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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 6 August 2007
Let me begin by noting that I enjoyed Sacred Contracts and its multicultural perspective on understanding your soul very much. It was my enthusiasm for that work that led me to Entering the Castle.

I was taken aback to find that Entering the Castle is an ecumenical reader's guide to St. Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle. If I had known that, I would have read The Interior Castle instead for a deeper Christian reading on St. Teresa's mystical experiences and guidance for the rest of us.

If you aren't a Christian, you may like Entering the Castle because the book is careful not to take a Christian perspective while referencing figures from the faith. Jesus, for instance, is typically described as a spiritual figure rather than the son of God. Although Caroline Myss describes herself as a Catholic, her personal beliefs seem to be that all religions are essentially identical. It's more of a Unitarian view than a Catholic description of religion.

If you are a Christian, why wouldn't you want a purely Christian perspective?

The book is very slow to begin. It takes around a hundred pages before you reach the first part of what St. Teresa of Avila described. I didn't find the writing to be tight and engaging like the writing is in Sacred Contracts.

St. Teresa wrote about her mystical experiences as a kind of roadmap that someone can follow who wants more a more direct relationship with God. As described in Entering the Castle there are seven metaphorical mansions in the castle. Within each mansion, there are rooms that represent stages of mystical experience and development. These rooms are described as exercises for you to do. There's a caution that St. Teresa reported that some nuns couldn't get past the first few mansions, and that progress will take years. Think of this book as describing a life journey rather than a quick fix to improve your life.

Here are the mansions and their main subjects:

1. Prayer, humility, chaos, and Divine seduction
2. Inner vision, spiritual companions, and commitment to God
3. Moving past reason into faith, and surrendering to God
4. Receiving God fully
5. Being led by your soul
6. Channeling grace to dissolve self
7. Carrying your fully developed soul back into the world

The author adds prayers, examples, and directions to make these steps easier to grasp. I found that her personal examples were the most helpful as she pursues a quest that began when St. Teresa spoke to her.

A disappointing aspect of the book is that the three early mansions receive most of the attention, even though where most people want to be is in one of the latter mansions. Perhaps that's because St. Teresa indicated that it was up to God for you to make progress through those last four mansions.

I have been interested in these same subjects for many years, and I used this book to help me get a sense of where I was in my journey. What surprised me was that my roadmap seems to be a lot different than this one. From that I conclude that there's more than one path to mystical connection to God. Now that I realize that lesson, I intend to read more of what Christian mystics have had to say so that I can learn from each of them.

I was particularly surprised to see the emphasis on healing of others in this book. I hadn't thought such an activity would be part of a path to mystical experience. That lesson indicates to me that I have much to learn.

May God bless you, your family, and all you do!
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