Category Archives: Balancing Opposites

Infinity of the Heart

Frances Brundage New YearNew 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.

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Massimo Rosselli (©EB 2017)

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.

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Assagioli’s Virtuous Circles of 1) Strength and Joy and 2) Infinity and Joy

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.

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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.

Roberto Assagioli

 

Resting on Angel Wings

Mother of Horus Isabelle Bagdasarianz-Küng without saying

The Mother of Horus. (Photo by Isabelle Bagdasarianz Küng)

How can we cope with the overpowering images and messages from the daily news? Hurricanes, fires, mass murder, nuclear threats, and crazed world leaders can be overwhelming, pushing us towards a spiral of negative thoughts. Naturally, we want to be informed about what is going on in the world so we can make clear decisions and activate change. But we also need to find the right balance in our lives so we don’t feel lost in the constant swell of bad news.

The key is to seek equilibrium. Like feasting on salty food all day, when we only nourish ourselves by munching on the news, we can make our hearts and minds ill. We need to refresh ourselves with the taste and sound of spring waters, waters that might help us flush the salty taste from our mouths and renew our bodies and souls.

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The Poem that Crossed Borders

Lotus flower 3

Assagioli writes that the Lotus is a symbol of Synthesis.

Next week I will be at Casa Assagioli in Florence, helping Gruppo alle Fonti host their International Meeting. The theme this year is “Synthesis,” a mighty big concept to come to terms with in less than a week. In anticipation, I have begun to reflect on what Synthesis means. The word comes from the Greek word syntithenai, in turn deriving from syn meaning “together” and thtehnai meaning “to put, place.”

Assagioli Triangle Equilibramento

One of Assagioli’s triangles from his Archives.

The concept of Synthesis is complex because it is not only a quality or a state of being, but also a continual process, an attitude, an approach. I have written a number of blogs about Assagioli’s ideas on the synthesis of polar opposites. Basically, synthesis occurs when a pair of opposites continually interact until they are brought into equilibrium. Ultimately the opposites are transmuted into a transpersonal quality. Assagioli liked to draw triangles to illustrate his idea of balancing and transmuting these opposite energies into higher spiritual qualities. Continue reading

From the Couple to Humanity

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“Psychosynthesis of the Couple” from Assagioli’s Archives

On Saint Valentine’s Day, we recently celebrated ‘the couple’. In fact, Assagioli viewed marriage as a work of art – a canvas where the husband and wife can learn to alternate in a variety of roles. He believed that psychosynthesis of the couple was fundamental to achieving psychosynthesis of humanity. He wrote:

“When talking about the consciousness of a group, talk above all about the human couple: man and woman and their synthesis, and about their central importance as a fundamental basis and model of inter-psychics at its most vast and complex.”

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Stop Saving the World

saving-the-worldThe title of this blog might be a strange one for Christmas week, a time when many of us make a special effort to help those in need, donate money to charity, and volunteer our time to a deserving cause. Given the state of our world, you might argue that “stop saving the world” seems incongruent with what the world really needs today.

To better explore what I mean, we once again turn to Assagioli’s essay “Martha and Mary: The Active Life –The Contemplative Life.” This time we focus on his ideas about service. [i] Assagioli writes:

“If we examine our motives with all sincerity we often discover that the reasons for our preoccupation with helping others are not as pure and noble as we thought. We begin to realize that the shining alloy, mixed with gold, also contains the base metal of vanity, presumption, proselytism, and – most subtle and concealed of all – the desire to appease our conscience so that we will have some excuse for not undertaking the hard work of inner purification.”

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Transforming Walls and Bridges into Love

Wall over Bridge

Palestinians and international activists use make-shift bridges to cross the separation wall between Qalandiya and Jerusalem, November 14, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

There’s a lot of talk about walls lately. They seem to be going up everywhere.

In Hungry, refugees are cutting through and climbing over the 4-meter high barbed wire fence that extends along the Serbian border for 110 miles. British Prime Minister Cameron has recently received EU approval to control Britain’s own borders. And Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu announced this month his intention to “surround all of Israel with a fence” to protect the country from infiltration by both Palestinians, whom he described as “wild beasts.”

Perhaps the best known wall-builder today is the U.S. political candidate Donald Trump. On numerous occasions, he has boasted about building a wall along the Texas-Mexican border and “getting the Mexicans to pay for it.” Recently, however, he was firmly, but indirectly, admonished by Pope Francis during his visit to Mexico. The Pope said:

“Anyone who thinks about building walls … and not building bridges, is not a Christian.”

popeWhat struck me is that Pope Francis seemed to say that a Christian builds bridges AND walls. He did not denounce the walls, but simply added the bridges.

But this simple addition actually requires us to perform an extremely difficult, but necessary act of love and will.

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Irresistible Love

Nabascha

© Copyright Nabascha

We talk a lot about romantic love around Valentine’s Day. When romantic love devours us, we can find ourselves joyfully lost, frightened, and overpowered by intense feelings of belonging. And when this romantic love-bubble bursts, we seem to deflate into a mess of hurt, broken, and overshadowed feelings of failure and unworthiness.

It seems that love, from our human perspective, is inherently limited. The love we feel for another, as partners, family and friends, seems to come with all kinds of conditions. Some of these conditions may seem quite reasonable. For example, you might feel perfectly justified to say to your spouse: “I love you, but not if you have an affair/physically harm me/gamble away all our money.” Other conditions may be more dubious: “I love you, but only if you agree with me/let me have my own way/have enough money, beauty, fame/share my beliefs/keep me from being lonely…” This list can go on and on, depending on the deep inner needs that are unmet in the individual lover.

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