Table of content
- 1 A compilation of quotes by Assagioli on the
- 1.1 The communication channel between I and the Transpersonal Self:
- 1.2 Mental silence and purification of the channel:
- 1.3 Invocation will open the channel:
- 1.4 Writing can open up the channel
- 1.5 Aspiration and devotion widens the channel:
- 1.6 The will can keep the channel clear:
- 1.7 Joy opens the channel:
- 1.8 Ceremony can open the channel:
- 1.9 References
Did you know there is a direct channel of communication between your ego and the Transpersonal Self? The knowledge of this channel is one of the key insights of psychosynthesis – it is depicted in the famous egg-diagram of psychosynthesis pioneer Roberto Assagioli as a dotted line linking the conscious “I” (ego or personal self,) to the Transpersonal Self (Soul).
This channel has been called the I-Self connection – and I discuss the philosophy behind this concept in my article The Connection Between Ego and the Transpersonal Self.
In the following article, I will enlarge on this topic and look at techniques for opening up this channel.
Let’s start with a quote from Assagioli (1965 p. 43), who describes the experience of this connection: “The opening of the channel between the conscious and the superconscious levels, between the ego and the Self, and the flood of light, joy and energy which follows, often produce a wonderful release.”
This quote goes to the heart of the subject. The opening of the I-Self connection creates a “release” from our limiting attachments to the ego’s false self-images and creates a connection to the spiritual identity of our innermost being. I will first clarify this point, then I will describe how to make the connection later in this article. The entry point for the I-Self connection is the conscious “I”, which is at the core of our personality (see diagram). The conscious “I” is a centre of pure self-awareness and will – it is the observer of the contents of our awareness (our thoughts, emotions, sensations). When we disidentify from the contents of awareness and identify instead with awareness itself – with consciousness itself – this is when we are open to the I-Self connection. This sense of openness is an experience of contentless awareness – a silent watchful presence. When the I-Self connection is open, we can receive subtle impressions and realisations from the transcendent part of us, which Assagioli termed the Transpersonal Self – we can still the mind and, in self-aware attentive silence, receive the subtle energies and messages of the Transpersonal Self. This is the essential knowledge of the I-Self connection. You can read more about this fascinating subject in the following extract from my book The Soul of Psychosynthesis, which concludes with a compilation of explanatory quotes by Assagioli.
The process of self-realisation
Asked why our personal lives don’t reflect the superconscious, Assagioli (Freund, 1983) replied “because there are so many things in between. Between the personal self and the Higher Self there are all sorts of things – opaque, not transparent – that prevent the light, or refract it; all sorts of obstacles”.
With this in mind, let’s explore how we can clear the channel between the personal self and the Transpersonal Self. We will investigate the nature of this channel and relate it to the developmental theory of psychosynthesis.
In the egg-diagram, a dotted line depicts a connection between two levels of self-awareness: self-awareness at the level of the Transpersonal Self and self-awareness at the level of the conscious “I”, which is the level of the personality. Assagioli (1965, p. 214) writes: “Our spiritual being, the [Transpersonal] Self, which is the essential and most real part of us, is concealed, confined and ‘enveloped’, first by the physical body with its sense impressions; then by multiplicity of the emotions and the different drives (fears, desires, attractions and repulsions); and finally by the restless activity of the mind. The liberation of the consciousness from the entanglements is an indispensable prelude to the revelation of the spiritual Centre.”
Self-realisation, according to Assagioli, means disidentifying from mental, emotional and physical energies and identifying instead with consciousness itself. We do this by becoming the observer (the conscious “I”) and uniting with the source of consciousness, which is the Transpersonal Self. Self-realisation leads to the development of new qualities in our personality that reflect the Transpersonal Self’s radiation – hence we can manifest the Transpersonal Self in the world. (We can encourage this process by working with Ideal Models and subpersonalities.)
Assagioli suggests two different methods for accessing the Transpersonal Self, which in practice must be combined.
