Monthly Archives: February 2011

10 powerful insights from Eckhart Tolle:

# Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is rather than making up stories about it.

# The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it. Instead of making up stories, stay with the facts. For example, “I am ruined” is a story. It limits you and prevents you from taking effective action. “I have 50 cents left in my bank account” is a fact. Facing facts is always empowering.

# See if you can catch the voice in your head, perhaps in the very moment it complains about something, and recognize it for what it is: the voice of the ego, no more than a thought. Whenever you notice that voice, you will also realize that you are not the voice, but the one who is aware of it. In fact, you are the awareness that is aware of the voice. In the background, there is the awareness. In the foreground, there is the voice, the thinker. In this way you are becoming free of the ego, free of the unobserved mind.

# Wherever you look, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for the reality of time—a rotting apple, your face in the bathroom mirror compared with your face in a photo taken 30 years ago—yet you never find any direct evidence, you never experience time itself. You only ever experience the present moment.

# Why do anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering.

# People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness. They don’t realize that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe. It changes constantly. They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn’t have or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have. And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that lies beyond what is happening or not happening. Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is untouched by time.

# The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.

# Equating the physical body with “I,” the body that is destined to grow old, wither, and die, always leads to suffering. To refrain from identifying with the body doesn’t mean that you no longer care for it. If it is strong, beautiful, or vigorous, you can appreciate those attributes—while they last. You can also improve the body’s condition through nutrition and exercise. If you don’t equate the body with who you are, when beauty fades, vigor diminishes, or the body becomes incapacitated, this will not affect your sense of worth or identity in any way. In fact, as the body begins to weaken, the light of consciousness can shine more easily.

# You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge.

# If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace


“Compassion and Wisdom” is a groundbreaking Buddhist film which combines interviews with many of the world’s greatest Buddhist teachers and scholars with rare and often never before seen footage of Buddhist architecture, painting and sculpture in India, Nepal, Japan and the United States. Produced and directed by James Zito, “Compassion and Wisdom” is a thought provoking documentary examining the ideal of the Bodhisattva which is central to the Buddhism of late India, China,Korea, Tibet and Japan as well as their continuation in American Buddhism today. The Bodhisattva is a being committed to helping all sentient beings reach relative and ultimate happiness. The film includes an indepth examination of the Bodhisattva path and its main components: compassion and wisdom. Also included is a discussion of the relevance of the Bodhisattva ideal to current issues such as pollution of the environment, stress, the care and treatment of the dying and other ways in which Buddhist ideas can have a bearing on modern issues. The film also profiles the great historical Bodhisattva figures such as Avalokiteshvara, Manjusri, Tara, and Jizo still revered and worshipped daily by Millions of Mahayana Buddhists throughout the world. Valuable to both beginners and experienced practitioners “Compassion and Wisdom” serves as a primer for ompassionate living and offers a valuable and beautiful expression of timeless Buddhist ideas.

“The careful editing weaves the themes so closely together and builds a beautiful collage of voices that reinforce and build on each other while continuously setting everything within the practical context of modern life. A masterpiece !” – Professor David Chappell: University of Hawaii.

“The film is excellent conceptually and technically. It deals with some extremely complex subjects in a way that makes them accessible to intelligent ‘newcomers’ and it’s beautiful” – Jean Smith: Author of 365 Zen and other Buddhist titles.

The following are interview participants in the documentary film Compassion and Wisdom: “The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”:

His Holiness The Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Peace, is the living embodiment of Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva of infinite compassion. He is the head of state and political leader of the Tibetan people and their government in exile.

His Holiness Sakya Trizin is the supreme head of the Sakyapa order of Tibetan Buddhism, the 41st throne holder in an unbroken lineage stretching back to 1073 AD.

Robert Thurman, Ph.D is Je Tsongkhapa Professor and head of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. He is one of the founders of Tibet House.

His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche is one of the principal lineage holders of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely acclaimed author and teacher of Buddhism to the west.

Robert Aitken Roshi is the unofficial American patriarch of Zen and founder of the Daimond Sangha in Honolulu, Hawaii. Zen master, scholar, author and radical pacifist, he is a respected elder to Zen Buddhists across the United States.

John Daido Loori Roshi is abbot and spiritual leader of Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. A dharma successor of Taizen Maezumi Roshi, he is the author of a number of books on Zen and founder of The Mountains and Rivers Order.

Donald S. Lopez, Jr. is professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan. Universally recognized as one of the top Buddhist scholars in the world, he is the author of a number of books including The Heart Sutra Explained and Elaborations on Emptiness.

Lewis Lancaster, Ph.D is the chair of the Group in Buddhist Studies and professor of Oriental Languages at The University of California, Berkeley.

B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D is the newly appointed chair of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A monk for 14 years, he has interpreted and translated for internationally known Tibetan lamas including H.H. the Dalai Lama.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is a lineage holder of both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. He is the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery in Boudhnath, Nepal.

Khenpo Palden Sherab, one of the most qualified scholars of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, was in charge of the Nyingma Studies Department at The Central Institute of Tibetan Higher Studies in Varanasi, India for over 17 years.

Tsultrim Allione, a student of H.H. the Sixteenth Karmapa, is one of the first western women to be ordained as a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She is founder and director of Tara Mandala, a Buddhist center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Ven. Robina Courtin has been a Tibetan Buddhist nun for over 17 years. She has been an editor at Wisdom Publications for 10 years and taught for 7 years under the auspices of The Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition.

Shohaku Okamura, a Japanese Zen roshi, is the official representative of the Soto Zen tradition in the United States.

Taigen Daniel Leighton is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi. He is the author of a new book on the tradition of the bodhisattva and co-author of a book on Zen master Dogen’s standards for the monastic order.

Mu Soeng is director of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. A monk in the Korean Zen tradition for 11 years, he is the author of Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen Tradition and Teachers and Heart Sutra: Ancient Buddhist Wisdom in the Light of Quantum Reality.

David W. Chappell, Ph.D is professor of Religion at the University of Hawaii, Manoa and one of the world’s leading experts on the Ti’en Ta’i Buddhist tradition

Jakusho Bill Kwong Roshi is abbot of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center and one of the Dharma heirs of Suzuki Roshi.

Peter Coyote Narrator is an internationally acclaimed actor also known for his deft skill in narration and voice overs. He is a long time student and practitioner of Zen Buddhism and lives in northern California where he is an active participant in local community issues.


Psychological issues in the world economy is scheduled for Friday, March 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm.

The New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, in celebration of the Centenary of its Society, presents distinguished journalist Robert Friedman in discussion with Yale Professor of Economics Robert Shiller and Virginia Shiller of the Yale Child Study Center. Friedman will engage Robert and Virginia Shiller in a discussion of the importance of psychological issues in the world economy and the human behavioral factors and experiences that have shaped their individual interests and outlook.

