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Communications between human beings must be framed and included in a broader context of universal communications and relationships.
- Abstract by Jan Kuniholm: Communication is essential for successful cooperation, of which the stages are 1) communication, 2) understanding, 3) right relations, 4) cooperation, and 5) creation and renewal. Communications have very different origins: from the outside world there are radiations from various sources which effect people and animals. Human communications occur in this context. There are communications within ourselves, both conscious and unconscious, as well as communications with others. These may take the form of spoken or written speech, each of which has advantages. Certain forms can be most effective, that are used in business but can be used in education. Non-verbal communications include dance and movements, images, sound and music, signs and symbols. These raise the question of right perception and right interpretation. Communications are useful as far as they are understood, but understanding is often poor and imperfect. Errors in communication include errors of thought and of language. A most common error of thought arises out of statements of absolutes, which modern semantics have shown to be fallacies. Other errors include mistaking the part for the whole, and attributing subjective qualities to something objective. Errors of language arise from the fact that some words have multiple meanings, or meanings that change over time, that cannot be translated well, or that are used in different ways. We should be aware of the sense we give to a term we use. It is more appropriate not to communicate certain things, like useless, negative or harmful things, which can create a psychic poison that is as harmful as physical pollution. It is important not to communicate things that will not be understood correctly, or used as expected. Silence itself has a positive value, which one can create within ourselves.
Before speaking specifically about Communication in the New Era, I think it is appropriate to deal with the subject of communication in general. First of all, we must realize well how important this is for the successful implementation of world cooperation, which has been given special impetus since 1965.[i]
The necessary first stage of cooperation is that of communication, both among those who are about to work together, and between them and those for whose benefit they will collaborate. External communication among people is becoming easier and easier, given the tremendous development of the technical means of communication that now exist. However much remains to be done, especially among “underdeveloped” peoples, given the multiplicity of languages and dialects they use and the still very widespread illiteracy.
But while a vast and intensive effort is being made, especially by UNESCO, to increase the modes and opportunities for communication among peoples and among individuals, an equally, indeed more important work needs to be done concerning the quality of communications.
As we mentioned in the booklet on World Order in the New Era (Year II, 4-5 p. 10), communications have no value, indeed they can produce — and very often do produce — damaging effects if they are untruthful, if they are biased, if they are used for propaganda purposes in the service of political or financial interests. It could be said that the main purpose of “communicating” is — or should be — to produce constructive cooperation. But only a right understanding allows the establishment of right relationships, first among the collaborators themselves, and then between them and those toward whom they carry out their activities.
Cooperation that is done well produces something new, thus it is creative. Therefore, it can be said, in summary, that the successive stages are (1) communication, (2) understanding, (3) right relations, (4) cooperation, and (5) creation and renewal.
I. Origin of Communications
When we speak of communications we immediately think of those between people carried out by the normal means of the spoken or written word and images. But in reality [various] communications have very different origins and are transmitted in very different ways; it is good to realize this clearly.
Communications that come from the outside world.
There are first of all those consisting of the innumerable influences of the “environment,” understood in the broadest sense. They are transmitted by “radiations” of all wavelengths emanating from the earth’s atmosphere, the sun, planets, visible and invisible stars and other cosmic sources. Only a small portion of them are perceived by our senses, but many more — but certainly not all — are picked up by various instruments (telescopes and radio telescopes) that record “communications” from transmission sources up to 500 million light-years distant.[ii]
These radiations exert strong influences on our organisms, produce biological modifications, and act on our nervous system and psyche. Some of such influences are connected with particular weather conditions and are well known, such as the depressing action of sirocco[iii] and föhn.[iv] Others certainly noted, even among animals, are the states of malaise and agitation that precede earthquakes.
These disruptive effects, called “meteoropathies,” have been the subject of scientific study for several decades. It has been found, for example, that they are related to the electrical state of the atmosphere and particularly to the increase in positive ions; but there is still much to be discovered in this field. However, it is worth taking them into account, since they strongly influence human behavior and relationships. For example, it has been established that certain meteorological and cosmic influences greatly increase the number of epileptic seizures, suicides, crimes and occupational accidents. Knowing about them, even if only partially, can help people safeguard against them and master them.
Coming now to the relations between humanity and nature, some people, especially poets and mystics, have described their intimate communions with nature, their “communication,” indeed living participation with it, and the expansions of consciousness it has produced in them. But I believe that many others, to a lesser degree, have had similar experiences. Then there are, in a more definite and specific way, communications with the animal world, particularly with domestic animals; there is a large body of observations on this as well.
So communications between human beings must be framed and included in this broader context of universal communications and relationships. It could perhaps be said, somewhat paradoxically, that while the means of communication between human beings are more “psychological” and are used consciously, the difficulty of communication and of the consequent understanding may be greater, either because of the imperfection of the means of communication themselves, or because of the frequent illusion of having understood the message, when in fact one has misinterpreted it or even not understood it at all. But of this we shall have occasion to say more later.
II. Communications Within Ourselves
1) Among the elements of our personality of which we are conscious.
If we observe what takes place within ourselves, we become aware of a continuous internal “dialogue,” of various “voices” alternating and often arguing and contrasting with each other. In the past, we used to speak of contrasts between reason and feeling, passion and duty, etc. In psychological terms, these are “communications” between various parts of ourselves, which are sometimes even sub-personalities. Within the mind itself, when we think, there are various “voices” presenting alternatives that we must examine, discuss, and then deliberate and decide. [v]
2) To and from the unconscious.
Modern psychology has shown that there are continuous communications between consciousness and the unconscious. “Messages” come from the unconscious, often in symbolic form; and inversely our conscious self continually tries to communicate with the unconscious, giving orders and suggestions. These communications often exert a profound influence, and it is therefore necessary to become aware of them in order to regulate and use them. This is the task of well-understood psychoanalysis[vi] and psychological techniques to influence the unconscious.
3) From the superconscious.
There are communications from the superconscious, and those that come from the soul, the spiritual self. These are the higher messages to which we often pay no heed, out of disbelief or inattention; we are attracted by other voices, other cares and concerns, when instead we should be using “the inner ear,” cultivating attention and sensitivity to these communications “from above.” We will discuss this further. [vii]
III. Communications With Others
These are the psychological and spiritual communications with individuals, groups and currents of thought of various levels. We will examine them by dealing with the means of communication.
Means of communication.
The most frequent and normal means of communication are verbal, and among these first and foremost is the spoken word. At present this has acquired immensely greater extension and power than it had in the past through radio and television, which enables simultaneous communication with thousands and even millions of people.
Then there is the written word, which, in terms of effectiveness of communication, has advantages and disadvantages compared with the spoken word. The spoken word has greater, immediate and direct effectiveness for two reasons. First, because of the very presence of the transmitter, who, in addition to by means of the word, also “communicates” by means of its irradiation (however often unconsciously, both on the part of the emitter and on the part of the receiver).[viii] It may be the case that these communications are not mentally understood or are misunderstood, but this does not prevent their effectiveness. In addition, the spoken word receives increased power from the fact that it is often associated with another category, of “nonverbal communications.” This includes all movements that accompany speaking, such as gestures, especially facial expressions, eye expression and hand movements; it could be said that some speakers speak no less with their hands than with their mouths. Speaking of sound, we shall say more later about the influence of the voice.
On the one hand, the spoken word is inferior to the written word because of its transience; indeed, it is very easy to forget what one has heard, even if at the moment it has interested one greatly. But even worse is the belief that one remembers, while often one actually remembers inaccurately or even incorrectly. The distortions and even falsifications that messages undergo when they are transmitted several times from one person to others are well known. This deficiency of the spoken word has recently been remedied by means of recordings, which make it possible to retain and hear again what was said at will. This is widely used in radio and television broadcasting; nevertheless, what is recorded is still a very small part of what is continuously said in verbal transmissions between people.
On the other hand, written communication has several advantages over spoken communication. First, what is written is often (though not always) formulated more clearly, more neatly, more thoughtfully. It is well known how many writers carefully and repeatedly revise and correct what they had written on the spur of the moment. We need only recall the example of the French novelist Flaubert, a master of style, who not infrequently devoted hours to correcting a single page. Even such a spontaneous thinker, such a fruitful writer as Hermann Keyserling rewrote up to six or seven times certain chapters of his books that he considered most important, for example those in the last part of his South American Meditations. [ix]
Another advantage of the written word is its indefinite permanence in time and its limitless diffusion in space. Today we can still read what Plato wrote two thousand five hundred years ago, and even older texts dating back thousands of years. Moreover, through translations the written word travels to and endures in distant places and among different peoples on all continents. In addition, the written word is made easily available to all who seek its messages through libraries, both general libraries and specialized libraries in which writings on the same subject are collected. This was made possible by the invention of printing with all its current technical refinements. Finally we have arrived at microfilms, which make it possible to condense entire libraries into a small space, and it can be expected that in the New Era libraries will consist increasingly of microfilms. [x]
Special mention should be made of communication by means of mottos, heraldic “devices,” short phrases, slogans, and even single words, which can be most effective when they are “suggestive;” that is, they arouse deep emotions, vivid feelings, and stimulate the mind with their unusual or paradoxical wording. I will recall the powerful rousing effect exerted at the time of the French Revolution by the words, Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité. At the mental and spiritual level there are the sentences and aphorisms of many sages, especially ancient ones; the incisive phrases of Jesus recorded in the Gospels; and the puzzling koans of Zen Buddhism. On a more earthly level, suggestive phrases — often with much psychological skill — are now widely used by manufacturers and marketers. This is a medium that should be more appreciated and used for psychological and spiritual development and in education.
2) Non-verbal means of communication.
In addition to those means of communication we have mentioned that accompany speech, there are those that are independent of it.
(a) Movements. First and foremost are body movements, among which the most expressive are those coordinated and, I would say, organized in dance and rhythmic movements. The effectiveness of the sacred dances of the past, of ceremonies with ritual movements and gestures, was immense. This is true, in part, even now: just think of the profound significance of the ritual movements and actions woven into the Catholic Mass.
(b) Images. Another broad category of nonverbal communications is that of images. These have a particular suggestive and communicative efficacy. This was known even in the past (a Chinese proverb says “a picture is worth more than a thousand words”). Now then in modern life, the power of images has been immensely increased by the improved mechanical and color reproduction of the images themselves, which are multiplied in hundreds of thousands of copies. Whereas in the past, in order to see and be influenced by an image such as Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or others of high artistic and expressive value, one had to go and see them where they were, at present their countless reproductions can have a psychological effectiveness almost equal to that of the original. In television also, the spoken word and images combine and enhance each other.
(c) Sound and Music. The effectiveness, indeed the power of sound is well known. It has a threefold action: communicative, evocative and creative. It can be used in various ways: as a sound or as an isolated note; by a simultaneous combination of sounds (musical chords); or by a succession in time (rhythm, melody). All these are generally brought together in musical compositions. Moreover, when associated with speech its effectiveness is enhanced (recitation; singing; prayer; psalms; hymns; etc.).
This theme would require an extensive development that is not possible to give on this occasion. We will therefore limit ourselves to saying that the use of sound as a means of communication could and should be done on a broad scale, but with greater awareness and with more caution and sense of responsibility. For depending on the way in which it is done, it can have either supremely beneficial, or harmful and even destructive effects. Artists (in this case, musicians)[xi] should recognize their serious responsibility regarding the effects from their creations. Their aesthetic merit does not justify their possible harmful effects; on the contrary, the greater their expressive, and therefore communicative, effectiveness, the more they can exert maleficent psychological and physical influences. [xii]
(d) Signs and symbols. Many nonverbal and verbal communications are symbolic. Among them some have a conventional meaning easily understood by all. One simple example is that of the red and green traffic lights that regulate traffic, and the same can be said of all the symbols contained in road signs. Conventional symbols are widely used in science, for example in mathematics. Algebra can be said to be entirely communicated through symbols, and to a great extent the same is done in chemistry, and now also in biology.
Certain psycho-physiological experiments reveal that we are all susceptible to optical illusions. In contrast, what might be called “psychological color blindness” and the many psychological illusions are more difficult to expose, and therefore more insidious. So with regard to symbols, in addition to the difficulty of their right perception, there is that of their right interpretation. But this is part of the general problem of understanding.
Communication by means of signs and symbols particularly raises the question of right understanding. Even the simplest signs may not be understood or perceived, because of a defect in the organs of perception. A typical example of this is color-blind people, who have a vision defect whereby they do not distinguish one color from another; therefore, it is important to always ascertain whether there is exact perception of a signal, or whether someone about to drive a car can distinguish the colors of traffic lights.
IV. The Understanding of Communications
The usefulness and value of communications depend largely on the manner and extent to which they are understood. A careful and thorough examination reveals the disconcerting fact that this understanding is very often poor and imperfect. This is first of all the case with communications that come to us from nature and the cosmos. Indeed, it is well known how superstitiously their “messages” were interpreted until the rise of modern science. But even now scientists recognize how little we still actually know about the universe and how the hypotheses and theories built on the data coming to us from it, from its “communications,” are only uncertain, relative, and constantly changing. Most serious scientists no longer claim to explain [reality], as was claimed in the euphoric period of materialistic science in the last century. Now scientists speak of “models,” descriptions, concepts, and symbols, but they have no illusions of having direct knowledge of reality.
But more serious still is the lack of understanding that exists in communications between human beings, which is the source of incalculable harm and suffering. It is therefore necessary to do everything in our power to eliminate this lack, or at least reduce it as much as possible. A first and greatest difficulty consists precisely in the fact that we do not realize that such misunderstanding exists: in the fact that we believe or delude ourselves that we understand, while we do not understand or misunderstand. So the first task is to notice, to become more and more aware of the many errors that are made in communications — and this as much on the part of those who transmit them as on the part of those who receive them. In this field much progress has been made especially in recent decades, and in good part by the movements of thought and research that goes by the name of “semantics.”
Errors made by communicators can be divided into two major classes: errors of thought and errors of expression, of language.
1) Errors of thought
Errors of thought are innumerable. It can be said that one of the main tasks of the scientific method, from its beginnings with Francis Bacon and Galileo Galilei to its subsequent refinements to the present day, is to expose and eliminate those errors. But there is still much to be done! On this occasion we shall merely point out some of the most important and most widespread errors of thought, and whose consequences are most harmful. A first type, which is widespread, one might even say almost continuous, is that of absolute statements. In semantics, technically this has been called “the fallacy of the excluded middle,” based on a strict application from the principle of identity formulated by Aristotle, expressed thus: “[either]A is A, or A is not-A.”[xiii]
A clear and amusing example of this fallacy is contained in a well-known paradox. Epimenides, who was a Cretan, said, “All Cretans are liars.” This statement poses a logical problem: if all Cretans are liars, then what Epimenides said is also a lie; therefore, it is not true that all Cretans are liars. But, if that is the case, then Epimenides may have told a truth. This contradiction cannot be resolved on a purely logical basis; the solution lies in rejecting the very formulation of the dilemma as artificial and unreal.
Humanly speaking, it is not possible that all Cretans were [always] liars. There is nothing absolute in the human psyche; therefore, translated into psychologically realistic terms, the meaning of the sentence is, “Very often Cretans are liars.” This error of “absolutism,” which has also been called “arbitrary generalization,” consists in attributing to an entire class of objects or people a characteristic that is peculiar to only a part of them. It is a mistake that is continually made in making judgments (which are actually prejudices), making general criticisms and condemnations of a people, a race, a social class or a person. Those who are thus “misjudged” naturally resent and counter-judge; from this results a series of misunderstandings, hostilities, even hatreds that are among the major causes of conflicts and wars. As Attila[xiv] said, “The peoples …” [xv]
However, these errors are not only of “thought,” the result of erroneous logical deductions. They are often produced and then fixed and “energized” by emotional factors and aggressive impulses. Another way to designate this error is “mistaking the part for the whole.” A very frequent example is what many mothers commit when they tell a child who has committed something reprehensible, or considered as such, “You are bad.” This is at once a logical and psychological error, and is a “communication” that can have deleterious effects. For no one is entirely “bad,” just as no one is entirely “good.” Every such attribution, every such “label” fails to take this into account.
These wrong attributions, when expressed, or “communicated,” have very harmful consequences. If you repeatedly tell a child, “you are bad,” his unconscious receives and accepts this judgment, this suggestion, and then he actually tends to become bad, to behave “badly.” Evaluations — or rather “totalitarian” devaluations — of this kind constitute one of the major causes of conflict and broken “communications” between “parents and children,” and between adults and youth.
Another aspect of this error of “taking the part for the whole,” is to fail to recognize that two opposing attitudes and behaviors can coexist in a person at the same time. Let us take a well-known and extreme case, that of Edison. It can be said that he was distracted, but it can also be said that he was extremely focused. For distraction, we cite the fact that he would have forgotten the day and time of his wedding while he was busy doing experiments in his laboratory; for concentration, we point out that when he was dealing with a problem that was close to his heart he directed his attention continuously to it for hours and days. So in reality he was at the same time distracted about what did not interest him at a given moment, and concentrated in what he was doing. The “distractions” attributed to Newton, Einstein, etc., should be considered in the same way.
Another broad class of error and misunderstanding is that created by the attribution of qualities or characteristics to objects, to external things, that are instead subjective. In reality all our perceptions are subjective and relative. Thus it is an error to say: this rose is red, this leaf is green. For our sensations of red or green are merely our way of perceiving given frequencies of vibrations of matter (or of the ether).
An obvious example of this subjectivity of our sensations is given by the small experiment cited by Wendell Johnson[xvi] in his book People in Quandaries,[xvii] with which he gives a clear demonstration. Let us take three vessels containing water, the first one, on the left, has [a temperature of] ten degrees [°C], the one in the middle is at twenty degrees, and the one on the right is at thirty degrees. Let us dip our left hand into the first and our right hand into the third for a few minutes; then withdraw our hands and dip them both into the one in the middle. Well, in the left hand we will have a feeling of warmth; whereas in the right hand we will have a feeling of coolness.
This shows that it is not the water that is hot or cold, but it is we who have sensations of cold or heat, depending on the relationship between the temperature of our body and that of the objects with which it comes into contact. But this “subjectivity” is not limited to the perception of “objects;” it is also found in the countless emotional reactions, in our appreciations and “judgments” about situations, events and people. Therefore, recognizing its existence and correcting the illusions it produces is not only of philosophical or scientific interest, but gives us a way to avoid serious errors of thought and conduct.
2) Errors of expression, of language
These arise from the inherent imperfection of verbal expression as a means of communication. It consists basically in the fact that the same word not infrequently has several different meanings.
First of all, the meaning of a word can change over time. For example, the word “tyrant” for the ancient Greeks did not have the current negative connotation at all, but simply indicated a political leader; the same was true of the word “idiot.”[xviii] Also various words change in meaning from one language to another; e.g. publisher, factory,[xix] etc. In some cases the difference is less obvious, but therefore more insidious, and can produce even serious misunderstandings. It seems that one such misunderstanding in translating the Japanese word […] produced […].[xx] Certain words in one language do not have an exactly equivalent term in the others; for example, the German word Stimmung.[xxi] But the most frequent misunderstandings in spoken and written communication are produced by the ambiguous and sometimes very different meaning that the same word has or can take on. A typical example is “democracy,” which is used both unconsciously and tendentiously with quite different meanings. The same can be said of the word “freedom.”
In the philosophical and psychological fields, then, the confusion of terminology is great. The words “personality” and “individuality” are used by various psychologists in opposite senses, and as many as 50 different meanings have been attributed to the former, according to Allport![xxii]
Given this, we should be concerned each time we use a given word to specify in what sense we use it. But, generally, not only do we not care to do so, but we ourselves do not even realize what sense we give it. Our conceptions are often confused or simplistic, and they do not take into account how complex reality is in its living concreteness, in its continuous change and transformation.
Let us apply this to one of the universal psychological realities, to an experience we all have: love. We say to another person, “I love you;” or “I love this or that.” But we do not pause to consider how we love or what kind of love it is. In fact there are very different, and sometimes even opposing, kinds of love: there is instinctive love; there is passionate love; there is romantic love; there is possessive love that tends to enslave; and there is love that pours out and radiates. But this is not enough; further distinctions are needed. In reality, it is rare for us to love exclusively in one of these ways; in fact, our “love” consists of different proportions or percentages of the various types mentioned above. But there is even more: these proportions are themselves not fixed or stable; they vary at different times and under different circumstances.
