Shirley MacLaine, author and actress, chatted with Beliefnet about her newest book, "The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit" on Yahoo, Wednesday, May 9, at 8 p.m. EST. As with all chats, this transcript is unedited.
beliefnet_ellen: Good evening and welcome to Beliefnet's chat with Shirley MacLaine about her latest book, "The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit" which chronicles her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. For centuries, seekers have made the spiritually and physically challenging pilgrimage along Spain's famous Santiago de Compostela Camino. Tonight, Ms. MacLaine answers your question and shares the story of her travels and ongoing spiritual journey. Ms. MacLaine, what was the impetus behind this book?
author_shirley_maclaine: I had reached the point in my life where I wanted to have a solitary adventure. I had no idea it would turn into such a spiritual adventure going back so far in time. This Camino that I did has been traversed for thousands of years by saints, sinners, generals, misfits, kings and queens, with the intent to find one's deepest spiritual meaning and resolutions regarding conflicts in self.
angelxpressing: On page 59 of The Camino, Shirley talks about being able to "dip into simultaneous realities whenever I tuned into them." What are these simultaneous realities like from an experience level?
author_shirley_maclaine: I see the reality; I hear it; I sense it in every way. Sometimes I see myself, sometimes I don't. And then of course what occurs to me is: am I creating it all, just as I create all in life? Anybody can do this, but they have to be willing to get out of their own way.
heather_d7: Do you see your self as spiritual but not religious?
author_shirley_maclaine: Umm... yes!
heather_d7: What religion were you raised?
author_shirley_maclaine: My religion as a child was nondescript. Although we were taught to believe in God, church seemed to have not much to do with it. So I developed my own form of spirituality, as a result of not being conditioned by religion.
peginlex: Shirley, I loved your other three books. Is this one a continuation of your search, or more of a confirmation of what you've already discovered about spirituality and/or God?
author_shirley_maclaine: I've written nine books, not three, and I think this goes deeper and broader than the others.
gayle_88: Do you plain on writing more books after this one
author_shirley_maclaine: Oh, yes!
heather_d7: ms. MacLaine I wonder if you could start by saying a little about what a pilgrimage is? I'd assumed the Santiago Camino had Christian roots and wouldn't appeal to a spiritual seeker...why did it appeal to you?
author_shirley_maclaine: Because the Camino Santiago is said to lie directly under the Milky Way, and follows ley lines that reflect the energy from those star systems above it. So it's not really a Catholic pilgrimage - it wasn't until the time of Charlemagne. But people who were atheists took it.
ojorose: Hi Shirley, I read your book during the May alignment of the planets. Your journey was amazing! The parts about Lemuria and Atlantis were awesome!
author_shirley_maclaine: Well thank you, that's a good time to have read the book! I'd like to know what's happening to the pilgrims on the Camino right now, Because we certainly are seeing a shift in the weather since this alignment occurred.
angelxpressing: On page 102 of The Camino, Shirley states "through mind projections we nourish them (plants) as we nourish each other". Please explain what these projections are and how this is done.
author_shirley_maclaine: Ok... I think all energy is connected. And has an impact on all other energy. When you send positive energy out to anything, it's received, whether it's conscious or not. Same thing with negative. So obviously you don't want to nourish a plant with negative energy. Same thing goes for people, and animals; anything that is alive. And most everything is alive, even man-made steel.
kyatako: Shirley, I looked at your web site, I think it is wonderful :) Would you consider a chat room on there?
author_shirley_maclaine: Ok, now I'll give you a little outline of the web, and what we're going to do with my website! I just launched it, of course, and I will have a chat room on reincarnation, UFO phenomena, which would include the potential of abductees and contactees, and anything else anyone wants to talk about. I'm also going to include chakra balancing, and content on reflexology, dream interpretation, numerology, astrology, chi energy, intuition, prophecy, feng shui, transformational travels to sacred sites, stress management, which will include meditation and meditational tapes, Qi gong, the spiritual side of health, and pet spirituality. So, all of that will be growing over the summer! And I welcome feedback on what anybody has, in terms of ideas of what they would like to see.
