Caroline Myss on Prayer and Mystical Experiences
Interview with Caroline Myss by Phil Bolsta
Watch Caroline Myss’ interview:
Welcome, Caroline. Thank you for joining us today.
My pleasure. My pleasure.
Allow me to introduce you. Caroline Myss is a bestselling author and globally respected speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Caroline, you will be co-teaching one of the seven modules in Andrew Harvey's upcoming course, The Fierce Feminine: Reclaiming the Gifts of Your Radical Divinity. Why did you agree to participate in this program?
Well first, Andrew is a very, very close friend of mine, one of my dearest friends, and he lives almost next door. So, that's a personal reason. I would do anything to support Andrew. I had a number of conversations with Andrew about this subject, which is very dear to Andrew. So he asked me to participate in it, be in his program, which I find very significant. I think the subject matter Andrew's approaching is very vital, very important. And probably he asked me because we're close friends, and probably because he sees my particular position on the feminine to be more, I would say, mystically radical than most people, most people I imagine. Yeah, that's why.
Well, I'm glad you're part of Andrew's team.
We already recorded it. Andrew and I have a way of engaging each other's radical nature. As I said to Andrew many times, I don't relate to the feminine in the sense that he does, which is interesting because in Catholicism or in the Catholic tradition, the role of the Madonna plays a very significant part. He always talks about the black Madonna, the emerging feminine. And my position with him is, "I don't know what you're talking about." So we have a really interesting discussion. Anyway, that's why I participated.
Well, that sounds like something that will be very valuable to listen to. Thank you for participating in there. Well, today in this interview, we'll be talking about prayer and contemporary mystical experiences. But first, let's establish who we are praying to. The ancient rishis of India define God as that supreme intelligence which governs everything. What is your concept of the Divine?
Law. My concept of God is law. To me, the manifestation of the Divine is law and nature, and the governing system of nature. All of the laws that operate the life force to me are a representation of the nature of the Divine. So I see the Divine as a system of what is constant, what is reliable, what is equal to all life, what has no religion at all, what transcends life on this planet. I do not see an earth-centric God at all, certainly not one that looks like us, walks like us, and holds court in the earth legal sense. I think any God that is represented by a religion is erroneous.
So for me, the mystical traditions are, in all religions, are the jewels that contain the mystical laws. That's what makes them so precious and valuable, because what they have in common is that they speak of the laws of the universe, whether you're dealing with Buddhism or Hinduism, Sufi, the Christian mystical traditions, they've penetrated past the illusions of religious dogma and doctrine, and they've made it through the veil to the cosmic teachings of law.
So for me, the Divine lets its nature be known through the consistency of law which carries on through galaxies and orbits and is consistent as you go out well past the boundaries of the Milky Way and into the other systems of life. And as we stand on the precipice of entering a galactic era, we can no longer afford to hang onto earth-centric religions that have as their fundamental doctrine concepts, teachings that divide human beings from one another, because at their core, that stands in contrast to the laws of nature and to the primal mystical teachings that say all is one. That is one of the primary laws of the universe, and that's one of the governing laws of your own bio-spiritual ecology — that all is one in your biology, your bio-spiritual ecology.
So if you hold to a spirituality doctrine or an idea that your religion makes you different than another person, right there, that illusion is a crisis with your bio-spiritual ecology. And that right there tells you that holding to a spiritual creed that separates you from others is an illusion. So for me, God is a universal law system. And that law runs our biology; it runs our bio-spiritual ecology, as I call it. It is the same with nature. Our bio-spiritual ecology runs on the same laws as nature, and the ecology of our individual planet is identical to the ecology of the planet as a whole, and that is the teaching of that primal law: what is in one is in the whole; what I do to one, I do to all; as above, so below. And that to me is the order of the universe.
I haven't heard it quite put in those terms, but I have to say it's very close to my understanding, too. I like the way you phrase that. As far as prayers, whether we're talking about prayers of supplication, prayers of gratitude, or intercessory prayer, why do you consider prayer such a rich subject for exploration?
