Tami Simon: You're listening to Insights at the Edge. Today, my guest is Caroline Myss. Caroline Myss is the author of four New York Times bestsellers: Anatomy of the Spirit, Sacred Contracts, Invisible Acts of Power, and Why People Don't Heal and How They Can. A leading voice in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness, she holds degrees in journalism, theology, intuition, and energy medicine. She has appeared on two highly successful public television programs and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In her new audio release from Sounds True, The Power of Prayer: Guidance, Prayers, and Wisdom for Listening to the Divine, Caroline Myss presents a training course on harnessing the ultimate tool we have for sparking our spiritual evolution.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Caroline and I spoke about how our prayers are heard and who or what hears them. We talked about faith and the reality of divine intervention. We also discussed the ever-present force of evil in the world, and how prayer is a force that counteracts evil. Finally, we spoke about how to work with prayer in the face of an illness. Here's my very intriguing and, as always, provocative conversation with Caroline Myss.
Caroline, you make a very intriguing statement about prayer, that "all prayers are heard," that all of our prayers are actually heard. I'm wondering if you can explain that. I'm sure that there are people listening who might think, when they hear a statement like that, "Well, that's certainly not my experience! I've prayed for plenty of things, and it didn't seem like my prayers were heard!"
Caroline Myss: Well, I think you just offered me the way to answer that, which is that people look for their prayers to be answered the way that they expect them to be answered. They look for the external world to change, and they don't realize that a prayer is more about changing you than it is changing the world around you. We're the engines of change. We are the means through which the world changes, whether it's our personal world or the world around us. When you pray for change, it is you that is going to change, not the world around you. The answer to a prayer can put you in a desert. It can lead you to the darkest place within you, because that is the answer to the prayer.
When someone says "an answer," they think of it like a scientific experiment, like there's one answer! They don't understand that an answer to a prayer is sometimes a journey that a person is initiated on, that sometimes an answer takes years to unfold, or weeks to unfold, or is a long time in realizing, that a person has initiated a cycle of growth because of a prayer. A prayer isn't answered like a letter or a scientific formula that says, "Here's the answer." It isn't like that, but we have a scientific mindset that we regard as the fundamental template of proof, and we try to reduce everything to a world of mathematics, to numbers, to test tubes, and to technology. That doesn't transfer to the world of prayer.
TS: OK, so when a statement is made like, "All prayers are heard," if we're the real engine of change, are you saying that these prayers are heard by some aspect of ourselves? Who's hearing our prayers?
CM: Well, I'm going to say God, and then someone could say, "Well, where is God?" There's not a locator. It could be a dimensional shift as simple as when you die, you're going to discover that this is a universe full of light and consciousness. Do we call that God? Well, OK.
We have to have a name for that which is greater than us, that is eternal and immortal, that is the essence of the natural laws, that is the guardian of all that is good, that is the source. There are two things that I have grown to deeply believe: One, that the nature of the divine is exceedingly constant. And two, that constancy is reflected in law—the laws of nature, the mystical laws, the laws of cause and effect, the laws of vibration, the laws of action and reaction, that are as constant within the mystical realm as they are within the physical. They are reflective of each other. The law of gravity—and gravity in the psychic sense, to give gravis, to give seriousness to an issue, gives weight to it, and that weight becomes a part of your life, and in fact a part of the density of your psyche.
Law: To make a choice, negative or positive, sets a cycle in motion and you are held accountable for that cycle. You cannot pray to have yourself removed from that cycle. That's not a prayer that can be answered. You set it in motion, and you're held accountable. You can pray to have the wisdom to manage that cycle, but you cannot pray to be released from a cycle that you set in motion, because who else can that cycle be assigned to? It is you that set it in motion. This is a law-driven universe. At the same time, it is incredibly intimate, and that prayer is what makes it paradoxically totally intimate. In the midst of this ever-present legal system, somehow or other, it is managed, governed by a God that knows you by name. How these two extraordinary polar opposites of impersonal infinitude and incredible personal, mystical content can coexist is not for us to comprehend, so don't even go there! Don't even ask. Don't go there. That's simply the way it is.
TS: Now, you talked about how people use a sort of scientific or technological paradigm when they think of something like prayer, like "I'll get one answer back to my one request," that we're not living in a world of mystery, but we're living in this world of reason. One of the very interesting points that you make in the program, The Power of Prayer, is that, in today's world, prayer is often seen as sort of superstitious mumbo-jumbo, that we're too smart to pray. We're beyond that, aren't we? I mean, we've discovered that prayer is just superstitious mumbo-jumbo, right?
So what do you think is happening here in our time, Caroline, that we have to reclaim about prayer, as people who are obviously educated and intelligent? How do we relate to the mystery of prayer and yet keep our rational intelligence about us?
CM: Why do we want to keep our rational intelligence? [Laughs]
TS: OK. Wild idea. OK.
CM: I do have to say, here we live in a world where we believe that technology is our salvation, when in fact, technology is what has gotten us into so much of the crisis that we're in. What we've done is we've kind of turned technology into a pseudo-god. It is the answer to our prayers! We'll figure out a technological solution to pollution, to climate change—we'll just let the techno-gods do it. That's exactly what we've done. We have transferred our faith.
See, here's the thing that's fascinating to me, Tami, on all fronts: As human beings, there are certain things we cannot stop ourselves from. We can't stop it. It's like breathing. We have to belong to some kind of group, so even though parents no longer take their children to church, the children will find gangs, they'll find cliques, they'll find something that is a surrogate church that they have to belong to, because they must be initiated. They must be baptized of sorts. They can't stop it, because there is a certain sequence of ritual that follows the sacraments.
Kids want to be baptized, or they want some kind of baptismal identification with a tribe. They want to be confirmed. They want to have a bar mitzvah. They want to have some sort of warrior coming of age that's recognized by a tribe. They want that. They want something. They find it within their groups. They can't stop it, because it's stronger than them. It's in their soul. It's a soul map, and they can't stop it, so they'll find it within their peer group. That's why they mark themselves with tattoos, because these are forms of some kind of tribal ritual. It's a ritual: "Get this tattoo now." They are creatures of ritual. If you don't have sacred rituals, they'll have street rituals, but they will reach for ritual. What is ritual? It is doing something that has a symbolic meaning greater than yourself. If you say to these kids, "Why did you get that one?" "Well, it means this, it means that," and they tell you the symbolic meaning, because they're creatures of symbol. They have to have meaning and symbol. They have to have myth, and since we've taken all of the mythologies out of the church, out of God, they are finding them on the street.
The other thing that we cannot stop—we cannot stop it!—is that we've got to have faith in something. We've got to have faith, and if we don't go within our synagogues, within our churches, within—I won't say the mosques, because they don't have any problem filling the mosques—but within the churches and the synagogues, they will find we have to put our faith in something, somewhere, so they're putting it within technology. That's the new god: the techno-god. Is it conscious? No, but that's where the unconscious is going. That's the new church, the church of technology, and that's going to be our salvation.
Do we pray to it? No, but we are very arrogant, because we don't take our shoes off on sacred ground anymore. We have decided that we can manage our spirituality without priests, without sacred people, without the ordained. We can do this on our own, so we've thrown out babies with the sacred bathwater, and we've decided we can just do this on our own. We can just go into the soul's territory on our own! We've totally lost the whole thing. We've scuttled the whole spirituality movement, and it's totally taken a right turn to technology, and so everybody thinks—we have a society that's completely convinced!—that God is not going to save us, but technology will.
Do we pray to a God? No. They can barely say it! I just finished a workshop on prayer, and I said to my students, "Why are you here? What would make you come to this?" The first time I did one: "Why are you here?" Well, they asked me, "How do you pray?" "What do I pray for?" These are baby questions! "How do I pray?" "What do I pray for?" I said, "How do you expect your prayers to be answered?" Well, they expected their world to change, and I said, "OK, let's go into this. Let's plunge deeply into prayer." I said, "How do you pray and what do you pray for?" and I said, "Let's start with something as simple as: Take one relationship you're struggling with, just one. Take one you're struggling with. What is the source of that struggle and your pain? What is it? That person doesn't want to be with you anymore, that it's a child that doesn't want to see you, that you have some kind of wound?" I said, "If I were to leave you on your own, how would you formulate your prayer? Just tell me how you would articulate your prayer."
