Dr. Edith Stauffer, PhD, (1909-2004) was a spiritual teacher whose gentle and powerful mentor ship has influenced students around the world for nearly fifty years. Edith embodied in her work and her presence an amazing blend of knowledge both simple and sophisticated. In addition to her classical training in psychology in 1945, she explored literally everything that exploded forth in the psychological movements of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, and her studies took her around the world, even in advanced years. She was an avid student of esoteric spiritual wisdom, particularly the teachings of the Essenes, yet she remained true to her Texas farm girl roots in her ability to think and speak with old fashioned practical horse sense.
During the course of her long career, Edith maintained a private practice as a therapist as well as serving as the director of the El Camino Counseling Service in Compton California and the director of High Point Foundation, a retreat center in Pasadena California. She was a professor at the University of California, and worked as a consultant for numerous school districts throughout the United States. In the late 1960’s she discovered the work of her beloved mentor, Dr. Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychiatrist whose life work, Psychosynthesis, laid the foundation for the development of Edith’s own profound life work teaching Unconditional Love and Forgiveness.
The model of Psychosynthesis states that the human being lives as an eternal soul embodied in a conditioned personality, and that the job of psychology is to heal and clarify the personality so that the light of the soul can shine forth and be of service. Edith studied with Dr. Assagioli for several summers before his death, and then founded Psychosynthesis International as a vehicle to continue the dissemination of his model of ‘the psychology of the soul to other therapists and individuals on a path of self-transformation.
From 1970 to 1996, Edith developed and taught the Unconditional Love and Forgiveness workshop, merging the Psychosynthesis model with the principles of Universal Law found in her studies of the Essenes. The combination of this wisdom, paired with Edith’s inspiring personal strength and presence, served to liberate and illuminate thousands of people in many countries. She taught her workshop in the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand., and her book, ‘Unconditional Love and Forgiveness’, was translated into11 languages.
In 1986, Edith and Mary Hayes Grieco met each other and launched an active mentor-student relationship that spanned fifteen years. Born on the same day, October 24, forty-five years apart, Edith fondly referred to Mary as her twin, because they share so many personal characteristics, as well as a deep dedication to world service through the alleviation of human suffering.
After many hours of personal training Mary launched her own teaching career and took the Unconditional Love and Forgiveness workshop to a new level. Edith expressed delight and pride in Mary’s creative teaching of her work, and as she entered retirement at age 90, she passed on the care of the teaching of her life work, Unconditional Love and Forgiveness, to Mary.
Edith passed away peacefully on October 26, 2004, just after her 95th birthday.
Mary says about Dr. Edith Stauffer:
“I invite you to picture her as I have known her…
The day we meet she is walking down a hill on a forest path ahead of me at a women’s retreat. The fresh spring sunlight shines on her snow-white hair, and her tiny feet in old-lady shoes trod along resolutely in a way that is rare in someone who is 76 years old. She walks tall even though she doesn’t even make five feet. She smiles softly at the beauty around her, yet I see as she walks that she carries a will of steel…
She is teaching a workshop, where she has just stood paying perfect attention for an hour to a tormented woman who was sexually abused by her grandfather. At the end of the session, the woman is spent, and utterly peaceful. Her beauty, veiled an hour ago, is startling. She looks at Edith worshipfully, but Edith smiles with gentle detachment, pats her mildly, and says, There. Now that’s all fixed up. She says it like she has just mended a broken fence, not the life of a human being. We take our coffee break, the world one more degree restored to wholeness.
We travel to a state in the South and our host greets us with enthusiasm about all of the important local dignitaries he has invited to the workshop. Edith meets his enthusiasm with hers: I can’t wait to meet all the people there, and serve their needs!!! She says it like serving the needs of strangers in pain was the most fun she could imagine.
She is home in California in her kitchen, briskly chopping up salad greens. She has been in her office all morning corresponding with a student in Africa, and talking to a dean at Yale on behalf of another student who needs a certain opportunity there. She runs out to the garden to cut some poke salad greens, and calls out a friendly greeting to a neighbor walking his dog. She speaks to everyone as her respected equal and friend. After lunch, she presses an envelope full of poke salad seeds into my hand, and tells me that they need sun. She returns to her office, growing people some more until sundown. She is a gardener, through and through. If you know how plants grow, then you know how people grow too, she says.
I meet her at the airport in Minneapolis and she emerges from the gate in a bright pink suit, her whole being sparkling with energy. I am nervous, eager to do all the right things, because I admire her so much. She clasps me firmly by the upper arms with her strong grip, and says into my eyes; The most important thing is that we are together. Let’s enjoy being with each other fully, dear. My heart can hardly bear my good fortune. She insists on lugging her own heavy suitcase along.
Edith Stauffer was for me a mentor, a model, a mother, and a friend. She truly embodied for me the power and grace of the spiritual master, one who helps you move from darkness into light. She helped me become who I always hoped to be, and I will be grateful to her all of my life.” – Mary Hayes Grieco