Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality

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9780060195427: Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality

"I spent many years trying to become conscious, but all that effort led merely to self-consciousness, which in turn generated guilt, anxiety, and ambition. I was told that higher consciousness was a worthy goal and that its opposite, unconsciousness, was the result of laziness and ignorance. Around the age of fifty my ideals and values began to change, so much so that many of them turned upside down and inside out. Now I see great value in laziness, understood as giving up both effort and the attempt to justify my life. I have come to appreciate the teaching I have found in many religions that praises holy ignorance. And I have been discovering how to live with little consciousness

"Emerson once remarked that it is advisable to live without consciousness of the workings of the body, and I wonder if the same recommendation applies to the whole of life. Perhaps in some ways we do have to become conscious, and that may be the proper work of the first half of life. But then all our education and learning experiences may fade, not into oblivion, where they are simply lost, but by a process of absorption into us, so that they become us or we become them."

from Original Self

It's easy today to lose the deep, direct, and vivid sense of living with passion and originality. Thomas Moore states in his preface that we are "chronically trying to be someone other than this original self, persuaded that we are not adequate and should fit some norm of health or correctness, we may find a cool distance may gradually separate us from the deep and eternal person, that God-given personality, and we may forget both who we were and who we might be."

The fifty meditations in this collection offer fresh interpretations of living with originality rather than conformity, presenting multi-dimensional portraits of the creative self and different angles from which to tap one's primal emotions and possibilities. These pages show what it means to live from the burning essence of the heart, with the creativity that comes from allowing the soul to blossom in its own colors and shapes. Simple and beautiful woodcut drawings accompany each meditation, showing the primal yet complex nature of experience and suggesting with great subtlety the themes of paradox and contrariety that characterize the deep self.

With his usual grace and insight, Moore counters the prevailing assumptions of the day and offers strikingly unorthodox views on at is virtuous and healthy, opening up possibilities for a renewal of the way we live socially and in our private lives.

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Review:

The original self is the person "who came into this world full of possibility and destined for joyful unveiling and manifestation," according to bestselling author Thomas Moore. "This is the person who comes to life in us briefly as we get married, start a course in school, or try on a new job--before worry and cynicism have set in."

In essence, it is our soul that Moore speaks of, and it is his unwavering conviction that our greatest task is to stay true to our original selves. Using a highly approachable format of brief essays (two to four pages), Moore offers his reflections on how to do just that. Each essay leads with a thought, such as, "Life needs a point of entry, a crack in our defenses" or, "Beneath the favorite tale of the moment a deeper story always lies waiting to be told." From there Moore moves into the eloquent depths of his ruminations on the original self--words that are beautiful and provocative yet never heady or bogged down with self-importance. In fact, his writing manages to be simultaneously poetic and pragmatic--the signature of a great thinker and humanitarian. Each essay is illustrated with a woodblock print, offering further meditation on a theme. Moore openly admits that he hopes this book will become a keeper--one that dwells on a household's shelf of lifetime books. No doubt it will Mr. Moore, somewhere between Emerson and Thoreau. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

Thomas Moore is the author of the bestselling Care of the Soul and twenty other books on spirituality and depth psychology that have been translated into thirty languages. He has been practicing depth psychotherapy for thirty-five years. He lectures and gives workshops in several countries on depth spirituality, soulful medicine, and psychotherapy. He has been a monk and a university professor, and is a consultant for organizations and spiritual leaders. He has often been on television and radio, most recently on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday.

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