Cover image for The soul's religion : cultivating a profoundly spiritual way of life
The soul's religion : cultivating a profoundly spiritual way of life
Moore, Thomas, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
xx, 297 pages ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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BL624 .M66445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M66445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BL624 .M66445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M66445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M66445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This long-awaited companion volume to the bestselling Care of the Soul, is Thomas Moore at his most provocative, celebrating the mystery of the spiritual and rejecting simplistic paths to religious vision.

In The Soul's Religion Moore goes beyond the precepts of tradition and external religious practice to show how readers can find the spirit moving in everyday life. In this challenging and comprehensive revisioning of religion and spirituality, Moore provokes the reader to reimagine how a rich and personal spiritual life can be within the grasp of every seeker.

Author Notes

Thomas Moore was born May 28, 1779, in Dublin. Moore entered Trinity College in 1794, even though he was Roman Catholic, on the college rolls he was listed as Protestant. Moore's friend and classmate Robert Emmet, was a member of the United Irishmen, a group dedicated to freeing Ireland from the English. Emmet's involvement in various rebellions and his subsequent execution, recur in Moore's work. Moore managed to stay in favor with the English, while writing in favour of Irish independence and produced some severely critical works about the treatment of the Irish peasants by their landlords.

In 1799, Moore went to England to study law. He became a social success in London, due in part to his friendship with the earl of Moira. This led to the publication of the translated Odes of Anacreon, dedicated to the Prince of Wales. In 1803, Lord Moira's influence arranged a post for Moore in Bermuda, but he appointed a deputy soon after his arrival there, toured America and Canada, writing poetry all the way and returned to England to publish the work.

Moore was a well-known singer, and his publisher suggested a book of Irish songs to the music of Sir John Stevenson. The Irish Ballads were a resounding success, and paid well for the next 25 years. Another successful field for Moore was political satire and his main target was his former patron, the Prince Regent. Moore became friends with Lord Byron and the two corresponded constantly. They played off of each other until Byron's death, where upon Moore became the executor of Byron's Memoirs.

In 1835, Moore was granted a Civil List pension, which equaled £300 a year. He was also elected to the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1842, he received the Order of Merit from Frederick the Great of Prussia. Moore lapsed into senile dementia in in 1849 and died a few years later on February 25, 1852.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this companion to his biggest best-seller, Care of the Soul (1992), Moore focuses on spirituality and its many aspects. In personal anecdotes and thoughtful meditations, he explores spirituality not as a form of escape but as a way to appreciate the moral complexity of human life. An important theme throughout is suffering. The question to ask about it, he suggests, isn't why we suffer but how we should respond to suffering. Former therapist Moore knows that life, and certainly the spiritual life, cannot be approached in simple black-and-white terms. If the trend today is to view spirituality as something sweet and ineffable, then Moore takes the opposite tack, encouraging readers to acknowledge the power and accept the shadow side of spirituality. Lamenting the loss of religion as a way of life, he advocates a form of secular holiness, of linking the spiritual and the secular, as an ultimate antidote to the "soulless secularism" that he sees enveloping modern people. In toto, his new book is a rich, nuanced reflection on what it means to be human and a sophisticated look at early-twenty-first-century spiritual malaise. Moore neither coddles the ego nor offers fast and easy solutions to life's problems but instead encourages being open to mystery. --June Sawyers

Publisher's Weekly Review

Moore's long-awaited companion volume to his popular 1992 book, Care of the Soul, delves into religion as a way of enhancing the life of the soul. A former monk and therapist, Moore reimagines religion not as a set of beliefs or a strict moral code, but as a romantic adventure. He draws heavily on his background in world religions, calling upon sources as diverse as poet Emily Dickinson, Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. The result is not a frothy mixture of spiritual comfort and pat answers, but a thoughtful guidebook for seekers willing to go beyond instant messaging in their religious journeys and do their own work. Moore expresses some impatience with the "new spirituality" that has cropped up on the talk-show circuit with its "glowing, bloated terminology." But he clearly offers another way one in which ignorance can be holy, unbelief is as important as belief and "God is as much in the mess as in the beauty." In this collection of short essays, Moore is provocative, yet respectful of traditional religion. His thoughts are not always wrapped tightly or arranged in an easy flow, but he never creates the expectation that they will be, depicting himself more as a fellow explorer than an all-knowing guru. Readers involved in traditional religious structures may not agree with all of Moore's ideas, but they cannot fail to be challenged by them, as will independent spiritual travelers who have forged their own paths. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Finding how the spirit moves you; from the author of the best-selling Care of the Soul. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Soul's Religion Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life Chapter One 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... The Soul's Religion Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life . Copyright © by Thomas Moore. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Soul's Religion: Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life by Thomas Moore All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xv
I Emptiness
1. A Hole in the Skyp. 7
2. The Empty Selfp. 14
3. Holy Ignorancep. 25
II Mystery
4. To Believe Is to Lovep. 43
5. Unbelief Is as Important as Beliefp. 54
6. Keeping the Mysteriesp. 61
7. Faith Begins in Ordinary Trustp. 69
III Alchemy
8. Flying Lessonsp. 85
9. The Fortunate Fallp. 96
10. Down and Withinp. 108
11. The Spirit of the Bottomsp. 118
IV Ordeal
12. The Way of Disintegrationp. 131
13. Sweet Sufferingp. 143
14. Spiritual Angerp. 155
15. Unearthing the Goldp. 171
16. The Beauty of Imperfectionp. 184
17. Spirituality by Ordealp. 190
18. All Human Problems Are Spiritualp. 199
V God
19. The Unnameablep. 211
20. Jesus the Imaginationp. 220
21. Taking Angels Seriouslyp. 231
22. The Hidden God Is a Personal Godp. 239
VI Romance
23. The Romance of Religionp. 255
24. Eternal Maidenp. 266
25. Venerating Imagesp. 276
26. Nature Spiritualityp. 290
27. Dream Practicep. 301
28. The Sacred Irrationalp. 313
VII A Holy Life
29. In Every Sacrifice, God Is Bornp. 329
30. Ethics: A Way to Spiritp. 338
31. The Inner Life of Ricep. 350
32. Sensing the Holyp. 360
33. Religious Eroticismp. 371
VIII Practice
34. Crafting a Soulp. 383
35. An Instinct for Prayerp. 391
36. Finding a Teacher Who Knows Not to Teachp. 402
37. Deepening the Meaning of Churchp. 415
38. Transparent Traditionp. 427
39. Secular Holinessp. 435
40. Eternal Lifep. 448
Indexp. 457