Monday, January 19, 2009

"Living without enemies" is a challenge

"Loving your enemies is not an instant achievement or a remote ideal. It is an ongoing process with varying degrees of perfection. And it's hard work, requiring patience and tenacity."
― Thomas Moore

Read "Walk with Your Enemy", a piece by Thomas Moore in Life Positive, October 2005. In this contribution, Moore writes,
"It's the business of religion to turn things upside down. Indeed, the proper language of religion is paradox. Many people think of spirituality as a higher level of the world they know, but the traditions teach that as a person matures, he has to learn about the opposite side of everything he has come to understand. Jesus suggests that the poor are the really rich ones. And according to current Biblical scholars, the story of the Good Samaritan is not just about seeing your neighbor in someone from another culture or race. It shows that the most unlikely and despised people, not we spiritual types, may be the very ones practicing spiritual ideals like compassion. In religion, the whole world is upside down."
"The paradoxes of religion and the spiritual traditions are not just intellectual surprises; they are a challenge for you to move in a direction that may be far different from the one you know and love. They ask you to have it in mind to consider the opposite of what may seem common sense, or the opposite to what has identified you for years. The flipping over of your vision, metanoia, may be the most difficult thing in life."
Moore’s new book Writing in the Sand, about the soul of the Gospels, will be released in May 2009.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Church is a vision of values and actions

For Spirituality and Health's last issue of 2008, Thomas Moore writes about his decision to leave the monastic Servite order when he was twenty-five years old, in "Leaving the Church?".
"Forty years have passed since that morning of decision, and I have tried to follow the monastic ideals in my own way. I continue to enrich my layperson married writer’s life with the Servite spirit. But little by little, all that religion has become invisible in my life and personality. If you looked closely at me and my life, you wouldn’t see the things that typically identify a religious person, but in my own view I am more Catholic, more religious, and more spiritual than ever.

So, it seems that I didn’t leave the order that morning, nor did I leave the Church. On the contrary, I have been moving farther into it. Today, I lecture and give sermons in churches of every denomination. The Church is not a building, not a creed, not a membership, not an authority, not even a community, unless it is the community of all beings. It’s a vision, expressed in values and action, shared with the entire world.

Being in the Church and maintaining the monastic spirit in my life means being more engaged with life itself, more connected to the community of the world, and catholic — meaning universal, openly engaged in every moment, in every place, with every thing. I know that I have not created this path. It was laid out there for me from the beginning. I had only to accept the invitation to follow it. I know it isn’t for everyone, probably for very few. I haven’t the slightest need to convert anyone to it. I don’t even understand it."
Moore concludes, "I thank God for the gift of being invited one fateful autumn day into a bigger world and a larger sense of religion."

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Practise imaginative therapies for conflicts

Today, Thomas Moore adds the post "Therapy for World Politics" to his Psychology Today blog, Care of the Soul. He advocates that doctors and psychologists voice solutions to environmental degradation and world conflicts. After observing:
"One of our problems is that we are so numb to violence that we assume it is the natural way to deal with international conflicts. A first step toward sanity might be to imagine alternative strategies. I am aware that many groups of professionals are already working hard at such strategies, but if a fresh imagination were to come from the realm of psychology, it might have special effect."
Moore offers seven questions to groups considering alternatives. He concludes:
"Unless psychology engages these difficult questions of the real world, it is left with what Sandor Fereczi might label "masturbatory activities." We take pleasure in playing idly with our own toys and our own body of interests. It's time to break through the shell and take on the world with the insights of our profession."
Read Moore's post and contribute answers to his thoughtful questions.