Psychosynthesis Experiences – 3

The “I” or personal self: a funambulist in balance

Beyond psychic multiplicity, Psychosynthesis recognises the existence of the “I”, our true essence, that manifests in the inherent sensation of being always ourselves despite the many changes and inevitable transformations we undergo throughout our lives. The experience of this inner centre, which is not identified with any of the other psychic elements, is a basic experience in the deepest sense, in that it is connected to the very basis of our existence, its foundations.

Having described the innumerable factors shaping our personality and giving rise to our inner multiplicity, Assagioli stressed that, beside these various parts of us, there is

“a profoundly individual aspect that we feel is different from all the others and closest to us (…)”(Assagioli, 1971).

The “I” is also defined as “as a centre of pure awareness and will, a centre of dynamic and creative energy.” When we are “off-centre”, when we forget ourselves, we live at the periphery of our being, haunted by our inner phantasms. It is then that destructive impulses, overwhelming emotions, thoughts, anguished fantasies and painful self-images, submerge our “I” who, identifying with them, seemingly “becomes” these impulses, emotions, thoughts or fantasies.

The “centre”, however, “is the part of us that is always healthy, our true and enduring identity, which always remains the same. When we are centred, we are masters of ourselves, we are at home within ourselves rather than slaves exiled to a strange land; we are alert and awake, rather than preys to anguished dreams; we are ourselves rather than pretending to be someone or something someone else.

The centre is our “I” (Ferrucci, 1996). Experiencing our “I” gives us a great sense of mastery; it is an opening to our most essential and intimate core. Once the “I” is freed from false identifications, it acts as a unifying centre around which all the parts and elements of the personality can be re-organised in a more harmonious and inclusive way. The Psychosynthesis approach, then, tells us that we can and must access this inner centre, since it is the only source of true harmony and balance, and what can help our various “parts” or subpersonalities to cooperate rather than remain stuck in conflict.

However, as it often happens when we imagine something before having really experienced it, picturing the “I” as a “centre” might generate confusion. We might erroneously envision the “I” as something that we can own, or a place we can reach. In reality, the experience of the “I” is the experience of our subjectivity, of our being-in-the-world and our capacity for free and responsible self-determination. Furthermore, our capacity to be (self) aware and express our will constantly varies, going through peaks and throughs.

The balance we find through the discovery of the “I” is therefore not static and constant, achieved once and for all. It is rather a dynamic balance that we need to continually attend to and renew moment by moment. It requires us to stay vigilant, attentive and aware. If we were to use a metaphor, the inner balance we are talking about is more akin to that of a funambulist performing his acrobatics on a tightrope than that of king firmly seated on his throne.

These observations are grounded in the fundamental recognition that the “I” is nothing but the expression of the transpersonal Self in us, and that the extent to which we are able to be aware, manifest and realise the transpersonal Self varies moment by moment (see The Transpersonal Self – Experiences of Psychosynthesis 8).

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