Table of content
- 1 The conscious “I” – the perceiving eye in all of us
- 2 Psychosynthesis: a psychology of energies
- 3 The Egg-diagram and the different levels of energies
- 4 The ten psychological laws, the psychological functions and their energies
- 5 The Self and its energies
- 6 The Seven Ways of Self-realisation
- 7 The Five Levels of Types
- 8 How do we find our Way and Soul Type?
Roberto Assagioli saw a need for “a science of the Self and of its energies.” This article explains how psychosynthesis is the first step toward Assagioli’s goal of a new psychology, called Psychoenergetics.
By: Kenneth Sørensen
The article was first published in the December 2018 issue of the AAP-Journal of Psychosynthesis. Citations in parentheses refer to References listed just before the Endnotes.
Western science and Eastern philosophy found common ground when Einstein formulated his theory of relativity and concluded that energy and matter are interchangeable. But what is the practical significance of this scientific realisation to the domain of psychology?
If all is energy, how does this affect our understanding and perception of our outer and inner worlds? How many levels of energy are there, from the physical level to the superconscious and beyond? What types of energy can we identify and speak about in a meaningful way? Can we become the masters of these energies and, if so, how? How can we work with these energies within our professional role as psychosynthesis practitioners?
There are so many exciting questions to ask and, it seems to me, Roberto Assagioli has already offered many answers in creating the foundation for a new form of psychology he called psychoenergetics.
Psychoenergetics is concerned with the various psychological radiations, qualities and energies that each of us emanates. It seems there are different qualities of energy that condition how each of us experiences our own personal and transpersonal psychosynthesis. For the psychosynthesis practitioner, I believe it is crucial that we can detect these psychological differences when working with our clients.
In this article, I will look at how Assagioli defined energy and included it in his conception of psychosynthesis. In particular, I will look at his concept of the Seven Ways of Self-realisation because I believe they offer the key to understanding seven different types of energies that exist in the universe. In my upcoming book, The Seven Types, I describe my research in psychosynthesis typology, which offers seven psychological types, which correspond to the same seven energies.
The conscious “I” – the perceiving eye in all of us
Psychosynthesis is one of a very few psychologies that present a model and a practice designed to show us how to wake up to the fact that we are conscious beings embedded in a world of energy. Anyone who has practiced awareness meditation or the disidentification exercise for a while, and succeeded in disidentifying from the content of awareness, knows as fact that all is energy.
During this type of introspective exercise, we can observe how the different psychological energies arise from moment to moment and sway us in different ways according to their particular motivational quality. We soon discover that we are not the “master of the house” but often a prisoner and a slave to many strong impulses and energies.
A first step in Self-realisation is to become aware of this situation. This awakening develops naturally during psychosynthesis training when, as Assagioli suggested, a strong emphasis is placed on developing the centre of pure consciousness and will: the observing and directing “I”.
The realisation that all is energy has huge implications when it comes to one of the central objectives of psychosynthesis, as described in the well-known motto: Know thyself, Possess thyself, Transform thyself. This goal, which is at the core of psychosynthesis, is to become the masters of our lives so we can serve the world abundantly.
When we begin to observe, direct and navigate intelligently through the inner world of energy, we have taken the first step in a life-long exploration and adventure that will not only benefit our own lives but could contribute towards the creation of a whole new psychology. However, this new psychology of energy, while implicit in psychosynthesis theory, still needs a language and a set of definitions.
Psychosynthesis: a psychology of energies
Assagioli spoke extensively about different types of energies in his books and articles, and in doing so he created a foundation for a new psychology of energy, which he called “psychoenergetics”.
In a lecture from 1973, which has been published as an article called The New Dimensions of Psychology: The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Forces, Assagioli presented psychoenergetics as one of the five waves of psychology. He laid out the historical development of the science of psychology, from its inception in the last decades of the nineteenth century to the present. He proposed a development moving from behaviorism to the psychoanalytic movement, then to humanistic and transpersonal psychology, finally culminating in the emerging Fifth Force of psychoenergetics.
The aim of psychoenergetics is, according to Assagioli, to investigate all forces existent in the universe and their interaction:
- The physical energies, starting from the sub-atomic level and extending to the astronomical, galactic level.
