Six years ago, in May 2013, Dutch integrative lawyer Femke Wijdekop had the opportunity of interviewing internationally acclaimed lecturer, activist and author Marianne Williamson following the publication of her book: ‘The Law of Divine Compensation’. Williamson is running for the US Presidency in 2020. The interview has been edited and shortened. The full and largely unedited transcript is available on Femke’s website.
I was 20 when I first read the lines “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us”.
These lines, written by Marianne in her first book ‘A Return to Love’, became words of support that I would repeat in times of insecurity and self-doubt while I was searching for my place in the world. I bought ‘A Return to Love’ and loved it. I visited Marianne’s lecture in Amsterdam when I was 30 and for a few years studied ‘A Course in Miracles’.
In 2013, thanks to my work at the American Book Center, I got my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview Marianne on her book ‘The Law of Divine Compensation: on Work, Money and Miracles’. Back then, Marianne had started to show an interest in politics with her Sister Giant initiative. This year (2019) she announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the US President. It is an excellent reason to revisit our interview and share her words with you.
You’ve written a book called ‘The Law of Divine Compensation’. What is this Law and how does it work?
It is a phrase that I use that describes a particular way the universe operates. It has to do with the fact that nature takes care of itself and promotes life. The embryo turns into a baby, the bud turns into a blossom, the acorn turns into an oaktree. Once the baby is born, the lungs continue to breath, and the heart continues to beat. Obviously, there is an ‘invisible hand’ in nature, by whatever name we call it, that makes all life prosper. This self-organising aspect of the universe not only organises itself in the direction of the sustenance and furtherance of life, but it is also self-correcting. So that, for instance, not only do your lungs breath, your heart beats and aspects of your physical body work, but also, should there be injury or disease in your body, nature is set up to heal and correct it.
What this book deals with is the fact that this self-organising and self-correcting aspect of the universe is true and available in every aspect of our reality. Just as nature is set up to make the embryo turn into the baby, or to make the acorn turn into the oaktree, that same kind of divine programming exists to make your life self-actualised. Just as the acorn is programmed to become an oaktree, you and I are internally programmed to become the best that we are capable of being, and to have the lives that are the highest creative manifestation of possibility for us. The difference between you and me and the acorn, is that you and I can say ‘no’. The universe is as invested in you having the life you are capable of having, as it is in the acorn becoming the oaktree. With every thought of love we allow that divine programming to move through us.
The Law of Divine Compensation means that anytime there is any lack or diminishment in the material world, within the infinity of spiritual substance there is a capacity to compensate for that diminishment. The universe knows how to compensate, how to give what is necessary and how to give in areas where there has been lack.
When faced with lack in our own lives, how can we use the Law of Divine Compensation to correct our thinking and to access the abundance that the Universe has aligned for us?
Usually, when you think of having money problems, you do not think of asking yourself: “Whom have I not forgiven?” or “Where am I withholding love?” But in fact, that is the point. Miracles occur naturally because of expressions of love. The Universe rights itself in any way necessary when love is present. Any time we have lovelessness in our hearts, we are blocking the miracle that would otherwise occur.
When it comes to money, most of us have had our ups and downs. Often we find two types of response, one being self-directed: “It was my own fault and I don’t know how to forgive myself”, the other being anger at someone else: “I don’t know how I will forgive them”. Both are understandable. When it comes to money, sometimes we look back and think: “If only I had done this or I hadn’t done that”. Or somebody else might have treated us unfairly or caused injustice for whole groups of people. However, when we meet a limited circumstance with loveless thought – anger, bitterness, attack – we are actually meeting the limited circumstance with limited thought and that is when things spiral downwards.
The spiritual transformation is a transformation in our thinking. If we meet a limited circumstance and say: “I am a child of God; I am a child of the Divine; I am not just a mortal being. I represent something much bigger than my body; I represent Spirit.” In that realm, opportunity is unlimited. In that realm, miracles happen. In that realm, the universe – because it is self-organizing and self-correcting – has already recalibrated the trajectory of my lifelike the GPS in a car. If you take a wrong turn, it automatically recalibrates.
Enlightened thinking is shifting our sense of self-identification from who we are as material beings to who we are as spiritual beings. Depending on the way in which you identify your own self, you are programming the Universe, as it were, to give you evidence of that belief.
If I think that I am a mortal being in limited circumstances, and there are only so many pieces of the pie, and I have to struggle to get ahead, that will be my experience. But if I shift my sense to knowing that the Universe is an endless opportunity machine, and that when I give Spirit dominion in my heart and in my personal circumstances, then my energy is different, my thoughts and attitudes are different, my relationships with people are therefore different. I’m living in the present, rather than in the past or the future. People see me as someone they want to hire, invest in and partner with. An entirely expanded set of possibilities open up for me that otherwise would not have been there.
