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Interior Castle Or The Mansions Theology Religion Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Theology
Wordcount: 2500 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In both Lakoff and Johnsons Metaphors We Live By and Teresa of Avilas Interior Castle or The Mansion there is a discussion of metonymy in relation to metaphor, both of which are significant crucial concepts in St. Teresa’s Christian conceptual metaphorical system. Within this paper I shall formulate an argument proving that St. Teresa’s Christian conceptual metaphorical system is coherent and falls within Lakoff and Johnson’s conceptual metaphorical systems guidelines on the grounds that Teresa’s system appeases Lakoff and Johnson’s definitions of metaphor and metonymy and all the sub-classes. In order to validate my argument I will make reference to the Teresa’s Interior Castle outlining the structure of her metaphorical system by covering the metaphor and metaphor sub-classes used along with identifying the target and source domains entailed in the system.

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Teresa’s Christian conceptual metaphorical system has three primary conceptual metaphors: IN GOD, IN MANSION, and IN SOUL. Teresa uses a JOURNEY metaphor to talk about the path to achieving spiritual union with God. According to Tim Perrine, St. Teresa of Avila wrote The Interior Castle as a spiritual guide to union with God. Teresa received her inspiration for this work from a religious experience she had. God gave Teresa a vision that showed her a crystal globe that contained seven mansions within it. At the centre of the globe, residing in the deepest mansion is God. Teresa interpreted this religious experience as an allegory which reveals the way for ones soul to take a journey to achieve union with God by reaching the seventh inner most mansion. The soul must go on a journey to become united with God in the seventh mansion. Each mansion represents a step closer to reaching God or climbing another level on a ladder. The Crystal Castle with seven different mansions is a metaphor representing the soul. The rooms closest to the seventh were able to receive a glimpse of the essence of God which resided in the seventh room.

From the outside of the Crystal Castle the lights cannot be seen because darkness and impurity surrounds the outside of the castle. If one on this journey to reach the seventh room succumbs to temptation and falls victim to the devil’s torment, the light that was once emanating from the seventh room where God resides will as a result of being infected by sin, disappear and the venomous animals that were once held outside the Crystal Castle by God’s divine light will be able to enter the castle. In the first mansion the concern is the soul’s state of purity. A soul in the first mansion is surrounded by sin and is only able to reach God by seeking his divine grace through preaching humility. The second mansion is also a mansion where one practices prayer daily. The soul can only advance on its journey by humility, recognition of God in the soul and daily prayer. The third mansion is the mansion of exemplary life whereby one has such a love for God in their soul. Their soul also truly dislikes all form of sin and the soul has a longing to do works of charity in the name of almighty God. In the fourth mansion the soul opens itself up to God, relying on him for everything and becomes purer as God increases his influence. The fifth mansion contains the initial stage of union with God whereby the soul opens itself up to embody God’s grace in order to receive his gifts. The soul commits to marry. Teresa refers to the soul as a silkworm which feeds on the sustenance of God. The soul enters a cocoon like state in order to transform into a butterfly which embodies part of Gods divine light. In the sixth mansion the soul and God are like lovers. In this mansion the soul receives an increasing amount of favors from God but is also faced with outside afflictions. In the seventh mansion the soul succeeds on its journey to achieve spiritual marriage with God as a result of the soul acquiring clarity in prayer. When one partakes in sins their soul is unable to partake in the journey to reach God. One must be able to acquire humility and self-knowledge to understand the works of God.

Once an individual on their journey learns to truly understand humility and self-knowledge they will realize the beauty of the soul as a result of God’s light. All our goodness and that good works that come from one’s good are authored by God. The strength and power of one’s will is strengthened by what lays behind that door of the seventh room in the Crystal Castle. The journey inside oneself that takes place in the crystal castle is likened to degrees of prayer by Teresa. One entered within themselves and penetrates the depths of their soul while gaining perfect self-knowledge along the way which ultimately leads to one reaching the seventh room where God is waiting. One who has perfect self-knowledge is able to become unified with God’s grace through a union with him which allows those who reach the seventh room to take part in his light and love. “… the soul grows and profits by its communication with God” (Teresa, 23), we suffer from a self-ignorance that is curable if one seeks to cure it. Not enough inward reflection is given to the beauty of the soul. When one doesn’t reflect upon their soul which is innate they are unable to receive gifts that soul may possess, they are unable to see who is inside the soul or how important a role the soul can play in their life. “…souls without prayer are like bodies, palsied and lame, having hands and feet they cannot use.”(Teresa, 43). In order to enter the castle and begin this journey into the soul one must take part in prayer and meditation. The mind must take part in this prayer, repetition praying and not taking God into consideration is not praying.

Those typically found residing in the first mansion in the castle are typically those who self reflect occasionally and pray a few times a month. Usually these individuals are concerned with materialistic things. Teresa says that it is still possible for these individuals to realize the state of their soul on the road it is currently travelling and make adjustments and changes in their lives to set their soul on a positive path. Those who choose to do this begin the journey that takes place inside their soul which is referred to as the crystal or diamond castle. Those who enter the first rooms are followed by numerous venomous reptiles which are a metaphor for sin and the torments of hell. The sin of an individual creates these creatures which attempt to blind the individual from seeing the divine light of God which resides at the center of the castle in the seventh mansion When mortal sin is present in the soul it obscures Gods divine grace. Teresa uses a metaphor to describe what mortal sin does to the soul, “…the sun in the centre of the soul, which gave it such splendour and beauty, is totally eclipsed”. (Teresa, 46).