Robert Friedman is an editor at large at Bloomberg News, where he has helped guide coverage of the global financial crisis. Prior to joining Bloomberg in 2008, he was international editor of Fortune, in charge of the magazine’s Europe and Asia editions, as well as its global business coverage. He was also an assistant managing editor of Life magazine, where he edited six special issues and two books: “The Beatles: From Yesterday to Today” and “The Life Millennium: The 100 Most Important Events and People of the Past 1,000 Years.” Before that he was special projects editor at New York Newsday, overseeing a team of reporters that produced many award-winning series; editor of the Village Voice; a staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal, where he covered legal and media issues; a freelance writer for Esquire, Inside Sports, Rolling Stone, New York, American Heritage, and other magazines; and the editor of MORE, a magazine about the media. Friedman is a graduate of Columbia College, he was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-author of “Up Against the Ivy Wall,” a book about the 1968 student protests at Columbia. He also has an M.A. in American literature from Columbia University and has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Robert J. Shiller is the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, at Yale University, and Professor of Finance and Fellow at the International Center for Finance, Yale School of Management. Shiller has written extensively on financial markets, financial innovation, behavioral economics, macroeconomics, real estate, statistical methods, and on public attitudes, opinions, and moral judgments regarding markets. Shiller’s book Market Volatility (MIT Press, 1989) is a mathematical and behavioral analysis of price fluctuations in speculative markets. His book Macro Markets: Creating Institutions for Managing Society’s Largest Economic Risks (Oxford University Press, 1993) proposes a variety of new risk-management contracts, such as futures contracts in national incomes or securities based on real estate that would permit the management of risks to standards of living. The book Irrational Exuberance (Princeton University Press, 2005) is Shiller’s analysis and explication of speculative bubbles, with special reference to the stock market and real estate. His book The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century (Princeton University Press, 2003) is an analysis of an expanding role of finance, insurance, and public finance in our future. In the book Subprime Solution: How the Global Financial Crisis Happened and What to Do about It, (Princeton University Press, 2008), Shiller offers an analysis of the housing and economic crisis and a plan of action against it. He co-authored, with George A. Akerlof, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (Princeton University Press, 2009). Shiller currently writes the column “Finance in the 21st Century” for Project Syndicate which publishes around the world and an “Economic View” column for The New York Times. He is co-founder and chief economist of MacroMarkets LLC . Shiller received his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1967 and his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972.

Virginia M. Shiller is a Clinical Instructor at the Yale Child Study Center and in private practice in New Haven, Connecticut. She is a member of the Child Study Center’s Young Child faculty, and has particular clinical and research interest in the areas of attachment and trauma. Dr. Shiller’s publications include two case studies in the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, and she has written on a wide range of topics including children’s emotional responses to separation, children’s adjustment to joint physical custody, and on humanistic and individualized approaches to behavioral programs. For eleven years, Dr. Shiller served as a Board member of the Connecticut Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology. She also served on the Board of the Connecticut Psychological Association, and was chair of the Association’s Children and Youth Committee. Recently, she has been nominated as CPA representative to the Advisory Board of the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate. In her private practice, Dr. Shiller works with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. Dr. Shiller received her B.A. from Brandeis University in 1975, completed her clinical internship at The Cambridge Hospital in 1981, and was awarded her Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1985.
Free and open to the public
212-879-6900 or for more information
6 Train to 77th Street
4-5-6 Train to 86th Street

The New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
second floor auditorium
New York

The New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is this year celebrating its Centenary. NYPSI’s position as the oldest psychoanalytic organization in the Americas parallels its global leadership role in the history of psychoanalysis and its influence on the cultural and intellectual life of New York City. NYPSI’s mission is to provide the highest level of psychoanalytic training to mental health professionals, promote excellence in psychoanalytic research and offer a range of educational, advisory and affordable therapeutic service programs to the New York community.

