Carolyn Myss said, The world becomes a vessel of the divine when you see the divine in all things. She has been helping people see the divine in themselves and in others for more than 25 years. Carolyn is one of the most inspiring visionaries of our time. As a medical intuitive, she developed the field of energy anatomy, a science that partners specific emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual stress patterns with the diseases that create or influence them.
Carolyn is the author of six books, including her most recent one, Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul. During her career, Carolyn has taught in 35 countries, continuing her international work at present. She’s the leading recording artist for Sounds True, Inc., the major audio recording company in the holistic field. In 2003, Oprah Winfrey gave Carolyn her own television program with the Oxygen network in New York City, which ran successfully for a year.
Carolyn has been featured on TV, radio and in print throughout the world. She does six or seven radio shows every month, and five newspaper or magazine interviews in both national and international publications.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: We are honored and privileged to have you, Carolyn, gracing the cover of Healthy Wealthy nWise magazine. Thank you so much for being with us. Would you talk with us about what role your own passions, the things that you care most about, have played in your life and in the work that you do?
CAROLYN MYSS: The things I care most about? I truly care most about a blend, I guess, of a few things. One is military history; I am an avid military historian. The other subject I care most about is mysticism. Together they form my theater of operation, which is heaven and hell, so to speak, the study of earth and heaven. That, combined with my intrigue; I’m passionate about the way human beings are. I find it absolutely fascinating because every human being is, to me, a reflection of the fundamentals of military history.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: How is that?
CAROLYN MYSS: I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been at interior war. There isn’t anybody I haven’t seen who hasn’t been at war with somebody, or with themselves. That is a fundamental template in a human being.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s true. I’d never quite thought about it that way.
CAROLYN MYSS: It’s absolutely true. The way in which people strategize their lives is just like battlefields. The manner in which they conduct themselves is exactly in the same way that great generals have strategized, and they’ve made the same foolish mistakes. How do historic events come to be? The archetypal dynamics of history absolutely fascinate me.
When I teach my classes, I always involve history, because you can not understand one thing in the present moment unless you have an historic perspective. It’s simply not possible. For me, to engage the archetypal significance of the events as they unfold today and to engage their symbolic meaning, and then to teach people, Why are you alive now? What is unfolding that involves you? is for me a passionate subject.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Fabulous. Would you be kind enough to give us an example or two of how people conduct themselves in the way that generals strategize in war? I’m not sure that that’s intuitively obvious for everyone who may be listening.
CAROLYN MYSS: You take, for example, the Civil War. It’s one of my favorite wars of all time. Take a foolish general like McClellan, who was a northern general, but he was all puff and no action. He was fool. He was a dandy, but he certainly wasn’t somebody who the North could rely upon. When I look at a lot of people, the way they conduct their lives, they are a lot of talk and no action.
They expend a lot of their energies on talking about people and waste a lot of their rage. They don’t know how to conduct the negative forces in themselves in a productive way. Instead, what they do is something like McClellan would do, which is to host grand parties and to gather forces around; but all they do is really entertain their own egos and they accomplish nothing.
You can see that strategy playing out in people. That, for example, is a classic of what I can see certain politicians doing all the time-and I won’t mention any names-but I can see that type of thing happening. I simply adore looking at the world through a military lens, because it’s the military in us through which we see everything. It’s an instinct in us; it’s the fight or flight mechanism, Chris, that is so primal in us.
It’s triggered by the slightest thing. I watch people at an airport. If they’re not first in line it’s instantaneous, that fight or flight mechanism that can be triggered in somebody. When they’re cut off on the highway that makes people want to chase somebody down, because a car got in front of them. The rage in someone because a car got in front of them is so out of proportion to the action, but it’s precisely that same mechanism that makes somebody say, Bomb that whole village.
It’s the ‘out of proportion’ of our rage, the fact that we can’t manage energy, that we can’t manage the psychic forces that are unleashed, the psychic free radicals that are unleashed in the operating fields, which is exactly why on the other side of my passion is mysticism. The great teachers have always said, You must pray because you don’t understand what’s out there.
