"In addition to waking up to our ultimate spiritual nature," John Welwood observes about the psychology of awakening, "we also need to grow up--to ripen into a mature, fully developed person" (p. xviii). Welwood is a San Francisco psychotherapist and a thirty-year student of Tibetan Buddhism and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In this collection of articles written over the past three decades, Welwood integrates Eastern spiritual practice with Western psychology, maintaining that "awakening needs psychology just as much as psychology needs awakening" (p. xvi).
Too often Westerners attempt to avoid dealing with their "emotional unfinished business" by turning to spiritual practices instead. Welwood calls this "spiritual bypassing (pp. 5; 11-12; 207-13). Many people engaged in spiritual practice suffer from psychological wounds including self-hatred, aggression, emotional reactivity, narcissistic egocentricity, depression, and other defensive patterns, and Welwood maintains that a course of psychologically-oriented personal work could serve, support and further their movement toward awakening (p. xviii).
Welwood's 330-page book is divided into three sections, each exploring the interface between Eastern spiritual practice and Western psychology. The first explores what it means to be human: the relationship between personal growth--becoming a more mature, authentic person--and spiritual development (p. 3). "Enlightenment is not some ideal goal, perfect state of mind, or spiritual realm on high" Welwood writes, "but a journey that takes place on this earth. It is the process of waking up to all of what we are and making a complete relationship with that" (p. 33). In the second section of his book, he explores the capacity to be fully present with our experience "as it is" through psychological healing (pp. 134-35). He calls this "unconditional presence" (p. 141)--"just being with what is, open and interested, without agenda" (p. 143). Welwood confronts the subject of depression not only as an affliction that should be suppressed, but as "a potential teacher that can convey an important message about our relationship with ourselves, the world, or life as a whole" (p. 172). Part three explores personal relationships, intimacy, love and passion, and more specifically, how to remain conscious in our personal relationships with friends, lovers, coworkers, parents and children (p. 229), "in a sane, wide awake, spiritually vital way" (p. 231).
Fascinating, compelling, and insightful, Welwood's guide to personal and spiritual transformation is sure to become one of the most frequently revisited resources on my bookshelf, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in living a more meaningful life.
Ok, this guy knows what he's talking about. I've been looking for a book like this for a long, long time. So many books offer advice on how to attain enlightenment, like the excellent The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, but there is so little about what to do after you do. Like how to bring what you realize back to your life and community in a safe, mature and responsible way. This book is the one to get if you need a guide to your enlightened experience....get it even before you have an enlightenment experience, it's THAT good. Cheers!