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Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  726 ratings  ·  25 reviews
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 bringin ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 12th 2002 by Shambhala (first published 2000)
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4.24  · 
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 ·  726 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An incredible read. Experientially-based and clearly written, it's got so much good stuff on openness, ego, love, spirituality, and the beneficial intermingling of psychology and spirituality, psychotherapy and meditation... It had quite an influence on me.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
John Welwood does a wonderful job on showing the differences between Western views of consciousness (based on psychotherapy) and Buddhism. Neither Buddhism or Western psychotherapy deny the need for a strong ego. (Imagine ego as the continued ideas and representations that we have of ourselves.) A strong ego controls impulses, has adequate self-esteem (neither too high or too low) and is competent in worldly functioning. The problem is that for Buddhism (and the other great world religions) a fu ...more
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: buddhism
I know this is sacrelig, but I could barely get through this. I thought it was fairly cumbersome and largely unreadable. The book makes the same mistake a lot of new-agey academics make: it wants to sounds science-y so it uses lots of obtuse sentence structure and language borrowed from the physics department to make it sound legit. If I ever smoke weed again, maybe I'll try and give this another shot.
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My fascination with Welwood's concept of "spiritual bypass" led me to conduct research on the defense mechanism as it relates to recovery. This topic is the basis for my book.
Steve Woods
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. As a veteran of armed conflict in both Vietnam and Cambodia and a survivor of extreme abuse in childhood, the best that traditional mental health services based on the medical model could offer failed me. To begin with, there was no entry for PTSD in the DSM before 1982, so whatever I suffered from was either misdiagnosed or labelled some kind of malingering. That fact in and of itself points pretty clearly to the hopelessly inadequate an ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not going to lie, this book has been a challenge to get through. There are such long, abstract discussions about states of consciousness. I am a student of psychology and spirituality, but I can only grasp abstract concepts to a point. Quite often through out the book, Welwood will give you a gem of spiritual knowledge about the nature of suffering, unconditional presence, or the limited quality of the ego that will make you set the book down and go "wow."

I also did not like that EVERY SING
This book is amazing & I need to own it because I know it will become a major reference throughout my life. I think it is one of the most helpful & profoundly truthful books I have read. From cover to cover, this book is so thoughtful that u almost have to be in the right frame of mind to absorb it all. It took me 3 times taking this book out of the library over the course of a few years to get through all 3 sections of this book & to realize how much I fully appreciate it. It is wor ...more
Marco Pontual
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: buddhism, psychology
As a psychology graduate and a self-declared buddhist I couldn't get past the first chapter after barely being able to finish the introduction. I suppose it has to do with my disagreeing with his basic premise, i.e., that buddhism doesn't deal with intrapersonal and interpersonal matters, and focuses only on the transcendental. My experience with buddhism has been of a tradition which values tremendously interpesonal relationship (heck, the Buddha said that Metta is the fastest way to reach nirv ...more
Susan Price
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Life changing for me, although as others have said, challenging at times. I think it helps to be practicing meditation and reading other Buddhist psychology in order to understand some of the more difficult concepts. Welwood is an excellent writer. I would recommend one of his other books, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships as a good starting point. It is not just for intimate relationships, but any relationship.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of the best books on religion and psychotherapy I have read. I love the term 'spiritual bypassing,' which means spiritually advancing without working on your psychological stuff.
Kai Frank
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Potent. Down to earth. Worthwhile.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a very thought provoking book that challenges some of the conventional psychological approaches.
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting exploration of the intersection of psychotherapy and spirituality. In particular Welwood talks about Buddhism and Gendlin's Focusing most often. Particularly interesting were his concepts of 'spiritual bypassing' (a fairly well known idea nowadays in spiritual circles) and his different theory about the unconscious as part of an informational interpretation gestalt rather than a treasure chest of secret contents. Recommended for those who attempt to reconcile the impersonal & ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
A remarkable look at the ways Eastern spiritual traditions fall short of helping Westerners affect change in their psyches, and how Western psychology fails to be as fearless as meditation. However, this book has little negativity and a lot of heart directed at consolidating the 2 spheres of personal transformation. The chapters on Depression, Addiction, and how an intimate relationship can be a vehicle of spiritual growth are some of the highlights.
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: psychologists, transpersonal psychologists, and spiritual seekers
Dr. Welwood integrates spirituality and psychology in an excellent overview of Buddhist Psychology. This integration of Eastern spiritual discipline with Western psychology purports to fully integrate mind, body, and spirit for the overall development of the individual. Welwood presents some very important and thought-provoking concepts in this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in psychology or spirituality.
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can only wish you all to read this book!
No need to be buddhist or have interest in psychology.
This book is about life, human being, being, discovering, understanding, love, personal and interpersonal relationships, awakening.
The whole written with so much justness and such a level of humanity.
So much wisdom contained in few pages.
R.G. Bullet
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is truly amazing.
I admit I had to really concentrate to get through it at times, but to be totally fair the words in it can be so life-changing that I think fuses were blown while reading, and I found myself falling asleep with it on my chest. It had a strange affect of resonating for ages. I am happy to see it here with high ratings.
Vicente Villela
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really beautiful and insightful book.

Can't believe Welwood is not as well known as Kornfield, Siegel, Epstein, Batchelor and all the rest. His name should be up there with all the big western exponents of buddhism.

For me the last chapter felt unnecessary and maybe would a better fit for another volume -if it wasn't for that, would've given it 5 stars.
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is a keeper for me. At first, the material seems too dry and the TWO introductions I finally skipped. However, later into the book I felt the author had such wonderful insights to share. I always felt that a combination of psychotherapy AND spirituality were needed for me to heal, and this author validated that belief. I am going to order some of his other books!
Ron Krumpos
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Toward a Psychology of Awakening" is one of the books in the primary bibliography of my free ebook on comparative mysticism. "The greatest achievement in life" at has been reviewed on Goodreads.

Krzys Piekarski
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As usual, leave it to Rilke to say it best: "Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses who are waiting to see us act just once with beauty and courage." An astonishing book full of more wisdom that I know what to do with. A+
Dec 26, 2016 added it
I love his style of writing. I read this book at the perfect time as it brought forth some ideas that made perfect sense and brought awesome clarity to my life. I purchased another book by him that I am really excited to read.
Scott Rennie
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book, just filled with deep insights into the processes of spiritual evolution and psychological work.
Jarl Anderson
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Buddhism & intimate relationships are often seen to be at odds (specifically over the issue of attachment). This book provides a cogent thesis for integration.
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John Welwood is an American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author, known for integrating psychological and spiritual concepts.

Trained in existential psychology, Welwood did his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Chicago in 1974.

He has been the Director of the East/West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and i