Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Moore

American Contemporary Author, Catholic Monk, Lecturer on Archetypal Psychology, Mythology and Imagination, Psychotherapist, best known for "Care of the Soul"

"A soul-oriented spirituality begins in a reevaluation of the qualities of soul: subtlety, complexity, ripening, worldliness, incompleteness, ambiguity, wonder."

"Defensive morality is not the genuine article - it’s self-protective and narcissistic, shallow and stagnant. We need a deep-seated, imaginative, constantly deepening moral sensitivity; defensive moralism not only thwarts the soul’s thirst for pleasure, it also precludes a truly guiding morality founded in wisdom."

"If we could loosen our grip on the functionality of life and let ourselves be arrested by the imaginal richness that surrounds all objects, natural and human-made, we might ground our secular attitudes in a religious sensibility and give ordinary life soul."

""Psychological modernism," an uncritical acceptance of the values of the modern world. It includes blind faith in technology, inordinate attachment to material gadgets and conveniences, uncritical acceptance of the march of scientific progress, devotion to the electronic media, and a life-style dictated by advertising. This orientation toward life also tends toward a mechanistic and rationalistic understanding of matters of the heart."

"Growing old is one of the ways the soul nudges itself into attention to the spiritual aspect of life. The body's changes teach us about fate, time, nature, mortality, and character. Aging forces us to decide what is important in life."

"Faith is a gift of spirit that allows the soul to remain attached to its own unfolding. When faith is soulful, it is always planted in the soil of wonder and questioning."

"Friendship is not essentially a union of personalities, it is an attraction and magnetism of souls."

"Guilt blunts sensitivity, it doesn’t sharpen it. Only by fully embracing the shadows of love and closeness can we be capable of any genuine union of souls."

"If we can get past various fundamentalist attitudes about the spiritual life, such as attachment to a too simple code of morality, fixed interpretations of stories, and a community in which individual thinking is not prized, then many different ways of being spiritual come into view. We may discover that there are ways to be spiritual that do not counter the soul's need for body, individuality, imagination and exploration. Eventually we might find that all emotions, all human activities, and all spheres of life have deep roots in the mysteries of the soul, and therefore are holy."

"If we can find the whole world in a grain of sand, we can also find the soul itself at the small point in life where destines cross and hearts intermingle."

"In everyday life there are always opportunities to honor both separateness and togetherness."

"Loss of love and intimacy can be a profound form of initiation. Paradoxically, initiation means beginning, and yet the most powerful initiations always involve some sort of death."

"It is not possible to care for the soul while violating or disregarding one's own moral sensibility"

"Love is an alchemical process in which we are the material to be transmuted. And all love invokes one or another divinity who gives love its fathomless depth."

"Love is not only about the relationship between two people, it is an affair of the soul that embraces everything of importance to the soul, some of which may have nothing directly to do with the relationship."

"Obsessive, but not genuine self-love leaves no room for intimacy with another."

"Relationship is not a project, it is a grace."

"Our ancestors gives us something irreplaceable and precious in their relationship to us. They are truly our links with the eternal."

"Our ideas about life inevitably shape its structure, and, because they are usually too simple, it is wise to reflect on them... simple life axioms... The first is afraid of failure, yet it is surely impossible to have love in your life at all without the possibility of its loss. The second is afraid of self-revelation and vulnerability, and yet how can there be love without an opening of the heart and considerable emotional risk? The third is afraid of mortal love - the knowledge that although love itself may be eternal, the people who love are faced with the inevitable separation of death."

"Religion in the deepest sense takes shape as we learn through pain and loss that the creativity we exercise over our lives is finite, a mere participation in a greater creative act."

"Our ultimate goal is to find ways to embrace both attachment and resistance to attachment, and the only way to that reconciliation of opposites is to dig deeply into the nature of each."

"Remember, soul appears most easily in those places where we feel most inferior."

"Soul usually thwarts the ego at every step."

"Some authors today argue that romantic love is such an illusion that we need to distrust it and keep our wits about us so that we are not led astray. But warnings like this betray a distrust of the soul. We may need to be cured by love of our attachment to life without fantasy. Maybe one function of love is to cure us of an anemic imagination, a life emptied of romantic attachment and abandoned to reason. Love releases us into the realm of divine imagination, where the soul is expanded and reminded of its unearthly cravings and needs. We think that when a lover inflates his loved one he is failing to acknowledge her flaws - "Love is blind." But it may be the other way around. Love allows a person to see the true angelic nature of another person, the halo, the aureole of divinity."

"Suppleness is an extremely important quality of soul... When you find tolerance in yourself for the competing demands of the soul, life becomes more complicated, but also more interesting. An example might be the contradictory needs of solitude and social life."

"Symptoms are transformed by imagination."

