“My life work is an attempt to ground the pure, visionary spirit in the imperfect, intoxicating sensuousness of worldly life.”
THE NATURAL MYSTIC: DEVELOPING A SPIRITUALITY OF EVERYDAY LIFE
We tend to connect mysticism and spirituality with special practices of meditation, yoga, and lifestyle associated with an old tradition. Another way to be spiritually alive is to appreciate the deep implications of ordinary experiences like making a home, parenthood, study, travel, teaching, healing, making art, and even playing. In history we have many examples of special men and women who embody this ordinary or natural mysticism: William Morris, William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Glenn Gould are a few of my favorites.
The natural mystic loves this life, this world, and his or her bodily and sensual experiences. There is no tendency to avoid life or to be excessively pure and bodiless. At the same time, he or she is not unconsciously absorbed by the world but has various methods of retreat, resistance, and expression. Thoreau built a cabin by a lake and withdrew for two years of retreat. Dickinson stayed at home. Gould was eccentric and re-created music according to his genius. Morris made beautiful objects. Wordsworth understood the spirituality of nature.
The lives of these and other natural mystics teach us how to be spiritual today without losing the deep pleasures of life and the world’s beauty and sensuality. It is a mysticism in the world and not away from it. A life work naturally flows from the union of person and nature. Furthermore, this sensual, eccentric existence is real mysticism. There is a beneficial loss of self in work, nature or beautiful objects, what the ancient mystics called a vacatio or withdrawal of the soul, a spiritual vacation.
THOMAS MOORE is the author of the bestselling book Care of the Soul and ﬁfteen other books on deepening spirituality and cultivating soul in every aspect of life. He has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist, and today he lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and the arts. He has a Ph. D. in religion from Syracuse University and has won several awards for his work. Three of his books have won the prestigious Books for a Better Life awards. He writes regular columns for Resurgence, Spirituality & Health, and The Hufﬁngton Post.
FROM OUR STORE
DVD The New Epicureans: The Importance of Beauty and Pleasure in Daily Life
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From The Great Rethinking Bath: Challenging our Personal and Planetary Destiny
BOOK Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
BOOK Care Of The Soul In Medicine: Healing Guidance for Patients, Families, and the People Who Care for Them
BOOK A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do
BOOK The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life