Well, I think that that's the mystical mystery. Because this universe is two things simultaneously that can appear to be incongruent, but in fact are deeply harmonious, and that's that the universe is incredibly impersonal. And that's where law comes in. The law of gravity… no matter who you are, no matter what you believe, no matter how old or young, tall or short, if you jump off a building, you're going to fall. If I jump off, I'm going to fall. It doesn't matter if you're an atheist, a believer, a Hindu, Buddhist, or Druid, you're going to fall because the law of gravity governs us.
It's impersonal. It doesn't matter if you're a good person or a bad person. So that childish creed people cling to, that bad things should only happen to bad people, and if I'm a good person, a bad thing should not happen to me, has no relevance. At the same time, though this is a completely impersonal universe governed by laws, gravity, and cause and effect, and the law of sensation, the law of change. Change is constant, says Buddha; there's nothing you can do about that. The universe is deeply intimate. Somehow, in ways we will never understand, we are personally known to whatever the system of divine being is. Somehow, our actions matter. Somehow, our intentions matter.
We can make up stories about why that's so. And we can make up stories about how significant we think we are. I hear people say all the time, "I know I was born for something special," though that's just their way of being important, and because we've become a people who disdain being ordinary. You know, their primary prayer is, "God, make me anything, but don't make me ordinary." They have no idea in their head what they're saying or how they're cursing themselves by thinking that way, and how they're mapping a life of true suffering for themselves by searching to be extraordinary, “other than ordinary.”
But in ways, the idea of intimacy is a mystical concept. It's a mystical position, because it is a mystery, in that every choice matters. Every act of goodness is somehow calculated. It's somehow calculated. Today, I was listening, as I'm sure many people have been, to the latest slaughter in Texas at this church. It strikes me again that it's in a church, yet another church, like the church in South Carolina, like the Amish girls that were killed several years ago. These holy places where evil goes and strikes out at innocent people. Here, all of these people are struck down, and yet a five-year-old who was hit with five bullets, I believe, survived somehow. And I cannot help ask the kinds of questions that I tell people not to ask, yet I find myself asking, which is how is it that this little five-year-old was somehow saved and eight members of another family were not?
As soon as I ask that, I say to myself, "These are not the questions you should ask. These are the questions you would tell another, ‘Don't ask what cannot be answered; that is a way of putting yourself on a path of endless torment.’” And yet, I find that that is exactly what I cannot understand about the universe, and the nature of God, these great mysteries of how it seems such miraculous effort will be put into saving one amongst a holocaust, and yet the holocaust happens. I don't know why things happen like that, Phil, but they do… but they do. And yet at the same time, I believe that the power of prayer is so extraordinary.
I also look at the world now, and I know we're spinning in vortexes of unbelievable darkness and madness, but I think that prayer, and acts of goodness that really are in themselves a type of prayer, offset innumerable acts of darkness that generate psychic free radicals in our energy field, that become the fodder for collective dark acts that form the psychic fields that breed collective dark things like that madness that makes people want to go to war, that get behind politicians when they suggest that the way to solve something is to bomb it, that somehow that suddenly becomes a positive idea, when in fact nothing could be more preposterous.
Prayer, in a way, comes to the rescue in the unconscious of the collective, and shines a light on... and stops people from thinking, That's a good idea. It's not a good idea. It brings enough people to the realization that that's insanity, that we may come very close to our own annihilation. And maybe if people stop believing in prayer, maybe we won't save ourselves. But I believe that prayer is essential to offset the constant generating of dark energy for exactly that reason, that somehow it seeps into the unconscious of human beings so that... in ways of seeping in and maybe inspiring them to think that that's not a good idea.
I just don't buy that one day, the light goes on and they think, "I don't trust that man anymore. I just don't... this is insane. I can't... hatred's not working." This is because darkness works in exactly the opposite way. Darkness makes people afraid of their own countrymen. It makes people think that guns are a way of resolving their pain, that, "I'm in so much pain, I get to kill a church full of people because I'm so unhappy."
