Nelson Mandela? Marianne Williamson?
Dear Quote Investigator: A mystical motivational speech begins with this line:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
The speech has been attributed to statesman Nelson Mandela and spiritual author Marianne Williamson. Would you please explore its provenance?
Quote Investigator: In 1977 Marianne Williamson encountered the popular and controversial three-volume spiritual work “A Course in Miracles”. She studied the text and performed the workbook exercises which produced positive experiences in her life. In 1983 she began to lecture to small groups about her interpretation of the course. Her audience grew over time, and in 1992 she published the bestseller “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles”. The following passage appeared in chapter seven. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
The passage by Williamson finished with the following sentence:
As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1992, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson, Chapter 7: Work, Quote Page 165, Published by HarperCollins, New York. (Verified on paper) ↩