You are here
Great Within: the transformative power and psychology of the spiritual path
Do we really understand what contemplative practices, such as mindfulness, actually do? What changes when we practice mindfulness or use images as the focus of our contemplative practice? How is our psychology—thoughts, beliefs, imagination, and emotions—both used and transformed along the spiritual path? Are there shared understandings of this transformative process across the spiritual traditions? To answer these questions, Han F. de Wit takes us into the mind of the spiritual practitioner to show how contemplative practices work to transform our "ordinary" psychology dominated by confusion and self-interest to one open to wisdom and compassion. With Buddhism as the framing tradition, the result is a highly experience-based explanation of the development processes of spiritual transformation. Informed by a practitioner who experiences it and a psychologist steeped in Western psychology, a compelling case is made for a new "contemplative psychology" rooted in a deep appreciation for our "humanness"—our potential for flourishing—to which all contemplative practices are orientated. The Spiritual Path is a helpful companion on the spiritual path, as well as a sourcebook to both psychologists and teachers of contemplative practices.
HAN F. DE WIT received his PhD in psychology from the University of Amsterdam in 1977. On an honorary Fulbright scholarship he worked as a research fellow in 1976 at the University of California (Berkeley). In 1983 he was connected to Naropa University (then Naropa Institute) as a visiting scholar. There he began to study the psychological insights and theories that can be found in the contemplative traditions of the world religion themselves, which brought him international acclaim as the founder of a new branch of psychology called contemplative psychology. In 1985, at the Department of Theoretical Psychology of the Free University in Amsterdam, he continued his research and presentation of the insights and methods of this psychology in a form that enables a dialogue with contemporary psychology and psychotherapy. Trained as a Buddhist teacher by Ch gyam Trungpa and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, he is also involved through his writings in the dialogue of Buddhism with Western psychology, philosophy, and religion.