Thinking, Feeling, and Willing in Relation to the Soul, Spirit, and I


From one perspective, the human being is an organism consisting of three realms, each containing three “principles” or bodies:[1]

  1. The physical realm, consisting of physical, etheric, and astral bodies;
  2. The soul realm, consisting of Sentient, Intellectual, and Spiritual soul bodies;
  3. The spirit realm, consisting of the three spirit bodies Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man.

From another perspective (one of many), the human being is also four-fold in nature – consisting of physical, soul, spirit and I. There is an intricate relationship between the physical, soul, and spirit realms, not just in relationship with each other but also with the I.  The I works in the three bodies of the physical realm (physical body, etheric body, and astral body), transforming them such that at a lower stage, the three soul bodies arise and at a higher stage, the three spirit bodies evolve.[2]  So we can say that, interpenetrating both the soul realm and the spirit realm is the I.

The threefold form of soul, spirit, and I bring distinct and unique qualities to another threefold form: thinking, feeling, and willing.  However, a sufficiently penetrating framework of understanding of these relationships must first be built before we progress to the relationship of soul, spirit and I with regards to thinking, willing and feeling.

The Three Physical Bodies

In the physical realm, man (and all creatures) has three bodies:[3]

  1. Physical
  2. Etheric
  3. Astral


Figure 1: The Physical Realm

The physical body, being the atoms, molecules, minerals, and so forth of the physical world, is death—it is the substances that all living beings revert to upon death and is guided by the forces of decay and disintegration.[4]  During life, the etheric body is in constant battle with these forces of decay, maintaining the form and structure of the body.[5]  We see the activity of the physical and etheric whenever we take a walk in the woods and notice the teeming living plants growing around us and the decomposing dead leaves, branches, and entire trees lying dead on the ground.  We deeply experience the etheric body by observing the majestic uprightness of a living tree as well as in the tender glossy green shoots of newly formed leaves in the spring.[6]

The physical and etheric bodies are places of sleep—they do not exhibit consciousness, and indeed, even in the sleep of living, conscious, beings, the etheric body remains with the physical body during sleep.  It is the astral body in which consciousness arises.[7]  The astral body creates the ability to divide sleep from wakefulness, unconscious from conscious.  It is the force that “wakes us” to do creative work upon the earth.[8]  This is also reflected in that the astral body temporarily leaves the physical and etheric bodies when man (and animals) sleep, and returns upon waking.  Sleeping is necessary and rejuvenating as the astral body renews the forces that were used up in the physical and etheric bodies.[9]


Figure 2: Sleeping and Waking, Unconscious and Conscious

The Three Soul Bodies

Something else unique occurs with the astral body as well – it is conjoining with the first body of soul’s triune, the Sentient Soul.[10]  The astral body brings the external sense impressions to consciousness.  The Sentient Soul imbues the sense impressions with permanence.  Whereas the astral body gives us, as moments of present experiences, knowledge or awareness of an object, the Sentient Soul gives that knowledge permanence.[11]

Because of its connection with the astral body, we can associate the Feeling realm with the Sentient Soul.  However, it is important to realize that Feeling is not isolated to itself – it is in relationship with the other two soul bodies (discussed next) and therefore always in relationship with Thinking and Willing as well.[12]   We will come back to this later.


Figure 3: Sentient Soul brings permanence to the sense impressions


The Sentient Soul is also where we, as human beings, first encounter our experience of “I”.[13]  Without this ability to preserve past experiences, we would have not concept of past.  This is also the dawning of memory–not the animalistic “memory” of pleasure and pain events which are astral experiences in the animal of longing or aversion, but rather true memory in which the I experiences itself in relation to world.[14]  The difference, to put it succinctly, is that man can reflect on the experiences of the past (his memory) whereas animals cannot.


