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Comparative Psychosynthesis Part 1

Arvan Harvat

Comparative Psychosynthesis Part 2

Reading and re-reading Assagioli, comparing my personal experiences and what I know from other traditions-all that prompted me to try to redefine Assagioli's system and re-perspectivize it by comparing it to major psychospiritual systems. So, anyone interested solely in personal psychosynthesis, practical exercises or organizational questions: drop this into a wastebasket. The following is an almost scholastic attempt to put pieces together.

In short: Psychosynthesis gives a map of mind that almost exactly corresponds with the major ancient spiritual doctrines. If we set aside the question of specific goals of various "schools" temporarily & focus on the psychology/pneumatology, only a few doctrines stay somehow "outside" ( Advaita Vedanta, Patanjali's Yoga, Ch'an (Zen), Dvaita Vedanta and, maybe, Kabbalah ( due to "fuzziness" of central psychological concepts.) All other "teachings" ( Hindu Tantra, Tibetan (Tantric) Buddhism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, mainstream Christian spirituality, Sufism, Visistadvaita Vedanta, Alchemy,..) are perfectly concurrent with Psychosynthesis. They may vary in their practices; yet the "map of mind" is practically the same. The advantage of Psychosynthesis lies in modern terminology, its "elasticity" and a specific blend of dual and non-dual methodologies.

First: I'll recapitulate the essential Psychosynthesis map of mind & compare it to other ancient doctrines. Second: I'll show that Psychosynthesis methodology fuses "East" and "West". Third: I'll give a few additional remarks re various doctrines to show obsoleteness ( better, cultural conditioning ) of many of their traits and the limitation of respective world-views.


Egg Diagram 1. The Lower Unconscious
2. The Middle Unconscious
3. The Higher Unconscious or Superconscious
4. The Field of Consciousness
5. The Conscious Self or "I"
6. The Higher Self
7. The Collective Unconscious
I presuppose that potential readers are acquainted with the "egg" diagram (left), so I'll emphasize just "spiritual" elements, neglecting psyche as a whole ( the unconscious, ego, etc.). Two central actors are Transpersonal Self (TS) and the radiant ray of small "I", which, having become enmeshed with the psychophysical apparatus, gets hypnotized and irresistibly swept into the vortex of "life". The question of the nature of "I" has puzzled me a lot, until I've realized that the profile of meditative approach somehow shapes the experience.

Briefly: if you dis-identify ( non-verbally) from the mental/emotional flux, you gradually expand your field of consciousness ( lose the awareness of your body, environment, etc.- yet, you find yourself, so to speak, "centered" as an energy-entity. The field of awareness is extended ( say, twice your body ), you encompass your body ( which is, you're now definitely certain, not "you" ). Centering deeper & deeper, you grow in the state of power, energy, ( it's as if a new dimension, extratemporal, has opened within & outside.) That's as far as I could go. I didn't experience:

a) TS or "cosmic consciousness" ( I've read about it, but dont have a first-hand experience; I'd say: I can have "transpersonal", but not "transhuman" experience ).

b) the reality of "I"-just an "I"less field of energy/consciousness.

It took me some time to realize where I'd made a mistake. Non-dual meditative approach, when pushed that far, naturally "draws" the ray of "I" back to the source (TS), or at least to a significant degree of proximity. If you practice the exercise of disidentification (d-i) to the degree where you're just aware of mental/emotional/sensational flux as if sitting at the bank and watching a river flow, the sense of energized "I" appears. This "I" can be anywhere ( in the head or somewhere in the chest). Nothing transcendent or "spiritual" about it. Just a silent power watching. From that point one can create or discreate mental patterns at will.

To recapitualate: the sun of TS and the ray of "I" ( the "I" not a separate entity; yet, the one true protagonist of the process-it's "I" who awakens, directs, watches, controls, "travels",..). On theoretical level, TS is "Higher Self", a wave in the ocean of Universal Self ( "The Act of Will", page 260.). This "trinity" ( Universal Self, Transpersonal Self, "I" ) appears in practically all spiritual doctrines.

More to follow....

this material originally appeared on the psychosynthesis mailing list, Tue, 16 Feb 1999

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text content by Arvan Harvat
page uploaded 14 December 1999, last modified 22 August 2004