The Philosophy and Writing of
James Harvey Stout
Who am I? The definition which I present to the public is the same definition which I present to myself: "I am a smart, intuitive person who writes good books." Although I write spiritually oriented books, I do not claim any special wisdom; I have only the same wisdom which we all have. But my regular insight is amplified into high-quality books by my ability to organize commonly known ideas into perspectives which are fresh and inclusive. My particular viewpoints might interest you.
I write primarily for people who want to have a mainstream life. These are people who have a busy life, family, career, friends, recreational activities, hobbies, the natural desire for a better material life, etc. -- and also a feeling that spirituality is an innate part of a balanced life. Spiritual growth and fulfillment can be found in every lifestyle. There is no reason to be "religious" or to withdraw from life in any way; on the contrary, I believe that we are in this world to learn through through real-life experience -- rich and varied, with a normal, healthy personality which makes us accessible to the widest range of people and opportunities.
I do not tell you how you must live. I do not know what is best for you. I have neither talent nor skill nor training in any type of counseling. All that I do is explain the dynamics of the psyche and of spirit to the best of my ability, and then I leave you to your own intuition, intelligence, and experience, to decide how you might apply the principles to your life. The most important part of my book deals with the development of intuition, so that you can create the life which feels right to you.
My writing is eclectic. The ideas come from many different sources -- religions, psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, and other means by which we learn about life. But I believe that intuition provides the best ideas (including my concept of archetypal fields), and it also provides the models which tie the ideas together; I read other people's books to gather bits of data with which to fill in these models.
I am not trying to create a new religion or a new school or psychology or philosophy. Instead, I am explaining the generic dynamics which I perceive in the foundations of every belief system. I do not attempt to convince you of anything; your beliefs belong to your own private life, and I have no reason to "convert" you to my beliefs. I do not have an agenda; therefore, I can look at the topics with some objectivity. I am not trying to change you; I am not trying to change the world.
My approach is both psychological and spiritual. There are many qualities which we associate with both spirituality and psychological well-being: love, balance, inner calm, openness, creativity, etc. Those qualities can be developed from the perspective of either the spirit or the psyche. Generally, my books take the psychological approach -- more specifically the "cognitive" approach (i.e., changing our viewpoint as a way of changing our life) -- because this approach gives us something to do -- mentally, physically, and socially -- while we simultaneously explore the dynamics of matter and spirit. But the same results can be attained -- perhaps to a deeper and more long-lasting level -- through the natural action of spirit flowing through us, gradually shaping us into alignment with its nature, and so I try not to over-psychologize (and over-secularize) the ultimately sacred matter of personal growth.
My approach is natural. I believe that enlightenment is the natural state of being, and so the path to enlightenment is a natural one, as we follow our innate drives, and we free our inborn love and wisdom. Nothing is repressed; nothing is rejected; contrarily, nothing is presented as an ideal to which we must conform. We are not expected to be gods or saints; we are not expected to live anything but a human life -- full of feeling, warmth, and the mistakes of a person who loves life enough to be willing to take the chances which might seem wrong or ridiculous.
- I believe that individuals' psychological problems are the basis of all social problems -- crime, war, drug addiction, etc. -- and that social reform and legislation offer little more than a cosmetic treatment.
- Many social plans require the manipulation and control of the populace, and they sometimes result in the extermination of people who do not fit into the plan, as we have seen in the examples of many political and social "visionaries."
I write technical manuals, not religious books. Other writers use a devotional and poetic approach, based on the valid belief that some things can be expressed (and understood) only through the heart. While spirit does indeed "flow like a river" in a seemingly non-logical manner, these teachers give us flowery metaphors when, instead, we want technical information and analysis. And we can have that "tech support" when we distinguish spirit from mind, and we understand the different dynamics of the two -- the linear movement of mind, and the non-linear movement of spirit. Many of the experiences which others have relegated to the "ineffable" are indeed explainable in the clear, crisp words of logic and mechanics (without denying the accompanying "fluid dynamics" of spirit); thus I can present unambiguous definitions, underlying principles, synergistic systems overviews, and the type of technical precision which you might expect from a well-written computer manual. We can learn as adults, not as children who have been told to be content with superstition, blind faith, mystification, superficial rituals, and foggy explanations. My books do not teach religion; they teach physics. This is something which makes sense, something we can work with, and something which we can use as a tool for achieving spiritual and psychological maturity. And yet, with the heart of a mystic, and the mind of a scientist, I have learned that everything is not reducible to formulas and methods; in the end, illumination comes to us through the unfathomable gift of "grace."
Everything in my writing is "speculation and perspective." I do not believe that we can know anything for certain (although I am not certain about that <grin>). In my writing, all ideas are presented as speculation -- whatever rings true to me at this time, whatever is "the best that I have come up with so far." I feel that all closure is "premature closure." If you are looking for a writer who will confidently tell you the ultimate truth on any subject, you will need to go elsewhere; there are many such teachers who will be happy to take you in. I try not to settle into dogma, and thus I continue to learn -- and I acknowledge your dignity as intelligent, intuitive individuals who are expected to challenge and test every word in my books, as you incorporate whatever you want on your personal journey through life.