The soul that is in mortal sin is separated from God and no longer a part of him. It has been tainted which causes the crystal which is a metaphor for the soul to become dark and unable to reflect the bright sun. “The soul is like a crystal in the sunshine over which a thick black cloth has been thrown, so that however brightly the sun may shine the crystal can never reflect it.” (Teresa, 47). Crystal is used as a metaphor to refer to a tainted mortal sin soul, throwing a black cloth over a clear crystal that was once able to reflect the sun will no longer be able to do so. The meaning behind this is that sinning taints the soul and creates a disconnection between an individual and God. As long as that thick black cloth is there, the soul will not be able to experience what the bright sun representing Gods divine grace has to offer. Teresa refers to the soul as a tree which is planted by a river. The tree receives life from the sun which enables it to bear fruit. The sun is a metaphor for God and the fruit that comes from the tree are metaphors for good deeds and good actions. Thus, God is the initiator behind those good deeds. When in the first mansion within the crystal castle one is able to be humble on this journey and that one individual should only think of God when doing any good deed or action.

In the second mansion one is taught how important prayer is to reach God. One must retire into them self in order to truly know thyself; without retiring into the soul to contemplate life and ones actions, heaven will always be out of their reach. In the second mansion the soul is able to take more charge on its spiritual journey. Those who reach the third mansion are those who realize the issues that arise when one trusts in their own strength.

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The individuals in the third mansion live a balanced life which is achieved through prayer, penance, charity, and abstaining from sin. Through this the individual is able to go farther in their spiritual journey to become a part of Gods divine grace. In this stage of the journey the individual who has been able to enter the third mansion will have their soul baptized in the Holy Spirit. As a result of this the individual on their spiritual journey has their soul opened up and is filled with the gifts God has given them through the Holy Spirit. Teresa states that “An earthy king may have subjects yet all do not enter his court” (Teresa, 41). This is a metaphor which refers to those disciples of God on their spiritual journey. God may have many children and followers but this does not mean everyone is granted access into his kingdom in heaven. Nor should anyone assume that because they are a follower or believer in Him that they will automatically gain access into the kingdom because of this. On the spiritual journey in the soul those who enter each mansion will learn to be jumble and realize that they are a servant of God and entering his kingdom is something one earns by journeying within oneself and joining God in the seventh mansion. “Humility is the ointment for our wounds…God, who is our Physician, will come and heal us.” (Teresa, 45). Teresa uses a metaphor for humility by describing it as the ointment for our wounds; she makes a point to concentrate on humility because one should learn to be humble in order to succeed on this spiritual journey. Teresa refers to God as a physician who will heal our wounds; this metaphor is used to show that no matter what one must go through on this journey God will always be there to heal the wounds of those who seek him.

On this spiritual journey in the soul one must have e an everlasting unyielding love for God. According to Teresa true love for God is one of the essential things one must learn to pay “…no attention to the weaknesses of nature which might retard us.” (Teresa, 45). God will look after the individual on their spiritual journey and reward them in proportion to their great love for God. Teresa presents a metaphor of nestling baby birds that are taught by watching elder birds. Their flight makes us try to soar, like nestlings taught by the elder birds, who, though they cannot fly at first, little by little imitate their parents: I know the great benefit of this. (Teresa, 47) This metaphor is used to teach that one should not give up if they find a trial on this spiritual journey difficult, they should consult a person who is detached from the worldly things and seeks spiritual marriage with God. Just like a baby bird learning to fly is taught by the elder more experienced bird to fly, an individual on a spiritual journey trying to reach unity with God should consult an elder who has learnt how to get through trials and tribulations in order to become one with God. Their soul is not yet strong enough and may succumb to the suffering that their soul will be exposed to during the trials on their spiritual journey.

In the fourth mansion one must practice the prayer of the quiet; this prayer is quiet and passive which allows one to travel deeper on their spiritual journey in to the soul where they meet with the divine grace of God. The soul is no longer dependant on the individuals will but becomes dependant on God. The natural and supernatural meet in this mansion; the soul receives natural understanding from God, this can be thought of as the mind being impregnated with wisdom directly from the gifts of God. Teresa uses a metaphor to explain two types of prayer one will use in the fourth mansion. The metaphor uses two fountains with basins that fill with water; these fountains are filled two different ways. One fountain receives its water from a distance that travels through numerous waterworks and pipes. The other fountain receives its water directly from the source which is the spring, no machinery or aqua-ducts are needed. The water that runs through the waterworks and pipes represents sensible devotion which is obtained through meditation. This water is obtained through the results of an individual’s endeavors which are thoughts, labor of one’s mind, and meditating on created things. The fountain that receives the water directly from the spring itself is a representation for God. Prayer of Quiet or divine consolation receives supernatural favors directly from God himself just like the fountain which receives water directly from the spring. This greatness from God that presents one with divine joy is presented in the soul itself according to Teresa.

This transition between the two fountains represents the individual on this spiritual journey breaking away from the bonds they once had with the outside world in order to be able to enter deep prayer which focuses on the importance of love; true love that flows directly from the spring itself which is God. On page sixty-three, Teresa presents another ‘IN’ metaphor. We should rather abandon our souls into the hands of God, leaving him to do as he chooses with us, as far as possible forgetting all self-interest and resigning ourselves entirely to himself. (Teresa, 63) God is a container metaphor whereby the soul which is the target domain of the source domain. The source domain is interior castle that has seven mansions one must go through in order to achieve union with God. The journey present here is a spiritual journey where the soul must enter IN the interior castle in order to become one with God through spiritual union. God is the container object in the container metaphor along with the interior castle which is also the container object of the container metaphor. Throughout the rest of the journey IN the interior castle the soul opens itself up to receive more gifts from God, ultimately leading up to the seventh mansion which is the mansion of spiritual marriage where the individuals soul becomes one with God through spiritual union.


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