In this landmark work, Marianne Williamson reminds us that there is a point in everyone's spiritual journey where the search for self-awareness can turn into self-preoccupation. All of us are better off when contemplation of holy principles is at the center of our lives. But it is in applying those principles in our lives that we forge the true marriage between heaven and earth.
In the compassionate but clear-eyed prose that has won her so many avid readers, Williamson shows us that the principles which apply to our personal healing also apply to the healing of the larger world. Calling on Americans to turn the compassion in our hearts into a powerful force for social good, Williamson shows us how to transform spiritual activism into a social activism that will in turn transform America into a nation seriously invested in the hope of every child and in the potential of every adult.
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Excerpt from the Introduction
According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the forces of yin and yang are like night to day, darkness to light, feminine to masculine, inner to outer, heart to head. They balance, border, and complete each other, forming together a unified whole.
To understand this dynamic is to be more fully aware of the rhythms that underlie all things. Our ultimate ground of being -- what the Chinese call the Tao -- is the mystical oneness out of which all worldly manifestation flows. To see how the greater oneness is in constant process of giving birth to two -- that yin and yang might then come together again and give birth to another one -- is to hold the key to greater understanding of anything in the world.
Anywhere there is Great Duality, there is yin and yang: the eternal and the temporal, women and men, philosophy and science, vision and politics. To seek their balance in any situation is to seek the healing of the world. For according to Taoist philosophy, when yin and yang are out of balance,there is tension, disharmony, and discord in the universe. To right the wrong, we must seek to reunite the pieces of the whole that have been torn asunder.
This book is about the yin and yang of American history, the Great Duality of our miraculous beginnings, the ultimate tearing apart of our vision from our politics, and an effort that can now begin in earnest to repair the resulting wounding of our collective soul.
Our Founders embodied the ideals of an extraordinary moment in history. Their philosophical vision was expressed in the Declaration of Independence and their political genius in the Constitution. The balance of their intellectual brilliance with personal courage, philosophical vision with political acumen, and mature serenity with revolutionary fervor created a doorway in a seemingly impenetrable wall of history. A paradigm so leave the common masses of humanity little hope of rising above the station in life into which they had been born, was abolished forever by a group of young Americans who stood up to what was then the most powerful military force in the world and said, "No. We have a better idea."
Most major institutions, from the U.S. government to the Christian Church to the scientific establishment, began with a small group of radicals whose thoughts were considered outrageous by holders of the status quo of their time. To use the German philosopher Hegel's expression, they were "world historic individuals" who took the wheel of history and steered it in another direction. They looked at the world with the pulsating spirit of spontaneity and hope for something better than that which had been before.
America was like a child who was born, grew, and turned out to be a genius. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution raged throughout Europe and the United States, bursting forth from our foreheads seemingly fully grown. Railroads, electricity, factory production -- scientific experimentation and technological prowess came to embellish our dreams and define our ambitions. As this rush of industrial expansion unfolded, the yang of human assertion and physical manifestation was extraordinary. We lost something precious, however, when the yin of greater wisdom, understanding, and perspective was subtly pushed to the side. By the beginning of the twentieth century, attention to the soul had been marginalized by a materialistic focus sweeping across the plains of America's consciousness like a windstorm that wouldn't stop.
Thus was torn asunder the brilliant balance from which America had been born. Money replaced justice as our popular ambition, and the authoritarian business models of the industrial age came to replace democracy as the main organizing principle of American society. We began to backslide, our vision to diffuse. The elements of higher truth and commitment to justice that so imbued our founding were slowly forced into exile in the corners of the American mind. They remained in our documents but no longer in our hearts. The very tyrannies from which we had fought to be free now reappeared among us, but this time we were the oppressors as well as the oppressed.
A fiery personal and political drama -- still raging among us -- began in earnest. America would be home to both slave owner and abolitionist, both conscienceless industrialist and labor reformer, both corporate polluter and world-class environmentalist. The tension itself is not inherently bad, because through it we have the freedom to grow. But we have lost our experience of the great Tao underlying our differences, the coagulating sense of American unity that makes our freedom to disagree all the more important. We have lost our sense that political debate is not what was meant to divide us as a nation, but rather to sustain us. We have left behind the delicate balance between the celebration of our diversity and the dedication to our unity, which lies at the heart of the American ideal.
Although the original ideals handed down to us by our Founders were almost perfect expressions of a commitment to human justice, America has never fully manifested those ideals. That does not mean that we are bad or hypocritical, but merely a nation still in the throes of a greater becoming. We have, from our beginning, been home to both noble and spiritually based political impulses, as well as to the most materialistic and selfish ones. Freedom means that we will be as a nation whatever we, the people, choose to be. The push and pull between two major aspects of our being is the overarching drama of our national life.
In America today, we have critical problems that will not go away without collective dedication and effort. We must apply ourselves to serious problems with a concentration and a sense of purpose that we do not always summon in more normal times. Those who would have us gloss over those problems or deny them do not help us respond. Those who would lead us into cynicism or anger lead us away from healing. We need deep understanding of our collective problems, we need faith, and we need love.
There is so much injustice in America, and such a conspiracy not to discuss it; so much suffering, and so much deflection lest we notice. We are told that these problems are secondary, or that it would cost too much to fix them -- as though money is what matters most. Greed is considered legitimate now, while brotherly love is not. Millions of us see this as an unacceptable violation of spiritual truth. We must create the restoration of our collective conscience, and turn it into political will.
Copyright ©1997 by Marianne Williamson
Table of Contents<P>
1: Mystical Politics<BR>
2: Dreams and Principles<BR>
3: National Atonement<BR>
4: An American Awakening<BR>
5: The Eternals of Finance<BR>
6: Old Powers, New Powers<BR>
7: Holistic Politics<BR>
8: Citizen Power<BR>
9: Home of the Brave<BR>