Han F. de Wit remembers clearly his return flight to Amsterdam in 1977, following a year of residence at Karme Choling. As he struggled to navigate airport Customs with seven zafus and zabutons piled on his shoulders, the raw materials for what became the first Shambhala Center in Europe, he asked himself “How did I get into this situation?”
In 1974, Han was a promising research psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. His interest in human experience and mind arose from personal questions that he had been pondering for years: “Why is it that people experience similar situations in such different ways? What does that tell us about the nature of mind?” For Dr. de Wit, academic psychology did not answer these questions adequately. He started to look in other directions, visiting bookstores of ‘questionable’ academic reputation. After reading Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Han says, “that was it.” In 1975, he was on his way to meet its author, his teacher, the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Since that time, Han has continued to travel to and from North America, practicing and studying intensively. He also continued to think about how to broaden and mold western psychological language in such a way that it can contain the Buddhist view of mind and convey the value of meditation practice. This has resulted in the development of a new branch of psychology that brings together in a systematic way the psychological knowledge and methods that we find in the great contemplative traditions themselves. Han has written several widely-read books on this psychology which he had coined in a seminal paper in 1986 “contemplative psychology” (see also below).
With his wife Ineke, Han has worked to develop the European sangha. Through the years, this has meant serving in all kinds of capacities: from giving individual meditation instruction and training new instructors, to giving public talks for large audiences; from introducing Kasung practices and teaching Shambhala Training, to introducing Ngedon School. Now that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has put his trust in him as an acharya, Han says: “On the one hand this feels pretty natural, but on the other hand, I experience it as an tremendously inspiring burden. May I be helpful in alleviating people’s fear of suffering and rousing their joy of life.”
You can find a few interviews with Han de Wit at http://www.polilogues.com/categories/han_de_wit.html.
|Shambhala Training Levels|
|Workshop Het Open Veld van de Ervaring|
|Meditation and Nonviolent Communication|
|Vajra Assembly: The protector principle|
|Werma practice and study weekend|
|Refuge & Bodhisattva Vows|
1. Buddhistischer und westlicher Geist: Buddhismus im Gespraech mit der westlichen Kultur. Peterberg: Verlag Via Nova, 2001
2. Die Verborgene Bluete: Ueber die psychologischen Hintergruende der Spiritualitaet. Petersberg: Verlag Via Nova, 1998
1. Het Open Veld van de Ervaring. De Boeddha Over inzicht, compassie en levensgeluk, Kampen: Ten Have, 2008
2. De Drie Juwelen: hoe het pad van de boeddha op te gaan. Kampen: Ten Have, 2005
3. De Verborgen Bloei: Over de psychologische achtergronden van spiritualiteit. Kampen: Kok Agora, 2001
4. Contemplatieve Psychologie. Kampen: Agora, 2000
5. De Lotus en de Roos: Boeddhisme in dialoog met psychologie, godsdienst en ethiek. Kampen: Kok Agora & Kapellen: Pelckmans, 1998
1. The spiritual path: An introduction to the psychology of the spiritual traditions. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1999.
2. Contemplative Psychology. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1991
1. Le Lotus et la Rose. Le bouddhisme dialogue avec l’ Occident. Kunchab (Belgium, ISBN 90 74815 64 2, avril, 2002)