Journey of the Heart: Intimate Relationships and the Path of Love

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9780060921224: Journey of the Heart: Intimate Relationships and the Path of Love

Modern marriage has reached a critical point. Romantic ideals of courtly love have proved increasingly unworkable within the routines and stresses of contemporary life, yet we still long for a deep intimacy with a life partner on all levels - sexual, emotional, mental and spiritual. John Welwood shows that although the romantic ideal is partly based on illusion, there are real possibilities of fulfilment and growth within a long-term intimate relationship. Even after the honeymoon is over, the energy of passion can be maintained and new depths of intimacy discovered. This book does not provide easy options and instant answers. Rather it provokes and encourages us to explore further, and to rise to the challenge of relationships in the modern world. It is hard work, but rewarding.

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Review:

"Extraordinarily good....A saving grace."--Ashley Montagu, author of "Touching

From the Author:

How I wrote Journey of the Heart
Journey of the Heart explores a new vision of conscious love, of intimate relationship as a path of personal and spiritual transformation. And it also shows how to put that vision into practice. It includes chapters on bringing greater consciousness, compassion, and awareness to such areas as passion, commitment, surrender, sex, marriage, gender issues, as well as to working with fear, anger, vulnerability and uncertainty. Writing this book took me ten years, as I worked to craft it in a lyrical, literary style that would stand the test of time. That has certainly been true so far, as many readers continue to regard it as a classic of its kind. I have received countless letters from people who consider this the most profound and far-reaching book on intimate relationship they have ever read.

This book grew out of my search for a whole new vision of intimate relationshipó a vision that would address the great challenges and difficulties facing couples in our time. What I wanted to write was the kind of book I never found myself, one that recognized the real-life psychological complexities of relationship, but which also looked much deeper, at the larger spiritual challenges of intimate relationship. In spite of my training as a psychotherapist and clinical psychologist, I was as ill-prepared as anyone to face the challenges I faced after intially getting married and then divorced as a young man, without ever really knowing what had hit me.

I knew that the vision of relationship I was seeking had to be rooted in the powerful spiritual energy that is released when two people connect deeply with each other. Yet when I began the book in 1979, I found few sources of wisdom or guidance to draw on. Even my most respected teachers had their own share of marital disasters, and could not provide a model for me in this area. I sought in vain in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and spirituality, East and West, for a teaching that would illuminate the subtle, multi-dimensional play that happens between two individuals who, each in themselves, are a mysterious blend of body, mind, soul, and spirit. I realized I would have to forge my own path, and develop my own understanding of this whole area, which had never been fully explored or articulated before.

This project turned out to be the most difficult thing I have ever done. It gradually took shape out of my own personal explorations, my work with couples and psychotherapy clients over the years, endless talks late into the night with friends, lovers, and colleagues who were also passionately interested in unraveling the mysteries of relationship, my years of meditation experience, and, at the end, my second marriage with my wife Jennifer, who helped me bring it to fruition. With each successive draft, I realized that I still needed to go one step further, one level deeper into my subject matter. As I proceeded, I began to realize why there were so few satisfying books on the subject. The love between man and women at first appears straightforward enough, but the more one looks into it, the more it turns out to be a complex labyrinth that threatens to swallow up anyone who would attempt to explore its innermost reaches.

So instead of being an armchair exercise, this project became a journey I had to undergo. It forced me to keep probing ever more deeply and personally the questions I was trying to get a handle on. If I was trying to understand the anger between men and women I would soon find rages arising in me that I had never faced before. If I was looking at why we have such a hard time with the needy places inside, I would inevitably have to face and deal with my own need in unexpected ways. In this way, every question I pursued would soon turn around and confront me face to face. I found that to really address my questions about love meant that I had to work further on the source of these questionsó myself.

I also came to realize that the writer who decides to address certain difficult questions invokes some kind of genie, daimon, or protector spirit, beyond his conscious control and intention, who compels him to undergo certain experiences that test him, try and season him, until he is able to speak with a voice of authenticity and authority that comes from having so thoroughly lived the subject matter. The daimon I had apparently invoked by taking on this project really seemed to have it in for me. The Greeks named this protector spirit of love, Eros. As I wrestled with him, it felt like I was being bent and shaped to become a more suitable vehicle for his purposes. All in all, this genie proved to be a most demanding teacher who would not permit any easy solutions and answers that might diminish the depth, beauty, and mystery of his realm. He was bent on teaching me respect and appreciation for the role of the unknown and the unsayable, which lie at the very core of intimate relationship. And above all, he required that my language and presentation matched the subtlety and beauty of love itself.

That was my task. Now as I look back at Journey of the Heart, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that my efforts have turned out to be of real help to so many people, on both the personal and the spiritual level.

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