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In this comforting, inspirational companion to the No1 "New York Times" bestseller, "A Return to Love", Marianne Williamson returns to her spiritual roots, writing on the art of nurturing a thriving soul in a harsh world. What do your spiritual convictions have to do with traffic jams, job anxiety, reading the newspaper, or arguing with your spouse? Everything, according to Marianne Williamson. It is the way we live in our everyday world that determines the shape of who we are. So Buddhist or Muslim, Christian or Jew, it is the moment when your child fails an exam, when your best friend lands your dream job, or your business instinct tells you to watch your back, that tests and builds our living faith. With an attitude of hope, a call to forgive, a celebration of miracles, and the promise of strength and grace, Williamson helps us find our sacred footing on ordinary ground. No matter where we are or what we're doing, no matter what difficulties we face, there is always an opportunity to be happy, to connect with the spiritual - and to open our hearts and our minds. In the book of hours, Marianne Williamson teaches us to ride the currents of life and to seek out the sacred that will bring forth a sea change of the soul.
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Marianne Williamson is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestsellers A Return to Love, A Woman's Worth, Healing the Soul of America, Enchanted Love and Illuminata. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Reclaiming Our Magic
My father used to speak of the Byzantine Rule, which is that nothing is as it appears to be. I have always had a sense that something is missing in this world-that at the very least there is something important we're not discussing.
I believe that hunger for a "lost dimension" of experience is a natural yearning in all of us, and it doesn't go away just because we ignore it. It is evidenced among other places in the millions of children and adults who obsessively read the Harry Potter books. It is said that fiction is where someone gets to tell the truth. We are a bunch of silly Muggles, and we really do miss out on the magic of existence. There's a collective knowing that a dimension of reality exists beyond the material plane, and that sense of knowing is causing a mystical resurgence on the planet today. It's not just children who are looking for a missing piece. It is a very mature outlook to question the nature of our reality.
We are like birds who have forgotten we have wings, kings and queens who have forgotten our royal heritage. We feel enslaved by conditions that should have no power to bind us, and powerless before forces over which we have been given dominion. No wonder our children are drawn to reading about a world in which people live a more magical existence than the one we offer them here.
I have watched my daughter bury herself, like so many other children, heart and soul in the Harry Potter books. I remember that when I was her age I had a similar fascination with books like A Wrinkle in Time, Half Magic, and the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. In a particularly passionate moment, my daughter once told me that the only time she was really happy was when she was reading Harry Potter. And, sadly, I understood what she meant. It was the only place she felt she could stay in touch with all the magic.
When I am honest with myself, I know that I cry deep inside, just as my daughter does, when I cannot find the magic. Emma has asked me several times, "Mommy, are the Harry Potter books true? Are there really magical places like that?" And I answer her as honestly as I can, which is to say that I answer "yes." But she is never satisfied when I talk about different realms of consciousness, when I tell her that the magic in Harry Potter is a magic that lives in all of us. She wants a simpler magic, which I understand. And I assume that one day she'll find her own path to the magic that lives and breathes inside her. No one can take the journey for anyone else-even parents for our children-as much as we might like to. But if and when my daughter makes her own mystical journey, she will learn that magic indeed is here in this world right now. It is literally all around us. Each of us has a mark on our forehead, just like Harry Potter, that speaks to the fact that all of us come from a very magical source.
Harry Potter is one boy in a long line of mythical heroes who have reminded the human race that we are so much more than we think we are, so much more powerful than we seem to know. Jesus said that we would someday do even greater works than He; should we not take Him at His word? And should not "someday" be today? It's time for us to start working miracles, if indeed we have the capacity within us to do so.
This book is for those who seek to work miracles. The search for the Holy Grail of miraculous power-humanity's instinctive understanding that we are meant to soar above the limitations of our physical world-has been going on for ages. Yet now the search has become a popular yearning not just among monks or adventurers in far-off places, but among many of us living very practical lives. We wish to cultivate the sacred in the midst of the great and small difficulties of our daily existence. We want spiritual principles to be more than beautiful abstractions; we want them to actually transform our lives.