Figure 4: The I in relation To the Sentient Soul

We also encounter an important concept with regards to the I and memory.  Whereas the astral body creates a separation between sleeping (unconsciousness) and waking (consciousness), which all creatures cross between (usually daily), the I on the other hand creates a separation between memory and forgetting.  Forgetting extinguishes past experiences, which is necessary in order to “meet new experiences openly and freely.”[15] Who can claim to meet experiences “openly and freely” without the bias of our past experiences, our memories?  Furthermore, forgetting is closely related to acts of true forgiveness in which, while the objective “movie camera record” of an experience is retained, the emotional experience is forgotten.[16]  Here again we see how the astral body and I are inter-related in the Sentient Soul.  A poignant example of this “forgetting” is something most of us have experienced: the death of a beloved pet.  Often, we will not enter into a relationship with a new pet until the emotional memories of our bond and the death of our pet have been “forgotten.”  We still retain the objective memories of our experiences with our departed pet, and even of its death, but it is difficult to meet the experiences of a new pet “openly and freely” unless the emotional memories are for the most part forgotten–we may say “healed.”

In cognizance, the I elevates itself further.  Here we encounter the second soul body, the Intellectual Soul or Mind Soul.  The Intellectual-Soul (or Mind-Soul)[17] is associated with thinking.  When the I directs its activity to cognizing the sense impressions of the external world as received by the physical body, the I begins to free itself from these perceptions.  Cognizing (from the Old French conoissance “acquaintance, recognition; knowledge, wisdom” (Modern French connaissance), from past participle of conoistre “to know,” from Latin cognoscere “to get to know, recognize”),[18] is a liberating activity of the Intellectual Soul, beginning the transformation from sense reaction to sense-action through the act of knowing.  One could say that we are only awake when we know something or are contemplating (thinking about) something.[19]  Furthermore, thinking is something that streams from the past—we would not be able to think without our faculty of memory, our experiences, to guide us in our thinking.  Even thinking of the future (for example, contemplating an action) is guided by our experiences from the past.[20]


Figure 5: The Intellectual Soul in relation to the Sentient Soul

With the Sentient Soul, memory, and particularly “forgetting”, affects our ability to take on new concepts and ideas.  Similarly, there is a correlate to thinking, that being judgment.  Our thinking is not just occupied with the act of cognizing.  We are almost always judging what we cognize.  Here, our judgments are guided by our feelings, and, significantly, our ability to be convinced of the subjective correctness of our judgment is guided by feeling.[21]  Our judgment may be in alignment with objective reality or our judgment may be orthogonal to objective reality.  Development of a “right” feeling life is crucial therefore in guiding our thinking so that what we convince ourselves of subjectively matches well with objective reality.  When our feeling life is wounded (here we see how the Sentient Soul and the I, through memory, comes into play), our judgments are often inaccurate.  And necessarily, the development of a “right” feeling life requires the mastery of the I over the astral body’s / Sentient Soul’s desires – not so easily achieved.[22]


Figure 6: The Three Soul Bodies and their Thinking, Feeling, Willing Constellations

The Three Spirit Bodies

As with the astral body in the physical realm conjoining with the Sentient Soul, so the third member of the soul realm, the Spiritual Soul (or Consciousness Soul), is conjoined with Spirit-Self, the first member of the spirit realm.


Figure 7: The three soul bodies and their conjoining with physical and spirit realms

The Spiritual Soul provides a fundamentally different quality of perception to the I.  In the Sentient and Intellectual Soul, the I is experiencing external objects or is in contemplation of those external objects.  With the Spiritual Soul, the true nature of the I, where the very word “I” uniquely expresses the relationship between self and other, is brought to bear.  Here, the I becomes self-aware, it perceives itself.[23]

In will, thought is present (as is will present in thinking).[24]  Also, the very nature of “willing” can be intensified through the feeling life, for example when an activity is done with enthusiasm and love.[25]  One can contemplate the forces of feeling and thought that guide one towards “healthy” activity vs. destructive, or “unhealthy” activity, and how complex the situation becomes when feeling, thinking and judging (guided by feeling) then guide the human being into activity.  So while this may be considered a representation of “I-less” willing:


Figure 8: Feeling and Thinking Informing Will Activity

what we actually strive towards is mastery of the I, and therefore the soul bodies, such that the “…the soul in its entirety becomes at length a revelation of the I.”[26]


Figure 9: Mastery of the soul bodies

It is the self-reflective ability of the I to take control over the Sentient Soul’s feeling realm and the Intellectual Soul’s thinking realm such that what leads the will to activity can be viewed as “right feeling” and “right thinking.”  (Incidentally, I use these terms not as moral judgments of feeling, thinking and will, but rather as the ability to experience their correlates, Intuition, Inspiration, and Imagination, as streaming from the Spirit.)