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cap2807: Shirley, I read your book in less than fours hours this week and really enjoyed it! If you did this in 1994 and it took you only 2 months to write it , why six years before we were able to enjoy it?
author_shirley_maclaine: Very good question. I couldn't process it and my previous publishers wanted me to write a book on Hollywood instead. But it wasn't six years ago. I don't think... I don't know, I lose track of time. Anyway I finally changed publishers, and they liked the idea. That's why it took so long.
lprzepasniak: your thoughts on the alignment?
author_shirley_maclaine: I think that alignment was extremely important. I think it could have been disturbing to people, but also could have kicked them up to a higher understanding. I thought about canceling the launch of my book, because of the alignment, and the launch of my website, because of the alignment, until I realized that astrologically, being a Taurus, to me that was an alignment of communication. So for every sign, it was something different - for me it was communication.
adelduran: how can we use the energy to make positive earth changes?
author_shirley_maclaine: Well, nature follows mind. So therefore, if we have a negative collective mindset, (which to a large extent we do) then nature will reflect that. So it's up to us to use our free will, to become more balanced so that nature can reflect that balance.
benquo: have you ever traveled alone before? was that difficult?
author_shirley_maclaine: Well that person obviously didn't read the book! But this was an entirely different, solitary experience.
Kittybeau: Shirley what is your website address pls?
author_shirley_maclaine: http://www.shirleymaclaine.com When you log on to my website, I think by now we have up e-mail addresses.
Sam864379: ms. MacLaine in your book you talk about a silver string can you explain that
author_shirley_maclaine: What book?
pawz2292: Have you every read "Many Masters, Many Lives"?
author_shirley_maclaine: Many times.
peginlex: this sounds very much like the conversations with God books -- as far as creating our own reality -- is is along the same vein?
author_shirley_maclaine: Absolutely! I think we do, and that's the power of free will and the mind. But then anybody who's made a study of these spiritual issues comes out with the same conclusion.
kyatako: Shirley, I find your books very easy to understand. does writing come naturally to you? or is it something you found difficult at first?
author_shirley_maclaine: I had never written anything - maybe only ten letters in my life - when I first came out with "Don't Fall Off The Mountain"; but I learned to set my consciousness aside and let my higher self write them.
bbwall2: Have you ever had an out of body experience?
heather_d7: What was the most difficult part of the journey?
author_shirley_maclaine: The journey within self, which at first became tedious (because I walked 10 hours a day, 20 miles a day alone) and then I realized it was very important to walk alone and break through the tedium to the universe within, which we all have.
johnhowiehowe: Do you have any good projects in the works?
author_shirley_maclaine: I'm going to do a picture in July, with Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and we're talking to Julie Andrews. It's a farce, it's beyond comedy it's so funny! It's the story of older actresses coming together to work again. And they can't stand each other. It was written by Carrie Fisher. And we're trying to get the technology up so that I will have streaming video in real time of the shoot. We do it in July. I do my qi gong every morning.
goldsun_blueearth_45fe: there are many approaches to the "healing power" (prayer and meditation come to mind)...what approach do you use?
author_shirley_maclaine: And it turns into a meditation. qi gong is body movement, when one allows one's higher self to dictate the movement, not the mind. I also take potassium, and try to drink a lot of water.
pawz2292: Do you believe pets are reincarnated people from our past?
author_shirley_maclaine: That is called "transmigration of souls." It's my understanding that that has not existed for some millions of years. But I do believe that pets incarnate again. I have a little dog right now that I believe that happened to.
Aussiegrrl_79: Shirley, why do you think there is so much unhappiness and mental illness in the USA?
author_shirley_maclaine: I think we have become addicted to technology, materialism, and industry. And we have lost our spirituality. This country's founding fathers were very involved with spiritual subjects (not religious subjects). They studied the occult (which means hidden). That's one of the reasons why the pyramid and the third eye are on the back of the dollar bill. It was an attempt to spiritualize the material. But in the middle 1800s, 1865 or thereabouts, with the Industrial Revolution, the spiritual approach was slowly forgotten, and religion took its place.
kyatako: shirley, how long have you been using the internet?
