10/22/2012 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Conversation With Marianne Williamson

2012-10-19-MarianneWilliamsonphoto.jpgEarlier this month, I had the joy of talking with Marianne Williamson about her work and her Sister Giant project. Here's part one of our conversation:

Tara: I am honored and have a huge smile on my face to be talking to Marianne Williamson today. Marianne is a spiritual teacher, a bestselling author and, in my view, embodies the very deepest meaning of the word "leader."

Marianne, thank you for joining me today.

Marianne: Thank you so much for having me.

Tara: Marianne, you've been one of the most influential teachers in my life. I first saw you when you went on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time. I was 15 years old. I was sitting in my living room in suburbia, and it was a defining moment for me. I had never seen a woman spiritual leader before. I had never heard anybody stand for love in such a courageous way. I got your book A Return to Love right after that, and then I got A Course in Miracles. Both completely changed my life as an adolescent. You know, if you're in high school and then you start asking to be used by a power greater than you, and to be a representative of love, it really changes things!

You've been a huge part of my path. I truly believe my life and my work would be really different if I hadn't been inspired by your voice since I was a teenager.

Marianne: It's a real honor to hear you say these things. I'm very happy and I'm grateful. I like the thought -- and I know it's true -- that you just pass it on. There will be people saying exactly what you just said to me -- there will be people saying to you 20 years from now.

Tara: Thank you. I want to start with something that I've heard you say in a couple of different venues recently, and it was so striking. I've been talking about it with women in my life. It was when you said: "Yes, women are the homemakers and the entire Earth is our home. We're here to take care of the children, but every child in the world is one of our own." Can you expand on that?

Marianne: It really shifts your thinking when you look at it that way, doesn't it? I grew up with a very traditional mother. She devoted her life to her husband, her children, and her home. I was at a generation, the feminism of the '70s, that looked at my mother's life and often didn't think it was important enough. I wanted to go out into the world and do something important.

It took me decades, but finally I saw how wrong I was in the way I saw my mother. First of all, from a spiritual perspective there is no "out there." It doesn't matter whether you're talking to one person or a thousand people. The impeccability with which you show up for life is the issue that will determine the trajectory that your life takes from there.

Secondly, I realized that my mother's concentration on feeling that it was a woman's role to take care of her children and it was a woman's role to take care of her home was not incorrect. It's just that we have evolved now, as you said, to the realization that we all collectively are the mothers, and every child on this planet is one of our children. We are the homemakers -- it's just at this point, it's important for us to realize that this Earth is our home.

At a certain point, the love that will save the world is not just the love for our own children. We have to feel a passion about the welfare of children on the other side of town and the other side of the world for that matter. At a certain point, how happy can any of us be knowing that 17,000 children are dying of starvation on this planet every single day? How can you live a conscious life and not at some point during the day allow it to penetrate your consciousness -- the pain of the mother and father holding their starving child in their arms?

Over the last few years there has been a lot of talk about the divine goddess and the archetype of the goddess and all of that stuff. Finally, I realized none of this means anything unless it's channelled through actual people. The goddess is not just saying wear cut velvet and dance under the moon on the solstice. She has a much more fierce and sober and significant face than that.

Tara: You've also spoken about that fierce mother love -- the "no" that comes out of that. The "No, this cannot be. No, we will not continue to put up with this." Of course "no" is such an interesting word for women. It's a word that we have often been punished for saying.

Marianne: In terms of women getting punished for making a powerful statement, sometimes that powerful statement we can be punished for is yes as well as no. Sometimes the punishment we receive is from other women as much as it's from men. It's about a certain world view that would make wrong the passion of a woman.

This is not just about women. This is also about the entire spiritual perspective where some people see love as a kind of weak thing -- that you just kind of say yes to anything. Even though love does always give the loving response in a situation, sometimes the loving response in a situation is no. Any parent has had an experience out of the love for their children of saying to a child, "No, you will not do that."

I'm a mother. I know sometimes it would be easier to just let them do what they want to do. But because you love the child you say no. Sometimes love sets limits. Sometimes love sets a boundary. That is true not only of the feminine within us but of any healthy psychological and even spiritual response.

When we have economic systems on the planet, geopolitical situations on the planet that put the short term economic gain of whoever is being served before the welfare of the world's children and before the welfare of many suffering masses -- suffering unnecessarily due to the fact that they represent a population that simply does not have material power -- I believe that is it the role of any person of conscience to say no.

You know the philosophy of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi then adopted by Martin Luther King and brought to the United States for application to the civil rights movement had to do with a not angry but a very loving refusal to participate in an unjust system.

For us to say no is sometimes our loving and even very feminine response to life.

For more by Tara Sophia Mohr, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.


Are you inspired to step into your role taking care of the children and the earth? Join Marianne this November for a remarkable event, Sister Giant.

The purpose of Sister Giant is to help create a new conversation in American politics, one in which principles of higher consciousness form a new foundation for political involvement.

The Sister Giant event, which you can attend via the Internet from anywhere in the world, or live in Los Angeles, will provide tools -- both spiritual and political -- with which to re-envision our political possibilities, run for office if you feel so moved, and transform America one campaign at a time. Click here to learn more.

Part II of my conversation with Marianne is coming soon! If you'd like to receive a notification when it's published, click one of the "Get Updates" options in the upper right.

Tara Sophia Mohr is an expert on women's wellbeing and leadership. A coach, writer and teacher, she is the creator of the global Playing Big leadership program for women. Visit here to get Tara's free guide, the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook.