Table of content
- 0.1 A world of energy– The five psychological levels
- 0.2 All is energy
- 0.3 The five psychological levels
- 0.4 The body’s radiance – Our physical appearance
- 0.5 Our emotional radiance – Our temperament
- 0.6 Our mind’s radiance – Our mentality
- 0.7 The radiance of the personality – Our persona
- 0.8 Our soul’s radiation – Our humanity
- 0.9 The holistic human being
- 1 Psychoenergetics– The fifth wave in psychology
A world of energy
– The five psychological levels
In this chapter we will explore how the seven types are connected with seven universal energies, on five psychological levels. In the Introduction, we saw how Assagioli suggested that each of the seven types has an underlying psychological function, which connects us to our “essential qualities”. The psychological function of will provides access to dynamic energy, the function of feeling provides access to sensitive energy, and so on. These are the foundational principles for the Seven Types and we will expand on them in this and the coming chapters.
With the philosophy of the seven energies we enter the domain of psychoenergetics, which rests on the observation that everything is comprised of energy. In my article Psychosynthesis and Psychoenergetics (2018), I demonstrate how Assagioli conceptualised this through his well- known theory of the Seven Ways to the Soul (this theory, which is part of the curriculum for training in psychosynthesis, will be examined in detail in chapter six). Note: in this book I will refer to psychoenergetics when speaking about the big picture: the seven universal energies. And when I refer to the seven types I will be speaking specifically about how these energies are manifested physically in individuals or groups.
All is energy
The idea that everything is comprised of energy is nothing new and can be found in many ancient Eastern philosophies. And, with the emergence of quantum physics in the twentieth century, the idea that “all is energy” now has the backing of modern science. For example, when speaking of his famous equation E=mc², Einstein stated: “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing”.1 This is surely food for thought. However, the focus of this book is not physical science, but psychoenergetics and the Seven Types. Quantum physics describes only physical energies, while psychoenergetics opens us up the entire spectrum of energies that lie beyond the physical realm. So, if we accept that everything in life is comprised of energy, we might ask what this means from a psychological perspective. This is the purpose of this book. I will investigate the nature of the different energies and explore how they manifest in the form of the seven types, creating psychological qualities at every level of human existence.
The field of psychoenergetics is still in its infancy, so I hope this book will be a helpful contribution in an ongoing area of study that I trust will lead us into a new world of energy. Psychoenergetics may sound vague and mysterious, so I hope this book will bring clarity. And while some of the ideas I’m describing have an ancient lineage, their presentation in the guise of psychoenergetics is quite new, so this book could be considered something of a starter guide.
We experience and talk about energy all the time, albeit with everyday names and labels. For example, when we describe someone using terms such as sweet, dynamic, graceful or genuine, we are making an attempt at reading that person’s psychological qualities or radiance; in other words, we are all the time attempting to read each other’s energy.
We base these readings on a number of factors: body language, tone of voice, behaviour, the emotions we pick up, our understanding of a person’s motivation, and so on. For example, if we see a man carrying an elderly woman’s shopping bags, you may think the man is being helpful and sweet, but when we discover the man stole the woman’s wallet, we will change our mind. In other words, there are many factors that contribute to “reading” and understanding a person’s energy and behaviour, and it can be unwise to make quick judgements. Furthermore, our ability to read each other’s energies depends on the depth and richness of our language, our understanding of human nature, and our self-knowledge. Happily, the Seven Types provides a map – a set of language tools – to help us understand and access the great variety of human experience caused by the energies within us. However, it is important to note that we cannot see these energies directly, rather we observe the qualities radiating from the different forms of energy, whether these qualities are radiated consciously or unconsciously. Let’s take a look at the different ways that energy can be expressed.
The five psychological levels
In psychological terms, the seven energies manifest at five psychological levels in the human psyche, namely the levels of the body, feeling, thought, personality and soul. These same five levels were described by Assagioli in his book Psychosynthesis Typology and elsewhere.2
Our psyche is like a five-storey building, operating at the levels of body, feeling, thought, personality and soul. At each level, we have a dominant energy (one of the seven) which determines the qualities we exhibit at that level, which can be seen in our physicality, temperament, mentality, personality and soul expression. By investigating and mapping our psyche in this way, we can create a psychological formula.
For example, a person might display sensitive qualities at the level of soul, while being a dynamic personality type, with a creative mentality, a dedicated temperament, and a practical physicality. Such a formula – which lists our dominant type at each of the five levels – provides a comprehensive account of our personal typological make-up, our unique psychological DNA, which we can work with to actualise and express our full potential.
Figure 1 illustrates how these five levels form a psychological pyramid. Also identified in the diagram is the white light of the conscious “I”, which is seeking to reconcile or integrate all five levels. So let us begin this study by looking at each of the five levels in more detail.
The body’s radiance – Our physical appearance
We experience the energy and type of the body through its shape, movement and attitude. We may interpret a bent-over, slow moving body as being weak and having little energy. We may read a smooth and quick body as graceful and full of vitality. In short, there are different body types, each with their distinctive qualities. The body’s energies are most clearly recognised in the shape and contours of our face.
In these two pictures we have the South African bishop Desmond Tutu and the Danish shipping magnate Arnold Mærsk McKinney- Møller. What qualities do you read in their faces? One seems open and receptive, while the other seems sharp and direct. Their faces represent two different types of energy.
It is not only humans, every physical thing radiates energy: cars, animals, houses, trees, flowers and phones each have distinctive qualities that can be observed and interpreted. We can classify these qualities according to typology and, through investigation, gain a better understanding of the characteristics of each type.
Which energies we are able to observe in the world around us is affected in large part by our own typological make-up. It is like the botanist who will see and experience a forest differently from someone who knows nothing about trees and plant life – the botanist will see an oak, ash and beech, while someone else will see only ‘trees’. The same is true of human types. Whether we can appreciate another person or object’s energetic qualities will depend upon our own combination of types and level of self-awareness.
Our emotional radiance – Our temperament
As well as at the physical level, we also experience energy at an emotional level, such that people can be categorised according to a set of emotional types, each with its own distinctive qualities. For example, broadly speaking, we can recognise different temperamental qualities between people from different nationalities.
We read someone’s emotions through the moods they radiate. People can be calm, receptive, empathic, active, restless, domineering, and so on. We all share these basic qualities, but we do not manifest them in equal measure. By learning how to read and understand these emotional energies in ourselves and others, our emotional depth and insight will deepen, and this will help us to develop harmonious relationships with others and with ourselves.
Our mind’s radiance – Our mentality
Our mental life and style of thinking also has a distinctive character. Indeed, patterns of thought and communication styles differ to such an extent that it can be difficult for us to understand each another. We are not always on the same wavelength. Some people think and speak abstractly: they are curious and enjoy exploring theories and ideas. Others are more practical and concrete in their thinking and lose interest when they have to listen to theories. A third type is associative and thinks and speaks in images and stories. Another type is dynamic, focused and goal-orientated – this type prefers to speak only when they have something important and purposeful to say. These are all examples of a person’s mentality, or unique quality of thinking. When we understand someone’s mental qualities it is easier for us to adjust and harmonise our communication.
The radiance of the personality – Our persona
This aspect of the Seven Types is complex, reflecting the complexity of being human.
When we talk about the energies of the personality, we mean the overall recognisable qualities that describe a person.
Our personality emerges when as individuals we start to make our own choices and set a course for our lives. We express our personality through the quality of our will, our will-to-be-a-self. Assagioli described the formation of a strong character or personality as “personal psychosynthesis”, while Abraham Maslow called it “self-actualisation”. It is with the power of the will, alongside our other psychological functions, that we can create a successful life that meets our social, economic and career needs.
When we recognise the will to be ourselves and the type of ambition we want to pursue, we can then identify the qualities we need to bring forward in our personality. Our choices in life will be influenced by the qualities we feel at home with. We may not think about these qualities consciously, but unconsciously we are tuning into resources and talents that unfold in us naturally. For example, some people are distinctly dynamic, sensitive, intelligent, practical or creative in their expression. A personality test – such as the personality profile at www.jivayou.com/en/ – can help us to identify the qualities we have at this level.
