MY FRIEND AND MENTOR
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON SHARES
WITH US HOW SPIRITUALITY CAN
GUIDE YOUR SUCCESS
Marianne Williamson has been called one of the most influential voices of her generation. Having built her career as a teacher and spiritual guide around the study of the book A Course in Miracles, she has introduced millions to this universal spiritual text and inspired so many of us to be more loving.
For me, meeting Marianne was a pivotal moment in my life, spirituality, and career. I had the privilege to work for her during my twenties and have continued to learn from her how to be a woman, an entrepreneur, and mostly myself ever since. Working on the Divine Living Magazine’s Spiritual Issue, I thought it was the perfect moment to include Marianne and have her shed light on some of the biggest challenges and callings we face as women entrepreneurs.
Marianne is of course a well-established entrepreneur in her own right, having authored nearly a dozen internationally best-selling books and maintaining a thriving speaking career for decades. Read on for Marianne’s enlightened and clear guidance on building a meaningful career that allows for both financial abundance and global impact.
Gina: I want to start with some background. Our relationship goes way back. When I first met you, I was at the very beginning of my career. And you were the first woman I met who really epitomized to me everything that I wanted to be, from being spiritual, to being smart and substantive, to making a difference in the world, to running a successful business and having a great sense of style and fashion—in one person. I’d love for you to talk about how you developed that, or how you gave yourself permission to be all that you are in all of those different areas?
Marianne: I have never liked labels and I have always resisted anyone’s notion of how I should be, professionally or personally—sometimes to a fault. So it never occurred to me to dress or to talk or to do anything else in any other way than what seemed right to me. I think our authenticity, which is of course a word used a lot these days, is our greatest gift.
“I think limiting myself always ends up limiting what I can give to others.”
Gina: Is it that authenticity which led you to write your first book, A Return to Love?
Marianne: A Return to Love grew out of my work with A Course in Miracles, and my work with A Course in Miracles grew out of my own study of the material. I went to the Course then as I do now with my own pain and my own questioning and my own desire to grow, just like everyone else. I think that all of us, when on any serious spiritual path, begin to sense a kind of internal guidance illuminating our paths. One of us might be led into business, another into writing, one into education, another into the healing arts, one of us into politics and so forth, just as different cells in the body are led to where they will best be put to use—some to the liver, some to the lungs, some to the heart. But we’re all here doing whatever it is we do with the same spiritual purpose, and that is to help elevate the energy in whatever corner we find ourselves, to create the good, the true, and the beautiful. To foster a higher awareness and a more compassionate way of being in whatever industry or professional niche we enter.
Gina: For women entrepreneurs who are desperately seeking — “What is my niche? Where do I leave my mark? What is my purpose?” — what would you say to these women?
Marianne: First of all, give up the desperation because it only gets in the way. The desperation emerges from a lot of false thinking that is promulgated today in the name of a success mentality, which is not actually a success mentality at all. Everyone is out there trying to find their own unique gift, when they would be better off trying to find their next loving thought.
“Our power does not lie in that which makes us unique, our power lies in that which makes us just like everyone else.”
In our commonality lies spiritual truth. When we ask “what makes me special?” we are seeking our salvation in a sense of separation from the rest of life, and that is not where our true specialness lies. Our true specialness lies in knowing that in fact no one person is all that special. Miracles do not come from specialness, miracles come from love, and they come naturally from love. So the highest prayer for career success is “Dear God please use me.” And God can be whatever you define God as in your life, whatever higher power. But when the prayer of our heart is that we be used for something higher than ourselves, that our work be a conduit for love, for the elevation of someone’s life, for service, for mercy, for compassion, it doesn’t matter what we are doing.
I met a woman the other day who had just sold a business she started five years ago for hundreds of millions of dollars. And the business emerged from the thought that people who do not have a lot of money should still have access to tools for good financial planning. Now we can talk about all kinds of external reasons why someone could start a business that in five years sells for hundreds of millions of dollars, but the cosmic forces that caused that kind of abundance in her life, were brought in with a very compassionate thought.
Gina: What would you say to the woman who is seeking, feeling divinely inspired, doing good work in the world, and has a great business going. Then, she opens up her Facebook news feed, and she starts seeing people who are doing what she wants to do and gets jealous, or feels inferior and thinks, “Why can’t that be me?” and gets thrown off track in her career?
Marianne: If the woman had meditated that morning, she would not be emotionally sunk by that. We meditate and we pray and we do serious spiritual practice in order to align our nervous systems with the truth of our being. And in the truth of our being, we realize that all of us are special but none of us are special.
And the more we salute the greatness in each other, the more we attract that same greatness to ourselves, and the more we can learn from the success of others.
“We realize that not all of us move at the same rate and that potential for greatness lies in all of us.
Small emotions like jealousy weigh us down, and the best way to get rid of them is to surrender them to God and ask that He take them away.
Gina: What role do you see the woman entrepreneur playing in the world right now?
Marianne: Being an entrepreneur is neither holy nor unholy. Like everything else, its holiness is determined by the purpose the mind ascribes to it. If you are in business just to make money for yourself and
build your own individual kingdom, then that is not a business mentality supported by spiritual forces.
“If your idea of being an entrepreneur is so that you can be part of the great revolutionary move by which we are seeking to change the world, then you are summoning the aid of spiritual forces.”
