Zur Erinnerung an John G. Watkins

„Leave a trail of wisdom …..“

John Watkins, at the age of 9 already showed a keen interest in astronomy when he received a one inch rifle site telescope from his parents. At age 12 he made various star observations and published his findings in the Journal of the American Astronomical Society. A small telescope brought visions of celestial worlds to this young boy ….. and a desire for “wisdom” impelled this boy’s later move to academic halls. However, he soon discovered that universities teach only knowledge, not wisdom. As a young man of serious mind, like a true Dao-Tsai, he searched for “The Way” – what man’s striving is all about. He traversed “The Way” for almost a century (98 years) and discovered that all life is a promise, a challenge, an exciting exploration, and that one must become a complete individual on one’s own in order to experience true oneness with a universal ocean of life energy. This man is John. G Watkins.

It is indeed an immense honour for me to pay tribute to this man. John Watkins had become a mentor, guru, father, artist, teacher, friend, trainer and colleague for many people. Many have been inspired by his academic self, therapeutic self, his resonance and humanity in helping people to recognize the multiplicity of their inner resources and to actualize their potential.

There is no doubt that John’s life was really a legacy of gifts. He undertook a career of giving. By painstakingly fashioning many a young psychologist, colleague, child and client, he gave them symbols of his wisdom, about being human and himself. He gave them the gift of learning, the gift of laughter, the gift of tears, the gift of understanding, the gift of love and above all, the gift of healing. In his book “The Therapeutic Self”, he quotes the wise old psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Stekel, who is reputed to have looked up from his deathbed, as if to grasp the meaning of the hundreds of lives which he had treated and, just before dying, whispered, “It’s all a matter of love”. This is also so true in John’s case. His gifts matured into psychological wisdom that influenced the careers and lives of so many people, clients and professionals alike. He once said: “Medical Practice can save a life; Psychotherapy can improve its quality, creating love, peace and lasting happiness.”

John cultivated not only a re-awakening of what we are – our self, but also an understanding of fundamental human values such as compassion, trust, hope and above all, the interdependence of humans on each other. This is a gift from him in a time when love seems to be fading and hatred and despair rising, when human values are forgotten and only differences remain. I can only describe his life as a golden journey, a discovery of self-energy, resources and potentialities which he believed is so implicit to each human being. Finally, his life reminds one of an inevitable “quitting time”. However, John Watkins’s life will leave a trail of wisdom for future generations ….. that “life should not merely be valued for its quantity measured in chronological time, but for its quality measured in experiential time …

Woltemade Hartman Ph.D.
Leiter des Milton Erickson Instituts Pretoria/Südafrika