Oprah: Weren't you afraid?
Tina: I wasn't afraid of death. And I knew there was nothing he could say or do that would make me go back to him. In court, during the divorce, he tried to give me a mean look. I wanted to say, "You're such an idiot. Do you think your vibes can even reach me now?" He had no power over me. For anyone who's in an abusive relationship, I say this: Go. Nothing can be worse than where you are now. You have to take care of yourself first—and then you take care of your children. They will understand later.
Oprah: I got that.
Tina: Your children are blessed. They possibly have good karma, or someone will take them in. People take care of children. But they don't always take care of you.
Oprah: I understand that in a way that I've never understood it. How old were the kids when you finally left?
Tina: Old enough. Craig had graduated from high school. My youngest son, Ronnie, was still in school. The housekeeper was there. I made sure they would be all right. But before you can really help them, you have to strengthen yourself. You're the priority.
Oprah: How did you get on that plane with only 36 cents?
Tina: I called one of our lawyers who had often looked at me with a face that said, "Why do you stay?" I said, "I've left Ike. If you can send money, I promise to pay you back one day." The lawyer called some friends in Fort Worth, and the next day, a couple came to the hotel. They didn't say a word to me. I just got in their backseat. The country was still very segregated, yet these white people were doing something for a black woman. When I arrived in California, I took a taxi to a hotel in Hollywood to meet the lawyer. He paid for the cab, and from there, we went to his home. The next day was the Fourth of July—Independence Day. That holiday had never meant so much.
Oprah: You've been a Buddhist for a long time. What brought you to that?
Tina: The women who sold drugs to Ike said, "What are you doing here, Tina? How can you live with this madness?" Then one day, someone told me, "Buddhism will save your life." I was willing to try anything. I started to chant. Once, I chanted, went to the studio, and put down a vocal, just like that. Ike was so excited that he gave me a big wad of money and said, "Go shopping!" I thought, "This chanting stuff works." I was hooked. I still believe in the Lord's Prayer. I find a form of the Lord's Prayer in Buddhism. Every religion has rules for living a good life. If you practice any kind of spirituality, it moves you to stages where you gather other ways of communicating.
Oprah: That's exactly what I believe. You evolve new parts of yourself.
Tina: I never close a door on any other religion. Most of the time, some part of it makes sense to me. I don't believe everyone has to chant just because I chant. I believe all religion is about touching something inside of yourself. It's all one thing. If we would realize this, we could make a change in this millennium.