This is the insanity: "I'm so entitled to feeling good that when I'm feeling bad, I get to beat people up. I get to bomb them. I get to go into a church and blow people away, because I'm entitled to that, because I'm so unhappy, and someone's responsible for my unhappiness. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And that's how exaggerated entitlement has become.
What you just said reminds me of a beautiful phrase that you had said earlier in something I read that really jumped out at me. You said, “People who are mourning the absence of perfection in their lives.” That applies quite well. As far as the questions you said earlier, I think I would say beware of anyone who says they have definite answers to those questions, because we cannot know.
Precisely; we cannot know. What is the nature of faith? Faith is not that you believe that impossible things are going to maybe made possible. That's a child… that's a child. It's no wonder people find it difficult to have faith, it's because they don't understand faith. But part of what makes it also difficult is that we're the first society... in these last decades, we, the people of the nuclear age, are the generations that have taken down the pillars of human society that have always, always stood strong. We're the ones that took them down... we are... pillars that people never really even thought about because they never considered they could come down.
We took down the pillar of the structure of family, the structure of community, the backbone of church as community, or synagogue. The backbone of faith as community. The backbone of the structure of family as community. We took all of that down. It's very rare for people to have this sense of habitus maximus in them. It's a Latin phrase. It means the maximum habits of the heart that are passed down by learning through the continuation of education from the same elders to the children, which would include the solid passing on of traditions in a sequence of time, and the passage of time that includes rituals such as bar mitzvah, such as communion, such as confirmations, such as the rituals that say, "This is your passageway into your young adulthood, into an age of more responsibility," so that the marking of the significant passageways... moving into, and this is the critical word, accountability...
We are now gradually holding you more accountable, not responsible, but first comes accountability. We want you to account for how your day was. What did you do? What choices did you make? I listen to people say... as adults they have to go to therapy to learn to say, "I know I'm responsible for this." Suddenly, in their 40s and 50s, they're learning to say, "I recognize I'm responsible for my actions," as if that's an accomplishment to say in their 40s and 50s that they're responsible for something. And they act like the light bulb goes on: "I'm responsible for what I feel, and what I say." But beyond saying it, they have no concept.
First of all, they're about 25 or 30 years late on conceptualizing, getting, what responsibility means in terms of habitus maximus. They're about 30 years late. Secondly, saying that you're responsible means nothing unless it's backed up by, and as a result of getting that I'm responsible. “These are the three things I am now going to do or not going to do, because I realize these actions are something I can no longer participate in, or do, or think, or say.”
I share your amazement at that.
"I'm responsible. I realize now at age 56 I'm responsible." Holy... my god. Anyway.
Anyway, back to prayer. Did any particular experience awaken you to the impact that prayer can make in our lives, or is this a gradual realization?
No. I'm uncomfortable talking about that. I'm extremely uncomfortable, Phil, because I've never been out of the prayer. I'm not somebody who had to learn how to pray when I was older. I was always praying. I mean, I grew up in a prayerful household. Then I went to a Catholic school. And I was educated in a convent, blah, blah, blah… c’mon, my whole life was that. But in addition to that, I did not have... I never had that sense that I was a... My issues with Catholicism were dogmatic. And in order to deal with that... and doctrinal… and I then went to graduate school to resolve that. I didn't just walk away and say, "The hell with that church."
I was never scarred. I had magnificent professors. I had magnificent teachers, both the nuns and the Jesuits. The people who educated me were brilliant and wonderful scholars. I observed the consistency of faith versus hypocrisy, so I did not see the side so many people saw. And yet, even through that, I realized the limitations of the Vatican part of it, so I sought the mystical part and became fascinated with miracles and mysticism and the transcendent path.
