Table of content
- 1 The disidentification and self-identification exercise
- 2 IDENTIFICATION EXERCISE
- 3 His Self-identification and disidentification exercise are based on Raja Yoga
- 4 The contentless Self
- 5 The critic’s claim of dualism in Assagioli’s version of Psychosynthesis
- 6 Does Assagioli’s affirmation cause dissociation?
- 7 The role of the body and its transmutation
- 8 Parapsychological reflections
- 9 Acknowledgement
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 Footnotes:
Why did Assagioli maintain his “I am not my body…” affirmation in his disidentification exercise despite opposition to it? In this article, we will explore what underlying experiences and philosophy he bases his understanding on and how he responded to his critics.
By Kenneth Sørensen, MA in Psychosynthesis and author of The Soul of Psychosynthesis (revised January 2023 – see update notes at the end)
Disidentification is the mother of all psychosynthesis techniques, along with its sister technique — Self-identification, because they facilitate the realization of five of the seven core experiences central to psychosynthesis: The experience of disidentification, the personal self, the will, synthesis, and the transpersonal Self.
When these five experiences are stabilized in the practitioner’s mind, they provide us with the ability to be a loving observer of our inner psychological environment and a powerful agent who can influence and potentially master our “inner house” with all its conflicting energies. Being a benevolent captain of our life is undoubtedly one of the central ideal models for Psychosynthesis.
Most psychosynthesis practitioners working with Assagioli’s teachings will probably agree that these are the experiences we seek to develop within ourselves and in the clients and students we work with.
However, there has surely been a debate in the psychosynthesis community about the affirmations Assagioli provides with his disidentification technique. The “I am not my body, my emotions, and mind” has been rejected by some for many reasons. In this article, I would like to discuss the concerns, and how I imagine Assagioli would respond, based on his written works. Many psychosynthesists prefer the adapted version: “I am more than my body, emotions, and mind”, but why did Assagioli not agree with that formulation? I will investigate that.
We know that he, in some instances, publicly defended his methodology, but I think that his arguments are not widely known, so I will attempt to clarify his positions so that people can agree or disagree based on his own arguments. It probably comes as no surprise that Assagioli claimed that Psychosynthesis was developed out of his experimentation with the techniques as well as out of thousands of years of experience, which occurred in the contemplative traditions of the East and West — synthesized with the scientific and psychological understanding of the West.
However, we probably lack a deeper understanding of his underlying philosophy, which I will, to the best of my knowledge, attempt to provide. The question I seek to answer is, why is it so important for Assagioli to maintain his “I am not my body …” in his disidentification exercise?
The disidentification and self-identification exercise
The purpose of the disidentification exercise is to reveal the nature of the self as a center of pure self-awareness by disidentifying from sensations, emotions, and thoughts, and turning one’s attention toward oneself as the observer, which is the “I” consciousness in each of us. To be clear, our innermost self and personal identity is something made of consciousness, and we are fundamentally consciousness itself — not its content of sensations, emotions, and thoughts. The self of Assagioli is a contentless self in contrast to mainstream psychology, which considers the self or ego to be a bundle of mental formations.
The realization of the contentless self — the observer — is the core goal of the disidentification- and self-identification exercise, and it creates in us an ability to be aware moment by moment, and to influence the mindstream, which constantly pours through our psychological environment. Through this practice we gradually become self-aware agents with the ability to master our psychological environment — admittedly, usually after many years of practice.
Let us first look at the outline of the disidentification exercise and remember that it consists of two phases, the first part, where we practice disidentification, and the final phase, where we identify with consciousness itself — the observer (and willer). So the proper name of the technique is actually The Self-Identification Exercise. However, Assagioli frequently uses both terminologies, so the terms dis-identification and self-identification exercise are both widely used, abbreviated together here as DISI.
We should, according to Assagioli, practice this exercise daily and as often as possible, as a matter of psychological hygiene, for it reminds us that we are the observing center of awareness, present and mindful. The reason for this is that the self-aware observer is not something that emerges spontaneously; we are often so identified with the roles we play and our present psychological state that we forget all about our being at the center. Assagioli defines the problem we face like this (1974: 211):
“… generally this selfconsciousness is indeed “implicit” rather than explicit. It is experienced in a nebulous and distorted way because it is usually mixed with and veiled by the contents of consciousness. This constant input of influences veils the clarity of consciousness and produces, spurious identifications of the self with the content of consciousness, rather than with consciousness itself.”
So we need to practice introspection, or what has been called presence in the Eastern and Western contemplative traditions, and Assagioli states: (1965: 112), “the I-consciousness, devoid of any content — does not arise spontaneously but is the result of a definite inner experimentation.” This is why he suggests the frequent use of the DISI technique.
Let us now remind ourselves how the DISI technique is organized, and I will use the short format offered in his book The Act of Will, p. 211-217 – first, he gives a short introduction and then follows the procedure.
* * *
This exercise is intended as a tool for achieving the consciousness of the self, and the ability to focus our attention sequentially on each of our main personality aspects, roles, etc.
We then become clearly aware of and can examine their qualities while maintaining the point of view of the observer and recognizing that the observer is not that which he observes.
In the form which follows, the first phase of the exercise— the disidentification— consists of three parts dealing with the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of awareness. This leads to the self-identification phase. Once some experience is gained with it, the exercise can be expanded or modified according to need, as will be indicated further on.
Put your body in a comfortable and relaxed position, and slowly take a few deep breaths (preliminary exercises of relaxation can be useful). Then make the following affirmation, slowly and thoughtfully:
“I have a body but I am not my body. My body may find itself in different conditions of health or sickness, it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my self, my real ‘I.’ I value my body as my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well, I seek to keep it in good health, but it is not myself. I have a body, but I am not my body.”
Now close your eyes, recall briefly in your consciousness the general substance of this affirmation, and then gradually focus your attention on the central concept: “I have a body but I am not my body.” Attempt, as much as you can, to realize this as an experienced fact in your consciousness. Then open your eyes and proceed the same way with the next two stages:
“I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. My emotions are diversified, changing, sometimes contradictory. They may swing from love to hatred, from calm to anger, from joy to sorrow, and yet my essence—my true nature—does not change. ‘I’ remain. Though a wave of anger may temporarily submerge me, I know that it will pass in time; therefore I am not this anger. Since I can observe and understand my emotions, and then gradually learn to direct, utilize, and integrate them harmoniously, it is clear that they are not my self. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
“I have a mind but I am not my mind. My mind is a valuable tool of discovery and expression, but it is not the essence of my being. Its contents are constantly changing as it embraces new ideas, knowledge, and experience. Often it refuses to obey me! Therefore, it cannot be me my self. It is an organ of knowledge in regard to both the outer and the inner worlds, but it is not my self. I have a mind, but I am not my mind.”
Next comes the phase of identification. Affirm slowly and thoughtfully:
“After the disidentification of myself, the ‘I,’ from the contents of consciousness, such as sensations, emotions, thoughts, I recognize and affirm that I am a center of pure self-consciousness. I am a center of will, capable of observing, directing, and using all my psychological processes and my physical body.”
Focus your attention on the central realization: “I am a center of pure self-consciousness and of will.” Attempt, as much as you can, to realize this as an experienced fact in your awareness.
As the purpose of the exercise is to achieve a specific state of consciousness, once that purpose is grasped much of the procedural detail can be dispensed with. [end of quote]
* * *
His Self-identification and disidentification exercise are based on Raja Yoga
Let us see if we can come to an understanding of exactly what Assagioli wants to achieve with his self-identification exercise and why he insists on the way of negation — I am not this or that – to achieve this objective.
Assagioli clarifies in his exercise that the purpose of it is to “achieve a specific state of consciousness,” namely self-identification with oneself as an observer liberated from the identification with the content of our experience — sensations, emotions, and thoughts.
Assagioli uses two types of procedures to reach this goal: affirmation and observation, and sometimes in reversed order. Affirmations are, in most cases, based on an act of faith because the practitioner will often not be able to reach a clear experience of oneself as a disidentified observer. It takes years of practice to stabilize the silent space or void, which is the pure “I” consciousness at the center of awareness. Before we awake to pure self-awareness as a stable and permanent state, we read that “It is experienced in a nebulous and distorted way because it is usually mixed with and veiled by the contents of consciousness.” Symbolically, we can say that we don’t see the sun because it is always hidden behind clouds of psychic content. A symbol is always veiling the truth, and in the above example, in the experience of the Self, we don’t see the sun (Self) as an object; we become the sun.
This is why we need guidance to reach that specific state from an experienced explorer, and Assagioli offers affirmations and observations as his primary means.
It is not unusual that we rely on a map and a procedure from scientific explorers as a starting point when we aspire to reach a specific goal or produce a specific result, whether in the inner or outer world. And Assagioli claims that if we do the introspection, we will realize that we are not our body, emotions, or thoughts, based on his above assumption: “the observer is not that which he observes.” In other words, what we can observe is not me, because I am always the observer.
Assagioli chooses to use one of the most widespread techniques in the contemplative traditions of East and West, called “the way of negation.” It is a method to discriminate between what is Brahman, God, or the Self and what are its attributes, by rejecting any form, process, or activity which is not the pure silent Source. It forces the meditative mind to disidentify from any objects and identify with the observer, Seer, or Witness who perceives the forms. Assagioli confirms that his disidentification exercise is based on an Eastern technique from several sources. In a conversation with Sam Keen (1974), we find the following exchange about disidentification:
“Keen: This technique is similar to the Buddhist vipassana meditation in which one merely observes passing thoughts, sensations and images.
Assagioli: Yes, and it leads to the affirmation that the observer is different from what he observes. So the natural stage which comes after disidentification is a new identification of the self: I recognize and affirm that “I am a center of pure self-consciousness. I am a center of will, capable of ruling, directing and using all my psychological processes and my physical body.” The goal of these exercises is to learn to disidentify at any time of the day, to disassociate the self from any overpowering emotion, person, thought or role and assume the vantage point of the detached observer.” [end of quote]
Assagioli confirms that the mother of all psychosynthesis techniques is similar to the Buddhist vipassana meditation. However, if we want to know what the direct inspiration is, we must visit the Online Assagioli Archive in Florence because here we find the following note about Raja Yoga (Doc. 16656):
“The experience of pure self-consciousness is achieved through the use of the various means of Raja Yoga, and first and foremost that of which we are speaking: pratyahara.
“To re-express this technique of yoga and develop it in modern psychological terms, I have formulated and described an “Exercise of disidentification and self-realization.” It has proved very effective to those who have done it seriously.” …
“So pratyahara, detachment, disidentification, not only from the physical senses, but from all contents and functions, all activities of the personality.
“With these successive dis-identifications through the ascent of consciousness to higher and higher levels or — to use another metaphor, with these “retreats,” from the periphery or surface to the inner center of ourselves, we arrive at the consciousness of the “I,” of self, devoid of any particular content or determination; at pure self-consciousness.” … [end of quote]
Assagioli studied and practiced Raja Yoga; he wrote the introduction to the Italian edition of Alice Bailey’s book The Light of the Soul , which is a commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and there is no doubt that Raja Yoga was a major inspiration behind his formulation of Psychosynthesis. In the archive (Doc. 1133), we find the following note: Yoga is Psychosynthesis. Psychosynthesis is yoga.
In his article (1933) Practical Contributions to a Modern Yoga,  we find a full introduction to how he translates Raja Yoga to Psychosynthesis. Many search entries for Raja Yoga can be found in the Assagioli online archive.
The contentless Self
Assagioli’s distinction between the self/Self as pure consciousness and the creations of the self/Self (body, feelings, mind, superconscious) is also present in the Raja Yoga system, there known as the difference between Purusha and Prakriti. It is the difference between Being and Becoming, Self and its Process, Unmanifest and Manifest, and Transcendence and Immanence. In Wikipedia, we find the following description of Purusha and Prakriti, and students familiar with Assagioli’s work will recognize the similarities:
“Yoga philosophy state that there are two ultimate realities whose interaction accounts for all experiences and the universe, namely Purusha (spirit) and Prakrti (matter). The universe is envisioned as a combination of perceivable material reality and non-perceivable, non-material laws and principles of nature. Material reality, or Prakrti, is everything that has changed, can change and is subject to cause and effect. Universal principle, or Purusha, is that which is unchanging (aksara) and is uncaused.
