About Psychosynthesis

PsychosynthesisHathor with Scarab-small

I trained in Psychosynthesis in the mid 80s at The Australasian Institute for Psychosynthesis Studies at Bondi Junction in Sydney NSW. I have written at length about it in my article entitled ‘Assagioli Embodiment of Love Wisdom’ for the April 2004 edition of  the  Astrological Monthly Review see the link on my blog. As the name Psychosynthesis implies psyche the Greek word for soul and synthesis it involves the integrating of the psyche.

Dr Roberto Assagioli
Its founder Dr Roberto Assagioli, a visionary Italian psychiatrist envisaged the integrating the psyche as being twofold – first the integration of the personality around the conscious self referred to as self actualisation and the integration of the personality with the Higher Self known as Self Realisation. Psychosynthesis is described as a spiritual or transpersonal psychotherapy. Assagioli had an all encompassing vision of what Psychosynthesis entailed. He envisioned it as a synthesis of the personality but also as a synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy and wisdom. Like many of his contemporaries Assagioli realised that not only was the psyche fragmented but also knowledge had been fragmented. In his practice of Psychosynthesis he was endeavouring to synthesise these different branches of knowledge, of medicine, education and religion. Assagioli’s goal was to achieve synthesis not only of the individual, but to extend it to couples, families, education, the wider community to reach a global level.

Roberto Assagioli with Alice Bailey & other collaborators

Roberto Assagioli’s Association with the Theosophical Society
Roberto Assagioli was born in Italy in 1888 at a very exciting time where there was a great cross fertilisation of ideas. He was born  thirteen years after the Theosophical Society was founded in America in 1886. England followed suit in 1888 and Italy in 1902. Both Assagioli’s mother and wife became members of the Theosophical Society.

Sources of Inspiration for Assagioli – Eastern and Western Philosophy

The broad spectrum of disciplines from both Western and Eastern teachings with which Assagioli came in contact became a source of inspiration for Psychosynthesis. From Western philosophy he drew inspiration from such writers as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato. He was also influenced by the writings of the Russian esotericist, Ouspensky; the German philosopher, Hermann Keyserling; and R.M Bucke, Buckminster Fuller, Evelyn Underhill, who wrote Mysticism plus psychologists, Viktor Frankl, the founder of logotherapy; Robert Desoille, the creator of guided daydream, and C.G. Jung himself before and after his break with psychoanalysis. His contacts with the Theosphical Society and Alice Bailey acquainted him with the work of leading lights of Eastern philosophy and mysticism such as the Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore; Sufi mystic, Inhayat Khan; Patanjali to name but a few. In literature he drew inspiration from the Bhagavadgita, Homer, the grail legend, Tolstoy and his fellow countryman, Dante Alighieri. Jean Hardy in her book Psychology with a Soul shares the fact that Assagioli categorically states that the central theme of the Divine Comedy is a wonderful picture of a complete psychosynthesis. The journey of Dante through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise is the journey of the spiritually aware person through life. Other writers who greatly inspired Assagioli include the American philosopher, William James, whose work on subpersonalities and the will are a pivotal part of Psychosynthesis. Another American writer whose work Assagioli acknowledges as being influential on his thinking was Abraham Maslow, one of the foremost psychologists of recent times who wrote Toward a Psychology of Being.

Roberto Assagioli’s Association with Alice A. Bailey
Both Assagioli and Alice Bailey were guided by the Tibetan Master Djwahl Kuhl. In her book Unfinished Autobiography Alice Bailey refers to Assagioli as her friend and colleague and her representative in Italy for several years. She declares that her”‘contact with him and the many years of work with him constitute one of the outstanding happy factor in our lives” She described him as “a man of rare beauty of character….he could not come into a room without his essential spiritual qualities making his presence known.” She quotes Frank D. Vanderlip who refers to Assagioli as the modern St. Francis of Assisi. Alice also noted that when he lectured the spiritual power which poured through him was the means of stimulating many into renewed consecration in life.