So, I left the, as I said, the doctrine, and pursued the miraculous, because that has no religion to it... that was something entirely different. And it was through that that the power of prayer... I was fascinated with what was it like for these people, these wondrous human beings, like Francis of Assisi, and these marvelous, marvelous human beings, to experience being called. What was that voice? What was that voice? And what was it like to... the mystical experience when... that anguish people have when they want their life to mean more than it does, and yet they are so often afraid to pursue that. What are they afraid of?
And I understand that. I understand that people are afraid that somehow if they pursue their spiritual life, that their physical life will disintegrate like dust in front of them. They'll become celibate. They'll lose their financial... Like somehow, it's always a choice between heaven or earth, the body and soul, that somehow they sacrifice one world for the next. I understand that because that certainly has been the way it has been. I mean, if they look back, the model of these last centuries has been... the pursuit of the inner life has been a monastic one. So I get that.
But the contemporary mysticism now is... how do I say it... is morphing, is adjusting to the contemporary mind, to the high-tech mind. And just like religion, all religions, there's a collision with the gods going on. All religions are dismantling all their mythologies. We no longer fit into the mythologies of traditional religions. It's not a fault of the religions. It's this moment of evolution. It's quite a profound time to be alive.
Those mythologies, the virgin birth and the mythologies of following an angel to a cave, and all of the mythologies, that there's a piece of real estate in the desert that somehow was promised... I mean, all of the Abrahamic religions... all of them, all of them no longer can sustain the consciousness of a planetary community that must learn for its own survival, for its next evolutionary spin, to base its consciousness on the laws of nature and bio-spiritual ecology, that divinity must become organic and cosmic in proportion. And that these stories that have sustained humanity through its planetary era, through its sovereign era of forming nation states that mimic forming getting to know the organs of the body, that era is over.
And now, it is the time of... we no longer need to have gods that look like us, that are half god and half man. From going from the gods of the Romans and the Greeks, to a half god, half man, Hercules, to a physical half god, half man, Jesus, to incarnating that divinity into us so that we think we're half god and half man. It is over. Now, we have to shed all of those myths that the gods look like us, walk like us, talk like us, to an organic divinity that can extend into the cosmos so that we can finally, finally stop with the religious wars.
And they're all religious wars, all of them, from the Middle East to no matter what part of the world. We finally can find a way to become a global community, like it or not. That we finally get the law, that what is in one is actually in the whole. The way Buddha said it, the way Jesus said it, the laws of the universe, the way that match our biology and our ecology and our environment, that they are one and the same. We will not heal our environmental issues; we will not heal the environment itself until we are able to recognize that our theology must become a bio-spiritual ecology, because they're one and the same. That is how we must worship, in that whole sense that we live this bio-spiritual ecology as our new monastery. This, this life, this planet, this humanity is our monastery. Humanity is our monastery.
We are certainly on the cusp of a profound transformation, which is why, as you're talking, there's so much resistance to it. People don't want to leave what they know behind.
Well, this won't be the generation that accomplishes that, Phil, by any means, by any means. Let me tell you something, when they discovered electricity, the people who had candles in their home died with candles in their home. They weren't the ones to get electricity. You got it?
I got it.
Okay. When you grow up in a world, you don't want your world to go. You don't want your world to go. Look, I did not grow up with computers. We did not. We're the same age. We didn't grow up with computers. We didn't grow up with any of this high-voltage technology. I look at the kids in my family and they were not educated the way I was with Latin and with Greek and with the classics and with music and with... I'm a dinosaur, as far as they're concerned. I'm a dinosaur.
The other day, I quoted something from Plato, and they were like, "Who?" And I was mortified, mortified that they didn't know Caesar's Gallic Wars, that they don't know Plato, that they don't... But for them, it is of no use; it has no relevance... Wait a minute. There's fingerprints on these glasses, I can't stand it... It has no relevance, nothing. Has no relevance. It has only relevance for me. But that's my generation, my era.