Puruṣa is the transcendental self or pure consciousness. It is absolute, independent, free, imperceptible, unknowable through other agencies, above any experience by mind or senses and beyond any words or explanations. It remains pure, “nonattributive consciousness”. “ [end of quote]
In the article Study of the Self Assagioli speaks directly about this realization:
“In making such a study of ourselves, in continually striving to observe ourselves objectively, we obtain not only the desired knowledge, but also another result that is no less important and beneficial for spiritual development. This is the attainment of discrimination between the self and the not-self (the I and the not-I), between the spirit and the various psychological elements, between the “eternal observer” and the field of manifestation — to use the terms of Samkhya philosophy. [Samkhya is an Indian philosophy that probably originated before the ninth century BCE, and is related to the yoga school of Hinduism and other schools of Indian philosophy] It is the difference between the eternal and the transitory, between the fixed and the mutable. This difference is practically realized in consciousness precisely by the continuous objectification of the successive and transitory contents of our consciousness. Thus we learn to stop identifying with our bodies, our emotions, our particular opinions. The vibrations of pleasure and pain, the waves of passion, rise and fall in us without the higher center we have constructed being submerged and overwhelmed by them. Then, instead of saying “I am this or that” (a formula that expresses our usual identification with the ephemeral contents of consciousness), we can sincerely claim to “drive out of the temple of the living God” the merchants who defile it — even using, if need be, the radical Buddhist formula of disidentification: “That does not belong to me, that is not me, it is not me, myself.”
To avoid doubt and confusion, I would like to mention at this point that the distinction between the self and the not-self (“the I and the not-I”) should not be understood in an absolute sense; that duality exists in manifestation, and thus has only a relative existence, whereas reality exists only in the supreme unity, in the individual as in the universe. But while remembering this as background, the discrimination between the self and the not-self, between the eternal and the transitory, between the observer and the field, constitutes a most important stage in the evolution of the Soul, on which one must linger at length.” [end of quote]
The direct experience of the self/Self is impossible to convey in words; one must have the direct experience to fully grasp why it is a contentless Self – and the eternal Seer. However, Assagioli did try to express the impossible in a conversation with Jim Vargiu :
“For the Transpersonal Self is reality; it is of the same nature as the Universal Reality. Therefore its energy is charged with power and bliss, without any definite content. For this reason the ultimate reality to which it belongs has been described in terms of purity. This is the absence of specific quality, which is arrived at through the harmonious synthesis of all qualities (just as white light, the absence of color, is the combination in right proportions of all colors). It is the void in a positive sense, the “Suchness of the Void”, a void which contains all life, to which everything belongs, and in which all is combined.” [end of quote]
It seems to me that we can conclude from the above that Assagioli’s disidentification and self-identification exercise and its affirmation that we are not our bodies, emotions and mind is based on his underlying philosophy in which Raja Yoga plays an influential part and, as we shall see below, from his direct personal experiences and the experiences of millions of others who have had the awakening of their true nature as Atman, Self or Essence.
However, there are also certain parapsychological facts such as out-of-body experiences and other phenomena uncovered by parapsychological research that Assagioli was aware of, all pointing to the fact that consciousness exists independently of the body. Before we go to these questions, let us address some of the main criticism of his I am not affirmations.
The critic’s claim of dualism in Assagioli’s version of Psychosynthesis
The affirmation that I am not my body was at the center of many debates even while Assagioli was alive, with some believing it was dangerous because it could cause dissociation. There may be some validity in this point regarding people suffering from depersonalization, but not for the healthy human being, a point I will return to. John Firman (1945-2008) and Ann Gila were among the most prominent critics of Assagioli’s affirmation. Their influence has been significant in the Psychosynthesis community, so let us look at some of their main points. The philosophical and practical implications of this exercise were most troubling to Firman, who, in his first book, “I and Self”: Re-Visioning Psychosynthesis, writes (1991: 18):
“‘I am not my body’ has far greater psychological and philosophical implications than, for example, the statement ‘A sensation is not a thought’. This ‘I am not’ formulation, unlike the latter statement, suggests an actual dissociation or splitting of human identity and other spheres of experience.”
Firman quotes Catholic priest and Irish psychosynthesist Miceal O’Regan, who states that Assagioli’s affirmation is dangerous and can lead to the erroneous idea that “I” is fundamentally separate from the body, from the feelings and from the mind. O’Regan (cited in Firman, 1991: 18) says:
“This kind of thinking and effort is illusionary and the basis of ego inflation. At best, it becomes a practice in positive thinking; at worst, it becomes a practice in denial and repression.”
Assagioli was well aware of the danger of his disidentification exercise when used by vulnerable people, and offered contra-indications for the technique (Assagioli, 1965: 122-124). However, as we shall see below, he defended the statement, “I am not my body.”
Firman (1991: 18) concluded that Assagioli’s dualistic separation between “I” and psyche-soma had been jettisoned by the psychosynthesis community, claiming there had been among psychosynthesists:
“a de facto rejection of the Neoplatonic-Gnostic-Theosophical dualism [of Assagioli] which claims the human person is a self who merely owns a psyche-soma.”
Firman and Gila correctly assume that Assagioli considered the Transpersonal Self a transcendent being living in the superconscious area, which incarnates in a psyche-soma. From Assagioli’s perspective, a person is essentially a soul (Self) who has a personality: we are a center of self-awareness and will — a loving and willing observer — expressing our identity through a personality. However, Assagioli’s position is not a Gnostic dualistic belief — it all depends on how one perceives the body and the material world. Many of the Gnostics believed the material world and the body were evil, created by a demiurge (a false God), and that the only salvation was to rise above the material world. However, Gnosticism was not at the philosophical root of Assagioli’s exercise in disidentification, as I have shown above.
Firman and Gila find support for their belief in the influence of Gnosticism on Assagioli in the book Psychology with a Soul by Jean Hardy (1987: 124), where she writes:
“But the direct descent of Theosophy from gnostic traditions is significant in the whole of [Assagioli’s] thinking and affects the basic assumptions upon which Psychosynthesis was founded.”
If we suppose that by “Gnostic influence” one means that Assagioli believed in gnosis, meaning the inner knowledge or awareness that a person seeks, then yes. In that case, this is true of Assagioli – but this doesn’t tell us much because the same could be said of most Eastern wisdom traditions as well as Neoplatonism, Christian mysticism, and Theosophy.
Again and again, Firman describes the “I am not my body” technique as potentially dissociative while claiming (1991: 20) that “the dissociative idea contained in this disidentification exercise is… basic to psychosynthesis as understood by Assagioli”. Before I address the question about dissociation, let us stay with their concern about dualism.
A central critique by Firman and Gila concerns their suggestion that Assagioli’s “dualistic” Psychosynthesis implies no immanence. They state (1991: 36-37, 38):
“We may think of dualism as a conception of transcendence which has no immanence. That is, here there is a fundamental separation between, for example, self and personality, spirit and matter, or God and nature. At a psychological level, when all is said and done, ‘I am not my psyche-soma’… The problematic dualism in psychosynthesis may be thought of as a ‘transcendence without immanence’. This view considers ‘I’/Self as radically other than, separate from, psyche-soma.”
Well, this view of Assagioli’s philosophy is not correct, for it is contradicted by Assagioli’s own words. We can read in The Act of Will that Assagioli affirms the reality of both transcendence and immanence, which lie at the core of Firman and Gila’s philosophy. Assagioli (1974: 94) explains:
“Finally, there is love of God, or whatever designation may be preferred to represent Universal Being or Beingness: The Supreme Value, Cosmic Mind, Supreme Reality, both transcendent and immanent. A sense of awe, wonder, admiration, and worship, accompanied by the urge to unite with that Reality, is innate in man. Present in every age and every country, it has given birth to the many varieties of religious and spiritual traditions and forms of worship, according to prevailing cultural and psychological conditions. It reaches its flowering in the mystics who attain the lived experience of union through love.”
This quote of Assagioli’s is in perfect alignment with Firman and Gila’s basic view – God’s immanence and divine empathic love. If one reads Assagioli’s book Transpersonal Development (2007, first published in 1993), we find seven entries dealing with immanence – and in his published articles, there are many more. He even wrote a full article about Panentheism (not Pantheism), which included transcendence and immanence, and declared his affinity with that philosophy.
It is important to note that even though Assagioli aligned himself with Raja Yoga and the Eastern wisdom traditions, he did not agree that our spiritual goal was to escape samsara (psyche-soma) and enter nirvana. Rather, Assagioli believed the goal of life is “supreme synthesis,” a grand vision that he described in the following terms (1965: 31):
“From a still wider and more comprehensive point of view, universal life itself appears to us as a struggle between multiplicity and unity – a labour and an aspiration towards union. We seem to sense that – whether we conceive it as a divine Being or as cosmic energy – the Spirit working upon and within all creation is shaping it into order, harmony, and beauty, uniting all beings (some willing but the majority as yet blind and rebellious) with each other through links of love, achieving – slowly and silently, but powerfully and irresistibly – the Supreme Synthesis.”
With the words “the Spirit working upon and within all creation,” Assagioli affirms his belief in God’s immanence – and states that the goal of life is to unite all beings through links of love. Well, these are hardly the words of a Gnostic! John Firman (1991) acknowledges this quote, and after his long and critical argument affirming Assagioli as a gnostic, he qualifies his statement and concludes that Assagioli might have been a “holistic Gnostic.” Well, a holistic gnostic is hardly a gnostic; the two terms are contradictory, so the whole argument about Assagioli’s affiliation with Gnosticism falls apart. Firman maintains that Assagioli’s theory still operates with a fundamental split between personal identity and psyche-soma and that Assagioli’s version of Psychosynthesis includes a transcendence without immanence.
It seems likely that John Firman confused “duality” with “dualism.” Duality (also called polarity) is a fact of material existence, whereas dualism is a philosophical position regarding all of reality. Assagioli accepted the first and rejected the second. Let us, for a moment, explore how Assagioli viewed duality and its synthesis. Duality is a fact of nature, and in his article (1972), The Balancing and Synthesis of the Opposites , he starts with this observation:
“Polarity is a universal fact; it is inherent in cosmic manifestation. It is true that the Ultimate and Supreme Reality is the One, the Absolute, the Transcendent; but it can only be defined by what it is not.
From the very moment that cosmic manifestation begins to unfold, duality is born. The first fundamental duality is precisely that between manifestation and the Unmanifest. In the Bhagavad Gita this is expressed in the words: “Having pervaded the whole Universe with a fragment of myself, I remain.” In the process of manifestation, the fundamental polarity is that of Spirit and Matter.” [end of quote]
According to this quote, the Godhead has pervaded the entire Universe (Immanence) but still remains transcendent, and this creates a polarity between Spirit and Matter. However, the polarity can be synthesized, which is the essential point in the article mentioned above. It can be bridged through “links of love,” which is the essential message of Psychosynthesis, not separation and duality. This synthesis also includes the body, emotions, and mind. It is essential in Assagioli’s Bio-Psychosynthesis to appreciate the body, accept our emotions and thoughts and discipline them by the will by giving their functions a higher purpose so they can serve the transpersonal will and call of Self. It is the combined action of love and will that creates the synthesis of our personality and the synthesis of humanity and beyond.
However, synthesizing our personality is only possible if we create a space between ourselves and our psychological functions (psyche-soma) through disidentification and self-identification and become the loving and acting observers of our inner multiplicities. In other words, we must become aware of our false identifications with our psychological functions, subpersonalities, and collective norms before we can synthesize them.
I hope the reader will acknowledge that Assagioli’s vision of Psychosynthesis is not one of inseparable dualism; theism, in fact, is the opposite, and disidentification is a necessary tool to reach that synthetic conclusion.
Does Assagioli’s affirmation cause dissociation?
Let us now turn our attention to the claim of dissociation. Can it be true that his affirmation “I am not …” creates “splits,” “disassociation,” “denial,” and “repression?” — No, I don’t think so.
In his first book, Psychosynthesis, Assagioli (1965: 123) confirms that disidentification can be harmful and create further dissociation for some people who suffer from “depersonalization,” especially if they have a feeling that their body does not belong to them. However, in this case, there is already a dissociation present, and it is not caused by disidentification but rather an identification with only a part of the personality.
The person who believes that his body does not belong to him is identified with a prominent subpersonality or a complex of subpersonalities that excludes or rejects the body. The same type of dissociation can happen with other types of dominant identifications. The religious person who has his identity in a transcendent longing (a mystic subpersonality) can exclude the body and material realm from his awareness, considering it low and repulsive. It is his identification with only a part of himself that creates the dissociation from the body. A materialist who is solely identified with his body and material world will exclude the superconscious and his Higher Self from his awareness.
To be clear, dissociation is caused by identification and not disidentification, a point Firman (1991: 50) fully accepts, because disidentification creates more inclusive space in our awareness by freeing up our attention from partial identifications. Anyone who seriously practices disidentification will know this to be an experiential fact. Assagioli’s I am not my body affirmation is designed to help reveal this fact, so why is the affirmation so controversial for some people?
It might be because the critics believe that the affirmation implies an underlying assumption that we must reject our body and entire psyche-soma; however, from Assagioli’s reply, we can see this is not the case. His psychology is focused on the synthesis of all parts around the central “I” and Self, so there is no separation, either implied or encouraged.
When we understand that disidentification does not cause dissociation, then it must follow that the affirmation I am not my body does not either, especially when it is combined with the final affirmation: I am a center of Self-awareness and will. The first affirmation only strengthens the notion that I am something else than my body, namely the observer. It does not tell us to separate from our body or hate it; on the contrary. Let us investigate that.
