We can all use a few more miracles in our lives.
On the show we have best-selling author and A Course in Miracles instructor Emily Bennington.
Emily is executive director of the Circle of Atonement where she is responsible for all aspects of advancing the mission. Her dedication to A Course in Miracles (ACIM) comes from the extraordinary changes in her own life as a result of applying its teachings.
Prior to joining the Circle, Emily led training programs on spiritual intelligence and mindful leadership for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Emily is the author of three books including Miracles at Work: Turning Inner Guidance into Outer Influence, which features a foreword by her friend Marianne Williamson. Her blog, Grace, touches thousands of readers around the world who are seeking to live and lead with more holistic presence and joy.
Enjoy my conversation with Emily Bennington.
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 026
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Emily Bennington. How're you doing Emily?
Emily Bennington 0:17
Doing well, thanks. Thanks for having me on your show.
Alex Ferrari 0:23
Thank you so much for being on the show. I truly appreciate it. I wanted you on the show. Because we're going to talk about A Course in Miracles. And I know of it I've, I've heard things about it. But I've really never delved into it very deeply. So. But before we get into the small book, that is called The Course in Miracles.
Emily Bennington 1:29
2000 pages or so.
Alex Ferrari 1:31
It's a few 2000 pages. Tell me about your origin story. How did you get into the line of work that you're doing?
Emily Bennington 1:38
Well, origin stories are always rather lengthy. So I will keep mine as short as possible. Sure. Sometime around 2010. I had a five year old son. And I, I realized that the way I was behaving, was making him sad. And he actually said, Mommy, you make me sad. And so brutal, so brutal, kids are so honest, aren't they? I was just more impatient with him than I wanted to be. And so I realized in that moment, when your five year old says that you make them sad, like you really do need to change something about yourself. And so that was kind of my wake up moment, I was like, something in me needs to change. And so I started looking around for what could I do to transform my self so that I could show up better for the people in my life. And that led me on a spiritual quest, I found a course in miracles. And almost immediately after finding the course, I knew that this was my path. I knew that this was truth. I had grown up in a traditionally Christian home. But I had left traditional Christianity many years ago. But when I opened this book, I knew it was the wisest thing that I had ever read. And I also knew that it was Jesus, I knew that it was the Jesus that that, that I loved the wisdom, teacher, Jesus. And so when I found the course, I really dove into it. And everyone in my family after that was like, we don't know what you're studying, we don't even want to know that book looks very intimidating, but keep doing it. Because you are a different person, I was far more loving, and far more kind and far more patient with everyone in my life, not just my children. And then shortly thereafter, this was about 2014, shortly after about I was about three years into my study of the course, all of a sudden, I heard this like booming voice in my head, and it said, Teach I mean like really loud. And I couldn't get rid of it. It was just say one word. And there's just teach and it's very loud. And so I knew at that point, I was supposed to teach the course, I had been a mindfulness trainer, corporate mindfulness trainer, up to that point was not looking to leave that career. I loved it. And yet I knew that God was coming for me. Would you like it or not? Like it or not God was coming. For me it was the knock at the door of my mind that did not go away until I said yes to it. And so I had the classic surrender moment where I said, Okay, fine, I will. I did a lot of bargaining. At first I said, Okay, I'll teach a course in miracles. If you just let me call it mindfulness. Can we do that? And that just wasn't happening. So I said, Yes. Okay. I will go wherever you want me to go. And I know that I knew that if this was God, this was truly God entering into my life, then I would be carried and so I could trust that. So I said, Yes. And I landed on the shore of a small organization called the circle of atonement around That time, I knew that they were doing great work, but they could do more great work in the world could spread their message further and deeper. And so I started as a volunteer couple years later and the executive director, and here we are.
Alex Ferrari 5:14
That's amazing. That's an amazing story yet children can definitely be a little too honest. I have I have a couple of my own twins and the other day. A little while ago, I was I was in the middle of working out and losing weight and getting into shape and one of my youngest daughters like, Yeah, Dad, you know, you don't have as much blubber anymore. I'm like, I'm sorry. What? Yeah, I'm like, What do you think? Yeah. blubber like the whales, like they have a lot of blubber. And I'm like, Oh, my God, that's so brutal.
