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Oprah: Tonight's class number three in our weeklong Best Life Series of worldwide webcasts. We're coming to you from Harpo Studios in Chicago, cold Chicago, and this is going out all over the world in real time. So tonight we're talking about my favorite topic on earth, spirituality. And if you have an inkling that something in your life isn't just quite right, if you're asking yourself, "Is this all there is?" Or if you feel like life's getting the best of you, take it as a sign that you're ready for a new beginning. I think a beginning that can start right now. Just like that. Tonight. (Indicating.) If you saw our Best Life show on spirituality last week, you will recognize the people here with me, Rev. Michael Beckwith is the founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center. His new book is called Spiritual Liberation. Elizabeth Lesser is the author of The Seeker's Guide and Broken Open that was on the show today and also the co-founder of the Omega Institute. And Rev. Ed Bacon is rector of the renowned All Saints Episcopal Church at Pasadena. He doesn't have a book yet. I hear people are calling you after I said that last week.
The Rev. Bacon: They are. They are.
Oprah: But his beautifully written sermons are available on the All Saints website. So throughout our webcast tonight we are going to be taking questions from you, our viewers. Our phone lines, of course, are open right now. There's the number on your screen, 866-677-2496. And before we begin, let's all take a breath together. Let that go. (Breath taken together.) (Moment of silence.) Just a moment. That's all we needed. So we've received many e-mails asking, "What is spirituality? Is it religion? Is it therapy? Is it new age?" Some people said that the advice that our panel gave that you all were talking about during the show last week really had little to do with spirituality. That's what some people said. But more to do with psychology. And I know, Elizabeth, you have some thoughts about that. What did you want to say to that?
Elizabeth: Well, I— I think of our inner life, our soul, as something we come into life with. It's shining, in our hearts. It's always there with us. But as we go through life, this light, which is in the lantern of who we are, our body and our psyche are this lantern around our soul light, gets covered with layers of soot, layers of conditioning. Let's say you had a really difficult childhood and you're this beautiful light that you came into the world with, the stress of your childhood, the anger you might have built up, the fear, the mistrust, it begins to dull the natural light that is inside of us. So when we say we go on a spiritual path, we're not going somewhere else. We're not going to get something we don't already have. We have to find a way to clean the sides of our lantern. And so—
Oprah: I love that. We're cleaning the soot off of our lantern. That's a good—
Elizabeth: And psychology is actually a sacred journey if you do it in service of liberating the light. So you're aware, "My childhood makes me perpetually angry," so there's no—you go to church and the minister says, "Be love. You are love." But you're always angry, and it doesn't sync up. But you can spend time let's say with a therapist or a counselor or pastoral counselor cleaning that side of the lantern with dealing with your childhood wounds. Healing yourself.
Elizabeth: And that's a tool. That's a spiritual tool. So is religion. Prayer. Ritual. So is contemplation. Meditation. So they all are part of a holistic spiritual path.
Oprah: All right. What would you say, Rev. Beckwith?
Michael: I would agree with her. Spirituality is not about gaining anything. It's about letting go of something. She's talking about the soot. She's talking about the distrust, the anger, the worry, the fear. So spirituality is had letting go of the false beliefs, the limiting perceptions, the unexamined perceptions in our life, and asked through prayer, through meditation, through sacred service, through study, through fellowship, you start to little by little let go of that which is inhibiting you from being yourself and you have aha! moments. You have insights, you have revelations into your real nature.
Oprah: So what does it mean to be spiritually liberated since you wrote the book Spiritual Liberation?
Michael: If you are spiritually liberated, that means you no longer run by unexamined perceptions.
Oprah: Oh, that's good.
Michael: And so you're able to contemplate, see what's running you. Sometimes I have people ask, "Who's driving this bus?"
Michael: Is it the unexamined perceptions that I just adapted from the society I'm living in? Or is it my higher self that's running the bus? To be spiritually liberated is to know which one is running the bus and keep giving vent to your higher self, the intuition, the divide guidance, the wisdom that's inherent to all of us.
Oprah: I love that: "No longer run by unexamined perceptions." And you, sir?
The Rev. Bacon: I love Elizabeth's metaphor because I think that inner light really is the experience of the divine within, and we can access that any time.
Oprah: Do— we all think that, right? Don't we all think that the inner light is the divine within?
Michael: Absolutely. Yes. It is God.
The Rev. Bacon: It is God. It is the spirit. It is the all.
The Rev. Bacon: And what I want to emphasize is the—
Oprah: The all.