Parapsychological faculties are generally regarded as something exceptional, extraordinary and marvelous, but this does not correspond to the truth, and today I aim precisely to highlight their universality and normality.
By Roberto Assagioli, A Talk Given May 7, 1961. From the Assagioli Archive in Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm. Download the free e-book Psychosynthesis and Parapsychology for a complete overview of Assagioli’s thoughts on this matter.
Parapsychological faculties are generally regarded as something exceptional, extraordinary and marvelous, but this does not correspond to the truth, and today I aim precisely to highlight their universality and normality.
I will begin by mentioning how widespread they are in the animal world. Prof. William MacKenzie, who has spoken about this here several times, has said that certain aspects of the lives of ants, termite mounds and other animals cannot be explained unless it is admitted that they have sensitivities and possibilities of communication beyond the physical senses.
Then there are the well-known experiments with animals such as educated horses and trained dogs. About this I could tell you at length, for back in 1913 I spent a week with Elberfeld’s so-called “thinking horses” together with my friend MacKenzie; then there are several other dog experiments that gave intelligent manifestations. 
A large collection of spontaneous manifestations of parapsychological sensitivities is contained in Bozzano’s book entitled Do Animals Have Souls? 
The parapsychological faculties of primitive peoples are also well known; there are books on the magic of primitive peoples, and on this subject an interesting book by Bozzano is Primitive Peoples and Supernormal Manifestations.
Children, if you let them talk without telling them that they are telling lies or mocking them, often express things that indicate that they have extra-normal sensitivities.
In the uneducated populace, superstitions and magical practices — which are widespread — demonstrate a belief in parapsychological faculties, a belief that even with all the exaggerations, would not exist if it did not contain elements of truth.
As is well known, the types of parapsychological manifestations are of two kinds:
The first is that of extra-sensory perceptions, i.e., receptive manifestations, including clairvoyance, psychometry, telepathy and premonition — as much in waking as in dreaming. By now there are thousands of well-demonstrated cases, and the proof of their existence is now established. The problem is now that of their nature, mode of action, etc., and the serious difficulty is to distinguish genuine parapsychological elements from products of the unconscious, but that is not my theme.
Instead, I shall speak a little more broadly, or if you will, less schematically, about the other group of parapsychological faculties, the projective ones, because these are the ones over which we can have the most control and for which, therefore, we have a direct responsibility; whereas for the most part we usually let them produce themselves without realizing their existence and their beneficial or harmful effects.
Actually, each of us should consider ourselves as a transmitting station of vibrations, emanations and influences — inflows of various wavelengths, to continue the analogy, and transmitters that can emanate very different vibrations and influences. Thus, everyone is continuously transmitting — whether he realizes it or not, whether he wants to or not — to all levels of his being.
First of all, there are the magnetic emanations that come from what the Orientals call the “etheric body,” of whose existence there are, in my opinion, now various demonstrations; numerous clairvoyants describe “the aura,” an emanation of subtle vibrations that come out of the physical body and propagate to a greater or lesser distance. These are emanations that healers possess to a special degree, and the reality of magnetic healings is also beyond doubt. But it is not true that these emanations are exceptional, because everyone has this power to some degree.
Some years ago we did a series of very successful experiments, which showed that by the laying on of hands, without touching objects, mummifications of fish, meat and other biological substances were produced. Serious experiments were carried out in Turin that demonstrated the effectiveness of the laying on of hands, always at a distance, on seed germination and plant development.
Apart from experiments, it is known that some people have a beneficial influence on the flowers they handle and are able to keep them alive longer; others, however, cause them to wilt immediately. Moreover, many of you will have observed that the company of certain people takes away, devitalizes, or sucks energy, so to speak; on the other hand, the company of others stimulates and helps, and it is not necessarily only weak, sick or old people who drain energy. Children do it too, and this is justified; but even certain exuberant and very vital people often become tired. It is a form of unconscious magnetic vampirism, and it is good to be aware of it in order to guard ourselves both against those who exercise it and against exercising it ourselves.