Emily Bennington 5:44
Yeah, I know. I said to my son, who's now 14, this is a couple years ago. But I said, I need I need the inspiration to continue my exercise program. And he goes, we'll just look at your muffin top. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 6:01
But the muffin top is the best part of the muffin. I mean, to be fair, you're right about that. There's a commercial like that. There was a guy who turns his wife, the wife turns with like, What do I look? Do I have a muffin top? He's like the muffin tops the best part of the muffin baby. And Seinfeld about that. I think that there's a whole thing about Seinfeld. But yeah, I had a very similar experience with me because I come from the film industry. And I was afraid of opening up next level soul and going down this road of trying to talk about spirituality and personal growth and asking these big questions, and I did a little bit bargaining as well. I'm like, well, I'll just do this. And I'll do that. And until I finally decided to go in, all in, and I go, you know, one doesn't negate the other, and they actually can work together. And because I have another popular show in the film industry, podcast, and I was like, well, I could see what I can do in the second. I said, Alright, I'm in. The doors flew open, and people like yourself, and a litany of other guests that I have booked now. I mean, like, in two, three days, it was magical. I could not even believe I just started emailing people. I'm like, Yeah, let's see if they'll want to be on the show this week. And I've gotten 80% yeses, you know, and I'm just like, What is going on? This is where by the way I learned I went, by the way, when I reached out to them six months ago, when I first when I was a little bit like in and out. I didn't get the response, that same response. It's so interesting. It was just so fascinating. I was like, I can't believe that this is the second you just put just go Okay. Let's do this.
Emily Bennington 7:46
Did you have the same like little voice that got
Alex Ferrari 7:50
I don't I don't have a little voice. I have a very large voice. And it's a he, he's very imposing. And he just says I have to do I have to do what I have to do. And that's one of the reasons why I started the company and the show and, and trying to get the word out there and it's grown. I mean, so much faster than my my filmmaking, podcast, and screenwriting podcasts have ever done their part to the largest ones in its industry. But it took a long time took years before I can get real traction, where now this is happening. So fast, I can't even comprehend it. Like it's really pretty crazy.
Emily Bennington 8:27
Fascinating. Because I, I had this what I called the V everybody calls it the divine discontent like this restlessness. Oh, yeah. What am I here to do? Why am I not doing something with more meaning in my life, etc. And that was always there until I said yes to that voice. And then once I said, Yes, it was like, Okay, I landed in this place, and that that whole restlessness just dissolved, it's cool,
Alex Ferrari 8:53
You feel happier, there's the thing about contentment and being happy where before you thought things that were important, no longer are important to you. And things that you never thought would be important, become important to you. And there is this sense of peace that you that comes over you and I found it at a certain step when I started teaching through my podcasts in the film industry, because that's where I knew I was like, Well, I know this let me go down this road. And once I started doing this, so much of my anger went away my wife and she's like, I don't know what you're doing but obviously you have found what you want you're meant to do keep doing this and it kept growing and growing and growing. And then when I started to shift to this area of you know kind of going down the spiritual path and you know, personal growth and really trying to help people with trauma and people with what you know what they're dealing with on a daily life. God knows we all have a lot of trauma in today's world. The world kind of just opened up a lot more and but I was still fearful. Just like you just like, I don't want to call it a curse. I call it mindfulness. You know, I'll call it this Isn't that and has a similar effect with spirituality? You know, because I was raised Catholic, Roman Catholic, and I've left that, I begin to learn how long ago I left that in my life, because I never found it to be made any sense for me might make sense for other people, but not for me. And I just felt like I needed more. And this, this, this experience that I'm going through right now, it's just been so kind of magical. So I get to now really ask questions about things that I am really interested in like a Course of Miracles. So can we actually list at the back on the track? What is A Course in Miracles? Who wrote it? How long has it been around? What is it?
Emily Bennington 10:42
Okay, so A Course in Miracles is a spiritual path, in which we find our way home to God, by learning to distinguish between what is real, and what is unreal. So what is real is the beauty, and the pure holiness and the innocence and inestimable worse of our true nature, as God created us. And what is unreal, is everything else. Pretty much our our judgments, our grievances, our attacks, all of that is unreal. And the only thing that is real is, again, our core nature as we were created by God. Now, the course in its introduction says that it can be summed up very simply in this way. So the course, as we've been saying, is a 2000 page five pound book. But it can be summed up very simply, in three lines, nothing real can be threatened. And nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. And so what we learn as core students is a process of disciplining our mind, to see beyond what our senses and our feelings tell us is true about the other person, we look to see beyond that, to the true and the core nature of who they are. And from that place from seeing them as they truly are, we can love them. And that's what miracles are in A Course in Miracles. So if you're, if you're studying a book called a course, in miracles, it's helpful to know how miracles are defined. And in the course, they are defined as expressions of love, that have a healing effect on the other person, because we all know nothing heals like love. And that in turn, heals us. And so it's a beautiful path.
Alex Ferrari 12:40
So in your opinions, because I've always been the bit of the mind that when something negative comes towards you, let's say a person, say, a negative a troll online, which I'm sure you've probably dealt with, at one point or another, being a person who's out in the public eye, or you know, somebody at a in a line somewhere at the supermarket or someone cuts you off. And when that kind of energy comes towards you towards you, I always found it to be a reflection of something inside of me that I might have to work on, whether that be an anger, or resentment or something that I have to work on. And this person's there to kind of trigger that in you because I just found that that to be true for me, and talking to other spiritual leaders and other seekers as well. They found that as well. I'm just curious about your, your opinion of that.