Our personality contains the dominant energy that colours our external behaviour, meaning the manner in which we pursue our ambitions and individual way of life, with our mental, emotional and physical energies contributing their own shades and hues. We can observe that each of the seven types will be actualised in our life to a greater or lesser extent during the passage of normal development from childhood to mature adulthood. In this way, we move up through the pyramid (Figure 1) from the bottom up.
Our soul’s radiation – Our humanity
The soul – known in many spiritual traditions and in psychosynthesis as the Higher Self – demonstrates a highly subtle expression of the energies. The soul contains the good, the true and the beautiful in each of us. It is the inner voice of conscience, it is inherent trust, and it contains the sense of community that we can share with other people and with the world itself.
Our soul’s radiance emerges more visibly when we start to seek meaning and purpose in our lives. We intuit in our soul that we are connected to a greater whole and that we have a unique purpose in life. This purpose is about making a difference and contributing in our own way to making this world a better, more beautiful and more just place. The soul is therefore associated with the deepest and most valuable qualities we have to give to the world.
This unique purpose can unfold in any walk of life; we might become leaders, thinkers, artists, researchers, networkers, journalists or creators, the list goes on. We become aware of our purpose when we start to pursue a humanistic lifestyle, then the dominant qualities at the level of soul will blend with the radiance of our personality to bring about a beautiful synthesis that combines these two dominant energies.
Assagioli described the development of our soul as “transpersonal psychosynthesis” and, according to psychosynthesis theory, our soul development will be influenced by one dominant energy. This means that, although we all have access to the seven energies, our soul will naturally develop in line with one particular form of energy.
The holistic human being
We each have an incredibly rich and varied inner life, with access to a range of qualities, attributes and talents that can help us to live life to the fullest. Our psychological environment is a largely unknown land waiting to be discovered. To help us on this journey of discovery we can draw upon inherent creative powers to shape our lives, in accordance with our values and inner resources. Having a map and a language that describes these inner worlds and how they unfold is therefore very useful. We need such tools to help us to understand, recognise and master the energies in our lives. This is precisely the purpose of this book: to provide a map – or language or tool – that will help us navigate the landscape of energy.3
– The fifth wave in psychology
Where does psychoenergetics sit within the larger landscape of psychology? It did not appear out of nowhere but is a natural development in the evolution of psychology.
The history of psychology shows that our understanding of humanity has been gradually expanding. Psychology emerged as an independent discipline from philosophy in the late nineteenth century – it was felt there was a need for an independent science of humanity based on observation rather than theory. Out of this came the five ‘waves’, or psychological schools, that have shaped the discipline. Assagioli said psychoenergetics was the ‘fifth wave’ of psychology.4
The first wave
Initially, the need for a scientific understanding of human beings manifested in a materialistic and scientifically-orientated approach that studied the senses, memory and learning. People were primarily perceived as physical objects or highly evolved animals. One product of these scientific studies was behavioural psychology. Psychologists John Watson (1878-1958) and B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) were prominent exponents of this school, drawing upon material sourced from animal experiments as well as the observation of people.
The second wave
The next wave, arriving almost concurrently with behaviourism, was psychoanalysis, which emerged out of the research of the Austrian Sigmund Freud. He made popular the idea of the unconscious and its influence on our conscious life. Psychoanalysis emphasises the power and influence of our sexuality, especially the pathological effects of repressed impulses. Psychoanalysis assumes that we are largely controlled by our instincts and focuses on the exploration of the unconscious. Freud’s emphasis on pathological and deviant behaviours resulted in a fairly pessimistic view of humanity.
The third wave
The third wave of psychology began in the middle of the twentieth century. A leading proponent of this approach was the American psychologist Abraham Maslow who, in contrast to psychoanalysts, was concerned with healthy people and their needs. This approach was called humanistic psychology and its focus was on how to achieve human health and fulfil potential.
Existential psychology emerged at this point as a branch of the humanistic approach. The essential feature of existential psychology was an emphasis on choice and its consequences in our lives. The American psychologist Rollo May (1909-1994) and the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) are both key contributors in this school of thought.
