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Interview with Shirley MacLaine
Academy Award winning actress, bestselling author, and outspoken advocate for civil rights and liberties


Shirley MacLaine's book, The Camino, is about a famous pilgrimage that has been taken by people for centuries called the Santiago de Compostela Camino across northern Spain. It is done with the intent to find one's deepest spiritual meaning and resolutions regarding conflicts in Self. For Shirley, the Camino is an intense spiritual and physical challenge. A woman of her age completing such a grueling trip on foot in 30 days at 20 miles per day is nothing short of remarkable. But even more astounding is the route she takes spiritually--back thousands of years, through past lives to the very origin of the universe.

Interview by Janice Hughes and Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publishers

Share Guide: I really enjoyed reading The Camino, and my first question relates to that journey you made. When I was 20, I hitchhiked across the country from California to New York to live with Swami Muktananda. That was a different type of journey, but it kind of reminds me of the Camino trip. They were both long treks that took quite a while to make--a long pilgrimage as it were. I see common elements of surrender and sacrifice and I was wondering if you would like to talk about that.

Shirley MacLaine: You have to surrender to the energy above and below. I wouldn't call it sacrifice, except that you are sacrificing control, and when you do that, you find that basically the Divine takes over anyway, and you go through the things that you need to go through, like I did.

Share Guide: It seems that when you travel with zero resources you really have to rely on faith.

Shirley MacLaine: Yes. You have to rely on faith and your own sense of survival. And you evolve.

Share Guide: In your book, you talk about attachment to material things. Do you think it is crucial to do this kind of a trip traveling light?

Shirley MacLaine: I would recommend that to anybody, Dennis, because you find you don't need all the things you think you need. When I came back, I really pared down my life and made it simpler. I think we become addicted to material things…it is not that I don't appreciate beautiful things like clothes, furniture, jewelry, etc. But I haven't bought much of anything since I got back, except a few outfits that I need for my profession--certainly nothing like jewelry. I still have the same car since the 1980's.

Share Guide: What would you do differently if you made the Camino trek again?

Shirley MacLaine: It is said that on the Camino, you must not take any transportation, but during that time when the press was chasing me, I had to. If I were to do it again, I'd do it without any wheels at all. And I would give myself 40 days instead of 30, which is a long time to take out of your life.

Share Guide: You know, I am curious about taking that trip myself, someday. Was it fairly crowded? Were there a lot of people?

Shirley MacLaine: There were a lot of people; millions go every year. But you can go for long spaces of walking where you don't see anybody.

Share Guide: Yet there are rest stations along the way, so that it is a planned route?

Shirley MacLaine: You can stop and sleep under the stars and be very unpressured.

Share Guide: But it's not like it is a long highway though.

Shirley MacLaine: Oh no, although all totaled it is about 3 to 5 days on a freeway, because the Camino energy runs under the freeway. It is interesting that they chose to put the freeway there.

Share Guide: I was thinking if it was a path that was traversed for hundreds of years it might have become congested with cars as well as people.

Shirley MacLaine: Oh no. When you come along, let's say half road and half path, sometimes there are cars.

Share Guide: How many folks did you meet along the way who really treated this as a spiritual journey?

Shirley MacLaine: There weren't that many. Many people were bicycling. Some people treated it as a tourist hike with friends. Or they want to experience the fine restaurants, because northern Spain has wonderful restaurants. Others were very serious about doing it alone, which is what one really ought to do. Some people go on the Camino because their husbands or wives left them and they just need to cool their head. Then they do it with walking every day. Others simply want to experience the countryside. They all went for different reasons.

Share Guide: So some people may be sightseeing and enjoying nature, but some were very intent on the spiritual aspect of it.

Shirley MacLaine: Yes. That is what I went for.

Share Guide: Do you think people can get the full effect of the trip if they stop and catch a bus or other transportation?

Shirley MacLaine: No. They won't go through the total cleansing if they go as a tourist. You really should go and experience what the pilgrims were doing it for, which was walking alone. Actually, you should go and beg for food. I did that to some extent and sometimes only ate the food that was in the shelters. It is very full of oil because they can't afford a lot of things. The food sometimes doesn't agree with your system. And you have to experience what happens if you trip and sprain an ankle, or break a leg. A lot of people would stay in a shelter for 2 or 3 weeks because they couldn't walk after they fell down a mountainside or something like that.

Share Guide: So if you walk the whole way you are going to get the complete inner journey, which is what it is all about in the first place. Did you follow any daily spiritual practices along the trip?