Let’s see how Assagioli talked about the body and responded to the criticism of his “I am not my body” affirmation.
In his first book, Psychosynthesis, Assagioli explains (1965: 118):
“My body may find itself in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my self, my real ‘I’. My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good health, but it is not myself. I have a body, but I am not my body.”
Does this sound like someone who hates the body, as some Gnostics did? I don’t think so. Rather, for Assagioli, the body is a “precious” instrument we must treat well. He called his psychology for Bio-Psychosynthesis, to stress the need to include the body in personal and transpersonal psychosynthesis. Assagioli was well aware of resistance towards this aspect of the disidentification exercise, explaining (1965: 122):
“Among some patients, particularly Americans, there is a great deal of resistance to the idea of disidentifying oneself from one’s body, feelings and thoughts; and a deep fear of becoming split into different parts by doing so.”
Assagioli (1965: 123) then adds that we can become so identified – obsessed even – with a part of ourselves that it controls us entirely, and he says we have to abandon this identification so we can experience our center (the “I” and inner observer), which then collects, includes and synthesizes all of what we are.
To continue, the following is an extract from an interview with Assagioli (Assagioli: 1973):
“Question: Some people do not like the idea of saying, ‘I have a body, but I am not my body´ or other content of consciousness. They feel this is a rejection.
Roberto Assagioli: That is one of the many misunderstandings, which are consequences of the central misunderstanding. No rejection at all, but put things in their place. We need bodies here, and we ought to take care of them and appreciate them… At present, for too many people, it is the body that has them. They are slaves of their body. So as a first reaction, perhaps a separating stage is needed psychologically. We may have to go to the other extreme for a little while in order to reach it. And that is true for every kind of possession.” [end of quote]
However, as a result of this concern, a new version of Assagioli’s central affirmation was developed by his students. Many psychosynthesists use the phrase, “I have a body, but I am more than my body.” This implies that our identity is the body plus more of the psyche-soma, which could be seen as a form of Pantheism, that my identity is the sum total of Self and Psyche-Soma. However, Firman and Gila also reject this formulation, considering it to be a form of monism, of which they disapprove. In the interview quoted above, here’s how Assagioli responded to the use of this variation on the disidentification exercise:
“Question. Can one say: ‘I am more than my body, etc.’
Assagioli. One can say I am more than the body, but I would not do that because that would say I am also the body, but something more. But we are not the body at all.”
The “I am more than my body, emotions, and thoughts” is also not effective when it comes to disidentification from certain false beliefs. Clients who think of themselves as stupid or ugly do not get liberated by the affirmation; “I am more than my ugliness or stupidity”; they need the stronger perspective: “I have a feeling of ugliness, but I am not that feeling.” The problem with the “I am more than…” formula is that it creates more identifications and more attachments to the content of our consciousness. This situation is precisely what Assagioli’s affirmation seeks to avoid. However, let us also be clear that we are free to use whatever affirmations we choose; there is always freedom when working with Psychosynthesis.
We know from the above that Assagioli’s inspiration behind the disidentification/self-identification technique came from Raja Yoga. However, he also had personal experiences which confirmed the truth of his affirmation. We find an example in the following extract from his 1931 diary in which Assagioli is describing a morning meditation after reading a Hindu text:
“Read Viveka-chudamani around 6 o’clock. I had already woken up well-disposed inside – after reading I experienced the realization of the Reality of the Supreme, of Brahman and His infinite Glories (Viveka-chud v.139) – Sense of identification with it ‘I am That’ – From this sense of freedom, of detachment – I felt disidentified, freed from things, events, people, activities, from my own body – (What a relief!) – I felt how one can act by remaining ‘free’, superior; how can you be sufficient for everything. Realized the ‘misery’ of the many ‘attachments’ that bind and torment poor human beings. I determine to always turn silently to the deep Soul of each person I come in contact with, to the Soul behind the mask… Continued to read Viveka-chudamani early in the morning. It is of great spiritual help to me. It elevates me directly and quickly to the realm of reality, calls me back, awakens me – It is one of the paradoxes of the spiritual life – that disidentification from the world, from the body, from the ‘actor’ in me – it gives me a way to act more and better – it does so by eliminating dispersion, passive extroversion, numbness and releasing higher energies.”[end of quote]
This doesn’t sound like the words of a Gnostic who believed the world and body to be created by a demon, but those of someone who simply wants to “act more and better” in this life.
In contrast to an absence of Gnostic thinking, there can be no doubt that Assagioli was inspired by Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, as I have demonstrated in the introduction. One of the primary methods they use for Self-realization is the spiritual path of via negativa or negation. In a key article, The Superconscious and the Self (1973b), Assagioli explains to Vargiu his understanding of the via negative:
“The transcendent nature of the Self places it beyond the power of understanding of the concrete mind, and consequently beyond the possibility of describing it with words. The only recourse is to describe what the Self is not. This approach has been very popular in the East, where it is called ‘the way of negation.’”
Indeed, Assagioli’s affirmation “I am not the body, feelings or mind” contains the precise intention of one of the most well-known meditation techniques called neti, which is described in the following way on Wikipedia:
“In Hinduism, and in particular, Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, neti (नेति नेति) is a Sanskrit expression which means ‘not this, not that’, or ‘neither this, nor that’. It is found in the Upanishads and the Avadhuta Gita and constitutes an analytical meditation helping a person to understand the nature of Brahman by first understanding what is not Brahman.”
Assagioli recognized the value of both via positiva and via negativa as valid ways to self-realization. Disidentification and the affirmation of “I am not this or that” is a method of via negativa, while e.g. meditating on symbols is an example of via positiva and what has been called the seven ways of Psychosynthesis by Assagioli.
However, to dismiss Assagioli’s “I am not” affirmation is to dismiss one of the most tested formulas of the East, which has brought enlightenment to thousands of people. Psychosynthesis is a synthesis between the science of the East and West, and Assagioli knew that this technique was effective in realizing contentless awareness, which is why he supports it. The way of via negativa must stay and be combined with via positiva for psychosynthesis to be a truly synthetic approach to spiritual development.
From the above discussion, it becomes clear that Assagioli was not inclined to change his central affirmation. We find many instances in his writings where he clarifies his position concerning the body, so let us see what type of arguments he gave to his students. In the document Interpretation and Use of the Physical Instrument, He writes the following (Undated 2):
“Almost everyone feels at one with his body, and appropriates its conditions and sensations, saying “I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am tired.” And they struggle or even fail to conceive of their own existence separate and independent from their body. This is a lived materialism. It is necessary to get rid of it. It is the first door to be broken through or opened to get out of prison. It is necessary to consciously realize independence from the body. It is not enough to know this theoretically — this is already a help, but the real spiritual development begins when one feels independent from the body.”