The fourth wave
Psychology’s fourth wave developed further the approach of humanistic psychology, with Maslow a pioneer here as well. This approach, known as transpersonal psychology, focuses on the scientific study of ‘peak experiences’ and expanded states of consciousness. These experiences occur when we have access to energies that lie beyond our normal every day consciousness, and include experiences of unity with nature, humanity and the cosmos. Such experiences can inspire profound insights into the meaning of life. Accordingly, transpersonal psychologists attempt to present an understanding of humanity as an integral part of the cosmos. Assagioli contributed to both the second and third wave, but is predominantly known for his contribution to the fourth wave. His system of psychosynthesis is one of the earliest branches of transpersonal psychology. The American thinker Ken Wilber also is another key influence on transpersonal psychology, calling his approach Integral Theory.
The fifth wave
The fifth wave of psychology states that humanity, nature and the cosmos are all expressions of energy. Assagioli foresaw this fifth wave and suggested it could be called psychoenergetics. As mentioned, this wave was partly inspired by discoveries made in quantum physics. The English astronomer and physicist Sir James Jeans (1877-1946) remarked that the universe “looks more like a great thought rather than a great machine”5 – correspondingly, there have been neurological studies looking at mindfulness meditation which indicate that consciousness itself can affect the brain, and research in neuropsychology has shown a clear connection between consciousness and the brain’s electromagnetic field. Psychoenergetics investigates these energies, indeed the whole spectrum of natural universal energies, and their impact on our consciousness, with the aim of helping us to identify and master the different energies.
Technology has to a large extent mastered the laws and powers of the physical world and in the process has transformed our planet – electricity, for example, now illuminates our world. We now need to illuminate our inner worlds to bring forth the good, the true and the beautiful that is found there; psychoenergetics can help us to do this.
We can find several expressions of psychoenergetics today, including Assagioli’s psychosynthesis, which identified some of the essential theory. Assagioli hoped that psychosynthesis would lead to a “science of the Self, its energies, manifestations and how these energies can be expanded, contacted and used for constructive and therapeutic purposes” (1965: 194). Wilber also helped to develop psychoenergetics. His work describes the diverse psycho-spiritual states that can be experienced through meditation and introspection. But despite these valuable contributions, none of the above theorists have been able to offer a detailed systematic description of the typological character of the seven energies. What has been needed is a system that can describe how the types of energy are expressed in human psychology and behaviour.
However, one person who went a long way towards achieving this was the English esotericist Alice Bailey who, between 1919 and 1949, wrote extensively about esoteric psychology and the Seven Rays. These seven cosmic rays are the basic building blocks of the universe, penetrating everything, from the smallest atom to the galaxies. In fact, the Seven Rays are just another name for the seven energies that are being described in this book. Her description of the Seven Rays accords with the Perennial Philosophy, which is the fundamental spiritual and psychological worldview that runs through all of the world’s major spiritual traditions.6
Assagioli and Bailey were close friends and collaborators. So, in his conception of the seven types and seven ways, Assagioli was no doubt inspired by Bailey’s writings. This becomes clear when we compare the names that Assagioli and Bailey used for the seven types and seven ways/rays, as shown in Table 1 (Bailey, 1962: 23, 329; Assagioli, 1983, Undated 2).
We also find in Assagioli’s work, in his article Discrimination in Service, reference to the five psychological levels, when he writes: “The Rays which qualify his soul, his personality, and his mental, emotional and physical bodies.” This is precisely the same terminology as in Bailey’s philosophy.
It is important at this point to note that psychosynthesis typology can stand on its own. Even though there are some concepts that overlap with esoteric psychology, Assagioli was keen to keep his work separate. Indeed, my own approach in this book is similar to Assagioli’s, and can be compared with what modern writers are doing with training in Buddhist mindfulness, in that we are keen to keep practice and religious or cosmological theory separate. My aim is to focus on the practical application of typology while leaving out most of the cosmological theory.