author_shirley_maclaine: A few weeks...! I am learning about it now. I've been logging on for about year mostly to access newspapers, because I'm a news freak. But I wanted to launch this book on the Internet. because I wanted to help spiritualize the technology.
msbean_007: I haven't read Camino..yet, I read Going Within and it changed my life, set me on a spiritual journey, that I hope nevers ends. Can I expect the same from Camino?
author_shirley_maclaine: Yes, but it will be more shocking. Just let yourself relax when you read "The Camino." It doesn't happen until near the end. But perhaps when you go back in time with me, you will feel something familiar.
herbalmam: Shirley, how do you recognize the people who come into your life who you need to help, and the people who are to test you
author_shirley_maclaine: Well, I think all life is a schoolroom - not so much a test as a schoolroom So everyone you meet is a teacher. If you have a confusion about it, stop, and ask your higher self why you drew them to you. You'll get an answer.
pwodonnell: Ms. MacLaine, how does a walk like the camino help you with your acting?
author_shirley_maclaine: When you act, you are creating the reality of a character, within the reality of the play that you are in. When you realize that a walk like this puts you in touch with an emotional universe within yourself, whenever you were there, it obviously helps with the acting.
yoothoo: How can your approach be utilized in a psychotherapy session.
author_shirley_maclaine: I think that psychoanalysis is very good, but it doesn't go deep enough. Psychoanalysis coupled with some past life regression would be very beneficial. I know people who have had a morbid fear of the water, and nothing in their background would account for it, but once they tapped into a lifetime in Atlantis where they drowned, it made sense, and the fear went away.
goldsun_blueearth_45fe: I ran across the movie "Mindwalk" and then read everything I could by Fritjof Capra..are you familiar with his work? I found it an incredible bridge between science and spiritualism
author_shirley_maclaine: Yes, I agree. And science does exist as an explanation of creation. So, basically, science and spirituality are on the same path.
ojorose: Are you going to watch your two hour biography on A&E this Sunday?
author_shirley_maclaine: Oh, I'd forgotten! Yes, I will. I have no idea what it is - I had nothing to do with it. What time is it on?
indiocharrua2000: ULTREYA SHIRLEY, you have been my spiritual personal trainer, thank you, and who has been yours on this planet?
author_shirley_maclaine: My higher self.
Aussiegrrl_79: Shirley, do you believe that we can have soul mates?
author_shirley_maclaine: Definitely. But I would think that meeting your soul mate can be extremely difficult if you haven't done a great deal of spiritual work.
woodsmk1: Shirley, do you believe in spiritual guides ?
author_shirley_maclaine: Oh yes, very definitely! Everybody has them I think. Everyone has guardian angels. Sometimes I think my little dog is my spiritual guide. Sometimes, a bum you might meet on the street might be a master.
mattielou01: How does someone begin on a "spiritual journey?"
author_shirley_maclaine: Well, spend some time meditating... if the stillness of it is too much, then try walking.
heather_d7: Shirley refering to an earlier statement about the founding fathers...do you think there are any politicians today who have the same qualities of the founding fathers or has all been lost to the Christian right?
author_shirley_maclaine: Well... I think everyone has the qualities of the founding fathers, but for some reason, we all feel we have to keep up with the Joneses, be politically correct... and tend more to left-brained and intellectual pursuits. The founding fathers were a combination. On Benjamin Franklin's tombstone, it says, I will come back again in another suit of clothes. But there was much discussion among the founding fathers about these spiritual issues.
peginlex: When you went "back in time" were you able to re-integrate with your past lives?
author_shirley_maclaine: Well, that's the whole point of the book. And what I learned from the Atlantean time period and the Lemurian time period was how far off the spiritual course we are today. And I think the spiritual movement is helping to redirect the course that is our legacy.
ojorose: Do you think that having a good sense of humor is vital to the process of becoming enlightened?
author_shirley_maclaine: I certainly do! And I think that if you spend any time with the Dalai Lama, who I consider enlightened, you will find that he laughs for no reason, quite often. Perhaps our taking things so seriously is a cosmic joke!
