Psychotherapist, author, and lecturer Thomas Moore, Ph.D., spoke this past March at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, on art, dreams, spirituality, and our need for emptiness. Below is a video of that talk.
Some highlights from the talk, which also included a question-and-answer period:
✦ . . . [W]e tend to live in just one layer, just one layer of our lives. . . We have our life that we look at that looks like this is the world we live [in] and this is who we are but we have overtones. . . we have a soul level. We have our ordinary life but there's a resonance to that life. . . [T]he first major level is the octave of the soul. Then there's another octave. . . another level altogether, which is the spirit. . . [S]o often we don't look at these other octaves. We don't listen for them. . . don't know. . . what's happening at that level of the soul and the level of the spirit. . . So, what do I do in order to pay more attention to the soul level? I ask for a dream. . . .
✦ . . . [I]t's important to lose a lot of things that we think are precious to us. . . .
✦ . . . [D]ream and the mysteries of our existence and the arts are really . . . in the same place. . . They're not at that literal level [where] we normally live. . . That's a reason, I think, why we have trouble with art and appreciating art and understanding art. . . we are not in tune usually with these other layers, with these overtones. . . what [the] artist is helping us reach. . . [T]he beauty of art is that [it] gives you pleasure as well as takes you to. . . where the whole meaning of your life is. . . .
✦ . . . [T]he deepest, deepest levels in your life — your spirit and your deep soul — are profoundly involved in the art around you. The art is there to show you what you have to experience in your life. . . [T]o look at art is not to go look at something that's pretty. It's to go somewhere and be overwhelmed. . . .
✦ Emptiness. . . it's the very core, it's the foundation of a spiritual life.
✦ . . . [T]he point is not to fill ourselves up but to be able to live with. . . the thing that empties us out. And a real artist, it seems to me, like Emily Dickinson and Rothko and so many others, [is] willing to be and able to be emptied out. . . empty in a spiritual sense. . . .
✦ . . . [T]he spiritual life is meditative life, where we are in touch with the sublime moving toward values of world community. . . .
✦ [When] we're able to. . . see those images that are stirring within us, then we can approach art because then we'll know what its all about. . . .
✦ . . . [E]mptiness is not literal. You may not find emptiness in a place that's totally empty, literally empty. . . .
✦ . . . We need art. . . to have what we need for ourselves.
✦ One of the purposes of religion is to be an art of memory, to keep in mind things that we forget. . . .
Art, Dreams, and Spirituality from Rothko Chapel on Vimeo.
For events this fall at the Rothko Chapel, check the season calendar.
Thomas Moore's Books
Care of the Soul Blog
Barque: Thomas Moore Blog