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Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation Paperback – February 12, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Have you ever noticed that self-described spiritual people are not necessarily all that easy to be with? John Welwood has a term for what often happens--spiritual bypassing. This is when a person reaches for the stars while forgetting about the goop on his shoes. Welwood, author of the popular Love and Awakening and Journey of the Heart has made a profession out of bringing East and West together, integrating the path to enlightenment with the techniques of psychotherapy. In Toward a Psychology of Awakening, Welwood integrates a series of his articles written over a period of 30 years in an attempt to explain the dynamics of psychologies East and West. The hope is that, combined, they can create a wholeness that encompasses the various levels of human experience. Since many of these articles were written for specialist readers, they won't have the verve and inspiration of Welwood's other books, but Welwood fans and enthusiasts of transpersonal psychology will be delighted to have all these ground-breaking articles together in one place. So go ahead and reach for the stars--just don't forget that you still have to slog through the mire with the rest of us. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Much has been written about the link between Buddhism and psychotherapy in recent years. Yet this thoughtful work by longtime psychotherapist and Buddhist practitioner Welwood (Love and Awakening) shows that an experienced observer can add much to the emerging conversation about a path of development that could embrace both personal psychology and the deeper reaches of our inner nature. In traditional Chinese philosophy, the human condition was seen to touch three dimensions: earth, heaven and man. At its best, Welwood believes, psychotherapy acts as earth, grounding the individual, while Buddhist thought and practice can be heaven, liberating a person from fixed ideas and blind spots by providing a spacious view of the real self. To become fully human--able to embrace our experience with an open heart and an open mind--we must stretch between heaven and earth. Welwood illustrates how this stretching works by showing how various concepts from Buddhism and from psychotherapy play out in practice. "The Mahamudra lineage of Tibetan Buddhism sees the awakened mind and the confused mind as two sides of the same reality," he writes. "An image from this tradition that portrays coemergence is that of the silkworm binding itself in its own silk." Welwood describes how one client built a sense of self in a deprived environment by identifying with deprivation itself; how another nurtured a sense of specialness and aliveness by identifying with sadness to distinguish himself from his uncaring family. The author helped these clients appreciate the brilliant resourcefulness behind the defensive personalities--the better to eventually let them go. Rich, potentially transforming insights abound here. Psychotherapists and spiritual seekers alike will be enriched by this book. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; Reprint edition (February 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570628238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570628238
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As a psychotherapist, teacher, and author, John Welwood has been a pioneer in integrating psychological and spiritual work. Welwood has published several books, including the best-selling Journey of the Heart (HarperCollins, 1990), as well as Challenge of the Heart (Shambhala, 1985), and Love and Awakening (HarperCollins, 1996). He is an associate editor of the Journal for Transpersonal Psychology. He leads workshops and trainings in psychospiritual work and conscious relationship throughout the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By a reader on November 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book on integrating psychology and spirituality that I've read, written in both a clear and heartfelt way.I'm truly moved by the great depths that the author has touched. His ways of discussing how healing happens and the warmth and brilliance and range of his insight are quite inspiring. His way of discussing the ground of being is the clearest I've read, and he writes of it in many different ways that will reach a wider range of people, both in the healing professions and in ordinary life. I felt that everything he discussed came from his own realization. He shows how spiritual work helps us discover how "the ground of our being actually holds us up" and how the essence of healing lies in learning how to let be. Can someone heal who doesn't learn that whatever emotional states they have can be held openly and unconditionally in awareness? This book shows how in both psychotherapy and spiritual work, it is being awake with thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without separation and distance, that heals. Then the mind can "self-liberate" when we stay open right in the middle of what's coming up.In Welwood's words,"unconditional presence is the most powerful transmuting force there is, because it is a willingness to be there with our experience." Each one of the therapy examples in the book moved me and focused on the larger field of how we are with our experience.This book will undoubtedly by a guide for brand new ways of practicing therapy. Let me share one of my favorite quotes (among so many). Welwood describes a client whose fear of nothingness was a symptom of being cut off from herself.Read more ›
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on October 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF AWAKENING is a dense book that describes the path of spiritual transformation from both an Eastern and Western perspective. Its primary value lies in trying to synthesize these two ways of looking at reality and describes in detail how each path informs the other.

Many paradigms both East and West aren't necessarily integrative for many modern people. This book is an attempt to provide a more holistic worldview that reconciles psychology with Buddhist insights into human nature, love and transformation.

There is also a good section on relationship as a path. I think this is an important area to address because something arises in intersubjective experience that has emergent qualities that transcend each individual. In other words, things like love, compassion and community. We can only be fully human when we are fully engaged with others in a conscious manner. This book discusses these issues and does a great job of it.

Many people won't find this book an easy read. It contains a lot of material and it explores many ideas in-depth. It also attempts to synthesize a lot of material in a brief space. However, if you have a deep interest in psychology or Buddhism, you will discover a treasure trove of good information and innovative ways of bringing it together.

If you are not very familiar with Western Psychology or Buddhism, but have a deep interest in personal and spiritual growth, you will still get a lot out of this book. However, you may find it a slower read and will undoubtedly have to take time to assimilate all of the concepts. It will be well worth the effort, but this isn't a superficial bedtime story.

Overall, I give this book my highest recommendation. It is original, well-organized, and well thought out. It is an important contribution in the area of psychological and spiritual growth and the relationship between them.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David M. Bell on April 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The main problem with this book is that it is another collection of articles edited to become a book. Thus, each chapter doesn't tend to flow with each other chapter. Although divided up into three broad categories. I would like it if the author putt all his ideas fully together in a book about the first two sections. The third section did not seem to fully fit, because it seems to be more about his personal thesis on how love relationships could somehow serve to awaken people. I personally found it unconvincing and too narrow. It would have helped if he would have talked more broadly, on how love between parent/child, friends, and intimate lovers, with full presence could serve as awakening.

Some good notes about this book is that it began my interest on psycho/spiritual thinkers, and introduced me to focusing. But there are a few problems with his emphasis. For one, he is yet another psycho/spiritual thinker-practitioner who draws a sharp delineation between the traditional inner practices and the western psychologies and emphasis on the personal self. Few thinkers along these lines dare question the sufficiency and effectiveness of the traditional spiritual practices. They can see how practitioners are better served by working directly on their egos with certain psychotherapeutic methods, but do not think about the west and east, non-dualistically.
I would refer the interested person to the works of A.H. Almaas, and some by Jack Kornfield.

I do respect that this book drew me back into the psychological world and planted the seeds on my interest in looking into the field of client-centered pscyhotherapy. But I do believe that a few points need to be emphasised for the east and west to inform each other and the psycho/spiritual dialogue to evolve:
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