Marianne Williamson on Spirituality Over Ambition

Mar 12, 2019

Or, listen on Spotify

Running for President of the United States might seem like one of the most ambitious things a person could do, but Marianne Williamson sees it differently. While she lives a life of great achievement, she also lives a very spiritual life, not where she is making something happen, but where she is allowing everything to happen. In this episode Marianne teaches about how ambition gets in the way of spiritual transmission.

Learn more and take her course at


Jeff: Welcome to Commune, where each week on the show, we explore the ideas and practices that bring us together and help us live healthy, purpose-filled lives, I’m your host, Jeff Krasno. In addition to being a podcast, Commune is also an online course platform featuring some of the world’s greatest teachers, like today’s guest, Marianne Williamson.

We’ve had Marianne Williamson on the show before, and we’re excited to have her back, this time as a presidential candidate. Her course Teaching the Teachers on aims to deepen students understanding of spirituality and their own devotion to practicing it. To help us become someone who not only understands spiritual principles, but can convey them to others in the deepest possible way.

While she is a celebrated and dynamic public speaker, a New York Times best-selling author, a spiritual thought leader, and a former congressional candidate - Marianne does not consider herself to be ambitious. She lives a life of great achievement, and she also lives a very spiritual life.

But the spiritual life is not where you are making something happen, the spiritual life is where you're allowing everything to happen. Marianne teaches about how ambition gets in the way of spiritual transmission, even going so far as to say that to be ambitious, is to doubt God. How ambition is saying, "I need to walk ahead of God here, I need to make something happen."

Running for President of the United States might seem like one of the most ambitious things a person could do, but Marianne sees it quite differently.

I had a chance to talk to her and (inaudible).

Listen in to this lecture from her one Commune course Teaching the Teachers, and learn more about this way of thinking.

Marianne: When my career began, this professional niche didn't even exist. There were two things that you could do with your life, if you wanted to dispense religious or spiritual information. One is that you could be a religious personage, you could be a clergy person, in fact my mother kept telling me, "your father and I've discussed it and will "be glad to send you to rabbinical school." So you could do that or you could be a academic, you could be for instance, a professor of comparative religion. I knew that my heart sang, talking about A Course of Miracles, talking about religious and spiritual information, but I didn't feel that I was suppose to be a clergy person and I didn't feel that I was suppose to be an academic. So because of those things, I didn't feel that what I was doing would be like a career of any kind.

Now I mentioned this because of how well it served me, if you don't think there is anything to be ambitious for, you're not ambitious. And ambition gets in the way, ambition gets in the way of any career on a certain level, but it definitely gets in the way of anything having to do with spiritual transmission, and that really is what this course is about. This course is about moving from dispensing information to actually allowing your consciousness to be on some level a conduit for transmission, because you can learn spiritual information. There are enough books, not only the great spiritual source materials, but now so much of the spiritual source material has been popularized, not just by me and my books obviously, but by many people and there's some really good material out there and at this point most of us have read them. Most of us read the same books, we've listen to the same tapes, but to have this as your life's work, something much more is called for, and so your consciousness is very, very much apart of what determines how deeply people can receive information from you.

In A Course in Miracles it says, "People hear you on the level that you speak from." I also want to mention a line from the A Course in Miracles which is, "Miracles are everyone's right, "but purification is necessary first." So there are two issues here, one is that miracles are everyone's right. The second is, that purification is necessary first. A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love, perception is thought. Though is the level of cause, the world we experience is the level of effect. So if you really want to change your life and if you really want to help change someone else's life, you don't want to just address the level of effect. That would be like going up to a screen and trying to change the plot of a movie by manipulating the screen somehow and obviously the images do not derive from the screen. The mind is the projector onto the screen, when you change things on the level of cause then the effects automatically change.

