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Selections from Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, Copyright © 1992 by Thomas Moore. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Care is what a nurse does, and "nurse" happens to be one of the early meanings of the Greek word therapeia, or therapy."

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, Part Two

We think of the psyche, if we think about it at all, as a cousin to the brain and therefore something essentially internal. But ancient psychologists taught that our own souls are inseparable from the world’s soul, and that both are found in all the many things that make up nature and culture.

So, the first point to make about care of the soul is that it is not primarily a method of problem solving. Its goal is not to make life problem-free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness. In a way it is much more of a challenge than psychotherapy because it has to do with cultivating a richly expressive and meaningful life at home and in society. It is also a challenge because it requires imagination from each of us. In therapy we lay our problems at the feet of a professional who is supposedly trained to solve them for us. In care of the soul, we ourselves have both the task and the pleasure of organizing and shaping our lives for the good of the soul.

Let us begin by looking at this phrase I have been using, "care of the soul." The word care implies a way of responding to expressions of the soul that is not heroic and muscular. Care is what a nurse does, and "nurse" happens to be one of the early meanings of the Greek word therapeia, or therapy. We’ll see that care of the soul is in many ways a return to early notions of what therapy is. Cura, the Latin word used originally in "care of the soul," means several things: attention, devotion, husbandry, adorning the body, healing, managing, being anxious for, and worshipping the gods. It might be a good idea to keep all these meanings in mind as we try to see as concretely as possible how we might make the shift from psychotherapy as we know it today to care of the soul.

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