Seneca: quoting from De vita beata. “To live happily, my brother Gallio,is the desire of all men, but their minds are blinded to a clear vision of just what it is that makes life happy; and so far from its being easy to attain the happy life, the more eagerly a man strives to reach it, the farther he recedes from it if he has made a mistake in the road; for when it leads in the opposite direction, his very speed will increase the distance that separates him. First, therefore, we must seek what it is that we are aiming at; then we must look about for the road by which we can reach it most quickly, and on the journey itself, if only we are on the right path, we shall discover how much of the distance we overcome each day, and how much nearer we are to the goal toward which we are urged by a natural desire. But so long as we wander aimlessly, having no guide, and following only the noise and discordant cries of those who call us in different directions, life will be consumed in making mistakes – life that is brief even if we should strive day and night for sound wisdom. Let us, therefore, decide both upon the goal and upon the way, and not fail to find some experienced guide who has explored the region towards which we are advancing; for the conditions of this journey are different from those of most travel. On most journeys some well-recognized road and inquiries made of the inhabitants of the region prevent you from going astray; but on this one all the best beaten and the most frequented paths are the most deceptive. Nothing, therefore, needs to be more emphasized than the warning that we should not, like sheep, follow the lead of the throng in front of us, travelling, thus, the way that all go and not the way that we ought to go. Yet nothing involves us in greater trouble than the fact that we adapt ourselves to common report in the belief that the best things are those that have met with great approval, – the fact that, having so many to follow, we live after the rule, not of reason, but of imitation. The result of this is that people are piled high, one above another, as they rush to destruction. And just as it happens that in a great crush of humanity, when the people push against each other, no one can fall down without drawing along another, and those that are in front cause destruction to those behind – this same thing, You may see happening everywhere in life. No man can go wrong to his own hurt only, but he will be both the cause and the sponsor of another’s wrongdoing. For it is dangerous to attach one’s self to the crowd in front, and so long as each one of us is more willing to trust another than to judge for himself, we never show any judgement in the matter of living, but always a blind trust, and a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction. It is the example of other people that is our undoing; let us merely separate ourselves from the crowd, and we shall be made whole. But as it is, the populace,, defending its own iniquity, pits itself against reason. And so we see the same thing happening that happens at the elections, where, when the fickle breeze of popular favour has shifted, the very same persons who chose the praetors wonder that those praetors were chosen. The same thing has one moment our favour, the next our disfavour; this is the outcome of every decision that follows the choice of the majority. When the happy life is under debate, there will be no use for you to reply to me, as if it were a matter of votes: “This side seems to be in a majority.” For that is just the reason it is the worse side. Human affairs are not so happily ordered that the majority prefer the better things; a proof of the worst choice is the crowd. Therefore let us find out what is best to do, not what is most commonly done what will establish our claim to lasting happiness, not what finds favour with the rabble, who are the worst possible exponents of the truth. But by the rabble I mean no less the servants of the court than the servants of the kitchen; for I do not regard the colour of the garments that clothe the body. In rating a man I do not rely upon eyesight: I have a better and surer light, by which I may distinguish the false from the true. Let the soul discover the good of the soul. If the soul ever has leisure to draw breath and to retire within itself – ah! to what self- torture will it come, and how, if it confesses the truth to itself, it will say: “All that I have done hitherto,
I would were undone; when I think of all that I have said, I envy the dumb; of all that I have prayed for, I rate my prayers as the curses of my enemies; of all that I have feared – ye gods! how much lighter it would have been than the load of what I have coveted! With many I have been at enmity, and, laying aside hatred, have been restored to friendship with them – if only there can be any friendship between the wicked; with myself I have not yet entered into friendship. I have made every effort to remove myself from the multitude and to make myself noteworthy by reason of some endowment. What have I accomplished save to expose myself to the darts of malice and show it where it can sting me? See you those who praise your eloquence, who trail upon your wealth, who court your favour, who exalt your power? All these are either now your enemies, or – it amounts to the same thing – can become such. To know how many are jealous of you, count your admirers. Why do I not rather seek some real good – one which I could feel, not one which I could display? These things that draw the eyes of men, before which they halt, which they show to one another in wonder, outwardly glitter, but are worthless within.” Let us seek something that is a good in more than appearance – something that is solid, constant, and more beautiful in its more hidden part; for this let us delve. And it is placed not far off; you will find it – you need only to know where to stretch out your hand. As it is, just as if we groped in darkness, we pass by things near at hand, stumbling over the very objects we desire. Not to bore you, however, with tortuous details, I shall pass over in silence the opinions of other philosophers, for it would be tedious to enumerate and refute them all. Do you listen to ours. But when I say ours, “I do not bind myself to some particular one of the Stoic masters; I, too, have the right to form an opinion. Accordingly, I shall follow so- and-so, I shall request so-and-so to divide the question; perhaps, too, when called upon after all the rest, I shall impugn none of my predecessors’ opinions, and shall say: “I simply have this much to add.” Meantime, I follow the guidance of Nature – a doctrine upon which all Stoics are agreed. Not to stray from Nature and to mould ourselves according to her law and pattern – this is true wisdom. The happy life, therefore, is a life that is in harmony with its own nature, and it can be attained in only one way. First of all, we must have a sound mind and one that is in constant possession of its sanity; second, it must be courageous and energetic, and, too, capable of the noblest fortitude, ready for every emergency, careful of the body and of all that concerns it, but without anxiety; lastly, it must be attentive to all the advantages that adorn life, but with over-much love for none the user, but not the slave, of the gifts of Fortune. You understand, even if I do not say more, that, when once we have driven away all that excites or affrights us, there ensues unbroken tranquillity and enduring freedom; for when pleasures and fears have been banished, then, in place of all that is trivial and fragile and harmful just because of the evil it works, there comes upon us first a boundless joy that is firm and unalterable, then peace and harmony of the soul and true greatness coupled with kindliness; for all ferocity is born from weakness. It is possible also to define this good of ours in other terms – that is, the same idea may be expressed in different language. Just as an army remains the same, though at one time it deploys with a longer line, now is massed into a narrow space and either stands with hollowed centre and wings curved forward, or extends a straightened front, and, no matter what its formation may be, will keep the selfsame spirit and the same resolve to stand in defence of the selfsame cause, – so the definition of the highest good may at one time be given in prolix and lengthy form, and at another be restrained and concise. So it will come to the same thing if I say: “The highest good is a mind that scorns the happenings of chance, and rejoices only in virtue,” or say: “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable, wise from experience, calm in action, showing the while much courtesy and consideration in intercourse with others,” It may also be defined in the statement that the happy man is he who recognizes no good and evil other than a good and an evil mind one who cherishes honour, is content with virtue, who is neither puffed up, nor crushed, by the happenings of chance, who knows of no greater good than that which he alone is able to bestow upon himself, for whom true pleasure will be the scorn of pleasures. It is possible, too, if one chooses to be discursive, to transfer the same idea to various other forms of expression without injuring or weakening its meaning. For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast – a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it? A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys. Should not such joys as these be rightly matched against the paltry and trivial and fleeting sensations of the wretched body? The day a man becomes superior to pleasure, he will also be superior to pain; but you see in what wretched and baneful bondage he must linger whom pleasures and pains, those most capricious and tyrannical of masters, shall in turn enslave.Therefore we must make our escape to . But the only means of procuring this is through indifference to Fortune. Then will be born the one inestimable blessing, the peace and exaltation of a mind now safely anchored, and, when all error is banished, the great and stable joy that comes from the discovery of truth, along with kindliness and cheerfulness of mind; and the source of a man’s pleasure in all of these will not be that they are good, but that they spring from a good that is his own. Seeing that I am employing some freedom in treating my subject, I may say that the happy man is one who is freed from both fear and desire because of the gift of reason; since even rocks are free from fear and sorrow, and no less are the beasts of the field, yet for all that no one could say that these things are “blissful,” when they have no comprehension of bliss. Put in the same class those people whose dullness of nature and ignorance of themselves have reduced them to the level of beasts of the field and of inanimate things. There is no difference between the one and the other, since in one case they are things without reason, and in the other their reason is warped, and works their own hurt, being active in the wrong direction; for no man can be said to be happy if he has been thrust outside the pale of truth. Therefore the life that is happy has been founded on correct and trustworthy judgement, and is unalterable. Then, truly, is the mind unclouded and freed from every ill, since it knows how to escape not only deep wounds, but even scratches, and, resolved to hold to the end whatever stand it has taken, it will defend its position even against the assaults of an angry Fortune. For so far as sensual pleasure is concerned, though it flows about us on every side, steals in through every opening, softens the mind with its blandishments, and employs one resource after another in order to seduce us in whole or in part, yet who of mortals, if he has left in him one trace of a human being, would choose to have his senses tickled night and day, and, forsaking the mind, devote his attention wholly to the body? “But the mind also,” it will be said, “has its own pleasures.” Let it have them, in sooth, and let it pose as a judge of luxury and pleasures; let it gorge itself with the things that are wont to delight the senses, then let it look back upon the past, and, recalling faded pleasures, let it intoxicate itself with former experiences and be eager now for those to come, and let it lay its plans, and, while the body lies helpless from present cramming, let it direct its thoughts to that to come – yet from all this, it seems to me, the mind will be more wretched than ever, since it is madness to choose evils instead of goods. But no man can be happy unless he is sane, and no man can be sane who searches for what will injure him in place of what is best. The happy man, therefore, is one who has right judgement; the happy man is content with his present lot, no matter what it is, and is reconciled to his circumstances; the happy man is he who allows reason to fix the value of every condition of existence. Even those who declare that the highest good is in the belly see in what a dishonourable position they have placed it. And so they say that it is not possible to separate pleasure from virtue, and they aver that no one can live virtuously without also living pleasantly, nor pleasantly without also living virtuously. But I do not see how things so different can be cast in the same mould. What reason is there, I beg of you, why pleasure cannot be separated from virtue? Do you mean, since all goods have their origin in virtue, even the things that you love and desire must spring from its roots? But if the two were inseparable, we should not see certain things pleasant, but not honourable, and certain things truly most honourable, but painful and capable of being accomplished only through suffering. Then, too, we see that pleasure enters into even the basest life, but, on the other hand, virtue does not permit life to be evil, and there are people who are unhappy not without pleasure – nay, are so on account of pleasure itself – and this could not happen if pleasure were indisolubly joined to virtue; virtue often lacks pleasure, and never needs it. Why do you couple things that are unlike, nay, even opposites? Virtue is something lofty, exalted and regal, unconquerable, and unwearied; pleasure is something lowly, servile, weak, and perishable, whose haunt and abode are the brothel and the tavern. Virtue you will find in the temple, in the forum, in the senate-house – you will find her standing in front of the city walls, dusty and stained, and with calloused hands; pleasure you will more often find lurking out of sight, and in search of darkness, around the public baths and the sweating-rooms and the places that fear the police – soft, enervated, reeking with wine and perfume, and pallid, or else painted and made up with cosmetics like a corpse. The highest good is immortal, it knows no ending, it permits neither surfeit nor regret; for the right-thinking mind never alters, it neither is filled with self-loathing nor suffers any change in its life, that is ever the best. But pleasure is extinguished just when it is most enjoyed; it has but small space, and thus quickly fills it – it grows weary and is soon spent after its first assault. Nor is anything certain whose nature consists in movement. So it is not even possible that there should be any substance in that which comes and goes most swiftly and will perish in the very exercise of its power; for it struggles to reach a point at which it may cease, and it looks to the end while it is beginning. What, further, is to be said of the fact that pleasure belongs alike to the good and the evil, and that the base delight no less in their disgrace than do the honourable in fair repute? And therefore the ancients have enjoined us to follow, not the most pleasant, but the best life, in order that pleasure should be, not the, leader, but the companion of a right and proper desire. For we must use Nature as our guide; she it is that Reason heeds, it is of her that it takes counsel. Therefore to live happily is the same thing as to live according to Nature.”

“Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science” by Sissela Bok: some of the refences, quoted in the book, that you may like to explore in more details.

Review of happiness sources which make for an interesting reading list:
Robert Mauzi: study of happiness in the eighteen century
VJ McGill: book “The idea of Happiness”
Peter Quennell: book “The pursuit of Happiness”
William James: book The Varieties of Religious Experience

Pietro Verri: Meditazione sulla felicita’

Ruut Veenhoven: The Conditions of Happiness

Petrarch: De Vita solitaria, choice of where, how, and with whom to engage in cultivating happiness

Bertrand Russell: the conquest of happiness

And also some quotes topics of interest:

Daniel Kahneman: four temporal dimensions for experience of pleasure/pain. Instant utility; remembered utility; satisfaction with domains of life like family and work; happiness and well-being, including all aspects but not necessarily over a lifetime.

