A comprehensive web site on psychosynthesis ..
The , understood as the capacity for decision, planning, and purpose, is regarded as a key resource in all phases of psychosynthesis. The will is a muscle-like part of the personality that can be strengthened and developed by will-training exercises. Decision and action, guided by an effective will, are the main thrusts of growth toward higher levels of integration. Assagioli writes: "The will is like the conductor of an orchestra. He is not self assertive but rather the humble servant of the composer and the score."(8) Among all our potentials, the power of the will should be given priority in striving to create both more complete, integrated selves and a better world. Only by the mobilization of the creative powers of the will can the human family avoid destroying ourselves by our runaway technology.The is another essential growth resource in psychosynthesis. Images and symbols are accumulators and transformers of the psychological energies that empower all growth, whether in therapy, education, or in other contexts. For this reason, the use of guided imaging has a key place in the practice of psychosynthesis.When one considers the patriarchal climate of the era in which his thinking developed, Assagioli was remarkably liberated in his attitudes toward women. He had a strong emphasis on androgynous wholeness in his understanding of growth. Following Jung's thought (without most of Jung's patriarchal biases) in seeing "masculine" and "feminine" components, he declared: "Only by accepting both the masculine and feminine principles, bringing them together, and harmonizing them within ourselves, will we be able to transcend the conditioning of our roles, and to express the whole range of our latent potential."(9) He emphasized the need in our society for women to be more involved in social and political life and thus to bring greater compassion, altruistic love, and respect for life into the public arena. He affirmed the right of women to combine the public roles with traditional family roles, if they choose, or to give their full energies to social and political roles. He called for a new society that is neither patriarchal nor matriarchal, but a global culture incorporating the best contributions of both men and women. With buoyant optimism, he declared: "All of this is within our reachùfor not only is it very beautiful -- it is very ."(10)What are the resistances to growth in psychosynthesis? Growth can be blocked by a variety of forces on various levels of the psyche. Assagioli pointed to the conflict between inertia and the craving for security, on the one hand, and the drive toward growth and adventure on the other. Resistance to growth can result from the way emerging needs and drives threaten old securities. Growth also can be blocked by failure to use the will constructively and by overidentification with one of the "subpersonalities" within individuals. The therapist's or client's acceptance of a traditional view of psychopathology can limit growth by causing them to ignore the essential resources for growth in the Self -- will, imagination, creativity. Furthermore, inadequate ideals and heroes/heroines can diminish actualization by depriving a person of growth-enhancing goals and models of the good life.A therapist begins psychosynthesis by discovering the particular needs stemming from the unique problems that an individual is facing. If growth is being blocked by unresolved conflicts in the lower unconscious, therapy has an analytic phase in which traditional psychotherapeutic approaches may be used. But -- "a separating of the whole into component parts in order to understand the nature, function and relationship of these parts"(11) is seldom more than a minor part of therapy. The primary emphasis, as the word "psychosynthesis" suggests, is -- "an integration, a wholeness, a unity, a harmonious use of all your potentialities."Although there are three phases of the process of psychosynthesis, in actual practice the phases do not necessarily occur in succession or separately. Often they take place in a back-and-forth or parallel manner, depending on the unique growth needs of the individual. If, for example, initial exploration reveals serious ethical and religious conflicts, as is often the case, these may be taken up in therapy immediately.The first level of psychosynthesis is . This phase aims at the synthesis of the conflicted or competing "subpersonalities" around the conscious self or ego (a method for doing this is described later in this chapter). The second level, "spiritual synthesis," aims at integration around the Self, the higher spiritual center. This process seeks to realize the superconscious potentials of personality -- the capacities for meaning, values, love, altruism, and for aesthetic, scientific, and spiritual creativity. New creative energies are released in one's life and relationships as synthesis occurs around this spiritual center. The purpose of life, as understood in psychosynthesis, is to manifest this Self as fully as possible in one's everyday life and relationships.Assagioli saw the process of spiritual development as "a long and arduous journey, an adventure through strange lands full of surprises, difficulties, and even dangers."(12) Disturbing crises often precede and result from a spiritual awakening. But he also saw the joy in growth. Responding to Maslow's call for a "technology of joy," Assagioli defined as that which results from the satisfaction of any need; he saw as resulting from the gratification of a "basic need" (Maslow's term); from the satisfaction of a higher need. He declared: "Acts of good will have rich and sometimes amazing results. Altruistic, humanitarian activities give deep satisfaction and a sense of fulfilling one's true purpose in life. As an Eastern sage said, 'World tasks are like fires of joy.' "(13) Self-actualization gives one a joyous sense of power, freedom, and mastery. Full transpersonal Self-realization, involving communion or identification with the transcendent Reality, results in what Assagioli called .The third level of the process of psychosynthesis, according to Assagioli, is . This phase aims at getting one into a harmonious relationship with other persons and with the cosmos. Clearly psychosynthesis is a system-oriented approach. The integration of synthesis of interpersonal relationships, of the individual with various groups, with the whole human family, and with the spiritual reality called God -- all may be a part of this third phase of growth. The essential unity of these different relationships is understood as a transpersonal spiritual oneness. Since persons live inextricably in relationships, a "good will" always involves harmonization with the wills of others and with nature. An inclusive ecological awareness is present in Assagioli's understanding of growth:
Self centeredness is deeply destructive to the cooperation without which a person cannot live a full life in community. This same principle applies to an individual's relation to nature and the universe. No person can take an arrogant stand and consider himself unrelated to the universe. Like it or not, man is part of the universal will and he must somehow tune in and willingly participate in the rhythms of universal life. The harmonization and unification of the individual and universal will is one of the highest human goals, even if it is seldom realized.(14)
There is an outreach thrust in Assagioli's thought which I find refreshing: "Inner experience is not an end in itself but a means to a deeper, more dynamic and effective involvement with and service to humanity."(15) It is significant that Assagioli attempted to launch a "Will Project" aimed at generating good, strong, transpersonal wills to improve relationships in families, between different racial and religious groups, and among nations.(16) In a recent paper in the psychosynthesis journal Donald Keys describes what he calls the "synthesis of the nations," the process by which planetary values and a sense of global responsibility are developed through the "planetization of our consciousness."(17)The therapist takes an active role in the early phase of psychosynthesis, utilizing whatever methods are needed to actualize that dimension of a person's potentials. Gradually, the individual exercises increasing responsibility, and the therapist becomes primarily a catalyst in the growth process. In the later phases the role of the therapist is gradually taken by the individual's higher Self, of whom the person has increasing awareness and identification. The inner wisdom of one's own higher Self is seen as the most valid source of guidance. Knowing this (as Robert Gerard points out) gives a therapist a sense of both humility and hope:
If you recognize the existence of a spiritual Self with a capital "S" then you also recognize as a therapist that there is within your patient (within all of us, for that matter) an inner source of love, of intelligence, of wisdom, of creativity, of inner direction and purpose. ... It can help a great deal if the therapist has a conviction, drawn from direct experience, that regardless of how wretched, confused or sick the individual may appear on the surface, there is this inner center of psychological health, of wisdom, of purpose, which is there to be evoked.(18)