I’m very moved by entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, who in his very good book Screw Business as Usual, talks about how the purpose of business is to change the world. And no one can say that he has not manifested abundance. So I think that when any of us succeed with that kind of consciousness, we are co-creating with others a revolution of consciousness, a revolution of love, that not only lifts all of us up, but harnesses collective power to interrupt some very devolutionary trajectories in the world at this time.
Gina: Will you talk about what it means when you say your enlightened self is your real self?
Marianne: Our enlightened self is our purely loving self. All of us have had enlightened moments, all of us, but we’ve also all had childhood wounds. So there are moments in all of our lives and places in all of our personalities, wounded places, where it is as though the wires got crossed, and we go into a kind of emotional muscle spasm and we do not feel in that moment that we can extend love and still get our needs met.
Those wounded places and the behavior that emerges from those places, blocks the love that would otherwise extend from us, and by blocking that love they deflect the miracles that would otherwise come to us naturally. So the work of personal growth is the work of dissolving those darkened, wounded, fear-based places so that the love in us can naturally shine through. Enlightenment is simply an unlearning of the thought system of the world in order to actualize the truth of pure love that is already within us. This process is as relevant to our businesses and careers as to any other aspect of our lives. Everything we do is infused with the consciousness with which we do it. So any area of our life where we are not yet healed and whole, is an area that will bite us in the ass in work as much as in any other area.
Gina: Speaking of a wounded area, many women entrepreneurs have started businesses to transform their own lives and the lives of many others, and much of the transformation occurs around a money story or a money wound. Can you speak to that?
Marianne: The first thing we want to ask ourselves is who am I judging, and who am I not forgiving. In A Course in Miracles it says “Beware the danger of an unrecognized belief.” I’ve come to realize that at one point in my life, I had a lot of judgment of people with great wealth. I made assumptions about their values and so forth. Now in truth I’ve met enlightened people as well as people who clearly had a lot of work to do on themselves among those who were very rich and among those who were very poor. So wealth does not in anyway determine the true value of someone’s life or the true state of their consciousness. Not to mention, who am I to judge? So when we look at that—how we really view those who have money, I think we find a lot of answers. I also think that a large part of the fuel that accumulates in wealth, has to do with our sense of its purpose. If you want to make money in order to play at a bigger level, to be a change agent at a higher level, I think that is fuel for the money fuel tank. Any thought of love, for instance, “I want money to help be part of the great revolutionary change at this time, I want money so I can create jobs for other people, I want money so I can be part of the highest level of problem-solving going on in the world today,” is the kind of thinking that draws money from cosmic sources.
Gina: So for any woman who’s dealing with insecurity, lack of self-worth, or conflict about, “Can you really be spiritual and be wealthy?” or “Who am I to receive an abundant level of wealth,” what would you say to her?
Marianne: What is spiritual about the stress that poverty brings? How are you helping a poor person by thinking that thought? Wouldn’t it be more helpful to the poor of the world for you to have enough money to be able to help create jobs and give charitable contributions and so forth?
Secondly, in terms of our self-worth, if what we’re trying to do is to build self-confidence, the last thing we should do is to think of ourselves as more worthy or more deserving than anyone else. The way to build your self-confidence is to know that there is a spirit in all of us, no more in you than in me but no less in you than in me, through which the same force that turns embryos into babies and acorns into oak trees, has already programmed us to live our creative manifestation that is our potential in this lifetime. That is simply the way nature operates.
Nature fosters growth and expansion. Why should we assume that the same genius that keeps planets revolving around the sun somehow stops working when it comes to the development of our lives? There is already a divine programming.
All of us are inherently designed to become all that we can be and to create abundance at the highest level of possibility for us and for all living things in this lifetime. The difference between you and me, and the acorn, is that we can say no. When we turn our hearts to stone, when we move into self-centeredness, when we move into fear, into anger—any loveless attitude deflects the miracle, which is then held in trust for us until we are ready to receive it.
Any loving thought, like, “May my business be a conduit of love,” praying in the morning for all of your employees, employers and colleagues, sending peace from your heart to theirs, is a miracle working agent.
Imagine the universe as already wired with electricity and that electricity is God, however you define God. All of us are lamps. It doesn’t matter the size, shape or color of the lamp, all that matters is that the lamp be plugged in. With every thought of mercy, every thought of compassion, every meditation, every thought of good and happiness for all living things, those are the moments that plug us in.
So it’s not that you are more worthy than anyone else, it’s that you’re not less worthy than anyone else. Because at that deepest level what matters is not the lamp, what matters is the light bulb, and that light
bulb is a power that is in us but not of us.
It’s counter intuitive, but one of the most success-producing thoughts is the realization that you of yourself are no big deal. You are the faucet, you are not the water. Trying to be the water, trying to be special, trying to find your own uniqueness, is actually a fear-producing mentality. Free yourself of that by asking only to be servant to that which is good, true, and beautiful.
Gina: One last question. How does one live a miraculous life?
Marianne: By seeking in every moment to be as loving as we can, knowing that none of us make it all the time, lightening up with ourselves, atoning in our hearts when we’ve fallen off the spiritual wagon, apologizing and making amends, staying humble, knowing that until such point as we are enlightened masters of course we’re going to get it wrong some times, but to honor the journey and to make the journey itself and the efforts we make every day the point and the purpose of our lives.
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