indiocharrua2000: would you consider hosting a metaphysical talk show on TV, you would be the perfect host.
author_shirley_maclaine: I've thought of that! But I think it needs to reach across the mainstream a little bit more. Because so much is based on ratings and if you do it too soon, you get cancelled.
gogobuey: What do you do that you shouldn't
author_shirley_maclaine: Eat too many sweets!
noahveil: The population is increasing rapidly. Where are all these new souls coming from?
author_shirley_maclaine: I think from this planet, and others in the cosmos, unless we are very careful with our balance of nature and balance of the male-female in ourselves. I think souls are coming from all over the cosmos to help us. You don't have to have been born here to be attracted to help.
danvanni: But what about those who suffer a lot, do they get help from their guides
author_shirley_maclaine: The suffering question always bothers me, more than any other. Each individual's experience with suffering is probably based on the suffering that individual caused others previously. But it is the Law of One that is paramount. The Law of One states, "All energy put out returns to its source."
jedi_ghost_grrl: Does the title of the book, literally "the walkway" in Italian, have anything to do with a person's journey through life?
author_shirley_maclaine: Of course, that's what we're on! Life itself, many many lifetimes, one after the other, is the journey. Sometimes you take the journey in the physical, sometimes you don't. That's probably the significance of a pilgrimage, in earth plane terms. Because we are, after all, on a pilgrimage through life, and through lives.
ojorose: Do you think that the mango still stimulates the correct patterns for the projection of telepathy as it did when you experienced it in Lemuria?
author_shirley_maclaine: I do. And besides, it's very delicious!
pwodonnell: Do you only learn spiritual lessons, or --pardon if this sounds silly-- do you bring practical knowledge from past lives, like say how to cook?
author_shirley_maclaine: Definitely, I think so. I don't think cooking is a practical knowledge, I think it's a very spiritual knowledge! Ask any woman who is feeding her family. I think the soul remembers everything it has experienced. It's just that we have to learn to access it.
trevlac99: do you believe in god?
author_shirley_maclaine: Absolutely. I think it is the creative powerful great spirit source of everything. It resides in everyone, I think it is genderless. And I think it even resides in those who are so-called "evil." Because evil itself can be defined as living without that knowledge. "Live" spelled backward is "evil". But then... "dog" spelled backwards is "God".
kyatako: Speaking of dog ...what is your dogs name? :)
author_shirley_maclaine: Terry. She just woke up at the sound of her name! Terry as in Mother Teresa. Terry as in extra-terrestrial. And Terry as in... little terror!
gogobuey: Shirley, I tuned in because I'm a huge fan of you film work (I don't read as much as I should) could you fill a layman in on your spiritual beliefs?
author_shirley_maclaine: If you're really interested in my journey, start with "Out on a Limb" then read "Dancing in the Light" then "Going Within" then "The Camino".
ojorose: What book or novel are you reading now?
author_shirley_maclaine: I just finished "Original Story" by Arthur Laurents, the great director and screenwriter, and I'm going to read a new book on Edgar Cayce.
anaeccles: i just returned from a weekend in a zen monastery...how does an average american citizen successfully integrate zen into daily life?
author_shirley_maclaine: It's not easy! I think perhaps you should consider what's more important... the average American life you're leading, or what you're getting from Zen. And then balance the two.
lanskin: What about a chat or info page for people interested in doing The Camino?
author_shirley_maclaine: I'm going to have that! I just forgot to tell you. I will have a page on how to prepare, what to take, where to begin. But I think you can get most of it from the book anyway.
beliefnet_ellen: Thank you for being with us, Shirley, and thank all of you for great questions! Want to keep talking about "The Camino"? Go to Beliefnet.com and check out our discussion board: http://www.beliefnet.com/boards/discussion_list.asp?boardID=2400
author_shirley_maclaine: My love and light to you all, on your own Caminos!!
beliefnet_ellen: Download Shirley MacLaine's "The Camino" at Beliefnet.com. Beliefnet is a multifaith website covering religion, spirituality, and morality. Make sure to check out the site at www.beliefnet.com.
beliefnet_ellen: Make sure to look for the transcript at www.Beliefnet.com