So this is what you call a miracle – a shift from fear to love?
You talk about the difference between ‘a job’ and ‘a calling’. Can you explain the difference between the two?
Usually we say things like: “I need to get a job”. As though, a job is out there somewhere. Once again, that is a thought form which arises from a very material-based view of life. The spiritual-based view of life is not that my job is something that I have to go out and get, but rather that my job is something that I was given the moment I was born. It is my calling of my soul, of my heart. It is something that arises organically from the essence of who I am. It is a career, a calling, of the artist, writer or scientist in your soul – the creator in you.
We all have creative genius. We are not taught that by the world, but we are all children of the same Divine Source. That spirit of unlimited possibility lives in all of us, whether we have actualized it yet or not. And if we have not actualized it, it’s about knowing it is there and dedicating ourselves. It’s about saying to the Universe: “Use me”. That is why I am here: “Use my hands, use my feet, use my talents and resources. Use this interview, that it may bring comfort to someone. Use this business venture, that it might help uplift the world”.
That is something we do with our minds, and if we have that kind of devotional perspective, it uplifts us and it uplifts people around us. What occurs then is an entirely different story than what would have otherwise occurred.
How would our economy look if our dominant orientation was “How can I serve?” instead of “How does this serve me?”
Right now we order our civilisation according to economic values rather than humanitarian values. That has created what is ultimately an unsustainable reality, not just for Western civilisations but for human civilisations. That is the historical calling of this moment. It cannot continue the way it is. We are now so globally interdependent that, if things truly get out of hand due to the reckless behaviour of so many people on the planet, there will be no protection by national boundaries. Once nuclear bombs go off, the radiation does not respect national boundaries. Once weather catastrophes occur, those catastrophic results do not respect national boundaries. What I think is necessary, is an entirely new consciousness. It is struggling to appear, but it is making itself know in many areas and in many ways. But there is a race for time.
There are those – and those forces tend to be backed the most by the geopolitical and economic realities of our current system – that would seek to hold on to a more protectionist view of things in which the short term economic gain for a relative few is the bottom line rather than a larger sense of justice and possibility for the human race. And then there are those who do want a larger sense of justice and possibility for the human race: the geniuses who are envisioning and manifesting new ways to be on the planet. They are still rewarding individual effort, genius and work of course but integrating into their work, the primacy and importance of feeding our children.
You say: “The biggest problem today isn’t just that hate is speaking so loudly; it’s that love is speaking too softly.” Why is this so? And how can we help each other to speak more loudly?
There is, in all of us, a tendency to perceive without love. In ‘A Course in Miracles’, this is called ‘the ego’. In Buddhism, they speak of spiritual ignorance. In traditional Christianity, there is even the concept of the devil. That which is not love.
It works in its hot way and in its cold way. When it is in its hot embodiment, it leads us to cause suffering to other sentient beings. In its cold embodiment it does not lead us to proactively cause or wish suffering to someone else, but it does tempt us to ignore the suffering of other human beings. At this point, neutral ground is not adequate to the challenges of our time. We have lived in the Western civilisation with this myth of neutrality. We were not devoting our lives to love, service, or making things easier for people, but it was OK because we did not really wish anyone any harm.
But we have learned that just not wishing anyone any harm is not enough. This means that those of us who love are called to move beyond our comfort zones. We are called to love beyond the places in which to love is easy. It is easy enough to love people who agree with us, who are nice to us, who are like us. But the love that will save the world is when we love not just our own children, but the children at the other side of town, or at the other side of the world. The love not only of people that we love, but also of people that we do not necessarily like.
So the historical challenge of this time for our species, as it is for us on our individual journey, is that every situation is an invitation to step it up. Be strong this time, even though you might have been weak when it happened last time. Stand on higher ground. Be more compassionate and generous and less selfish. Be more energetic in response to the demands of the moment than you might have been before.
That is the message for us: far more people on this planet love than hate. But those who hate, hate with a perverse kind of courage and are willing to act on their hate. People who hate seem more willing to act on their hate than those who love seem to be willing to act on their love. That is the calling of this moment.
It is a global drama that is acting out. And just like certain germs and viruses enter the body, which is inevitable, but we have an immune system to flush them out, in our societies boosting our social immune system is absolutely imperative. I don’t think any baby is born to be a terrorist. I don’t think any baby is born to hate or to be a criminal. But we do not address the needs of children in their earliest years of life enough to really cut off the greater possibility that the child will be lured in very dysfunctional or even criminal behaviour as an adult.
What has helped you the most to move beyond your comfort zone and start loving those who were hard to love?