Shirley MacLaine: You know, when you are doing a walking meditation for 10 and a half hours--that was enough for me!

Share Guide: Do you think people can have spiritual experiences on regular vacations?

Shirley MacLaine: Absolutely! The spirit is something to be enjoyed. It is not a harsh discipline. And I think people should take some time everyday for some kind of moving meditation, like Qigong or Tai Chi, or just go into a still meditation, doing nothing.

Share Guide: Sometimes we rest, sometimes we go on a deeper retreat. It is all spirit. Otherwise we won't make it to the next vacation.

Shirley MacLaine: Definitely. Otherwise we take a permanent vacation!

Share Guide: I was wondering if you experienced flashes of past lives as you did on the Camino in any other power spots you've visited.

Shirley MacLaine: I have experienced those out on my ranch in New Mexico where I am now, because the land is very beautiful and it is supposedly as the old timers say "karmic free." You can experience a spiritual revelation anywhere. Sometimes I do it while performing. Remember the Greeks used to go to the theater to experience their Godhead.

Share Guide: In the book you mention that you slept in the King's Chamber at the Great Pyramid at Giza. What was that like?

Shirley MacLaine: Well, one of the things that I have never liked very much are mosquitoes. You find when you go into some of these deeper levels of cleansing, you will manifest what you are afraid of and I manifested mosquitoes. They were swarming all over me. Otherwise, they are never in there! Very interesting.

Share Guide: Oh. That was your test. Going back to the book, you talked of pondering family conflicts on the trail. Recently I interviewed James Van Praagh, who wrote Reaching to Heaven. He mentioned reincarnating in "soul groups." What do you think of the idea of people coming back in groups and working through tests together, lifetime after lifetime?

Shirley MacLaine: It's true. There are some people in the world that seem to always show up in your life. Who can be sure about any of this, but I think if you open yourself up to be more aware of who the folks are that you find yourself around, you can come to those conclusions.

Share Guide: That you may have known them before?

Shirley MacLaine: Yes. Certainly people you have an immediate reaction to, you may have met before.

Share Guide: Do you still have any dreams with John the Scot, who was one of the main people you connected with on the Camino?

Shirley MacLaine: Oh, he shows up every now and then.

Share Guide: So you still have contact with him?

Shirley MacLaine: That's right.

Share Guide: That's interesting. Another thing you mention in your book is that you used to conduct travel seminars. When was this?

Shirley MacLaine: In the 1980's--1987 I think it was. I am thinking of doing some more of those, actually. At the height of the beginning of the New Age Movement, it seemed to be the thing to do. Then in 10 or 12 years people did not study as much. I found that there was a slight regression regarding interest in how to work with the chakras and how to meditate. More people are meditating now, but the ones who are meditating are doing it less deeply. So maybe I'll go back and do some more.

Share Guide: So you are interested in teaching again.

Shirley MacLaine: Yes.

Share Guide: Didn't you stop because you didn't want to be seen as a New Age guru type?

Shirley MacLaine: I didn't want them to give their power away to me, either. I don't like to call it teaching. I like to call it sharing what I have learned.

Share Guide: I can see that as difficult to do with the whole celebrity status thing. But if you can empower those you are sharing with, that is what it is all about.

Shirley MacLaine: When you have had so much experience, why not share it so people don't have to go through some of the difficulties that I did.

Share Guide: Yes, definitely. The other interview I did for our May/June 2001 issue is with Lynn Andrews. Have you studied her work at all?

Shirley MacLaine: Oh sure!

Share Guide: She is a very interesting "Medicine Woman." I think it is very good that there is many women teachers or sharers as well as men, now.

Shirley MacLaine: I agree, and I think some of the men are beginning to touch the feminine in themselves, which is what I believe has been wrong for so long. They weren't willing to let that express itself.

Share Guide: So what would you say is your vision of the next century?

Shirley MacLaine: I think we are going to go through a lot of climatic changes. I think we are going to deal more and more on a realistic basis about sightings of our space brothers and sisters. I think there will be more crafts seen on an earth plane level, with more contacts. And I think we'll be able to prove scientifically that other talents such as intuitive, psychic, clairvoyant and audiovoyant are very real. I think that will become accepted as a new paradigm. We won't have these debunkers all the time that say that they are not proving this is true so it can't be. I think the hypothesis for proof will shift. I think we will go into medicine that has more of an energy, electromagnetic frequency base, and not biological and chemical (as in drugs).