- The biological energies, the organisers of living matter.
- Specifically psychic energies of all qualities and at all levels.
- Spiritual, transpersonal, transcendent energies.
With these comments, Assagioli is taking up an old thread because his writings from the beginning are permeated with the concept of energy. Let me explain how he shaped the contours of a new emerging psychology.
In a note from 1970 in the Assagioli archive, he clearly states his mission: “… we’ll try to build the psychology as psychoenergetics, of which psychosynthesis will be one of the chief expressions.”
In his book Psychosynthesis (1965: 194) we find another very important statement in which he briefly outlines how a new science of energies could be initiated and what the objectives could be:
What we hope to see developed over a period of years – and certainly do not claim has yet been achieved – is a science of the Self, of its energies, its manifestations, of how these energies can be released, how they can be contacted, how they can be utilised for constructive and therapeutic work. At this stage, since we do not have scientific instruments which enable us to measure these energies directly, we still have to rely on essentially a phenomenological position, in the sense of insisting on the experience itself, and hoping that sooner or later – maybe not in the lifetime of the author – science will attack this problem on a rigorous “energy” basis.
Let us for the sake of clarity highlight the specific objectives of psychoenergetics. It is a science of the Self:
a. of its energies,
b. its manifestations,
c. of how these energies can be released,
d. how they can be contacted,
e. how they can be utilised for constructive and therapeutic work.
The question is: Did Assagioli offer his own theories and answers to the above objectives? I believe he did, and my aim is to present some of these answers in this article.
The Egg-diagram and the different levels of energies
Let us start with the different “manifestations” of the Self. Here we can look at how Assagioli describes the different levels that are depicted in the Egg-diagram.
When we talk about levels of energy we are referring to the structure of the universe and how the Universal Self (or, at an individual level, the Transpersonal Self) manifests different energies at different levels of consciousness, from the subconscious to the superconscious and beyond.
According to Assagioli, the three levels of the Egg-diagram and the collective unconscious are fields or levels of energy that can be brought into awareness through personal and spiritual psychosynthesis. According to Assagioli: “There are various levels of reality, or if you like a modern term – energy fields. Each has its own qualities and laws.” Assagioli called this concept “another essential point of psychosynthesis” (Undated: 2).
In my article Why Assagioli Put a Star in the Sky (2017b)  and in my MA thesis Integral Psychosynthesis (2008), I have attempted to demonstrate that Assagioli held to the following concepts in his writings:
a. He defines at least seven levels of energy – physical, emotional, mental, imaginative, intuitive, will and transcendent – in accordance with the “Great Chain of Being” and perennial philosophy.
c. Higher levels are higher frequencies of energies that interpenetrate the lower levels (Assagioli, 1965: 198-200)
d. Higher levels transcend but include the lower (Assagioli, 2007: 190)
e. There exists a natural exchange of energies between all levels (Assagioli, 2007: 255, 2002: 62)
f. Within each level there exists higher and lower frequencies of energies (Assagioli, 2007: 84, 2002: 98-99)
g. The different levels of reality (energy fields) have their own qualities, powers, values and laws that need to be mastered by the ascending soul (Assagioli, 1965: 198-200; Undated 2: 9).
Clearly, Assagioli did a lot of thinking about how the Self manifests its energies. When it comes to the question of how the energies can be “released” and “utilised” he introduces a lot of advanced ideas. The most illuminative example of this might be the ten psychological laws, as described in his book The Act of Will.
The ten psychological laws, the psychological functions and their energies
With his ten psychological laws, Assagioli, in my opinion, offers a scientific foundation for a modern raja yoga and psychoenergetics because he is describing how the psychological energies can be contacted and utilised.
He also, in my opinion, defines one of the primary objectives of psychoenergetics when he writes (2002: 257): “The psychosynthetic goal is to acquire the ability to direct energies at will—that is, through the directing function of the will—in any direction and fashion, according to specific purposes, intentions, needs, and demands.” He is talking about becoming a master of all the energies within and utilising them for the benefit of the whole, and the ten psychological laws offer an insight into how we can develop this capacity to master the energies.