The first method involves anchoring superconscious states in the personality via the use of Ideal Models and symbols. This method involves purifying the personality and its reactions to these superconscious states – this gradually leads to the development of new qualities in the personality that enable us to better express the love and will of the Transpersonal Self. We can refer to this process as enlightenment through the superconscious (Diagram 2) because it is an approach to the Transpersonal Self through the anchoring of superconscious qualities in the personality.
The second method is a process of direct awakening to the Transpersonal Self. Assagioli (1965, p. 202) explains: “Self-realisation, in this specific well-defined sense, means the momentary or more or less temporary identification or blending of the I-consciousness with the spiritual Self, in which the former, which is the reflection of the latter, becomes reunited, blended with the spiritual Self.”
Assagioli’s term “thread or ray” refers to the dotted line in the egg-diagram, which is the I-Self connection between the Transpersonal Self and the conscious “I”. Assagioli speaks little about this connection but it is nevertheless very important: the I-Self connection is our direct line of communication to the Transpersonal Self.
The conscious “I” is a projection of the Transpersonal Self, so the I-Self connection must share its characteristics. We might therefore conclude that this connection is a channel of pure self-awareness and will – a silent space – connecting “heaven and earth”.
The channel is formed of a male-female energy polarity, which Assagioli (Keen, 1974) speaks about in this quote: “In the centre of the [Transpersonal] Self is a union of the masculine and feminine, will and love, action and observation.” Assagioli uses many other images to describe the channel: it is “elastic” (Undated 1); it is “a channel of communication” (as cited in Freund, 1983); it is “an elevator” connecting the ego and Transpersonal Self (as cited in Keen, 1974).
Here is how Assagioli (2007, p. 78) describes the gradual coming together of the conscious “I” and the Transpersonal Self: “Before attaining reunification there is a time of dramatic ‘inner dialogue’ – appeals, questions and answers – followed by a gradual coming together and by ever more frequent and vivid sparks between the two poles as they approach one another until the point where they meet. They then separate again until that moment of great peace when the two become one.”
To summarise, the Transpersonal Self’s direct influence reaches the conscious “I” through the I-Self connection, indirectly passing through the superconscious. One of the ways that the conscious “I” experiences the direct influence of the Transpersonal Self is via a “calling” or a “pull” (Assagioli, 1974, Chapter IX).
How do we develop the I-Self connection
So how do we develop the I-Self connection? Assagioli states that the channel must be cleared before the Transpersonal Self can manifest in our consciousness. As mentioned above, Assagioli suggests two primary methods for clearing the channel: the first is through the practices of disidentification and awareness meditation, both of which facilitate inner silence; the second is through the direct invocation of the Transpersonal Self, asking for its intervention, then waiting for the Transpersonal Self’s response.
Assagioli (2007, p. 160) describes the effect of silence: “After this [preparation] must come the attainment and practice of ‘mental silence’. This clears any obstacles between the mind and the higher cognitive functions, intuition, or enlightenment. More broadly it means purifying the channel between the personal ‘I’ and the Transpersonal Self. This means purifying the whole personality and consciously withdrawing from identification with that personality through the cultivation of a divine ‘indifference’ to its demands, so that one can then identify with the [Transpersonal] Self.”
Speaking with his students, Assagioli (Undated 1) instructed them in a form of meditation: “But also with Self we can use each day for a moment, first a rapid recollection of the personal self, quieting as much as possible in a short time, relaxing the body, quieting the emotions, asking the mind to be so good as to keep still. And then in the measure, we succeed in doing that, the elastic pull, the thread between the personal self and the Transpersonal Self can be considered as being elastic, and a good elastic. And when all the things which tie the personal self to the ordinary level are eliminated in a measure, the pull continuously operates and the personal self is drawn joyously upward toward the Self. In the silence let us try, as much as possible, to go close to the Self, without strain or anxiety, but calmly, joyously and easily, helped by the central affirmation: ‘We are that Self, That Self are we.’ Try to realise it in the silence.”
According to Assagioli (Undated 1), it is a radical process to try to achieve direct unity with the Transpersonal Self because not only do we have to be disidentified from our personality but also from the transpersonal states in the superconscious. When we attempt direct contact, we can easily lose ourselves in ecstatic peak experiences and forget that the Transpersonal Self’s purpose is to bring light to humanity.
