New Year’s Eve is often symbolically imagined as the polarity of death and life, perhaps best pictured as an old man with a sickle accompanying a joyful babe. It is a time of great darkness as we enter winter, and yet, paradoxically, it is also a time of more and more light emerging each day. New Year’s holds the possibility of the numinous, as we clearly mark one year to the next, sweeping aside that which we have lost for all that we have to gain.
It is important to celebrate this time of year with ritual and reflection, remembrances and hope. When we consciously enter this period of great polar energy, we enable ourselves to realize that death and life, dark and light, and the numinous are always available to us – every day and in every breath. Just like the outgoing and incoming years, the old breath goes out and the new comes in. Every moment. All the time. And nestled inside the old and new lies the eternal now.
As some of you already know, one of Assagioli’s collaborators, Massimo Rosselli, M.D., psychologist, clinical psychologist, and psychosynthesis psychotherapist died on 25th December. I did not know Rosselli in any intimate sense, never studied with him, but was an admirer of his writing about Assagioli and psychosynthesis, often citing his work. I did manage to see Rosselli at the 7th International Meeting at Casa Assagioli, sponsored by Gruppo alle Fonti and the Istituto di Psicosintesi, Florence.
On a balmy mid-September afternoon in Florence, 35 psychosynthesis enthusiasts gathered to sit in a circle on the terrace of Casa Assagioli and welcome him. The group was particularly interested in hearing more about his time with Assagioli, whom Rosselli met in 1966 as medical student. While we all eagerly welcomed him, Rosselli, in turn, invited us all into his heart as he flashed a radiant smile. The group had been invited to freely and spontaneous ask Rosselli any questions we liked in the hour we would spend together.
By chance, I found myself sitting next to him, his long arms and hands occasionally flying over me (à la Italian style) whenever he wished to emphasis a point. Meanwhile, I did my best to take notes of some of the questions and answers that we shared during our hour together.
At one point, I asked him for further details about his account of Assagioli’s death. It feels strange now that only three months before his own that Rosselli would be speaking about his intimate experience of Assagioli’s final moments. Specifically, I was interested in the fact that Assagioli died naked.
“I don’t mean to berate this point,” I said, “but I feel that it’s important.” Looking directly into my eyes, Rosselli peered inside me to a profound depth. “You’re right,” he said and preceded to relate his experience of Assagioli’s death:
“I was with him and the other students when he died. At one point, he didn’t speak anymore. But his eyes were very present. He was following the process, including what we were doing. At the end he had a little stroke. His left part was paralyzed. He picked up his left arm and let it drop. I remember his eyes looking at us and then he turned his head away. He died completely naked. Right at the end, he tried to take off his clothes and he nearly did it all by himself. At the end, I saw in his eyes a heartfelt infinity. I don’t want to forget the heart.“
Perhaps the infinity Rosselli saw in Assagioli’s eyes was a perfect synthesis, where all polarities converge into a single eternal point of Immense Love.
Rosselli ended by reading in Italian and then English a short passage written by Assagioli. The poetic words swirled around us like a prayer as we sat together in deep gratitude for our time together on “the house rising up in Central Italy where people of diverse beliefs may meet in good will.”
Thank you Massimo for your life, your heartfelt infinity. Thank you 2017 for all your blessings and sorrows. Thank you 2018, for the promise you hold of an infinite heart in every eternal breath.
The passage Rosselli read is as follows. To read the entire account of Rosselli’s talk at Casa Assagioli, click here.
Molti di noi…
Molti di noi sentono la nostalgia del raccoglimento,
di potere anche per un breve periodo,
in una piccola stanza da cui l’occhio
spazi liberamente sulla natura,
cercare di ritrovare in sé stessi
l’armonia e la propria verità,
onde ritornare alla vita attiva
con restaurata e riposata energia.
Many of us feel the nostalgia for gathering
our thoughts into concentrated energy,
of being able, even for a moment,
in a small room where the eye
can glide freely over nature,
to try again to find within ourselves
harmony and our personal truth,
then to return to an active life
with restored and reposed energy.
La casa sorgerà nell’Italia Centrale,
su un’altura che domini i dintorni,
è pensata quale chiostro moderno,
dove uomini di varia confessione
possano benevolmente incontrarsi
e ognuno per sé, senza lotta né disputa,
cercare nella tranquilla contemplazione
di riconquistare il proprio equilibrio,
la fede nelle proprie forze e nella vita.
The house will rise up in Central Italy,
on a height that reigns over its surroundings,
conceived as a modern cloister,
where people of diverse beliefs
may meet in good will,
and each one for themselves,
without struggle or dispute,
may seek in quiet contemplation
to regain balance and faith
in their own strength and in life.