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Care of the Soul: Mega-Soul

Columnists
I had an unusually enjoyable afternoon recently, lying on the floor in front of my massive classical Greek dictionary and a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where he makes a distinction between happiness and bliss. I don’t know which I was feeling but certainly one of them. I don’t know many people who would feel bliss, poring over ancient Greek philosophy, but that’s what’s good about bliss — it’s different for everyone.Aristotle was trying to sort out some problems having to do with happiness. Does it have to last? Can you have bad times in with the good ones? He concludes that bliss is not about perfection. You have to deal with bad fortune sometimes. The difference is whether you approach it with nobility and a great soul.Now, I’ve come across this idea before in Aristotle, of a great soul. His word in Greek is megalopsyche. I like to translate it directly as “mega-soul.” Psyche means soul, and mega means big, as we all know. We’ve been to mega-stores. But what is a mega-soul?I think I know one answer from my experience as a psychotherapist. I’ve encountered people who, in dealing with their …

Thomas Moore is the New York Times best-selling author of Care of the Soul, as well as many other books on deepening soul and cultivating a mature spiritual life, three of which have received the Books for a Better Life Award. At turns he has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, a psychotherapist, and an S&H columnist. 


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