Think Tank Documents in Development

Scholars at the Center for Integral Wisdom are conducting research and co-creating publications which can help to chart the course for the next step in the emergence of humankind. Some of our authors have traditional academic credentials and others are independent scholars and thinkers who bring unique perspectives to bear, often informed by real-world involvement in putting insights from Integral Wisdom into practice.

Note: Dr. Marc Gafni is involved at different levels in many of these projects, ranging from being the lead author, co-author, or at times simply writing an introduction to frame the topic in terms of the larger world spirituality conversation.

The following white papers and extended essays have been or are now being actively developed at the Center for Integral Wisdom think tank – the links lead to the final or current versions of the papers:

Dr. Zachary Stein: Love in a Time Between Worlds: On the Metamodern “Return” to a Metaphysics of Eros

Academic Review and Essay on New Think Tank Book: A Return to Eros by Drs. Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid

In this paper, Zak discusses the core think tank meme of Cosmo-Erotic Humanism that is the central underlying theme of A Return to Eros. It is this theme, which is the meta-vision of the think tank, and which all other memes express in different ways.

Key future works of the Center on Evolutionary Spirituality, Homo Amore, Unique Self theory with Marc, Zak, our co-chair and partner Barbara Marx Hubbard, and many other writers and scholars revolve around this new vision of Humanism.

The Four Sexual Narratives of Culture and Why They Don’t Work: Towards a New Sexual Narrative (Drs. Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid)

A Return to Eros – Chapter 1-2 of the Book

This work was written by Drs. Marc Gafni and Kristina Kincaid and is one of the core source texts for the new meta-theory of the Center which we call Cosmo-Erotic Humanism. It has been widely recognized as a seminal work.

The Cosmo-Erotic Universe (Drs. Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid)

“A Return to Eros is a tour de force of the kind that comes along once in a generation. The way this volume brings Eros to consciousness as the fundamental force, direction, and “purpose” of reality on all levels and all quadrants, really is the discovery that now underlies, directs, and “explains” the sacred purpose of cosmogenesis, the birth narrative of the New Human. It’s the second coming of humanity for the first time in history incarnate as a fully embodied sacred sexual being. It’s the early stages of the next evolutionary unfolding. A Return to Eros forms the basis of evolutionary spirituality. It captures the glory of its conscious experience from the inside out in the sexuality and Eros of the evolutionary unique self.” – Barbara Marx Hubbard

>>> Read the paper HERE <<<

The Murder of Eros (Drs. Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid)

It is the collapse of Eros that leads to what we have called the murder of Eros. Wilhelm Reich called this “the murder of Christ.” By “Christ” he meant Eros or life force. This is one of the most common but hidden dimensions of human existence. To live an erotic life, we must guard against the murder of Eros. This is a fundamentally denied yet ever-present human impulse. Human beings may be ready to confess many sins, but all feign innocence when accused of the murder of Eros. And yet this primal impulse is as old as civilization itself. Despite our genuine moral evolution in many regards, this fundamental human compulsion has changed little. What has changed, however, is that because the murder of Eros is no longer socially acceptable, the impulse is carefully disguised.

>>> Read the paper HERE <<<

On the Pain of Eros (Drs. Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid)

The sexual models the erotic is true for both the pleasure of Eros and its pain. We have talked much about how sex models Eros in all of her faces, including pleasure. Now we turn to the pain of Eros. Here, too, the sexual models the erotic.

Sexuality leaves so many mortally wounded in her wake. There is so much pain from what is supposed to be the source of so much pleasure. We are confused about sexuality. And that confusion is the source of much of our distress, as Persian poet Hafiz attests below in his poem “A Barroom View of Love.”

