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In Memoriam - John Welwood

John Welwood
March 12, 1943 – January 17, 2019

John Welwood was an American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author, known for integrating psychological and spiritual concepts. He was the Director of the East/West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and an associate editor of Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.  He is known for coining the term “spiritual bypassing” to describe the use of spiritual ideas and practices to avoid unresolved emotional and psychological challenges.

Welwood was inspired at a young age by the works of D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts. Welwood said that when he read Watts’ Psychotherapy East and West, “it blew my mind completely, and I saw my destiny right there. I felt this intersection was the most important thing I could imagine.” Welwood spent the rest of his life pondering the relationship between Buddhist awakening and growth in psychotherapy.

After years of reading about Buddhism, Welwood encountered the famous Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. “His consciousness was like nothing else I’d ever encountered,” Welwood said. Welwood became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, and, following his instruction, began practicing meditation.

He authored eight books, including groundbreaking works like Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, and Toward a Psychology of Awakening. His focus was on this psychology of awakening, relationships as contemplative practice, and embodied presence.

adapted from Sam Littlefair, 20 Jan 2019, at