And I just want to thank you personally, for sharing your time with us. I’ve been influenced by your books and your teachings for many, many years. And I want to thank you on behalf of our Awaken readers and viewers.
Caroline Myss: My pleasure.
DONNA: They will be thrilled to hear what you have to say. And for those of you who may not know, Caroline Myss is the author of Anatomy of the Spirit, Entering the Castle…one of my favorites, Defy Gravity, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, and a roster of others. You have been so prolific over the years and you started as a medical intuitive…
CAROLINE: I did.
DONNA: And with that, I just want to jump in and ask you, do you still consider yourself a medical intuitive or a spiritual teacher?
CAROLINE: Both. One’s not mutually exclusive but my work as a medical intuitive brought me… It was a natural path, which kind of unfolded because I never knew there was anything like a medical intuitive. That wasn’t my intention to do that. I was headed into the world of publishing and hopefully I wanted to be a fiction author. That was my big dream. I mean, fortunately, heaven put me together and it gave me a genius for something I had never even heard of and no talent for something I wanted to do.
DONNA: I have to jump in and share this with you. I thought, don’t share that with her, it will be silly…but you said it before I did. I heard you say that in an interview before…that you wanted to be a novelist. I never knew that about you, until recently. I thought, isn’t that fascinating?…because I grew up wanting to be a singer and I wasn’t given a gift to sing. And I ended up a teacher just like you did. And so, I related on a personal level, so much, when you told that story.
CAROLINE: It’s so true. And my father would say to me when I was growing up…which was a typical piece of guidance from the era that I grew up in…when most women who went to college became teachers or nurses… And so, he would say, “I don’t care what you do when you go to college, as long you become a teacher or a nurse.” Because he was looking after my wellbeing. And I remember thinking, I can’t do either of those things. Either one, for me, was the kiss of death. Because I associated teaching with being with kindergarten kids or five-year-olds or six-year-olds, and the idea of being in a classroom with children all my life… UGH! I have never changed a diaper. I am not kid friendly. And then the idea of being a nurse and sticking needles in people… And I admire these people. I do, but when I thought about it, those were my associations. So, to end up being a teacher…and I’m good at it…it’s funny how that works. The skill of being a medical intuitive…I was always very intuitive. I always flew in the intuitive world as my natural habitat. And I always looked at people as How can you function without being intuitive? Even as a child, I would think, ‘How can you function?’ How can you function in the world, not seeing the world this clearly?
DONNA: Is it enough to be good at something? Do you also have to be passionate?
CAROLINE: Well, I’m not sure. That’s kind of a luxury item. Passion is a luxury item if you really think about it. It’s kind of a high-end grace. And if you look at the world, do you think everybody is passionate? Really? Do you?
CAROLINE: And do you think it’s really realistic to say, “Hey, everybody!… Follow your passion!” Do you think that is really advice that goes down easy for all of humanity?
DONNA: I’ve been wondering this for many years. And so, the next question is, where does enthusiasm come from, in the absence of passion, for those that don’t have the luxury of following their passion?
CAROLINE: Well, the operative word you use here is “following.” Why do you assume it’s a journey? What do you associate with passion that you would say “following?”
DONNA: I suppose I think of it as some kind of calling.
CAROLINE: How is passion a calling?
DONNA: Or, it’s kind of an internal being lit up on fire.
CAROLINE: About what? You associate it with a career. You are career driven. For you, passion is a career.
DONNA: So, it might be directed toward something else like serving and we can channel that in many different ways?
CAROLINE: It could be experiences or it could be perceptual. But white people are practical. White Western people… They come from that kind of God. They come from a practical, Western, Christian God. It’s very practical. So that association with passion is that it has to be a practical, career-oriented thing. It comes right out of the middle class.
DONNA: So, can we be practical and passionate at the same time, or can we cultivate that sense of “being on fire” in a practical world?
CAROLINE: You know, like mystical passion is not career. It’s experiential. It’s internal…experiential. It doesn’t convert to occupational. That’s the mystical passion. It’s a relationship with truth. As Buddha would say, “Breaking through illusions.”
