Creating a Mystical Relationship with Your Soul and the Divine
An Interview with Caroline Myss
By Randy Peyser
Caroline Myss is the author of four New York Times best-sellers: Invisible Acts of Power, Sacred Contracts; Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can; and Anatomy of the Spirit. A pioneer in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness, she is the founder of the CMED Institute, offering workshops that explore the interior mansions of the soul, personal power, archetypes, Sacred Contracts, and the mystical path to the divine. Visit: www.myss.com and www.hayhouse.com.
In her newest work, Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul, (Free Press), she draws on the work of Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Spanish Carmelite nun, to help individuals establish a deeper and more authentic relationship with God and one’s soul. Says Myss, “No higher purpose exists in this life than to be called into a mystical relationship with the divine.” In this interview, we discuss how to build this sacred relationship.
Randy Peyser: How did you come to write Entering the Castle?
Caroline Myss: I looked at the experiences people have when catastrophe comes to call. At that point, the world our survival ego has created for us ceases to be functional. What actually is happening, though, is that our soul is trying to emerge and take over the role our egos created.
However this experience comes to us, such as through an illness or the loss of someone dear, we are left in a vulnerable space. This causes us to find a center of faith and a higher belief system that shifts our center of power from outside ourselves to inside ourselves. Those who best survive this kind of initiation tend to emerge with an appetite to be of service to others. I decided to study this and asked people to share their acts of service, or ones to which they had been the recipients.
The responses I received shattered me wide open. They were not the phenomenal kind of acts one might expect. What I realized is that people who were performing simple acts of service were conveying grace. Everything I had studied about the nature of God, I was seeing in practice in these letters. It was always smaller acts of service that had the capacity to resurrect a human being. For example, there was a former homeless person who told me, “It wasn’t the ten dollars someone gave me, but that a person was not afraid to touch me when I was dressed in dirty clothes.” That person told him, “I will pray for you and you will get out of this.” It was the gift of dignity.
I am often asked, “What is my sacred contract? What is my highest potential?” As I looked at these letters, I recognized people would never accept acts of service as an answer for their sacred contract. It would be far too humble a truth to be told your highest potential is to listen to a directive to touch a homeless person so that grace can come through you and this person will be given the desire to live again. This isn’t glamorous, but nevertheless, it is the highest potential of a human being.
We are living in the midst of a mystical renaissance. People are truly looking for a deeper connection to God, and it is not being filled by the way in which we have constructed our spiritual life.
Randy: For many years I was on a mystical path, but I struggled financially. Eventually, I focused on business and stopped struggling, but I have gotten away from that deep, inner practice. I don’t know how to have both.
Caroline: Many believe that you cannot have a deep interior life and function in the outside world. That is exactly why we have a spirituality that got sidetracked. In the 1960’s, the spiritual movement began, and we started to move away from religion and into this New Age consciousness. We got routed into the consciousness of health, the discovery of the self and the self-awareness movement — the movement of the victim and woundedness, and the inner child. That became the “surrogate spirituality movement”.
Our deep fear, our deep interior hesitation, is that a profound, soul inner life
cannot co-exist with a physical life. There was no model for the lay person to
have a rich mystical life, while also having a sensual physical and successful
financial life. However, the “mystic out of the monastery”, of which we are the
first generation, is absolutely a new model.
The new mystic is not someone who retreats into an ashram, but rather, is someone who remains a very effective lay person in the field — a mother, lawyer, teacher, a functioning person — while having a very animated soul. That is what I think an effective mystical activist is in the world.
Randy: What is a mystical activist?
Caroline: A mystic is someone who actually experiences the power and nature of God, whereas, others talk about the nature of God. The mystic crosses over the drawbridge into the castle — which is Teresa of Avila’s metaphor for the soul. A mystic’s soul becomes animated. He or she goes from the theory of God to the fact of God, from “I believe” to “I know”. This person is someone who becomes a container of grace, someone who knows exactly what it is to listen to his or her interior self and follow instructions, and live life from within instead of from without.
Humiliation is the number one fear in human beings. They dress, buy their cars, or need to fit in at certain places, so they are not humiliated. Humiliation controls individuals.
Randy: When you come from the place of the soul, you wouldn’t be thinking of humiliation.
Caroline: What you learn when you go into your interior life is that
there is a great difference between the fear, panic and control you feel when
you are being humiliated, and the power of being humble.
Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa — every great spiritual leader — was a humble person. They were humble because grace is so powerful. Teresa of Avila’s mystical experiences were so extraordinary her spiritual director said, “You have to write about your interior life because you must leave a path for others to follow.” The “Interior Castle” became her classic work.
When someone says, “What is the soul?” the truth is that the soul cannot be described. Like mysticism, the soul can only be experienced. While the mind in its frustration wants to be accommodated by a description, that can’t be done. You have to experience your interior life; you have to cross your drawbridge and go into your soul.
Spiritual practice is devotion to prayer, reflection, and contemplation, and an inner life focused on illumination and self-awareness to God. Spiritual practice is not self-awareness of your wounds, stress reduction or organic vegetables.
Randy: Can you talk about the mansions of the soul?
Caroline: In lower mansions — one, two and three — when a person enters the work of their interior self, they have to work hard to unearth what Teresa called, “the reptiles”. In the first mansion, you have to engage in your struggle with humbleness, your fear of humiliation, and how this fear has controlled the wall between you and God.
