Psychosynthesis: Beyond Right and Wrong
Back in 2009 I offered a course at the Trust entitled: What’s Wrong with Psychosynthesis? It didn’t run, bookings were too low, which didn’t entirely surprise me but was somewhat disappointing, especially as over the years many graduates of various Psychosynthesis training courses have expressed to me some level of disillusionment with Psychosynthesis itself, even if their negativity was clearly more to do with their training than the actual subject.
Feeling disillusioned with or disconnected from one’s original training is a common phenomenon it seems, and not peculiar to Psychosynthesis. The issues with trainings are usually that they are found wanting, either through a lack of supportive theory, or through a sense of inadequacy in practice. Sometimes this is all projection or displacement, but sometimes it is valid criticism.
I feel that these concerns are better explored than ignored, both for graduates themselves and for their training organizations. Through exploring what we perceive is ‘wrong’ with Psychosynthesis we can come, through deep inquiry and sometimes paradoxical insight, to discover what is ‘right’ with it. We may also achieve a synthesis beyond such duality, beyond ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, from where we can choose to engage with Psychosynthesis with renewed vigour and a stronger sense of connection.
For me personally, what has sometimes seemed ‘wrong’ about Psychosynthesis is also true for many other therapeutic modalities, namely a lack of direct engagement with the concerns of the modern world, politically, socially and ethically. Yes, there may be modules on social Psychosynthesis or eco-psychology but this still doesn’t necessarily address how an individual can make a difference and feel empowered to stand up for their personal and spiritual values beyond the consulting room. As with most such concerns, it seems to me it comes down to how Psychosynthesis is presented rather than a problem with the subject itself.
Assagioli certainly concerned himself with the state of the world. For instance, in an address titled Into the Future at an international meeting of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, in Boulogne s/Seine in July 1953 he said:
“The present acute tension cannot continue indefinitely; therefore humanity is confronted by three possibilities:
1 A third world war, with the consequent annihilation of a large part of humanity and the collapse of the present civilisation.
2 The strengthening of reactionary and separative trends. The predominance of various nationalisms, of totalitarian regimes, of merely economical and technical ‘values.’
3 The victory of humanistic principles and spiritual values – the development of mutual understanding, appreciation and cooperation between individuals, groups of various kinds, peoples and continents.”
Regarding a third world war and the strengthening of reactionary and separative trends, modern ‘warfare’ has perhaps gone beyond what Assagioli could have conceived, what with terrorism rife and increasing, the ascendancy of xenophobic and expansionist attitudes of leaders like Putin, the middle eastern debacle, etc., not to mention the continuous ‘warfare’ in our financial world and the selfish behaviour of shareholders in economic markets. The collapse of civilization as we know it is no less a threat than in Assagioli’s day, probably more so.
Where does that leave us regarding Assagioli’s third prediction – the victory of humanistic and spiritual values? Seems to me what’s wrong with Psychosynthesis is perhaps we don’t speak out strongly and confidently enough for these values … and what’s right with it is that it presents us daily with the challenge to do so. This inner tension is the stuff of change, for as Assagioli correctly pointed out in his address, all those years ago, tension cannot continue indefinitely.
Duality is the state in which we live, it is what enables us to experience the richness of life as we know it. As we might say in classical Psychosynthesis fashion, duality isn’t the problem – the problem is when we are identified with it and we align ourselves with one position or another, believing it to be the truth. The solution then is to embrace duality with the spirit of synthesis, to have it rather than let it have us. Then there is nothing wrong or right with Psychosynthesis, it just is, and in its is-ness stands for a world where humanistic and spiritual values become unarguably the core of all our interactions. Remember that and there are no limitations or inadequacy in our practice however well or not this has been distilled in our training.
Will Parfitt – www.willparfitt.com
Will Parfitt has worked in the field of personal and spiritual development for more than forty years. Trained in Psychosynthesis and a Kabbalah teacher, Will lives in Glastonbury, England, where he offers mentoring, supervision and spiritual guidance. Will’s latest work can be found at: www.willparfitt.com