When we have disidentified from all states of consciousness, we awaken, according to Assagioli, to the Transpersonal Self’s static aspect. Assagioli (1965, p. 202) explains: “In these cases, there is a forgetfulness of all contents of consciousness, of all which forms the personality both on normal levels an those of the synthesized personality, which include superconscious or spiritual levels of life and experience; there is only the pure intense experience of the Self.”
In order to strengthen the pure awareness of the observer, increasingly longer periods of mental silence are needed to create the necessary inner void or sense of emptiness. This is why the communication channel is referred to as the “silent path”. In a conversation with one of his students, Assagioli (Freund, 1983) suggested the following technique to help with disidentification:
“There are some techniques which can help with disidentification. The first and most effective is the realisation of infinity, eternity and universality. And that’s completely scientific. The universe is practically infinite. The universe has no end and no beginning; perhaps, in millions and millions of years, but that’s, for us, practically eternal. And then it’s universal because all, everything, acts and reacts on everything. So, if you meditate, or just think, and try to realise this fact of infinity, eternity and universality, that will create an atmosphere of peace, of serenity.”
In the same conversation with Diana Freund (1983), Assagioli describes the second method we can use to clear the channel, which is the personal self’s invocation of the Transpersonal Self (see Diagram 3); he states:
“Invocation is the royal road. Invocation clears the channel. That thread between the personal self and the Transpersonal Self is really a channel, a channel of communication. And the most effective method is invocation.
“There are two chief ways for clearing that channel – one is to rise through techniques and discipline, upward. The personal self aspires and rises upward toward the Transpersonal Self and sometimes reaches the level of the Superconscious and then it can have peak experiences and broadening of consciousness and illumination. The other method is to attract the down pouring, what religious people call grace, but it isn’t grace, it is scientific; it is an answer to an appeal. And that attracting can be done, perhaps even more effectively, when the personal self is in trouble. You know the saying ‘man’s extremity, God’s opportunity’. Translated in scientific terms: in a psychological crisis, the appeal of the personal self for help gives an opportunity for the Transpersonal Self to pour down its energy or its light or its love. You see that?”
Freund stated that, at this point in the conversation, Roberto interrupted himself to state that the two ways – whether coming from a harmonious condition or from a condition of anguish – were not actually separate: the channel they each cleared was the same, only the approach might be different. Assagioli said: “Often the personal self tries to raise itself up to a certain point and succeeds, but it cannot go further – at that point, it invokes.”
Assagioli continued the conversation by offering these examples of invocations:
“May the light of the Self enlighten me.”
“May the love of the Soul pervade me.”
“May the peace of the Spirit enfold me.”
A compilation of quotes by Assagioli on the I-Self connection
The communication channel between I and the Transpersonal Self:
“Sometimes a veritable dialogue occurs between the personal ‘I’ and the Self. The mind, recollected in meditation, refers questions and receives inner replies, rapid and clear. When attempting such a dialogue, however, much prudence and discrimination must be exercised. Not infrequently ‘voices’ are experienced and ‘messages’ are received which come from or are transmitted by the personal or collective unconscious, and whose contents do not tally with truth. They can deceive and are apt to dominate and obsess.” (Assagioli, 1974, p. 226)
Mental silence and purification of the channel:
“The Higher Synthetic Mind. This gives a correct and clear view of whatever it focuses its attention on. In addition to its capacity for true perception, it has the function of recognising and correctly interpreting intuitions when they present themselves to the conscious mind. This is the true meaning and function of discrimination. But before it can perform this task, the area of the consciousness needs to be purified, that is to say emptied of the contents with which it is normally occupied and which prevent the free use of the higher mind and intuition.
