The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life

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In this companion volume to his worldwide bestseller. Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore offers a way of living in this new and confusing century. Drawing on faiths from all over the world, as well as from his own vast well of knowledge and personal experience, Moore shows us how religion can be used to embrace others, rather than exclude them. He helps us become comfortable with our doubts, and reveals a liberating truth -- it is in the dark corners of the soul that true faith is born. Intimate and provocative. ...
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Overview

In this companion volume to his worldwide bestseller. Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore offers a way of living in this new and confusing century. Drawing on faiths from all over the world, as well as from his own vast well of knowledge and personal experience, Moore shows us how religion can be used to embrace others, rather than exclude them. He helps us become comfortable with our doubts, and reveals a liberating truth -- it is in the dark corners of the soul that true faith is born. Intimate and provocative. Moore writes with the compassion of a parent and the wisdom of a true teacher.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore re-imagined the links between religion and psychology. He sees this volume as that book’s necessary and important sequel, one that provides a clear and forthright discussion of the spiritual life. “I write to inspire you, the reader, to radically re-imagine and discover the depths of religion and the subtleties of spirituality,” this former monk affirms. “In each chapter you may see a different aspect of religion, another way to be spiritual and another coloring of the soul.” Unconventional and pithy, The Soul’s Religion begins with one reader.
Publishers Weekly
Publishers are responding to an increased demand for books that can help people lead more meditative lives, and these inventive essay collections will please progressive Christian and New Age readers alike. In The Soul's Religion, Moore's companion volume to his 1992 best seller, Care of the Soul, brief essays by the famed therapist and former monk offer perspectives on the soul-deepening potential of coping with failed relationships, natural disaster, and the fools and saints around us. Moore uses a variety of spiritual traditions, including Zen, Taoism, and Christianity, to show readers how they can enhance their spiritual development. In Bringing God Home, a Unitarian minister and son of former senator Frank Church has crafted a poetic autobiography in the form of brief meditations. Lay people will savor Church's originality as well as his insights from childhood with a famous father, and English teachers will find inspiration for their classrooms in his thoughts on the pilgrimage literature of John Bunyan, Thomas Wolfe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Teasdale's A Monk in the World gives practical tips for enhancing spirituality and promoting social justice. A Hindu monk with a Catholic upbringing, Teasdale teaches at three colleges in the Chicago area. His gentle reflections are punctuated by reminiscences of personal ordeals as well as poignant character sketches of street people. Teasdale's more ambitious The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions has been popular, and his new work should be, too. All three books can be added to larger public libraries, but those that can afford just one should consider purchasing Moore's, which will be in demand owing to the author's widespread popularity. Joyce Smothers, Student, Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Publishers are responding to an increased demand for books that can help people lead more meditative lives, and these inventive essay collections will please progressive Christian and New Age readers alike. In The Soul's Religion, Moore's companion volume to his 1992 best seller, Care of the Soul, brief essays by the famed therapist and former monk offer perspectives on the soul-deepening potential of coping with failed relationships, natural disaster, and the fools and saints around us. Moore uses a variety of spiritual traditions, including Zen, Taoism, and Christianity, to show readers how they can enhance their spiritual development. In Bringing God Home, a Unitarian minister and son of former senator Frank Church has crafted a poetic autobiography in the form of brief meditations. Lay people will savor Church's originality as well as his insights from childhood with a famous father, and English teachers will find inspiration for their classrooms in his thoughts on the pilgrimage literature of John Bunyan, Thomas Wolfe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Teasdale's A Monk in the World gives practical tips for enhancing spirituality and promoting social justice. A Hindu monk with a Catholic upbringing, Teasdale teaches at three colleges in the Chicago area. His gentle reflections are punctuated by reminiscences of personal ordeals as well as poignant character sketches of street people. Teasdale's more ambitious The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions has been popular, and his new work should be, too. All three books can be added to larger public libraries, but those that can afford just one should consider purchasing Moore's, which will be in demand owing to the author's widespread popularity. Joyce Smothers, Student, Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402506178
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 9 cassettes, 735 minutes

Meet the Author

Thomas Moore was a monk in a Catholic religious order for twelve years and has degrees in theology, musicology, and philosophy. A former professor of psychology, he is the author of Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, The Education of the Heart, The Soul of Sex, and Original Self. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

A Hole in the Sky
Now he thought,
There should be a sky over their heads,
So they can look up at it.
Seneca creation story

As people who like to fill our minds with facts and our lives with things, we may find it difficult to cultivate emptiness, which is both an intellectual and an emotional openness. But spiritual emptiness is not literal nothingness. It's an attitude of nonattachment in which we resist the temptation to cling to our points of view. This kind of emptiness, confident but never certain, gives us the room to be flexible and self-aware. The religions are filled with symbols for it even if they don't always put it into practice.

It was raining the day I first saw the Pantheon in Rome. My wife and I stood in the cool, damp air and marveled at the oculus or "eye" in the top of the temple 140 feet above the plain stone floor. The emperor Hadrian is responsible for the current shape of the building. It is said that he wanted the hole in the top to reveal the sky so the temple could mirror the human condition of being both exposed to the infinite universe and enclosed in its own shelter. Nathaniel Hawthorne referred to the hole in the dome as "the pathway of heaven's radiance."

