Last time we looked at the first two stages of growth in the process of becoming a more whole and integrated person. First you need to get to know yourself and all the stuff that lurks in your unconscious, and then you need to learn how to control it. Here’s the four stages again as a reminder:
- Thorough knowledge of your personality.
- Control of the various elements of your personality.
- Realisation of your true Self – the discovery of a unifying centre.
- Psychosynthesis – the formation or reconstruction of your personality around the new centre.
In this post, we’ll look at stage three of the process: the discovery of your unifying centre. There are obviously many ways you can go about doing this, and psychosynthesis is just one of them. The following text is extracted from Psychosynthesis by Roberto Assagioli:
3. Realisation of Your True Self – the Discovery of a Unifying Centre
“… What has to be achieved is to expand the personal consciousness into that of the Self; to reach up, following the thread or ray (see diagram below) to the star; to unite the lower with the higher Self. But this, which is so easily expressed in words, is in reality a tremendous undertaking. It constitutes a magnificent endeavour, but certainly a long and arduous one, and not everybody is ready for it. But between the starting point in the low-lands of our ordinary consciousness and the shining peak of Self-realisation there are intermediate phases, plateaus at various altitudes on which a man [or woman!] may rest or even make his abode, if his lack of strength precludes or his will does not choose a further ascent.
“In favourable cases the ascent takes place to some extent spontaneously through a process of natural inner growth, fostered by the manifold experiences of life; but often the process is very slow. In all cases, however, it can be considerably accelerated by our deliberate conscious action and by the use of appropriate active techniques.
“The intermediate stages imply new identifications. The men and women who cannot reach their true Self in its pure essence can create a picture and an ideal of perfected personality adequate to their calibre, their stage of development and their psychological type, and therefore can make this ideal practicable in actual life.
“For some it may be the ideal of the artist who realises and expresses himself as the creator of beautiful forms, who makes art the most vital interest and the animating principle of his existence, pouring into it all his best energies. For others it may be the ideal of the seeker after Truth, the philosopher, the scientist. For yet others it is a more limited and personal ideal, that of the good father or mother.
“These ‘ideal models’ imply, as is evident, vital relationships with the outer world and other human beings, and hence a certain degree of extraversion. But there are people who are extraverted to an extreme degree and go so far as to project, as it were, the vital centre of their personality outside themselves. A typical example of such projection is the ardent patriot who gives himself entirely to his beloved country, which becomes the centre of his life and interest, almost his very self. All his thoughts and feelings are directed toward this cause for which he is willing to sacrifice even his life. Another illustration (a frequent case in the past) is that of the woman who identifies herself with the man she loves, lives for him and is absorbed in him. The ancient Hindu wife not only made her husband her human master, but worshipped him also as her spiritual teacher, her Guru – almost as her God.
“This outward projection of one’s own centre should not be underrated. While it does not represent the most direct way or the highest achievement, it may, despite appearances, constitute for the time being a satisfactory form of indirect self-realisation. In the best instances the individual does not really lose himself in the external object, but frees himself in that way from selfish interests and personal limitations; he realises himself through the external ideal or being. The latter thus becomes an indirect but true link, a point of connection between the personal man and his higher Self, which is reflected and symbolised in that object.”
I have to say, this is quite inadequate as a description of how you might realise your higher Self – especially if you’re an introvert, like me. Unless you’ve already had a glimpse of this unifying centre, you would have no idea what he’s talking about from this text. However, the book does go into more detail about the process of self-realisation and some of the techniques you can use, which we’ll look at later. But next we’ll explore the final stage of growth – psychosynthesis in part 3.
More on the egg diagram here.