The prayers were articulated this way: "God, help heal this." I said, "Help heal what? What are you asking to heal? Where are you going with that prayer, 'Help heal this'?" I said, "Heal what?" I said, "Tell me, what was your participation in why this relationship fell apart? Just talk to me there. What did you do? What did you contribute here? How is it making you feel? Where are you at?" I said, "Let's practice what's called 'reflection.' Let's reflect on this crisis," and as I took them down deep into this, it became apparent to so many people that they were feeding this relationship with anything that ranged from the poison of jealousy, to anger, to the inability to forgive. I said, "Now we're talking about something to pray for! 'God, make me forgiving, because I am enraged. I am so angry, and I can't get over my anger, and I have to start here.'" I said, "That's where you start. You start with your poison. You start with your poison. Get your eye off that person. Prayer is not about that person. It's about you and the poison you're pouring into something. Get your eye on the poison. Now let's go to prayer: 'God, help me with my own poison.' That's where you begin." And that's where we began.
TS: I think that's very helpful, Caroline, turning people back on themselves, and I'm going to go along right on this track of very elementary questions, questions as elementary as, "How do I pray?" You were talking about faith, not having necessarily faith in technology, but might it be possible to have faith in something more primary than that? I'm curious: What's your faith? What does faith mean to you?
CM: Well, traditionally, when someone says, "What is your faith?" they actually mean, "Are you Christian, Buddhist, Druid..."
TS: Yes. That's not what I mean.
CM: I know that's not what you mean. You know, you've known me for 25 years, I think, so you know me like cell tissue, and you know that I have a very deep faith. I'm almost past the point of being able to even articulate it, Tami. I know that the other side is a constant presence, a constant, intervening presence. It is a constant. It is a given. It is a constant presence. I deeply believe that every thought is a prayer.
I think you are never not continually observed and watched and cared for. I think that, if a person were truly still, like what Teresa of Avila said, and truly, truly, truly listened carefully and acknowledged—and this is an example that I share with people in my workshops—that, in the heat of a battle with somebody, when your pride is at its most lethal, and you think of the worst possible thing that you could say to that person to bring them down, then you hear a voice, and that voice inside of you says, "Are you sure you want to do that? Because, if you say this, you can't take it back, and it's a game changer. While it may satisfy you for one second, because of the look that's going to hit on that person's face, you will lose this person for the rest of your life. Are you sure you want to say this?" Everybody relates to that, everybody. A lot of people have listened to that voice. It's at that point that a lot of people storm out of the room so that they don't say that one last, horrible thing.
I'll ask them, "Where do you think that voice comes from? Who is that voice? What's the source of that voice? Why would a presence even monitor you in an argument?" But it does! But it does! Now, it's fair to ask: How can a person be so monitored in an exchange like that? How can one person describe—I know stories of I don't know how many people whose lives have been changed and saved by what could only be called divine intervention and freak miracles and extraordinary things, while other people go down in accidents, and go down in murders and horrible things. You can't put these two things together, because one does not X out the other. One does not mean anything.
Just because there's floods does not make the ocean a bad thing, but there are floods. We still need the water, and the water produces our food, and it still makes the crops grow—and water floods, and it does create tsunamis. Both are true. Still, water is good. That is the same thing with the nature of the divine. It is a mystery, how it can come through, and in the slightest, tiniest moment, a person hears that voice that says, "You'd better be careful here, because if you say this, I'm warning you right now, your life is going to take a different path, and you will live with the most sorrowful regret in your heart for the rest of your life."
That is as much the voice of an angel talking to you, sent [as] a messenger told to "Keep her on her path. She's supposed to be exactly where she is with that person. And tell her to shut up!" That is divine intervention as much as it is divine intervention to go to the doctor because you're choking on a bone (and I know I don't know how many stories like this), but under the tests, you find out you have the beginning of cancer. It was really there to save your life. You weren't choking on a bone! You just simply had to get that test! All of these things were choreographed by heaven!