Roberto Assagioli and Alice Bailey – Disciples for the New Age

Alice Bailey

Both Alice Bailey and Roberto Assagioli carried out the work of the Masters of Wisdom known as Koot Humi or Kuthumi and the Tibetan Master Djwahl Kuhl. Alice Bailey wrote a series of books on esoteric matters presenting the next phase in the continuity of the Ancient Wisdom teaching for the present and immediate future as dictated to her by the Tibetan. Her discipleship  service to her own Master Koot Humi included her establishing the Arcane School and the organiser with her husband Foster Bailey, of an international Goodwill Movement. An article on Roberto Assagioli by Al Mankoff entitled Roberto Assagioli, Psychosynthesis & the Esoteric Roots of Transpersonal Psychology explores in depth Assagioli’s collaboration with Alice Bailey in carrying out the Plan of the Masters of Wisdom:

“…..Over a period of thirty years, Bailey produced twenty-four books representing an astonishing range of occult information channeled from Kuthumi’s colleague, the Tibetan Master, Djwahl Kuhl, said to have achieved Mastership in the year 1875.

Mme Blavatsky

Two of these books reveal to us the validity of Blavatsky’s original claims as to the reality of a secret “governing board,” or Hierarchy, overseeing humanity’s progress. They also define the modus operandi of The Masters as they present the human race with the thought forms of a benevolent future through their immediate human discipleship Ashrams, who then promulgate the concepts through The New Group of World Servers, operating in every institution of our modern world.

The books are entitled Discipleship in The New Age, Volumes 1 and 2. They represent the instructions and the guidance received from the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Kuhl, by some 42 of his living contemporary disciples.

The disciples are anonymously presented by means of coded three-letter identities, each letter the first letter of a quality most needed by the disciple for his or her further development. Thus, Alice A. Bailey, shown in the book as “DRS,” was instructed to nurture the qualities of “Detachment, Rest and Skill in Action.”

Vera Stanley Alder, author of long-selling popular volumes of occult teachings, is shown as “LDO,” for “Light, Detachment and Organization.” Eugene Cosgrove, also the author of several profound esoteric volumes, and who was significant in the founding of The Center for World Servers in Asheville, North Carolina, bore the pseudonym, “ISG-L,” for “Illumination, Stability, and Group Love.” Perhaps the disciple of greatest world-wide fame of all 42 disciples was Doctor Roberto Assagioli, Italian psychotherapist, said to be the father of the Psychology of the Soul, Psychosynthesis. He is shown in the volume as “FCD,” or “Freedom from Ties, Chelaship, and Detachment.”

Foster Bailey, Alice’s husband, co-founder of the Arcane School of New York and a life-long Mason, is shown as “JWK-P,” for “Joy, Wisdom and Knowledge of The Plan.”

Al Mankoff continues….”Assagioli, with works most public in terms of identifiable world-wide results, was born of a Jewish mother. He was imprisoned by the Italian dictator of World War II, Benito Mussolini, but was later freed through the intervention of powerful friends. The period in jail was a blessing in disguise. Solitary confinement led Assagioli to a self-examination of inner freedom. When he was released, he wrote, “My dedication is to the task of helping men and women free themselves from inner prisons.”

Assagioli’s known work with the Tibetan Master Djwahl Kuhl began in January 1933, when he was told that by the time he would reach his fiftieth year, he would have achieved “the difficult undertaking of becoming the sannyasin in the western world”–that is, one who has fulfilled his obligation to family and surroundings and is now able to devote his life to things of the spirit. Of earlier contacts, there appears to be no public record.

Egg Diagram and Kabbalah

In essence, Psychosynthesis can be best represented by an “egg diagram”. Psychosynthesis easily interfaces with the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.”The key to understanding both Psychosynthesis and the Kabbalah is through the central sphere on the Tree of Life which exactly corresponds to Dr. Assagioli’s notion of the “self” at the centre of the egg diagram. As well as representing “the I” it corresponds to both the heart at the centre of the human body, and the sun at the centre of our solar system.” Psychosynthesis and the Inner Life by Philippe L. De Coster,D.D. In this book you can also find a good overview about The Seven Rays in connection with Psychosynthesis as given by Assagioli in his book Psychosynthesis Typology.

