The Inside Scoop

Katy Koontz

Who becomes a monk at the age of 13, later practices as a psychotherapist, and eventually emerges as a best-selling author? Thomas Moore, of course—the subject of this issue’s “Listening in With …” 

Moore—whose 19th book, A Religion of One’s Own, was published this past year by Gotham—is soft-spoken and unassuming. He has a razor-sharp intellect and an unquenchable thirst for discovering the Divine, whether that’s through studying the teachings of ancient traditions or just fixing lunch in his own kitchen. Moore’s goal in all this discovery isn’t merely furthering his own enlightenment, but also helping others learn who they are on a soul level. Read, study, and dive deep, he counsels. And question everything—especially sacred cows. Find your own truth beneath all the trappings; don’t blindly accept anyone else’s version, even Moore’s. (“I don’t want people to hear me and then say, ‘Thomas Moore says we should all do this,’” he told me.)

Not surprisingly, the spiritual path that works best for the former monastic is recognizing the divinity in everyone and everything and seeing the essential sacredness in every moment. Moore teaches that any activity—not just praying, but also peeling potatoes or playing the piano—can be a means to deepening our connection to the Divine. The arts, in fact, are a vital part of Moore’s own personal religion because music was one of his first loves. Whether you are actually creating or performing art or merely experiencing or appreciating it, “Artistic disciplines don’t have to be religious with a capital R to be part of your practice,” he explains. “Inherently, you will see that the art expresses bigger ideas.” 

The key to recognizing the divinity that surrounds us always, he says (quoting Native American elder Black Elk), is learning to see in a sacred manner. That reminds me of those Magic Eye pictures where, if you look at them in just the right way, a detailed three-dimensional image suddenly pops out at you from what appeared just seconds before to be a random two-dimensional pattern. You can’t ever again see that picture as merely a splash of colors once you see the shape magically floating in mid-air right in front of the page—no matter how beautiful the pattern appears in 2-D. 

Broadening our experience of the Divine in this way is simply exquisite, Moore insists. “It only gets better and deeper.”

Katy Koontz, Editor