Emily Bennington 13:32
Well, what I love about the course and and you mentioned that you're a lapsed Catholic and and, and I, I also came from from traditional Christianity, I grew up Presbyterian. And, and one of the reasons why although I went into baptism, or Baptist Church, one of the reasons why I left was because I could never really resigned myself to the core nature of original sin. Like I could never really understand why, like underneath it all, if God really created us, why would He create us with flaws God can't create with flaws, God can only create perfection. And so I could never understand the whole concept of underneath it all. Underneath all of these behaviors. I'm gonna need all the trollish acts that are that you're talking about like that there's just a Original Sin miserable sinner in there. I always thought that underneath it all. We were just pure goodness. And the work of spirituality was to release the blocks to that goodness so that it could just come through. And so what I tell myself when I'm faced with a some form of attack or judgment from someone else is that again Beyond those behaviors is the core nature of goodness in them. That is true. And that's what I try and see. And what I love about the course as a path is that the way in which we forgive the main teaching of A Course in Miracles is forgiveness. And the way we forgive is not to kind of chew on what the other person did make it real, and then try and let it go. The way we forgive is we look at what the other person did as an error, not a sin. When they said that thing, or did that thing they were out of touch with their core nature. And so it's our job to see that truth in them. And to love them anyway, right to love them anyway, beyond the behaviors that they display, and that our love will bring out that goodness in them. And so what we tend to try and do when we're faced with these tough situations, and tough and challenging people, is we try and judge and attack and obligate and control them into the behaviors that we want. And what the Course teaches is you love them. That's how you ultimately get the behavior that you want out of them. And if you if they aren't willing to, to behave in the way that you want, it doesn't matter because your your core nature isn't affected either way. So you're not clinging to them so much if you don't need the other person to behave the way that you want them to so much. And so there's just a tremendous amount of release, and not getting so hooked in to the tiny and bit large grievances that we all face each day. And when you're not so hooked into those grievances. You live with more peace and ease?
Alex Ferrari 16:54
Well, I mean, I think that, you know, as I've been walking around the earth a few years now, I've noticed that most people, when people behave in a certain way, it is because of some sort of trauma they've gone through in their life, whether it was when they were children, when it was later, something that they're looking for, you know, because when you're so angry, angry comes from sort of trauma sort of being disconnected from your from your source, because one, someone who's really connected to who they are, understands who they are, our peace with who they are, don't act in that fashion. You know, if you could look at spiritual leaders, obviously, who, who mastered that there's the Masters, but generally speaking, that they don't, they're just disconnected. And I remember, I was an angry, so angry when I was younger, a very angry and bitter person, because I, I couldn't achieve the dream that I wanted. And when I couldn't achieve it, I would be very angry at those who were around me. And it was very brutal to me, and I just understood, there was such an anger and because of that trauma that I had been dealt earlier in my career, that but I think that love at the end of the day is what solves everything. I mean, at the end of the day. I mean, it's it's it does solve everything in one way, shape or form. It's not easy. It's not easy.
Emily Bennington 18:24
But you say that the part of the anger came from not being able to achieve the dream that you wanted in the world. And and I'm a big believer, it's a cliche, but I'm a big believer and when the door closes the window open. Oh, absolutely. And so when when you listen, like that voice that you listened to that open the the windows that created this situation that was beyond what you were even dreaming about. That's, that's when you can start to dig. That's when you really start to develop faith and trust because you know that you're being guided through life in a way that allows for external circumstances to work out in ways that you couldn't have planned and predicted. But what you find is that it's the best thing for you. In the end.
Alex Ferrari 19:10
There's no question about it. And I've in my experience, nothing that I've planned if ever. It just never works out like you want to you like and when something really bad happens at the moment you feel it's bad, but then six months later or a year later, or many years later, you go oh my god, that was the best thing that I didn't get like I almost got on a reality show. And I was devastated when I was made it like almost to the very end and I didn't get on I'm like oh I was I thought was the end of the world and then years later I'm like, dodged the bullet and gotta get on that thing. Oh my god. But you know, to give you an example is that you know, the anger of not being able to follow that dream is you know, I wanted to get access to these people very high people in my industry but in the film industry, so big producers and directors and, and writers and things like that and it was just there was a desperation in me. It was the eyes like you could smell it spewing off of me. And I just wanted to get access to these many legends and, and masters of their craft. Of course, there was no chance of me getting that. Fast forward years later, I have a podcast. And now they're asking me to talk to me for an hour. And now I get to sit down and ask them every question I've ever wanted to ask them, and give access to that same conversation to millions of people around the world. And I sit there going, I can't believe I get to talk to this person, or that person, or this Oscar winner or this, you know, this writer of the My Favorite television show of all time, and oh, my god, like how lucky but it was. But if you would have told me this, when I was in film school, I would have said, You're absolutely nuts. I said, first of all, what's podcasting? But secondly, because it didn't exist then
Emily Bennington 20:55
I'm with you everything I tried to plan just never worked out and the things that were unplanned than the best things that ever happened in my life.