And then some people were dying of cancer in the hospital on that very same day that your life was being saved. This is the mystery of life, because death is part of life. Death is simply part of life, and somehow, we can't adjust to that. We simply can't adjust to that. We think that God is about making us all live forever. We forget that we are living in vessels that are designed to die, not live forever. We simply can't adjust to that, that there are illnesses that are not meant to heal. They are meant to be our way out of our bodies and back home again. We simply can't get with the program here!
TS: So, in hearing you talk about this faith that is so second nature to you now, so singularly part of your nature now, you describe it as this constant presence, that there is this nature of mystical laws that are part of how this presence operates. There are always these messages that can be received, and that all of our thoughts are also received. What else do we know? What else do you know that constitutes your faith, that you're really 100 percent sure about? I mean, you've talked about mystery, but I want to know what you know about that mystery.
CM: Hmm. What am I 100 percent sure about? Well, I am 100 percent sure that there is an evil in the world. One of the reasons that people have to pray is that evil is real, and we've done the darkness a great service by saying it doesn't exist. That's the best thing that we could do in service of evil, is deny that it's there. Nothing is a greater asset to evil than what we've done and given it, which is to say it doesn't exist. We could not have become a greater ally to the dark side than we have been in these last 30 years, than by denying that it exists. Thus we do not pray, "Keep me safe. Keep me safe. Deliver me from evil. Deliver me from evil. Keep me safe."
People don't realize how darkness operates. It's not demonic ghouls and gargoyles that hover over your home at night. Evil gets you in your pride. It makes you more boastful, it makes you more arrogant, it makes you think that things that happen to everybody else, that you consider an ordinary or common person, can't happen to you, and therefore you make careless, risky, and stupid decisions. You decide that you can get a subprime rate and turn your house over, and that other people (other people!) will have financial problems, but they will never happen to you. Why? Because you're you, and these things just don't happen to you—only to find out they do, and you fell on your own sword.
That's how evil works. It makes you think you're special when you're not. It makes you think that the laws of the universe do not apply to you because there's something special about you, and evil counts on your arrogance. As soon as you begin to drink that Kool-Aid, you're in big trouble! When all of the saints and all of the great mystics write and teach about "You'd better stay humble and get off the radar," that's exactly what they're talking about. Evil thrives on arrogance, and it thrives on the pathological need that people have to be extraordinary, because the very thought of being ordinary makes people sick to their stomachs. "Tell me anything, but don't tell me I'm ordinary! I'll name my child Sunshine Meditation Karma! And then, when you look at my child, you get to say, like I do, 'You're so special!' So I'll put the blessing of specialness on my child so that they're not ordinary. Just don't tell me my child's ordinary, because then ordinary things will happen to my child, and then what will I do? I'll have to cope with the fact that my child's ordinary!"
In this pathological race to be extraordinary, we've created children that have to compete from the age of two so that they'll be extraordinary. Get into preschool (and pre-preschool!), so that by the time they're two-and-a-half, they're competing like little demons. And the parents are in soccer and in this and in that, making their children compete, and competing parents, because they cannot simply have children. This is darkness, because the real reason they're doing what they're doing is because they're driven by the madness that they can't possibly be ordinary, and that is vanity. That, right there, is how darkness gets in.
TS: OK, now Caroline, I want to talk to you more about this whole idea of darkness and evil, because it's something that you are one of the only people I know who really speaks about it in the way that you do. You've mentioned that I've known you for 25 years, and it's true. I think this is an arena in which you're really an expert, actually, and so here we go: You talk about darkness and evil almost as if it's a force, an animating force, something outside of us. It's one thing to talk about our arrogance. I get that, our need to be special, but you talk about evil, like evil, itself. What do you mean?
CM: You cannot have an angel and not have a demon. Those are external, multidimensional. An angel is a presence. A demon is a presence. That's exactly what I mean.
TS: I like the idea that I have X number of angels that are watching over me and helping me and guiding me in my business, etc. You're saying that there's also—if I'm going to go with that idea—there's demonic energetic forms that are potentially tempting me with—
CM: Absolutely! You can't have one without the other! They're dark angels. That's all they are. Don't make it more than it is, but they are there.
TS: OK, well, I'm happy with the angels, but I'm not particularly happy with these dark angels, or demonic forces. Can I ask them to go away, please?