I listen to their music and I thought, If that plays one more second, I will confess to Abraham Lincoln's murder. I will do anything to turn that off. I think no one will remember their horrible music one year from now or two years from now. But the music of my generation, the music of the Beatles, the music... people still play it because it's gorgeous. That is not music.
But I will never adapt to their world, never. I will not do it, because I feel my world was, is superior, and I'm not letting it go. I'm not letting go of parts of my world. So I am not accommodating their world in many, many ways. And they won't accommodate the world of the next generation. They'll be much about the world that they grew up in, that they will hold on to themselves.
Because that's the way it is. I am not letting go of your oatmeal raisin cookies that you send me. I'm not letting go of a lot of the ways I cooked. I don't care if they say, "Oh, it's so..." Hell with them. I still make certain things with a lot of butter, and I'm not interested in those cookbooks that say, "You've got to do this." I don't pay attention to that. I cook a lot of the ways that I grew up with, and guess what, I'm healthier than a lot of people I know. So, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right?
Forget it. A lot of the old ways and a lot of the modern stuff, a lot of contemporary thinking... I've absorbed obviously into my life a lot of contemporary thinking, but I do see that all is one, and I apply that, and I see where the world is going. And I am in support of that. I'm completely involved in that evolution, but I'm not on the first car of that train. I'm somewhere in the middle, but I'm not on the caboose, because I don't fight evolution. I don't fight evolution. So I see where it's going.
And where prayer comes in for me is I don't pray for things to not be so. When I say to people... I've had questions like... and I love this one. I've had it so often: “Do you have any prayers that work?” Because I think people think prayer is like magic or something. And they are very disappointed. I'm not sure what they think God is, if it's some kind of off-planet being, like an isolated being that somehow lives somewhere out there, up there, over there. I'm not sure what they think.
But if there was a way to explain the Divine, I think the divine is this whole system at a different vibration. Like when people have near-death experiences, they always describe the whole place that they land as a whole bright light... a bright tunnel appears, and then they're completely absorbed into light. There's nothing else but light. So in a sense, if you thought that through, they're not up there in light. It's as if where you are somehow shifts to the vibration of its light content, as if life is like a block of ice, and dying is when that ice shifts to mist. It's in the same spot, it's just that you are now in its mist proportion. You're now in the mist vibration of ice. You've melted through the density, and you're in the light, but it's light everywhere.
So you're in the mist of what a tree looks like; you're in the mist of the tree. So you're in the mist form of a tree. You're in the mist of everything. The galaxy's become mist. You are in the mist of everything that if it gets reduced to, or if it gets frozen in time and space, you can see it frozen in time and space moving at the speed of what we call time, of what we've come to know as time, densification. But when we are not dense, we perceive it in its light form, but it must be everywhere. All that is must now be at light... converts to light instantly, including us.
And all of this is an expression of the Divine, because it is all a compound of the nature of that one force. So it is in all things, and it is everywhere. And I think when the mystics have had experiences of this... Buddha had that. Teresa Avila had that. I think Jesus had an illumination like that. The one Jesus had was he, that illumination blasted through him, whereas Teresa visited that illumination... Teresa of Avila. And when she came back, that's when Jesus was standing with the prophets... he was now way into that orbit… he was now amongst the heavens... of that equal status.
When Teresa was exposed to that, her body became like stone on earth. And when she came back, her sister said, "Where did you go?" And she said, "My brain wanted to come with, but it can't. It can't go there. There aren't any words, and it can't. It simply cannot go there." What prayer is... prayer is a soul language. It's a language that is beyond the mind. So, you can keep yourself in the mental world by saying, "God, take care of me. God, protect me." And all you do is you keep yourself on the hamster wheel of ordinary experiences, while thinking you're born to be extraordinary. But in fact, you are terrified of any truly extraordinary inner perceptions.
