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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 of the soul begins with the observance of how the soul manifests itself and how it operates."

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, Part Three

"Soul" is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or as something to do with immortality. When we say that something has soul, we know what we mean, but it is difficult to specify exactly what that meaning is.

Care of the soul begins with the observance of how the soul manifests itself and how it operates. We canít care for the soul unless we are familiar with its ways. Observance is a word from ritual and religion. It means to watch out for but also to keep and honor, as in the observance of a holiday. The Ėserv- in observance originally referred to tending sheep. Observing the soul, we keep an eye on its sheep, on whatever is wandering and gazing Ė the latest addiction, a striking dream, or a troubling mood.

This definition of caring for the soul is minimalist. It has to do with modest care and not miraculous cure. But my cautious definition has practical implications for the way we deal with ourselves and with one another. For example, if I see my responsibility to myself, to a friend, or to a patient in therapy as observing and respecting what the soul presents, I wonít try to take things away in the name of health. Itís remarkable how often people will think they will be better off without the things that bother them. "I need to get rid of this tendency of mine," a person will say. "Help me get rid of these feelings of inferiority and my smoking and bad marriage." If, as a therapist, I did what I was told, Iíd be taking things away from people all day long. But I donít try to eradicate problems. I try not to imagine my role to be that of exterminator. Rather, I try to give what is problematical back to the person in a way that shows its necessity, even its value.

When people observe the ways in which the soul is manifesting itself, they are enriched rather than impoverished.

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