Alex Ferrari 21:03
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. No question. Now let me know who wrote A Course of Miracles? Is it a combination? Who's Who's the author of it?
Emily Bennington 21:17
Right! You did ask me that earlier? Sorry. I didn't, didn't get to that part of your question. No, where's the Course in Miracles was channeled. And it was scribed by a woman named Helen Schucman, from 1965, to 1972. And it was published in 1976. Originally, and when I say it was scribed, by Helen but channeled, the author of A Course of Miracles claims to be Jesus. And I know that many students find that to be outrageous and some, like, believable, sure. But at the same time, we've had so many students just like me, who have picked up this book, opened it, read a couple pages and recognize this is the Jesus that I know and love. This isn't the the Jesus on the cross. This isn't the Jesus who's judgmental or vengeful, or someone to be afraid of this is the Jesus who just very kindly and gently wants to guide us home through true perception of each other back to God.
Alex Ferrari 22:33
No, I There's a very famous Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, who was a very big fan of Jesus and said, that Jesus may have been crucified in one day, but his teachings have been crucified for 1000s of years.
Emily Bennington 22:49
Yeah, I know. It's true. And I Gandhi said, Oh, Christians, you are so unlike your Christ.
Alex Ferrari 22:58
It's like, it's like, I'm going to the Crusades, I'm gonna kill you. Because you don't believe in Jesus. Like it's like, well, yeah, this disconnect, am I the only one that sees this?
Emily Bennington 23:09
Jesus came in we we strongly believe Jesus came in originally with a beautiful vision of an unconditionally loving God, that was meant to counter this view of God as vengeful, and, and, and wrathful. And so Jesus, Jesus, the the radical nature of Jesus, that He came in with this new vision of God, and he got killed for it. And the message never took off. It's 2000 years later, and there, there are threads of Jesus's message of unconditional love that have that have gone through time. I really believe that Tolstoy got it Gandhi got it Martin Luther King got it St. Francis got the the true nature of love the message that Jesus came to give us. But in general, it's been very misunderstood and misinterpreted and the course we believe is a correction for that.
Alex Ferrari 24:12
Now, what and why do you think his teachings have been so massacred over the years? I mean, it's just like such a, like, we were just joking. But disconnect from his original ideas of love and loving God or divine God. I always found it really interesting. I'm like, How can a god revengeful that means it's pure ego, like, you mean, our God is so so ego centric, that if you don't worship Me, in the way that I say, You're, I'm going to be vengeful towards you like it that makes no sense even on a logical standpoint. You know, it just makes no sense.
Emily Bennington 24:48
Well, it does make sense if if you realize like, it's really hard to forgive unconditionally. Oh, right. When we feel Like someone you mentioned trauma, when we feel that we have been deeply hurt and traumatized by someone, typically what comes to mind first, and the and the feeling and the emotion that we sit with is, how hurt we are and how much we want to get back at the person who hurt us. And so that there's something like in our ego core nature, the Course calls it ancient hate, we come into these bodies with this certain amount of ancient hate. And so what better way to sanction your hate, and to get approval of your hate towards someone else than to have a God, that is also wrathful. And so if God is wrathful, and if God is saying, These are the in in group, and this is the outgroup, then it sanctions our desire to do the same. So then we get to say, you're in, you're out, and I'm going to enact revenge on you. And it's okay, because God's doing it too. It's a lot harder to to in the face of an attack. And no one faced more attack than Jesus, right. I mean, he was crucified in the most horrific, brutal way. And even in the face of that he displayed unconditional love, forgive them Father, for they know not what they do. And so we we find that message beautiful. And at the same time, we find it very difficult to enact in our own lives, in the ways in which we're crucified and little ways every day like someone cuts us off in traffic, and we get upset, and so on. Unconditional Love is hard. And so if you want to hold on to the grievance and the judgment, give it to God, and he'll sanction that behavior in you as well.
Alex Ferrari 26:53
So you mentioned the ego, which is one of my favorite conversations to have about ego, because it's it's something I've we all have it, I don't care who you are even even if you're a spiritual master on this, in this lifetime, you still have ego, some have mastered the ego, most if not, why do you believe that? Or how does the ego or why does the ego demand almost a separation of a separation from others asset, like it's me versus the world, as opposed to we're all connected, we're all together in this, there's always that need to separate to make themselves look bigger. All this kind of stuff, the ego, like how the way you're saying, like when someone cuts you off, that's an offense to my ego. You know, it shouldn't be, but as an offense, like how dare you cut me off? Don't you know who I am? I always love that. If anyone says that, to me, I was like, wow, you're far gone, sir.
