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Some grudges and doubts

Arvan Harvat


Here are a few questions that have arisen during my "spiritual" ( boy, I dislike this word; it smacks of New Age goody-goodiness ) practice, when comparing my subjective experience ( and some of my transpersonal therapy friends' ):

1. In his "egg" diagram of the psyche, Assagioli presents the following picture: Transpersonal Self ( TS ), presiding over individual existence ( there are some incertainties in description of TS re other traditions - I've found useful to equate it to Atman of Vedantists or Tantrikas, Nous in fiery carriage of Hermeticists, Monad of the Theosophists, Sirr or Nur-i-Muhammadi of the Sufis, the Son or Inner Christ of Christian Neoplatonists, the Self of Jungian/Analytic/Depth psychology, Hsing ( Original Nature) of the Taoists, Buddhakaya or Buddha Body/Nature of Ch'an ( Zen ) Buddhism,..) shoots, like the sun, a radiant ray in psychosomatic complex: so, here we have a human being. Small "I" is just a projection of TS enmeshed in psychosomatic ( psc) complex. And here a confusion ( if I understood correctly ) with Jungian terminology begins:

a) ego, as defined by Jung, is the center of the psyche ( with 4 functions )-Jung doesn't have the small "I", as the projection of TS as the true center; his ego is somewhat similar to Freud's. Hence during the process of individuation, ego, transformed by energies of archetypes of the collective unconscious ( primarily by the archetype of the Self ), undergoes a processes of cleansing, maturation, etc. with the final goal of coniunctio, fusion of the psyche and the Self ( maybe even this is an overstatement- Jung is always wary to safeguard the autonomy of the ego, however transformed & "deified" it may be ). So:

  1. Jung doesn't have the "I" center.
  2. His system is safely within the Western tradition of processes of the soul/psyche.

b) ego, as defined by Assagioli ( I may be wrong; I'm writing from memory ), swings like a pendulum between "ego" in Jungian/Freudian sense ( the sense if "I"), and the radiant ray of TS ( here, Assagioli is closer to Vedantist or Tantric traditions: Atman = TS, jivatman = small "I"). In PS one of the chief exercises ( " I'm not my body,..., I'm center of pure will and self-awareness ), clearly follows from the Tantric tradition ( forget about sex, it's a spiritual discipline; the true Tantric in the West was Gurdjieff ). This, as different from vipassana meditation, focuses on constant awareness without identification with mental/physical/emotional sensations. The effects are gradual self-awareness, accompanied by a sort of empowerment, a surplus of vitality & a sense of control over one's mind/body complex. Well, Assagiolian affirmation aims at disidentification, but, by making it a verbal statement, stays "glued" to the mental/emotional contents of the psyche. It, as it were, posits disidentification as a goal, but achieves only a mental affirmation of disidentification; the latter can be achieved only through non-verbal constant awareness. I'm not quite sure was I clear enough: I think that Assagiolian "disidentification" is just a mental exercise aiming to loosen the grip of psc on jivatman/"I", not to sparkle the "I" spark into the flame of self-awareness ( which is by definition a form of transpersonal consciousness ). So, Assagioli took from Tantric tradition "I" as a projection from TS, but didn't follow the tantric sadhana all the way.Self-awareness, when practiced consistently, is a complete way of self-realization ( no need to contact TS-you are TS, or, better, you gradually grow in the realization of your true nature, which is TS ).

2. My second objection would be a practical one: why TS isn't in the game from the beginning ? A friend of mine, a transpersonal therapist, in a session or two, induces contacts with TS ( better, archetype of TS, its "messenger"- Old Wise Man, King, etc. ) who leads the process of cleansing the psyche, recognizing the shadow/complexes etc. With this methodology, relatively uneducated people ( peasants, workingmen, ..) have received shattering epiphanies from TSs and were healed from long-standing diseases ( in one case, a 20 ys of various unsuccessful treatments ). Needless to say, the process was of a guided meditation, preceding by a light trance ( counting etc.).

In my opinion, Assagioli's techniques are too complex ( disidentification ) for an average (wo)man to follow; I doubt its therapeutic value, or too gradual: as I said, my opinion is that the operative use of TS from the beginning gives astounding results and is fully in concordance with the whole PS project ( the very gradualness of the project turns away many well-intentioned ).

3. Since this is an already long post, I'll just add an opinion: I'd say that the strenth of Jungian therapy ( at least in theory ) is in dealing with the "Devil"/shadow. In PS this hard obstacle, powerful and differentiated from the rest of the psyche, is somehow subsumed in the unconscious. The Devil has not received his due :^).



this material originally appeared on the psychosynthesis mailing list, 29 Aug 1999



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page uploaded 14 December 1999, last modified 22 August 2004