Eugene Gendlin, a philosopher, psychologist, and founder of the International Focusing Institute, died on May 1 in Spring Valley, New York. He was 90 years old.
Gendlin is best-known for developing a self-actualization practice called Focusing, which connects the mind and body. Focusing has sold more than 500,000 copies and has been translated into 17 languages, according to the International Focusing Institute’s website.
In a 2011 interview with Gendlin, Tricycle contributing editor Linda Heuman explains that Focusing has had such an “enthusiastic reception among North American Buddhists” because it complements meditation:
Perhaps a clue to Gendlin’s appeal among many Western Buddhists is hinted at in one of his own favorite terms: resonance. Gendlin’s approach grows out of the Western philosophical tradition (especially phenomenology) in which he is firmly rooted, yet it emphasizes transformative practice based on working with awareness in the present moment. Its relationship to Buddhist practice is close but not too close, different but not too different. Gendlin offers not a bridge between Buddhism and Western tradition but an experiential space in which the two can act upon one another—resonate—and in so doing allow something new and unforeseeable and grounded in both to emerge.
Gendlin was born to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, in 1926. Escaping the rise of Nazism, they moved to Holland and arrived in the United States in 1939. He studied, and later taught at, the University of Chicago, and has received numerous awards in the field of psychology.
Gendlin’s family will hold a private memorial service in the near future, and the International Focusing Institute will hold a public celebration of his life at a later date.
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