Emily Bennington 27:52
Yeah, and this is, this is such a great topic, the ego, because we all have one. I believe that when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we all share the Universal Spirit of God, it's equal in all of us, no matter who we are, or what we've done. But when it comes to the ego, the course does, we make one ego for ourselves. And so that's why certain things that are triggering to me may not be triggering to you, and that kind of thing. And so our ego is unique to us, and and we turn the dial up and down on it based on what's going on in our own mind. But the the course, from a course perspective, the ego is always something to do whatever you can to get rid of. And so the reason why I say that is because in spirituality today there is there's so much teaching, and it doesn't mean it's wrong, it's just different than what the Course teaches. The course teaches that the the ego its core nature is attack, it is never out to help you. And so that whole discussion of Well, I just have to make friends with my ego, I just have to dance with my ego because it's the thing that keeps me safe. From a course perspective. The ego will never keep you safe, because it's always the thing that that wants to separate from other people. It's always that it's coordinators attack again, and so it's always going to want to puff you up at the expense of someone else. And that's what makes it so dangerous. And so that to me, when you when you think okay, the Course says the coordinate that the problem, all the problems in our world, come down to the ego and the ego comes down to separation and separation is above and you're below. And so when you look around the world and you say okay, so every problem every conflict is caused by the ego, which is separation above them. Low trying to be above everything, it's like you just put on these glasses and everything makes sense. All of our, the conflict in our home, the conflict in our work, all the way up to war comes down to above and below. And so if we can just eradicate that, and have a spiritual path that says no, no, no, the only thing true about you is what God put there. And that's equal in absolutely everyone. So then we start to have a conversation about how we're the same versus how we're different. And that's when we really start to heal our planet.
Alex Ferrari 30:34
I mean, that is the beauty of being a guess there's a beauty of, of animal life in nature. If you look at animals, animals don't have ego. You know, you don't see one wolf. One wolf trying to say how much I mean, yes, there's territorial things. But that's more but not like in the way that we do it, that we have to puff ourselves up and make ourselves look so much bigger. I mean, it's kind of like even the ego in the spiritual space for you see a lot of even, you know, quote, unquote, spiritual masters, like, you know, I'm so much more spiritual than you. I'm like, the most spiritual. Like,
Emily Bennington 31:11
It's like, there's ego, even in humility. It's like,
Alex Ferrari 31:15
I'm humble, I'm so much more humble than you are. Emily, I'm so much more humble, than I'm the I'm the humblest person you'll ever meet, like,
Emily Bennington 31:23
And it's still trying to put yourself above through humility. Yeah. And that's what I'm talking about. That's when you when you start to see, okay, this is what the ego does, it separates and puts above, then you start to see it everywhere. And then when you realize, okay, that's the problem, then we can uproot it at its foundation.
Alex Ferrari 31:43
So what is the ego body illusion, which I saw inside of the Course of Miracles, is there, can you kind of dive into that topic a little bit?
Emily Bennington 31:52
Yeah, so as I was saying, Before, the only thing real, ultimately real is our core nature is we are created by God. So our pure innocence, our dignity, our worth, our, our holiness, as children, sons of God. And so everything else is false. Well, everything else that's false, includes the body. Ultimately, these bodies, we know they die, so they can't be real, you don't even have to be a course students to know that the body dies, so it can't be real. And so what, what the ego does is it tells you that your identity is in this body, and therefore it does everything it can to kind of protect the sanctity of this body. And what we're doing when we just take the, the foundation of the ego away, is we said the, you know, the, ultimately the body isn't real. And so I don't have to spend so much time trying to defend and protect this body. Now, that doesn't mean that you, you know, walk out in front of traffic or anything, but it does mean that there is tremendous freedom and recognizing that you're your source isn't your body because bodies age, they decay, they get sick, they get injured. And so when your sense of self isn't so wrapped up in the body, then you're you're freer in how you move through the world.
