Editor's Choice

Shirley Maclaine, Going within (1989)



"At last Shirley MacLaine reveals the secrets of her intimate journey of transformation. In three international bestsellers, Out on a Limb, Dancing in the Light, and It's All in the Playing, multi-talented Shirley MacLaine described her own ongoing spiritual journey in search of inner harmony and self-transcendence. Now this celebrated actress, social activist, and outspoken thinker shares an enlightened program of spiritual techniques and mental exercises to become healthier, happier, and more attuned to the natural harmony of the world around-and within-ourselves. In Going within Shirley MacLaine answers many of the most challenging and important questions she has been asked about her experiences in seminars and interviews she has conducted from coast to coast. Transformation is at heart of her profound and inspiring message-the power to shape our lives, to find inner peace and awareness, and to reach highest potential in relationships, at work, and at home. Candid, often controversial, and always courageous, Shirley MacLaine opens the doors to an irresistible journey of discovery and revelation. By going within, she shows us how to reach a new level of love and harmony, reduce stress, release fear, and discover the joys of a new-and better-way of living."

Shirley Maclaine, Going within (1989)

"As the social movements of the 1960s receded, Americans increasingly turned to quests for personal fulfillment—hence the satirical term"me decade"Tom Wolfe coined to describe the 1970's. Few enthusiasts of religious transformation have been more popular—or more popularly parodied—than the stage and screen actress Shirley MacLaine. In a series of best-selling books published in the 1980s, MacLaine narrated her religious pilgrimage toward"Inner transformation."Her works rode the surge of popularity of the New Age movement, itself a descendent (and to some degree a bowdlerization) of the countercultural prophesying of the 1950s and 1960s. in this excerpt from Going within, MacLaine explains how she came to the conclusion that personal change would have to precede"transforming the world I live in," an argument ironically parallel to the long-standing evangelical call for personal salvation as the necessary prerequisite to an y change in the social order. She explains her practices of meditation, chanting, and reading crystals—all in pursuit of discovering the"Higher Self"trapped within the mortal body. MacLaine's popularity peaked in the mid-1980s, with a television show touting her guru's powers of levitation and reincarnation. Following the exposure of some prominent New Age teachers as fraudulent and the acknowledgment of some practitioners that their faith in crystals was just that—faith—and not verifiable in any sense, the movement went into decline. Yet the kinds of sentiments preached here retain wide currency, even among those who know nothing of the larger"New Age movement."MacLaine's writings are part of a long American tradition of the quest for the true"higher"self.

I came to recognize the need for personal transformation before I could address any longer the issue of participating in transforming the world I live in. So I began my personal transformation in earnest—some would say too earnest. That doesn't mean that I cut myself off from political and social activism, but it does mean that I saw the necessity for change in clearer light because I was viewing myself more clearly.

It was at that point that I began a program of exercises of the mind which I put myself through nearly every day in order to accomplish a feeling of inner transformation. As a result, I began to feel more centered in my own power and more aligned, not only with my own destiny but with the destinies of those around me who moved in and out of my life as they pursued their own journeys toward understanding.

At the same time, I recognized how little I knew and understood. When that happened, I tried to focus on what I did know. What I understand today is a result of the knowledge I've gleaned from ancient teachers and modern students who are far more evolved than I. They have all been through their own personal fires in an attempt to understand themselves and how they fit into the great overall universal consciousness of which we are all a part. Whenever things go wrong I have learned to use these events as catalysts to help me understand how I participated in them. In that respect it is because of conflicts and problems and pressures that I have learned to handle both them and myself in a more balanced way. So, though the journey within has often been painful, it has reflected every area of the human condition and how I relate to my immediate world. It has helped me in the most practical ways to deal with reality...

I am shifting from my feelings of helplessness about having any effect in helping change the world, to a position that recognizes there is a power within me, and within each of us, so awesome that, when tapped, a transformation in the world could result. It is not only possible but necessary—a part of the next stage of our own evolution and development is to realize (literally"make real") that power. I am obviously not the only one conscious of this approach to bring about change.

A great awakening is taking place. Individuals all across the world are tapping into their internal power to understand who they are and using that knowledge to elevate their lives and their circumstances to a higher octave of happiness and productivity. Sharing the search, and the techniques of searching, is only a part of the help we can give one another."

The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945 By Paul Harvey, Philip Goff

Shirley Maclaine, Going within: A Guide for Inner Transformation, Bantam Books, 1989, p. 54-5




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