DONNA: If we have that, it doesn’t much matter what we do with our career.
CAROLINE: (Laughing) Get your head out of the career, will you! The mystical understanding of passion as a mystic would understand it…the passionate grace is about the pursuit, the experience of revelation. The truth of shedding the scales of one’s interior. I’ll give you an example. Francis of Assisi hears a voice and it says “Francis…rebuild my church.” He hears this voice and eventually it becomes clear that this voice, that is speaking to him, is Jesus. And he becomes impassioned to communicate that reality is real. That it is not an imagined being. This communication between that world and this world is real. That becomes his passion. The truth behind the story of Jesus is that it’s real. He becomes impassioned with a mystical truth. That becomes his passion.
DONNA: And would you say this finding of truth is behind every spiritual mission or journey?
CAROLINE: The real heart of a spiritual journey is the pursuit of what is truth? And letting truth reshape you. Like, in a very small way, the journey in my life, from realizing Catholicism wasn’t the only God. Ok, so I let that fall away. And eventually the larger truth…a long way down the road, was that all religions are costume parties. That the universe doesn’t have a religion. And eventually, that there is no God that looks like a human being. Eventually, that there is no earth-centric God. That is the reason that all religions are falling apart now. That moment has come. We have to release the myth that God looks like us, walks like us, operated the world of earth politics like us. That it’s the end of the road now. Leaving behind those myths in ourselves and the cosmos. That’s the pursuit of truth. If this isn’t true, then what is?
DONNA: And so, what is God, once we leave that fictional sense of God behind?
CAROLINE: What is God? Well from my point of view, to the best of what I can see from where I am perched right now… This is where my own inner journey as a mystic has intersected with what I have learned as a medical intuitive. My journey as a medical intuitive started out…I didn’t even know we had chakras. I came right out of a school system where I never even took science. Much less, eastern religions and chakras and all that. So, when I started to do readings and sensed the human energy system, this was virgin territory for me. And I began to realize that we breathe into something. We connect. We interact with our health in a very intimate way. The first chunk of my years was concerned with figuring out, how is that we have an intimate relationship with our health and with our illness? And, do certain stresses create illnesses?
What I realized, is how incredibly specific the design of our thoughts is. But I didn’t have an interest in healing, as such. I didn’t have an interest in illness. Then I developed an interest in not healing, but why we don’t heal and why we we’re afraid of healing. And that brought me into a different vocabulary. I needed a different vocabulary and I didn’t even realize it…to begin to access human nature. And the critical word was “power.” I began to research our relationship to power. And that changed my understanding of human nature and everything about us. And eventually, that led to the study of archetypes and our archetypal patterns. Our patterns of power.
DONNA: So, you’ve brought up a few things I want to talk about. In your book, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, it seems to all come down to…why we’re losing energy…power. You mention eastern philosophy and I think of Buddha’s big question, “Why do people suffer?” Why do we suffer? Why don’t we heal? Does the same thing answer both questions? And in other words, are we miserable for the same reasons we are sick?
CAROLINE: That’s a good question! Are we miserable for the same reasons we are sick? In some cases, yes. In Buddhist language, Buddha said…and I fully agree with this…I couldn’t agree more that suffering happens because we want things to be other than the way they are. And we don’t accept things for the way they are. Change is constant. So, you say, “what is God?” Now, this is where the question began and we are still in the…think of that one question…of which, this is a sub-question. Why do people suffer? What is the nature of God? The nature of God…then if you say, “What is God?”… You look at the nature of all that is, to identify God. The nature of all that is…is change. So, there we put on the table one characteristic of God is change.
How do we know what God is? God has to apply to all things. All things in the universe. All things in the universe change. All things in the universe have a pattern. All things in the universe are consistent. They are what they are without deviation from pattern. They are impersonal. Regardless of who you are…what you are. Gravity is gravity. You and I will both fall off a bridge if we jump, regardless of how many candles you lit and how many I did not. We will fall. So, the laws of the universe are governing rulers of all life. What is God? God is law. The nature of God is law. How does your body work? Your body works on laws. The laws of science, the laws of biology, the laws of reproduction, aging… How does disease work? It works on law.