Also important for our investigation is Assagioli’s identification of seven psychological functions:
6) Intuition, and
He claims that each of these functions embodies or works with a particular “psychological force” (2002: 46) or energy and that we must encourage the client to develop “a strong will and the mastery and right use of his impulsive emotional, imaginative and mental energies. ” (1967)
The energies of thought, imagination, desires, etc., interact with each other in many spontaneous and automatic ways, but our will is “that function which, being at our command, can stimulate, regulate, and direct all the other functions and forces of our being so that they may lead us to our predetermined goal” (2002: 47). He also suggests that the dynamics of the psychological energies “are regulated by laws as definite as those governing physical energies” (2002: 51).
Taken together, Assagioli seems to be offering a theory of energies and psychological forces with an encouragement to us all to experiment with and master the energies through the application of the will, via the ten psychological laws. Not an easy task, but a worthwhile one.
The Self and its energies
Let us now familiarise ourselves with the source of all the energies, which is the Transpersonal Self from an individual perspective.
We can conclude that the various energies we encounter in our awareness are released by the personal or transpersonal self via the different psychological functions or from the collective unconscious and its many levels of energy outside the Egg-diagram.
In the article Talks on Self, Assagioli differentiates between the core of the Self and its radiations. He writes:
The basic differences between the core and the radiation from the core are the essence of the Self – being – and its rays and radiations. All our transpersonal experiences are experiences of radiations, qualities, energies of the Self but not of the Self itself… [The Self] is a static, pure being but it acts… The Self radiates. Aristotle called it in that fine paradox the “Immovable mover”. It is immovable but sets in motion everything else… Also, a jewel is static, but sparkles.
Let us see how Assagioli understands this in a very practical way (2007: 47-48):
Energies radiate outwards from the personality as if from a great source of light; luminous rays shine out and pervade the atmosphere. This irradiation occurs spontaneously – I would almost say inevitably – and this explains the effect the mere presence of a person who has had transpersonal experiences has on those with whom he or she comes into contact.
Each of us necessarily and inevitably radiates what he is. (1968)
(Radiation) expresses what we really are, which, in both a higher and a lower sense, is much more than we are aware of.
Emerson wrote in his essay on Social Aims: “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary. One may disguise the tone of the voice, but the radiation of the heart cannot be falsified.” (1968)
When Assagioli describes how the personality radiates we enter into the practical realm of psychoenergetics. We have an opportunity to learn how the energies can be utilised for constructive and therapeutic work. One branch of psychology especially suited for this task is Differential Psychology because it deals with human typologies and the types of qualities, radiations and energies each person emanates. Psychosynthesis typology is also well suited to investigating the energetic aspects of personality types. Let us investigate that claim.
Assagioli has given us a lot of material to digest with respect to the seven psychological types and the Seven Ways of Self-realisation. In his book Psychosynthesis Typology (a small but very condensed piece of literature), and in various articles and chapters, we find a wealth of information for an energy-based typology. The energies each of us radiates are the spiritual and psychological forces coming especially from the different psychological functions, which we described above.
I do not have enough space here for a detailed presentation of the seven psychological functions and their corresponding psychological types. Here I will focus on the Seven Ways of Self-realisation and how they interact with the psychosynthesis process.
The Seven Ways of Self-realisation
The “Seven Ways of Self-realisation” is a familiar concept within psychosynthesis theory and is taught in many professional centres around the world. One of the prominent books on this topic is Piero Ferrucci’s monumental work Inevitable Grace (2009). Here he writes about the spiritual breakthroughs in the lives of great men and women. His extensive research makes it plausible to argue for the validity of seven ways of spiritual psychosynthesis.
The different spiritual approaches to reality have long been recognised in the East, particularly in India; and in the great poem The Bhagavad Gita this is clearly stated: “As men approach me, so do I accept them. Men on all ways follow my path.” (1V, 11) The chapters in this poem admirably expound the various ways which are each suited to special types of people and their different degrees or levels of inner development.