It’s not what you see that is really harmful to you. It’s what you don’t see. It’s these forces, the psychic ones that in our naiveté we think psychic-ness is seeing the future and this nonsense about that when, in fact, it’s what the great mystics have always known, which is the temptation of the darkness. It’s the way that the psychic radicals, i.e., the demons, can tempt you to respond in your weakest link to exactly those energies.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s amazing. Beautiful! We don’t take any time getting very deep very quickly with you, Carolyn. Thank you. I wonder if we could just provide a little bit of history, since we’re talking about history, for our listeners. You’ve traveled a fascinating road from a journalist to a publishing executive to a medial intuitive to developing energy anatomy to mystical experiences of God.
Would you tell us the story of how you started down this path and maybe share some of the highlights of your own journey so our listeners may be able to learn something for their own lives?
CAROLYN MYSS: How far back do you want to go? All the way back to being a publisher? Oh, my gosh! All those years!
CHRIS ATTWOOD: How did you go from being a publisher to being one of the great spokespeople today for the mystical and metaphysical aspects of life?
CAROLYN MYSS: When I was a publisher, it was a great time and I worked with great people; I loved those people. At the same time, that’s when I discovered that I was a medical intuitive. I wouldn’t have done anything about that skill at all, actually, except that I met Dr. Norm Shealy, who is a neurosurgeon from Harvard who had an interest in medical intuitives. I wouldn’t have done anything with that ability, but he loved it so I started to do readings with him, with his patients, while he was still in Springfield, Missouri.
He would call in and he would have a patient in his office, and I started to do long-distance medical intuitive readings. Then I did readings for people in my neighborhood when I lived in New Hampshire. It doesn’t take long for people to know that there is a medical intuitive in the neighborhood. You may as well paint your house red! It’s like the horse is out of the barn. Everybody finds out, so your reputation, if you’re good, just hits.
At that time, way back in the ’80s, there was no such thing as a medical intuitive. I was new in the field, and my association with Norm lent a great deal of credibility to what I did. Plus, there was the fact that I was educated and worked with a physician, so I had a nice little pedigree going. I was also a publisher, so I was also a professional. I was an anomaly.
My background in theology made me incredibly grounded. I was educated by such wonderful people, and I had such a nice, little, cozy background in exactly, oddly enough, what I needed to have a background in.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: You didn’t plan it that way?
CAROLYN MYSS: No. You know how it is! I have to laugh because when I went to graduate school I decided to study mysticism and theology. People would say, What are you doing that for? Why don’t you do something practical? With your brains, why don’t you go become a lawyer? Why don’t you do something practical? I thought, My graduate work is not for practical. My graduate work is for me. I realized that I choose my degree and my graduate work because I lacked the capacity to think.
I made that decision. I remember that my undergraduate work was in journalism. I thought, I don’t know how to think. I know how to write, but I don’t know how to think. I can’t think well. My thinking mechanism is not refined enough. I just need someone to bash me around intellectually and break me out of myself. My thinking is not big enough. What subject could get me out of this? I need the best of the theologians. I need them to stretch me out like taffy.
I went to study with the Jesuits and these wonderful nuns who are the equivalent of Jesuits. I thought, Just get me out. Get me out. Train my mind to think larger than my mind, and that’s exactly what they did. I needed to be able to be given a question and have that question philosophically or theologically lift me out of myself so that I didn’t remember where I came from.
Then I knew I could think. That’s what lifted me out. From there, my career just simply spun. Of course, I had no talent really for being a publisher and all the talent in the world for being something I never studied for, so the rest is history.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: More recently, you’ve written this very remarkable book called Entering the Castle. As I understand it, it describes quite a unique vision of the soul based on the work of Teresa of Àvila. Would you describe that vision for us? What was it about Teresa of Àvila in particular that drew you to her work?
CAROLYN MYSS: Teresa of Àvila. First of all, I feel very strongly that people today are dancing with the mystical experience, and I don’t know that they are that aware of it. When someone says, What is the purpose and the meaning of my life? that is a mystical question that’s fundamentally a mystical question. They engage a mystical process from within. I really thought that by teaching the work of the great mystics within a contemporary voice they would see the wisdom these mystics had to offer.