A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love. Those are the only two categories of emotion according to A Course in Miracles. So all negative emotion, all that is not love derives from fear and fear is to love, as darkness is to light. Darkness is not a thing, darkness is the absence of a thing. So you turn on the light, the darkness automatically disappears. You turn on the love, and the fear automatically disappears. So the miracle is that shift in perception from fear to love and then when it says, but purification is necessary first, what we have to be purified of is loveless thinking. So the reason a lack of ambition... is actually an aid to your work, is because ambition is impure, what do I mean by that? Does an embryo have to be ambitious to become a baby? Does an acorn have to become ambitious to become a oak tree? Does a bud have to be ambitious to become a flower? No, there is natural programing, which is built into the universe and the universe, here is, think of the universe as the handwriting of God. The embryo is programmed to become a baby, the bud is programmed to become the blossom, the acorn is programmed to become the oak tree. You are programmed, you are already programmed to be the highest level of manifestation that reflects the ultimate, highest, creative possibility for you in this lifetime, which by the way is infinite.

Now ambition means you doubt that, so the more you're thinking of the line with Gods, the more God can work through you. So to be ambitious is actually to doubt God. To be ambitious is saying, I need to walk ahead of God here, I need to make something happen. The spiritual life is not where you are making something happen, the spiritual life is where you're allowing everything to happen. In our society, an image that you hear a lot about success is that you should take the bull by the horns. What a suicidal thing to do. So to be a spiritual teacher or to be anything that is a successful career, you're not trying to take the bull by the horns and these days this needs to be said. I'm sorry, I meet people who have attended a couple of seminars and set themselves up as spiritual teachers and oh my gosh, things that you have your marketing right you can make it happen.

This is corrupted thinking, I'm sorry this is the problem in America today. It's not only ambitious, it's out of integrity. Obviously anytime you are dispensing any kind of spiritual or religious information, you have a profound responsibility and somebody who has listening to you, somebody who's receiving from you, anything that has to do with spiritual information, they are giving you access to their psyche, to a very vulnerable sacred part of their psyche. You can't mess with that, you are really karmically off to mess with that. Nobody's asking you to know everything, nobody's asking you to be an avatar, but you have a serious responsibility to be honest and you have a serious responsibility to be in your own integrity, and your own integrity does have to do with your... resisting the impulse for ambition and once again this miraculous shift in perception from fear to love in that case means a transition from ambition to inspiration.

So as I was saying, I was served by this in the early days of my career, there was anything to be ambitious for. I was excited to be there When I... first started reading the Course in Miracles back in the 1970's, I felt moved to go to the... apartment in New York City where they were publishing the books. And at that time I was just going to purchase one and there's was a woman named Judith Scotch, and Judith Scotch is the president of the Foundation for Inner Peace. She really brought the Course in Miracles to the world in terms of its publication and I met her that day, and she was getting on the elevator and she was going to Houston, which interestingly enough is where I was born and raised. And she was going to talk about A Course in Miracles to a group of people, and I remember my heart leaped and I thought, gosh, what an amazing thing to do with her life. That you just kinda get to go around talking about A Course in Miracles, but once again there was no reason to think this would be a career.

There was nothing to be ambitious for, and this served me. Now when my career began, now you see love everywhere, I had some almond butter this morning and on the bottle it says love, and I always smile inside because when I first started, my first book A Return to Love came out and I was standing up in public at this place called the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, talking about love. At that time, there had been a book by a man who has since past, named Leo Bouscaglia, and I think the book was called Love, but other than that, love wasn't something you discussed outside a personal context, Gandhi did and Dr. King did in this very high philosophical conversations related to something like nonviolence, but it wasn't this mainstream cultural conversation, it wasn't part of a cultural jargon yet. To talk about love, so at the time it was... Radical.

And I have watched in the ark of my career... what in the early days of my career was a conversation that made people in the audience go, wow, I've never even thought of that before. Those days are so over because now, like I said, we've all read the same books, we've all listen to the same tapes and now it's more like somebody might say to somebody next to them in the audience, isn't that interesting that you mentioned that 'cause that's exactly what we were talking about last night. So remember, whether you are a psychotherapist, whether you are a yoga teacher, where you are a spiritual teacher or want to be a spiritual teacher, whatever it is.