Alex Ferrari 33:26
So then that's why it's so difficult for actors and models and people who are known for their body as time goes on. And they fight the you know, the time they become more and more depressed were in even in society, like you know, you know, I you know, the the new Sex in the City spin off, that just came out, like, you know, they're in their 50s they look like they're women in their 50s That's okay. They're not supposed to look like they look like in their 20s and yet, you know, they're demonized for it. And men men get a little bit of a pass but generally speaking, you know, men, men are allowed to age men are allowed to age no question Yes, Sean Connery looked very dapper when he was older. And but women are not, but even then even men who you know, at one point, what were the the stud and the, you know, perfect body and all that stuff that that all deteriorates, it's impossible to keep that to the end, everything deteriorates, it all goes away. So it's always fun. It's always fascinating, like the ego that you build up in your 20s 30s and even 40s When you start getting into your 50s you know, nature takes its course you could do you could hold off with some surgery and you know, eating very well and taking care of yourself but at a certain point, you know, you're gonna look like your age, you know, unless you're Jane Fonda right? To Share, share, share, look, she obviously drinks baby's blood. There's no question in my mind Unicorn tears Unicorn tears she is there's I don't understand she's She's, I think she's a vampire. But for everybody else, it's so true. And I would love to hear your thoughts on, you know, you were just talking about the ego in the body, and the ego needing to identify itself with the body and how it's so important to the ego. The world we live in today in social media, it's all about what we look like how we, you know, the body, and then the filters and, and almost putting out this false image of who we are in the world. You know, social media, in my opinion has been very, it's a tool like any other. It could be used for real good, but it could also destroy a hammer could build a house, it could also kill, you know, so it all depends on how it's used. But what do you think is happening to our society, especially this new generation coming up? Who, you know, I think, God, I didn't have social media when I was a teenager. Oh, my God,
Emily Bennington 35:58
The comparison traps are hard enough. When you're a teenager and
Alex Ferrari 36:03
You have 30 other people. Yeah, we have 30 other people in your classroom. It's rough. Imagine having 300,000 or 3 million other people to compare yourself with it's
Emily Bennington 36:11
I know, it's, it's it's difficult and challenging. And I, like so many others have read the statistics particularly about how social media affects teenage girls, and the depression and anxiety that it causes when you look at your not so great life compared to other people's curated fabulous life and creates that disconnect and a lot of stress results. And so I certainly feel for that you know, you were you were mentioning Sex in the City. And I just have to say I was reading before I came to this podcast today at article and I don't know if this is true, I didn't actually look it up. But the the the women on Sex in the City are the same age as the Golden Girls.
Alex Ferrari 37:03
Yes, they were they were Blanche Blanche. She was mind blowing on Oh, Blanche, who was the the sex whenever with a sex fiend in the Golden Girls. They Betty White was 55 They're amazing. Oh, yeah. If you if you want even be your mind even blown more Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon who said he's too old for this scrap? He was 47. He's my age when he was playing 55. But he was 47. Yeah, just like looking. I'm like, Oh, my God.
Emily Bennington 37:40
Well, I'm 45. And I think everyone I'm sorry, the city looks like amazing. Like, I could only hope to look like that now. But anyways, the point is, is I was saying before that what the ego will tell you to do is to hook into your looks, and your status, and your things, your possessions and your relationships who you know, as your sense of identity and worth, and what social media does, you mentioned, it can be used as a tool of good or ill. And but but typically what you see at least, you know, as we're scrolling we we see all the ways in which our lives don't measure up to again, the curated lives of those that we follow. And so what you have to develop these days is an attitude and all musculature, to have the discipline to say, this person, while their life looks amazing. And while they they are beautiful. The truth of who they are, is their holiness. And so we look to see beyond the form to the holiness. And so when you can do that with with a life that you admire, then you work that muscle, and it becomes easier to do in challenging situations where you're not looking at the other person, so favorably. And so what we're looking what we're trying to do as spiritual students is to kind of get away from this game of life where it is about who you know, and how you look and what you have. Beyond that, to the goodness and the equality of all of us, and honestly, that's the only thing that's that's going to heal our world at this point.
Alex Ferrari 39:37
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Yeah, it was always say that I've never seen a hearse with a U haul behind it. I mean, you can't take it with you. And it's all it's but it's true because at the end of the day, you accumulate all this stuff, and it makes you feel better and you're walking around, you're like, Oh, look at this, look at that. And I've slowly detached myself from my possessions to a certain point where I'm like, if I lose that, it's okay. It's just a thing. You know, it's a, it's a, it's taken me a long time to do that, because I used to be a collector, I used to collect comic books I used to collect, I used to be collectors of a ton of stuff when I was a kid. And I was like, open till recently, up until right before the pandemic, I had, I don't know, probably 10 long boxes of comic books. And I've been carrying them since I was a kid and collecting, but I hadn't been to a comic book store in 10 years. And every time I move that love the thing out, and I, and I just sat there when they're like, I don't even look at these, um, let me sell them and invest the money. Yeah. And I did. And I did. And I was like, I felt so much lighter. And I kept one or two that were like, emotional, I felt emotional towards, like, I remember the story behind it. Even if I lost those tomorrow, it's not like I look at it every day, even have a last dose tomorrow. We like it's okay, I have my memory of it. But it's an art, it is an art for it is a work to detach yourself in the material world. And that's just one example from the body to to other people to the physicality of the world, everything. This is a very intoxicating environment. This is the matrix. This is the matrix, we are in the matrix it extremely, it's extremely intoxicating. And but we're trying to get back to the real world. This is in my opinion, not the real world. And I know a lot of people, you know, out there, like, what do you talk about this is the real world, like, you know, there's just,
Emily Bennington 41:51
There's a concept in the course, called the real world. And, and from a course perspective, the real world is only the love in the world, and everything else doesn't exist. And it actually has this kind of fascinating concept. I don't understand it fully, but that the only things that are saved from our lives here is the love that we give. And so it calls it the treasure house. And so some somewhere the love that we've expressed in this world is stored for us, and we will access it, we can access it, and that again, I don't understand that concept. But when I think about it in relation to what you're saying about like comic books, and I've collected magazines, too, so I know that whole thing as well. But what if what we really collect is our acts of kindness. What if what we collect is the love that we get what if that is really is collected for us. And that's the only thing that survives if we thought, okay, I want to collect kindness. So therefore, I'm going to act with kindness throughout my every day. Again, what a different world we would have, it's a whole lot more satisfying than comic books and magazines.
