Sep 15, Stacey Couch rated it it was amazing This book absolutely changed my life and continues to every day. I reference it every morning and continue to memorize prayers inside to help me embrace the power of prayer in this new, revolutionary way that Caroline Myss presents. Over the course of the 6 months I spent traveling through the rooms in this book I experienced a spiritual transformation unlike any other in my life. I never thought a book could be this pivotal in causing life change.
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Entering the Castle - Caroline Myss www. How ironic, I thought, considering that I lecture so frequently and fluently on spirituality. Shortly afterward, that autumn, I became interested in the subject of generosity and service and why so many people are compelled to help others. To research the question, I sent out an e-mail via my website asking people to share stories in which they had received an unexpected kindness or had themselves helped someone else in some way.
I expected to receive about a hundred letters, but more than fourteen hundred arrived within three weeks. I read every single one. Some were six pages long, others less than three lines, but each one broke my heart wide open. Some days, after reading sixty or seventy letters, I would burst into tears at the tenderness and gratitude—often for the kindnesses of strangers—that they conveyed. I was stunned by the power that every person has to change, even to save, the life of another human being.
These stories were living gifts of grace, living proof of God-in-motion on Earth, and I, too, felt the need to pass them on. I wanted other people—you—to know how powerful they really are and how much every single action in life matters.
These stories eventually became the basis of my book Invisible Acts of Power. And with that book came the beginning of my spiritual practice. I had begun to unplug my phone as soon as I got to my office in order to concentrate on my reading, so the office and I felt uncharacteristically calm. One morning, in the peace of my office, I had a flashback to my college days, to a conversation with a nun who had said, Now remember, Carol, to read a prayer is the same as saying a prayer.
Either way, the grace comes through. A chill went through me, not a sentimental chill but a mystical one that gave me a sense of wonder and awe. Deep in my soul, I realized that during those past weeks in my office, I had actually been on a retreat—a silent, unconscious retreat in which I had immersed myself in sacred teachings. The wondrous human beings who had responded to my interest in service had pierced my heart.
Right behind them came the sacred. All this time, while I thought I was doing research, I had in fact crossed into the sweet sanctuary of prayer and contemplation. In a sudden flash, I saw that I had invited God directly into my life. And in that bright, light-filled instant, as I became absorbed in the connection between love and God, I lost my breath and suffered a grand mal.
Once I had recovered from that nightmare, I knew in my bones that I did not have a seizure disorder, which eventually was confirmed medically. I did realize, however, that, in the words of W. Yeats in his brilliant poem The Song of Wandering Aengus, a fire was in my head and in my heart, but most of all, in my soul. I had discovered my soul.
In fact, it felt as if a shaft of light were burning within my soul, illuminating it, calling me inward. It is very risky to speak on behalf of God, especially with a tone of absolute authority. I have often imagined that people who carry on about how God thinks human beings should behave must appear to be complete fools to the divine.
But it is possible to speak with integrity of our own experiences with the God who has come to us individually. It is from this place that I share my experiences with you. You can draw whatever guidance or insight from these experiences that you want. I believe that the divine is everywhere and exists within even the most intimate details of our lives.
Yet, God prepares you for your spiritual journey, no matter how complicated, painful, or demanding it might become. For this reason, patience, trust, and faith must become constants for you; you cannot, and indeed you must not, even attempt to believe you know what is best for you.
The divine will reveal its plan for you; you have to be open to receive it. After the sudden soul awakening in my office, I moved from my townhouse to an old Victorian that I had renovated. I began working with a spiritual director with whom I met at least once a week and who just happens to be a Jungian and a Catholic theologian whom I believe I was destined to meet.
My dreams and interior journey had become more mystical, as if I were being led into new spiritual territory. Even so, everything seemed normal on the surface: I was teaching, writing a new book, and maintaining all my other professional commitments. But nothing was the same behind the scenes. I was moving—or being moved—into another place. One winter weekend after my light experience, as I was about to begin my first lecture of a three-day workshop, a student asked, What is your personal spiritual life like?
Normally, I would have given a terse answer, something like, I pray, followed by, Next question? But this time I decided to answer that question, even though my plans for that morning did not include my spiritual biography, but rather the lives of the Catholic mystics, St.
But we took a brief detour into my personal beliefs. The students wanted to know when I had first begun to believe in God, which always strikes me as a funny question. I have always believed in God; I have never had a moment or even a second of doubt. I have always believed in miracles; I grew up in a spiritual dreamland where the presence of the divine was everywhere. I have long had a mystical vision of the world, so teaching the mystics that day seemed natural.
I was a little taken aback. Yes, I responded, many mystics had seizures. Then, inexplicably, I choked up. I had never before lost my composure while teaching, but I did that morning and, crying, had to leave the stage.
A colleague filled in for me for the rest of the morning as I sat on the side with a friend. I felt odd, vulnerable, frightened. Something was different for me, within me, but I could not identify it. Was I going to have a second seizure? On the stage? I had no idea, but I was nauseated with fear. That afternoon, though, I began the next session.
I always teach standing up and moving around the dais, but this time I sat on a stool. And I began my talk. Suddenly, I felt a presence, a force near me. Then, I heard, Daughter, follow me. It was the voice of Teresa. My immediate response was, Do not let my students know we have never met, Teresa. Do not let them know. For the next three days, I taught The Interior Castle as if I had studied it all my academic life, when in fact I was only vaguely familiar with it.
I followed Teresa into her Castle and, to the best of my ability, articulated the images and information of its interior for my audience of contemporary spiritual sojourners. That weekend, in front of all those students, God gave me a passion and I could do nothing but follow it.
That weekend, too, I entered the interior Castle of my soul and began the work that became this book. Following that workshop, I went home and immediately threw out every single page of seven chapters of a manuscript on which I had been working for months. Monday morning, I phoned my editor to tell her that I needed to start over. We had gone through this sea change once before, during the writing of Anatomy of the Spirit, so I told her what had happened and that I was now writing Entering the Castle.
She reminded me of the deadline and then said, Go. Then and only then did I realize what I had done. Like returning from an expensive, long-overdue vacation in which I had wildly treated myself to little and big goodies, I came back down to earth, to the everyday reality and hard work of writing about an essentially ineffable experience.
And I was about to rely on the guidance of a sixteenth-century Carmelite nun. In a prayer, I said, I gotta tell ya, Teresa, I just put my career on the line. This better be real. Five minutes later, the mail came. In it was a letter from England from someone I did not know.
Enclosed with the letter was a bookmark with a handwritten message on the back: Caroline, I am praying for your health and protection each day. May God guide you with every step. With love and prayers, Colette. Thank you so much for lighting our way. The front of the bookmark, which I have before me even as I write this, is a picture of a lily pond.
The message on the bookmark reads: Let nothing disturb you. God Alone Suffices. I had my proof. And I am never separated from that bookmark. On another note, I have completely recovered my health. I was prepared not to heal; I was prepared to have to deal with a chronic disorder. I now know what it is to feel as vulnerable as a human being can feel. Having to say, If this is what I must accept, so be it, can feel like chewing glass, but not being able to accept what you cannot change is like having to swallow those shards of glass.
I know this to be true from the depths of my soul. Out of all this, Entering the Castle was born.
James Finley – Entering the Castle – 2009