These basic spiritual principals, by now, are apart of mainstream jargon. So the issue of your work doesn't have to do with just intellectual understanding of these principals and by the way, that's extremely important. We're talking about that in another section of this course, but as important as that, is the level on which you receive the information, which means the level on which seek in your own life to practice the principals, because people subconsciously know everything. Your audience or your clients, whomever, does not expect you to be perfect, but they can tell it when you're trying and they can smell it when you're not.

And that kind of grandiosity and... bogus quality that some people have where I have it and you don't, it's not the zeitgeist of this moment, it's not the impulse of this moment, because it's not true. That's not the impulse of the modern teacher, the impulse of the modern teacher is I'm delivering this information because... probably, not necessarily, but probably I have been studying it and practicing it a little more time than you have been and because of the fact that I have been reading it, studying it, practicing it longer and also whatever work we do, which is work we're talking about in this course.

Hopefully, I can dispense it, I can be a conduit and a channel for the information in a way that genuinely transmits it from my heart to yours. Ambition is an interesting concept, in a way you could say the universe is ambitious in that flowers grow and that babies are born and that life moves forward, but you might think of it as though, instead of being ambitious yourself, let the universe be ambitious for you. You relax into the space of stillness, you relax into the space of being who you are suppose to be and doing what you are suppose to be do and let the universe take it where the universe wants to take it. Another way of saying it that is, let God take it where God wants to take it.

Every aspect of the universe is already programmed to go to the next best thing. If you are ambitious, with any kind of psychotherapy or any kind of spiritual teaching, there's a problem there because there's always the potential, there's always the temptation to become transactional, that you're really looking at it as an client, you're really looking at this as a sales. That you want them to comeback or whatever, that takes you off, that takes you out of alignment with your power because when you're out of alignment with your innocence, you're out of alignment with your power. Your power lies in your innocence, your power lies in the fact that you are prepared, you know your material, you know what you are doing, but you are not trying to make something happen.

Universal wisdom is the water, you're just the facet, you are not there whether as a therapist or a teacher. You are not there to generate wisdom. Wisdom comes from the ether's, wisdom is the mind of God and all of us are facets. Think of the house is already wired for electricity and each of us are lamps, doesn't matter the shape of the lamp, doesn't matter the size of the lamp, doesn't matter the color of the lamp, design of the lamp, anything. What matters is that the lamp is plugged in and with your thoughts and your correctness, think of it like yoga that you get your position correct, that's what matters.

You get your position correct and then you relax within that space, it's really the same thing, but attitudinally. So you're not there ambitious to make anything happen, you're there to be in this moment and to allow everything to happen. If you are a therapist or if you are a teacher, no matter what your work is, whether you're a coach, no matter what the form is, the most powerful thing you can do, in addition to all the things we've talked about in this course, is really knowing your material, which is first and foremost, is to bless the client, the student, whomever they are, the patient.

Before you go in, before you go into the room, you spend your time in blessing, be a very good idea for you to spend, if you can, five minuets. All minds are joined and people can feel subconsciously, they know when they've been blessed. Just like you walk into a room and you know when people have been talking stuff about you, you can feel that, you can also feel it when you walk into a room and... people wish you well and people want you to win. And that's the greatest gift you can give to your client or to your student, that they feel from you, that you really want them to win. Now if I go into a situation like that and I'm ambitious from my own career, I'm just using you on some level from my win. So you gotta decide whatcha gonna be and if you're really gonna be someone playing this particular work at the deepest, most important level, you're there for their win. Now remember there's only one of us here, that's how you're gonna win, but you can't say, okay I'm gonna be here for their win in order that I win, it doesn't work that way. Although the Course of Miracles does say, "that we become generous out of self-interest". Once you know how the universe works, you know that being there for someone else is the same thing as being there for yourself.

Jeff: In order to continue on a path of spiritual growth, there comes a time when we must examine our motivation to achieve certain goals. Marianne offers us a chance to realign our dreams with love and connection.

You can sign up to take Marianne’s course, Teaching the Teachers, at Thanks for listening to the Commune podcast, I’m your host Jeff Krasno, and I’ll see ya next time.

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