These are people like Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Àvila, or the great mystics from the Eastern tradition: Rumi, Hafiz, and these wonderful Sufis or the other great mystics. What you learn from them is the eternal truth of how the soul evolves, and what the soul needs to go through to break free of itself. For me, Teresa represents the greatest mystical theologian.
The way she describes the soul as a crystal with seven mansions was intriguing to me because of my work with the chakras, the seven levels of the tree of life and the seven sacraments, as I did in Anatomy of the Spirit.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: In the things I’ve read that you’ve written, you said you found the seven mansions were not actually talking about the chakras.
CAROLYN MYSS: No, no. She’s not talking about them, but she uses the template of seven; so the template of seven is universal, which suggests that there is scale of seven nonetheless that our soul resonates to. The first level of seven is in the body, and then the next level of seven is the energetic seven. Then there is the emotional seven, the mental seven, and the soul’s seven. When I look at the chakras, they’re like worker bees.
If I was doing a reading on you, Chris, I’d look at the chakras for data that is very much about how you’re living your physical, emotional life and where the stress comes from in that way. Your mansions, the mansions of the soul, are not about that. The work within your soul is about you and God, and what is blocking you from wanting an integral and intimate relationship with that divinity, with that interior force.
It’s not about you finishing unfinished business with your childhood, looking at wounds, and looking at power conflicts between you and another person. It’s about fundamental issues of power between you and divinity. You go into your soul and look at issues of a profound fear of being humiliated. For example, humiliation and how humiliation is a block in terms of how you encounter your own power, why you would block guidance; because there is an inherent fear in the human being that if they surrender to God, God will fundamentally humiliate them in this life.
The issues that people encounter within themselves as they bore a hole deep into their soul have to do with what prevents another person from opening themselves to love lest they really do find that they can love another, those who are not like them and why they would hold themselves back from love. These are the deeper questions, because what they discover is their soul is capable of levels of love that are so profound.
What you excavate within yourself are all those blocks to that capacity to love, that capacity for humbleness versus humiliation, and that capacity for power that has nothing to do with those issues of the chakra, the lesser world. These are the profound matters between you and God. These are the profound matters between you and the power of your soul, not your ego. These are much more intense questions that have to do with you and your interior life that draw you in and away from ordinary thought. This is the soul.
Then Teresa says the first, second and third mansions are very intense and yet very profound work, and as you work on these there is a dynamic that starts that puts you in such a deep place within that there is a love that starts. It’s almost like a tranquility; it’s hard to language it. That is the beginning of the mystical fountain, the mystical sensations. They are not of this earth. They are not of this making. You cannot make that feeling start. You cannot visualize it. You cannot imagine it.
You cannot go into one of those, Visualize a mystical… You cannot do that, but somehow something begins spontaneously, and that is the rumbling of the authentic soul power. It is beyond reason. It is beyond what your reason can access. Your mind cannot access this. No matter what, it is not possible. That is what Teresa says, and that is when you know God has come for you. That is a point of no return. When that begins, you’ve got to get back to that. It’s like spiritual heroine; you’ve got to get back to it.
You’ve got to get back to that because it’s the most authentic thing you will have ever experienced in your life. When it gets stronger, you have a place in yourself of such profound authenticity that you’ve got to get back there. You’ve got to feel it again. You’ve got to find a way to get that active in yourself again. When it is, it doesn’t go out; but everything in the world reshapes itself around that profound lens, in which you realize, I have not been kidding myself.
There is a God. I have not been kidding myself. There is grace in this world. I have not been kidding myself. What I have been kidding myself about is that I need never fear again. Fear has no authority over me. As Teresa says, I am going to stay in my castle now, and that I shall not leave. The castle gate is up, and no matter where I go that castle gate is up. There is a force around me, this field of grace. This is what I teach my students now, that this is the meaning of what the great teachers said.
Buddha said, Get out of illusion. Stay in your clarity, and this is what he was talking about. This is what Jesus would say, Get in the world but don’t be of it. Don’t let that get to you. Go ahead and feast at any table, but don’t think that you must take that table with you. Don’t let the illusion get to you. Don’t let the reptile in your castle, as Teresa would say. You wanted to know what I’m passionate about. Are you getting the message?