You want extraordinary gratification, but there's nothing in you that's strong enough to sustain a truly extraordinary inner experience. You simply want extraordinary gratification. You want extraordinary recognition, but you're not extraordinary. You are so ordinary because what you seek is so... it's for a weak person. A weak person wants extraordinary recognition. But the truly extraordinary soul ventures into these waters that say, "Show me. Show me the truth. What is this universe made of? And if I need to change, if I need to be taken into a place where I see something so extraordinary that I can't explain it to another person and it changes me so profoundly that I must stand alone in that reality, I cannot verify it for anybody. I can't explain it. It will change the way I see the world. And I must stand alone in that. I must stand alone in how I will then understand the world."
One has to be extraordinarily strong to stand alone in a perception of truth, to know for example if... It is one thing to stand with a bunch of people who say, "The trees are conscious. The birds are conscious. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." It is another thing entirely to actually be taken into that consciousness, and to feel, sense, hear, smell, taste, and sense the vulnerability of a dying tree in you, or hear the animals say, "We're terrified. Where are we going to live after this pollution gets our trees? What are we going to do?" To actually sense, to actually know their consciousness and have them wrap you into their pain.
It's one thing to observe it. It's another thing to actually comprehend it within your consciousness so that you can now interpret their bird song. It's not just pretty little music that we hear in the morning. You understand that they're speaking a language, but you can't tell anyone that. And you no longer get to say, "Oh, they think I'm crazy." You actually get the communication system of nature, because nature doesn't waste a beat; it doesn't waste a sound. Every sound is part of an integral communication system, every single sound. Those sounds are not out there to amuse human beings. Every sound is part of an integral communication network among all creatures.
Human beings think the whole of nature was set up to amuse us. Its sounds, its vision, everything, it's all about us. That's how self-centered we are. When in fact, it's an integral communication system. You're exposed to that, you get it, and you come back into your body. You have to stand in that knowledge by yourself, because you can't communicate that. This is the same reason a lot of people don't heal instantly, Phil, because in order to sustain a miracle... a miracle is when God bends the laws of nature for you. So instead of healing at the speed of ordinary time, or healing at all from an illness that is considered terminal, heaven bends those laws and you heal in six seconds instead of six months or six years.
But what happens for most people is they can't take the phenomenon. They can't withstand the response of having experienced a phenomenon when a lot of people say, "Why did that happen to you? Well, I don't understand why it happened to you." Or, "You were never really that sick." Or, "I don't believe you." Or the responses that happen to a person who experiences a miracle, or what's called a miracle, are often so harsh that that person ends up sicker as a consequence because they're not able to stand in their strength and say, "I detach from the need for approval." They're not able to do that. Instead, they reach for approval, and they say, "If you don't approve of this, how dare you? How dare you not approve of my miracle? How dare you get me this kind of response?"
They end up sicker from their rage and their resentment. So, it's really in God's compassion that they are denied an experience that they are not strong enough to sustain because they live in a world where they are so woven into the need to have other people approve of their experiences that they're not yet strong enough to be given an experience in which they have to stand alone. Do you see?
Yes. They also need to detach from the need to know why the miracle happened, as you've talked about.
Right. And what prayer is is, "God, give me the strength to endure a truth." And it is an endurance, to endure an experience nobody else has had. That's why you pray. "Give me the grace, the grace to endure a truth that nobody else has seen." That's why you pray. You don't pray to get stuff. You don't pray to, "Make this easy on me, will you, God, because I'm not having a good time here." It's, "Give me the strength here to get through this, because..." Wow. You don't pray to have your path taken away from you, because that's never going to happen. You pray to figure out the wise way through it. That's always going to happen.
Well, I certainly agree with you that all is one, all is divine, except for rap music.
Oh, God! Oh!
We'll just have to be the generation that is satisfied with just taking the first few steps towards lasting transformation.
What fascinates me about prayer, and here's kind of a long question, is we often tell people, "I'm praying for you,” or “I'm sending you love." However, Larry Dossey, who's written extensively about scientific studies that have validated the power of prayer, says that mental and spiritual energy operate beyond the scope of what science can measure or language can explain. But given that we can reach and affect each other through the complex web of divine energy that we call the universal or unified field or whatever, the word “energy” in this context can be considered a metaphor for the instantaneous effect of compassionate human intention. How does that explanation of the mechanics of prayer resonate for you?
