How can we connect the spiritual realizations of Buddhism with the psychological insights of the West? In Toward a Psychology of Awakening John Welwood addresses this question with comprehensiveness and depth. Along the way he shows how meditative awareness can help us develop more dynamic and vital relationships and how psychotherapy can help us embody spiritual realization more fully in everyday life. Welwood's psychology of awakening brings together the three major dimensions of human experience: personal, interpersonal, and suprapersonal, in one overall framework of understanding and practice.
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.