CHRIS ATTWOOD: I’m kind of getting it, yes!
CAROLYN MYSS: Ask me about something else, because it won’t stop. If you start me on Teresa, it’s all over but the crying. She’s my girl.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s wonderful. You have described or called Entering the Castle a guided excavation for the soul. Can you explain what you mean by that?
CAROLYN MYSS: This is it. To me, because the soul is a force that has to be experienced, it cannot really be described. It is a mystical force. A mystic is someone who falls in love with God, who experiences the power of God as opposed to talks about it. When someone says, How do I get to my soul? they’re obviously prepared to take mental notes and then they think they can read about it.
They need someone-like the monks, the nuns, the Buddhists-to say, Follow me. Close your eyes and listen to me as I direct you. Follow my words, and I’m going to lead you through prayer, through breaths, and through where I talk to you. I’m going to outwit your reason and get you to a place you never thought you’d go.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Is a guide absolutely necessary in order to go through this process?
CAROLYN MYSS: I think that it’s not just to go through the process. A guide, a spiritual director, is necessary, someone who knows the territory of the soul is necessary because you are going to change. The soul is its own initiate. When the soul begins to emerge in you, your world as you know it becomes a place that gets dismantled. That can be a very frightening experience because your compass is going to go through a recalibration.
Oftentimes, your senses shift. You become multisensory. You can go through a dark night of the soul. The ordinary mortal is going to say, How long does this last? I want this over with! but they don’t understand what the dark night is about. They don’t understand what the whole journey of the mystical awakening is about. It’s not something that can be rushed because you’re uncomfortable.
Discomfort is not an issue to God, but endurance is. You’re missing the point. Someone has to tell you, You’re missing the point. You’ve got your eyes in the wrong place. Screaming and yelling about being uncomfortable is not going to help you. I want you to look at endurance and cast your eyes on endurance; put your prayers there and look for the grace of endurance. This is where I want you to look. Stop screaming like a child. Now take a deep breath and let’s go into endurance.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Wonderful. There do seem to be people today who are having such deep spiritual experiences, deep connections with God, who haven’t always had a guide, people like Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie. They didn’t seem to have formal teachers, as such. Is it possible that we are entering a time when that may not be as necessary? Are they anomalies? How would you describe that?
CAROLYN MYSS: I think you’ll always have people who are exceptions to the rule. There will always be exceptions, like I think Eckhart’s an exception. I don’t know that I’d put Byron Katie in the domain of mystic. I think she’s a teacher of human potential, but she’s not a mystic. I think Eckhart is a mystic; there’s a difference. That is not a judgment. I’m just putting them in the right categories.
Eckhart’s a mystic, and it’s totally possible, of course, that people come along who are simply mystics. Like Teresa of Àvila would say, I will tell you what I know about how I have come to know God, and then I will add, ‘But God doesn’t listen to me’.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s the point, isn’t it?
CAROLYN MYSS: I will tell you how I have come to know God, and then I will add, ‘But God doesn’t listen to me’. God is capable. Human beings are capable of emerging individually, and that is the whole message of the prodigal son. I will do what I want to do. If I want to forgive somebody who comes to my door and give them a full meal after not seeing him for 30 years, don’t complain to me because you’ve been around for 30 years. I will do what I want to do.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Traditionally, mystics have been thought of as being in monasteries and ashrams hidden away from the world. You describe the mystic without a monastery. What does that mean exactly, and how does it relate to people living today?
CAROLYN MYSS: First of all, mystics are people whose fundamental creed is an interior way of perceiving the world. Remember that the great mystics were radicals. Let’s be really clear here. They were outrageous radicals. Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Teresa, John of the Cross, the Holy Anorexics, all the girls, they were outrageous radicals. They were not recluses who wanted to go away from the world and hang out there. In the world that they lived in, there was no other place for them to go.
