Kundalini Splendor

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Andrew Harvey Interviews Carolyn Myss (pt. 1) 

Dear Friends,

I am very happy to present to you an interview I did with my great friend and spiritual sister, Caroline Myss. I cannot recommend her new book ENTERING THE CASTLE highly enough. I also include a new article on Sacred Activism from NY Naturally Magazine, which I hope will inspire you. Please send these out to anyone whom you think might benefit from them.

My Love and Best Wishes,

Andrew Harvey

THE COMPELLING POWER OF TERESA OF AVILA: An interview with Caroline Myss conducted by Andrew Harvey


All Caroline Myss's work is characterized by a forensic clarity and pioneering courage and brilliance. In her superb new book, "Entering the Castle," out from Free Press, Simon and Schuster, March 6, 2007 (see www.myss.com for her calendar of events) Caroline enters new territory that of the divinization of the human through mystic devotion, passion, rigor and illumination. Her guide to this most demanding and complex of territories, is the great Catholic mystic, Teresa of Avila; Caroline does a near-miraculous job of helping the modern reader imagine and enter the seven mansions of Teresa's "Interior Castle" of the soul. In Caroline's hands perhaps the greatest of all Christian mystical classics is reinvented and re-imagined for contemporary seekers of all kinds and paths.

Caroline and I sat together on a luminous day in January 2007, in her dining room in Oak Park, IL, and, as the winter sun danced around us, embarked on the wild, rich, exploratory conversation that follows. I pray that all of you who read this will share the holy joy that flowed between us.

Please read our interview slowly, and with your deepest attention. May it bring you what Teresa of Avila called "the inspiration of the loving soul." May it take you into your own "interior castle" and invite you to become "mystics without monasteries" and "Sacred Activists" beings who fuse sacred wisdom and passion, with clear wise radical action, in an endangered world. In St. Teresa's words:

"The Divine has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which the Divine compassion is to look out to the world Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now."

Andrew Harvey: Why at this moment in your great career did you choose to write a book about a 16th century nun and her map of the mystical path?

Caroline Myss: When I was writing Invisible Acts of Power, I was absolutely broken wide open. I took a look at the nature of service and why people were drawn to be of service after surviving a crisis. Somehow, a "resurrection Force", like a primal light from the soul, gets ignited in people who undergo a life transforming crisis, such as loss or disease. This light is the underlying grace that activates personal transformations and specifically the transformations that I noticed included a fundamental need to be of service. These people no longer wanted to take from life; they wanted to give to life. That fascinated me. Something had shifted their interior compass. A passion was awakened in them that gave them a new appetite for life that was made up of an entirely new interior alchemy that was lying dormant before, combining gratitude for their own survival, an appreciation for the simple things of life, and a genuine awareness that the meaning and purpose they were searching for in life was to be found in improving the lives of others. So, I did a mailing on my website and I asked people, "What does the concept of service mean to you?" and "Who have you served?" and, "Who served you?"

Caroline Myss: As a result of that inquiry, I received over 1,200 responses within ten days. I did not expect that the responses of these people would have the soul-opening affect on me that they did, but I have to say that these responses broke my heart wide open. To this day, I'm not sure that I can communicate exactly how or why the stories of those wonderful people had that effect on me. Maybe it's because I read all 1,300 in such a short period of time, although I don't think so. I think it's because I had the realization for the first time of how profoundly powerful the force of love, generosity, compassion, kindness, and the nonjudging heart truly is. These letters were filled with accounts of people who literally decided to not commit suicide or pulled themselves out of the despair and broken-spirited crisis of being homeless because one human being smiled at them with respect or held a door open for them. That single act was enough to breathe life back into the soul of another human being. I was stunned by how little it took on the part of one human being to do so much for another.

Caroline Myss: The more I read these stories, the more I thought, "Do human beings have any idea what power they have at all?" I thought they don't go anywhere near this power because they can't see it, and I thought what is it they can't see? Why isn't that power even seen? And then I realized that that is the soul, and we don't see that power because it is so profoundly humble, it's such a sweetly humble light.

Caroline Myss: I decided that these stories had to be shared, which is why I wrote, INVISIBLE ACTS OF POWER. In gathering all these stories of how a human being resurrects another human being through such simple means, I turned to sacred literature, thinking that I would weave the teachings of all great sacred traditions in between these wonderful accounts as they were living, breathing, proof of the miracles of grace that the great saints and mystics and the greatest holy beings like Jesus and Buddha, said occurred when human actions were blended with the power of Divine grace. But, as I was saturating myself in the sacred literature again, just thinking I was on an academic mission to find the right pieces of sacred literature to put into my book, I thought, "Uh, oh I've put myself on a retreat." My spiritual instincts were awakened immediately with that realization as I knew I had in the language of Teresa of Avila, crossed over the drawbridge and entered into my Castle, only at the time, I had no idea what that meant in terms of the profound depth of the journey that had just begun. I sat in my office one day and thought, "This peace I¹m feeling, this rich delicious peace where am I?" I realized I'd crossed something and I'd gone into a deep, deep retreat space, and I felt for the first time in my life that I had become soft in the sacred. I can't say it any other way.

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