I think he's right. I think absolutely. As I say, I think love, positive intention... they all qualify. You're just playing a word game if you want to define prayer. Anything that's positive, anything that comes from the heart, anything that is of good intention qualifies as a prayer, as a prayer. Any kind thought, any kind action... and a kind action is a prayer. It's action prayer. I mean, anything. Believe me, it's monitored. It's monitored. It's paid attention to, the slightest thing you do towards someone that's positive, just like negative.
And I have to tell you, angels manifest themselves. Angels show up. They're in disguises in life all the time. A homeless person on a bench could be an angel. And I am not kidding you. I am so not kidding you, so not kidding you. You walk by that, and you think, "Oh, get a job, you dirty creature." Yup. You're gonna hear about it.
Couldn't agree more.
You are gonna hear about it.
Do you consider intuition a form of divine guidance? And is that a channel through which prayers may be answered?
Well, there's levels of intuition. There's organic divinity, which is your animal instinct. Then there's gut intuition, that sort of, "Should I buy this or not?" That inner instinct that says, "You are so in debt, you don't need this, no." It's sort of gut response. That's not higher guidance. That's just common-sense gut reflex that says, "No." You're reading through a menu and say, "God, this looks good." Then you think, You're diabetic. Duh, you don't eat that.
That's a cross between gut and guidance because you always get guidance to maintain your health. You always do. You always get guidance to maintain your health. That's part of the bargain. That's part of the operating system. That's just because your operating system is in the business of keeping you healthy, keeping you alive. That's what it does.
But higher guidance is another thing. I think that kind of, what I would call inner dialogue, when you say, "God, grant me counsel. I need to know what to do here. I need to know. Grant me guidance. I need to hear from you on whether... What do you want me to do with this person? What should I do here? Should I divorce? Should I marry?" I mean, these types of deeper, deeper questions, this type of deeper guidance is... requires a bit more, because you're not able to say, to tell yourself, "Well, I don't like what I just heard, so I'm going to tell myself I didn't hear anything."
When you ask for counsel, as in the order of St. Benedict, as in Benedictines, the way Benedict was so clear, as was Teresa, as was Francis of Assisi, you are wide open. Oftentimes, you ask for this guidance. You may not like what you hear, but you don't have the option of saying, "Therefore, I did not hear it."
Number two, you don't have the option of not following because you didn't like what you heard. You have to be a very strong person to... and have a lot of faith to say, "This is what I heard, and I need to do that." In all my career, I think I can count on three fingers the number of times I have heard someone say to me, "I got this in guidance. I don't want to do this, but I need to. I was told to do this." All the time what I hear are people saying, "I was told I need to do..." It was always what they want to do, always a fantasy, always what they want to do. It was always conveniently what they want to do.
I mean three times in 35 years, I had someone say to me, "I got this in guidance. It woke me up. I don't want to do this, but I guess that's what I need to do." Only three times. And those are the three times that I thought, That's the real thing. All the rest, nothing but fantasy, nothing but a way to say, "I don't want to take responsibility for how this comes out, so I've decided to say it's guidance."
It's often been said that the most powerful prayer is "Thy will be done." Do you agree with that assessment, and why?
Well, because I think you really have to go to the garden of Gethsemane and see the whole lay of the land there, which is that the prayer took place on the Holy Thursday as Jesus said… mind you, there wasn't anyone taking notes, so we have to remember that. But it was as he was about to begin the worst ordeal in his death, and he said... And remember, Jesus was living out a drama that was all about living through every single thing, every single action that human beings have always used as an excuse to strike out at other human beings. He was about to do that. He was about to go through every single action that always gave human beings permission to harm another person.