At another wavelength, so to speak (that is, at another level), there are the emanations that can be called by the generic term “psychic.” They come from the emotional level of our nature, and these too can be positive or negative, individual or collective. Waves of panic, fear, irritation and combativeness are sometimes epidemic and infectious, and are produced even without the use of normal senses and words. It is more difficult to see this now, given the modern means of communication; but in the past, when communications were much more difficult and slower, such epidemics occurred: a sudden arising in many countries of the same emotional wave all at once, of the same impulse in the masses.
The same thing happens with the power of thought and imagination. The shaping and creative power of thought and imagination is well known and has been demonstrated in various ways, so I will not linger on it.
I will say something more about telepathy, that is, the influence, the remote transmission of psychological contents. Phenomena of spontaneous telepathy have been recorded by the thousands, but scientific experiments done on the subject have also provided unquestionable results, and I can mention a few facts of my own experience. One was done by a group of nine people, some of whom were in America, others in Europe. One of the nine, in turn, would transmit for a month — first a word was transmitted, at another time a spiritual or psychological quality that the person was trying to realize and experience during that month — to the other eight. In a third location colors were displayed. These experiments had a distinctly positive outcome, far exceeding the calculation of probabilities, and this then brought out interesting facts about the mode of transmission.
The most interesting fact was of unintentional and unexpected precognition: several times some of the receivers apparently made a mistake, but the next month another transmitter was transmitting what they had caught, especially toward the end of the previous month. A phenomenon of “slippage in time,” which is very interesting from the scientific side, because it makes the transition from telepathy to premonition.
I will just recall the experiments done with Prof. E. Stefano Borello, who was transmitting from Turin, and here in Florence we tried to receive. Even there, the results clearly exceeded the calculation of probability, even there were also slippages in time.
Then there are the “higher” manifestations. Everyone who has had a vivid religious experience has also experienced parapsychological phenomena; many cases of beneficial emanations without the medium of the physical senses are known. There are numerous cases in the history of Mysticism, collected, among others, in Vittorino Vezzani’s interesting book, Mysticism and Metapsychics. Everyone knows about the paranormal phenomena of Padre Pio, but I will not dwell on these because they are not part of everyday manifestations, unfortunately!
To frame these phenomena in the structure of our psyche, I will make use of a schema known to several of you (egg diagram). While this area [in the middle] is the area of the conscious personality, there is a much larger area consisting of our unconscious, at various levels, which can be diagramed into three parts: lower, middle and upper unconscious.
This would be a schematic anatomy of the normal psyche, but as you see, this boundary line of the unconscious is drawn with dashed lines, to indicate that there are communications at every level with what is extra-individual. Jung calls what is extra-individual or psychic the “collective unconscious,” which is a neutral name — fair enough for what it says; but insufficient for what it does not say.
Actually we must regard ourselves, as it were, as darting fish in a psychic sea; as psychological beings living in a psychological world, which is just as real as the external world is in relation to the physical body. Between this psychic world and our individuality, our personality, there are continuous exchanges in both directions: from the psychic world to the collective and individual unconscious, and from this to consciousness; and then from the unconscious and consciousness outward — that is, receptive and projective. Now, many facts suggest that these exchanges in the unconscious are continuous and normal; what is not so frequent or so well known is the transition from the individual unconscious to the field of consciousness. In fact, it is much easier to transition from the personal unconscious to the collective unconscious than from the individual unconscious to the individual waking consciousness. Here [in the lower unconscious] we are in the field of the unconscious that we share with animals; this middle zone is that of ordinary humanity.
The higher zone, also called the superconscious zone, is that of the highest humanity, and here is the spiritual Self, what is commonly called the Soul, the Immortal Spirit, the Divine Spark, which is partly within the realm of personality, but partly in direct communication and contact with the Ocean of Spiritual Life, with Divine Life.
Let us now see the deductions, evaluations and possibilities that result from the recognition of all this; that is, from the fact that parapsychological manifestations are continuous and normal, even without our realizing it. The first consequence is to eliminate the exaggerated importance given to parapsychological manifestations, especially one’s own. Many people who experience some parapsychological phenomenon get excited about it, give it an exaggerated importance, think they are superior to others, or believe they have who knows what extraordinary thing — when in fact it is something that everyone has. So the elimination of this emotional exaltation is very appropriate. At the opposite pole are the negative reactions of fear and superstition: these, too, should be eliminated, because when one recognizes that these experiences are normal properties of living beings, even non-humans, there is no need to worry about them, but only to beware of them as one guards against storms or infections.