Another thinker who has contributed to our understanding of psychoenergetics is the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), who notes that the Vedas describe how the manifestation of the universe is an “unrestricted downpour of the rain of heaven, the full flowing of the seven rivers from a superior sea of light and power and joy”7. These “seven rivers” are what Alice Bailey refers to as the Seven Rays, which is also a term Aurobindo used when quoting the Vedas.8
The greatest living exponent of energy or esoteric psychology is the American psychologist Michael D. Robbins. His book Tapestry of the Gods is a profound, systematic introduction to the Seven Rays. His monumental work is in the esoteric tradition and provides a complete introduction to the esoteric universe.9
In this book I draw upon the work of all these proponents of psychoenergetics, but will be focusing on the psychological qualities and behaviours associated with the seven energies. Therefore, this work will be more psychological than esoteric in nature, with the focus kept firmly within the human realm.
The seven energies in four quadrants
We can see all around us collective and individual expressions of the seven energies. Figure 2 illustrates this point. The diagram is derived from Ken Wilber’s work and shows how the energies can be experienced in four basic ways – referred to as quadrants. Making use of Wilber’s work in combination with the seven energies and types offers us some interesting and nuanced ways of understanding our experience of life, our relationships and how we might realise our full potential.
I will spend a little time explaining what is meant by the four quadrants because the concept will recur throughout the book.
The main use of the quadrants in the context of the Seven Types is that they can help us with the identification of our dominant types. Because we each have blind spots and defences, we are often unable to see ourselves as we truly are. Hence, in trying to make sense of our own nature, it can be helpful to gather information from other sources – and the four quadrants describe these other sources. The upper left quadrant refers to the personal/subjective field (this is how we see ourselves); the upper right quadrant refers to the personal/objective field (this is how other people see us); the lower left quadrant refers to the collective/subjective field (this field contains information about the psychological environments that impact on us, such as the cultural traits we have absorbed from our family and society and currently are embedded in); the lower right quadrant refers to the collective/objective field (this field includes our physical environment and the groups of people we associate with). By gathering information about ourselves from these four quadrants, or fields, we can build up a picture of who we are from several perspectives, rather than having a picture based only on our own personal (narrow) perspective.
Let’s revisit the Wilber’s terminology because it is subtle and worth spending some time to help us understand what he is referring to. There are two axes: the subjective/objective axis – with the subjective energies on the left and the objective energies on the right – and the personal/collective axis – with the personal energies in the upper half and the collective energies in the lower half. We all manifest energies that are sensed subjectively (left half of the diagram) and also manifest energies that are expressed objectively in terms of our action in the world (right half of the diagram).
We experience the subjective energies phenomenologically at each of the five psychological levels and beyond (upper left quadrant).10 We sense inside of us the different qualities of the energies, for example a dynamic energy or perhaps a more creative or practical energy according to the situation. As well as this experiencing of our own internal world, we can also experience the energy or atmosphere in a group of people and can intuit the energies of our ancestors (lower left quadrant). This subjective field of energy contains our felt experience of the qualities of our individual consciousness and in combination with the collective consciousness.
The objective field (right half of diagram) concerns the more visible or tangible expressions of energy; this is what we experience when subjective energy is expressed in physical behaviour, which can be observed in the way someone speaks, their temperament and their body language. It is in this field that we can observe the seven types of energy manifested in the physical world, which are the different
types of radiation exhibited by individuals, groups and physical spaces. This means that when we notice a person is calm, restless, energetic, focused, cold or warm, what we are actually doing is noticing qualities of energy in action. Likewise, in the objective/collective field, the energies manifest in particular ways, for example we can detect different qualities of energy in the environments of a factory, a family home and a theatre.
The upper half of the diagram concerns the energies and types we experience as individuals, which are either felt subjectively or expressed objectively.
The lower half shows the energies and types we experience collectively.
The left half concerns inner psychological energies, both individually and collectively.
The right half shows the manifestation of subjective energies in physical objects and in the behaviour of people.
The seven energies are expressed in all four quadrants, but our experience of them will be different in each.
In the upper left (UL) quadrant we find the “I”, with all the subjective energies we experience. Here we experience the energies at the five psychological levels of the body, feeling, thought, personality and soul.
