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Mar 14, 2007

Thomas Moore -- "The Soul of Sex"

Soulofsex "The philosophy characteristic of our culture, in which the body is treated as unrelated to our emotions, our sense of meaning, and our experiences, has deep implications for sexuality.  Not only do we deal with sexual problems mechanically, we may well approach our lovers mechanically--without the deep engagement of the soul and spirit that would give sex its depth and humanity.

Against this point of view, the eighteenth-century poet William Blake [wrote]:

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld
Body is a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses, the
chief inlets of Soul in this age.

...Unless we have lost imagination completely, when we look at the body we are seeing the soul, and when we have sex, we experience the body as a way to the most penetrating mysteries of the soul."

-- Thomas Moore, from The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love, chapter one.

I confess that I have only skimmed The Soul of Sex*, but I did read Moore's Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life in 1999 and Soul Mates in 2000.  While my memory keeps only a few details, I seem to remember these two points from both:

1.  The Greek teacher Epicurus taught that simple things, done well, gave us the greatest and deepest pleasure.  Not fancy recipes (like "epicure" has come to suggest in modern times), but simple foods.  Good friendship, deeply grounded.  These are the things that would give us the lives best lived.

2.  Love is first a verb, not a noun.  For a couple in disharmony, Moore would recommend beginning by simply loving each other -- doing good for each other, attending, being kind, and treating the other's happiness as one's own.  "Feeling" the love could never be a pre-condition.  "Doing" the loving would pave the road back to harmony.  "Doing" the loving was what married couples pledged.

Moore's writing isn't for everyone.  I find his style to be warm and clear -- but others might find his tone a little earnest.  In fact, I remember reading Tuesdays with Morrie alongside Care of the Soul, and thinking "Tuesdays with Morrie says the same thing as Care of the Soul, but a lot more quickly and without the pretension."  Now, I reckon that either teacher works.  I don't see so much pretension in Moore's work -- just honesty and hope.


*read into the phrasing what you will.


11:08 AM in Quotables, Reviews | Permalink


I believe Madeliene L'Engle once had one character say to another something to this effect: "Love is not something you feel, silly, it's something you do."

Posted by: Elrond Hubbard | Mar 15, 2007 6:04:03 PM