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Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals [Paperback]

Thomas Moore
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 21 2005

Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference.

Our lives are filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society tends to view these “dark nights” in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible. But Moore shows how honoring these periods of fragility as periods of incubation and positive opportunities to delve the soul’s deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of life’s meaning. Dark Nights of the Soul presents these metaphoric dark nights not as the enemy, but as times of transition, occasions to restore yourself, and transforming rites of passage, revealing an uplifting and inspiring new outlook on such topics as:

• The healing power of melancholy
• The sexual dark night and the mysteries of matrimony
• Finding solace during illness and in aging
• Anxiety, anger, and temporary Insanities
• Linking creativity, spirituality, and emotional struggles
• Finding meaning and beauty in the darkness

Frequently Bought Together

Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals + Care of the Soul + Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship
Price For All Three: CDN$ 39.72

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From Publishers Weekly

There's an old saying that a devil is appealing at first but leaves you in despair, while an angel appears terrifying at first but leaves you refreshed and hopeful. This eighth book since Moore's extraordinarily successful Care of the Soul considers loss, pain, conflict, confusion, anger, excess, deviance and other disturbing feelings and behaviors not as devils to be exorcised but as angelic opportunities for deepening and altering the self. Derived from a chapter of the first book titled "The Gifts of Depression," the idea is not that suffering per se is good for the soul, but that to regard such visitations merely as suffering is to miss their point and meaning. Art and religion feature more prominently here than psychology, which Moore, a Catholic monk turned therapist, finds too mechanical and fix-it oriented to serve the soul. He adopts F. Scott Fitzgerald's phrase "the real dark night of the soul" to refer to anything from a short episode to an entire marriage and sees it as an invitation to spiritual cultivation, work that can be intellectual, creative or even physical, but which the monastically trained Moore tends to depict as quiet, solitary reflection. All this is set forth in a fluent, unflaggingly earnest style. Moore, who has an exceptional arsenal of literary and religious lore at his disposal, scatters allusions to figures as various as Madame Bovary, Gandhi, Thomas More and Glenn Gould (no Luther or Malcolm X, though) with dexterity. Short on detail, long on evocation, this book coveys the important if familiar message that spiritual growth entails darkness as well as light. While not exactly a substitute for reading Dostoyevski or Keats, this is perhaps an inducement to give them a chance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The emphasis here, as in Moore's last book, The Soul's Religion (2002), is on suffering, and that book's mission of counseling readers on how to deal with suffering is extended more practically here--that is, provided you are primarily a seasoned reader capable of being consoled by others' written testimony, which Moore would have you consult. His advice for coping with "dark nights of the soul"--itself a literary framing of a concept, derived from the writings of the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross--draws habitually upon literature, though he cites movies now and then (his consideration of Humphrey Bogart as an actor who used his childhood suffering to create positive characterizations is most intriguing and persuasive--and ultimately dependent on Eric Lax's biography of Bogey). The book's parts expand upon the different dark nights of the soul arising from three different kinds of experiences: life "passages," "disturbances" of normal or optimal states of being (chiefly in relationships), and "developments" in life that provoke emotional, mental, and physical suffering. In the last section in particular, Moore dispenses less literarily mediated therapeutic advice, but he keeps intact throughout the soothing tone that, ever since Care of the Soul (1992), has powered his books regularly to berths on the best-seller lists. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
"Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainments? Are you going to become cynical or depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to a mystery that is as natural as the sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter?"
The above quotation is the crucial question in Thomas Moore's sequel to his best-selling and ultimately helpful "Care of the Soul." Read in his soothing, contemplative voice it is a challenge to all for everyone of us experiences times of grief, suffering, disappointment, and failure. Rather than reject these experiences, try to avoid them or get through them as quickly as possible, Moore, a former Catholic monk who became a therapist, suggests that we see them as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.
Not an easy task you say. I quite agree. Yet, as Moore speaks from his personal life, cites case studies, and presents stories from art, literature, and mythology, listeners may find both encouragement and strength.
- Gail Cooke
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moore, always a comfort to the soul May 31 2004
Thomas Moore never disapoints. His previous works, including CARE OF THE SOUL, somehow manage to transcend pop culture, yet remain accessible and practical to the general reader with a yearning to grow. If only everyone could take the time to read his work, or listen to his tapes, we'd all be better people.
DARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL is especially needed in these times of quick-fix therapy and entertainment as anti-depressant. We need to accept the fact that tough times and dark episodes in our lives must be dealt with and honored, not medicated or pushed under the rug. Dark nights offer potential for growth, for soul expansion, and Thomas Moore is the one to lead us on this important journey.
If you enjoyed his earlier work, you will appreciate his latest effort, and no doubt, will notice that he too is growing as a writer and giving us more to think about. Don't overlook this one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An author worth reading May 18 2004
There should be a section in the book stores called intelligent and thoughtful reflection. You can find books like these but they are scattered in the hundreds of awful releases in "Self Help", "New Age" or "Philosophy".
Moore is intelligent, thoughtful and has spent years in reflection. He's also a good writer who doesn't offer easy answers. I've loved all his books. This is no exception.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Nights of the Soul June 19 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a profoundly wise and a very helpful book which deals with the reality of suffering but which reinforces the innate strength and power of the soul to overcome. I have recommended it to several people who struggle with the dark side of life.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly edited ramblings Oct. 4 2013
By Cazer
Format:Kindle Edition
This is one of the most poorly edited books I have ever read in my life. I felt as though I was reading a very disjointed series of diary entries, except without a sense of intimacy. There is very little real narrative here. It really feels as though you are reading one disturbed man's ramblings. I did not find it particularly insightful in regards to loss or grieving.
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