About J. Ash Bowie
I am currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, entering into my fourth year. However, I am temporarily residing in beautiful Salem, Massachusetts to work on my dissertation and try to get into an internship. Born in 1969, I am originally from Houston, Texas, although I consider Austin to be the home of my heart. Eventually I hope to move back and start up a private psychotherapy practice.
I grew up in the Unitarian Universalist church, which is where I developed my humanist values. As a young adult I left the church to seek out more active forms of spiritual development, which resulted in a 15-year involvement with various esoteric movements grounded largely in Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and multiple forms of mysticism. It was during this time that I adopted the ethics of personal growth, maturity, and critical thinking as foundational elements of a spiritual life.
After entering into my graduate psychology program, I developed an entirely new perspective on the religious experience. On the one hand, I’ve been aware of how beneficial spirituality can be in people’s lives; and on the other, I’ve gained scientific insight into the biopsychosocial nature of religion. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers—as the saying goes, the more one learns, the more one learns of his own ignorance.
The other major event in my life was Janet. A brilliant and very well educated woman, she has helped guide me back to my spiritual roots. She happens to have worked for the UUA in Boston for the last few years, and has a wealth of knowledge regarding naturalistic expressions of religion. Being a compassionate pantheist herself, Janet has been an invaluable partner as I have stumbled through the deep ocean of relevant material, ranging from Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists to Ursula Goodenough and the Religious Naturalists. Thanks to Janet, I’ve been deeply inspired by areas of thought new to me, including process theology and emergence theory.
All of these subjects, experiences, and aspirations have become integrated into Sacred River. The primary pragmatic focus in my life will be the promotion of my psychotherapy career, at least for the next few years. However, Janet and I both plan to put significant effort into fulfilling our vision of building a movement dedicated to developing a naturalistic, progressive approach to spirituality, to forming healthy, open spiritual communities, and to helping people of all ages lead lives that are meaningful, fulfilling, and joyous.