Recently, I have discovered a box of notes labelled Service in Assagioli’s Archives. This box is a treasure trove of inspiration and direction, especially as we enter this year of tremendous responsibility. What is special about most of these notes are that many of them are dated, a rarity among his archive material. Titles of folders inside this box include: “How to help” and “Simple ways of serving.”
The majority are written in Italian and first person, giving the impression that they were meant to encourage and direct himself as he began to integrate and synthesize his own life of service in the world. One of the notes is simply:
Servizio – (Mia) preparazione (Miei) compiti
Service – (My) preparation (My) tasks
Dates of the notes range from 1921—1931. This decade of Assagioli’s life was very fertile – personally, professionally, and spiritually. Assagioli was to become a mature man of 33-43 years. In 1922, he married Nella Ciapetti, and a year later became a father for the first time to his son, Francesco Ilario.
In 1926 Assagioli founded the Istituto di Cultura e Terapia Psichica (The Institute of Culture and Psychic Therapy) in Rome. During the same year, he would publish (in English) Psychosynthesis: A New Method of Healing, which consisted of his understandings of the complex interchange between the body and psyche and psychosomatic medicine. It was during this time he spoke about music and color therapies and made his first visit to the US. He was also busy working as the assistant editor of the theosophist magazine Ultra, and organizing various lectures and seminars sponsored by the journal.
Serving in these numerous and varied roles, Assagioli still took time to write down his own thoughts and intuitions om how to serve others. Given the urgency of our times, we all might be also feeling especially called to provide some greater service in the world. I found Assagioli’s personal notes helpful reminders of how we might proceed.
To give you a taste of what you can find, I offer a few examples. (All translations from the Italian are mine.)
This one is particularly beneficial because it encourages us to take time to renew our own energies (something often overlooked) by focusing on the beauty in our lives:
Coltivare il sentimento, l’aspetto poetico, il senso di bellezza:
– Legger poesie e prose letterarie
– Occuparmi d’arte
– Scrivere con sentimento, con calore, coltivare stile vivo, caldo, con immagini...
Cultivate my aesthetic feeling, a poetic approach, a sense of beauty:
– Read poetry and literary prose
– Busy myself with art
– Write with feeling, with warmth, cultivate a style that is alive, warm, with imagination…
Harmonize the Group
Here we are reminded that working with and leading others requires us to synthesis the aspects of love and will found in each individual and within the group.
Miei compiti di servizio
1. Armonizzare i forti, gli appassionati, i combattivi
2. Suscitare, rafforzare i buoni
My tasks for service
1. Harmonize the people who are strong, full of passion, the fighters.
2. Stir up those who are good-hearted.
Even Assagioli needed to learn the paradox that sometimes helping others requires us to accept and even inflict suffering. (Of course, the hardest part is discerning when to do so!):
Lezione che devo apprendere:
Accettare di far soffrire gli altri quando è doveroso e benefico. (“Chirurgia psichica”).
Lessons that I need to learn:
Accept that I cause others to suffer when it is my duty to do so and beneficial (“Psychic surgery”).
20 November 1921.
Realize the Perfection that Exists
In this note, you can hear his youthful enthusiasm when reflecting upon the Higher Self—
I. Irradiazione: benedizione ai compagni, ai malati, a tutto ciò che vive
II. Realizzazione della Meta gloriosa e sicura, della Gloriosa Realtà e Perfezione che è già intorno a noi ed in noi e che si tratta solo di percepire. Questo “mi richiama qui”, mi lascia positivo, lieto, fervido
In the end:
I. Irradiation: blessings to friends, the sick, and all that lives.
II. Realization of the glorious and certain Higher Aim, the Glorious Reality and Perfection that already exists all around us and in us, which we only need to perceive. This “calls me into the present”, it leaves me positive, joyful, fervent (8 October 1930)
Upon Entering Every Home…
A reminder that the simplest gesture can be a mighty service:
Entrando in ogni casa irradiare:
Upon entering every home radiate:
The Ultimate Mission
Apostolato la gioia.
Mission of joy.