In his instructions of June 1934, DK states: “I would like you to write an article upon the Power of the dedicated Will”–the first step in a life-long study of Will by Assagioli. With a subtle hint of work to come, DK also triggered the beginnings of what, almost 40 years later, was to become The Meditation Group for the New Age and the beautiful, isolated center known as Meditation Mount, located in Ojai, California. DK wrote, “Your suggestion, secondly, that there should be a center at X of international usefulness is of real value and can be materialized if you work without haste and keep the conditioning of it in your hands and in the hands of no one else.” His instructions to Assagioli were to “Meditate much upon it, but take no steps until after . . . .”

A communication hinting at the methodology of the Masters appears in a July 1935 note to Assagioli from The Master DK:

“I am dealing with ‘building groups’–those groups which are coming forth along the teaching line and which are constructing thoughtforms which will embody the new techniques and ideas. These–during the next two centuries–will change the face of our civilization and inaugurate a period in human history in which methods will be tried and principles established which remain as yet totally unknown to the majority. This period will lead the race into a civilization and a mutual, cooperative interplay which will bring to an end the present era of selfishness and competition.”

In the same instruction, DK tells Assagioli,

“You could write a book (The Act of Will) which would be a synthesis of these new psychological ideas, subordinated to a central theme which would dominate them as the head dominates the activities of the body . . . opportunity will come to you to reach the world with ideas that are relatively new . . . you must work for a year at the organization of your thought and material so that you can reach the thinkers of the world with the new ideas in the field of that oncoming major science, that newer field of service–the field of psychology.”

Here, then, was the spark that lit the flame of Psychosynthesis and Transpersonal Psychology.

Later, in A Treatise on the Seven Rays, (1936) DK provides yet another clue to the coming changes which Assagioli will influence in the field, writing,

“Psychology is only just come into its own, and only now is its function beginning to be understood; in one hundred years time, however, it will be the dominating science; and the newer educational systems, based on scientific psychology, will have completely superseded our modern methods. The emphasis in the future will be laid upon the determining of a man’s life purpose.”

And Assagioli would be the disciple who would take on the massive task of instituting this great sea-change in the thinking of humankind.

 Alice A. Bailey, writing in a booklet dated 1933 entitled “The Next Three Years”, predicted:

“The outstanding achievement of the coming cycle will be the growth of psychology and the emergence of a new understanding as to the nature of man as a result of its work. The mechanistic school of psychologists has served a valuable purpose; its findings are sound even if, from the standpoint of reality, its conclusions are temporarily erroneous. Its exponents serve as a needed brake upon the speculative and mystical school. From the adjustment of relationship between these two schools . . . a third school will emerge. This will lay emphasis upon the soul and the mechanism it uses . . . ”

The success of Assagioli’s work in the field of Psychosynthesis, the foundation of the Transpersonal Psychology movement, was best expressed by Martha Crampton, Director of the Canadian Institute of Psychosynthesis:

“Assagioli had the vision and the courage to put forward in psychiatry an approach that did justice to all the dimensions of man–physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, even though the view ran counter to the prevailing mechanistic conceptions of the time.”

While Assagioli’s public work is well-established and a matter of historical record, his association with the Tibetan Master, Djwahl Kuhl, is shrouded in the mists of time. Except for a diminishing circle of people who were close to Assagioli and were aware of the connection, and who studied with him and are still alive today, nothing would be known of the esoteric background of his work.

Previous writers have only hinted at the depth of Assagioli’s involvement with the esoteric tradition, just as few today know of the roots of women’s’ suffrage that lie in the Spiritualist movement of the 19th century.

Peter Roche de Coppens, one of the few to so much as hint at the Assagioli-Tibetan connection, wrote in Quest Magazine in August, 1994:

“Assagioli developed a friendship with Alice A. Bailey, who connected him with spiritual traditions, the esoteric mysteries, and the teachings that she had articulated in numerous books”–read, “The Tibetan!”

