Donna's Reviews > Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

Care of the Soul by Thomas  Moore
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's review
Jan 13, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, psychology, religion, classic-books
Read in May, 2006

Amazing, intricate, and deep. I want to own a copy of this so I can re-read it many times. There was far too much for me to take in on the first run-through and I look forward to revisiting this book in the future.


“Ancient psychology, rooted in a very different ground from modern therapeutic thinking, held that the fate and character of each of us is born in mystery, that our individuality is so profound and so hidden that it takes more than a lifetime for identity to emerge. Renaissance doctors said that the essence of each person originates as a star in the heavens. How different this is from the modern view that a person is what he makes himself to be.” [p. 19]

“When love’s sadness visits us, that is Tristan floating on his skiff, trusting and yet moving ever closer to the tragic side of life that redeems his light spirit. It isn’t necessary to take a pill or search out a therapeutic strategy to dismiss the feeling, because to dismiss that feeling is to banish an important soul visitor. The soul apparently needs amorous sadness. It is a form of consciousness that brings its own unique wisdom.” [p. 86]

“When I speak for the soul of poverty, I do not mean one should romanticize poverty as a means of transcending bodily life. Certain forms of spirituality flee the evils of money in favor of transcendence and moral purity. Some people think they should work without receiving any payment. Others like to barter their services, with the intention of avoiding money’s shadow. But poverty, like wealth, can be taken too literally, so that the person escaping money stands lonely outside the community that economics helps to sustain. The desire for wealth, a legitimate element in the soul’s eros, may be lost, along with its joy; or it is repressed and then sneaks back in awkwardness about money or in behind-the-scenes financial wizardry and hoarding. Religions of all denominations demonstrate a remarkable ability, often covert, to raise and invest money. It is not surprising to hear now and then of a highly regarded religious group or leader suddenly exposed for financial scheming, for when the soul of money is denied, it takes on an added measure of shadow.” [ p. 192]

“We have a spiritual longing for community and relatedness and for a cosmic vision, but we go after them with literal hardware instead of with sensitivity of the heart. We want to know all about peoples from far away places, but we don’t want to feel emotionally connected to them. Our passion for anthropological knowledge is paradoxically xenophobic. Therefore, our many studies of world cultures are soulless, replacing the common bonding of humanity and its shared wisdom with bites of information that have no way of getting into us deeply, of nourishing and transforming our sense of ourselves. Soul, of course, has been extracted from the beginning because we conceive education to be about skills and information, not about depth of feeling and imagination.” [p. 208]


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message 1: by Anna (last edited Jan 14, 2008 02:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna Scott Hi Donna,

Without discussing all points, I take your point in quoting p 208; however, as a scholar generally and of anthropology specifically, I have to say that I have been deeply moved by education that has been gently folded into my soul and included in my living of each day.

Sometimes education can provide the bridge for the 'coming to' part of spiritual growth that is a process, not an event.

I found a place where I could share the 'spiritual longing for community and relatedness and for a cosmic vision' at university with people I could share with a 'sensitivity of the heart'. I came to understand (where I had not) 'all about peoples from far away places', which made me 'feel emotionally connected to them' and seeded a desire to travel and spend time with the people and cultures I'd learnt about.

My 'passion for anthropological knowledge' is not xenophobic and my 'studies of world cultures' are soulful rather than 'soulless', and rather than 'replacing the common bonding of humanity and its shared wisdom', it has caused a desire to fellowship in it!

Education has, in my experience, nourished and transfored my sense of self: my soul was included in rather than extracted from education, probably because I did not simply 'conceive [of] education to be just about 'skills and information', instead; for me, it was about 'depth of feeling and imagination'.

My experience and the WAY, I aprehend knowledge is part of my soul, so I suggest that; it is the soul that comes to education, knowldege and the world and the way in which we share, participate and become part of it that is soulful or otherwise, not the education, knowledge or the wolrd at large that is souless : )

I believe it is we who are responsible for what, who and how we participate in every sistuation : )



Donna Beautifully said, Anna, and I agree. I think the practice of anthropology is quite possibly one of the most "soulful" educations out there.

I think Moore's point refers more to the receiving of anthropological "wisdom" by the masses. That the general public craves this information, but doesn't incorporate it into their being, doesn't let it enter their soul. They want to know about distant peoples, but it's superficial, cold, lifeless. They want to read about these societies, but they don't want to really KNOW the individuals. It's a thirst for knowledge, but not a desire to connect with humanity at a deeper level. (I'm not sure I agree with him, but I do think that this is what Moore is getting at.)

Thanks for your comment,


Anna Scott Hi Donna,

I agree ( that's what he's getting at) and am pleased to have received you reply - I suppose it is up to me and the way I practice life, learning and sharing that has the most impact on how other people 'see' and 'hear' something else in what they are seeking to quench their thirst : )

As you seem to agree, it is not knowledge that quenches the thirst; if only more recognised the spirituality in the 'process' of learning, accepting, participating (through good and bad) and loving all the way through - perhaps then, the little oases that exist would be much more plentiful.

Happy days to you Donna,


Donna It's all in what we each bring to the table, isn't it, Anna? We can't change others, we can only change our reaction to them, and continue to lead our own lives in the best way we see fit. We each need to *own* our own needs, wants, and desires. Clearly the need for reaching deeper, for finding the "soul" in the world around us and letting it penetrate our being, is something you and I share.


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