Roberto Assagioli, the visionary founder of psychosynthesis, left a treasure trove of thoughts when he died in 1974 at the age of 86. A great scholar, linguist, educator, and philosopher, Assagioli’s creative ideas compelled him to handwrite his reflections onto small pieces of paper which he would then assemble under subjects just as Joy, Compassion, and Will.
I have visited Assagioli’s Archives three times in his home in Florence, most recently this September, as a guest of Gruppo Alle Fonti (The Group at the Well Spring). This time they also launched their new website www.archivioassagioli.org. Everyone can now register for free and, with the aid of an excellent search engine, delve into Assagioli’s fascinating, invigorating, and moving archived papers.
More than 6000 (out of 20,000) documents have been scanned, transcribed, and sometimes translated, and each one is a source of insight into Assagioli’s heart and mind. Of course, holding these slips of paper while sitting in his home, now the Istituto di Psicosintesi, are an entirely different experience. Upon receiving one of the 84 cardboard boxes full of catalogued papers, you discover endless slips of small, sepia-stained pages, often 8×12 cms in size. Some of the sheets of paper have been visibly torn to size, others are purposively folded together to form small, loosely bound books.
Assagioli’s hand varies from dancing loops, to bold strokes, to indiscernible scratches. His notes appear in Italian, English, French, or German, depending on what language he was reading at the time.
These slips of paper are now affectionally called Assagiolini (ini being the Italian diminutive). Funny enough, assaggini in Italian means “little bites of tasty food”. You might wonder, what made Assagioli consciously select this size paper? Andrea Bocconi, one of Assagioli’s youngest students, once posed the same question. “They are accumulators of energy” was Assagioli’s smiling answer. In September, I also found the following in the archives, a reflection of Assagioli’s on his time in jail in August 1940 under the Italian fascist regime.
“I used to write down on slips of paper or in booklets the things which I needed to remember. My mission and slogan was and still is ‘It is better to burden the paper than the mind…’”
Today the archive includes thousands of original manuscripts, typescripts, books, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photos, correspondence, and personal documents accumulated over the years. But when he died, most of this material was inaccessible, tucked away in the attic of his home or kept in a damp cellar where it remained for years.
Part of these manuscripts caught the immediate attention of Piero Ferrucci, a student and close collaborator of Assagioli. In 1974 Ferrucci assumed the daunting task of cataloging and distributing these documents in specially created folders. In 2006, Gruppo Alle Fonti, an international group of devoted volunteers, continued to systematically reorganize, sort, and catalogue the material. We have them to thank for online access to a part of these documents along with the promise of more to come.
In the words of Gruppo Alle Fonti:
“Access to the archive is not only an educative and cognitive opportunity, but a deep and intimate experience leading to an expansion of consciousness.”
I urge everyone to visit the new online archive and spend some time with Assagioli and his “unburdened thoughts.” You will definitely not only find a rich psychosynthesis legacy but a person of deep humanity. Most importantly, you may also find yourself resonating with the “accumulators” of energy which so well transmit his soul.
Assagioli, R. (n.d.). Acceptance: Freedom in jail. (Unpublished Manuscripts) Archivio Assagioli. Firenze: Istituto di Psicosintesi. Box 29: Folder 2.27.1.
Lombard, C.A. (September 2012). “Meeting at the Well Spring,” Psychosynthesis Quarterly, Vol 1:3, pp. 35-43.
Rosselli, M. (2012). Roberto Assagioli, a Bright Star, International Journal of Psychotherapy, 16: 2, p. 7-19.