"Heaven and earth shall be as one," according to the Bible, meaning that one day we will live on the earth but think only the thoughts of heaven. The intersection between our material and spiritual existence is the mystical power represented visually in both the Christian Cross and the Jewish Star of David. It is the point where the axis of God meets the axis of humanity. The modern mystic is someone seeking to embody that point in his or her own experience.
In the words of author Manly P. Hall, mysticism is not a religion, but a "conviction of the heart." I realize now that the journey, which started in my childhood-beginning with books about magic, then moving on to philosophy classes, astrology, tarot, the I Ching, and ultimately more classical theological studies and A Course in Miracles (a self-study psychological training based on universal spiritual themes)-has been a fairly common version of my generation's spiritual journey. I was once someone-and in the 1960s and 1970s, there were many of us-who had moons and stars on the walls of every place I lived and encrusted in the jewelry of every outfit I wore. And we needn't discuss the Maxfield Parrish prints: the color, the light, the hint of another reality . . .
I can see now what I was going for, however crudely, and I have compassion for the young woman I was, always thinking there was "something more." Now that I'm firmly planted in my middle years, I can see that the spiritual path has been the calling of my soul for a very long time, and I am ready to devote the rest of my life to walking it as best I can.
The seeker in us is always seeking more Truth, knowing that the search goes on forever. The mystic in us, on the other hand, is trying to practice what we've learned of it: right here, in this moment, whatever we are doing. The mystic is a spiritual practitioner, seeking not merely to understand the principles of spiritual awareness, but to embody them as best he or she can. We embrace the idea-advanced by both ancient philosophers and modern physicists-that the world is one. Everything connects to everything; therefore, as we change, the world cannot but change with us.
Modern mystics form a kind of spiritual underground in the world today, seeking to transform everything. We are everywhere, as mystics have always been everywhere; we come from every religion, as mystics have always come from every religion; and some of us relate to no religion at all. The mystical realm lies beyond all dogma and beyond the evidence of the physical senses. The mystic has been called to an inner journey, through the darkened entanglements of human existence to the radical love at the heart of God.
I have written this book as a traveling companion for the modern mystic, who goes through his day with the deepest desire to be in the world but not of the world-to be walking with her feet planted firmly on the ground, but thinking with her head soaring powerfully through the sky. To live solidly grounded, but from a spiritual foundation, integrating within ourselves the consciousness of earth and the consciousness of heaven-such is the mystic's longing. And that longing is not for ourselves alone. For as any one of us finds our wings, the entire world is lifted.
The mystical path is not always easy, and my hope is that this book might be a bit of a map through some of its thorniest passages. I do not write as someone who has mastered the way, but as someone who has been walking it, though often clumsily, for several decades of my life. There are bits of information I've discovered on my way, pieces of knowledge and understanding that have made their way to me, as they've made their way to mystic travelers for generations. I have seen darkness, but I have glimpsed a little light as well.
May this book shed light on someone's path, and may all of us enter the illumined door beyond which darkness is no more. May the darkened skies of the human heart be lit by the Light of Truth. May the mercy and the peace of God be upon us now and for all our days.
The Mystical Wands
T The first thing a mystic needs is his or her tools. When I was a little girl, every August my mother would take me to the store to buy school supplies. First there was the important decision to be made about my lunch box. Did I want Cinderella on the front of it, or ballet shoes, or Snow White, perhaps? And then, of course, there were the notebooks, pencils and pens, erasers, and myriad other accoutrements, such as index cards, Marks-A-Lots, and notebook dividers. Only when I had all my supplies together was I prepared to go to school.
Ultimately I realized that tools are essential to almost any worthwhile endeavor. You don't go to school unprepared, you don't try to climb a mountain unprepared, and you don't walk the mystical path unprepared.
What are the mystic's supplies? They are spiritual principles, much like magical wands in their capacity to turn any situation into a crucible of miraculous transformation. They change the world by changing us. The mystic path is a journey of personal transformation, and while the goal of the journey is to become our true selves, we can only do this by letting go of who we are not. If we wish to experience the fullness of life, we must cut through layers of illusion that hide the truth of who we really are. The mystical path runs through a very deep forest-the forest of our own psyche-and we need our supplies in order to walk through it.