One must feel “independent from the body” to get out of the prison of lived materialism, and only then begins real spiritual development. These are strong words by Assagioli, with which we can agree or disagree. However, it is evident that when he conducted the disidentification and self-identification exercise for his students, he kept true to his philosophy, as this example shows (Undated 1):
“Let’s do the full exercise together now; I’ll do it myself and each person can apply what I’m going to say to himself; say it to himself. Let us happily begin to free our “I” (self ) from the weight that habitually pulls it down: “I have a physical body, but I am not my body. My body may be in various conditions of health or sickness, rested or tired, but this has nothing to do with me, with my self (“I”). My body is my valuable tool for experience and action in the outside world, but it is only a tool. I treat it well, I try to keep it healthy, but it is not me. I have a body, but I am not my body.”
“Likewise, “I have an emotional life, which often gives me a lot of boredom, a lot to do, but I am not my emotions, my feelings. These emotions, these feelings are changeable, fluctuating, not infrequently contradictory, in conflict with each other, and I can and will increasingly observe them by taking the attitude of a detached spectator. Therefore, if I can observe them, understand them, criticize or approve of them to some extent, at first very slightly, then gradually increasing, and thus master them, direct them, use them; this evidently means that I am not my own emotions. The same can be said of my mind, which is rather undisciplined, which tends to go its own way, which reacts quickly to external impressions, or emotional stirrings, which….” [remainder of the sentence is missing in the original Italian].
“So, body, feelings and mind are organs of experience and perception, of action, but they are not myself, they are not “I.” What then is the “I”? What am I? First and foremost and essentially a center of pure awareness, a kind of inner eye, which observes, perceives and knows that it sees; and therefore perceives self-awareness. And as such, [it is] permanent, simple, immutable. We can doubt everything, except that we exist. Descartes said, “cogito ergo sum.” I think, therefore I am. One could also say “I doubt, therefore I am.” I can doubt anything except being, because the very moment I doubt being, I would be the one doubting. If I were not there, I could not doubt. This is not a play on words. It is an observation, an internal experience.”  [end of quote]
In the above, we see another example of how Assagioli seeks to guide people to one of the central experiences of Psychosynthesis, namely the self or “I”, and how consistent he is with the use of the methodology. The pure consciousness of the self, the inner light of our being, is so elusive because it is hidden behind a wall of false identifications, so we need this constant reminder of what it is – “a center of pure awareness, a kind of inner eye, which observes, perceives and knows that it sees; and therefore perceives self-awareness.”
The role of the body and its transmutation
Let us now wrap up with a final comment on Assagioli’s attitude toward the body, and let me remind you again of his article Practical Contributions To a Modern Yoga,  which offers a complete understanding of how he envisioned the role of the body and its transmutation. Assagioli considers all the seven psychological functions, including the body, emotions, and mind, as instruments of service. What he envisioned was a soul-infused personality – a personality that is capable of manifesting the unconditional love, will, and consciousness of the Soul in a life of service to humanity, starting with our family and expanding into wider social circles.
Well, this is a very noble goal, but it comes with a heavy price – a complete transformation and transmutation of our personality. Our personality is in constant conflict and divided against itself, with a multitude of inner voices competing for our attention. So before the body can act according to the will of the Self, it must undergo a drastic discipline; its inertia, lack of vitality, and laziness must be transmuted so it will not be a resistant force when we endeavor to follow the call of Self. The same problem occurs in relation to our emotions, which must express the unconditional love of the Soul and the mind, which can radiate wisdom, both of them must be developed, purified, and disciplined – not an easy job. Assagioli has this observation: (1957-b)
“I will only mention that the process of transmutation implies a total regeneration of the human being, beginning with the physical body. The body itself can and must be transmuted, and the psyche harmonized with the spirit, so as to achieve what I have called bio-psychosynthesis; that is, an organic and harmonious unity of all aspects of the human being. This is quite different from the ancient separative and dualistic asceticism and mysticism, which involved the condemnation and contempt of the body, almost a warfare against the body and its instincts. The body can and must be included, through a process of psycho-spiritual appropriation and regeneration — a process in which psychophysical and parapsychological powers are developed. This regeneration leads to what is actually a new birth. Already in India the Brahmans called it Dwija, that is, a second birth. But also in Christianity this symbolism has been much used and the concept of new birth is often used. It is that birth of the inner Christ, the birth of the Christ in the heart. Actually, the new spiritual being is like a new being arising, and more or less gradually, replacing the ordinary man.”
“Another symbolism similar to that of development, but more vivid and stimulating, is that of liberation […] development; that is, the illumination of developments, there is the process of liberation. Liberation, first of all, from all those illusions of which we have spoken, from all our false identifications with the body, with the emotions, with the various subpersonalities, with the various masks; that is, with the various autonomous complexes existing within us, with the various idols, and with the various collective entities. This suggests that initially there is a stage of conflict in disidentification, in which it is necessary to experience a dualism, and in a sense this justifies asceticism and mysticism as a process. In fact, at first it is necessary to oppose our body, our emotions and our false self, before we can re-assemble, reabsorb and transmute them. One cannot lift oneself up from the ground by pulling oneself up by the hair, so to speak. Therefore, in order to transmute the body, the emotions and the mind, one must first distance oneself from them; and we have the synthesis only later. Therefore, a process of liberation, of spiritual liberation. Liberation from limitations, and a release in the etymological sense, that is, coming out of prison through the unleashing of the potentials that are latent in us, passing from dependence and weakness to power and mastery.” [end of quote]
Let the above quote be Assagioli’s last word with respect to his attitude toward the body. I hope the reader will acknowledge that Assagioli’s version of Psychosynthesis does not imply a return to an old dualism, where we exclude the body and its instinct from our spiritual life. His vision is rather the harmonious inclusion of all our personality elements under the wise and loving will of the Soul. To reach this goal, we must realize that we are not our body but rather the evolving consciousness that inhabits the body.
Assagioli has argued for his affirmation via his philosophical thoughts and his experiential approach, claiming that you are not that which you can observe. He claims that we all can have this experience if we do the yoga and do some introspection. Admittedly it takes some training, but it is not an impossible task; millions of people have had the transcendent realization that they are not their personality but an eternal, indestructible being of pure consciousness and life, having a human experience. His philosophy and vision of what a human being could be, is one of Embodied Transcendence, a synthesis of transcendent identity in full manifestation of all our glorious capabilities.
