Poetry and quotes from the work of John Welwood


Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.

Feel the love, the longing, and the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be.
Not the saint you’re striving to become.
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You’re already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, touch in, let go.



You are flawed,
you are stuck in old patterns,
you become carried away with yourself.
Indeed you are quite impossible in many ways.
And still, you are beautiful beyond measure.
For the core of what you are is fashioned out of love,
that potent blend of openness, warmth,
and clear, transparent presence.



The words “I love you,”
spoken in moments of genuine appreciation,

wonder, or caring
arise from something perfectly pure within us

– the capacity to open ourselves and say yes without reserve.
Such moments of pure openheartedness bring us as close
to natural perfection as we can come in this life.



I would define love very simply:
as a potent blend of openness and warmth,
which allows us to make real contact,
to take delight in and appreciate,
and to be at one with
–our selves, others, and life itself.
–the heart’s pure, unconditional yes–
is love’s essence.
And warmth is love’s basic expression,
arising as a natural extension of this yes
–the desire to reach out and touch,
connect with, and nourish what we love.



Great love — the kind that illumines and transforms us — always includes a keen awareness of limitation as well.

Though love may inspire us to expand and develop in new ways, we can never be all things to the one we love, or someone other than who we are.

Yet once accepted, limitation also helps us develop essential qualities, such as patience, determination, compassion, and humor.

When love comes down to earth — bringing to light those dark corners we would prefer to ignore, encompassing all the different parts of who we are — it gains depth and power.


It is only through letting our heart break that we discover something unexpected: the heart cannot actually break, it can only break open.

When we feel both our love for this world and the pain of this world-together, at the same time-the heart breaks out of its shell. To live with an open heart is to experience life full-strength.


About John Welwood

John Welwood is a psychotherapist, teacher, and author, and a pioneer in integrating psychological and spiritual work. His books include:

Journey of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love
Toward a Psychology of Awakening
Love and Awakening
Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart.

John Welwood’s main areas of work include:

Psychology of Awakening
Relationship as a Transformative Path
Embodied Presence