February 2, 2012

An Evening with Marianne Williamson

Last Friday, Marianne Williamson spent an evening with the ONE80CENTER family. For those who don’t know, Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer. Six of her ten published books have been New York Times best sellers. Four of these have been on top of the New York Times best sellers list. A Return to Love is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality.

marianne-williamson-300x168On a personal level, Marianne Williamson is a hero of mine. I love her message. I have read many of her books. I was introduced to A Course in Miracles through her, as her books and her lectures focus on using it to its fullest extent. That book has had an intense impact on my life—both my life as a person in recovery (by deepening my conscious contact with my Higher Power) and as a person in the world—a mother, an employee, a sponsor, a friend. My exposure to Marianne has had a profound impact on my own spiritual path, as it has on countless others.

Before I continue, I feel like I should talk about A Course in Miracles. There are many who have heard of it but don’t know much else about it. The name makes many think that it’s a lecture series or a seminar. People think Marianne wrote it. The truth is that it is a book—the first part being text and the second a workbook. The workbook consists of 365 days of exercises, one for each day. Here is an example:

Lesson 1

Nothing I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] means anything. Now look slowly around you, and practice applying this idea very specifically to whatever you see:

  • This table does not mean anything.? This chair does not mean anything.? This hand does not mean anything.

Then look farther away from your immediate area, and apply the idea to a wider range:

  • That door does not mean anything.? That body does not mean anything.? That lamp does not mean anything.
Notice that these statements are not arranged in any order, and make no allowance for differences in the kinds of things to which they are applied. That is the purpose of the exercise. The statement should merely be applied to anything you see. As you practice the idea for the day, use it totally indiscriminately. Do not attempt to apply it to everything you see, for these exercises should not become ritualistic. Only be sure that nothing you see is specifically excluded. One thing is like another as far as the application of the idea is concerned.
 
The text of A Course in Miracles was channeled through Helen Shcucman, who was a professor at Columbia University. When you read it, you just know that no human being, with all their limited faculties and, well, humanness, could have authored it. Reading that text has allowed me a much deeper insight into the nature of things specific to my experience. For instance, it says that only love is real. Anything that is not love is not real. There are lots of things that seem like they are not love taking place all the time—but these are only hallucinations, essentially, created by perception that is not in alignment with the Holy Spirit. This idea has given me a great deal of relief in my life, and has allowed me to relax into a new perception that is infinitely more graceful than being held hostage by the illusions of an ego-driven life.
 
Marianne graced us all of us in attendance at ONE80CENTER with her presence, and with her extraordinary message. It was an amazing evening, and I watched the spiritual pilot light ignite in everyone who was fortunate enough to be there. She speaks every Monday in Los Angeles, and there are hundreds of people who attend that lecture every week. She spoke of the way A Course in Miracles and the Principles of the Twelve Steps align—they both carry the message of Truth with a capital T, and Truth is Truth. She took questions from the audience and was able to shine a light on the dark spots that plague all alcoholics and addicts. I loved how she didn’t sugarcoat anything—the ego doesn’t need any mollycoddling—it needs to know we are on to it, it needs to know that we mean business!
 
She speaks from not just knowledge of the truth—we all have that, we know the difference between so called ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or the seemingly ‘good’ and ‘bad’. It’s having a deep experience with truth that dispels the myth of suffering. Experiencing the truth of choice, for example. One can explain how all life is choice, and that at every moment we can choose between being empowered or disempowered, and this comes from inside and is not dictated by external circumstance. But until one has an actual experience of the power of choice on this most fundamental level of perception, it’s all academic. However, hearing the truth and being exposed to it can and does light the way to that deeper experience and understanding.
 
Another example of how you can lead a horse to water but you can’t, as they say, make it drink—I can’t tell you how many people I have told about A Course in Miracles, or who I know have heard of it, or have it but only made it through the first five pages, etc. Here one is given an opportunity to experience life in a different way, to deepen one’s understanding of oneself and to know a peace and joy that is our birthright. And why do people not grab onto the Course with absolute fervor? Oh, a million reasons. But I can’t think of one good reason for anyone who has been exposed to A Course in Miracles not to dive into it wholeheartedly, with unbridled and unshakable commitment.
 
I frequently talk about ‘the next level’ in recovery. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that its one of the main driving forces in both my writing and my life. I have come to a place in my own ‘next level’ where I am not so much of a seeker anymore. I have become a finder. I am finding deep spiritual truths that resonate with who I am understanding myself to be, and these truths enhance my ability to be available to others, to love without reservation, to trust and flow in the divine choreography that is constantly unfolding, to respect myself and my boundaries, to know that the only limits in the world are the ones I create.
 
Marianne Williamson epitomizes the message that speaks to those of us in recovery who are ready to deepen, to understand, to experience a real atonement, a paradigm shift, and to see things in a new and sacred way.
 
If you are interested in A Course in Miracles, or, should I say, if you are interested in the next level, are you interested in being liberated from the confines of your conditioning, are you interested in seeing life like a new thing full of wonder and delight, which is the playful nature of God, click here.
 
Oh yeah, did I mention I got to go pick her up and also drive her home after the lecture? That was the icing on the cake! 

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