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Excerpted from Soul Mates by Thomas Moore. Copyright 1994 by Thomas Moore. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"From the point of view of the soul, meaningfulness and value rise directly out of experience."

Thomas Moore, Soul Mates, Part 2

Samuel Beckett was notorious for his love of his sparse apartment and for his resistance to the world. "All I want to do," he once said early in his career, "is sit on my ass and fart and think of Dante."

C. G. Jung said that the soul itself is fundamentally oriented toward life--the soul, he said, is the archetype of life--while the search for meaning or the quest for higher consciousness has some other root. The soul finds its home in the ordinary details of everyday life and does not in itself have an urgent need for understanding or achievement. James Hillman, Jung's unorthodox follower, picks up on Jung's distinction between soul and spirit, saying that soul resides in the valleys of life and not on the peaks of intellectual, spiritual, or technological efforts. In his essay on this theme, "Peaks and Vales," Hillman writes that the soul is the psyche's actual life, including "the present mess it is in, its discontent, dishonesties, and thrilling illusions."

Something in us--tradition calls it spirit--wants to transcend these messy conditions of actual life to find some blissful or at least brighter experience, or an expression of meaning that will take us away intellectually from the quagmire of actual existence. When the soul does rise above the conditions of ordinary life into meaning and healing, it hovers closely and floats; it doesn't soar. Its mode of reflection is reverie rather than intellectual analysis, and its process of healing takes place amid the everyday flux of mood, the ups and downs of emotions, and the certain knowledge that there is no ultimate healing: death is an eternal presence for the soul.

By definition, the soul is attached to life in all its particulars. It prefers relatedness to distancing. From the point of view of the soul, meaningfulness and value rise directly out of experience, or from the images and memories that issue modestly and immediately out of ordinary life.

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