Order your copy of A Religion of One's Own now
A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World
By Thomas Moore
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Gotham (January 6, 2015)
Projects and books by contemporary American writer of A Religion of One's Own, Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, Soul of Sex, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Life at Work, and Care of the Soul in Medicine. Moore is an international keynote speaker and psychotherapist.
"Soul is the depth of experience that makes us human and fully in the world. Spirit allows us to transcend, reach toward the infinite, be endlessly creative and find meaning and purpose. This retreat speaks to both soul and spirit together and offers ways to live a life that is both deeply connected and pleasurable and at the same time sublime and profoundly religious or spiritual.""The retreat consists of intensive morning dream work, one-hour sessions for the presentation and discussion of many themes in spirituality, archetypal psychology and mythology, and free time for personal reflection and community."
"Moore will be coming to Alabama for the first time in May as the featured speaker of the SPAFER lectures at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, 518 19th St. North, on May 2, at 7 p.m. and May 3, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Southern Progressive Alliance for Exploring Religion and the Friends of Jung-South are co-sponsoring the lectures."Garrison writes:
"Most people have not had any education in the mysticism of their own religions," Moore said.
"The mystics provide the heart and soul of a religion." Moore has simply found other ways of tapping into mysticism.For ticket information visit SPAFER.org.
"You can be an ordinary mystic, when you put together all the experiences of nature, and art," he said. "The separation of art and religion in our time is a symptom of the secularism of our time. They offer us a way to contemplate and mediate things that can't be explained."
He's not advocating leaving formal religion, but notes that's not the only path."
"Church attendance continues to decline as many of us abandon the religious institutions of our youth. However, in today’s culture the search for the sacred has never been more active. Thomas Moore suggests that nature, art, and accessing the wealth of traditional spiritual wisdom can be of enormous help in revivifying our relationship to religion. We need to abandon the dogma and set our compass according to our personal values and philosophy as we search for a religion that feeds our soul. He says, “This is the time to stop looking for an answer outside yourself, looking for an organization that will answer your needs completely or answer them through your joining them and subscribing to their beliefs and their practices and their way of looking at the world. I think that time is over… We have to do that ourselves… It’s also a responsibility and it is more difficult.”Topics in this dialogue include:
"Soul Power: Nonviolence is the weapon of the brave" in The Intelligent Optimist magazine published 17 December 2012. Moore writes:
"In response to conflict, we often try to restrain our adversaries rather than empower them. The first move toward peace might be to take careful note of where violent people feel disempowered. To display your power is to show you are anxious about it. To perform atrocity and act violently is to reveal a profound confusion of mind and heart, an insanity that shows how far apart power and weakness are.
Today, our first goal might be to assure that all nations have the economic, political, and social empowerment they need. A second step is for those who have military might to explore what it would take to transmute that weaponry into power of soul. If a nation has stockpiled weapons and bad schools, that is a sign that the power issue is seriously off-kilter. Power of soul creates peace, and when there is peace there is so much to do, so much to create and sustain, that there could be no time or energy left over for the military. People who are totally involved in their works and families can’t imagine going off to war. It makes no sense."
Moore distinguishes between violence and aggression in this piece while defining peace: "Peace is not the absence of conflict or aggression. It is the transformation of brute power into strength of mind and heart. Peace is the humane focusing of anger and ambition on the needs of the world and on creative contributions to life and culture. Peace is an active thing, strong and bold."
"She said that she first painted natural objects in the ordinary way and then did her “dream thing,” after which the paintings would “come nearer reality than my objective kind of work.”
This second phase went beyond the ordinary and the literal, allowing her stunning flowers and clouds and skulls to touch an observer’s soul. Without being obviously religious, they have a spiritual impact. O’Keeffe was interested in mysticism and religion, although she didn’t follow a particular tradition or go to church. She was a natural, secular mystic who had a gift for expressing spiritual truths in her art."Moore develops this theme of natural, secular mysticism in his forthcoming book, A Religion of One's Own (Gotham Books) for release in Fall 2013.
Labels: A Religion of One's Own
"I'm offering an alternative to the fading formal religious ways of the past and the secularism that is a pseudo-religion itself. I'm very much in the footsteps of the New England Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, Thoreau and Channing, in recommending that we seriously draw insight and inspiration from the traditions as we shape a religious practice suited to us individually. I see a future in which we need not belong to a religion but go deeply into many of them to find the insights and practices we need. We can do this alone or in an established community, but I think we should consciously select and shape our own ideas (theology) and practices. We could be spiritually creative and yet profoundly in debt to the wisdom and beauty of the traditions. In this book I spell out concrete ways to reinvigorate our religiousness in this way. I use the word religion, fully redefined, because spirituality tends to be too vague, abstract and self-centered."Gotham Books also publishes Moore's book Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way through Life’s Ordeals that won Best Psychology Book in the Books for a Better Life Awards chosen in 2005.