Engaging the will also does not necessarily mean being active in movement or thought.  The ability to sit still, or the practice of mindful meditation, is often intense will “activity.”[27]  Engaging the will in “stillness” is a recognized technique for dealing with stress and anxiety, and has considerable healing benefits on both the body and the psyche.[28]  Will is a duality of sleep and wakefulness–we are both awake and asleep in the activity of will.[29]  For example, while we cognize our goal and move toward it, perhaps as simple an activity as walking, we are also completely unaware (asleep) as to how we move our legs and maintain our balance and posture when we walk.

Our three spirit bodies (Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man) are the least evolved.  Whereas the development of Spirit-Self has only just begun, Life-Spirit is only germinal and Spirit-Man will only be developed in the distant future.[30]  How are these spirit bodies evolved?  This is a complex picture in which the I must work to gain mastery over the three soul bodies.  Through this mastery of the sentient, intellectual, and spiritual soul, Spirit Self enters into the spiritual soul.  This has the effect of transforming the astral body into Spirit Self.  Spirit Self can then impress itself upon the etheric body, and through the influences of art, religion, and occult training, the I, in conjunction with Spirit Self can work upon the etheric body (temperament / traits of character.[31]), transforming it to Life-Spirit.[32]  Finally, the etheric body, fully transformed into Life-Spirit, can impress itself upon the physical body and transform it into Spirit-Man.[33]


Figure 10: The I and spirit bodies transforming Astral, Etheric, and Physical

I and Soul and the I-Self Relationship

Having completed a portrait of the nine-fold nature of man, we can now begin to work deeper with the concepts of soul and I in relation to thinking, feeling, and will.  The soul is not revealed “to the I” but is a revelation “of the I.”[34]  Soul and I cannot exist independent of each other, yet at the same time they are both dependent and independent.  For example, we can say:

“I am distinct but not separate from my sensations.
I am distinct but not separate from my feelings.
I am distinct but not separate from the thoughts.”[35]

In psychosynthesis, we see a similar relationship of dependence and independence between I and Self.[36] The I “flows from…Self”[37] which reminds us of Steiner’s words, that in the Spiritual Soul (also called the Consciousness Soul), the “I first becomes revealed” and “seizes hold of its own being.”[38]  Assagioli’s Self is not unconscious (nor “the unconscious”) but is actually the source of consciousness – awareness –both of the external world and our internal “selves.”[39]


Figure 11: The I-Self Relationship

The parallel between Assagioli’s I and Self and Steiner’s I and Soul affords us a foothold in deepening our understanding of the process of the spiritualization of physical, etheric and astral bodies that “every man is working [on], whether or no he be aware of it.”[40]  Mastery of the sentient, intellectual, and spiritual soul bodies is mastery of feeling, thinking, and will.  These three soul bodies are not just isolated islands: as stated earlier, each contains aspects of the other two forming a constellation, in each soul body, of thinking, feeling, and will.


Figure 12: Predominant and Subdominant Aspects

These three bodies, with their predominant characteristic (feeling, thinking or willing), are frequently informing the I with conflicting desires, thoughts, and impulses.  If self-observed closely, the I can hear these conversations – for example, in an adversarial situation (an annoyed boss or partner, for example) the Sentient Soul may be reacting with a flight or fight reaction, the Spiritual Soul with an empathic or connecting impulse, and the Intellectual Soul with “what can I do or say or do that is right” thinking.  While it may take some practice, we can literally experience these constellations: our feelings “with our heart”, hear these thoughts “in our heads”, and experience our muscle tension (or our gut, as the digestive processes are also linked with will) with the anticipation of activity.


Figure 13: Example of Our three Soul Bodies in a Negative Experience Conflict

Because what our three soul bodies are telling us is often in conflict, each constellation with its own agenda, the I, in all the noise, can detach itself from the soul experiences leaving the driver’s seat empty, to be filled by one or more soul bodies.  We all probably have experienced this, that we later describe as “having lost ourselves” or “I was not in control” (indeed, the I was not!)  In these experiences of detachment or in more severe experiences, dissociation, we can glimpse the momentary annihilation of the I.[41]

In each of the soul bodies, the thinking-feeling-will constellation could be considered (to use Assagioli’s term) a “unifying center”, where our sense experiences of both external (the world) and internal (the “I”) continually modulate the relationship between I and Soul, I and Self.[42]  As part of the soul, these are “internal unifying centers” in the sense that our soul’s responses to current events result from past experiences of the outer world.[43]  With this model in mind, we can glimpse how each of the constellations, as an internal unifying center, adversely affects the I when one or more soul bodies experiences a “primal wound of nonbeing.”[44]

The Disidentified I

When our soul bodies are working together, the I experiences Self (Soul) as a unified force of inner and outer sensing in true conversation with self and other.[45]


Figure 14: Example of The Soul Bodies Working in Unison

In the above diagram, the sentient soul has the feeling, expressed in words “I can help”—a “knowing” feeling.  The intellectual soul expresses the thought “I want to help”, and the spiritual soul is “willing to help.”  In conversation with another person, we experience a unity with the other person when our I empathically “listens” to both Self and the other person.  An empathic relationship sees and respects the individuality of another person[46] or oneself (one’s Self.)

One way that I have worked with Goethean Conversation (empathic listening) is to consciously invite the spiritual world into the conversation,[47]  moving my-self from “the center” to the periphery.  The immediate effect is that this engages me more as “observer”, both of my Self and others:


Figure 15: Empathic Listening

In this experience, we glimpse a future where the development of Life-Spirit (the second spirit body) creates a unity of thinking, feeling and will.  At the moment, the mastery of the etheric is influenced by religion and art.[48]   To stretch the metaphor, when we experience the “art” in conversation (with Self or other), this has an actual influence on the etheric and works toward spiritualizing the etheric body, having the effect of creating unity in our thinking, feeling, and willing.  The effect is enhanced by consciously imagining and inviting the spiritual world as the center of the conversation.

The I is uniquely capable of being distinct but not separate from the content of our feeling, thinking, and will.[49]  As Steiner put it “The perception of the I in the spiritual soul has a fundamental different significance for man from the observation of what comes to him through the three bodily members and the other two members of the soul.”[50]  The ability to disidentify “from any and all possible contents of experience”[51] (to be distinct but not separate) is what allows the I to enter into relationship with the experiences of the soul.[52]  Even the word “I” is necessary to express relationship.[53]  Once we are in relationship, we have the opportunity not just for conversation, but for empathic conversation.  The “art” that we bring to the conversation is a unifying influence on each of the soul body’s constellation of thinking, feeling, and will.

The image of the Eye of Providence[54], especially as depicted on the US $1 bill, is an excellent image of this disidentifying (observing) ability of the I (and of course, the homonym with the word “eye”):


Figure 16: The Eye of Providence

Or, to put this image in relationship with body, soul, spirit, and I:


Figure 17: The Disidentified I

This disidentification enables us to create a new internal unifying center of thinking, feeling and will within the I, that is informed by the constellations of thinking, feeling, and will in our soul bodies, but is not subverted by those constellations.  In other words, the I transcends its soul experience, but this is only possible when we enter into an empathic conversation (listening) with Self.  Ironically, when we achieve this, we actually become even more open to the experiences of Self, to the experiences of our soul bodies.[55]

Conversely, becoming identified with a feeling, thought, or will impulse is like putting on blinders where the I experiences only the content of that soul body’s constellation.[56]  This almost always results in empathic failure in our I-Self relationship or I-other relationship — in other words, we either create anew or perpetuate an existing wound, within ourselves and/or within the other.  When we experience this wounding, whether as a child or as an adult, our soul body begins to create a defensive sheath to protect itself.  As a result, instead of an experience of our true self, we begin to project a false self.[57] Our soul body (one or more) and its thinking, feeling and will constellation endeavors to protect itself from the experience of empathic failure, and our I, if unaware of this wounding, responds through identification rather than disidentification to the soul’s defensive sheath.  As these identifications build up, we enter into what Assagioli termed “the primary infirmity of man”—the unconscious shifting of identifications that prevent the I from express its true self.[58]

Taken to an extreme, these constellations of thinking, feeling and willing within each soul body can become autonomous sub-personalities of the human being.  We probably have experiences where we can, on reflection, say “I was not myself” or “that was someone else that had control.”  We can have many other selves inside us, manifesting depending on what soul constellation is being activated by the situation.[59]

In Conclusion

The challenge then is two-fold.  The skill of disidentification must be developed through various practices.  Our wounds, which adversely affect the health of our soul bodies, must be brought to light and through various healing processes, the neural pathways of our identification must be replaced with new pathways that remind us and promote the practice of disidentification.  How one goes about this is not only far beyond the scope of this essay, but there probably is no prescribed way of doing this—it is most likely an individual path and therefore the challenge for the counselor, the life coach, the friend, is to walk that unique path together with the person requesting help.  For some, the pictures and concepts presented in this essay will be helpful in either holding an image of the human being in its 9-foldness or by even bringing these ideas to the awareness of the other person.  At the end of the day though, these are merely tools, and not every nail requires a hammer.


Think of a time when you “lost control” from a negative experience.  Write or draw what you were experiencing in your three soul bodies.  Was your I present?  Write or draw about your “I” experience as it and how the I experienced itself afterwards.

Think of a time when you “lost control” because of a positive experience.  This may be harder, but it we also lose our I as result of excessive sympathy responses – as an example, think of how people react on game shows when they win a huge jackpot.  Write or draw about your “I” experience as it and how the I experienced itself afterwards.

Think of a time when you connected with another person.  What was your experience of Self?  What was your experience of the other?  Write down or draw the experience of connecting, and how much of the connecting experience was the result of listening and the resonance of Self with other.  What happened when that resonance decreased, or turned dissonant?  How did you recapture the resonance?

If you could rewrite history, what event in your past would you most want to change?  Write the event as you would have liked to have experienced it.  Is this an event which results in “identification responses”?  What might you do to become aware of when this identification is triggered, so that your response is one of disidentification and empathy to Self?


[1] The Study of Man, GA 293.  From the summary of Lecture IV: “The three Spiritual Principles: Spirit-Self — Manas — Manes; Life Spirit; Spirit Man. The three Soul Principles: Consciousness, Intellectual and Sentient Souls. The three Bodily Principles: Astral, Etheric and Physical.”  Online at

[2] Occult Science, pg 102

[3] Ibid., pgs 39-44

[4] Ibid., pg 39

[5] Ibid., pg 40

[6] Ibid., pg 43

[7] Ibid., pg 44 (“…conscious powers well up”)

[8] Ibid., pg 44 “What rouses life again and again from the unconscious state is…the astral body.”

[9] S-1364 Life of the Soul in Kamaloka, Lecture III “During the day the physical body gets tired and used up, and the task of the astral body is to make good this weariness and exhaustion. It renovates the physical body and renews the forces which have been used up during the day. Hence comes the need for sleep, and hence also its refreshing, healing effect.” Online at

[10] Occult Science., pg 48

[11] Ibid., pg 48

[12] GA 205, Thinking and Willing as Two Poles of the Human Soul-Life “Naturally, however, what actually takes place in the life of the soul during the waking state is never entirely one-sided; thinking is not present by itself, nor willing by itself, there is always a mutual relationship and interplay between them.” Online at

[13] Ibid., pg 46 “With the awareness of something permanent and lasting in the changing flow of inner experiences, the feeling of ‘I’, of inner selfhood begins to dawn.”

[14] Ibid, pg 46-48.

[15] Ibid., pg 48

[16] Prokofiev, Sergey. The Occult Significance of Forgiveness

[17] Occult Science, pg 49

[18] Online Etymology Dictionary,

[19] S-3811, The Study of Man, Lecture IV, online at

[20] GA 205, Thinking and Willing as Two Poles of the Human Soul-Life “Even if we limit our observation to the affairs of everyday life we shall find that thinking always bears reference to something that is already there; it takes certain presuppositions for granted. Thinking is for the mast part reflection. Even when we think ahead, as it were, when we decide to undertake something which we afterwards carry out by means of our will, even then experience lies at the back of such thinking, and we are guided by it.” Online at

[21] S-3814, The Study of Man, Lecture V, online at

[22] Occult Science, pg 53, “…no desires or enjoyments can gain access to the soul without the I itself being the power which makes possible their entry.”

[23] Ibid., pg 52 “With the perception of ‘I’ – with self-contemplation – an inner activity of the I itself begins.  By virtue of this activity, the perception of the I in the spiritual soul has a fundamentally different significance for man from the observation of what comes to him through the three bodily members and the other two members of the soul.”

[24] S-3814, The Study of Man, Lecture V, “Just as thought is present in every act of will, so will is to be found in all thinking.” Online at

[25] Ibid.

[26] Occult Science, pg 53

[27] Spock, Marjorie, Eurythmy, pg 6 “Stillness, no less than movement, is activity.”

[28] Mayo Clinic

[29] Study of Man, Lecture VI, “In so far as we as human beings are beings of will, we are ‘asleep’ even when we are awake. We are always carrying about with us a sleeping human being — that is, the willing man — and he is accompanied by the waking man, by the man of cognition and thought: in so far as we are beings of will we are asleep even from the time we wake up until we fall asleep.”

[30] Gospel of St. John (Basle), Lecture V: “The Spirit Man will only be developed in the distant future, and Life Spirit is also only germinal in most people of the present day. The development of the Spirit Self has only just begun; it is closely united with the spiritual soul (somewhat like a sword in its sheath).” Online at

[31] Occult Science., pg 54

[32] Gospel of St. John (Basle), Lecture V: “Through the work of the Ego upon the astral body the latter is transformed into Spirit Self. But this takes place step by step, through the sentient soul being developed first, then the intellectual soul, and finally the spiritual soul; then the Spirit Self pours into the purified and mature spiritual soul. In the same way the Ego works upon the etheric body, and the impulses which are most effective in this case are the influences of art, religion and occult training.”

[33] Ibid., “This Spirit Self then impresses itself into the etheric body, as a seal impresses itself into sealing-wax, and gives it its imprint. The etheric body is thereby changed into Life Spirit. When this has come about completely, the Life Spirit then imprints itself in the physical body and makes it into Spirit Man.”

[34] Occult Science, pg 53

[35] The Primal Wound, pgs 52-53

[36] Ibid, Pg 45, “It will be proposed that Self is not an oceanic oneness or undifferentiated unity at odds with individuality, but the paradoxical source of both individuality and unity, independence and dependence.”

[37] Ibid., Pg 43

[38] Occult Science, pg 52

[39] The Primal Wound, pg 43 “…Self can have an intimate awareness of, and informed activity within, the specific unfolding life experience of the individual.”

[40] Occult Science, pg 55

[41] The Primal Wound, pg 45 “This abiding dependence of ‘I’ upon Self amounts to an ontological union of ‘I’ and Self; they are so fundamentally related that a true break in that relationship would be personal annihilation, the non-being of ‘I.’

[42] Ibid., “…Self can be experienced both internally and externally; the relationship between ‘I’ and Self is moderated by different inner and outer facilitating contexts that Assagioli (1965) called unifying centers.”

[43][43] Ibid., pg 76-77, “…active interaction with that external unifying center conditions the formation of an inner representation or model of that center, which can be called internal unifying center…In object-relations parlance, the internal unifying center comprises internalized objects or object representations that develop an abiding inner presence through interaction with the outer environment. ”

[44] Ibid., pg 44, “…this flow of being from Self to personal self or ‘I’ can be disrupted by problematic unifying centers; in such disruptions of being we find the primal wound of nonbeing.”

[45] Spock, Marjorie, The Art of Goethian Conversation, 1983, online at:

[46] The Primal Wound, pgs 94-95 “…what makes a relationship empathic is recognizing and respecting the actual. Unique, individuality of the particular human being.”

[47] Marc Clifton, “When the group meets, the techniques described above (equanimity, non-attachment, etc.) are actively engaged.  The image of the group being the periphery (easily imagined when the group forms itself on the circumference of a circle) and the spiritual world being the center from which knowledge emanates is perhaps a good mental picture to hold.  Questions, which enliven the discussion, are not necessarily asked to other members of the group but are asked rather to “the center”, and members respond when thinking, formed out of listening, creates the necessity of speech.  In this way the spiritual world is both an active participant and, through the members of the group, provides the leadership for the conversation – ‘Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of you.’ “ online at

[48] Occult Science, pg 55 “The impulse that works most strongly in this direction [etheric mastery] are those of religion…religious emotions impress a kind of unity on all his thinking, feeling, and willing…when man penetrates with thought and feeling to the spiritual sources that underly [art], the impulses of the Ego thus receives do in effect reach the etheric body.”