Aristotle: The educated person seeks exactness in each area to the extent that the nature of the subject allows. [And, we would add, to the extent of current measurement tools allow us to do, while working on improving them if necessary].

Philip Brickman and Donald Campbell: hedonic treadmill

Felicia Huppert: challenged the claim that the set point is determined by our genes and cannot be changed

Matt Ridley: “Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and what makes us human” genes must be seen as the agents of nurture as well as nature. There is no reason to fear the results emanating from genetic research as somehow threatening to human independence.

The *Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine* has scheduled an article for publication in a future issue: “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Urban Youth.”

The authors are Erica M.S. Sibinga, Deanna Kerrigan, Miriam Stewart, Kelly Johnson, Trish Magyari, & Jonathan M. Ellen.

Here’s how the article begins:

[begin excerpt]

Many urban youth in the United States experience inevitable and unremitting stresses, including poverty, failing educational systems, and exposure to community and interpersonal violence. In light of negative physical and psychologic effects of prolonged exposure to stress, such as hypertension, obesity, anxiety, aggression, and depression,1-6 we are interested in identifying effective approaches to reduce stress and/or ameliorate the effects of stress for urban youth.

Studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs in adult populations have shown decreased stress, as well as improvements in psychologic and physical outcomes.7,8 MBSR is a structured 8-week program of instruction, designed to enhance participants’ mindfulness, or present-focused awareness. Research in adult patients with chronic pain,9 cancer,10-13 anxiety and depression,14 and in heterogeneous clinical populations15-19 have shown benefit in health-related quality of life, alleviation of physical symptoms, and decreased psychologic distress. Roth’s research describes benefits of MBSR for low-income urban populations, with improvements in medical and psychologic outcomes, as well as decreased health care utilization.18-20 Additionally, MBSR programs for healthy adults have shown enhanced immune response and decreased mood disturbance.21,22

Despite decades of research in adults, the literature of MBSR for children and youth is now beginning to emerge. A few small and multimodal studies in children and youth describe benefits of mindfulness instruction, including increased well-being, decreased anxiety and worry, and decreased reactivity.23-29 Work by Bogels30 in schools and Biegel31 with psychiatric outpatients have also shown acceptability and suggest improvements in mental health, somatization, and general well-being. We have previously published results of a pilot study in which we demonstrated the acceptability of MBSR for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected urban youth, defined as session attendance, perceived positive impact, and enthusiasm for participation in the group. Five (5) of 7 (71%) session attendees completed the MBSR program and reported benefits related to improved attitude, decreased reactivity, improved behavior, importance of self-care, and importance of involvement in the MBSR group.32 The goal of the study reported here was to investigate further the potential domains of effect of the existing MBSR program,33 for underserved urban youth, using both qualitative and quantitative measures to enrich our understanding of the program’s effect in this population.

[end excerpt]

Here’s how the Discussion section begins:

[begin excerpt]

Our mixed-method exploration of the MBSR program for urban youth allowed us to identify specific domains that might have been affected by MBSR participation. The quantitative survey data show significant reductions from baseline in hostility, general discomfort, and emotional discomfort. The qualitative data show perceived improvements in interpersonal relationships (including less engagement in conflict), school achievement, physical health, and reduced stress. We believe these different types of data are both consistent and complementary, as the reductions in psychologic symptoms and improved well-being could both contribute to and result from the improvements articulated in the qualitative data.

The reduction in hostility seen in our MBSR participants is consistent with reports of decreased anger in a small number of adult studies.12,18 We did not find statistically significant decreases in other psychologic domains often described with MBSR for adults, such as depression. This may be related to the adolescent-specific expression of anger and hostility as a predominant feature of depressive symptomatology, as opposed to melancholic symptoms commonly associated with adult depression.42 Additionally, our data suggest that MBSR may have beneficial effects on health-related behaviors, with participants describing a variety of healthier behaviors, such as increased physical activity, healthier eating, improved sleep hygiene, and improved HIV medication adherence.

[end excerpt]

Here’s how the article ends: “These data suggest that MBSR may be beneficial for urban youth in a number of salient domains, including hostility, general and emotional discomfort, as well as interpersonal relationships, school achievement, and physical health. Future randomized controlled studies of MBSR to test its efficacy should explore outcomes related to these domains.”

The author note provides the following contact information:

Erica M.S. Sibinga, MD, MHS Center for Child and Community Health Research Suite 4200, Mason F Lord Building, Center Tower 5200 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224 E-mail:

Courtesy of Ken Pope

Courtesy of

A discussion of what is transpersonal—and therefore, in a certain sense supernormal—should be prefaced by a clarification of what is meant by “normal.” The current criterion of normality is generally considered to be represented by the average man who observes the social conventions of the environment in which he lives-in other words, one who is a conformist. But “normality” understood in this way is a conception that offers little satisfaction; it is static and exclusive. This normality is a “mediocrity” which either refuses to admit or condemns everything outside the conventionally accepted and thus considers it” abnormal” without taking into account the fact that many so-called abnormalities in reality represent the first steps or endeavours to rise above mediocrity.

Now, however, a reaction against this narrow-minded cult of “normal” has set in; thinkers and scientists of our time are opposing it vigorously. Among the most outspoken one may mention Jung (1933), who has not hesitated to state:

To be ‘normal’ is a splendid ideal for the unsuccessful, for all those who have not yet found an adaptation. But for people who have far more ability than the average, for whom it was never hard to gain successes and to accomplish their share of the world’s work—for them restriction to the normal signifies the bed of Procrustes, unbearable boredom, infernal sterility and hopelessness. As a consequence there are many people who become neurotic because they are only normal, as there are people who are neurotic because they cannot become normal.

Another writer, Professor Gattegno of London University, has gone even further, stating that he regards the ordinary average man as a pre-human being and reserves the word “Man,” with a capital M, only for those who have transcended the common level or stage of development and are, in this respect, supernormal.

In the past, the veneration of superior beings was widespread. The genius, the sage, the saint, the hero and the initiate were recognized as the vanguard of humanity, as the grand promise of what each man could become. These superior beings, while in no way disdaining ordinary humanity, sought to arouse in it the urge and the longing to transcend the “normality” and mediocrity in which it existed, and develop the transpersonal possibilities latent in every human being.

In speaking of the transpersonal we are faced with a serious difficulty and that is the inadequacy of human language, particularly of modern language, which is rational and objective. All words designating psychological or spiritual conditions or realities are in origin metaphors or symbols based on concrete things. For instance, soul (anima) is derived from “anemos,” meaning wind; spirit from “spiritus,” meaning breath. But the difficulty is not insurmountable if we remember and keep constantly in mind the symbolic nature of every expression, be it verbal or other kinds. Symbols properly recognized and understood possess great value: they are “evocative” and induce direct intuitive understanding. Indeed, the fact that the words indicating higher realities have their roots in sensuous experience serves to emphasize the essential analogical correspondences between the external and the inner worlds.

Yet symbols have their dangers. In fact, he who takes them literally and does not pass beyond the symbol to reality, but halts before it, does not arrive at the underlying truth.

Moreover, symbols are unilateral. No symbol can express more than an aspect, a quality, a partial conception of a given reality. This qualification can, however, be obviated by the employment of different symbols to indicate the same truth. Thus the sum, the convergence, the synthesis of many points of view can provide a greater and more integrated understanding of the reality they symbolize.

