* Used book with some highlighting in the first few chapters. Internationally renowned motivational teacher, spiritual instructor, and popular theologian Caroline Myss presents her most important transformational work yet with Entering the Castle. It is a comprehensive inner guide to caring for your soul and finding a deep, true mysticism and a connection with the Divine, without having to give up the everyday world. Taking inspiration from the revered writings of 16th-century mystic Teresa of Avila, Myss adapts Teresa's vision of the soul as a beautiful crystal castle with many facets and rooms, each of which represents a stage of spiritual development and of coming to know God. The book presents an entirely new, seamless synthesis of ancient Eastern and Western insights, reinterpreted for today. Readers will learn how to build an interior castle sustained by prayer and the practices of silence, healing, channelling grace and forming circles of soul companions.
Caroline Myss is the 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, and is a pioneer and international lecturer in human consciousness. In 2003, she founded the CMED Institute, an educational program that specializes in intensive classes on archetypes, personal power, and mysticism. Her audiotapes include Entering the Castle (Hay House) and Why People Don't Heal and How They Can; Spiritual Madness; and Spiritual Power, Spiritual Practice (Sounds True). Her work is featured on her popular website www.myss.com. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois..Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Entering the Castle is many things: a guide to the life and times of St. Teresa of Ávila, the extraordinary sixteenth-century saint and contemplative master; a guide to her brilliant meditation text, The Interior Castle; and, last but certainly not least, a guide to your soul -- a beautiful, tender, radiant, caring, loving, and authentic guide to the territory of your soul.
Mysticism in general and contemplation in particular are such staggeringly vast and often confusing topics that, especially if one is new to either of them, they can prove lethally overwhelming to the soul, right when it is looking for something, if not exactly simplistic, then at least simple enough to ground what might be its confusion, chaos, perhaps fear, perhaps suffering. What I would like to do, then, in just a few pages, is offer the reader some simple experiential reference points that might help to ground some of the central ideas of mystical or contemplative spirituality. I will first give seven of the most central ideas of mysticism and then attempt to give the reader a very quick, direct, experiential grounding in each of them.
The central ideas, if discussed merely theoretically, can sound rather dry and abstract. Here are the seven central ideas: (1) each of us has an outer self and an inner self; (2) the inner self lives in a timeless, eternal now; (3) the inner self is a great mystery, or pure emptiness and unknowingness; (4) the inner self is divine, or perfectly one with infinite spirit in a supreme identity; (5) hell is identification with the outer self; (6) heaven is the discovery and realization of the inner divine self, the supreme identity; (7) the divine self is one with the all, given in grace and sealed in glory.
Now, let's go in search of an experience of each of those items in just a few pages. Tall order? Not really, for you are already aware of, and fully experiencing, each of those items right now, according to the mystics. So let's see.
First, sit back and relax, take a few breaths, then let your awareness come easily to rest in this present moment and simply notice some of the things that you are aware of, right here and right now.
Notice, for example, some of the many things that you can see, things that are already arising effortlessly in your awareness. There are perhaps clouds floating by in the sky, leaves blowing in the wind, raindrops on the roof, the city skyline all brightly lighted against the evening's darkness, or the sun shining brightly on the horizon as it is about to begin its journey across the sky. These things take no effort to be aware of; they are simply arising in your awareness, spontaneously and effortlessly, right now.
Just as there are clouds floating by in the sky, there are thoughts floating by in the space of your mind. Notice that these thoughts arise, stay a bit, and pass. You don't choose most of them; thoughts simply emerge out of what seems to be nothingness or emptiness, parade across the screen of your awareness, and fade back into nothingness. The same with feelings in your body. There might be a sensation of discomfort in my feet; a feeling of warmth in my tummy; a tingling in my fingertips; an intense burst of excitement around my heart; a warm pleasure washing over my body. All these feelings simply arise of their own, stay a bit, and pass.
As I look inward, noticing thoughts and feelings arising in the inner spaces of my own awareness, I can also notice this thing called me or my self. There are many things I might know about myself -- some of which I might be pleased with, some of which I might be annoyed with, and some of which I might find positively horrifying or alarming. But whatever I might think about this thing called my self, it certainly seems that there are numerous things I can know about it.
There even seem to be several of these selves, a fact announced by a plethora of pop psychology books. There is my wounded child; my harsh superego; my cynical and even bitter skeptic; my ever-present controller, seeking to control both me and everybody else; my wise old man and wise old woman; my spiritual seeker; my fearful persona, which lets fear make too many of my life's choices for me; the joyous persona, finding a constant current of joy and happiness in this and every moment; to name a prominent few....
