Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship

Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship

by Thomas Moore

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This companion volume to Care of the Soul offers more of Thomas Moore's inspiring wisdom and empathy as it expands on his ideas about life, love, and the mysteries of human relationships.

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore explored the importance of nurturing the soul and struck a chord nationwide—the book became a long-term bestseller,


This companion volume to Care of the Soul offers more of Thomas Moore's inspiring wisdom and empathy as it expands on his ideas about life, love, and the mysteries of human relationships.

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore explored the importance of nurturing the soul and struck a chord nationwide—the book became a long-term bestseller, topping charts across the country.

Building on that book's wisdom, Soul Mates explores how relationships of all kinds enhance our lives and fulfill the needs of our souls. Moore emphasizes the difficulties that inevitably accompany many relationships and focuses on the need to work through these differences in order to experience the deep reward that comes with intimacy and unconfined love.

Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
In richly textured and shaded prose, he evokes mythology, poetry and sacred and philosophical traditions to speak not to our agendas but to our souls.
New Woman
I devoured Soul Mates like some comfort food for the spirit . . . Mooremoves love off the fast track and into the realm of mystery and imagination where it belongs.
Detroit News
An eloquent, passionate, often mystical exploration of how we meremortals might better understand ourselves and others in a late-20thcentury society in which so much emphasis is placed on interpersonal dynamics and so little on introspection, care, grace, gratitude and honor.
New Orleans Times Picayune
[Moore] delights in plainness, things imperfect, ragged edges, loose ends, failures, flops, incompletions, annoyances, dissatisfactions. The comfort he offers is that in such shortfalls from ultimacy and salvation, we may find our richest reality. The soul's fertility is slow and organic.
Kirkus Reviews
More spiritual self-help from the author of the bestselling Care of the Soul (1992—not reviewed), this time focusing on relationships among spouses, family, and friends. Moore occupies a middle ground in the thriving subgenre of pop-psych/religion books: less jargon-infested than John Bradford but sometimes as platitudinous (urging "the importance of being individuals" and proclaiming that "every relationship calls for a unique response"); less anecdotal and less penetrating than the master of the form, M. Scott Peck. Perhaps his most notable achievement has been to turn "soul" into a buzzword, never defined but apparently synonymous with "psyche." Here, Moore tackles soul-to-soul relations, drawing from mythology, theology, literature (from Plato to Emily Dickinson), his own life, experiences of patients in psychotherapy, and the writings of Marsilio Ficino, a 15th-century Florentine thinker. Predictably, Moore counsels people to court imagination and feelings and to beware of excessive rationality. The shoptalk is neo-Jungian, as filtered through James Hillman and other modern depth psychologists. The practical advice—write letters to, and strike up conversations with, friends; tell your spouse your dreams; forgive your parents; guide your children, and so on—is innocuous and may well be helpful. But by far the most invigorating moments come when Moore swims against the tide of current opinion by declaring marriage "a sacred symbolic act," rather than a financial or social convenience, and by upholding the ancient virtues of chastity and obedience. Underneath the pop-psych sheen lies a devout traditionalist, which may explain Moore's great success. There's nomystery about where this one is heading: right on to the bestseller lists.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


When we consider the soul of relationship, unexpected factors come into view. In its deepest nature, for example, the soul involves itself in the stuff of this world, both people and objects. It loves attachments of all kinds—to places, ideas, times, historical figures and periods, things, words, sounds, and settings—and if we are going to examine relationship in the soul, we have to take into account the wide range of its loves and inclinations. Yet even though the soul sinks luxuriantly into its attachments, something in it also moves in a different direction. Something valid and necessary takes flight when it senses deep attachment, and this flight also seems so deeply rooted as to be an honest expression of soul. Our ultimate goal is to find ways to embrace both attachment and resistance to attachment, and the only way to that reconciliation of opposites is to dig deeply into the nature of each. As with all matters of soul, it is in honoring its impulses that we find our way best into its mysteries.


