Saturday, January 06, 2007

The family's love as a backdrop for relationships

A parent asks Thomas Moore about our understanding of love, to help a daughter navigate her close relationships. Moore responds with "The Illusion of 'Unconditional' Love" for Beliefnet and suggests,
"You could imagine love as made up of unconditional and conditional components, but the truth is, I don't like to use these words. "Unconditional" suggests perfection--not the human condition. Let's try "open" and "undefensive" love. You can find such love with people today, but it will always be mixed up with some hesitation, holding back, and illusion.

Love is dynamic. It can keep getting better as people get to know each other. But that implies that it's not perfect in its beginnings. It needs room to grow.

This kind of realistic, imperfect, growing love is much better than the extreme romanticism of pulp novels. Realism adds to the pleasure, because when you acknowledge the holes and dents, your love isn't threatened by illusions of perfection."
Read Moore's full answer and add your comments to the discussion area.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Feeling at home wherever we are in the world

A cached copy of Moore's article in Resurgence magazine,"We need to bring the spirit of home into public places" is available on the shopping site Natural Collection. In this piece, Moore touches on home, homesickness, and homelessness. He says,
"'Home' is archetypal. That means it is not only about the childhood household or the house in which you live as an adult. It’s the more subtle sense that you are in a place where you can sleep easy and where the need for movement finds a little respite. There your soul finds rest and the feeling that it is where it belongs. The heart always needs to be at home, no matter where the rest of the body is. Even when you’re travelling or at work you may crave a taste of home."

Moore admits, "I also find that hotels often give me the buzz of home I need. People are surprised when I tell them that. How could a commercial hotel be satisfying to a man who writes about the soul? Maybe it’s because I love solitude, which for me is part of home. I may feel more at home in a big hotel than in the cosy house of someone who puts me up."

He also acknowledges that workplaces may exude sterility and an unwelcoming atmosphere, "The abstract lines and shapes of modern office buildings seem to portray a departure from home, maybe even a rejection. In glassy, angular, cool and marble buildings you may not be inclined to think of a worker’s family, or the role of friendship on the job, or a soulful place for a bite to eat. There, you may eat in a miserable lunch-room, windowless and decorated with a wall of dispensing machines and messy, uncivil piles of cheap napkins and plastic cutlery."

While suggesting that a sensitive approach "applies to hospitals, office buildings, clinics and schools. They don’t have to look like homes – no sentimentalising and romanticising of this idea – but concretely they can have some home spirit in them," Moore appreciates the shadow associations some may have with home.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What are the characteristics of true leadership?

"The Spirituality in Leadership" in Spirituality & Health's November-December 2006 issue is available in the magazine's archives. In this Care of the Soul column, Thomas Moore answers,"How can we turn around today's self-destructive pattern of leadership?" by concluding,
We can shed the narcissistic secularity of the times and step outside the circle of self-regard that contains us. Parents can take on the joys and the weight of their spiritual calling and help their children sort out their values and find their active place in a needy society. Teachers can understand that theirs is a spiritual calling: They are not just imparting information but initiating children into a world where they will be leaders in their own ways. Businesspeople can see that in a materialistic approach to society, their efforts are merely for money, self-advancement, and personal success. If they can appreciate the spirituality in their daily work, they might enjoy a position of leadership where they can contribute directly to a society of peace, equality, and security.
We followers, members of the community, can go all out in honoring those who demonstrate spiritual vision and a big soul. We can also voice our concern when leaders fail in that vision and immaturely confuse personal gain with the joy of community. In other words, you — whoever you are — have a spiritual calling. You have a role in your family and community to lead with a big vision and deep values, not with ideological moralism. It does little good to wait for a leader like Gandhi or Martin Luther King. You can begin today to lead with wide open and transcendent vision, deep ethics, and tender compassion. You can also encourage your leaders to do the same, transforming self-interest into radical care for every person, every being, and the planet itself. Anything less is not worthy of being called leadership in a time of urgent need and threat to life.”
Thomas Moore's column for January-February 2007, which will be available at the end of February, is titled, "Growing through Grief."