"The New Age is middle-aged and needs a makeover," says Caroline Myss, author of the New York Times bestselling books Invisible Acts of Power, Sacred Contracts, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, and Anatomy of the Spirit. In 2003, she founded the CMED Institute, an educational program that specializes in intensive classes on archetypes, personal power, and mysticism. For 25 years, Myss has been writing and teaching about human consciousness and spirituality; she is now convinced that it's time "to move from intuitive guidance to divine revelation." Contrary to the messages of many motivational speakers, the author states that intuition is not a spiritual force, and it often leads to nothing more than a close encounter with the ego and its insatiable needs.
Entering the Castle is designed to lead the reader into a deeper dimension, i.e. mysticism. Myss is herself interested in spiritual intimacy with the divine, and she is convinced that there are millions of other people around the world who would like to be mystics without monasteries. Here is a calling "to represent an invisible power in the world through a personal spiritual practice, through the power of prayer, through living consciously and practicing compassion, and through becoming a channel for grace." According to Myss, mystics without monasteries ask themselves three questions:
(1) For what reason was I born?
(2) What is the greater purpose and meaning of my life?
(3) How am I meant to be of service?
Four hundred years ago, Teresa of Avila took a journey into her soul and to God and mapped her adventure in The Interior Castle. She speaks across the centuries through Caroline Myss saying: "Make this Castle your home, your safety net, your place of silence, your retreat. Your soul as Castle is a mystical sanctuary into which you can retreat whenever you need to gather your strength, clear your mind of debris, or regain your footing. It is an inner sanctum in which you can gain access to grace and sublime guidance." Self-examination, prayer, and contemplation are devotional tools that offer the best access to the soul. Contemporary mystics also pay attention to the four veils of God: organic divinity, conscience and personal choice, inner guidance, and being pierced by the Light.
Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle is a handbook on mysticism, and it describes seven stages of the contemplative's inward journey to ultimate union with God. Myss calls them the seven mansions and guides us through the lessons in room after room:
The First Mansion: the power of prayer, humility, chaos, and divine seduction;
The Second Mansion: God in the details, inner vision, soul companions, commitment to God;
The Third Mansion: surrender, the defeat of reason, the desert;
The Fourth Mansion: the mystical heart, receiving God, the prayer of recollection;
The Fifth Mansion: dissolving into holiness, mystical experiences, mystical marriage;
The Sixth Mansion: essential wisdom and the final fire, room of gifts, meaning in suffering;
The Seventh Mansion: divine marriage, healing, and reentering the world.
On this journey you will encounter the wisdom of Teresa of Avila, the spiritual counsel of ancient and modern mystics, soul qualities, the importance of vows, battles with reptiles such as addictions and codependence, the experience of holy rapture, and much more.
On a 1997 Sounds True audio titled Spiritual Madness: The Necessity of Meeting God in Darkness, Caroline Myss explored the modern mystical experience with musings on the dark night of the soul, patience, gratitude, imagination, and creativity; we found this teaching to be very profound. With this ambitious and daring new book, Myss reconnects with that stream of her work and with mysticism. It will be interesting to see how the public responds to the book and her workshops on spirituality and transformation. Are people willing to become mystics without monasteries, to selflessly engage in service to the world, to do the inner of their soul and the outer work needed to transform our times? Or will they turn away from this demanding path and look instead to the promises of such counterfeit teachings as The Secret, which says you can get whatever you want just by believing you can have it, an approach recently given a huge boost by Oprah and Larry King?