The above passage points to how, in Hindu philosophy, different types of yoga are suited to different individual types: Raja yoga for mental types, Bhakti yoga for devotional types and Karma yoga for practical types, etc. All the different types of yoga can also be combined in one single way through the Yoga of Synthesis, as proposed by Sri Aurobindo.
But even though there are similarities between the Seven Ways and the different yoga schools, they are not entirely the same. Indeed, not all spiritual realisations occur within a religious context. This becomes vividly clear in reading Ferrucci’s book, and also in the work of Assagioli where he deals with The Seven Ways. I have found seven sources where Assagioli presents his seven ways. The following is taken from his book Transpersonal Development (2007: 44-45):
There are many different ways of expanding the consciousness as one moves upwards, and they are related to different psychological types and different individual constitutions. We can identify seven main ways. I would point out at once that these methods are not separate and that in practice they tend to overlap, so it is possible for a person to proceed along more than one path at the same time. The fact remains, however, that they are distinct and for the sake of clarity, to begin with at least, we need to describe them and get to know them separately. We can then move on to possible ways in which they can be combined. They are as follows:
- The Way of Science
- The Way of Enlightenment
- The Way of Regenerative Ethics
- The Way of Aesthetics
- The Way of Mysticism
- The Way of Heroism
- The Way of Ritual
In the above passage and in the provided sources, we see the Seven Ways are based on the seven psychological types, and each specific way is given a name. Assagioli sometimes uses slightly different terms for each of the ways. For simplicity, I have created a table to show some of Assagioli’s different terminologies alongside Ferrucci’s terminology and the seven psychological types (references in the left-hand column). 
From one point of view the different ways all lead to superconscious Self-realisation, or what Assagioli calls spiritual psychosynthesis, but from another point of view, as we progress and become more balanced in the final stages of our Self-realisation, the different ways merge to become one synthesised way. Assagioli explained:
There are seven main ways of spiritual or Transpersonal realisation. The ways are not sharply divided; in fact, they frequently overlap to some extent. Some individuals may follow two or three ways concurrently; this is because there are no pure types, and also, each of us has different Ways or qualities manifesting in the different aspects or levels of our being. But all ways are directed to and lead to the same great goal, therefore, the more balanced the individual, the greater the overlapping of the ways and their blending and fusing.
We have established that each of the Seven Ways corresponds to a different psychological type and function; they also each correspond to the particular force/energy, which each of the seven functions transmits.
But here it is important to mention an additional theory, hinted at in Assagioli’s above quote, where he states: “Some individuals may follow two or three ways concurrently; this is because there are no pure types, and also, each of us has different Ways or qualities manifesting in the different aspects or levels of our being.” Let me try to explain what I think “no pure types” means to Assagioli.
The Five Levels of Types
In his book Psychosynthesis Typology, he speaks about the important fact of mixed types: “Mixed types can and do exist. One person can possess essentially, in the depth of his being, the quality of a certain type while his external personality can demonstrate the traits of another type.”
What I suggest Assagioli is speaking about here is the concept of a person’s having both a Soul Type and a Personality Type. The idea here is that typology operates at many levels, as Assagioli said: “Each of us has different Ways or qualities manifesting in the different aspects or levels of our being.”
In Psychosynthesis Typology Assagioli describes how each of the seven types manifests on five levels, the physical, emotional, mental, personality, and intuitive level. So the “five levels” is not a new concept in this regard.
In another published article, Discrimination in Service, Assagioli explains that modern psychology in his day had not yet addressed many of the complexities of human nature. The seven ways in which seven types operate on five different levels, must be studied from several perspectives, according to esoteric psychology:
The better our understanding of our fellowmen the more clearly we realise how much they differ from each other. Modern scientific psychology, with its discovery and description of the various types, such as extroverts, introverts, etc., has done useful work in this direction, but it is as yet only in the pioneer stage, and very incomplete. Fortunately, valuable teachings in the field of esoteric psychology enable us now to begin to consider and study each human in terms of:
a. The stage of evolution attained and, consequently, of his prevalent polarisation (physical, emotional, mental).
b. The Rays which qualify his soul, his personality, and his mental, emotional and physical bodies.
c. The Zodiacal signs which condition the individual.
d. The points of cleavage or lack of integration in his personality existing at various levels.
e. Methods of co-ordination and synthesis (integration and fusion) suited to each individual case.
f. His life tasks (vocation, avocation, service).