When I looked up at the circular opening in the roof, I thought I saw a key to the meaning of religion: a courageous, openhearted appreciation for the mystery that surrounds, permeates, and stands at the center of our lives. Our sciences and technologies approach life as a problem to be solved. Religion goes in the opposite direction: it grants mystery its eternal validity and, rather than solving it, looks for ways to contemplate it and give it honor. While science tries to fill in all the holes in human knowledge, religion celebrates empty spaces and makes them a model and an ideal.

The oculus of the temple, focusing the divine eye that is the sky, mirrors a certain emptiness in our intelligence. Without it, all is lost, because mystery is the heart of religion. People who don't understand this essential point cover over their anxiety about meaning with beliefs that are naïve and extreme. Today, for example, caught up in the spirit of the times, people try to prove that prayer works by making scientific studies. Traditional religious societies don't need such proof. They pray no matter what. They believe not because of evidence but because of their reverence for tradition and their own spiritual insight.

Real faith is rooted in a basic ignorance about ultimate things, and religion helps us to be in relation to that mystery. This kind of ignorance can offer calm or create anxiety, depending on a person's faith. Often people fill in this emptiness by insisting that they possess the truth. The fragility of their faith is betrayed by their strident insistence on being right and by their efforts to force their views on others. They seem afraid of the very things that define religion: mystery and trust.

As I stood under the oculus of the Pantheon, for a moment I thought I could see lines extending from my eye, through the oculus of the building, and out into the sky. My own was the smallest and least significant of these eyes. I recalled the famous words of Meister Eckhart, "The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me," and Nicholas of Cusa's point that the name of God, theos in Greek, means to see, because God "looks on all things."

To be is to be seen, and to be seen is to feel the weight of existence. We need to be seen by our friends and our communities. But we also need to be seen absolutely, to know that our lives are not lived in a vacuum of meaning. We have to know that the oculus of our temple and of the sky is real and that we live in relation to an absolute eye that regards us with interest and affection. It is not impossible for a sophisticated modern man or woman to look into the sky and, in a certain manner, behold angels and a trace of divinity.

The native people who live in the Great Lakes region, where I grew up, are taught by their shamans about this oculus, which they see represented in the Pleiades constellation and in the hole at the top of the shaman's lodge. The anthropologist Thor Conway says that these people believe there is a hole in the sky, to which they give a sacred name: Behgonay Ghizig. Through the hole in the lodge and the doorway of the Pleiades the soul can take flight and communicate with the heavens. The tragedy of modern times is that we have closed off that opening with our facts and our measurements. We have no means of spiritual communication.

In their stories of emergence the Hopi pueblo people of the American Southwest tell of a similar doorway. At their first appearance, in the time of dark purple light, the people had moisture on their foreheads and a soft spot at the top of their heads. Eventually this soft spot hardened, but occasionally they can open it like a door and make themselves available to the influence of the spirit world. As they were drifting on the water looking for a livable fourth world, "not knowing what to do, the people stopped paddling, opened the doors on top of their heads, and let themselves be guided."

This story tells how we can find direction in life by emptying ourselves of intention and goals. Anyone can -- figuratively, of course -- open the door of his head and be guided. This kind of emptiness is an aspect of faith, a calm ignorance coupled with trust, neither naïve...

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Table of Contents

Introduction xv
I Emptiness
1. A Hole in the Sky 5
2. The Empty Self 10
3. Holy Ignorance 17
II Mystery
4. To Believe Is to Love 27
5. Unbelief Is as Important as Belief 34
6. Keeping the Mysteries 38
7. Faith Begins in Ordinary Trust 43
III Alchemy
8. Flying Lessons 53
9. The Fortunate Fall 60
10. Down and Within 67
11. The Spirit of the Bottoms 73
IV Ordeal
12. The Way of Disintegration 83
13. Sweet Suffering 90
14. Spiritual Anger 97
15. Unearthing the Gold 107
16. The Beauty of Imperfection 115
17. Spirituality by Ordeal 119
18. All Human Problems Are Spiritual 124
V God
19. The Unnameable 131
20. Jesus the Imagination 137
21. Taking Angels Seriously 144
22. The Hidden God Is a Personal God 149
VI Romance
23. The Romance of Religion 159
24. Eternal Maiden 166
25. Venerating Images 172
26. Nature Spirituality 181
27. Dream Practice 188
28. The Sacred Irrational 195
VII A Holy Life
29. In Every Sacrifice, God Is Born 207
30. Ethics: A Way to Spirit 213
31. The Inner Life of Rice 221
32. Sensing the Holy 227
33. Religious Eroticism 234
VIII Practice
34. Crafting a Soul 243
35. An Instinct for Prayer 248
36. Finding a Teacher Who Knows Not to Teach 255
37. Deepening the Meaning of Church 263
38. Transparent Tradition 270
39. Secular Holiness 275
40. Eternal Life 283
Index 289
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