Marianne Williamson (born July 8, 1952) is a spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published ten books, including four New York Times #1 bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a grass roots campaign supporting legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace. She serves on the Board of Directors of the RESULTS organization, which works to end poverty in the United States and around the world. Williamson is also the force behind Sister Giant, a series of seminars and teaching sessions that provides women with the information and tools needed to be political candidates. Through these seminars, she encourages women to run for office and align their politics with their spiritual values.
She has been a guest on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and Charlie Rose. In December 2006, a Newsweek magazine poll named her one of the fifty most influential baby boomers. According to Time magazine, "Yoga, the Cabala and Marianne Williamson have been taken up by those seeking a relationship with God that is not strictly tethered to Christianity." Williamson bases her teaching and writing on a set of books called A Course in Miracles, a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy, based on universal spiritual themes. On October 20, 2013, she announced her candidacy for California's 33rd congressional district, joining fellow candidate Brent Roske in the race against Rep. Henry Waxman.
References to Williamson's book A Return To Love are made in the film Coach Carter (2005), the film Akeelah and the Bee (2006), and the novel Badulina: Return of the Queen, by Israeli author Gabi Nitzan.
A paragraph from A Return to Love has become popular as an inspirational quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
The passage is often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela, but Williamson has said, "As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people."