The soul manifests its innate tendency toward attachment in many ways. One way is a penchant for the past and a resistance to change. A particularly soulful person might turn down a good job offer, for example, because he doesn't want to move from his home town. The soulfulness of this decision is fairly clear: ties to friends, family, buildings, and a familiar landscape come from the heart, and honoring them may be more important for a soulful life than following exciting ideas and possibilities that are rooted in some other part of ournature.

A radically attached person may lead a sedate life because he seldom likes to leave home; he may even decide not to buy an automobile for that very reason. Many writers and artists have exhibited this soulful orientation away from worldly activity. Emily Dickinson, for example, spent her entire mature life at her family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. In a letter of 1851 to her brother Austin she wrote, "Home is a holy thing—nothing of doubt or distrust can enter its blessed portals . . . Here seems indeed to be a bit of Eden which not the sin of any can utterly destroy."1 Samuel Beckett was notorious for his love of his sparse apartment and for his resistance to the world. "All I want to do, " he once said early in his career, "is sit on my ass and fart and think of Dante."2

C. G. Jung said that the soul itself is fundamentally oriented toward life—the soul, he said, is the archetype of life—while the search for meaning or the quest for higher consciousness has some other root. The soul finds its home in the ordinary details of everyday life and does not in itself have an urgent need for understanding or achievement. James Hillman, Jung's unorthodox follower, picks up on Jung's distinction between soul and spirit, saying that soul resides in the valleys of life and not on the peaks of intellectual, spiritual, or technological efforts. In his essay on this theme, "Peaks and Vales," Hillman writes that the soul is the psyche's actual life, including "the present mess it is in, its discontent, dishonesties, and thrilling illusions."' Something in us—tradition calls it spirit4—wants to transcend these messy conditions of actual life to find some blissful or at least brighter experience, or an expression of meaning that will take us away intellectually from the quagmire of actual existence. When the soul does rise above the conditions of ordinary life into meaning and healing, it hovers closely and floats; it doesn't soar. Its mode of reflection is reverie rather than intellectual analysis, and its process of healing takes place amid the everyday flux of mood, the ups and downs of emotions, and the certain knowledge that there is no ultimate healing: death is an eternal presence for the soul.

By definition, the soul is attached to life in all its particulars. It prefers relatedness to distancing. From the point of view of the soul, meaningfulness and value rise directly out of experience, or from the images and memories that issue modestly and immediately out of ordinary life. The soul's intelligence may not arrive through rational analysis but through a long period of rumination, and its goal may not be brilliant understanding and unassallable truth, but rather profound insight and abiding wisdom.

This penchant of the soul for the complications of life plays a role in personal relationships, our ultimate theme in this book. Relatedness means staying in life, even when it becomes complicated and when meaning and clarity are elusive. It means living with the particular individuals who come into our lives, and not only with our ideals and images of the perfect mate or the perfect family. On the other hand, honoring the particular in our lives also means making the separations, divorces, and endings that the soul requires. The soul is always attached to what is actually happening, not necessarily to what could be or will be.

Dreams, which have much to teach us about the nature of the soul, sometimes portray our many ways of being attached to the past. They may take us back to places we once visited or where we lived long ago. A dreamer may begin telling his dream by saying, "I was in the bedroom of the house where I grew up, and some of my favorite dolls were gathered around me." People will sometimes say, "I've tried to put this divorce behind me, but in spite of my wishes I find myself dreaming of my former husband." The soul is inclined toward the past rather than the future, toward attachment to people, places, and events rather than detachment, and so it is not quick to move on.

Meet the Author

Thomas Moore is the author of the bestselling Care of the Soul and twenty other books on spirituality and depth psychology that have been translated into thirty languages. He has been practicing depth psychotherapy for thirty-five years. He lectures and gives workshops in several countries on depth spirituality, soulful medicine, and psychotherapy. He has been a monk and a university professor, and is a consultant for organizations and spiritual leaders. He has often been on television and radio, most recently on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday.

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