where you stop and I start. Time and space themselves are, according to Einstein, A Course in Miracles and other metaphysical treatises, is itself part of the illusion, albeit a persistent one. So once you know that interconnectedness is not just a theory, then everything is different. For instance, if I think I am one wave, separate from all the other waves in the ocean, how could I not feel, at any given moment I might be completely overwhelmed by all the other waves? If you think of yourself as a wave that is part of the entire ocean, you’re not scared of the ocean. You feel like, how cool is this? When I move, it moves! It moves, I move! It’s a completely different psychological and emotional orientation when you realize you’re one with everything. You also realize it is your responsibility to yourself to give love. A Course in Miracles says we become generous out of self-interest.
That’s what enlightenment is: a shift from body identification to spirit identification. Which is the same thing as saying, a shift from thinking we are separate to thinking yourself as one and interconnected.
PMAG: If we as individuals and as a whole were better able to grasp this fact, this would likely cause a radical shift in our society.
MW: It would revolutionize everything. But if we do not—and this is the point—that we must, if we are to survive and sustain life on earth. Because, according to A Course in Miracles, that idea of our separateness is the problem of the world. And we see all around us the manifestations of this error in our thinking, that led to insane behaviour on the part of us collectively and individually. The awakening to our oneness is the salvation of our world, that is saving us from the only thing that we need to be saved from—and that is our crazy thinking.
Love is etched in all our hearts, and that’s why enlightenment is not a learning, but rather an un-learning. Unlearning the thinking of the world. We’re all born with it, but then we are taught a mindset that works against us and against everyone. We begin to experience that gap between what life could be and what it all too often is. That is where our suffering comes from. And if we see our suffering as experiencing the heartbreak of that gap, allowing ourselves to experience it, we can see it as the beginning of our spiritual journey. The only question is not whether we will get there as a human race, because we will. But what is completely up to us is how long it will take and how much suffering occurs in the meantime. We are living in an extraordinarily, critically important moment in history right now, where we are at a point of decision.
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer. Marianne has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose & Bill Maher. Seven of her twelve published books have been New York Times bestsellers. Four of these have been #1. The mega bestseller A Return to Love is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality. A paragraph from that book, beginning “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers.