A definition of spiritual expansion by Roberto Assagioli from his book Transpersonal Development
The fourth group of symbols includes those of expansion, or broadening, of consciousness. It is helpful to remember that though different symbols may appear contradictory, actually they complement one another in a consistent whole. Just as with descent to the lower regions it is useful first to ascend in order to be able to descend without danger, so when one is seeking to enlarge the consciousness without becoming lost in its vastness, it is necessary first of all to take up a firm position at the centre of one’s being. We might even say that a person’s capacity for expanding consciousness is in direct proportion to the strength and stability of that centre. So rather than being mutually exclusive, these two groups complement one another.
The psychiatrist Urban talks about the ‘spectrum of consciousness’ and says that we are only aware of a limited range, similar to that of the spectrum of light from red to violet, but he says there are also psycho-spiritual regions corresponding to infra-red and ultraviolet. It is possible for our area of consciousness to expand or broaden to include ever larger regions of psycho-spiritual impressions and ideas. This expansion may be understood in ‘spherical’ terms, implying expansion in all directions, both vertically and horizontally from the individual to the group, to society and to the whole of humanity. But one needs to recognize oneself and not become lost in the whole. Leopardi and Carducci both spoke symbolically of these two possibilities: in his Infinito, Leopardi talks about ‘losing oneself in the whole’, while Carducci, in his Canto dell’amore (Song of Love), says, ‘Is it I who embrace the heavens, or is the universe reabsorbing me from within?’
Another series of symbols of greatness or enlargement is based on the Sanskrit word mah, meaning ‘great’. It is from this that we get magister (master), magician and mahatma. We speak loosely of ‘great’ people, in contrast with the small ‘normal’ person.
Expansion and inclusion of others within oneself is also linked with the symbolism of love (see Group 10).
Another direction for expansion is the one taking place over time. The normal person usually lives in the present, engaged in, if not enslaved by, the interests of the moment. But consciousness can be enlarged to include ever widening cycles in a multi-dimensional time continuum. In this way we may come to understand that the significance and value of a human life does not reside in any specific, isolated moment, but in an ongoing process stretching at least from birth to physical death. This expansion in time and the inclusion of even greater cycles prepare one for the passage, we might even say the jump, from time to eternity, understood not as an unlimited period but as a dimension outside of time, a transcendent dimension in which our spiritual Centre exists and remains, independent of the flow of the river of time.« Back to Glossary Index