This explains the countless misunderstandings, the frequent conflicts that occur between those who love each other or claim to love each other. If anything, sometimes the loved one asks “how much do you love me? but more rarely “how do you love me?” which is much more important. Someone who is sincere is very embarrassed to answer this question. There is even more: given the multiplicity in human beings, there may be within them contradictory attitudes or impulses toward the same person. One may feel attraction and repulsion, love and hostility at the same time; that is what is called “ambivalence” in psychoanalysis. But all these errors in thinking and evaluation are reflected in our communications. This shows how difficult it is to communicate well, how complex and subtle the art of communicating is, and how it would require long preparation and training. But at least knowing about these sources of errors can help eliminate at least the grosser and more harmful ones.
V. The Content of Communications
What can or should we communicate? Let’s start with the reverse: what is not appropriate to communicate? Indeed, it is just as important to eliminate useless or harmful communications as it is to communicate positive and constructive things. To do the latter we must eliminate the former!
As has been mentioned, an enormous mass of things is currently being communicated that is certainly not worth communicating. First of all, an immense amount of things that have no use, reported only to gratify curiosity, the desire for emotions, sensations, etc. Then negative, harmful things: everything that is is pessimistic, bitter, aggressive, destructive should be eliminated. These include criticizing others and remembering negative things about them, or petty gossip. This is enormously abused, and we should all guard ourselves firmly, severely, and restrain ourselves from saying negative things about others, and also about life, about the world.
If we feel compelled to [criticize others and remember negative things about them] — and this happens to everyone, we are not angels — we should keep it to ourselves, not dump it on others. There is an effective and witty English expression that advises one “to consume one’s own smoke.”[xxiii] This analogy is very topical, and the problem of eliminating the noxious fumes from chimneys and from automobiles that poison the air is now being considered [socially and politically important]. By contrast, little or nothing is done about the psychic atmosphere around us that is impregnated with psychic poisons that emanate individually and collectively.
Each person can be likened to an automobile exhaling the products of its combustion, and each group and assemblage of people can be likened the smokestacks of large factories that give off fumes. Therefore, “consume your own smoke” — do not exhale psychological poisons into the psychic world. They even harm ourselves, for after exhaling these poisons, we inhale them ourselves along with those of others. They return to us, indeed [go] into us, like the boomerang of the Australians. There is therefore every reason and duty to avoid harmful communications.
For those on the spiritual path, this requirement is even more imperative. One is more responsible for any negative expression; it creates an obstacle to further progress. Also on the spiritual path, there is another duty: that of not giving premature information for which people are not prepared. This is not only, to use the energetic expression of the Gospel, “not throwing pearls to swine,” but not giving things that may be dangerous, in the same way in which one does not open the doors of a chemistry laboratory to children.
Hence the injunctions to silence — silence not only about what may be premature, but also not talking to people about things that are beyond their understanding. Here again there is an effective English expression, “not to talk over their heads.” In this regard, however, as in many other cases — one could perhaps say in almost all cases — one cannot give absolute rules. It is not infrequently difficult to predict what use may be made of a “communication,” or rather which uses, since the various persons or groups receiving it may react in different and even opposite ways. Sometimes the first effects may be negative, and then the later ones are beneficial. Sometimes one has to take what has been called “a calculated risk.” But it must be “calculated” as best as possible; that is, after serious thought and consideration.
Let us remember that silence, in addition to the aforementioned reasons for “not communicating,” also itself has a positive value. Currently, it can be said that there is no such thing as silence, neither physical nor psychological nor spiritual. We constantly live amidst external noise, and there is an internal clamor of a thousand voices within us. The external noise can be escaped, to a certain extent, by going to the countryside; but it is much more difficult to quell the internal noise: continuous reception of impressions and continuous emotional and mental reactions create a perpetual turmoil within us. We should “create silence” within ourselves; that is, “disconnect communication” — just not receive it, not to shut ourselves down, but just to not pay attention; then it becomes like a buzz […].