This is a fascinating and fruitful line of research, not only for spiritual workers but for every doctor, teacher, parent – in fact, everyone who realises the responsibility and the opportunity inherent in the influence we have on our fellowmen.
In the above list labeled a. through f., Assagioli offers what I believe to be foundational ideas for developing the new form of psychology that he calls psychoenergetics. To study each human in terms of energy, we must consider:
“The Rays which qualify his soul, his personality, and his mental, emotional and physical bodies.”
The rays are an esoteric concept from the writings of Alice Bailey, a close associate of Assagioli. According to Bailey, the Rays are seven universal energies, which create seven psychological types. They are identical to Assagioli’s types. This becomes quite clear when we compare the names of the seven types from Bailey’s writings with Assagioli’s.
To summarise, it seems that we have here an indication that the seven psychological types manifest on five levels: soul, personality, mind, emotion, and body and I have illustrated this in the diagram below, The Five Psychological Levels.
My research and experience as both a therapist and spiritual practitioner, have led me to develop the following theory around how psychosynthesis typology fits into the five levels:
- A person’s soul ray or Soul Type (one of seven) determines which of the Seven Ways most influences how we seek and express our individual path to Self-realisation, e. the manner of our transpersonal psychosynthesis and the corresponding type of crisis.
- A person’s Personality Type (one of seven) determines the manner or style in which we pursue our path to personal psychosynthesis. The personality type shows the quality and type of ambition which colors our life, including the manner in which we are motivated to work to achieve a healthy ego-development.
- Of the other three levels – mind, emotion and body – we can say that a person also has a mental type (thinking style), an emotional type (temperament) and a physical type (body). Each of these types provides important information about how we might try to integrate and synthesise conflicts between the different levels of the personality.
I believe Assagioli hinted at these ideas in his writings. When speaking about the Egg-diagram in his book Psychosynthesis, he writes:
What Assagioli refers to as “following the thread or ray,” I would describe as the process of connecting with and utilising a specific energy, a soul quality which needs to be embodied and manifested in life as part of our service to the world and our soul path.
Therefore, according to this model, it is essential for Self-realisation that we come to a knowledge of our Soul Type and personality type. In particular, this will help us when navigating and mastering spiritual crises—which is something Assagioli himself highlights as crucial in a lecture from 1932 (Spiritual Development and Nervous Diseases), given at the International Centre of Spiritual Research at Ascona, Switzerland. In this talk, Assagioli offers an invaluable discussion of the different types of crisis in relation to spiritual awakening and development. In the following statement he indicates that crises can arise from conflict between the ray of the soul and personality (1932: 254):
…difficulties may arise from the different qualities of the forces brought into play. The quality of the soul’s energy, which is technically called the Ray of the Ego, may be different from that predominant in the personality. This frequently produces a period of conflict between the two, which may cause various nervous diseases until an adjustment is effected.
How do we find our Way and Soul Type?
Finding our Way and Soul Type is an intuitive endeavour each of us must accomplish. Making use of the practice of psychoenergetics can help the individual work with the Seven Ways to discern their own particular Way and Soul Type. In doing so, it is a good idea to work with a skilled psychotherapist or coach who has specialised in psychoenergetics and who can use the tools required for assessing a person’s Soul and Personality Types.
Working with a team of specialists, I have created an online tool that uses a questionnaire as an initial assessment regarding one’s personality and soul type. We call it JivaYou profiles and the personality test is free. Our recommendation is to use this identity profile with the support of a coach or therapist who can help you to explore your life choices regarding education, employment, relationships and other interests and pursuits – all of which can help to provide you with a validated hypothesis about your types so you can test them in life.
In conclusion, I encourage you to read Assagioli’s own words on these topics – as referenced in this article – and to draw inspiration for Self-realisation by reading Ferrucci’s book Inevitable Grace. As you do so, perhaps you will find your soul quality resonates strongly with one or two of the Seven Ways. Which of the following resonates most with you?