CM: That's why you pray! That's why you pray. You pray because what calls a demon in is your own foolishness. The moment you think you're in charge of creation is the moment they're standing right next to you, because it's your own stupidity! It's your own foolishness! You are not! That's the folly of the new age: "You create your own reality." Every time I hear someone say that, I think, "Oh, my God! Get on your knees! Get on your knees and pray!" You do not create your own reality.
This is like Job! Read [the book of] Job, will you? That's where Yahweh says to Job, "You do? You create your reality? Were you around when I created this firmament? Were you around when I created the animals and the whole atmosphere? I don't remember seeing you there, Job. I actually don't remember seeing you. I mean I could be wrong, but I don't remember seeing you. Don't tell me you create your reality! I create you! I create you. The only thing you get to do is pick out what you wear today, and adjust your attitudes. You get to decide how you're going to live this day. I put you in your body, you didn't create that, and right there, right from the get-go, I located you in your nationality, in your country. I gave you your intelligence spectrum. You didn't create that. I gave you your sex. You didn't create that. I gave you the archetypal patterns in your psyche. What do you mean, you create your reality? I programmed you!"
Where do people get off with this? Where do they get off with this? That is the ultimate arrogance, "I create my reality"! Look at the job they're doing! If they're so good at it, tell them to get us out of the debt!
TS: Well, I'm with you on this point, Caroline, but I want to go back (I can't help it!) to the demons for a moment.
CM: You really liked that!
TS: I did. That's very interesting to me, because you know I've heard so many people talk about angelic meetings that they've had.
CM: Oh, sure, and they certainly don't go the other direction, do they?
TS: Actually, I can think of one person, but it's pretty rare to hear people talk about the demons they've met.
CM: And why do you think that is?
TS: I was going to ask you that question.
CM: They just can't deal with it! They just don't want to go there! They just like all good news. They just like sunlight and no moonlight. Do you realize how preposterous that is? That's like saying, "I just like the sun, but don't tell me when the sun goes down! I just like it sunny, but when it rains, uh-uh, I don't like it! No good!" I mean, you cannot have the world be the way you want it to. You cannot, cannot, cannot. You cannot.
TS: And just to talk a little bit more about angels and demons: Do you believe that there are actual beings like this, that these are, in a dimension, forms of life?
CM: Do I believe there are demonic forms in life?
TS: Yes, like beings—that appear differently from humans, but they're like beings.
CM: I think that there are such things as possessions. Absolutely! I do. I believe that there are possessions. I believe that a dark force can have a very strong influence on a person. I won't name anybody, but you know who I think is absolutely a minion of the demons!
TS: I think you might be referring to like a political figure, that kind of person, yes?
CM: Yes, political figures that I am very strongly opposed to.
CM: Because, if you look at—I remember one of the richest things that—of course, I know Teresa of Avila's work by heart, practically. One of the things during her time she had to confront [was] the Inquisition, and she knew she was facing being burned at the stake, depending on how she answered their questions. They were after her in terms of her mystical experiences, which were so very profound. She would sometimes—when she would enter into a state of ecstasy, her body would go stiff, or she would have a seizure, or she would sometimes levitate. Not on the ceiling, she would be an inch or two off the ground, but she was not on the ground. The states of mystical ecstasy that Teresa had—these were the golden years of mysticism, and they have not existed since she was at the tail end, she and John of the Cross.
The Inquisition said to her, "How do you know these are not from the devil? How do you know that?" She lived in a time when the presence of the devil and the presence of angels were a given, Tami. They were a given! Nobody would have had a conversation back then the way we are right now. It would have been incomprehensible to discuss whether or not they existed. That would never have even been on the table. The question would be, "How much are they influencing you? How much? How do we know what the extent of their influence is in what you're thinking?" That's what she had to prove. What she said was, "All I know is, when I come back from these experiences, I am filled with love, I am ever more loving, and I cannot believe that anything from the demon could make me loving. I have to believe that this is from God."