A third mistaken reaction is skepticism, derision by those who think they are very “positive,” among them certain scientists, who in this show that they lack the true scientific spirit. Sometimes they manifest real anger, a rage against any manifestation that disturbs their positivist ideologies and the concepts of a materialistic science, which are now in the process of being overcome.
Having eliminated these mistaken reactions, the right attitude to take is first of all to pay attention to these facts, to notice and recognize them, and this is very difficult, in connection with being able to discriminate what is genuine from what is appearance — that is, pure work of the imagination.
It is difficult because there is no clear distinction, there is no black and white. You cannot say, “this is parapsychological; this is not.” There is often a mixture of one and the other. For example, many dreams may have a genuine parapsychological core, and then a fantastic elaboration. This is precisely the work of science.
But the most important thing for each of us is to master these faculties: both the receptive ones (impressions coming from outside) and the radiating ones. The former can be called influxes, the latter effluxes or emanations. Educators, parents and doctors should recognize, respect and rightly channel the spontaneous faculties, that are often present in children and those who are ill.
I have already spoken about the relationship between parapsychological faculties and nervous disorders in a lecture that was published in Uomini e Idee, an interesting magazine of parapsychology in Naples, and I mentioned how many sufferers of psychological and nervous disorders are actually psychics (“sensitives”) who are not recognized either by themselves or by physicians, and who are therefore treated badly, inappropriately, because we try to treat the effects and not the cause.
We have a great responsibility for what emerges from us. It has been said that one will have to account for today’s vain and harmful words uttered by us, but the same is equally true of every emanation, every irradiation that comes out of us.
Parapsychological faculties show unsuspected possibilities of knowledge and action, demonstrate the independence of the human psyche from time and space — and therefore from the laws of matter — and thus open the door to the recognition, not only of survival, but also of immortality. And because they are normal, because they are there in everyone, they show that in everyone there is this spiritual element that is independent of time, space and matter. This recognition is something that can transform our lives. On the other hand, recognizing the possibilities and powers that can be developed poses a temptation, given the selfish element that to some extent is present in all of us; for it is natural to have a tendency to use these powers — as we already use the ordinary ones of speech and action — for personal purposes and without regard to their effects on others.
A sense of responsibility, caution and above all right motives are therefore needed in the use and development of these powers.
Given then that these faculties, as I have mentioned, are found at all levels of our being, it is necessary to master — and when appropriate to suppress — the development of faculties of the lower aspects, and to focus instead on the development of the higher faculties. These are also more common than we think. For example, to almost everyone — at critical moments, at serious times in life — there may come an influx of unexpected forces that help to overcome a crisis that was thought to be insurmountable.
Now, if these energies come at special moments, one can encourage their manifestation even outside of emergencies, these desperate, albeit unconscious, calls. On the one hand there is the activation of the higher receptive faculties, called intuition, inspiration, listening and guidance by the soul — which could be summarized by the term: vertical telepathy. On the other side there is conscious irradiation. Good people, people animated by good will spontaneously and naturally — even without realizing it — radiate beneficial energies around them, but such irradiation can be immensely intensified if it is consciously projected with a powerful will-to-good.
Everyone can do this, but it is generally like treasure left untapped, like oil, gold and diamonds left in the ground because one is unaware of their existence. We all have the joyful responsibility to use this will for good. It can be used by the normal means of action, including speech and blessing — which literally means “saying, expressing, sending good.” But there is also remote blessing, namely, the parapsychological projection of beneficial energies.
But what is essentially this willingness to do good? It is Love. It may seem strange to consider love as a parapsychological faculty; in fact, it is not only parapsychological. Love is expressed at all levels, by physical acts — even instinctive ones —by gaze, by speech, by external help. But in addition to these ways, it also operates unconsciously by parapsychological means. This can also be the case with human affections; indeed, many cases of telepathic intercourse and long-distance help between people bound together by strong affection have been noted. But this is especially true of the highest form of love, Spiritual Love, caritas, celebrated so effectively by St. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians. This is a love that is not personal, exclusive, possessive, jealous or demanding — as human love often is.