Labels: A Religion of One's Own
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Labels: The Planets Within
“I learn from his patience, his love of life, his easy and playful aggression, his finicky taste in food and, above all, the contemplative nature of his presence. He has a good mixture of the puer and senex in him — Hillman’s favorite images of youth and age. He’s a bit heavy now, and yet he still leaps into the air, or tries to, when he’s excited about something. When was the last time I lifted off the ground in sheer delight?”Moore shares other features of life that he learns from L.B. whose influence seeps into Moore’s books.
"Songlines of the Soul proposes a new paradigm of reality, a new worldview. The signatures of this new reality are arising both in our own experiences and all around us if only we can stretch wide our stubbornly held perceptions of what is "reality." As we stand at a crucial turning point in our human history, this book offers hope, a call to awaken and expand our perceptions of the fundamental principles that orchestrate reality.Goodchild is a professor of Jungian psychotherapy and imaginal psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute where she received her PhD in 1998. She has a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University, NYC granted in 1980.
In an age when the answers offered by governments and traditional religion are no longer sufficient, the quest for meaning must — as it always has in the past — arise first through visions, dreams, and journeys to other dimensions of consciousness."
"How did you choose your expert witnesses?Vickers shares, "I spoke at the Ben Franklin Institute a couple of years ago — it's basically the largest association of mental-health providers in the country. Essentially, I told them that in many respects, traditional psychotherapy can be part of the problem as opposed to the solution. It becomes a problem when a person walks into your office and says, "I've got a problem with addiction," and you say, "Okay, I'm going to help you with your problem."
It was purely selfish. I'd read material from all of them and gotten a quantum leap in understanding of one form or another from each one. So they had all touched my life. They also represented different segments of society, and they were heavyweights in their respective domains. Finally, these are people from MIT and Princeton. This isn't woo-woo science; they're working from well-established principles."
Labels: Care of the Soul in Medicine
"There is a clear movement in many countries today toward expanding our view of medical care. Integrative medicine, alternative therapies and the spirituality of medicine are becoming common themes in hospitals and schools. I have seen firsthand how pastoral care and counseling have grown and changed in medical settings.
[. . .]
But my work moves in a somewhat different direction. While spirituality concerns itself with meaning in life, prayer, meditation, belief and ideas about the afterlife, soul is almost identical with psyche, having to do with the deep emotions, relationships, work, home, family, memory, beauty, attachments, symbol and dream. I follow an ancient tradition, often referred to as Platonist, that considers these issues of great importance to the health and well-being of persons. In an age of “whole person” medicine, I want to speak for the deep soul. For example, while most hospitals today try to give a patient’s family consideration in such things as visiting hours and treatment discussion, they don’t go far enough, in my view, in thinking of the family as an integral part of illness and treatment. I go so far as to say that a person’s family is part of his or her identity and plays a central role in illness and healing."
Labels: Care of the Soul in Medicine
"Many people wait for members of a community to invite them in, and until that happens they are lonely. There may be something of the child here who expects to be taken care of by the family. But a community is not a family. It is a group of people held together by feelings of belonging, and those feelings are not a birthright. "Belonging" is an active verb, something we do positively. In one of his letters Ficino makes the remark, "The one guardian of life is love, but to be loved you must love." A person oppressed by loneliness can go out into the world and simply start belonging to it, not by joining organizations, but by living through feeling of relatedness — to other people, to nature, to society, to the world as a whole. Relatedness is a signal of soul. By allowing sometimes vulnerable feelings of relatedness, soul pours into life and doesn't have to insist on itself symptomatically.
Like all activities of the soul, community has its connection to death and the underworld. ... From the point of view of the soul, the dead are as much a part of community as the living. ... Outward community flourishes when we are in touch with the inner persons who crowd our dreams and waking thoughts. To overcome loneliness, we might consider releasing these inner figures into life, like the one who wants to sing or cuss in anger or is more sensual or more critical or even more needy than "I" would like to admit. To "admit" who I am is to "admit" those people into life, so that the inner community serves as a start for a sense of belonging in life. I "remember" people I met for the first time because I am in touch with the archetypal world of my imagination, and on the basis of that self-knowledge I can love anyone I meet and be loved in return. The roots of community are immeasurably deep, and the process of belonging, dealing actively with loneliness, begins in the depth of the soul.