Let us now offer some of Assagioli’s final arguments for why you are not your body. Assagioli was, in most of his adult life, an ardent student of parapsychology, and from that type of research, there seem to be plenty of observations that point to the fact that our consciousness and identity can exist outside the domain of the body. What have been called near-death experiences and Out-of-Body-Experiences all confirm that we can exist outside the human body. If this experience has any valid ground, and if there exists a life after death, then the question is fully settled. We are not our bodies.
In this final section, we will investigate Assagioli’s attitude toward parapsychological research, life after death, and reincarnation and see how these phenomena and beliefs relate to the dominant theme of our investigation.
I have already shown that Assagioli asserted that an experience of the transpersonal Self would give you direct knowledge of your transcendent nature beyond the body. Let us see how he puts that into context with the fear of dying (1964):
“Another crisis is produced, especially in the elderly, by the fear of death. This is aroused by the biological instinct of preservation. For those who are materialists, in practice though not in theory (since a person may consider oneself a “believer” but in reality, one identifies with the body), death is naturally something to fear. For many it means the annihilation of all values rooted in earthly life. This fear can provoke truly anguished states, and some go to the extreme of taking their own lives in order to escape the anguished anticipation of natural death. Here, the solution cannot be exclusively psychological: it must be spiritual. Only by disidentification from the body, only by a felt conviction of the continuity of life, only by identifying with one’s spiritual self, and experiencing the sense of immortality, of indestructibility that comes with it — only then can that biological fear be mastered and eliminated.” 
From this point of view, Assagioli claims that the Transpersonal Self can give you a sense of immortality and the experience that you survive death. Well, let’s see what science says about this. Is it such a radical idea that human beings can be conscious and alive, yet out of their body?
Not according to the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross,  who did extensive research with her scientific colleagues and found substantial evidence for near-death experiences (NDE) where people experience that they leave their body. Similarly, there is scientific verification for out-of-body experiences (OBE or OOBE), which entail a person experiencing the world from a location outside of their physical body – something which can happen in relation to an NDE but also in other circumstances. Jung, for example, reported having had an ecstatic out of body experience. 
These reports of NDEs and OBEs support Assagioli’s claim that, in extreme cases, consciousness can exist separately from the body, ergo, I am not my body.
Let us see how Assagioli related to the topic of OBE (1974b):
“However, the field that elicits perhaps the fiercest hostility among most psychologists is that of parapsychology. This can be explained by the fact that a good part of parapsychological phenomena gives rise to strong doubts about the validity of the conceptions to which many scientists are attached and which are part of their mentality. The most disturbing and revolutionary of these phenomena are those concerning bilocation. A large number of people have had and described the experience of being outside the body while in full awareness. Aware of being detached from it, they have seen it, for example, lying on the bed, and they have also moved out of the room. These phenomena and experiences are by no means new; one finds many examples of them in religious writings and in the biographies of saints and mystics. They are well known in the East, where certain yogis claim to be able to leave and re-enter their bodies at will. But they completely undermine the principle — one might call it a dogma — to which even today’s avant-garde psychologists adhere: indivisible psycho-physical unity.”
And in another quote, Assagioli informs us of the following (Undated 3):
“The experiences made out of the body in full consciousness, such as when an individual leaves his body, consciously seeing and experiencing this fact. Here we see and experience the freedom of the inner entity from the physical body. Thus we can see that we are really something greater than our bodies, and that our being is not at all bound to the physical plane. This perhaps happens when we sleep, but we are not aware of it. Leaving the body is part of some of the higher yogas, and requires a high level of spiritual development.”
What Assagioli speaks about here is the ability to move around on the inner levels of existence out of your body. However, he also warns against this practice because it entails serious dangers. This is not the time to time to dwell on parapsychological questions; people can download and read my essay: Psychosynthesis and Parapsychology  , which is a compilation of articles by Assagioli on the topic.
Another avenue of exploration concerning whether consciousness or the personal self can exist outside of the body relates to the afterlife. What happens when we die? Assagioli did not doubt an afterlife; in his article About Immortality (Undated 4), he writes the following:
“. . . the scientific proof of survival. The amount of evidence gathered by psychic researchers all over the world is so impressive that anyone who takes the trouble to read all the books on the subject, with a mind free from preconceptions, comes to admit the survival and activity of the human psyche after the death of the physical body. When intelligent men, accustomed to the use of the scientific method, such as the physicists William Crookes and Oliver Lodge, the philosopher Charles Richet and many others, come to these conclusions after years of painstaking experiments, their findings should have the same weight as what they, and other scientists, have done in other fields of scientific investigation. Such evidence of human survival is important because it destroys the barrier erected by materialism and gives access to a series of invisible planes, levels or realms in which human and other psychic beings exist and operate.”
Well, this is a strong scientific argument for the case that we are not our bodies, and Assagioli points in this article to eight different types of experiences that reveal our immortality and how we can attain such experiences through yoga. He concludes with this quote:
“The Spirit never dies; the Spirit will never cease to exist. There was never a time when it was not. Beginnings and endings are dreams. Unborn, immortal, immutable, the Spirit always remains. Death does not touch it in any way, even though its “home” may seem without life (translation from the Bhagavad-Gita).”
When Assagioli was asked about the prospect of his own death, he replied in the following way (Marignac: 1970):
“S. de M. – If you don’t mind me asking, can I ask you how you think about death, and yours in particular?
R.A. – I neither desire nor fear the death of my body, since I am profoundly convinced not only of survival, but above all of the perenniality of life. I’m convinced that the “spiritual nucleus”, which is the essence of ourselves, is immortal and that its manifestations will be renewed with an ever-increasing awareness and creative power.”
I believe what Assagioli is pointing at in this remark is his belief in reincarnation, which he made public in one of his last interviews (Keen: 1974):
“Keen: Since the decline of religion in the West and the loss of the rites of passage – birth and death rituals – it has fallen to psychology to help people cope with transition crises and boundary situations. How do you deal with death? At 85 how does it appear to you?
Assagioli: Death looks to me primarily like a vacation. There are many hypotheses about death and the idea of reincarnation seems the most sensible to me. I have no direct knowledge about reincarnation but my belief puts me in good company with hundreds of millions of Eastern people, with the Buddha and many others in the West. Death is a normal part of a biological cycle. It is my body that dies and not all of me. So I don’t care much. I may die this evening but I would willingly accept a few more years in order to do the work I am interested in, which I think may be useful to others. I am, as the French say, disponable (available). Also humour helps, and a sense of proportion. I am one individual on a small planet in a little solar system in one of the galaxies.”