In the upper right (UR) we see the subjective psychological energies expressed in our actions and behaviour, primarily through the typological qualities of our body language, communication styles and radiance. This aspect of our energy is often more obvious to those who observe us than to ourselves.
In the lower left (LL) we find the cultural energies that we experience coming from our family, society and nation, as well as our social networks. We share this psychological atmosphere with others. This includes the norms and values of our subjective collective field, influenced by political, cultural, religious and scientific perceptions.
In the lower right-hand (LR) we find our physical surroundings and the people we interact with and who influence us. The physical landscape that surrounds us, our neighbourhood and social structures all have a distinctive radiance that affects us. The people we meet and co-operate with affect us too. Here we see the collective social behaviour in action: what we jointly create in the material world and the impact we have on each other. This quadrant is also a reflection of the invisible cultural norms from which cultural behaviour arises.
One of the implications of our exploration of the four quadrants is that psychosynthesis typology is able to describe groups and nations as well as individuals. According to Assagioli:
Nations, as individuals, have a “body” which consists of their material means of expression; that is to say, native soil, geographical position and material assets. In addition, each nation has an emotional life consisting of feelings and the modes of reaction prevalent among its citizens, as well as its own “mentality”. All this constitutes a “personality”, possessing well-defined and recognisable psychological characteristics. We may even go further and say that every nation has a soul. (Undated 4)
In his book Psychosynthesis Typology, Assagioli designates types to civilisations, nations, buildings. An example of this can be found in a passage in which he describes the “dynamic will type”:
The Spartans and ancient Romans characterised this type in being conquerors, rulers and legislators; the English do likewise, with their will and capacity to rule, their “insularity”, self-control and suppression of emotion. It is also evident both in the Germans and the Jews in some respects. (1983: 23)
Having looked at the theory, I now offer a short exercise that provides an opportunity to begin working with the four quadrants by gaining a direct experience of the energies as they arise in each quadrant.
Exercise: Experiencing energies in the four quadrants
This exercise will introduce you to the energies as defined by the four quadrants.
Upper left quadrant: Sit down and close your eyes. Take a minute to follow your breath and relax completely. Focus on your inner psychological atmosphere. Spend a few minutes observing your inner states.
What moods and qualities do you experience? Write them down.
Upper right quadrant: Stand before a mirror. Observe the energies radiating from your eyes, your body language and the psychological state reflected there.
What psychological qualities do you radiate? Write them down.
Lower left quadrant: Sit down with your eyes closed. Take a minute to follow your breath and relax completely. Imagine yourself in a social situation with your family, friends or work colleagues. Observe the atmosphere, and the expectations, values and norms that characterise it.
What cultural values and expectations characterise the atmosphere? Write them down.
Lower right quadrant: Sit down with your eyes closed. Take a minute to follow your breath and relax completely. Now imagine yourself in a social situation with your family, friends or work colleagues. Imagine you are watching yourself in this group from the outside in the company of a sociologist. Observe how you behave, what you do together and how you deal with each other.
Consider what sort of physical atmosphere is being created by your collective behaviour? Write down your reflections.
Hopefully you have now learned something about the psychological energies that you live with each day, both in yourself and in your interactions with others. All of these areas will be explored further in this book, although the main focus will remain on our individual experience. Now let’s look at the seven energies in more detail as they are experienced within human psychology.
2 See all the source notes in my article Psychosynthesis and Psychoenergetics, 2018.
3 Read also my books: The Soul of Psychosynthesis, 2016 and Integral Meditation, 2017 for an introduction to psychosynthesis theory and practice
4 Roberto Assagioli, The New Dimensions of Psychology: The Third, Fourth and Fifth Forces. (See www.kennethsorensen.dk/en/)
6 See Appendix A: ’Ancient wisdom – New insights’ for a brief review of the historical sources that present a sevenfold understanding of the universe).
9 Tapestry of the Gods can be downloaded for free here: www.sevenray.org/ tapestry-of-the-gods.html
10 In the esoteric tradition there is also a level of spirit with many transcendent levels, which we are not using in our model, because it is too advanced for our purpose.