CHICAGO — Marianne Williamson is known for her message of choosing love over fear, a theme that has been received by millions through her lectures, teachings and best-selling books, including A Return to Love (Harper).
We caught up with Williamson as she was promoting her new book, The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles (HarperOne).
Following is an edited transcript of our conversation, which focused on learning to thrive amid the difficulties of a fast-paced world.
Q: Society often encourages being aggressive to get ahead, but that goes against a lot of your teachings.
A: Its an illusion to believe that we ever need to be controlling, judgmental, defensive or attacking in order to succeed in the world. Do we need to be firm, self-confident, responsible and so forth? Absolutely. But a large part of this conversation has to do with releasing the idea that we ever need the harsh, fear-based mind to succeed.
We face the world at large often seeing other people as simply factors that may or may not be helpful in getting what we need. This is a soulless perspective on life and such a deeply inaccurate perception of what other people are and what they offer us. This is a terrible guide to any kind of abundant living.
Q: You say to get more in life, we have to give. Can you elaborate?
A: We tend to forget to ask ourselves, What am I giving here? instead of What am I getting here? We all have different jobs, but on a spiritual level we all have the same career, and that is to be vessels of love and upliftment. The purpose of a job is not just to make money; a purpose of a job is to make those around us happier, if possible.
Q: You say in your new book that people often believe that, to be spiritual, they shouldnt have wealth. Can you explain?
A: That thought form originated ages ago. Think of the line in the Bible, Blessed are the poor. If you look back many hundreds of years ago or even thousands, you can see where that view would have been a comfort. Today, however, it causes confusion and complacency. Its a very unhelpful perspective because theres nothing holy or beautiful about bread lines. Theres nothing spiritual when money stops circulating in society. When it does, the consequence is very real suffering.
There are many people in our society today who are carrying an awful judgment of the poor. Terrible, disgusting stereotypes that portray the poor among us as a bunch of lazy, entitled people who are not trying. At the same time, there are many among us who have equally stereotypical views of the rich, and they have projections and views that the rich must be unethical and greedy. That stereotype is unhelpful and inaccurate as well.
No socioeconomic group has a monopoly on righteousness. There are loving rich people and there are loving poor people.
Q: What advice do you have for a person who finds herself the target of someone elses anger or rage?
A: The first thing to do is to do nothing. Count to 10 before you respond to these kinds of interactions. Do not send an email. Do not (send) a text. Do not make a call. Allow yourself to process the feeling of injustice and the feeling of the attack before you do anything.
We tend to want to jump directly into (a) reaction, and thats our instinctive impulse to react to the blow. We just want to pour gasoline on the fire, which starts a cycle of emotional violence: attack, defense, attack, defense.
From a spiritual perspective you take the experience into your heart or into meditation and from that place you will emerge with a wisdom and a clarity and with a peace that you would have not otherwise had, had you not had control of your impulses at that point.