Well, isn’t this a nice note to end this discussion? Whether you believe you are your body or not, I wish you a joyful ride in this life, and maybe we will end the discussion in the afterlife.
Thank you to Jan Kuniholm for the editing, proofreading and translation of Italian articles to this essay and to the Assagioli Archive in Florence, who makes Assagioli’s articles and notes available for the public.
Assagioli, Roberto (1933). Practical Contributions to a Modern Yoga. The Beacon, Vol. 12.
Assagioli, Roberto (1957b). Symbols of the Supernormal, part I. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi. Original Title: Simboli del Supernormale I
Assagioli, Roberto (1957b). Symbols of the Supernormal, part II. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi. Original Title: Simboli del Supernormale “I”
Assagioli, Roberto (1957b). Symbols of the Supernormal, part III. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi. Original Title: Simboli del Supernormale III
Assagioli, Roberto (1964). Conflicts. Psychic Crises and Conflicts. Third Lesson March 15, 1964. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi. Original Title: I Conflitti.
Assagioli, Roberto (1965). Psychosynthesis. Hobbs, Dorman & Company: New York.
Assagioli, Roberto (1974). The Act of the Will. Penguin Books.
Assagioli, Roberto (1974b). Psychology and Human Existence. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi,Original Title: Psicologia ed Esistenza Umana
Assagioli, Roberto (2007). Transpersonal Development. Inner Way Productions.
Assagioli, Roberto, Undated 1: Psychology And Parapsychology, By Roberto Assagioli, (no date) translated from Italian by Jan Kuniholm. Original Italian title: Psicologia E Parapsicologia. From the Assagioli Archive Florence.
Assagioli, Roberto, Undated 2: Interpretation And Use Of The Physical Instrument (Body), (no date), Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Amanda Mattiussi. Original Title: Interpretazione e Uso dello Stumento Corporeo, From the Assagioli Archive Florence.
Assagioli, Roberto, Undated 3: The Way of Parapsychology, (no date), Translated by Jan Kuniholm and Amanda Mattiussi. Original Title:La Via Della Parapsicologia, From the Assagioli Archives Florence.
Firman, John (1991). “I and Self”: Re-Visioning Psychosynthesis. (I have used the online PDF edition; the book was published in 2020).
Keen, Sam (1974). The Golden Mean of Roberto Assagioli. Psychology Today.
Marignac, Solange de (1970). Old Age and Death, Interview granted by Dr. Roberto Assagioli to Ms. Solange de Marignac in January 1970. Translation from French to Italian was revised and corrected by Dr. Assagioli. From the Assagioli Archive Florence. Translated from Italian by Jan Kuniholm and Francesco Viglienghi. Original Title: Vecchiaia e more.
 Visit this page for a compilation of different versions of the exercise: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/glossary/disidentification/
 Translated from Italian by Jan Kuniholm
 Pratyahara or the ‘gathering towards’ is the fifth element among the Eight stages of Patanjali‘s Ashtanga Yoga, as mentioned in his classical work, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali composed in the 2nd century BCE.
 Assagioli in other notes, refers to the Charles Johnston translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This was first published in serial form in issues of the Theosophical Quarterly between 1909 and 1911; then compiled and published in book form in 1912.
 See “The Superconsciousness and the Self”: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/the-superconscious-and-the-self/
 See my article; What Is Self-Realisation for an in-depth analysis of the differences between Firman-Gila and Assagioli’s version of Psychosynthesis: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/what-is-self-realisation/
 See Assagioli’s article here: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/roberto-assagioli-about-panentheism/ and my article about psychosynthesis and panentheism: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/psychosynthesis-and-evolutionary-panentheism/
 And this rejection is typical of gnosticism, but not of psychosynthesis.
 In his essay “Psychosomatic Medicine and Bio-Psychosynthesis” (1967) Assagioli writes of the word “psychosynthesis:” “it must be understood at all times that it includes the body, the bios . . .”
 Psicosintesi magazine, Issue 33, April, 2020: http://www.psicosintesi.it/sites/default/files/magazine_033_diariesoftheinternalwork.pdf
 The Vivekacuḍamaṇi (lit. The Great Jewel of Discernment) is a famous literary work attributed to Śaṅkara, an ancient Indian philosopher, one of the main exponents of the Hindu school of non-duality.
 There is almost no references to Gnosticism in Assagioli’s written sources or personal notes, so it is highly unlikely that he was inspired by that philosophy in any significant way.
 This article is a masterpiece of clarity. According to Diana Whitmore, Piero Ferrucci and The Psychosynthesis Institute in Florence, it was written by Jim Vargiu on the basis of interviews with Assagioli and was considered to be a true expression of Assagioli’s views. Read the article here: https://kennethsorensen.dk/en/the-superconscious-and-the-self/
 Translator’s Note: Roberto Assagioli used the Italian word “io” in his text often; however it can be legitimately translated at different times as “I,” “ego” “me” or “self.” In English we use “I” as a grammatical subject in a sentence but “me” as a grammatical object in a sentence; but in Italian “io” can be used interchangeably in both positions. To make things more interesting, in Italian the grammatical object is also rendered by the Italian word “me.” I have used parentheses in the above paragraphs to indicate this dual usage when the original word was “io.” Assagioli also used “Io” as a specifically technical term denoting what some English-speaking people (and some of the authorized publications of Assagioli’s works) have referred to “the I” on some occasions, and as “the self” in other contexts. Many people have been confused by this apparent interchangeability of these terms; but it is clear from Assagioli’s many writings that he explicitly eschewed “hard” definitions of terms and relied on a reader’s or a hearer’s common sense to perceive that what the ordinary person experiences as “I” is the personal self. He usually distinguishes the higher or transpersonal Self with the use of capital letters and the explicit use of the Italian word Sè, translated as “Self.”
 Even though Assagioli’s text uses the word “dualism,” the context suggests that the meaning of this term aligns with what we are calling “duality” in this essay.
 In Italian prigione is prison, and release (sprigionamento in Italian) is literally a coming out of prison. —Tr.
 An effective way to do this is through the practice of the Disidentification Exercise (See Course Lessons and Exercises 1963)
 Such phenomena are currently referred to as “out-of-body” experiences or OBE’s. —Tr.
Updated January 2023 with the following notes:
A new quote by Assagioli about the Samkhya philosophy – search for Samkhya.
A short conclusion to holistic gnostic – search for holistic
A short conclusion to the I am more formula – search for attachment