Now, following that, if I look at actions in people that are motivated with such compulsive hatred, and such compulsive thirst, and delight in harming humanity, such delight! Where every single decision that person has made, from the time he went to college and before (or other people I can think of) has been to grab—to grab all the wealth they can, all the power they can, no matter how many people paid the price with their individual lives, so that his life, their lives could be more powerful, more safe!
Someone could say, "Well, isn't that fear?" I'm sorry, but at some point, fear is simply not a good enough excuse. That's like—how do I say it?—a false wall, behind which a demonic force relies upon your fear to get inside of your maneuverings and your inspiration, dark inspiration, to turn you into a marionette, so that you're not longer even capable of hearing the polarity, the Tao moving within you, and feeling the natural cycle of saying, "This isn't right! This isn't right! I can't make a decision to go to war just because of greed! I can't lie! I can't continue to lie and make something up! Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die! My country's going to go under! It doesn't make any difference! I hate that man, and I have so much pride that I've got to do it!"
That's demonic. That is a crime of demonic proportion. That is not a human crime! The concentration camps were not a human crime! Mass genocide of 11 million people—it wasn't six million! It was 11! Put the gypsies in there. Put the Catholics in there. Put the intellectuals in there. It was 11 million! That is not a human crime! I'm sorry, but it's not.
TS: So, is your sense of our collective situation that evil is always present, it's always at work, but that, at different periods of history, it's given more or less fuel, depending on how humans are relating to prayer and to themselves, etc., but it's always there?
CM: I think that prayer battles evil. I think prayer disintegrates it. I see the world as an atmosphere filled with psychic free radicals.
TS: So tell me exactly what that means to you, "psychic free radicals."
CM: Well, I think that this is the thing about the new age that's so juvenile! All they ever do is talk about the things on the good side, but they never talk about the shadow. You cannot talk about how positive energy works and not talk about the same rules applying to negative energy! If collective positive energy does collective good things (la di dah di dah!), collective shadow energy creates collective shadow events. That's just the way it is!
When people have negative thoughts, they generate negative energy. Negative energy generates a collective pool of negative energy. That's called "psychic free radicals." Think of it like the earth's immune system. Those two follow the laws of creation. Energy seeks a way to influence matter. That's just the way it happens. That's how it happens. Energy influences matter. That's what happens! So it forms and influences events on Earth. The balancing of energy to matter is offset by prayer. Prayer dissolves psychic free radicals in the collective unconscious. It disintegrates demonic weaponry.
TS: So let's explore a little bit how prayer does that. What do you think is the mechanism there?
CM: What do I think the mechanism is?
TS: Yes. How do you see it? How do you see that prayer dissolves and counteracts evil?
CM: I think of it as a vibration that disarms a negative vibration, a positive that disarms a negative. I think that prayer sets in motion a higher vibrational field of grace, and that grace somehow or other finds its way and gives a person, someone who is susceptible to darkness, an extra second to think before pulling a trigger, an extra moment to reflect upon whether or not to make a very awful decision. Maybe it buys them an extra moment, and in that extra moment, the person does think twice. It's [because of] ways like that that I think grace, through prayer, intervenes on the behalf of human beings.
TS: So we're all susceptible to darkness, yes?
CM: Oh, my God! What do you think? Of course!
TS: Yes, and so that we all need plenty of extra seconds.
CM: We all need extra seconds. That's why prayer, contemplation, has to be a daily practice. It has to be! The moment someone thinks they don't need it is the moment they're in trouble, because they'll become someone who says, "Nothing is ever my fault." They'll become someone who says, "These things that are happening in the world can't happen to me."
Why? "Because I'm extraordinary! Because the laws don't apply to me!" when, in fact, you are one and the same with the laws. That's why they say things like, "I can't believe this happened here!" Why not? Why not here? What makes here different from there? "Well, because I live here!" And who are you? Who are you to think that this whole neighborhood should be protected from a murder or from a tsunami because you live here? You have to explain that to me, because I find that fascinating!
TS: It's interesting to me, Caroline, that you would be talking about this pitfall of falling into thinking one is extraordinary, because you're somebody that actually I think is very extraordinary. You have extraordinary gifts as a medical intuitive, you've shown what an extraordinary author you are by writing bestselling books. You're extraordinary! And yet, in your own sense, do you feel, "Yes, but no, I'm not"?