Alex Ferrari 43:11
It's so interesting, because I don't know if you ever saw this, this was a there was a study done where they gave like 100 They gave like 10 people $100. And they had 20 People $100.10 of them get to keep the $100.10 of them had I had to give that give it away to a stranger on the street. And when they brought everybody back people who the happiest were the people who gave us money away. And it's it's ingrained in our DNA. Because honestly, if you don't give the tribe doesn't continue. If you want to go back to prehistoric times, the tribe doesn't continue if you if you don't know how to cooperate. You don't live you know, the saber toothed Tiger. I know the saber knows Don't ever do that, you know, I'm talking about the lions gonna get you that was gonna get so something's gonna get you. So the concept of giving you there's endorphins that are released when you give, feel so good to give it feels natural to give. And I've in my life, the moment I stopped trying to take from the world and get what I wanted and start to give to the world. What I wanted to give them the doors opened in ways that I can't even comprehend like I told you earlier with my show. And the second I started to give back to my community to give back to the people in the form of shows and education and everything that I do. My life changed and it's been changed. It changed six and a half, six and a half years ago when I started my first podcast, my humble first little podcast and now it is now my life. This is what I love to do. And I have not given up on on other parts of what I want to do in my life. This is like, Oh no, I feel too good doing this. It feels I don't know if you've had this experience, but someone walks up to you at an event or after you speak or something and they go, you changed my life. Your book changed my life. Your teachings changed my life. Your Podcast changed my life. Something changed. That is addictive. It's extremely addictive.
Emily Bennington 45:20
Yeah, yeah. You mentioned the study about getting the $100. There's, there's also a study about our happiness set point. Scientists have been trying to figure out, okay, why are some people just more happy than others? And what can we do to bottle it and make it to spread it around so that we're happier as a society, because if you look at the data were pretty depressed. And what, what they found was that there are that you can actually elevate your happiness. And we have a happiness set point. And we can do things like get a new job or win the lottery. And, and but we'll but that fades and we bounce back to our setpoint, right, or we can become depressed, we can lose a spouse or lose our job or lose a bunch of money and and that phase, and then we bounce back to our happiness set point. So what is it that like actually makes us happier, so where we can stick at a higher level of happiness. And what they learned was, drumroll altruism, it's giving things away, it's standing for something bigger than just yourself. And that is consistently when we are in that practice of giving, that we become happier. And it's the only thing scientists have found that actually makes us happier in a way that sticks.
Alex Ferrari 46:36
You know, it's fascinating because we give, we're so much happier when we give we give away and you see us movie stars because I'm more. I know that part of the world, that when movie stars have rich, they're rich, they're famous, they have, you know, perfect bodies, according to society. They have all the success that you could ever want. And many of these people who I've met are very unhappy. Very sad,
Emily Bennington 47:06
Of course, because happiness is contingent upon
Alex Ferrari 47:11
Their disconnect. Well, yeah, they're just they're just gonna they're disconnected. And I've talked to Oscar winners who've, like after they won the Oscar. I'm like, I was depressed. I didn't know what else to do. Like once you reach the pinnacle of the industry, according to what the industry says. You just go. What do I do now? I don't know what to do with myself. And, and that's why, you know, you see these rock stars and you see these, you know, rich, you know, athletes who destroy themselves, and you see them self destruct it publicly. Some don't make it some Do you know, and make it out the other end, but it is. It's really, really interesting. I think Jim Carrey said it Jim Carrey is such an interesting character, not only because of his talent, as an actor and a comedian, but he said I wish everybody in the world could get everything they wanted. So they will understand it's not the answer. Yeah. And you're like, you're so deep. So like, Oh, that makes
Emily Bennington 48:09
One of the most interesting Instagrams that I follow is Paulina Porizkova. I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 48:16
Oh, yeah. I just saw a video with her the other day. She's like, I'm 55. That's
Emily Bennington 48:20
Right. So so for those of us who grew up reading fashion magazines in the 90s, it's her and the Cindy Crawford's and the Naomi Campbell's word like it, they were just the height of beauty. And Pauline, I don't. She's 55. Now,
Alex Ferrari 48:36
She says she's 55. She's about a few years older than J. Lo. Okay. And people are comparing her to JLo. And she's like, I don't look like JLo JLo was again, another anomaly of
Emily Bennington 48:47
It's just a freak of nature.
