John Welwood is a clinical psychotherapist, teacher, and author of Journey of the Heart, Ordinary Magic, and Toward a Psychology of Awakening. This sturdy and substantive new book grew out of his response to the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the violent reactions that followed.
The healing power of love is generally accepted, but anger, frustration, and disappointment are also very real parts of relationships. Welwood asks: "If love is the greatest power on earth, the force that sustains human life which in some sense it certainly is why hasn't love's radiant warmth been able to banish the darkness engulfing the world, and transform and uplift this earth? Why is it so hard for love to permeate the dense fabric of human relationships? If love is our main source of happiness and joy, why is it so hard to open to it fully and let it govern our lives? What is the problem?"
The core problem is "the mood of unlove a deep suspicion most of us harbor within ourselves that we cannot be loved, or that we are not truly lovable, just for who we are. This basic insecurity makes it hard to trust ourselves, in other people, or in life itself." Welwood says this "wound of the heart" is rampant in our world. Children who feel unloved in their family of origin express this insecurity but it shows up all over the place as a larger spiritual problem "the disconnection from the loving openness that is our very nature." The author sees evidence of grievance in all departments of life: marriages and families, schools and workplaces, national and local politics, and wars on an international level. The process is universal: feeling bad about ourselves, we label others as wrong and then judge, reject, or punish them for that.
Welwood challenges us to move from self-hatred to self-love and to do the inner work to embrace the love that sets us free. He presents spiritual exercises that have proven helpful to people in his workshops and trainings. We were especially impressed with the ones on exploring your investment in grievance, saying yes to yourself, and opening up to your longing for love.