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Notes on the Inner Life

by Roberto Assagioli

Printed in The Beacon, November 1926 and March 1995

IN THESE BRIEF NOTES have been jotted down in a simple and direct manner the admonitions, the intuitions, the reflections, the resolutions of a soul, as they have been received by it spontaneously during its "silent conversations".

They do not claim to say anything "new", nor to be presented in a strictly philosophical setting; they are offered in a brotherly spirit as a help and encouragement to all the souls that are struggling and aspiring.

During certain critical periods of the soul's evolution it is necessary for it to pass through the hard experience of being deprived of all human comfort; it is necessary for it to be left to itself, so that through its powerlessness, its torment, its despair, it should be induced, nay, compelled to turn directly to God, in order, to seek and find in Him alone that which it so anxiously was trying to find here and there among people and things.

It is only through such an experience that one acquires the power to really dominate things and people instead of letting oneself be allured and overcome by them, thus enjoying the privilege of entering into full communion with God, of receiving abundantly His Light, His Glory, His Love.

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Those who wish to tread with a firm foot the arduous roads of inner development, avoiding the pit-falls and deceptions encountered at every step, must learn to keep a sharp look out for life's "signals", to recognize clearly God's will, to distinguish true intuitions from phantasies evoked by the subconscious mind or by suggestions from outward influences.

That is an indispensable craft. We must cultivate it assiduously in every moment of our daily life.

It behooves us to watch the way in which these "signals" or indications attract our attention, and to note if facts bear them out or not.

Thus little by little one comes to feel the subtle difference between what descends to us from "on high" and that which springs from "below", or is due to external appeals, to discriminate between pure direct intuition and the fantastic travesties with which it becomes more or less disfigured during its descent through the various psychic planes.

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We should learn to consider every situation, every event, every person, every physical and moral condition of ours as so many tests, lessons and "examinations". That is what they all are.

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We ought to try to create a dual consciousness. We must learn not to identify ourselves with the contents of our momentary consciousness; one part of us should always remain free, a sentinel, an observer, a judge: the "Spectator".

Every material help ought to be an instrument for moral and spiritual help. Hand in hand with every aid intended to combat certain effects should go others that are calculated to eliminate their causes

Thus, for example, doctors, besides curing an illness, should teach the patient how to avoid becoming ill again; should give him sound advice on the matter of hygiene and on the prevention of ill-health, both in a general and in an individual way, according to the nature of the ailments to which the patient is predisposed.

This is the least a doctor should do. But spiritual doctors should add to it psychotherapy and spiritual healing; they should point the way to perfect health on all planes.

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If one wants to really succeed in helping others to better themselves (as in the education of the young, the guiding of souls, psychotherapy, etc.) one must never oppose to the tendencies to be combated or disciplined, forces external to the individual (such as the teacher's own will-power, or the doctor's impositions, prayers-not even rules or abstract impersonal laws)-one must rather awake the higher forces lying latent within the pupil or the patient.

The first alternative, too often, alas, adopted by parents and educationalists, arouses a sense of opposition in the individual who feels, as if his vital development were thwarted and repressed. Hence are so often found in the young, who feel strongly the need for expansion and self-assertion, an obstinate disobedience and a fiery spirit of revolt.

By the second, instead, are brought out an individual's best feelings and his highest powers, and he is shown how his lower instincts are really an obstacle to his truer, fuller, wider self-expression.

In this way the disciple feels that he is understood and helped in his unfoldment, and he gratefully accepts the help held out, he even asks for it.

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When some sorrow torments us, when pain and preoccupation incline us to shut ourselves up in the shell of our own personality and we are led to give way to morbid lamentations, bitter recriminations, to indulge in baneful self-pity, let us force ourselves by a resolute effort to come out of ourselves, to remember and realize how many human beings in all parts of the world are suffering more than we do: the prisoners, the sick of body and soul, those that are slaves to degrading passions, those that are mentally afflicted, the morally and materially forsaken and forlorn....

So let us sink our own little drop of bitterness in the big ocean of human suffering, and let us realize the significance, the high value, the spiritual object of suffering; the glorious goal of human evolution; the final deliverance and the blissfulness in which all suffering will find its overwhelming compensation.

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Just as much courage is needed to endure prosperity as adversity. During the spells of well being we are easily led into committing a grave error, by living and acting only on "personal levels", relaxing our watchfulness and discipline, neglecting to keep in continuous touch with the Inner God We delude ourselves into thinking that we personally are strong, free, self-controlled; we dissipate in a vain and sometimes degrading way, for selfish purposes, the precious energies showered upon us by the Higher Self.

Then necessarily He must manifest to us, often unrecognized, under the form of pain, of adversity, of inner darkness, shaking us, awakening us; obliging us to appeal to Him, training us to become worthy trustees of our Father's gifts and powers

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Every morning we must wake up twice: wake up from the sleep of the body, and wake up from the sleep of our everyday consciousness to the real wakefulness of the Spirit

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All remembrance of limitations, weaknesses, failures of the past has no value any more for the future. By an increase of spiritual strength, what before seemed impossible or hard can be made easy.

The morrow is new and different. New possibilities have no precedent, no measure or comparison in the past, they have no limitations. Let us therefore give no heed to the past, but boldly press forward, with infinite faith, with joyful ardour. [-]