My father was born, and grew up, in poverty. He was the son of Russian immigrants and the bitterness of poverty remained within him. He never forgot it and never lost the profound compassion for those who were experiencing the hardships that he and his family experienced when he was young, and he never let his children forget it. Eventhough my father did well and became a successful immigration attorney, his sense of social justice was very strong and he constantly reminded his children of everyone’s moral responsibility to appreciate not only our own good fortune, but to never forget those who had not yet had theirs. I think that parents leave a kind of imprint on the souls of their children. It’s deeper than just an influence if we were fortunate enough to have parents who gave us great gifts such as my father gave me. It is in your psychic bloodstream.
And as a student of ‘A Course in Miracles’, I think that there is no serious spiritual path that does not address the suffering of other sentient beings.
How can we keep the faith and discipline alive to not rely on what our senses tell us and to act from a place of love?
That is the purpose of a serious spiritual path: prayer, meditation, inspirational reading. A serious spiritual path is like exercising your mental and emotional muscles. It really works no differently than doing physical exercises to hone your physical muscles. You do spiritual exercise – prayer, meditation and so forth to hone your spiritual, mental and emotional muscles. The thinking of the world is dominated by fear and if we just wake up in the morning and give ourselves over to the fear, anger and mean-spiritedness of the world in which we live, our minds tend to work against us. But if we surrender our minds to be used for higher purposes of love, and we devote ourselves to that, than our minds can be used in completely different ways. But this takes emotional discipline. And the problem many of us have is that our minds are very undisciplined and we end up doing things, saying things, even thinking and feeling things that work against us rather than for us, because we did truly not ground ourselves in love.
You’ve written the famous lines: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” Was this also your own biggest fear, and how can we break through this fear and emerge at the other side?
It is interesting. I do not know how this paragraph (and that is what it is, it was not a poem, but simply a paragraph in my first book ‘A Return to Love’) got singled out the way it did or how the urban mythology came into existence that Nelson Mandela would have quoted those words. I would be honoured if he had, but he simply didn’t.
The popularity of this paragraph has been interesting to me.
‘A Return to Love’ is a reflection on the principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’. The idea that we are more afraid of our light than of our darkness is simply a concept from the Course, as is every paragraph in my book. I always say: “If you like the paragraph you will love the book.”
Our darkness is the ego mind. It tells us that we are small and limited, that we are practically powerless and have a very short time on this Earth, that we are bound by our mistakes and we have to compete and struggle to get anything good at all.
If we shift our perception and realise that, through the power within us, we are not limited by our mistakes when we atone and take responsibility for them. That in every moment, there is an unlimited opportunity to begin again, and that love is infinite abundance in the universe. Albert Einstein said: “The most important decision you will ever make is whether you live in a friendly or in a hostile universe”.
If you embrace the light, which is that it is an unlimited and friendly universe and you are loved, this is the death of the ego. The ego mind is terrified of that. The reason the ego does not want you to go there is because the ego wants to preserve itself. So, all of us have this perverse comfort zone, which is the belief in our own limitations and smallness.
If you do embrace something bigger, this is not arrogant but humble because you are not taking personal credit for the fact that you are an unlimited being.
It also calls us to rise to the occasion. You do not have an excuse to be weak. You do not have an excuse why you are not serving or showing up for other people and the planet. If we are honest with ourselves, we see how often we resist our own magnificence. Because then you have to get out of bed and be a better person, a more impressive person that day. Yet we can also see where that leaves us both personally and collectively if we choose to remain small.
Scottish lawyer Polly Higgins is someone who is certainly rising to the occasion with her tireless efforts to make Ecocide an international crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
That sounds very conscious. Millions of us in the United States would be very happy to see some of these extractive corporations held accountable, not only for their destruction of the environment but also for causing so much economic injustice. Like I said, hope is a moral imperative and any time any nation in any part of the world does anything, it affects, at the very least, the thinking in another part of the world. It would be great for the planet and to us Americans. Her work and vision gives a lot of motivation and inspiration to the environmental movement here in the United States that is struggling to make these kind of changes. I think it sounds wonderful and I bow before the bravery and the high-minded perspective that is represented by her.
[On Easter Sunday, 21 April, news was shared that Polly Higgins had passed away peacefully, following a short illness, with her husband and close friends beside her. To continue Polly’s work and to declare yourself an Earth Protector to help make Ecocide Law a certainty, VISIT THE STOP ECOCIDE WEBSITE HERE. Read an interview with Polly Higgins here.]
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON is an American author, lecturer, and activist. She has written 13 books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery program that serves home-bound people with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. She is also the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization supporting peace-building projects.
In 2014, as an Independent, Williamson ran unsuccessfully for the seat of California’s 33rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives elections in California. On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.