Author and psychotherapist Thomas Moore was recently interviewed by Jim Walsh for my Minneapolis neighborhood paper, the Southwest Journal.
In this interview, Moore (author of the spiritual classic Care of the Soul and the recently released Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy) shares his thoughts on, in Walsh's words, "the somewhat ephemeral notion of soul."
I share today Moore's understanding of soul. His words are accompanied by some of my photography of the urban wilderness around Minnehaha Creek, close to my home in south Minneapolis.
Soul refers to our mysterious depth and substance, what remains after medicine and psychology have analyzed and explained us. It is a profound sense of self, far beyond what they call ego, and it helps us connect with others. The soul offers a strong sense of identity and individuality, but at the same time it includes a felt awareness of being part of humanity [and all of creation, I'd contend]. In some mysterious way we and others share an experience of what it is to be human, and we do this so deeply that, according to many traditional accounts, we share one soul.
. . . I've always felt that a good way to get soul is through loss, and in failure. Soul comes more from having something taken from you than being given something. . . . I don't want to say it's unimportant to gain knowledge and have god experiences and make friends and all of these positive things, which are important. Bt life itself, at least half of it for most of us, is loss and failure. So I think to be a human being, you have to be able to handle both and see that they're mixed up with each other together and don't separate them. That allows you to be who you are. You're not your real self if you avoid or just ignore and leave out the bad times. Because they do things for you, too. The bad times [have the potential to] really make us more ourselves and bring out our capacity and power and personalities more than the good times. Good times tend to be surrounded by unconsciousness; you don't think much about them.
But when you're going through something that's challenging, you have to sort everything out. You have to have deep conversations with friends and family members [and with yourself, I'd also say]. You don't do that when you're just having a good time. So there's something about the disturbance of life that encourages reflection. . . . All of us have experiences of various loss, making mistakes, and you really have to process them and talk them through and look at them closely.
These days, I'm talking about soul in terms of the aging process. And by that I don't mean just getting older, I mean becoming somebody. That aging is [is all about] going through experiences that make you into a real person and bring out your potential and your individuality.
– Thomas Moore
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Soul Deep
• The Soul of a Dancer
• The Soul of My Love
• In the Garden of Spirituality – Andrew Harvey
• The Source Is Within You
• "Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
• Called to the Field of Compassion to Be Both Prophet and Mystic
• The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All
• Autumn, Within and Beyond
• Photo of the Day – November 9, 2017
• Autumn By the Creek
• The Prayer Tree
Images: Michael J. Bayly.