Perhaps the most mysterious assignment Assagioli received from the Tibetan Master was an instruction to

“establish a world-wide group to simultaneously and continually meditate upon the Laws and Principles of the New Age: The Law of Right Human Relations and the Principle of Goodwill; The Law of Group Endeavor and the Principle of Unanimity; The Law of Spiritual Approach and the Principle of Essential Divinity.”

In the 1960s, Assagioli assembled a group of devoted friends who could be called his own “disciples” from several European countries and from the United States. He called this group “the committee.” They met with him in Italy and began drafting a series of leaflets defining the Laws and the Principles together with appropriate meditative techniques. These were in turn refined and fleshed out by Assagioli himself. When the core group of disciples returned to their home lands, the booklets were published under the name of the Meditation Group for the New Age. Each booklet carried Assagioli’s byline.

In the United States, the booklets evolved into a three year basic study now known as The Meditation Group for the New Age, and a ten-year continuation study of the Laws and Principles, known as The Group for Creative Meditation. The studies are distributed world-wide at no cost to participants by a non-profit corporation known as Meditation Groups, Inc. The group distributes Assagioli’s materials to more than 7500 workers in 85 countries around the world, thus fulfilling the Tibetan Master’s instructions to Roberto Assagioli. This world-wide group meditates every day on the Laws and Principles, as one.

Because the practice of meditation during the early years was looked upon as an Eastern aberration and because Assagioli’s pioneering work with professional therapists was highly sensitive in it earliest years, no hint of the esoteric underpinnings could be made public. Had this happened at the time, Assagioli and his breakthrough ideas would have been subject to ridicule by his academic colleagues and he would have been denounced and ostracized from the exclusive fraternity of psychologists and psychotherapists. The work, of course, would have failed or have been severely diminished.

Well aware of this threat, Assagioli wisely instituted what became known to his disciples as “The Wall of Silence.” Only those closest to him in the esoteric aspects of his work were aware of the true roots of Psychosynthesis and they in turn were pledged to absolute silence. The “Wall” stood for all these many years, until now, in a more enlightened time, the true esoteric nature of Assagioli’s pioneering work may be revealed.

That he was an active disciple of the Tibetan Master, that his work had a definite beginning on the inner side of life and was Divinely Inspired, can no longer be contested and must remain henceforth as a matter of public record.

More importantly, his work and the work of his fellow disciples, stand as solid evidence in this world of the presence among us of advanced beings, men who have managed to break the bonds of earth and who walk with the Angels, having learned the secret of immortality, so aptly described in Harold Waldwin Percival’s remarkable book, Thinking and Destiny.

These are men–and women–who have bridged the seen and unseen worlds and who live in perfected human bodies beyond the wheel of life and death.

Assagioli’s work has vindicated the validity of all who have come before. As each new revelation appears–and they are coming with startling rapidity, today–our respect and admiration for those who, like Assagioli, had the faith and the daring to take on the role of sannyasin in the age of cyberworld.

The stages of Psychosynthesis may be tabulated as follows: 1. Thorough knowledge of one’s personality. 2. Control of its various elements. 3. Realization of one’s true Self — the discovery or creation of a unifying centre. 4. Psychosynthesis: the formation or reconstruction of the personality around a new centre

Sources

Assagioli Embodiment of Love Wisdom by Anne Robertson
Unfinished Autobiography by Alice A. Bailey
Roberto Assagioli, Psychosynthesis & the Esoteric Roots of Transpersonal Psychology by Al Mankoff
Discipleship in the New Age Volumes 1&2 by Alice A Bailey
A Treatise on the Seven Rays by Alice A. Bailey
Psychosynthesis by Roberto Assagioli
The Act of Will by Roberto Assagioli
A Psychology with A Soul: Psychosynthesis in Evolutionary Context by Jean Hardy
Psychosynthesis and the Inner Life by Philippe L. De Coster
The Next Three Years by Alice A. Bailey
Thinking and Destiny by Harold Waldwin Percival

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