People need to understand the history of the times to recognize that the only place a person could go to get an education was the convent, so that’s where intelligent women went. Number two is that you didn’t have to be religious to be a mystic. In fact, you didn’t have to be a mystic to be in a monastery. You could be anywhere and be a mystic. It is a person whose fundamental way of seeing the world was through a spiritual lens, which said that the inner vision was more authentic than anything they saw on the outside, and that was always primary.
Because of the way our society has evolved in these last 50 years, we have become a far more interior society than an exterior. Through our approach to health, by becoming a holistic culture, by becoming a society that is emphasizing interior growth, interior development, personal empowerment, and all the things that we have looked at, healing through body-mind-spirit and all of the interior dynamics, we have become a psyche-soul-based culture. We’ve also evolved into the age of energy.
Everything’s energy: communication, the Internet, everything. We are an energy-oriented world now. That alone tells you that we have completely evolved, and we have completely shifted so that our priorities are all energy-based. Our priorities as people are totally around our energetic needs instead of our physical needs. If you ask a person now what their priorities are in terms of their needs, they will list their energy needs over their physical.
They need their emotional needs met, their psychic needs met, their intellectual needs met, their boundaries, and they need to speak their truth long before they say, I need a roof over my head. It’s a fascinating thing. This is just what I’m writing about. That has shifted everything, because the questions people are asking within themselves are also fundamentally mystically oriented. They’re saying, What’s the purpose and meaning of my life? Where do I belong?
These are questions that lead a person deeper into their interior; not outside, but inside. These are questions that prepare a person to live a life of service, not self-service-which is why so many people are imploding; they didn’t get that part-but service. The ‘mystic out of monastery’ is that the old template of removing yourself from society to live in this self-reflective way; it’s gone.
Now the world is the new monastery, and the manner in which we’ve reshaped consciousness to become a more interior-based psyche-soul mainstream culture has made it necessary for us to create a spirituality that is in keeping with the type of mystical-based questions that we’re asking, including what is required from the world of the mystics, i.e., reflection and contemplation.
In order to maintain and survive as a person you need to understand that you are dealing with the questions of the mystic in a world that we need to see as our new monastery, and there are certain of the practices of the mystic that we have to incorporate into our lives.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: For example?
CAROLYN MYSS: One of the practices that’s inherent to the mystic is reflection, to reflect upon their interior life, not in the way that somebody does it therapeutically, which is, Who hurt me today? in the whodunit school of healing, but rather reflection in terms of, Did I live an integral life today? Did I live according to my beliefs? What were my agendas in my actions today? Then you take a sacred teaching.
You take a teaching that is meaningful to you from any of the many Scriptures or any of the many beautiful mystics. Take a prayer: Take me down into the spring of my life, God, and tell me of my nature and my name. Reflect on that. What is my deeper name, God? What is the name by which you call me? This is the deeper sense in the name of your soul. What is the name of my soul, God? What is my charism? What is that grace by which you know me? That is called your charism. Take me down into my charism. Take me deeper into my charism.
That becomes your prayer. Reflect upon that force and think of your life building around the clarity of just dwelling in your grace, of how clear your life would be if you dwelled in that grace. Then you reshape the day’s stress around that clarity. It’s not, Why did these things happen to me? Poor me. Boohoo, like the classic narcissist. Rather, you withdraw, you reflect and you nurture yourself from truth, instead of losing yourself to an illusion.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Is this movement that’s happening in society related to what we see, the upsurge of meditative and yogic practices? Is meditation an aspect of what you’re talking about, or is it something different?
CAROLYN MYSS: I don’t know. I think all the practices, whether it’s meditation or prayer-although prayer is not really mainstream because people are afraid of prayer-yoga, stretching or whatever you want to call it, all of those things are part of the openness that has characterized our society in the last 50 years and has reshaped it. It’s the infiltration from the East to West, the West to the East. It’s all part of the openness and availability of whatever you want to do.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: You mentioned as you were describing this, asking, What is the name by which you call me? What is the significance of names? Usually, people think in the context of the names of God, but you are speaking here in terms of the name by which God knows me. Could you speak a little bit about that? What is the nature of such a name? It’s obviously not Carolyn Myss or Chris Attwood. What is the nature of that name?