By Roberto Assagioli, Drawn out from Archivio Assagioli Online – AS – ID 8433
From several quarters we hear of a crisis of psychology. There is a growing realisation that the existing academic and scientific psychologies are not adequate to minister to the needs and to solve the problems of a growing number of men and women.
The reason is that these needs are specifically spiritual and can be met satisfactorily only on a spiritual ground. In a recent book: Some aspect of psychology by Beatrice Rosling the situation is thus clearly described: p. 218-219.
Jung in his recent book which has the significant title Modern man in search of a soul, confirms that spiritual dissatisfaction is the cause of many nervous and psychic troubles and he has written to a fellow-worker:
The real ground of the neurosis is, in many cases, the inability to recognize the work that is waiting for them of helping to build up a new civilization. (Rosling, p. 220)
Indeed the dramatic persecution of the unwilling personality by the Hound of Heaven, which the great and unfortunate Francis Thompson has so forcibly described in his famous poem, is no mere poetic fiction, but an instance of what actually happens in many modem men and women.
In such cases the current methods of psychoanalysis and suggestion cannot avail, and the cure is found only through a complete reconstruction of the personality around a new and higher center of consciousness, which includes the newly awakened spiritual energies.
There is therefore an urgent need of a new spiritual psychology offering to modern man both an adequate conception of himself as a psychospiritual being, and an efficient technique for his inner readjustment and development.
Psychosynthesis is an attempt in this direction. Its aim is to contribute to the creation of a spiritual psychology and of a psycho-spiritual technique of self-realisation, of psychotherapy, and of education.
Tonight I will endeavour – within the limits of the time at my disposal – to point out some of the aspects of psychosynthesis, and then to answer to any questions which may be asked on this subject.
The inclusive conception of the “inner man”, offered by psychosynthesis may be made clear through the aid of a diagram.
(See my article).
The central problem: the realisation of the spiritual Self
- disidentification from emotional and mental elements
- discrimination between the self and the not-self
- meditation on the self and its qualities: peace, love, wisdom, joy, power
- to imagine the self – the soul as a center of light, as a radiant sun.
When we have either flashes of spontaneous illumination, or when we reach, through our inner work of aspiration, meditation and contemplation, a certain decree or level of spiritual consciousness we must be aware not to believe to have attained the full consciousness of the soul, to be really living as souls.
The true soul consciousness is something very high: it transcends the limitations of time and space and of individuality: it is omniscient and group-conscious.
The intermediate centre:
What we attain in our high moments is really an intermediate state or stage, between the normal level of our personal consciousness and the true soul consciousness.
It can be indicated in our diagram in the following way:
Our immediate aim and task is to acquire an increasing facility to attain that intermediate level and then to remain focused there as long as possible. Eventually it should become more and more our new normal point of polarisation and centre of activity.
As it is of such vital importance for all of us, let us try to grasp as clearly as possible the characteristics of that “midway point”.
- It implies a certain measure of detachment, particularly of emotional detachment. It is the consciousness of the spectator, who can observe calmly and objectively the various elements of its own personality and judge them impartially. It can also observe calmly and objectively, without emotional reactions, other people and the whole panorama of the life as it comes within the range of his perception.
- The second implication of this “intermediate centre” is a constant inner orientation towards the soul, and increasing facility of soul contacts with the resulting effects of intuitive flashes, of clear vision, of inspiration.
This “midway point” is far from being a static condition: it is – particularly at first – a state of continuous oscillation, of a continuous up and down along the thread or path between the lower and higher self. It has to be daily and hourly reconquered and actively defended from all the inner and outer influences which constantly tend to drag us down. Yet it is a noble effort and struggle, it is a definite step on the path of liberation, on the way which leads: “From the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.”
A certain degree of attainment of this mid-way point is the necessary condition for the actual psychosynthesis, that is for the building of a now coherent, organized, unified personality out of the chaos of disconnected and conflicting instincts; desires, emotions, ideas and aspirations which constitutes our life problem.
It is a work of integration and of regeneration which includes several partial tasks such as:
- The exploration of the subconscious – the disintegration of various complexes – the utilisation of the liberated energies.
- The active development of these parts of the personality which are deficient or unevolved, that is which are still in a primitive or childish state. There are more in us than our pride is often inclined to admit!
- The definite awakening and cultivation of the higher psychic qualities and powers, quite different from the lower psychic gifts which are undesirable and dangerous. Among those higher psychic powers we may include true intuition, clear vision, loving understanding, creativeness.
- The harmonious coordination of our various inner faculties among themselves, their subordination to the central power of the Self and their utilisation according to the life plan that the conscious Self has established under the guidance of the Soul.
Chief unification: Eros and Logos.
For these various inner tasks psychosynthesis uses a series of techniques or of inner tools, gathered both from the various modern methods of psychotherapy (psychoanalysis – suggestion – persuasion – re-education) and from the religious and spiritual techniques of the past, oriental and occidental.
Generally these techniques are used separately, and each of them is more or less connected with, and coloured by, a special psychological theory, a certain creed or theology. Psychosynthesis endeavours to liberate them from these theoretical limitations and distortions and to use them conjointly or successively according to a synthetic plan, adapted to the individual needs of the case. Also some new techniques are being developed.
It is really an attempt to contribute to the formation of a new yoga, adequate to deal with the problems of modern man.
But there is another spiritual aspect of psychosynthesis which must be mentioned.
Up to now we have dealt with the individual, but the isolated individual in reality does not exist: he has intimate relations of interdependence with other individuals and of subordination to the spiritual superindividual Reality.
There are therefore the problems of inter-individual and of super-individual synthesis.
Jung has greatly emphasized the influence of the “collective unconscious” and many of the facts he has brought to light are interesting and valuable, but in my opinion he has not sufficiently differentiated the lower and higher aspects of that “collective unconscious”, nor has he clearly indicated the attitude which the individual has to take towards it.
The task of the individual in this respect could be thus summarised: the endeavour to pass from the unconscious absorption in and passive submission to the collective “psych”, to a state of deliberate and willing group consciousness and integration. One aspect of it could be called the passing from the mob to the group.
But groups themselves differ widely in their nature and in their scope and there is the problem of their interrelation and integration.
We have first the fundamental psychological interrelation of man and woman and the problem of the psycho-synthesis of the human couple – a specific problem which has spiritual implications not often and not sufficiently considered.
Then there is the family group and the problem of its harmonious inner synthesis and of it integration in the wider social groups.
There are the national groups and the most actual and acute problem of the internal adjustments of the individuals in the nation and of the harmonious integration of the nations in a world synthesis, in the great organism of humanity considered as one living Entity.
I cannot deal with this great problem now, but I will express my deep-seated conviction that only by a spiritual conception of life and by proper consideration of its spiritual aspects, can it be satisfactorily solved.
And a spiritual conception of life raises the final problem of synthesis: that of the place and purpose of humanity in the cosmic whole.
I hope that this survey, however sketchy and inadequate, may have served its purpose, which was that of emphasizing the need and the value of the spiritual and synthetic method in attempting to solve both individual and collective problems.