We meet monsters and demons on the inner path. We meet humiliation in order to grow to the point where our behavior would not lead to humiliation; we meet rejection in order to grow to the point where our behavior would not lead to the pain of rejection; we meet the pangs of deep regret in order to grow to the point where our behavior would not lead to regret. We meet the monsters in order to slay them. The only way to rid ourselves of darkness is by bringing it to light.
Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work. The universe is holographic, which means the whole is present in every piece. Therefore, as we address the shadow within us, we are addressing the shadow of the world. The mystic does not deny the darkness, in ourselves or in the world, but affirms a light that lies beyond it. And we have faith the light will prevail because we have faith that light is our true identity. Our task is to remember that. We invoke the light by actively acknowledging it is there, standing as Harry Potter stood on platform 93Ú4, knowing the door would reveal itself because of the nature of who we truly are. Being magic, Harry lives in a magical world. And, being magic, so do we.
The mystical realm arises from a different mode of perception than the one we are used to. The human race now stands on the brink of a historic transformation, with new eyes, new ears, new minds, and new hearts emerging from the cosmic drama of human evolution. As an embryo becomes a baby, we are becoming a new, more spiritualized version of ourselves. We are growing mystical wings as we evolve, as any species does, in the direction that supports our survival. We are moving now toward a universal compassion because, if we do not, we will cause our own extinction. To be a mystic is to choose rebirth, for ourselves and for the human race. We are participating in a collective quantum leap forward, in which our species will experience a fundamentally new chapter in our history.
Fundamental change is not a casual occurrence. We cannot casually commit to the process of spiritual transformation. It's not enough to say, "Oh, I think I'll be a mystic this year." Mysticism is not a trend. Our entire being is called to the task, for the journey from density to light involves every aspect of who we are. Whether we are angry at the dry cleaners because they've ruined our favorite sweater, upset with a friend who has broken a promise, or frightened at the diagnosis of cancer in the breast of a best friend; whether we're worried about the state of our marriage, looking for a new job, or anxious about nuclear bombs and terrorists in our midst, we see that everything we go through is a step along the path. We are taking the mystical journey as a way of transforming the world by transforming ourselves. Only by finding the love within us can we provide the love that will save the world.
Each of us carries, in the depths of our consciousness, a boxful of mystical tools. And central to our tool kit is the magical wand. A wand is not just silliness from children's literature. Fairy tales are rife with archetypal truths that teach not only children, but open-minded adults as well, deep and fundamental truths about the nature of our reality. A wand is a medium of power, not just for wizards, but also for you and me. A wand is essentially a principle, an intention, a focused thought. When focused thought is negative, it creates ill. And when focused thought is loving and enlightened, it creates miraculous breakthroughs. A mystical wand is the illumined power that emanates from the mind when it is married to the heart.
Most of us love, to be sure. Yet far too often our love is passive; we must be proactive in our love in order for it to change our lives. Spiritual laziness has no place on the path. First, we must outgrow the myth of neutrality. For in fact there is no neutral thought; all thought leads to love or to its absence. One who is not committed to love is surrendered to that which opposes it, opening up the door to fear as surely as one who consciously welcomes that fear.
There is so much love in the human heart, yet hatred threatens our planet. And why? Because hatred is currently more committed than love. In the words of philosopher Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." Indeed, the forces of fear in this world are more disciplined, more courageous in a perverse kind of way, than are the forces of love. For hatred, as we know all too well, has no problem announcing itself and its intentions to the world. Our response should not just be that we oppose hate; our response must be that we love the world. Then and only then will love truly triumph: when the children of God don't just feel our love, but express our love.
Our task then is to harness the energies of love-to actualize its enormous power in practical and meaningful ways. Love too must announce its intentions to the world, with all the passion born of a compassionate heart. We are a species that has everything, yet what we lack is what only we can give: conviction. It is the conviction to love that gives birth to miracles.
In the words of the French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, "One day, after we have mastered the winds and the waves, gravity and the tides, we will harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in human history, mankind will have discovered fire."
The mystic lives with that fire in our hearts. And that is why we use our wands, directing the power of their fiery glow to the darkened areas of human existence. Everything we encounter throughout the day is a spiritual opportunity, if we approa...
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