But notice something fascinating about all these selves: They are all something that I can see, that I can be aware of, that I can feel and know and describe, in many ways. They can all be seen -- but who or what is the seer? All those selves, which I just looked within, saw, and felt, and then described -- are objects that can be seen: But what is the subject, the actual self, the actual seer of those seen things, the true knower of those known things?
Get a good sense of yourself right now -- just try to be aware of what you call "yourself" right now. Try to see or feel yourself as clearly as you can. Notice that, once you get a sense of seeing or feeling or being aware of yourself right now, what you are seeing is an object, not a true subject. That is, the self that you are seeing -- the self that you call yourself and that you take to be a real self -- is actually an object. It's not even a real self or real subject, but simply an object or something that can be seen. Everything that you know about yourself, everything that you are used to calling yourself, is not actually a self or a real subject but just a bunch of objects, a bunch of things that can be seen. But who or what is the seer, the real subject or real self?
To begin with, don't try to see your true self, because anything that you can see is just another object, just another thing that can be seen, and not the seer itself. As the mystics are fond of saying, the true self is not this, not that. Rather, as you attempt to get in touch with this real self or subject, just begin by letting go of all the objects that you have previously identified with. Anything that you can see or know about yourself is not your true self anyway, but just another object, so let it go, just let it go, and begin instead to disidentify with whatever you thought was yourself. Try this exercise, saying to yourself:
"I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings, but I am not my feelings. I have desires, but I am not desires. I have wishes, but I am not those wishes. I have intense pleasure and excruciating pain, but I am neither of those. I have a body, but I am not my body. I have a mind, but I am not my mind. All those can be seen, but I am the seer; all those can be known, but I am the knower; all those are merely objects, but I am a real subject or true self, not any passing parts and pieces and objects and things. I am not thoughts, not feelings, not desires, not body, not mind, not this, not that.
So who or what am I?
Before proceeding, let's say that, according to the evidence of our experience right now, we have at least two selves, or two sorts of selves -- there is the self that can be seen and known, and the self that cannot be seen or known. There is the unknown seer, and there are all the little selves seen. Philosophers have some fancy words for this: the transcendental self (or pure I AMness, which can never be an object, seen or known) and the empirical self (or the empirical ego, which can be seen, known, experienced, and objectified).
Even though the transcendental seer cannot itself be seen -- that would be just another object -- it nevertheless sees the entire majesty in front of its eyes: Unseen, it sees all; unknown, it knows all; unfelt, it feels all.
For this reason, the true self is often called the witness: It witnesses all that is occurring but cannot itself be turned into an object -- as a true subject, it cannot be objectified. It is also called the mirror mind -- it effortlessly and spontaneously reflects everything that arises, but does not grasp or keep. The true self is, in some sense, a deep mystery, something that can never be seen, and yet it sees the entire universe in front of it. It is a vast emptiness, and yet out of it the entire world seems to spring.
For the moment, please keep asking yourself, "What is this self of mine?" Keep trying to feel into that question, keep trying to think the thinker, feel the feeler, and see the seer. As you proceed in that fashion, asking yourself, "Who am I?" and gently letting go of all the objects that you thought you were, and as you keep trying to see the seer, you actually won't see anything specific -- you won't see any particular things or processes or events or objects (or, if you do, they're just more objects -- exactly what you are not trying to find). Rather, as you keep relaxing into the seer, all you will find is a sense of release from objects, release from the small and narrow identities with objects that you used to call you. All you will find, in other words, is not another object but an atmosphere of freedom, liberation, and release -- release from the pain and torment of identifying with a bunch of little objects that come, stay a bit, and pass, lacerating you in the process. According to the mystics, the closer you get to your true self, the greater the sense of infinite freedom.
As I rest in the unknown knower, in this pure self or witness, I might notice something else about this self: It doesn't move -- it isn't touched by time or motion, date or duration. This transparent witness is aware of time, hence itself is timeless, or existing in the timeless now. The witness is aware of past thoughts, but past thoughts occur now; and the witness is aware of future thoughts, but future thoughts occur now -- and when the real past occurred, it was a now moment, and when the real future occurs, it will be a now moment. The only thing the witness is aware of, the only thing that is real, is an endless present, a single now moment through which time passes, but it is not itself touched by time at all, yet rather lives in eternity. And eternity does not mean everlasting time but a moment without time. Wittgenstein saw it c...
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