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Oprah explores binding power of beliefs in new series

“Belief” is a landmark series on OWN exploring humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves
Oprah explores spirituality in new documentary series "Belief" 07:53

Oprah Winfrey's new documentary series, "Belief," is taking viewers across six continents as it explores how intimate journeys of faith and spiritual practices bind people across the world.

"There's a deep yearning for -- and that's what 'Belief' speaks to -- the yearning for something greater than yourself. Because if you're only living a life for yourself, you will find that you end up feeling lost many times," Winfrey said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."

Reshma Thakkar, a Hindu Indian-American woman from Chicago, is one of the characters features in the seven-night series. Thakkar heads to the banks of the Ganges River in India for Kumbh Mela, the world's largest spiritual gathering, asking herself whether she has to have a religion or if being a good person is enough.

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"I think Reshma speaks for the voices of an entire generation," Winfrey said. "The latest Pew survey shows that like a third of millennials, they believe in nothing. They believe in nothing. So they're also searching for, which is the direction that will lead me to my highest self?"

The media mogul said she was inspired to create this series in the early stages of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, when the press focused on how the network was struggling.

"Oftentimes when you're going through a challenge, it forces you particularly to go inward and think about 'What do I really want and what do I really want to achieve?'" Winfrey said.

She wanted to create a network that was able to "drop pieces of light into other people's consciousness" and show stories that would connect viewers.

"I had seen 'Planet Earth' on Discovery and fell in love with Earth and wanted to do something that would do the same thing, would have the same kind of impact through people's hearts and through their spirits," Winfrey said.

She prayed, "Alright, God, show me the way, what should I do?" Three or four days later, Part Two Pictures, which was working on another show on OWN at the time, brought her the idea of "Belief," and Winfrey said she knew that was it.

The documentary series is not necessarily about religion, Winfrey said, as one character in the series describes himself as an atheist.

"It's eavesdropping on people's beliefs. Because I know from my own personal upbringing that belief defines who you actually become in the world," she said.

From a Jewish boy preparing for his Bar Mitzvah in Budapest, Hungary, to an Aboriginal grandfather in Australia passing on the wisdom of his tribe to his grandson, Winfrey said "the connection in all real faiths that reveal the character of God is that there is compassion, there is kindness, and ultimately love."

"So you see that that Aboriginal grandfather feels the same love and the desire to pass on tradition and ritual to his grandson as the rabbi feels for his son and they're the same, even though they live in opposite ends of the world," Winfrey said.

"Belief" premieres Sunday October 18, at 8 p.m. ET on OWN.

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