[i] The United Nations General Assembly named 1965, the 20th anniversary of the founding of the U.N., as International Cooperation Year, to emphasize the role of the international community in world development. —Ed.
[ii] It is estimated that visible light is only about 0.0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. —Ed.
[iii] A hot wind, often dusty or rainy, that blows from North Africa to southern Europe. —Ed.
[iv] A type of dry, relatively warm downslope wind that occurs on the lee or downslope side of a mountain range. —Ed.
[v] The word “think” (pensare in Italian) is derived from “weigh” (pesare in Italian) —Author’s Note.
[vi] Assagioli uses “psychoanalysis” in its generic sense, not in reference to any school or doctrine. —Ed.
[viii] Assagioli here is referring to telepathic communication and also the subliminal light and electromagnetic energy as well as the non-physical radiation that is emitted from a human being, especially when one’s intent is focused on another. Certain sensitive people are aware of such radiation, and some can “see” it and describe it in detail. —Ed.
[ix] Original in German: Südamerikanische Meditationen, Deutche Verlags-Anstalt, 1932; English edition, London, Jonathan Cape, 1932 —Ed.
[x] Obviously this was written before the widespread use of computers, with their vast storage capacity. —Ed.
[xi] Some disagreeable music was apparently the subject of the talk before this was presented. Assagioli was known to dislike certain contemporary music that employed excessive discord, jarring rhythm, or certain other effects. Later studies have shown that such music disturbs infants and can stunt the growth of plants, for example.—Ed.
[xii] The curative or pathogenic effects of music have been discussed in the author’s essay: Music as a Cause of Disease and as a Healing Agent. —Author’s Note. This essay was first published in 1933, revised and enlarged in 1956 and published as Issue No. 5 of the Psychosynthesis Research Foundation. It was also included in the volume Music: Physician for Times to Come, compiled by Don Campbell in 1991. —Ed.
[xiii] Deriving from Aristotle’s Metaphysics, in classical logic the “law of the excluded middle” (which modern semantics calls a fallacy) proposes that “there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories, but of one subject we must either affirm or deny any one predicate. . . it will not be possible to be and not to be the same thing at the same time in the same way.”—Ed.
[xiv] Attila (c.406-453), leader of an empire of Huns and other tribes who was one of the most feared enemies of the Roman empire, who invaded and plundered Roman territories east and west. —Ed.
[xv] The rest of this quote and its source are unknown. One internet source indicates that “As a condition of peace, Attila also demanded that the Romans continue to pay tribute in gold and … the peoples outside the borders of the empire.” Assagioli may have used Attila’s distinction of peoples within the Empire and those outside it to indicate the condition of warfare, which a recognition of the oneness of humanity would eliminate.—Ed.
[xvi] Wendell Johnson (1906-1965), an American psychologist, was a proponent of general semantics and founded the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center at the University of Iowa. —Ed.
[xvii] Johnson’s book, People in Quandaries:The Semantics o f Personal Adjustment was published by Harper & Row in 1946. Newer editions are available online. —Ed.
[xviii] The Greek noun idiotes meant a “private person,” or one who held no public office and was not in the public eye. —Ed.
[xix] Editore means “publisher” in Italian, but when moved over to English it refers to an editor, or one who works in the production and arrangement of written materials rather than their publishing. Historically a “factor” was a commission trader or agent. A “factory” was originally a trading post rather than a manufacturing center.—Ed.
[xx] Elisions were in the original manuscript. —Tr.
[xxi] Stimmung has been rendered variously in English as mood, atmosphere, sentiment, tuning, spirit, pitch, humor, and other words, none of which quite capture the sense of the German. —Tr.
[xxii] Gordon Allport (1897-1967), American psychologist who was of the first psychologists to focus on the study of personality. —Ed.
[xxiii] In On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History, English writer Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The suffering man ought really to consume his own smoke; there is no good in emitting smoke till you have made it into fire.” —Ed.
[i] Source: website psicoenergetica.com. Date of the original is unknown, although it is after 1965. —Ed.
[ii] Interpolations by editor are shown in [brackets]. —Ed.