Cover image for A field guide to the soul : a down-to-earth handbook of spiritual practice
A field guide to the soul : a down-to-earth handbook of spiritual practice
Thornton, James, 1954-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bell Tower, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 270 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL624 .T465 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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After a career as one of the nation's top  environmental lawyers, James Thornton spent  several years on retreat, culminating in a meeting with the Dalai Lama, who asked him to teach a path of integration and wholeness.          InA Field Guide to the Soul, Thornton leads us through a series of contemplative exercises designed to clarify the body, mind, and heart, and make a deep connection with the wisdom encoded in the natural world. His nature writing is joyously lyrical; the book as a whole is immensely practical, drawing on Jungian psychology, and Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian teachings, to give us the tools to work for the benefit of all living beings.          At a time when people are desperate to make some sense of their lives, Thornton shows us how to embark on our own hero's journey. Only by taking full responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions can we bring about the revolution in consciousness that is so vital today. In order to discover how to care for the Earth and all its inhabitants, we must first learn how to care for ourselves. Here is a practical manual that shows us the way.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Thornton, an environmental lawyer, has written a primer on meditative practice with a naturalist bent. It's neatly divided into three main sections: "The Way of the Mind," with a focus on silence, stillness, and awareness; "The Way of the Heart," with a focus on invocation, welcoming, and offering; and "The Way of Action," with a focus on simple needs and humility. Toward the end, the author serves up spiritual exercises. Admittedly, Thornton's penchant for elaborate nature metaphors calls to mind the style of Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts (1992)--and despite the down-to-earth promise of the book's subtitle, it's not always easy to identify with an author who dances alone on a mountaintop and records, in actual quotes, conversations with waterfalls and caterpillars. But Thornton's constant emphasis on "absolute sincerity," personal responsibility, and the choice to be "fully present," as well as his use of certain repeated phrases ("I am the landscape, not the storm"), help to make the journey through the forest ultimately worthwhile. --James Klise

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a fast-paced world, the body often outruns the soul, leaving the latter panting for nourishment. Drawing on Jungian psychology and Buddhist and Christian spiritual practices, former environmental lawyer Thornton offers a guide to bringing the soul sustenance. He contends that there are three ways of awakening the soul. The "way of the mind," says Thornton, instructs us in using our inner silence to rid ourselves of stress and to focus on our creativity. The "way of the heart" leads us into the "forests of our hearts to meet the beasts that dwell in them." According to the author, following the way of the heart taps into our deepest emotions and enables us to experience the heights of mystical rapture. The "way of action" emphasizes the ways we relate to the world around us. Following the "way of action" places us at the center of the natural world and fosters ecological awareness and sensitivity, making us "homogaians." Although Thornton strives for new insights in these brief meditations and exercises, this volume of quasi-spiritual pop psychology joins already overburdened shelves. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved