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The Stages of the Will

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The Stages of the WILL

Assagioli observed that most Western psychology's neglected the will, yet awareness and will are two fundamental attributes of the Self. The Act of Will, presents the construct "will" as going far beyond the Victorian concept of the strong, iron-clad will. Emphasis on the will as power has led to authoritarian personalities, rigidity, criticalness, harshness, cruelty, and oppressive political regimes. Psychosynthesists see power as just one aspect of our multidimensional will.

The will includes: (a) a wide range of qualities; (b) three major aspects: strong, good, and skilful; (c) the six stages of the will; and (d) three levels of will: personal, transpersonal and universal. 

Qualities of the Will

Assagioli observed that most people directly experience a whole range of expressions of the will. They do make choices in everyday life, and they do set and achieve goals. Yet there is often the lack of a coherent will. The true sense of a will does not occur until there is a capacity to be centered-identified with the personal self. Often decisions are made by a subpersonality, and other parts of the personality later rebel. The individual is unable to follow through on a decision, or lacks the energy to achieve a goal. Our best-laid plans can be forgotten or sabotaged by our own bad habits or unconscious defenses.

In the personality, the will energy may manifest physically in the form of drives and urges, emotionally as desire, and mentally as goal-setting and planning. In higher consciousness will can manifest as purpose, vision and ideals which give direction and meaning to human existence. The will, then, takes various forms at personal, group, planetary and cosmic levels. It is viewed here as a major type of universal energy which is expressed as a whole range of qualities including concentration, determination, patience, courage, discipline, mastery, intensity, power, organization, integration, and synthesis.

Strong, Good and Skilful Will

Psychosynthesists observe that the will can be developed in a constructive way by balancing the strong will with a good will and a skilful will. Individuals and groups can continue to safely develop higher and higher degrees of power and intensity so long as goodness and skill continue to be developed also and blended with strength. Qualities associated with strong will include courage, determination and decisiveness. The good will is an expression of will based on humanistic and spiritual values. Love for self and others is needed for a benevolent expression of power. The good will synthesizes self-interest with the interests of others. Qualities associated with the good will include patience, faithful-ness and right action. The skilful will is an expression of wisdom and the drive toward excellence. Discrimination, subtlety and refinement are needed to avoid the pitfalls of applying excessive force. The skilful will involves a good sense of timing, and appreciation of the steps required to achieve an objective. Qualities associated with skilful will include discipline, organization and mastery.

The Stages Of the Will

The six stages are:

(1) purpose

(2) deliberation

(3) decision

(4) affirmation

(5) planning

(6) implementation

This model of stages is very helpful for activating the will. mobilizing oneself effectively. Ideally all of us will have developed all six stages of the will so that we can make our visions and dreams a reality with economy of effort. Some people find that their will is ineffective because they consistently skip one or more of the stages. Many people have wonderful ideas (stage 1) but never make a concrete plan (stage 5) that they could follow to make their dreams a reality. Others may be very active (stage 6) but without a clear sense of purpose (stage 1. so they are very busy yet accomplish little that is really satisfying. Others work toward specific goals (stage 1) but they have never clearly and definitely decided to carry through (stage 3), and inner conflicts sabotage their projects.

Personal, Transpersonal and Universal Will

The will of the personal self, the personal will is the freedom to choose and take action based on conscious decisions. In setting clear directions we experience a strong sense of personal identity. Our choices in life help to determine who we are in the world. The Higher Self, by contrast with the personal self, functions essentially beyond the world of everyday choices. The will of the Higher Self-the Transpersonal Will-includes the inner blueprint. the growth patterns unfolding in the individual life over a period of years and decades. This will is basically the sense of purpose. The will of the Universal Self encompasses a growth pattern that is unfolding for all humanity. It is a planetary trend of evolution that is a synthesis of all individual purposes in a grand design of the Universal Will.

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Last updated: 08/15/08

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