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Comparative Psychosynthesis Part 2

Arvan Harvat

Comparative Psychosynthesis Part 1Comparative Psychosynthesis Part 3


Doctrines discussed below are, due to the long process of their formation, often very contradictory & hard to classify. Moreover, virtually every major spiritual doctrine is claimed as the exclusive province of competing & "warring" schools, with their interpretation as the only correct one. If one consults various sources bona fide, a probable outcome would be pure & simple confusion. However, if one reads with a clue ( such as the Psychosynthesis map of mind ), one will find central common traits. Yet, shifting narrative perspectives ( dual, non-dual, theistic, contemplative non-theistic,..) always leaves a multitude of dubitable points. But, since the main aim of this post is just to classify various doctrines according to the Psychosynthesis map of mind, many discrepancies & dubieties will be left untouched.


Literature: Blofeld "Taoism: Quest for Immortality",
also "The Secret & the Sublime"; Li Kuan Yu (Charles Luk):"Secrets of Chinese Meditation",

There is an exact correspondence:
Universal Self = T'ai Ch'i ( Grand Ultimate )
Transpersonal Self = Hsing ( original nature )
"I" = Shen ( spirit )- a "travelling" entity, a part of Ching, Ch'i, Shen triad.

Methods: mainly, taoist yoga (inner alchemy) and contemplative discipline ( quan ).


Literature:Eliade "Yoga, Immortality and Freedom",
A.Bharati:"The Tantric Tradition",
A.Avalon:"Serpent Power",

Universal Self = Paramatman/Shiva
Transpersonal Self = Atman
"I" = jivatman( soul)

Because the main intention of this post is to present comparative psychology, I shall completely avoid the trademarks of Tantra ( Shiva/Shakti, chakras, kundalini, 5 m, etc.). The central similarity with Assagioli is accent on perpetual awareness, the awakening and empowering of "I".

Methods: whatever imaginable


Literature:Evans-Wentz "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines", "Bardo Thodol/Tibetan Book of the Dead",
Govinda "Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism",
also- Buddhist Tantra proclaims mobile principle of consciousness ( vijnana ), and Clear Light that can have various degrees ( Mind of Clear Light, pure Clear Light ). It's principle of consciousness who is the central actor in the drama of existence ( vijnana suffers various intermediate states in "Bardo Thodol/Tibetan Book of the Dead"; also, it can be projected in living creatures ( pho-wa) or, into the Clear Light ( trong-jug ); hence, enlightenment-see, Evans-Wentz "Tibetan Yoga & Secret Doctrines", or Assagioli "Psychosynthesis", page 202.)The trikaya doctrine ( Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya), assimilated with Clear Light as Supreme Reality helps make a difference between Higher Self and Universal Self. I wouldn't presume to differentiate between various aspects of Reality- suffice it to say that Clear Light is the Reality "above".

Universal Self = Clear Light ( Sva-Sambhogakaya ?)
Higher Self = Clear Light (Para-Sambhogakaya ?)
"I" = principle of consciousness (vijnana/manas)

Methodology is wide-ranging, from (poly)theistic devotional practices to various yogas ( either "mind-oriented" or "energy/consciousness oriented"; the latter, especially highly ritualized anuttarayogatantra (Highest Yoga Tantra )or the six yogas of Naropa only for "otherworldly" temperaments. In my humble opinion: unnecessary complex with many superfluous "baroque" elements; suited only for extremely "orientally minded" ( or for stars like R. Gere.)


Literature:Sayyed Hossein Nasr:"Islamic Cosmological Doctrines",
Frances Yates "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition";
Titus Burckhardt:"Alchemy", Carl Jung :" Psychology and Alchemy",
also, accessible, but hardly understandable without a clue, " Corpus Hermeticum" at

Universal Self= Theos/Nous
Transpersonal Self = Nous/Logos/Word ( ho de ek Noos foteinos)
logos hyios theou ); Lapis Philosophorum in Alchemy
"I" = anthropos ("man")

The process is best described in "Poimandres", where the revelation of Poimandres as God/Nous to Hermes draws vivid ( sometimes too fantastic ) picture of the descent & ascent of anthropos through the spheres of created universe ( here, we're dealing with Ptolemaic spherical cosmos ). Other terms, which shift the meaning & perspective are omitted ( psyche, pneuma, Demiurge, hyle,..). The main thing remains: the divine spark or ray- anthropos is the protagonist in the drama of life.

Methods: in Hermeticism, gnosis & theistic praxis (prayer etc.); in Alchemy, ritualized meditation combined with invocation & magical/protochemical practice.


Literature: Underhill :"Mysticism",
Eckhart:"Selected Writings",

This is a brief summary of various strands ( especially Dominicans (Eckhart, Tauler, Suso)). In man's soul one can find "Imago Dei" ( German "fuenklein", apex of the soul, scintilla animae- "I"). When man looks with the "eye of the soul" ( Imago Dei ), he finds the Son of God in his heart ( Inner Christ, Indwelling Spirit), then progresses towards God.( Won't elaborate on unmanifest Godhead-this is the pole that is beyond the subject ). Also, albeit this does not include Spanish Carmelitans like St. Theresa, similar phraseology can be found in Protestant contemplatives like Boehme or Law.

Universal Self = God
Transpersonal Self = the Son, Inner Christ
"I" = Imago Dei, scintilla animae

Methods: vita contemplativa


Literature: Mir Valiuddin "Contemplative Disciplines in Sufism",
William Chittick:"Rumi",
Burckhardt :"Introduction to Sufi Doctrine";

The "soul","I"( not psyche ), ruh, who is the traveller in the worlds ( material, subtle, causal -nasut, malakut, jabarut), finds God in the heart ( the equivalent of Logos - Nur-i-Muhammadi / "Muhammadan Light" ), then Allah in his fullness. The ray of ruh has returned to the sun of God.

Universal Self = God
Transpersonal Self = Indwelling God, Nur-i-Muhammadi
"I" = Ruh

This is a representation of wahdat-i-wujud (Unity of Being) doctrine, in its Neoplatonic variant, as exposed in Bektashi, Malami-Bairami, Mevlevi or Halveti orders. Vedantist Sufism (some branches of Chisti),or wahdat-i-shuhud ( Suhrawardi ) are not covered here. Also, Naqshbandi order has a system similar to chakras- lataif. Here, correspondences are:
Universal Self = Akhwa
Transpersonal Self= Sirr
"I" = Ruh,
these "subtleties" corresponding to various dimensions of spiritual reality.

Methods: religious life ( prayer, contemplation-muraqaba, dhikr -repetition of God's name(s), etc).


Literature: S.Radhakrishnan "Indian Philosophy",

Universal Self = Purushottama, Uttama Purusha
Transpersonal Self = Krishna
"I" = jivatman(soul)

The best exemplification is given in "Bhagavad Gita" ( which, however,is also claimed by Advaitists; in my opinion, this assertion is not so well founded.) Again, the true actor is jivatman.

"These bodies come to an end,
It is declared, of the eternal embodied soul,
Which is indestructible and unfathomable.
Therefore fight, son of Bharata!

Who believes him a slayer,
And who thinks him slain,
Both these understand not:
He slays not, is not slain".

Methods: karma, bhakti, jnana yoga

More to follow..

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

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