Robert M. Alter has been practicing psychotherapy for 22 years. His wife Jane is a clinical director at Harvard Medical School's Families and Addiction Program. Early on they write: "The psychological journey into oneself is ultimately a spiritual journey into the deepest part of oneself — the heart — which is where God dwells within us." The short essays here are organized around the following themes: past to present, the mind, meditation, the inner place, feelings, addictions, the two of us, and the journey. There is great wisdom in these pieces revealing a soulful understanding of psyche and spirit that only comes with age.
The Alters, who are married, are especially insightful on marriage. They share a Jewish wedding ritual called "Seeing the Seventy Faces" where a couple experiences what it is like to recognize all the good and bad character qualities of their partner. They vow to love them all. No wonder the authors can, in another essay, define marriage as primarily a place to give help to each other.
In an essay titled "The Eyes of the Heart," the Alters suggest looking for the good in others as an antidote to the following tendency: "So many of the clients I see feel deep anger and cynicism about people. They summarily dismiss some for not meeting their expectations, and constantly put down others for their 'trivial' concerns and 'stupid' pursuits. In their anger and frustration, they do not see that they must change the way they see their fellow human beings if they are to release their own pain." The spiritual practices of openness, love, and compassion are the prescriptions for overcoming such negative feelings towards others.