He needed to go through betrayal, abandonment, being brutalized, being falsely accused, be undergoing a trial, being arrested for things he didn't do. You name it, all of these are the crimes of the earth that position a person to strike back and be with righteous hatred. And yet, he said, "Look..." his message is clear... "you have no idea why things are as they are, but I'm going to tell you, if you strike back, all you will do is continue this endless cycle of self-righteous hatred. And I’m here to tell you that it's like a crucifixion. You'll just keep it up and keep it up and keep it up. It's you I'm trying to save from this, not me. You. So, I'm going to show you that it is a crucifixion. And the pain of you trying to stop it is going to be this crucifixion. You are going to feel like you're crucifying yourself, because you are. But you're crucifying the hatred in you. You're killing it. You're killing that part of yourself. You have to sacrifice that part. That's what you're going to do."
So I'm going to go at it in the extreme. But the first thing he said was... because this is the first thing you're going to do; you are going to say, "I don't want to do this." And you're going to pray to God, and you're going to say, "Get this cross away from me. Is there any other way through this?" And you're not going to hear a thing. So, I'm going to tell you that right now. And not hearing a thing is an answer. It is God's way of saying, "I don't waste my words. If you don't hear from me, it's because I'm not changing my mind. Proceed as ordered."
Silence is a response. If you don't get any other directives, it's because there are no other directives. So, don't say you're not getting an answer, you got an answer. Silence is an answer. No answer means you're exactly on the right course. So stop playing stupid and just keep going.
One last question. When a certain outcome is desired, some people choose to pray, “Let go and let God,” while others adopt an aggressive do-it-yourself mindset. I like the way you reconcile this “free will versus divine will” conundrum by explaining that you should do what you feel guided to do while staying open to unanticipated outcomes. Can you elaborate on that?
You just did. I mean, what else can I say? I mean, I think do everything that you feel guided to do, but I never push the river. I think it's folly, it's folly to have expectations of what you hope to achieve... of what you want... to pray for certain outcomes. "Please, God, make me happy. Please, God, find love for me. Please... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." I mean, you're only going to fall flat on your face because what that presumes is that all the people in your life are there just to make you happy, just to serve you, and you're always, always, always going to be disappointed.
Because it's not that people disappoint you. It's that you just don't get how life is set up. Life is not set up around you. That's what you have to understand. Any more than your life is set up around anybody else. And that's what you have to ask yourself, "Was I born to serve another person? Is my life all about serving someone else? What's the likelihood that's true?" So don't think anyone else was born to take care of you, because that's just not true.
So your best way is to become very reflective and pay attention to your conscience. The word “consciousness” is of no value to you. But the word “conscience” is. Monitor your conscience and pay attention to the quality of your choices and your motivation, your agenda, why you make the choices you do. That is a form of inner prayer, a contemplation, reflection: Why do I do what I do? What motivates me? If you're motivated by anger, by the need for attention, by the lesser choices in life... if you lie, if you don't tell the truth, a.k.a. lie, and you think it's okay... if you ever tell yourself it's okay because other people do it, then you need to seek someone for a confession, because you have to tell yourself, "I'm very comfortable in darkness, and I need to do something about that." Because nothing, no one else's life, can be used to explain your decisions. And being okay with telling things that are not true is... if it's become a habit, you have to do something about that.
Thank you so much, Caroline, for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us today. This was extraordinary. I loved it. I always look so forward to hearing your unique perspective on such complex topics. I very much appreciate your time.
My pleasure, Phil. My pleasure. And I look forward to my cookies?
I suspect there may be a batch with your name on it arriving soon.
Thank you, darling.
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition.
Caroline established her own educational institute in 2003, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a diverse array of programs devoted to personal development and draws students from all over the world.
She developed the field of Energy Anatomy, a science that correlates specific emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual stress patterns with diseases.
Caroline maintains a rigorous international workshop and lecture schedule. Her books include Anatomy of the Spirit, Entering the Castle, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Invisible Acts of Power, Sacred Contracts, and Defy Gravity.
To visit Caroline’s website, click here.