I think we have to do something about the environment and how we are polluting the planet. So I feel we will make leaders that will address themselves to that. I don't really see any worldwide conflagration, but I think there will be skirmishes--for example, in the middle east. After all, that is the center of monotheism. I think that the fights over "Our God is better than your God" will have to be resolved, and they will. I think we have to balance spirituality and technology.

I think people will become more and more aware that we are all more than we seem. I think that will be something millions and millions of people will experience, not just those of us who went out on a limb and said it already. I think we will be more in touch with our soul's journey and how much we all have truly experienced. I think there might be a whole new sense of application to children's education and learning spirituality, not religion--because the violence in the schools is showing us that we have got to do something. We need to understand that we are all children of God, with the notion of God being more spiritual than religious.

Share Guide: What projects are you thinking of yourself that you want to be involved in?

Shirley MacLaine: I am working on some now on my web site, because I would love for that to be a center for people to go if they don't know how to locate something they want. I get so many visitors, about 15-20 million already.

Share Guide: That's very good. I am glad that many people are interested.

Shirley MacLaine: They are, and I don't think the media has any idea, because they are basically skeptical. But I think that this longing and this need to investigate the spirituality of human beings is much more pronounced than they realize.

Share Guide: So you are serving as a kind of lightning rod.

Shirley MacLaine: That is what I like to think of myself as: a lightning rod for your own fire!

Share Guide: That is what I like to do also, to help spread the word. There is a lot of good news in the world that is under reported.

Shirley MacLaine: You are absolutely right. It doesn't get the ratings! It is like what Walter Cronkite used to say,"You can't report all the cats that did not get lost that day."

Share Guide: On a larger scale, the cats that are found, the good things that are happening, it would seem that would excite and interest people as well as conflagrations.

Shirley MacLaine: Unfortunately, I think we are still terribly titillated by bad news.

Share Guide: Like people gawking on the freeway at accidents and so forth.

Shirley MacLaine: Exactly, look at this latest storm that was supposed to hit the East coast. They got very high ratings about four days and the storm didn't happen. As a matter of fact, the governor of Connecticut wants an investigation of why they did that alarmist reporting about the weather.

Share Guide: Yet there is lots of good news and I think that there are a lot of good people that care about it, and that shows by my readership as well as the people going to your web site.

Shirley MacLaine: Yes, but just look at the number of "viewerships" of the total web. The highest is pornography. Most people hang onto that more than anything. The next highest is astrology, UFO's and numerology. That is what it's really about--the internal investigation of one's Self.

Share Guide: So the numbers are there, but it is not coming across on the boob tube or in the newspapers.

Shirley MacLaine: Oh yes it is. Look at all the programs that have to do with this, that are top rated: "Touched By An Angel, The X Files." Larry King did a show the other night with James Van Praag, Sylvia Brown and John Edwards. Got huge ratings. "The Psychic Network." John Edwards, himself. Even the movies, the Spielberg movies, all the things Steven does, but also, "The Green Mile" and "The Sixth Sense." The ones that are the most popular are usually the ones that have a spiritual aspect attached to them.

Share Guide: So I guess the question is, if spiritual issues show strongly in the ratings, why is there still so much garbage out there?

Shirley MacLaine: Because there is a polarity dance we are doing with the human race.

Share Guide: So some people are still excited by the lower things although many are not. They are both selling, so that is because there are two kinds of people, actually more than two kinds.

Shirley MacLaine: I think we all have polarity in each of us, the polarity that says you are afraid and the polarity that says you trust the Divine. I am not totally unafraid. Neither are you, neither is anybody. So maybe what is happening in the public arena is a reflection of who we are and we are not settled in that.

Share Guide: It is like a barometer of our whole culture, a reflection of our individual psyche.

Shirley MacLaine: Yes. The other thing is that in America there is more spiritual than in any other country and there is more violence than in any other country. I think this is truly the land of dove, the new Atlantis.

Share Guide: Going back to Lynn Andrews again: That kind of work, getting in touch with the spirit of the earth and the tribal peoples who honored the earth as part of their spirit--all of those cultures are important to pay attention to. What do you think people can do as individuals, and together in their neighborhoods to create a better world?

Shirley MacLaine: I think it is an individual spark that ignites first, and then if people would share that, they could have a community meditation, community talks and community sharings. You know, there was a big study about the architecture of cities and villages, and once the washing well was eliminated, when technology came in and people could have washing machines, once the women didn't go down to the center of town and wash their clothes and share their lives, the whole culture changed in that village or that city.

For more information about Shirley MacLaine, please visit her website at www.shirleymaclaine.com

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