Love keeps the soul on the track of its fate and keeps consciousness at the edge of the abyss of the infinity that is the range of the soul. This doesn't mean that relationships between people are not important to the soul's loves. Quite the opposite: recognizing the importance of love to the soul, our ordinary human loves are ennobled beyond measure. This family, this friend, this lover, this mate is the manifestation of the motivating force of life itself and is the fountain of love that keeps the soul alive and full. There is no way toward divine love except through the discovery of human intimacy and community. One feeds the other.
Care of the soul, then, requires an openness to love's many forms. It is no accident that so many of the troubles we bring to therapy have their roots or manifestations in love. It may help us, in those times of trouble, to remember that love is not only about relationship, it is also an affair of the soul. Disappointments in love, even betrayals and losses, serve the soul at the very moment they seem in life to be tragedies. The soul is partly in time and partly in eternity. We might remember the part that resides in eternity when we feel despair over the part that is in life."
Labels: Care of the Soul
"In spirituality, there is often an understandable conflict between material life and lofty vision. Cultivating a spiritual life usually entails a certain restraint in ordinary living: we fast, abstain from sex, withdraw from society, and work too hard, all to increase spiritual awareness. But these practices can give rise to an anti-worldly attitude that sees the body as an obstacle, sex as part of our lower nature, and pleasure as a sign of spiritual degeneration. We end up polarizing spirituality and worldliness."After writing about his own focus on "deep spirit", Moore continues,
"I have come to see a formula at work in contemporary life: spiritual vision helps you see the preciousness of life and live more soulfully, and then, as ancient writers often said, the deep soul connects the spirit with the material world. In other words, a soulful life can go far in creating a worldly spirituality. Understanding the importance of simple pleasures, you live a satisfying worldly life even as you pursue personal spiritual maturity and a more spiritual society."He concludes, "The situation today is so dire that a simple shift from the suspicious desire for purity to a love of life might make for a more spiritually alive planet and a happier, less conflicted world."
"You simply aim too high, become too pure, and get caught in self-denying practices, and then over time become an unworldly, spiritually anxious person. You have to be alert to this problem that weakens the spiritual life — moving in a direction against ordinary pleasures and self-affirmation in the name of virtue or spiritual attainment. The spiritual repression of blessed worldliness usually looks like a good thing, until you reflect on it and see its dangers."
Labels: Care of the Soul in Medicine
Labels: Care of the Soul in Medicine
"Peace is not the absence of conflict or even war. It is a positive appreciation for the Other that inspires compassion and empathy. Peace can't be won by principle alone or by programs. It requires a positive effort toward mutual understanding among people, and it comes out of thoughtful conflict resolution. There is no reason why Americans couldn't, in the aftermath of September 11, make the effort toward this radical degree of understanding and peacemaking.Moore describes three deep lessons the nation can learn from this experience.
People of the world generally are ready to be friends with America, but America makes it difficult to make and sustain that friendship. It seems unsure of itself even as it displays its achievements and its power. People of the world are rebuffed by the resulting arrogance and threatening postures, and peace remains elusive.
America acts like the richest and most powerful kid on the block who bullies everyone else. But if you were to put America on the couch, I think you would discover an unruly adolescent, a youthful psyche full of wonderful ideals but unseasoned and unsure, not even aware that its behavior contradicts its ideals."
Labels: Care of the Soul in Medicine
"My daughter has a sharp mind and quick wit, but she doesn’t have patience with the materialistic approach to education. For better or worse, she grew up in a household where art, yoga and the soul are all taken seriously and where a human being is understood to be made up of a body, soul and spirit. Is it too much to ask for a reliable psychology program, recognized as valid and valuable by the society, with a soul?"Read Moore's concerns and share your responses on his public Facebook page linked above.
"... What the ancients knew is that the whole world needs to be married. We need to get the Republicans and the Democrats married. We need to get the Blacks and the Whites married. We need to marry the intellect to the body. We are surrounded by differences that need to appreciate each other and want to be together. Marriage is really a state of connectedness and co-operation.Moore also talks about friendship with his mentor, James Hillman:
We prepare for marriage by enriching our imagination. That way we can come to marriage with rich textures to weave our lives into the fabric of family life. Marriage is not all about interpersonal dynamics, a notion which tends to get us swamped. I think we could handle our emotions better if we saw marriage as something which holds the whole of life together. In that way, marriage is truly a service to humanity."
"I think he’s truly the great genius of psychology in this country. I haven’t met anyone who has been able to apply such a free and original imagination to the whole history of imagination. He doesn’t treat psychology just as something scientific; he is equally devoted to philosophy and the arts. There is a a very profound education behind his work, which includes a healthy orientation to Jung‚ which I appreciate."Moore writes about Hillman this week in his blog post "A Blue Fire" on his own site.
Labels: Thomas Moore blog
September 3, 2011Visit Thomas Moore's blog to join the discussion.