CM: Tami, you've known me for years.
CM: Do I live there? Do I live as if I took "extraordinary" seriously?
TS: Well, I guess the question that I'm asking is: How do you work with the messages that you are extraordinary? You don't believe it?
CM: Tami, I don't even go near that one, because this is what's true: I've had to battle with illness, I've had to battle with loss in my life, with the deaths of so many people I've loved, with so many serious human sufferings. I don't have time to go and inflate myself and think that those things can't happen to me, because they do. They do, so my feet are really firmly planted on the ground.
TS: OK, now I'm imagining somebody listening who knows your work as a medical intuitive and knows your work with healing, and is drawn to prayer because they have some kind of illness. I'm hoping you can help that person know, in the very simple language that we talked about in the beginning: How do I pray? How do I pray with an illness that I don't want, that I don't want to have?
CM: Well, nobody wants an illness, right? Nobody wants an illness. I mean who would, who could possibly, possibly want an illness? That's a very, very difficult, difficult challenge, of course. And I know, because I've had to cope with that.
I think that the illness is really not, at the end of the day, the focus. It's the whole experience of a psychic shattering, that my world has just changed. I am fragile, I am frightened, I have to regroup, and I have to redo. I am at a crossroads. The illness is almost like 40 percent of what's going on. You have to take a look at the whole thing. You have to take a look at every part of what's going on inside of you. You have to regroup. You have to regather. You have to say a prayer very deep and long inside, and get what you're praying for. You have to say something like, "Give me a candle of the spirit, God, as I do down deep into my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me of my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which you planted at my making. Show me what I need to look at, dear God. Give me help." That's how you pray.
TS: You know, you spoke in the program, The Power of Prayer, about humility and sacrifice as being the two most important keys, and I think you've spoken some here, in this conversation, about humility, but I'm wondering if you can say a bit more about sacrifice, what role sacrifice plays in prayer.
CM: I think a person has to understand sacrifice as a part of life, and thus the need for prayer. We're not comfortable with the word "sacrifice." We don't get the whole role that it plays within our lives. Today, we think that "sacrifice" means to give up something and to be uncomfortable. "It's a sacrifice! I have to suffer!" It is not! It is an archetypal ritual. It is a burning. It is a burning of something inside of yourself that signifies, "I give up this part of myself to you, God. I recognize this part of myself as a part that is no longer in service to you, me or life. I sacrifice this part. I release it." It is a burning. "I see this negativity in me," or, "I see that I have this pattern. I keep telling this story over and over again, and it goes nowhere, and I'm doing it for the wrong reasons. I am sacrificing this story. I will never tell it again. I release it to you."
It is a sacrifice, because you're used to it. You're accustomed to it, and so, for you, it is a giving up, but it is also a surrender and release and a burning, and from that, something new is born. It takes a great deal of prayer to say, "I need the strength to do this, because I may be tempted to go back and look in the ashes to see if there's one page left of that story I want to tell one more time," but you can't do it. Once you undergo the ritual of the sacrifice, you may never, ever, ever go back there again.
It's so much good stuff, isn't it?
TS: It is! It is! And Caroline, as we come to an end to our conversation, I'm wondering if I could ask something of you, which is if you'd be willing to share with us a prayer that is special to you, a prayer that perhaps is a type of collective invocation that we can connect to.
CM: What I do for myself is Teresa, always my Teresa, and this is my own prayer, so I'll share that, but I always retreat, several times a day, into her wonderful prayer: "Let nothing, dear God, disturb the silence of this moment with you. Hover over me. Surround me with your grace. Be present with me. Remind me of all that is true. Remind me of all that is sacred. Hover over me. Amen."
I'm speaking with Caroline Myss. She has created a new three-CD learning program with Sounds True. It's called The Power of Prayer: Guidance, Prayers, and Wisdom for Listening to the Divine, and it includes teachings, prayers for the morning and evening, prayers for healing, prayers for working with decisions, quite a bit on personal and collective evil, a really intriguing, provocative, and supremely beneficial series.
Caroline, thank you so much. Thanks for talking with us on Insights at the Edge.
CM: You are welcome! Thank you, everybody!
TS: Soundstrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.