Alex Ferrari 48:48
She's also another freak of nature. Yeah. But Paulina said that she's like, I'm 55 I don't see anybody my age out there. And it's like you're either JLo and then the next time you see someone, it's Betty White, like and everything in between is just not accepted. We don't want to see you.
Emily Bennington 49:07
And what's interesting about Pollyannas Instagram is that she's so publicly grappling with this idea. So here is someone and this speaks to your experience in Hollywood Here is someone who has been celebrated her whole life for the way that she looks and these look spade. They just do men or women and so what happens when you're not turning heads and getting opportunities the way that you once did if your sense of identity and worth is hooked into how you look you're going to struggle with that. And And again, what makes Pauline his account so fascinating is that she's so publicly struggling with this, and but you can avoid that struggle altogether. You can save yourself a lot of pain. Paulina herself calls she's she has nicknamed herself the crying woman of Instagram. You can stop crying. If you're not so identified with how you look, you can stop crying, if you find another source beyond this body for your happiness.
Alex Ferrari 50:11
Yeah, and she seems to be fighting, fighting this idea because she, I want on one side of her, she wants to be able to grow old gracefully. But yet she's still holding on, and on a subconscious level to what she was. And, and by the way, for everyone listening, it's not just beauty, it could be your career, your careers, your identity, it could be
Emily Bennington 50:39
Your marriage, your marriage, your career, your spouse, and you lose your identity,
Alex Ferrari 50:44
Your skill, there's so many different things that you can associate like, this is what you associate yourself with. But everything fades away from everything fades, your career will fade or your looks will fade, your health will fade your relationship, they will die eventually, or you will die eventually, it all fades. But the only thing that doesn't is that internal connection. If you find that internal connection with yourself and the value of who you are as a spiritual being, that goes along the entire path. And that should tell you that that is the real, and the rest is not in in 10,000 years, I always tell people who get so caught up in my business. I'm like, dude, in 10,000 years, no one's gonna watch your movie. You you'll be you'll be you'll be a footnote, if you're lucky, the giants of our industry, like you know, Clark Gable was the biggest movie star in the world. Not 10 out of 10 people on the street unless they're of a certain age, have no idea who he is.
Emily Bennington 51:46
It's true. I look at what the Beatles did in the 60s, look at how the whole world kind of like tilted towards the Beatles. I asked my son the other day, I was like, Do you know Paul McCartney? And he's like, No.
Alex Ferrari 52:02
Eventually, and by the way, let's using the Beatles as an example. The Beatles basically dented the world. I mean, what they've done with their music is beyond comprehension. I'm a huge fan of The Beatles, my my kids are fans of The Beatles now because we're playing the music and we're kind of passing it along. But you're talking about the like, basically the biggest band of all time, the most popular band of all time. And they will fade. They will fade eventually, maybe some trickles of it will live on. And I think the core message of what the Beatles said with Love is love. Paul McCartney said, like, I don't know, like 95% of our songs are about love. You know, he was that's what that was the message that they put out there. When you will, you won't hear the same thing about and I'm not gonna bash Elvis But Elvis or other artists of that of that generation. The Beatles still stick. And you know, they still stick and whether you like them or hate them, they did dent the world, you know they did, they made a difference, but they will fade as well. But their message of love, I hope doesn't. And that's where that music is. I think that's why it holds so much. Because it's about it's essentially about love. Love is all you need. All You Need Is Love. All You Need Is Love. All you need is love, now
Emily Bennington 53:23
That's jesus message too.
Alex Ferrari 53:24
So you see this bit. It's good Mark, Jesus needed a better PR person. I mean, seriously. That's the problem just just doesn't have a good PR person.
Emily Bennington 53:32
So in that whole like thread that I was saying earlier, like Tolstoy and Saint Francis and Gandhi and Martin Luther King will just be those Kearney and
Alex Ferrari 53:39
For Paul McCartney and John Lennon and Paul and Ringo ever, everybody the whole, the whole, the for the for the fabulous for Fab Four as well. Now I'm going to ask you a couple questions. I love to ask all my guests. What is your mission in this life?
Emily Bennington 53:58
In short, my mission is to help A Course in Miracles become one of the world's great spiritual traditions.
Alex Ferrari 54:04
And what is your and why are we here as a as humans as a species?
Emily Bennington 54:13
To learn to transcend our ego and to love. And that's how we find our way home to God.
Alex Ferrari 54:19
Ahh great, great answers to both of those answers. Emily, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate you taking the time out. And it was an absolute joy and pleasure talking to you and continue the good work you're doing my dear.
Emily Bennington 54:31
Thank you so much. It was an honor to be here.
Links and Resources
- Emily Bennington – Official Site
- Awakening Through A Course in Miracles (ACIM) with David Hoffmeister
- FREE Gaia Trail: Discover Gaia’s Thought-Provoking Movies and Inspirational Documentaries
- FREE Mindvalley Spiritual Masterclasses
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