Known for her incisive intuition and vast knowledge of human consciousness, Caroline Myss (pronounced mace) is a renowned best-selling author, teacher, and former "medical intuitive." She's written on consciousness ("Anatomy of the Spirit); health ("Why People Don't Heal and How They Can"); finding your true purpose ("Sacred Contracts"); and most recently has completed "Entering the Castle," a book inspired by Saint Teresa of Avila, about fully exploring and inhabiting your soul. Recently the tough-talking, fiercely private guru discussed her frustration with the perpetually wounded, what it means to be a contemporary mystic, and how to pray without being greedy.
Listen to Caroline Myss:
Leading a Mystical Life
Why We Are Spiritually Discontent
'Prayer Is Absolutely Integral'
On Having a Tough Love Attitude
Having an Intimate Relationship with the Divine
What is the state of "New Age" thinking?
The New Age
, when it started in the '60s, held so much potential. It became a movement that started to speak of a new age of light and a dawning of a time of new consciousness on the horizon, a new type of spirituality. People started to explore--the East discovered the West, and the West discovered the East. At the same time, we discovered the interior of our emotional life. And the inner child and the language of the psyche was born simultaneously. And we discovered woundology
, and the age of the self was born. That's where the wires got crossed--the interior life of healing and the power of attitudes got crossed with the spiritual
life. So that the discovery of healing became equated with the discovery of spirituality.
People started using their wounds to get to God.
Yes. And that is not a spiritual path. That is a path of self-discovery, of health, and of wondering, What made me sick? And this kind of twisted thinking developed that said, I know there's a lesson in this illness and if I get the lesson, God will reward me. And it's like, if I'm good I will never become ill.
It just filtered in there, whereas a true path of spirituality is a path towards God, transcendent of whether or not I'm healthy or ill. It is a path to God through reflection, through prayer
. It is a path of self-knowledge that goes much deeper because the goal is to become a vessel of grace without that goal of What's in it for me?
In the new book, "Entering the Castle," you talk about "mystics without monasteries." What does it mean to be a contemporary mystic?
A mystic is someone who has a sense of interior connection with a force of life, of meaning, much greater than themselves, a connection to God. There are people who are called to be a part of the world with the same passion that once drew people out of society and into monasteries or into ashrams. And now, the calling is to engage [with God] and remain within the mainstream of life. It is the need to live a life that is very clearly full of meaning and clear direction. When somebody says, "For what reason have I been born?" that is a question they are, in fact, releasing to God. That type of invocation ignites a deeper force from within.
And can that kind of question lead to a more mystical life?
I do believe that. I think that leads to a longing for a much more passionate connection to the divine. There is a fundamental need in us to connect to something greater than ourselves. And that's just the way we are designed. We do not want to think that, at the end of the day, we are simply flesh and bones. The second thing is we have a need to believe that, if we close our eyes and say, "God help us," there really is someone on the end of that phone call. There is a part of us that absolutely longs to know that's real.
What's the most common source of spiritual discontent that you see?
People say things to me like, "I know I was born to do something, but what is it?" That incredible discontentment is like an epidemic in this spiritual community of ours. That passion is a passion to be of service to something greater than themselves. They misinterpret it as a search for an occupation. But what they're really tapping into, what they're really sensing, is that they have a need to discover their profound capacity to channel grace.
I looked out over an audience one time. Again, it was an audience in which people said to me " I just know I was born to do something wonderful. I just don't know what it is." I said to them, "Stop it. Will you stop telling yourself that? Look at yourselves. You are, all of you, at least middle-aged. None of you--if you had a beatific vision, if God came in front of you and said, 'You know what? I want you to take all of your money, go across the street, buy that vacant building, and convert it into a health center,' you wouldn't do it. You would not do it because you will not risk your money or your earth-security no matter what. What you really want is to fall in love with the life you have, and discover that who you are is actually who you're meant to be, where you're meant to be, with the people you're meant to be with. And that sense that you're not enough will go away."
Continued on page 2: I have had enough of wounded people dwelling in their wounds... »