Human love hinders parapsychological action when it has those characteristics, because they are more attractive than emanative. It actually desires and demands the affection of others, draws towards itself, and thus tends to form a closed circuit.
Spiritual love, on the other hand, is generous, effusive and radiating. There is a spiritual practice taught by the Buddha and used by his followers, which is based precisely on this radiating power of the human soul. It consists of what are called “the four arms of Vishnu,” which can be regarded as irradiating contemplations. Here is the formula given in the Buddhist canon:
“The religious person dwells with a soul filled with love and radiates in one direction, then in a second, in a third, in a fourth, then upward and downward. He irradiates the whole world with a soul interpenetrated with love, with wide, deep and unlimited soul cleared of hatred and resentment.”
The formula is repeated many times in the same way, with only the change of the term “love”, which is substituted from time to time with “compassion,” “joy and sympathy, ” “equanimity,” and “immutability and stability.”
Through Love the ascetic feels and recognizes himself in all beings, noble and ignoble, happy and unhappy; in this, and in every other world; and acts as if their fate were his own fate, feels himself in their feeling and suffering.
Then Compassion; and next he radiates Joy, as if the darkness of every being should resolve, as if the radiating feeling is beneficial to all beings, sustains them, clears them, liberates them.
Finally follows the last irradiation, that of “immutability and stability.” The religious person continues to develop this universal consciousness: it is as if he wants to irradiate the “Being” of every Being. He tends to instill in every creature the same calm, the same quality of stability and equanimity that he has developed in himself, to project the “BEING” quality into it.
This indicates one thing; that is, to project something one must first possess it, one must first experience it. This may sound like a self-evident truth, but instead it is a profound spiritual requirement. This process is not actualized by mechanical “irradiation,” by thinking coldly and saying words that indicate what we want to irradiate.
As I said from the beginning (to change from the spiritual to mechanical analogies), it involves a transmitter. Now a transmitter must have an electrical potential adequate to the amplitude and intensity of the transmission it is used for, so it would be illusion or presumption to believe that one can radiate by purely technical-mechanical means what one has not experienced, experienced and possessed, or what one is not convinced of.
It is first a matter of creating the transmitter, and charging it with the most powerful voltage possible: and then the irradiation takes place almost by itself. And not only is it effortless, just by putting our “device” in the proper condition; but it occurs even if we did not intend it.
There is a beautiful expression by Emerson, a beautiful phrase that says, “What you are shouts so loudly that I do not hear what you are say saying.”  That is, what he felt in his interlocutor affected him much more than the words, perhaps different words, that he expressed.
So from this point of view, parapsychological sensitivity renders all hypocrisy and all lies in vain; what one is, speaks, emanates, and reveals itself despite the words we may say to the contrary.
The power of irradiation is thus a parapsychological faculty that each of us possesses, which we can use and develop more and more. No one and nothing can prevent it. It can be practiced in daily life whatever our condition may be — one can be paralyzed in a bed, one can be in prison, and still exude Love, Peace and Letting go. Among them, LOVE is the most powerful parapsychological faculty that can pervade daily life. It is a wonderful power that can give meaning and value to every day, every moment of life, transfiguring it.
 William MacKenzie, Ph.D. (1877-post1960) was a British biologist and writer who as born and studied in Italy, associated with the Universities of Turin and Genoa, and was President of the Italian Society for Parapsychology and editor of the journal Parapsicologia.
 Assagioli wrote of his experiences and thoughts in two articles for the magazine Psiche.
 An English translation of this book was published in 2021, available only as a kindle e-book.
 Republished in Italian as Popoli primitivi e manifestazioni supernormali in 2019.
 Vezzani, Vittorino. Mistica e metapsichica. Italy, Società Editrice Internazionale, 1958.
 Francesco Forgione, better known as Padre Pio and also Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (Italian: Pio da Pietrelcina; (1887 – 1968), was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic. Roberto Assagioli’s son Illario was brought to Padre Pio, but did not experience healing, although many others did.
 il Sè spirituale in Italian.
 This is in fact a widely disseminated mis-quote. The actual quotation from Emerson’s Letters and Social Aims is “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.” —Tr.
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