Currently, you say a prayer, ask for guidance, and then block that guidance because of your incredible fear God will give you guidance that will humiliate you.
I cannot surrender to you, God, because if I do, you will take my money. That is
what some think. I can assure them that God doesn’t want their money. If He did,
He would have already taken it.
Once you admit that fear, you will admit to yourself, I have heard You all along; I have simply said I haven’t. I only want to hear guidance supporting my bank account…
In the first room of the mansion of your soul, you confront the falseness of
your own theology; you confront you and God, and now you are in your soul. You
face the fact that you have no faith and never did; you simply have a lot of
fear, superstition and trinkets. When you start dismantling that you discover
what is really inside you — which is a warehouse of superstition. That is where
your soul is.
When you start that journey your knees start shaking because you think “If I get rid of all these superstitions, what’s left?” It is unbelievable to start peeling this away from yourself. You admit, “I don’t have any faith at all, and if I did have faith, what would it look like?”
As these layers get peeled away you discover liberation. A phenomenal lightness
starts. You discover you are so packed with fear about your life, it is only
your arrogance that has protected you. You discover a level of trust in
something much greater than yourself. It is not a mental trust; it is a genuine
one. Then you begin the ascension into the upper mansions.
This is a rigorous journey and it cannot be done without deep prayer and devotion. It is not a support group for healing woundedness; it is a journey of prayer and having an interior life. What comes from this is the profound sense of such an interior confidence with God and your place in this world — and the gift of falling in love with who you are.
Randy: You say, “Transform this suffering relationship with the divine into one of fearless intimacy.” How do we do this?
Caroline: Have a quality of faith where the divine is real for you, where it is no longer a mental concept or an intellectual discussion; where the divine is so real that putting it back into an intellectual discussion is uncomfortable for you.
Randy: In terms of building one’s interior castle, you mention prayer. You also mention silence, but most of us have minds that race all the time.
Caroline: It is more than just race all the time. We live in a toxic time. We have entered into a moment in evolution in which time has become the servant of timelessness and we don’t even realize it. We are so blind that we do not realize we have crossed over and become more timeless than time.
We have timeless communication now — we do everything by Blackberries, the internet and cell phones. We can’t be away from our communication systems for three minutes without going into panic attacks. We are never unplugged from the collective technological soul. We are always in contact with the whole and it is at the speed of light. We are always linked to timelessness.
Once upon a time, when we were growing up, we were lucky if we got a letter a week. We would take a few days to respond. We had to handwrite it and think about what we wrote. Now we get 80+ pieces of email every day, and each piece demands, “Get back to me!”
None of us takes the time to reflect on what we are doing, to sit back and say, “What are the consequences of my actions or of my thoughts and words on other people, myself, my family, my friends, or the world? Reflection — to pause; I need to reflect upon what you are asking me to do. We don’t do that.
So not only are we timeless, but change is universal. Now, no matter where change happens, it is connected to us. We are linked to every change or thought that happens on the earth and we don’t reflect on that.
Some think that by turning off the TV, they are separated from this change and
are disconnected from the technical field of information because they can’t see
We have a Body/Mind/Spirit template now. We have completely opened our individual psychic networks. Except people only pull out their Body/Mind/Spirit templates when they go to the doctors. They say, “I want to be treated as though I have a Body/Mind/Spirit.” But as soon as they walk out, they go back to being only a mind, and occasionally a heart — when convenient after 4 o’clock.
They don’t see themselves as a body/mind/spirit communication system that is walking down the street, or having lunch, or doing business as a body/mind/spirit. They only see the body/mind/spirit when they are buying organic vegetables and vitamins.
A body/mind/spirit force needs reflection. It needs prayer time. It doesn’t need a massage; it needs an internal life.
Randy: How do you find the time to do this?
Caroline: I make the time. It is my priority.
Randy: How much time do you take?
Caroline: The amount of time is not an issue; that I am present every day to my interior world is a given.
Randy: What else would you suggest people do to create a deeper and more authentic experience of God?
Caroline: You can’t go into this by yourselves. I wrote Entering the Castle as a guide. It is my hand on your hand saying, “Let me take you in here.” This is why I started my CMED school — to take people through the castle.
It is very difficult to turn attention to your interior life on your own. People don’t really know how to pray. They start with petition prayer: “Protect me, and can I have…?” Beyond that, they don’t know where to go. People often say to me, “Do you have a prayer that works?” meaning, I didn’t get what I want. They can’t get past that. They have no idea how to say an effective prayer.
Randy: You say, “We have polluted the act of prayer by expecting certain rewards.” You also talk about letting go of the idea of deservingness.
Caroline: You can’t have expectations with God. You must not. Any mystic who has ever had an experience with God soon comes to the humble realization that to look to God in the heavens and say, “I expect”, is a fool.
Randy: Any last thoughts?
Caroline: I believe people are being called to experience the force and
power of their soul. Changes I described about living in a timeless and chaotic
world have made the mystical renaissance necessary.
If people realized their capacity to convey grace, to be a profound mystical activist, to develop a soul with stamina, to find a way into their castle and discover what a force of transformation they can be in this world, they would jump into the castle yesterday. They couldn’t get in there fast enough. They have no idea how powerful they really are; they have no idea.
Randy Peyser is the creator of “The Write-A-Book Program”. She also offers book editing and help finding agents and publishers: www.AuthorOneStop.com
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