In the 1980s John Welwood emerged as a major figure in the leading-edge fields of transpersonal psychology and East/West psychology. The former Director of the East/West psychology program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, he is currently Associate Editor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He trains psychotherapists in “psychotherapy in a spiritual framework” and “the healing power of unconditional presence” and leads workshops on psychospiritual work and conscious relationship throughout the world.
John’s most recent book, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, is the winner of the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award, which since its inception has honored over 300 titles and their authors, including Jimmy Carter, Deepak Chopra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Stephen Levine, and Thomas Moore.
John lives in California with his wife, Jennifer, and has a grown son, Bogar Nagaraj, both of whom also teach integrated psychospiritual work.
Visit www.johnwelwood.com for more information and resources.
On Spiritual Bypassing:
“Spiritual bypassing is a term I coined to describe a process I saw happening in the Buddhist community I was in, and also in myself. Although most of us were sincerely trying to work on ourselves, I noticed a widespread tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.
When we are spiritually bypassing, we often use the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what I call premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it. And then we tend to use absolute truth to disparage or dismiss relative human needs, feelings, psychological problems, relational difficulties, and developmental deficits. I see this as an ‘occupational hazard’ of the spiritual path, in that spirituality does involve a vision of going beyond our current karmic situation.”
“There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it.”
“A soul connection is a resonance between two people who respond to the essential beauty of each other’s individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on this deeper level. This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy. It is a sacred alliance whose purpose is to help both partners discover and realize their deepest potentials. While a heart connection lets us appreciate those we love just as they are, a soul connection opens up a further dimension — seeing and loving them for who they could be, and for who we could become under their influence. This means recognizing that we both have an important part to play in helping each other become more fully who we are….A soul connection not only inspires us to expand, but also forces us to confront whatever stands in the way of that expansion.”
“Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, and the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be.
Not the saint you’re striving to become.
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You’re already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, touch in, let go.”
“Our lives are constantly teetering on the edge of this unknown, which is the source of all creativity. What is known – what has worked or not worked before – is already history. What is fresh and alive comes only from the unknown. It takes courage to open ourselves to the immediate isness of the present moment, without holding on to a program or agenda. Yet this is the only way to develop true compassion and tenderness.”
Book to Hang Out With:
While most of us have moments of loving freely and openly, it is often hard to sustain this where it matters most—in our intimate relationships. Why, if love is so great and powerful, are human relationships so challenging and difficult? If love is the source of happiness and joy, why is it so hard to open to it fully and let it govern our lives? In this book, John Welwood addresses these questions and shows us how to overcome the most fundamental obstacle that keeps us from experiencing love’s full flowering in our lives.
Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships begins by showing how all our relational problems arise out of a universal, core wounding around love that affects not only our personal relationships but the quality of life in our world as a whole. This wounding shows up as a pervasive mood of unlove—a deep sense that we are not intrinsically lovable just as we are. And this shuts down our capacity to trust, so that even though we may hunger for love, we have difficulty opening to it and letting it circulate freely through us.
This book takes the reader on a powerful journey of healing and transformation that involves learning to embrace our humanness and appreciate the imperfections of our relationships as trail-markers along the path to great love. It sets forth a process for releasing deep-seated grievances we hold against others for not loving us better and against ourselves for not being better loved. And it shows how our longing to be loved can magnetize the great love that will free us from looking to others to find ourselves.
Written with penetrating realism and a fresh, lyrical style that honors the subtlety and richness of our relationship to love itself, this revolutionary book offers profound and practical guidance for healing our lives as well as our embattled world.