"I keep waiting for the return of a new kind of theology. Theology is in decline because divinity has been forgotten, 'divinity in the manifest world.' I would like to spend the rest of my days spelling out what that means, because everything depends on it. It’s very difficult to speak in such language today. Either it is countered immediately with naive religion or it is subjected to sentimental spirituality, which is rampant today. Sentimentality in these areas is a defense against the power of what we’re talking about. I came across a line in Thoreau recently about him seeing angels on Walden Pond. If I had to do it over again, I might have become an angelologist. Now there’s something worth spending your life thinking about."
September 5, 2011
"... I’d like to make an attempt to spell out more what I mean by the sacred in the secular or the divine in the ordinary. First, usually we divide the world and experience into heaven and earth, or somewhere else and here. This seems to be making too literal of a distinction between the world imagined as contained within our understanding and power on one side, and that which is beyond our understanding and control on the other. For me, the sacred begins with the sense of mystery, which implies something (a bad word) hidden. God was known classically as deus absconditus, the hidden god. I think we can access that hidden element with our imagination: poetry, painting, architecture, music, theology, ritual, and so on. This is a key point: we know with the imagination. This is different from our usual way of knowing through sense impression and measurements. What is hidden? Some sense of the whole or some potency beneath it all and in everything. In some places, for example, a tree is treated as sacred because of its size or shape or location or history, all suggesting a special epiphany of the hidden. This hidden is not to be ever measured. It remains in the imagination. Nicolas of Cusa always said that whatever we say of it falls short. I try to glimpse the hidden or the sacred or the potency of the all in the most ordinary things. They become tiny windows onto it. I make a bed and find myself outside myself, deeply quieted, closer to the hidden, and so then I realize that a simple act like making a bed places me close to what I was looking for in formal religion. There the images became too thick and heavy. They didn’t offer as much access as simple things do. In our family we put images of buddas and saints and bodhisattvas around us to help us see the hidden in our house and garden. I have them all around me in the room where I write. I want to remember that when I work at my writing I am in touch with the hidden. Maybe now it will be clear why I have been meditating for weeks on a line from Thoreau’s Walden: 'Walden Pond has blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters.'"
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Readers are encouraged to respond to Moore's list in the blog's Comments section.
Labels: Thomas Moore blog
Labels: Thomas Moore blog
"For me, there are three sources of a vital spirituality: First, know one religious tradition well, as in some way your own. I was born a Catholic and will always have that deep base. Second, learn many lessons and ideas from the inexhaustible resources of the many spiritual and religious traditions. Third, expand and deepen your spirituality in secular ways — through nature, the arts, philosophy, psychology, and science (without the secularism).Explore Moore's redesigned site and participate in his new Wordpress blog. (Comments are moderated.)
As a monk, I learned that work is prayer, that reading is a spiritual practice, and that fostering community in concrete ways is the heart of a spiritual way of life. I left the external monastic life behind, but I didn’t abandon these spiritual lessons. It isn’t that any work is automatically spiritual; you have to bend it toward contributing to humanity and protecting the natural world. Not all reading is spiritual; you can be selective, but I would include good novels on my list. And, as Buddhism teaches so well, community isn’t real unless it excludes no human nationality and no sentient beings."
"I have a special appreciation for science, but when it jealously offers itself as the only explanation for human experience, I pack my bags and go out to counter it.
— Thomas Moore (July-August 2011, "Care of the Soul")
Labels: Original Self
"For this book in particular, [Moore] has participated in dozens of medical conferences, visited hospitals and medical schools in several countries, and dedicated two days a month, to interviewing every kind of worker, from the CEO to the housekeeping staff of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. Among the medical centers where he has lectured are McGill University Medical School, the University of Tennessee Medical School, the University of Minnesota program in Spirituality and Healing, the Mayo Clinic, NYU Cancer Center, Sloan-Kettering, Hermann Memorial in Houston, the Irish Hospice Foundation, and several smaller non-teaching hospitals and hospices."The linked brochure includes a registration form with conference rates.
"Artists are genuine creators, giving us bodies and landscapes and objects. They populate our imaginations with figures that live as presences in our lives that affect us and instruct us. The soul is hungry for images and, in fact, lives on them the way we live on food. We can never have enough images...Scroll down this linked page to read a brief excerpt from the introduction. Moore and his wife, Hari Kirin, offer From Religion to Spirituality as a weekend program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, 25-27 March 2011.
I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It represents a shift that I hope will become more evident as our new century progresses: a shift from separating matters of soul and spirit — images and practice, the poetic and the well defined, the intuitive and the carefully reasoned — to uniting them... When soul and spirit come together, there is a great healing. These two dimensions, like yin and yang, are the building blocks, the essential dynamics, in everything that is tangible and alive."