"The ending of a relationship is as mysterious as its beginning... We tend to look for rational causes and to blame one of the parties for committing the crime of ending. Fate and its important relationship to the soul are forgotten... The soul in a relationship is not only contained in each individual, it is also contained in the relationship itself."

"The person who cannot listen cannot converse."

"The heart has its own reasons... The heart is a mystery - not a puzzle that can’t be solved, but a mystery in the religious sense: unfathomable, beyond manipulation, showing traces of the finger of God at work... Everything associated with the heart - relationship, emotion, passion - can only be grasped and appreciated with the tools of religion and poetry."

"The point in a relationship is not to make us feel good, but to lead us into a profound alchemy of soul that reveals to us any of the pathways and opening that are the geography of our own destiny and potentiality."

"The soul apparently needs amorous sadness. It is a form of consciousness that brings its own unique wisdom."

"The soulful relationship asks to be honored for what it is, not for what we wish it could be. It has little to do with our intentions, expectations, and moral requirements."

"The roots of community are immeasurably deep, and the process of belonging, dealing actively with loneliness, begins in the depth of the soul."

"The self-pity that often lies at the heart of jealousy involves a strong resistance against feeling one’s own true inadequacies and failures."

"This is the "goal" of the soul path - to feel existence; not to overcome life's struggles and anxieties, but to know life first hand, to exist fully in context."

"There is nothing neutral about the soul. It is the seat and the source of life. Either we respond to what the soul presents in its fantasies and desires, or we suffer from this neglect of ourselves. The power of the soul can hurl a person into ecstasy or into depression. It can be creative or destructive, gentle or aggressive. Power incubates within the soul and then makes influential its influential move into life as the expression of soul. If there is no soulfulness, then there is no true power, and if there is no power, then there can be no true soulfulness."

"To lose a friend is to suffer the loss of worlds, and to be lacking in friendship altogether is to be cut off, in a deeply felt way, from a richly self-defining way of being in the world."

"We can end the impossible quest for the perfect structure - the happy family, the completely satisfying marriage, the unbroken friendship. We can find some purpose in the failures, the intimacies that never got off the ground, the possibilities that never took flesh. The soul does not share the spirit’s love of perfection and wholeness, but finds value in fragmentation, incompleteness, and unfulfilled promise."

"We are drawn into intimacy by possibilities rather than by realities, by the promise of things to come rather than by proven accomplishments, and perhaps by seductions that are darker than the bright reasons to which we admit."

"To the soul, the ordinary is sacred and the everyday is the primary source of religion."

"We live in a world that trusts logic, and from that commitment we distrust desire; but if we lived in a world that validated desire, we would know how to trust it."

"Care of the soul is a fundamentally different way of regarding daily life and the quest for happiness. The emphasis may not be on problems at all... Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with "fixing" a central flaw as with attending to the small details of everyday life, as well as to major decisions and changes... Our souls are inseparable from the world's soul... "Soul" is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves... Observance is homeopathic in its workings rather than allopathic, in the paradoxical way that it befriends a problem rather than making an enemy of it... All work on the soul takes the form of a circle."

"Where there is no artfulness about life, there is a weakening of the soul."

"Jung equates the unconscious with the soul, and so when we try to live fully consciously in an intellectually predictable world, protected form all mysteries and comfortable with conformity, we lose our everyday opportunities for the soulful life. The intellect wants to know; the soul likes to be surprised. Intellect, looking outward, wants enlightenment and the pleasure of a burning enthusiasm. The soul, always drawn inward, seeks contemplation and the more shadowy, mysterious experience of the underworld."

"All endings are an initiation."

"Art teaches us to respect imagination as something far beyond human creation and intention. To live our ordinary life artfully is to have this sensibility about the things of daily life, to live more intuitively and to be willing to surrender a measure of our rationality and control in return for the gifts of soul... Leonardo da Vinci asks an interesting question in one of his notebooks: "Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?" One answer is that the eye of the soul perceives the eternal realities so important to the heart. In waking life, most of us see only with our physical eyes, even though we could, with some effort of imagination, glimpse fragments of eternity in the most ordinary passing events. Dream teaches us to look with that other eye, the eye that in waking life belongs to the artist, to each of us as artist... Without art we live under the illusion that there is only time, and not eternity."

"Perfection belongs to an imaginary world... Ordinary failures in work are an inevitable part of the descent of the spirit into human limitation. Failure is a mystery, not a problem."

"Death doesn’t erase a relationship, it simply places it in a different context."

"Soul is not about function, it is about beauty and form and memory.... For the soul, then, beauty is not defined as pleasantness of form but rather as the quality of things that invites absorption and contemplation."

"Our hospitals are generally not equipped to deal with the soul in illness"