“This highlights the need first of all for reflective meditation, which only allows mental activities aiming at the desired knowledge. After this must come the attainment and practice of ‘mental silence’ . This removes all obstacles from the channel linking the mind with the higher cognitive functions or intuition and enlightenment. On a broader scale, this means eliminating all impurities from the channel linking the personal ‘I’ to the transpersonal Self. This actually involves a purification of the whole personality and a conscious withdrawal from identification with that personality through the cultivation of a ‘divine indifference’ to its demands, so that one can then identify with the Self.” (2007, p. 160)
“When a state of silence has been reached, that is, after a period of effort and struggle to achieve silence, then we are ready for the further stage of reception. The inner attitude is one of quiet watchfulness and patient waiting; it can also be described as a state of keen but unemotional interest in what may happen and of what we may become aware. The source from which we await impression, and to which therefore we direct our one-pointed attention, should be the Transpersonal Self. That is the sure source of true impression. But it is not the only source; impressions from other sources, if these are high and true, are often channeled or conveyed through the Self to the conscious mind.” (Assagioli, Undated 2)
Invocation will open the channel:
“But it is we who must invoke the Self, we who must take the first step, open the door or create the channel. Only then can the Self intervene, for it will not force us or impose itself on us. We have the gift of free will, and though we make so little use of it, it is the most precious gift we have, because through our experiences, mistakes and suffering, it brings us to reawakening. The Self will not in any way force our hand, but if we address it, it will respond.” (2002, p. 78)
Writing can open up the channel
“Writing can, in fact, be used as a technique for evoking inspiration; it creates a convenient channel for the higher impressions. But while writing one should always remain alert and fully aware, not allowing any form of ‘automatic’ writing, which can easily have undesirable and even dangerous effects.” (Assagioli, Undated 2)
“A very practical rule is to fix these glimpses (intuitive) immediately writing them down. This not only enables us to preserve a treasure which would otherwise be irretrievably lost, but it has the further advantage of widening the channel between the conscious and the superconscious in this way facilitation the recurrence of such glimpses.” (The Construction of the Personality, 18 pages, Archieve Florence, Italy)
Aspiration and devotion widens the channel:
“They feel that they can best reach the goal by eliminating, as much as possible, the obstacles and resistances inherent in their personality; by widening the channel of communication with the higher Self through aspiration and devotion and then letting the creative power of the Spirit act,
trusting and obeying it.” (1965, p. 26)
The will can keep the channel clear:
“It seems evident that the will possesses no direct power over the intuitive function; it can even hamper its functioning. But here also the will can perform a most helpful indirect action; it can create and keep clear the channel of communication along which the intuitive impressions descend. It does this by imposing a temporary check on the distracting activities of the other psychological functions.
The will can encourage – (encourage, not coerce, I repeat) – the intuitive operation by formulating questions to be addressed to the superconscious sphere, the seat of the intuition. These questions must be given a clear and precise form. The replies may come promptly, but more often they appear after a lapse of time and when least expected.” (1974: 195)
Joy opens the channel:
“The tendency to be overly serious can be counter-balanced by a sense of delight, by enjoyment of the wonders surrounding us, by appreciation of all that is beautiful. As such an attitude becomes established, it provides a channel for the deeper joy of the Transpersonal Self to emerge and radiate. It has been said that gaiety is a reflection in the personality of the joy of the Transpersonal Self, and also that joy, like a thermometer, indicates the measure of our Transpersonal Self infusion.” (Assagioli, Undated 2)
Ceremony can open the channel:
“A ceremony or ritual should constitute the expression or symbol of a principle or reality much greater than itself. Its function is to offer a channel to the higher realities and beings whereby the evoked spiritual energies may pervade the consciousness of those present, thus becoming anchored and expressed objectively.” (Assagioli, Undated 2)
Assagioli, Roberto, Psychosynthesis, 1965, Hobbs, Dorman, Dorman & Company, Inc.
Assagioli, Roberto, The Act of Will, 1974, Penguin Books Ltd.
Assagioli, Roberto, Transpersonal Development, 2007, Inner Way
Assagioli, Roberto, Undated 1, Talks on Self: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/talks-on-the-self-by-roberto-assagioli/
Assagioli, Roberto, Undated 2, Meditation Group for the New Age: https://meditationmount.org/study-courses/
Freund, Diana, Psychosynthesis Digest, Spring 1983: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/conversation-with-roberto-assagioli-an-interview/
Keen, Sam, The Golden Mean of Roberto Assagioli, 1974, Psychology Today: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/the-golden-mean-of-roberto-assagioli/