[49] The Primal Wound, pg 53 “…human I-amness…has a field of awareness through which different contents may pass.  Sensations, feelings, thoughts, images, impulses, or intuitions all come and go in this field at varying distance from ‘I’…’I’ is able to know itself as distinct but not separate from these contents.”

[50] Occult Science, pg 52

[51] The Primal Wound, pg 54

[52] Ibid., Pg 54 “In such disidentification (Assagioli), we realize we are distinct from—and thus in relationship to—any particular content of experience.”

[53] Occult Science, pg 51 “’I’ is a word needed to express what he experiences in relation to the other world.”


[55] The Primal Wound, pg 57 “Whatever the scale of change involved in the disidentification experience, disidentification allows a richer and more flexible experience of oneself.  The transcendent nature of ‘I’ allows the immanence of ‘I’—the inclusion of an ever-widening range of human experience.”

[56] Ibid., pg 54, “It is as if we see the world only through the lens of the particular identification, and so our actions become limited and controlled by that particular world view.”

[57] Ibid., pg 92 when speaking of meeting a child’s fundamental needs: “the threatened annihilation of the true self causes the formation of a defensive false self.”

[58] Ibid., pg 59 “Disidentification marks the liberation from this unconsciousness, a breaking of the trance, a waking up of ‘I.’ “

[59] Primal Wound, pg 63 “…one seems to become different people or different selves in response to different situations…these are what Ram Dass called the ‘many constellations of thought, each composing an identity,’ which take over as they are triggered by changing life circumstances…Kohut recognized this inner multiplicity as well: ‘We see these various selves fighting or ascendancy, one blocking out the other, forming compromises with each other, and acting inconsistently with each other at the same time’ (Kohut, 1985, 33)”

Generosity Communities: Core Questions

I’ve been working with some folks on the concepts of and around generosity communities. When I explore this concept, I discover that there are some fundamental questions about the premise for a generosity community that I think need to be looked at.  This is the working list of questions that I’ve come up with so far that I believe are important for each participant of any community, not just a generosity community, to explore by themselves and in community groups:


  1. What do I value about the other person?  What do I value about myself?
  2. When do I “invest” in the other person?  When do I invest in myself?
  3. Does the other person feel valued?  Do I feel valued?
  4. What prevents me from valuing myself and others?


  1. What are the explicit relationships of authority between us?
  2. What are the implicit relationships of authority between us resulting from our life experiences (parenting, prior relationships, social mores, etc.)?
  3. How do these relationships of authority influence how we express our needs and hear the needs of others?


  1. In what ways do I feel wealthy?
  2. In what ways do I feel impoverished?


  1. When do I feel out of balance with each other people?
  2. How do I address that imbalance currently?
  3. How would I, in the future, like to address imbalance?


  1. Do I feel “in healthy movement” with the community?
  2. Do I feel “the illness of being stuck” with the community?
  3. Where am I, and what is needed?
  4. How do I get out of the way of myself?

Body / Soul / Spirit

  1. Body: What is the physical expression of my community?  For example, meeting places, places where people live, the neighborhood, etc.
  2. Soul: What are the qualities of my community?  For example, what are the members passionate about and how is this expressed in the “interests” of the community?  What does community value and what does it disdain?
  3. Spirit: How do I describe the identity of the community?  What is its mission statement, its “folk soul”?  (From the psychology dictionary: “a group’s perpetual and fundamental features, morals, norms and values that can’t be explained solely in terms of characteristics of each member.”)


How can I articulate a spiritually-based value system in such a way that it is capable of entering into a dialog with other conventional value-based systems?  This is an important question for “interfacing” something like a generosity community with, for example, monetary-valuation systems (banks, businesses, the stock market, Wall Street, etc.)

Other Thoughts

We can replace the words “person”, “people”, “community” with other concepts: “partner”, “business”, “co-worker”, “boss”, “child”, and so forth.  These questions are not limited to our relationship with a generosity community but are valuable whenever we are in relationship with something or someone else.

Also, we have many relationships with people and entities (work place, church, charity, grocery store, etc) based on the context of our needs.  What is still a question for me, when I look at the trends of generosity communities, Local Investment Opportunity Networks, income pooling, and crowdfunding, is that these all express the need to fill a void that people are experiencing.  I am still unclear on what exactly that void is that isn’t being filled by our current social structures and how to clearly articulate that void in an objective and concise way.  That will be the topic of further investigation and discussion.