DONNA: And yet we can defy that with the miraculous.
CAROLINE: Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah. You don’t defy anything! Even that is subject to law. If you understand mysticism, you are simply working at laws in a higher realm.
DONNA: For example, when we talk about grace and jumping out of that predictable time pattern and what society tells us is normal for healing?
CAROLINE: What you tell yourself is normal for healing. But what is a miracle? A miracle is when heaven alters a law and puts it into mystical time just for you. It takes it out of chronos and puts it into…time for you.
DONNA: So, it’s not that we’ve defied law, it’s that we’ve jumped into another realm, where different laws apply. Would that be correct to say?
CAROLINE: You haven’t jumped anywhere. It’s that your soul, your consciousness, has become receptive to the experience of timelessness. And because of faith…and it’s not just faith…this is a really important thing to understand…it’s not just faith, but a part of your self-esteem. The manner in which you esteem your psychic self, your consciousness, has become strong enough to sustain an experience that is an out-lier…that stands apart from the experience familiar with the collective. That is what a miracle is. Miracles don’t happen to most people. Not because they are not holy enough or good enough, but because they are unable to sustain the consequences of having a miracle.
DONNA: Could you explain that? Are they afraid of the consequences? Meaning, they might say they want to heal, but is there something in us that actually doesn’t?
CAROLINE: That’s one reason. Another reason, of course…we are still along the river of do we make our own suffering? This is one of the reasons that we make our own suffering. In the stages of our growth…people start us in that fragile stage of looking for identity by looking at how others see them. I don’t know, I’ll wait for someone else to notice if I look okay.
DONNA: That’s the first place we lose power…
CAROLINE: No, we’ve never had any power. We have to amass…we don’t lose power. You don’t lose it. We start out as collective beings within our tribe. And then as we mature, we begin to… We start out like eau de toilette, then cologne and then hopefully, perfume. So, nobody starts out perfume. So, our sense of self in a tribe is like toilet water. We’re a collective. We are a “we.” And when people are at that stage, their sense of self esteem is a collective sense. We’re like young chicks trying to learn how to walk in the world. So, we dress like everybody and we look like everybody. We cut our hair like everybody. Because we are trying to find out what our identity is. Then we begin to break free of that and go through that painful stage of trying to develop a sense of self. And become cologne from toilet water. We’re trying to develop our own stronger fragrance.
DONNA: So, would it be truer to put it this way…it’s not that we are losing power by investing in other people’s opinions; it’s that we are prolonging our own growth…
CAROLINE: We are sensing…we are developing a sense of self, but at some point, we have to start deciding this is who I am. And this is my boundary between what I seek from other people and what I’ll allow from other people. This is where many people don’t have that boundary. And what they do is…they need so much affirmation from others that even when they have an idea…I have an idea…do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think it’s okay? They still need to take everything that goes on in them and run to the collective for opinion. So now you have an experience, like a miracle…like a feeling. That happens out of time and space and nobody else can validate it. And not only that, it’s an experience that falls into the category of enviable. It suggests that there is something special about you. That for the collective, hits the wrong button. What’s special about you? So, you come over and you say to them, I’ve been healed of this. The scientific community doesn’t approve of that. A lot of people will say “maybe you weren’t sick in the first place…maybe you really weren’t that sick.”
DONNA: So, there is something in the collective that doesn’t want to acknowledge…
CAROLINE: That you had something given to you that was not given to them. And in many cases, what will happen is, the person who was healed…if they cannot sustain the feeling…knowing that they did have that experience and I don’t need your validation…I know what I went through…most…there are so many times that it would make that person angrier. Because you didn’t validate it. That, in fact, you are not strong enough to sustain an experience by themselves…keep it to themselves, regardless of what people think.
DONNA: And so, what would you say is the biggest thing that holds us back from having that kind of experience or allowing that in?
CAROLINE: We still need to experience things collectively.
Continued in Part II…