Assagioli identifies three types of meditation here: reflective, receptive and creative. He relates thinking and meditation, emphasizing that what many or most of us call thinking is more like having thoughts that spontaneously and without control, play in our mind. We are not actually directing them to some chosen end. Meditation, he says, will help us calm and direct our thoughts so that they may effectively accomplish the thinking tasks we have set our mind to do.
In order to meditate, we need to get physically relaxed and calm, emotionally calm and tranquil and mentally recollected, turning our "mind's interest and attention inward." It will take time and persistent effort to bring the mind under control.
Reflective meditation involves thinking about some subject, "exploring all its implications, ramifications, and meanings." As we attempt to do this, we soon realize that we are likely to fall into mental shortcuts, prejudices and to jump to conclusions. Practice will help us achieve more concentration and clarity. The objects of meditative reflection can be: psychological and spiritual qualities to which we aspire; symbols of higher qualities and integration; "seed-thoughts" such as simple statements of aspiration, or even paradoxical statements, such as Zen koans; and the Self. Reflective meditation on the Self is meant to give us the ability to distinguish between the Self and our identification with various functions and elements of the personality. We reflect on the Self, so to speak, "from above" and aim at "understanding, interpretation and evaluation of what we discover in ourselves."
The purpose of receptive meditation is to be able to receive inspiration, messages, and guidance for action from the superconscious. For this to happen, the mind must be silent and waiting. Assagioli notes that our minds often rebel against silence and try to fill it, but if we persist, the mind will quiet. If we become "heavy" or "somnolent" we should end the meditation because there is danger that we will get messages and urges from our personal lower unconscious or from the lower collective unconscious.
Assagioli discusses the forms in which messages arrive, through "seeing" (understanding), intuition, or illumination - in which a sense of inner divinity seems to permeate oneself, nature and living beings. Another way is through "hearing," having a sense that some message has been "spoken" and that we have heard it. We feel we need to respond, allow the message to work within us. A third way of receiving a message is through the sense of "contact," of being "in touch" with the Self which brings us into a greater alignment with It, and gives us a greater sense of life and energy. The fourth way of receiving messages is in a strong "stimulus to action." We have an urge "to do a given thing," to take on certain tasks or some mission.
Assagioli makes it clear that these messages, whatever form they take, are clear at the time, but fade from awareness quickly. Therefore, we ought to register them. Registration means to deliberately write down what we have received as soon as we can, which will also help in understanding what they are about.
Sometimes, the message we receive comes at a later time, after a meditation that has not seemed particularly fruitful. It will help if we stay open to such delayed messages by maintaining "an inner attitude of watchful waiting."
Assagioli suggests that thought is powerful and creative in itself. Yet, because of our undisciplined minds and our internal conflicts and contradictions, we do not create what we would like. He says we need to understand our motives, making sure that they are good, and clarify and determine our objectives. He indicates that this current period of time is one in which new "forms" "are being built into every sphere of life." Our role in creating these new forms can be important.
The stages of creative meditation as given by Assagioli are:
1. Clear conception and precise formulation of the idea;The final section of this Appendix includes a rather extensive outline for meditation on the will.
2. Use of the imagination, i.e., "clothing" of the idea in pictures and "suggestive" symbols;
3. Vivifying the idea with the warmth of feeling and propulsive force of desire.
Appendix Three: Questionnaire on the Will
This is a relatively short but intense and searching questionnaire on one's relationship with one's will, its qualities and aspects, and status of one's development and training of the will.
Appendix Five: Differential Psychology
In this Appendix Assagioli addresses the "angles" which psychologists might use to differentiate among people. Some psychologists use traits and factors to make these distinctions, some use various typologies, and some seem to approach individuals as individuals (Idiographic Psychology). There are many dangers in rigid typologies and ways of categorizing people and their personalities, but, Assagioli says, there are some distinctions among people that have some usefulness. For example, he writes that the differences between introversion and extroversion, in general, and on different personality levels, can help us understand and (presumably) accept the differences among us. When introversion and extroversion are applied to the four Jungian psychological functions, we can see that the personalities of introverted feeling types and extroverted sensing types, for example, might have quite different perspectives on whatever they are viewing or dealing with.
Toward the end of this Appendix Assagioli makes the point that deep understanding is different that simply "knowing about" someone. He writes that Binswanger concluded that "this understanding requires union of heart and head" which can be called "loving thinking." Finally, "in the realm of the superconscious and the Transpersonal Self, "we find the paradoxical union or integration and coexistence of the individual and of the universal."