So, to designate the transpersonal experiences and achievements open to man, we find that there are fourteen categories or groups of symbols:

1. Introversion

2. Deepening-Descent

3. Elevation-Ascent

4. Broadening-Expansion

5. Awakening

6. Light-Illumination

7. Fire

8. Development

9. Strengthening-Intensification

10. Love

11. Way-Path-Pilgrimage

12. Transmutation-Sublimation

13. Rebirth-Regeneration

14. Liberation

These symbols are not only suggestive and illuminating; they can be used as subjects of meditation , indeed of “psycho-spiritual exercises.” This has already been done for anagogic and psychotherapeutic purposes. These meditations and exercises have proved themselves very effective, sometimes producing surprising transformations. (The Exercise of the Rose, a description of which is given at the end of this article, provides an example of such use.)

1. To the first group belong the symbols of introversion, of inner orientation. Introversion is an urgent necessity for modern man; our present civilization is exaggeratedly extraverted and man is caught up in a frenetic vortex of activities that become ends in themselves. “Normal” man today may be said to live, psychologically and spiritually, outside himself. This expression—which in the past was applied to the mentally ill—is well-fitted to describe modern man! He has now reached the point of living everywhere except within himself; he is in reality “ex-centric,” that is to say, he lives outside his own inner center. (In French there is another apt expression: désaxé, off one’s axis.)

The external life must, therefore, be counterbalanced by an adequate inner life. We must turn back into ourselves. The individual must renounce his many and continuous escapist expedients and address himself to the discovery of what has recently been termed “inner space.” Recognition must be given to the existence not only of the external world, but of different inner worlds, and to the fact that it is possible, and indeed man’s duty, to know them, explore them and conquer them.

Modern man has learned to control nature and exploit her energies, but generally is not aware that, in reality, all that he accomplishes externally has its origin in him, in his mind, and is the result of desires, drives, impulses, programmes and plans. These are psychological, that is, inner activities; every external action has its source in inner causes.

First of all, therefore, these causes should be known, examined and regulated. Goethe, a genius who well knew how to play the part of the “normal man” when he wanted, said: “When we have done our part within, the exterior will unfold itself automatically.” Interiorization, besides giving balance and nervous and psychic health, is the way to experiences of a transpersonal character. Turning within ourselves, we discover our Centre, our true Being, the most intimate part of ourselves. Here belong the “peak experiences” so ably described by Maslow (1962).

2. The second group of symbols is composed of those associated with deepening, with the descent to the “ground” of our being.

The exploration of the unconscious is symbolically regarded as the descent into the abysses of the human being, as the investigation of the “underworld of the psyche.” This symbol has come into use particularly since the development of psychoanalysis—although not discovered by it. Its origin is remote and, indeed, in antiquity it carried a deeper meaning. Let us recall the descent of Aeneas into Hades in Virgil’s Aeneid and Dante’s description of hell. Furthermore, many mystics have spoken of the “abysses of the soul.” Beside psychoanalysis in the strict sense, there is the “depth psychology,” represented by Jung and others. Its fundamental principle is that man must courageously become aware of all the discreditable and obscure aspects of his being, those which have been called “the shadow,” and then incorporate them into his conscious personality. This recognition and this inclusion are acts of humility and, at the same time, of power. The man who is willing and courageous enough to recognize the lower sides of his personality, without allowing this knowledge to overwhelm him, achieves a true spiritual victory. But this carries its own dangers: The allegory of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice contains a warning of how easy it is to make the “waters” gush out, but how difficult then to control them and command them to retreat.

In this connection the practice of Robert Desoille (1945), with his method of the “rêve éveille’,” is valuable. He makes use of the symbol of the descent, but puts greater emphasis on that of the ascent. Of the descent he observes that it is to be used prudently and “fractionatedly,” i.e., commencing by seeking to activate the higher realization and then, as the subject becomes stronger, cautiously exploring the zone of the lower unconscious. The aim is the elimination of the dissociation between the consciousness and the lower unconscious, which has been produced by repression and condemnation on the part of the conscious ego and his unwillingness to admit, from pride or fear, that there exists this aspect of the personality. To repress it serves no useful purpose; far from eradicating it, it exacerbates it, while it is man’s task to redeem it. But to accord it recognition does not mean surrendering oneself to its demands; it is preparing the way for its transformation.

3. The third group of symbols is of widespread use. It includes elevation, ascent, the conquest of “inner space” in an upward direction.

There is a series of inner worlds, each of which has its specific characteristics, and its higher and lower levels. Thus the first, the world of emotions and feelings, exhibits a marked difference of level between blind passions and the loftiest sentiments. Then there is the world of the intelligence, of the mind; and here also are found different levels: those of the concrete, analytical mind and of higher, philosophical reason (nous). There are, moreover, the world of the imagination; the world of the intuition; the world of the will and—higher still—the ineffable world which can only be indicated with the designation, world of transcendence.

The symbolism of elevation has been used in every age. Every religion had temples erected in high places, on mountain tops; and in antiquity many mountains were considered sacred. Moreover, there are symbolic legends, such as that of Titurel’s ascent of the mountain to build on its summit the Castle of the Holy Grail. The symbol of the sky, or heaven as a superior realm, the habitation of the gods and the goal of human aspiration, is universal.

4. The symbols of the fourth group are those of expansion, or broadening, of the consciousness. It is well to note that, although the different symbols may appear to be contradictory, in reality they are not so, but indeed are integrative. In the same way that the descent does not exclude ascent—it is in fact advisable, as we have said, to ascend first in order to be able to descend without danger—so the ability to expand the consciousness without losing oneself in its vastness, requires the taking up of a firm, stable position at the center of one’s being. Those two realizations complement and do not exclude each other.

The psychiatrist, H. Urban, speaks of the “spectrum of consciousness,” and maintains that we are only conscious within a limited area corresponding to the band of the light spectrum between red and violet, while there are other psycho-spiritual areas corresponding to the infrared and ultra-violet bands. Our consciousness can be enlarged or broadened, to include increasingly larger zones of impressions and contents. This expansion must be conceived spherically, that is, in all directions, vertical as well as horizontal, that is from the individual to the group, to society, to the whole of humanity. But it is necessary to maintain one’s self-awareness within the whole and not “lose” oneself therein.

Another series of symbols of magnitude and breadth is based on the Sanscrit root “mah,” which means “great,” and from which are derived “magister” (master), magician, mahatma, etc. One generally speaks of “great” men in distinction to “little,” ordinary men. The expansion that leads to the inclusion of other beings in oneself is associated with the symbolism of love (see Group 10).

Time provides another direction in which expansion takes place. Man generally lives in the present, absorbed in the interest of the moment; but he can expand his consciousness to include ever-wider cycles, a temporal continuum of varying dimensions. This leads to comprehension that the meaning and value of a human life do not lie in any one isolated moment, but in a process which unfolds, at the very least, between physical birth and death. This expansion in time, this inclusion of ever-widening cycles, serves as a preparation for the passage—one might say the leap—from time to the eternal, understood not as unlimited duration, but as an extra-temporal transcendental dimension, in which our inner center, the Self, exists and persists above the flow of the temporal current.

5. We come now to the fifth group of symbols, which are among the most suggestive and effective: The symbols of awakening.

The state of consciousness of the average man can be termed a dream state in a world of illusions: The illusion of the “reality” of the external world as our senses perceive it, and the many illusions created by the imagination, the emotions and mental concepts. As far as the external world is concerned, modern physics has demonstrated that what appears to our senses as concrete, stable and inert is, on the contrary, constituted of congeries of infinitesimal elements in extremely rapid motion, of energy charges animated by a powerful dynamism. Thus matter, as our senses perceive it and as it was conceived by materialistic philosophy, does not exist.

Modern science has thus arrived at the fundamental Indian conception, according to which all that “appears” is maya, illusion.

