“This volume should be considered as a beginning, and not as an end,” Roberto Assagioli, the founder of psychosynthesis, wrote in “The Act of Will”.
My own copy of the Act of Will, published by Turnstone Press in 1984, is dog-eared, covered in pencil notes, and its pages distinctly yellowed. It cost me £1.50 from one of Lewes’ many fine bookshops, and it is still the best bargain I ever stumbled upon. The first edition came out a decade earlier, in 1974. While much of it is deeply relevant to the crises we face in the 21st century, some of it feels (in my humble opinion) faded at the edges.
I was struck by the quote from Assagioli above because, having worked as a journalist for much of the last 40 years, I have been encouraged to start a website and possibly also a short magazine serving the needs of the psychosynthesis community.
Recently I viewed an interview with Shirish Kulkarni (“Journalism is not for journalists. It’s for citizens” | Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (ox.ac.uk) that challenges many aspects of the journalism I had practised over four decades. Kulkarni argues that newsrooms today are dominated, not by what the community needs, but by habits formed many years ago when journalism used technologies that are now simply redundant. He believes that journalism often serves the needs of journalists rather than offering a service that meets the needs of communities.
Swallowing hard, but I believe he has a valid, and important point. Kulkarni believes that narratives, old-fashioned story-telling, would make news more interesting, and more appealing to a diverse audience, rather than the inverted pyramid technique we all learned at the start of our careers. Most journalists I know have used this formula mechanically for the last several decades without even thinking why. It is like a club membership; it proves a degree of professionalism and familiarity with the turf. When I started the job, it was still an efficient tool; but as TV and Social Media have changed the way people engage with events, it has become largely if not wholly irrelevant.
The Kulkarni interview focussed my attention on purpose, and particularly, what is the purpose of this website? I definitely do not want it as a vanity project that serves no purpose! Specifically I have had to ask the following questions:
- Why is a website and potentially a magazine needed?
- Why will it be valuable to the Psychosynthesis community? Now and, if it’s worth doing, in the coming years?
- Who else does it serve? Who else will it serve in the coming years?
The answers to these questions have important implications for my own role in setting up and maintaining any website, how to structure and give shape to the content, and what Social Media to use to market it.
My own sense of its “evolutionary purpose” is that it can provide a forum where the psychosynthesis community can come together, not through a shared platform or manifesto, but as committed individuals with a shared sense of direction.
I envisage it as a focus for discussion and a way for the many disparate groups to sow seeds of connection.
I also think there is a role it can play in helping the psychosynthesis community itself to engage with a wider society. In fact, this was the original goal, which crystallised at the Second Psychosynthesis Coaching Symposium in London just before lockdown.
As the community grows, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is still largely unknown outside the small groups of coaching and psychotherapy professionals who espouse it.
All of this means that, inevitably, this first version of the website must also be a “beginning” rather than an end. I am generally happy with the notion of organic growth and unfolding, and I feel that Assagioli would have been happy to see the gradual emergence of a psychosynthesis community that has its own complex identity and dynamic that has evolved from what it was when he was alive.
At the same time, I feel there is also a need to keep some kind of alignment with the founding principles. Some kind of Editorial Board perhaps? Drawn from the various Psychosynthesis groups and associations around Europe, and indeed perhaps more widely than that, from groups from the Americas and even beyond.
That leads to a plea: please get involved. Send me suggestions, feedback, ideas for articles, articles, reviews, news items, photos, creative work, and don’t hold back. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I will really enjoy and welcome your engagement! And many thanks to those of you who have helped get this off the ground in the initial stages.