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Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals Hardcover – May 3, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When it comes to spiritual growth, we humans are solar-seeking beings; eager for the bright lights of clarity and the bliss of illumination. Paradoxically, we all need to walk through the shadow of the dark night in order to discover a life worth living, according to psychotherapist and spiritual commentator Thomas Moore. Unlike depression, which is more of an emotional state, Moore calls the dark night a slow transformation process, which is fueled by a profound period of doubt, disorientation and questioning. Ultimately, a journey into the dark night will reshape the very meaning of your life. As a self-proclaimed "lunar type," Moore is comfortable leading his clients and readers into the shadows, where ambiguities and mysteries lurk around every corner. He describes the dark night journey in stages, starting with feeling distant from your life even as you continue to go through the motions. The second phase is "liminality," meaning living on the threshold between the known self and the unknown self. This is perhaps the most uncomfortable phase as the dark night may "take you away from the cultivation and persona you have developed in your education and from family learning," he explains. After dwelling in this murky darkness, there's a stage of "re-incorporation," in which one integrates the profound inner transitions into daily life. Like a tour guide to the underworld, Moore leads readers through all these phases, offering tools and rituals for making the journey more tolerable or at least more meaningful. He also speaks to the many arenas and stages of life in which we might find ourselves stumbling through the dark, with chapters on marriage, parenting, sexuality, creativity and health. The scope is ambitious, and at times the structure seems disjointed—but this is perhaps Moore’s best contribution since Care of the Soul, proving once again that he is a wise and formidable spiritual teacher. --Gail Hudson

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592400671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592400676
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 ecology. He lectures frequently in Ireland and has a special love of Irish culture. He has Ph. D. in religion from Syracuse University and has won several awards for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Lesley University and the Humanitarian Award from Einstein Medical School of Yeshiva University. He also writes fiction and music and often works with his wife, artist and yoga instructor, Hari Kirin. He writes regular columns for Resurgence and Spirituality & Health and has recently published A Life at Work and Writing in the Sand. He is a patron of Re-Vision, a London center of spirituality and counseling, and on the board of Turning Point, a bereavement counselors training program in Dublin, Ireland.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 85 people found the following review helpful By C. L. Ferle on May 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2004
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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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By D. Smith on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
In this day and age most people do not want to read about their Dark Nights of the Soul. We have a medical industry that does not want you to read this book. We have politicans who want to keep you in a constant state of fear who do not want you to read this book. And we have an entertainment and media industry which does not want you to read this book. For to read it is to know that the fear that they generate, the messages they try to stick us with, and the palliatives that they offer to assuage it don't work. Desperately wanting us to believe that life falls into their three act framework they do what they can to have us accept this souless narrative as our map to happiness, health and good fortune. But a few abberations slip through. Dark Nights of the Soul is one.

This is a significant work. A primer for life and dealing with its natural ebb and flow. If you don't acknowledge the foundation of the book then you can't understand that the dark nights that we think are there to tear us down are really there to transform us.

This book will change how to think and how you embrace life. It will challenge your ideas about disease, anger, aging, and even happiness. It makes connections between your body, mind and soul that you previously might have believed only lightly touch each other. It will or should help you to understand that a textured life is not about constantly walking around with an insipid smile on your face and saying 'feeling great' when someone asks.

If there is a fault with the book it is that it is too honest and refuses to sugar coat its message. And in that alone it will be missed by a significant majority that absolutely needs to read this.

Dark Nights should be on everyones list. Read it.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on August 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book on dark period in a person's life that is so often pathologized in our culture. It presents a compassionate view of the existential dilemmas of life and the cyclic nature of consolation and desolation that occur in introspective people.

Thomas Moore writes in a very lyrical way and his analogies and examples are very poignant. He talks about the function of dark periods as putting us in touch with soul. This is a great message for a culture that often sweeps pain under the rug or is so busy that there is no value seen in taking time to listening to what pain has to say about life.

This book is a comfort to anyone suffering from any kind of psychological pain from existential crisis to difficult life transitions. It reframes pain in a positive light and offers hope to the reader.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Richard William Ray on May 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Strong Wolf on June 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've known and followed Tom Moore and his work for years now, and I find this work to be of the best books he has written. Dark Night is clear, literate, focused, and immediately useful, identifying the gnarly issues of post-modern adult life and shining beautiful bright light on the path at the places where it narrows. Moore is at the height of his powers, incorporating what he has touched on previously, evolving it, deepening it, while making his piercing perception very accesible. I highly recommend this book, without reservation. And, bonus, it is a good read to boot.
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