Then there are the emotional and mental illusions, which concern us more closely, conditioning our life and continuously producing errors of evaluation and conduct, and sufferings of every kind. In this field also, modern psychological science has reached the same conclusions as the ancient wisdom, that is, that man sees every thing and every being through a thick veil of colouring and distortions deriving from his emotional reactions, the effect of past psychic traumas, external influences, etc. The effects of this are mental illusions which lead him to believe that he is thinking objectively, while instead he is being affected by what Bacon called “idols,” by preconceptions and by collective influences.

All this creates a veritable dream state from which one can and should wake up. This awakening demands first of all an act of courage and the confrontation with reality. We have to reach the recognition of our psychological multiplicity, of the various sub- personalities co-existing within us, to the extent that every human being can be said to be a Pirandello character. The first step consists, therefore, in becoming aware of all that exists and stirs restlessly within us; the second, in discovering what we really are: a center of self-awareness, the Self, the spectator of the human tragi-comedy.

The doctrine and practice of the awakening are of ancient date. The Buddha laid particular insistence upon it in his teachings, so that he became known as the “Perfectly Awakened One.” An effective exercise for promoting the awakening can be performed after the normal waking up from sleep in the morning, by passing from this state to a true second awakening in the world of transpersonal awareness. The relationship between the

two states might be expressed in the form of an equation: Sleep is to ordinary waking state as this state is to transpersonal wakefulness.

6. In the sixth group of symbols are found those of light, of illumination .

Just as ordinary waking marks the passage from darkness of the night to the light of the sun, so the awakening transpersonal awareness marks the transition that has been designated “illumination.” The first step—which corresponds to the first stage of the waking state—is a simple (but not on that account easy) ability to see clearly within ourselves; the second, of illumination, is the solution of problems hitherto appearing insoluble, and this by means of the specific instrument of inner vision, the intuition . Thus intuitive awareness comes to replace intellectual, logical and rational consciousness, or better, to integrate and transcend it. The intuition in fact leads to identification with what is seen and contemplated, and to the recognition of the intrinic unity between object and subject. There is a further degree or kind of illumination: it is the perception of the light immanent in the human soul and in the whole of creation. We have numerous evidences of this; many mystics have described their inner illuminations. In Buddhism, and particularly in Zen, special disciplines aim at producing a sudden illumination with its accompanying revelation of reality.

7. The seventh group—the symbols of fire—is one of the most comprehensive and at the same time most essential.

The worship and veneration of fire are found in all religions.

Everywhere, on altars, in torches and in lamps, the sacred fire burns—the flames glitter. The flame of the Olympic torch is a symbol of contests in which athletes strive to give proof of exceptional physical prowess. The inner experience of fire has been lived through by many mystics: it is sufficient to mention St. Catherine of Siena and Blaise Pascal. The function of fire is primarily one of purification, and it is employed with this intent in “spiritual alchemy.”

8. The symbols of the eighth group are among the most closely associated with human experience, and are indicated by the words evolution and development.

In a certain sense these words might be said to be synonymous. Development signifies release from encumbrances and denotes the passage from the potential to the actual. The two principal symbols of development are the seed and the flower: the seed which enfolds within itself the potentiality of the tree; the flower which opens from the closed bud and is the precursor of the fruit.

Familiarity has bred in us indifference to the miracle by which the acorn develops into the oak, and the child into the adult. Where, in reality, is the tree in the seed, where the oak in the acorn? Aristotle speaks of “entelechy,” others of “model” and “archetype.” An immanent Intelligence must be admitted which directs the various phases of the development of the seed from the tree, from the cell or germinal cells to the complete organism.

The other symbol, widely used since ancient times, is the flower: the Golden Flower (in China), the lotus (in India) and the rose (in Persia and Europe). The symbolism of the lotus is closely associated with what happens in man. The lotus has its roots in the earth, its stalk grows in the water, and its flower opens in the air in response to the action of the rays of the sun. It is an apt symbol of man, who has a physical body as a terrestrial base and develops psychologically in the sphere of the emotions (“water”) and of the mind (“air”). The realization of the Self, the inner center, corresponds to the opening of the flower brought about by the vivifying action of the sun, the symbol of the spirit. Some Eastern methods of development and meditation are based on this symbolism of the lotus.

The same applies to a great extent to the rose, whose symbolism originated in Persia, where the mystic poets speak of the rose in this sense. In Europe we find Le Roman de la Rose, Dante’s “mystic rose,” and certain more or less secret movements, in particular those of the Rosicrucians. I have used the symbol of the rose in a special exercise which has proved very effective in stimulating and promoting the opening, or blossoming, of the transpersonal consciousness.

The symbol of development is applicable to two different stages: the first, extending from childhood to adulthood; the second, from the state of “normal” man to that of the “awakened” individual. Maria Montessori —who devoted herself to the education of children and revolutionized preceding educational systems—is justified in saying:

Development of the. child into the man takes place actively within, and the child pursues this task joyously when the adult does not interfere by dispensing the treasures of his wisdom. The child is the human seed: as the oak tree subsists in the acorn, so the adult subsists in embryo in the child.

We may recall that Plutarch had already said: “Man is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to kindle.” To educate, in fact, should be-as its etymology indicates-(to) “e-ducere,” to draw forth (from within), that is, to develop. Of the second phase of man’s development, it may be said to be truly representative of the passage to a transpersonal stage.

9. The ninth series of symbols includes those of strengthening, or intensification.

Transpersonal experiences may be regarded as a reinforcement or intensification of the life consciousness, a tension or psychological “voltage” higher than that in which the average man lives. Herman Keyserling (1938) speaks of a “dimension of intensity,” associating the symbolism of intensification with that of proceeding along a different dimension which he terms “vertical” (the other dimension being horizontal). In using this term “vertical dimension,” he refers to a “verticality” that rises from the world of becoming, or flux, towards the world of being and of transcendence. He applies this symbol also to time, a “vertical passing” from time to the extra-temporal eternal. Strengthening also has two stages or degrees. The first consists in the reinforcement of all man’s latent, underdeveloped energies and functions. In his essay, The Energies of Men, William James draws attention to a number of energy-potentialities existing in man, waiting to be brought into manifestation when he wills to discover, activate and use them.

The second degree of reinforcement permits the passage from the personal to the

transpersonal level referred to above, in which also the manifestation of various para- psycho. logical powers may occur. At times. such powers, when associated with the higher ethical and spiritual endowments, have been ascribed to illuminates, to the “awakened,” to “initiates” from Moses to Pythagoras, from Buddha to Christ and various mystics. Some have employed them deliberately and consciously; in others they manifested spontaneously, even against the will of the subject. One might say that these powers are sometimes a consequence, a by-product as it were, of transpersonal experiences.

10. The symbols of the tenth group are those of love.

Human love itself is, in a certain respect, a desire and an attempt-more or less conscious—to “come out” of oneself, to transcend the limits of separate existence and enter into communion, to fuse oneself, with another being, with a “thou.” The devout and mystics of every age have spoken of their experience of communion with Cod or with Higher Beings, employing the symbolism of human love. One may recall the Song of Songs in the Bible and the expressions—sometimes of a surprising audacity—used by St. Catherine of Siena and St. John of the Cross.

11. The symbols of the eleventh group include those of the Way, the Path, and of pilgrimage.

These two have been, and are, universally used. The religious employ the term “mystic way.” The symbol of “pilgrimage” has often been, and still is, used in a physical and external manner in connection with the pilgrimage to various sacred places. Dante’s passing through the Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise has been called a pilgrimage. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress will also be recalled in this connection.