The way of the Hero, leader, warrior, conqueror or ruler.
The way of the Illuminator, lover, healer, guide or sage.
The way of the Genius, communicator, trendsetter, innovator or thinker.
The way of the Artist, harmoniser, creative, storyteller or transformer.
The way of the Explorer, inventor, researcher, factfinder or revealer.
The way of the Visionary, advocate, idealist, mystic or athlete.
The way of the Creator, philanthropist, organiser, systematiser or manifester.
Kenneth Sørensen (1962) is an author, publisher and the former Academic Director of the Norwegian Institute of Psychosynthesis. He has an MA in Psychosynthesis from the University of East London and is a trained Psychosynthesis Psychotherapist.
Assagioli, Roberto, 1932, Spiritual Development and Nervous Diseases, The Beacon, vol. XI. The above article is the transcript of a lecture delivered by Dr Assagioli at the Third Summer Session of the International Centre of Spiritual Research at Ascona, Switzerland, in August 1932. It was later revised and included in his book Psychosynthesis, 1965 in chapter II: Self-Realisation and Psychological Disturbances.
1967, Jung and Psychosynthesis: 1967, The Psychosynthesis and Research Foundation. Issue no. 19.
1968, The Science and Service of Blessing, 1968, Sundial House
1973, The New Dimensions of Psychology: The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Forces. A complete version of the article can be found here, including a paragraph that was missing from the first edition of the article and later added :
1974, The Act of Will, Turnstone Press
1965, Psychosynthesis, HOBBS, DORMAN & COMPANY, INC. New York
1976, Transpersonal Inspiration, Psychosynthesis Research Foundation (reprint) Issue no. 36.
1976b, Psychological Mountain-Climbing, Psychosynthesis Research Foundation (reprint) Issue no. 36.
1983, Psychosynthesis Typology, The Institute of Psychosynthesis. Available via this link: https://www.psychosynthesis.org/product/monograph-2-psychosynthesis-typology-i-tipi-umani/
2007, Transpersonal Development, Inner Way Productions
Undated 2, Talks on the Self, The Psychosynthesis and Education Trust, London
Undated 3, The Superconscious and the Self, The Psychosynthesis Trust, London
Undated 4, Discrimination in Service, The Institute of Psychosynthesis.
Bailey, Alice 1962, Esoteric Psychology, vol. 1., Lucis Trust.
Ferrucci, Piero, 2009, Inevitable Grace, TarcherPerigee
Fogel, Viv 2015, The Embodied Experience: Assagioli and Psychoenergetics Part 2
Sørensen, Kenneth, 2008, Integral Psychosynthesis a comparison of Wilber and Assagioli. MA dissertation from The Psychosynthesis Trust.
2015, The Soul of Psychosynthesis, Kentaur Publishing
2017, Integral Meditation, Kentaur Publishing
2017b, Why Assagioli Put a Star in the Sky, AAP Journal, June 2017.
 This article was published by The Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis in its September 2016 issue of Psychosynthesis Quarterly, pages 16-25.
 Assagioli. R. Letter extract 5 October 1970, Library Archives: Box 17, Istituto di Psicosintesi, Florence
 “Undated”—numbered 1 through 4—refers to materials cited in the first two sections in the References that appear just above these Endnotes.
 The article was first published in the June 2017 issue of AAP’s Psychosynthesis Quarterly.
 Institute of Psychosynthesis, London. 1983.
 (2007: 45), (1974: 116), (1965: 25, 201-222) (Undated 1), (Undated 3), (1976), (1976b)
 (Undated: 1) Assagioli also mentions an eighth way in his article The Way of Transcendence, where he writes: “Some of the Eastern Schools emphasise this way to Spiritual Realisation, and some of the Western Mystics, especially Meister Eckhart, have attempted to describe it.” It seems to me that the Way of Transcendence is really an aspect of the Way of Will because, in Psychosynthesis Typology, p. 23, Assagioli mentions Vedanta Advaita and Zen Buddhism as belonging to the Way of Will and these practices are prominent in urging transcendence.
 (Undated: 1)
 (1983: 51)
 (Undated: 4)
 (1965: 24)