Anthroposophical-based Life Coaching

I am putting some thoughts together on what a Life Coaching practice would look like based out of Anthroposophy. Here’s what I have so far, it’s a first cut of a mission statement for such a practice.

Anthroposophical Life Coaching

Mission Statement

Acknowledging the reality of the spiritual world, we practice grounding, earthly forms of thinking, speaking, and acting, to create a rich and meaningful existence in our daily life with conscious awareness of the guidance by the spiritual world.

Acknowledging the reality of the spiritual world…

The foundation of this work rests in the belief and faith of a spiritual world. We recognize that this is a challenging and difficult premise in these times. Science continues to deepen our understanding of the physical world and its processes while at the same time technology continues to improve its emulation of life processes – virtual reality, social networking, systems of commerce, and so forth. Much that has historically been relegated to the world of the gods in its mystery has been comprehended and rigorously verified by scientific discoveries. This however creates an existential crisis in which we, as human beings, ask “Am I nothing more than a biochemical process whose thoughts and actions are ultimately deterministic?” For some people, the answer is “yes”, that is all that there is to consciousness and life. For others, the answer is “no”, either derived from an original, intrinsic faith in a spiritual world or leading to a discovered faith in a spiritual world. The foundation of an Anthroposophical-based life coaching practice is a faith in a spiritual world.

…we practice grounding, earthly forms of thinking, speaking and acting…

Our thoughts, speech, and actions are malleable–we can choose to change the quality of our life by changing our thinking, feeling, and willing. We can teach ourselves and each other how to move from an unconscious reactive response system to increasingly conscious, proactive responses. This requires that we engage in concrete practices that begin to shift our minute-by-minute awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. In essence, we practice heightening our self-awareness so that our response to what is happening around us and within us begins to transform into a conscious choice-making activity–we become the leaders of our selves. The development of these skills is the material of numerous self-help books, workshops, and teachings, some of which are thousands of years old. What is important in Anthroposophical-based life coaching is not a prescribed “these are the tools that will work for you” but rather that we choose out of our own freedom the tools that we feel are right for us at this moment in time and that we work with them with the foundational awareness of the guidance of the spiritual world. In other words, we frame our work within this foundation by asking “how am I being guided in this work?” This may include seeking out traditional and non-traditional therapies, medicines, dietary changes, exercise, and so forth. It is essential to acknowledge the physical reality of our existence and our physical needs and concerns within the framework of spiritual guidance.

…to create a rich and meaningful existence in our daily life…

We can remove the shackles of our present patterns and discover a vastly richer landscape of choices that can be made consciously and freely. As our self-awareness develops and we discover more choices in our thinking, speech, and actions, our existence becomes richer and more meaningful. This is a personal process that is not judged or criticized. The question is not “what did you fail at today?” but rather “what free choice did you experience today?” As we tenderly nurture these incremental experiences, we can reflect on how these experiences enrich our lives and bring meaning in the form of compassion, understanding, empathy to ourselves and those around us. Our lives also become more meaningful when we choose healthy boundaries in our words “this is not right for me at the moment” or “I am in disagreement with this thinking or activity.” Our awareness of the guidance coming from the spiritual world helps us to discover, maintain, and develop our true center. We can then communicate with compassionate and understanding what is right for us. By becoming more conscious of our boundaries, we can develop the skills to avoid the inner emotional and thought turmoil that occurs when our boundaries are violated, and instead acknowledge those situations objectively and respond to them with consciousness.

…with conscious awareness of the guidance by the spiritual world.

The spiritual world wants to be an active participant in our thinking, speech, and actions. The very concept of “being human” implies a self-awareness that “I am human.” But in saying “I am human”, is this statement not imbued with the question “How do I be human?” In our self-aware asking of this question we reach out with a gesture of listening to the spiritual world for the guiding answer. As we practice this, our self-awareness occurs more frequently and more deeply in each waking moment, which in turn strengthens our connection with the spiritual world and our ability to hear the guidance coming from it. Eventually this can become as natural as breathing, such that we are in constant relationship with the spiritual world in all of our activities, from the mundane to the sublime.