12. We now come to the twelfth group, the symbols of transmutation. The body and psyche can be transmuted by means of a regenerative transformation. This produces an organic and harmonious unification of all man’s aspects, a “bio-psychosynthesis.” A “psycho-spiritual alchemy” is achieved. When one speaks of alchemy, one thinks of the attempts to make gold (something which used to appear incredible, but now seems less fantastic since man has learned to transform one element into another by the manipulation of atoms). But in reality the Arabian and medieval alchemical books often veiled in chemical terms the psycho-spiritual alchemy, that is, the transmutation of man.

This has been recognized by some modern writers, notably Jung (1940), who devoted much time during the last years of his life to the study of, and writing about, alchemical symbolism. In his book Psychology and Religion, he discusses it extensively and relates how he discovered this symbolism in the dreams of his patients and in the drawings of both the ill and the healthy.

Transmutation and transformation occur in two different ways, in two opposite directions, but ways which are not in opposition; they alternate and complete each other.

The first is transmutation through sublimation; the second is the transformation produced by the descent, the irruption of superconscious energies into the personality, including the body. Their combined action brings about a complete bio-psychosynthesis.

13. The thirteenth group comprises the symbols of regeneration, of the “new birth.” it is related to the preceding group, since a complete transmutation prepares or opens the way to regeneration, which, in its most profound and essential meaning, constitutes a “new birth,” the birth of the “new man,” of the spiritual man within the personality. In India, Brahmins are called Dwigis, that is, twice-born. This symbol has been much used in Christianity, and mystics have spoken of the “birth of the Christ in the heart.”

14. The symbols of the fourteenth group are those of liberation and have a relationship with those of development.

They mean the elimination of the encumbrances, a process of liberation from our complexes, our illusions and from identification with the various “parts” we play in life, the “masks” we assume, with our “idols,” etc. It is a release in the etymological sense of the term, a freeing and activation of latent potentialities.

The symbolism of liberation has pervaded all the great world religions. In India, the Buddha said: “As the water of the sea is all pervaded by salt, so my whole teaching is pervaded by liberation.” In Christianity, Paul affirms the “liberty of the Sons of God.”

In our times, during the second World War, Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the Four Great Freedoms: Freedom of expression; Religious Freedom; Freedom from need; Freedom from fear. The last, the freedom from fear is fundamental, since only he who is free from fear is truly free.

Here, however, we find ourselves confronted by a paradox. In contrast with his spontaneous yearning for freedom, man fears it at the same time. This can be explained by the fact that freedom implies commitment, self control, courage, and other qualities. It has been justly said: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Freedom must be won again and safeguarded every day, one might say every moment. Man, even if unaware of this, but feeling it intuitively, fears this “burden of freedom” and, in consequence, recoils from it. This fear is one of the motives of the wish to remain at the pre-adult level, or even to regress into infancy and take refuge therein. This is a general tendency, and if we look with sincerity within ourselves, we can find a number of infantile and regressive elements. The nostalgically minded of all ages, who lament “the good old times” are examples of this. But it is a useless and dangerous tendency—useless, because every attempt to arrest the irresistible forward course of life in us and around us is doomed to failure; and dangerous, because it is apt to create serious neuro-psychic conflicts and disturbances.

All these symbols can be utilized in psychological exercises for fostering the corresponding transpersonal experiences and to bring about an increasing synthesis between the personal and the transpersonal aspects or levels, the manifestation of the Whole Man.


Let us imagine looking at a rose. Let us visualize its stem and leaves with a bud closed.

This appears green because the sepals are closed, but at the very top a rose-colored point can be seen. Let us visualize this vividly, holding the image in the center of our consciousness … Now begins a slow movement; the sepals start to separate little by little, turning their points outward and revealing the rose-hued petals, which are still closed…The sepals continue to open…We can see the whole bud of a delicate rose color…The petals also slowly separate…until a perfect fully-opened rose is seen.

At this stage let us try to smell the perfume of the rose, inhaling its characteristic well known scent… so delicate, sweet, pleasant… Let us smell it with delight.

Let us identify ourselves with the rose itself; let us “introject” it into ourselves…Symbolically, we are a flower, a rose…The same life that animates the Universe and has created the miracle of the rose is producing in us a like, even greater miracle…the awakening and development of our spiritual being and that which radiates from it.

Through this exercise, we can effectively foster the inner flowering.


ASSAGIOLI, R. Psychosynthesis; A Manual of Principles and Techniques. New York:

Hobbs, Dorman & Co., 1965.

DESOILLE, R. Le Réve Eveillé en Psychothérapie. Paris: Presses Universitaires, 1945. The Directed Daydream. (trans. by F. Haronian, Ph.D.) New York: Psychosynthesis Research Foundation, 1966.

JUNG, C. C. Modern Man in Search of a Soul. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1933. Psychologie und Religion. Zurich & Leipzig: Rascher Verlag, 1940.

KEYSERLING, H. From Suffering to Fulfillment. Plymouth: Brandon & Son, 1938.

MASLOW, A. H. Toward a Psychology of Being. Princeton, N. J.: Van Nostrand, 1962.


(Reprinted with kind permission of the editors from HUMANITAS, Vol. VIII, No. II, May 1972.)

The subject of symbolism is vast and manifold, and requires a corresponding extensive treatment and discussion. The following notes aim only at indicating some fields for further study, research and experimentation.

I. Paradoxical Nature and Function of Symbols

This has been clearly expressed by Carlyle: “In a symbol lies concealment or revelation.” The solution of this apparent contradiction lies in the realization that the difference depends not on the symbols themselves, but on our attitude towards the symbol. If we

stop at its appearance, at its form, then it veils and hides. If we try to understand its meaning and succeed in grasping what it signifies, then it is a means of revelation.

II. Plurality of Meanings of a Symbol

This multiplicity, which corresponds to the various levels of reality, has been well described by Dante in his Convito. According to him, symbols have or can have four meanings: Literal, Allegorical, Moral and Mystical. It is important to keep clearly in mind this plurality of meanings of symbols, in order to avoid errors in their interpretation. An historical example of such a misinterpretation is that of St. Francis. After his conversion one day, while he was praying, he heard an inner voice, which he thought was the voice of God, saying: “Go and restore my church.” There was in the neighbourhood a small church half-ruined. St. Francis thought he had been ordered to rebuild it, and he set himself to work. But later he realized that the inner command was to work at the restoration of the Catholic Church, which in his times was decaying, and all his subsequent activity was courageously directed towards that great mission.

III. Various Kinds and Classes of Symbols

They are many and various and may serve or be used for different purposes. There are Nature Symbols, Animal Symbols, Human Symbols, Man-made Symbols, Religious and Mythological Symbols, Abstract Symbols and Individual or Spontaneous Symbols

A special class of symbols is that which is expressive of transpersonal experiences. There are fourteen kinds of them:

1. Introversion

2. Deepening-Descent

3. Elevation-Ascent

4. Broadening-Expansion

5. Awakening

6. Light-Illumination

7. 7. Fire

8. Development

9. Strengthening-Intensification

10. Love

11. Way-Path-Pilgrimage

12. Transmutation-Sublimation

13. Rebirth-Regeneration

14. Liberation

These symbols are not only indicative, but if used as subjects of meditation can be helpful for inducing or fostering the corresponding inner experiences and realization.

IV. Universality of Symbolism

Owing to the fundamental oneness of Reality and the synthetic correlation of all its parts and aspects, each of its manifestations has a symbol, character and meaning, and can be a means of perceiving under or behind the multiplicity of the appearances which overlie

that unity. This has been beautifully expressed by Shakespeare: “…Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything.” Goethe has summed up the same truth in a synthetic way at the end of Faust: “Alles Vergangliche ist nur em Gleichnis.” (All that is transitory is only a symbol.)



Chapter 1.

Since I, the servant, with preliminary discourse in the preceding treatise, have with all due care prepared my bread, the time now summons, and requires my ship to leave the port: wherefore, having trimmed the mizen-mast of reason to the wind of my desire, I enter the ocean with the hope of an easy voyage, and a healthful happy haven to be reached at the end of my supper. But in order that my food may be more profitable, before the first dish comes on the table I wish to show how it ought to be eaten. I say then as is narrated in the first chapter, that this exposition must be Literal and Allegorical; and to make this explicit one should know that it is possible to understand a book in four different ways, and that it ought to be explained chiefly in this manner.

The one is termed Literal, and this is that which does not extend beyond the text itself, such as is the fit narration of that thing whereof you are discoursing, an appropriate example of which is the third Song, which discourses of Nobility.

Another is termed Allegorical, and it is that which is concealed under the veil of fables, and is a Truth concealed under a beautiful Untruth; as when Ovid says that Orpheus with his lute made the wild beasts tame, and made the trees and the stones to follow him, which signifies that the wise man with the instrument of his voice makes cruel hearts gentle and humble, and makes those follow his will who have not the living force of knowledge and of art. who, having not the reasoning life of any knowledge whatever, are as the stones. And in order that this hidden thing should be discovered by the wise, it will be demonstrated in the last Treatise. Verily the theologians take this meaning otherwise than do the poets: but, because my intention here is to follow the way of the poets, I shall take the Allegorical sense according as it is used by the poets.

The third sense is termed Moral; and this is that which the readers ought intently to search for in books, for their own advantage and for that of their descendants; as one can espy in the Gospel, when Christ ascended the Mount for the Transfiguration, that, of the twelve Apostles, He took with Him only three. From which one can understand in the Moral sense that in the most secret things we ought to have but little company.

The fourth sense is termed Mystical, that is, above sense, supernatural; and this it is, when spiritually one expounds a writing which even in the Literal sense by the things signified bears express reference to the Divine things of Eternal Glory; as one can see in that Song of the Prophet which says that by the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt

Judea is made holy and free. That this happens to be true according to the letter is evident. Not less true is that which it means spiritually, that in the Soul’s liberation from Sin (or in the exodus of the Soul from Sin) it is made holy and free in its powers.

But in demonstrating these, the Literal must always go first, as that in whose sense the others are included, and without which it would be impossible and irrational to understand the others. Especially is it impossible in the Allegorical, because, in each thing which has a within and a without, it is impossible to come to the within if you do not first come to the without. Wherefore, since in books the Literal meaning is always external, it is impossible to reach the others, especially the Allegorical, without first coming to the Literal. Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural and artificial, it is impossible to proceed to the form without having first laid down the matter upon which the form should be. Thus, it is impossible for the form of the gold to come, if the matter, that is, its subject, is not first laid down and prepared; or for the form of the ark to come, if the material, that is, the wood, be not first laid down and prepared. Therefore, since the Literal meaning is always the subject and the matter of the others, especially the Allegorical, it is impossible to come first to the meaning of the others before coming to it.

Again, it is impossible, because in each thing, natural and artificial, it is impossible to proceed unless the foundation be first laid, as in the house, so also in the mind. Therefore, since demonstration must be the building up of Knowledge, and Literal demonstration must be the foundation of the other methods of interpreting, especially of the Allegorical, it is impossible to come first to the others before coming to that. Again, if it were possible that it could be so ordered, it would be irrational, that is, out of order; and, therefore, one would proceed with much fatigue and with much error. Hence, as the Philosopher says in the first book of the Physics, Nature desires that we proceed in due order in our search for knowledge, that is, by proceeding from that which we know well to that which we know not so well; so I say that Nature desires it, inasmuch as this way to knowledge is innate in us; and therefore, if the other meanings, apart from the Literal, are less understood -which they are, as evidently appears—it would be irrational to demonstrate them if the Literal had not first been demonstrated.

I, then, for these reasons will discourse in due order of each, Song, firstly upon its Literal meaning, and after that I will discourse of its Allegory, that is, the hidden Truth, and sometimes I will touch incidentally on the other meanings as may be convenient to place and time. (Dante Alighieri, The Banquet, translated by E.P. Sayer, London, Routledge, 1887, pp. 47-50)


1. Nature Symbols:

These include air, earth, fire, water; sky, stars, sun, moon. Among the chief nature symbols are the mountain (with its correlated technique of “ascent”), sea, stream, river, lake, pond, wind, cloud, rain, fogs; cave, tree, flames and fire, wheat, seed, flowers (rose, lotus, sunflower, etc.); jewel, diamond and various symbols related to light (including sunrise, sunset, rays of light, etc.) and darkness (including shadow), etc.

2. Animal Symbols:

Lion, tiger, snake, bear, wolf, bull, goat, deer, fish, worm-chrysalis-butterfly (as symbols of transformation); birds (eagle, dove, etc.); domestic animals (horse, elephant, dog, cat, etc.); and the egg.

3. Human Symbols:

a. General human symbols: Father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, son, daughter, sister, brother, child, wise old man, magician, king, queen, prince, princess, knight, teacher; the human heart, the human hand, the eye. Birth, growth, death and resurrection.

b. Modern human symbols: These include the mountain-climber, the explorer (including the space explorer), the pioneer, the scientific investigator (physicist, chemist, etc.), the automobile-driver, the aviator, the radio or TV technician, the electronics engineer, etc.

4. Man-made Symbols:

Bridge, channel, reservoir, tunnel, flag, fountain, lighthouse, candle, road, path, wall, door, house, castle, stairway, ladder, mirror, box, sword, etc.

5. Religious and Mythological Symbols:

a. Universal and Western Religious Symbols: Cod, the Christ, the Holy Mother, angels, the devil, saints or holy men, priest, monk, nun, resurrection, hell, purgatory, heaven, the Grail, temple, church, chapel, the cross.

b. Eastern Symbols: Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva, the Buddha, etc.

Mythological Symbols: Pagan gods, goddesses and heroes; Apollo, the Muses (symbols of the arts and sciences), the three Graces (symbols of feminity in the refined

sense), Venus, Diana (symbol of the woman who refuses her feminity), Orpheus, Dinysus, Hercules, Vulcan, Pluto, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Wotan, Siegfried, Brunhilde, Valhalla, the Nibelungen, the Valkyries, etc.

6. Abstract Symbols:

a. Numbers: in the Pythagorean sense of psychological significance-for instance, one symbolizing unity; two-polarity; three -interplay, etc.

b. Geometrical Symbols:

Two-dimensional: Dot, circle, cross (various forms, such as the mathematical plus sign, the long-limbed Christian cross, the St. Andrews Cross or multiplication sign), the equilateral triangle, the square, the diamond, the star (five pointed, six-pointed, etc.). Three-dimensional: the sphere, cone, cube; the ascending spiral, etc.

7. Individual or Spontaneous Symbols:

These emerge during treatment or spontaneously in dreams, daydreams, etc.

Eunomia was a Greek goddess of law and legislation, and one of the daughters of Themis and Zeus.

Eunomia was the goddess of law and legislation and one of the Second Generation of the Horae along with her sisters Dikē and Eirene. The Horae were law and order goddesses who maintained the stability of society, and were worshipped primarily in the cities of Athens, Argos and Olympia. From Pindar:

Eunomia and that unsullied fountain Dikē, her sister, sure support of cities; and Eirene of the same kin, who are the stewards of wealth for mankind — three glorious daughters of wise-counselled Themis.[1]

Eunomia’s name, together with that of her sisters, formed a Hendiatris Good Order, Justice, and Peace.

Source: Wikipedia

Some quotes from The Quantum and the lotus, by Matthieu Ricard & Trinh Xuan Thuan.

Since all is empty, all is possible

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in a hour
William Blake

Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. what we take to be true is our reality.
David Bohm (or Gary Zukav, depending on the source)

You may also want to look into the Langevin twin paradox.

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