>>> Read the paper HERE <<<

Social Justice and Superorganisms: On The Moral Phenomenology of Participating in The Evolution of The Cosmos (Dr. Zachary Stein, Dr. Marc Gafni, Barbara Marx Hubbard)

>>> Contribution for the roundtable discussion of David Sloan Wilson’s Does Altruism Exist <<<

26 Distinctions Between Ego and Unique Self (Dr. Marc Gafni)

The primary critique of Unique Self teaching, leveled by students of Authentic Self in all of its names—for example, evolutionary self—is that Unique Self is but a clever front for ego. Or that even if it is not actually identical with ego, it can all to easily be hijacked by the ego. The latter is a fair and important point. However, the same critique might be just as easily leveled at the clarion call to identify with the evolutionary impulse which lies at the heart of both Unique and Authentic Self teachings. (The difference, as we have already noted, is that in the Authentic Self-teaching, the evolutionary impulse is wholly impersonal, while in the Unique Self teaching, the evolutionary impulse at its core is expressed only personally through you as the personal face of the process). It is all too easy for the ego to hijack the evolutionary impulse as a fig leaf for every manner of ego’s misdeed. Indeed, this is not a theoretical concern, but a sadly well-proved truth as the history of the evolutionary movements show. The grandchildren of Hegel’s evolutionary teaching, communism primary among them, deployed the evolutionary imperative to cover every form of heinous crime against humanity. And yet, that does not invalidate the sacred power of the evolutionary impulse, just as the crimes committed in the name of Christ do not deconstruct the truth and beauty of Christ consciousness, nor does the atom bomb disqualify the nobility of the humanist creative urge born of the new scientific paradigm. Nor does the fact that ego might hijack Unique Self lessen the critical nature of Unique Self realization. All goods may be hijacked. We must, therefore, guard against the hijacking, but we must not refuse to fly. To guard against the conflation of ego and Unique Self, it is necessary to clearly discern between these two very different states and stages of consciousness. Below, I offer the beginning of a discussion of just such a set of discernment.

>>> Read the paper HERE <<<

Love and Teaching, Non-Dual Humanism and the Democratization of Enlightenment (Dr. Marc Gafni)

>>> Introduction to Radical Kabbalah <<<

The Universe: A Love Story (Dr. Marc Gafni & Barbara Marx Hubbard)

We are storytellers, philosophers, poets, psychologists, and scientists of the new universe story. We trace the new universe story, integrating for the first time diverse elements from all the leading sources of authoritative wisdom available today on the cutting edge of thought. The result is the greatest love story ever told. Recently someone came to us seeking advice. He was in a very scared, paralyzed state. We said to him, “If we lived inside of your consciousness we could be sacred and paralyzed too…” To up-level, our consciousness is to evolve our worldview.

>>> Read the Paper HERE <<<

Evolutionary Unique Self & Unique Self Symphony (Dr. Marc Gafni)

Taken from a first draft text from the forthcoming book The Path and Practice of Outrageous Love by Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid, this paper elaborates on a critical advancement of the Unique Self Dharma that Dr. Marc has developed after Your Unique Self was published.

Calling in an Integral Religion (Dr. Marc Gafni)

Society, as it is currently constructed, is designed to bypass your tears. Yet, crying is an art. Tears are the colors with which the tapestry of your awakening is painted. Sometimes we cry surface tears in response to stuff that happens – good stuff and bad stuff. But the truest tears are those that well up from the deepest place on the inside of the inside – they may be triggered by a specific event or image, but they are larger than any one event.

Every time you cry these true tears, you cry for all the times you never cried before. True tears come only on occasion, but when they do, they are harbingers of great wisdom and guidance. These are the tears of the holy of holies. They carry revelation. To receive that revelation, you must be willing to sit still and be truly alone, so that your deep core can come out naked. From that place you wail, flooded to the core by deep sadness or profound happiness. These are not superficial tears but what we might call source tears. To hear the voice of source tears emerge, we must access the ground of dynamic stillness which is the well from which this revelatory crying rises up.

Read the Paper HERE

The Unique Self and Nondual Humanism (Dr. Marc Gafni)

A Study in the Enlightened Teaching of Mordechai Lainer of Izbica

This essay outlines one of the key sources in the great traditions for the integral teaching of Unique Self. The Unique Self is rooted in what is termed as nondual or acosmic humanism of a particular strain in Hebrew mysticism, as expressed in the teachings of Hasidic master Mordechai Lainer of Izbica. After examining and challenging previous scholarships on Lanier, the article reconstructs a theory of individuality from Lainer’s writings, which becomes the lodestone of his nondual humanism. In unpacking Lainer’s metaphysics of individuality, his ontological understanding of will, Torah, name, and uniqueness, the framework of the Unique Self teaching become clear. The article then reconstructs two matrices of sources from the intellectual history of Kabbalah, which serve as possible precedents to Lainer’s Unique Self teaching in the older traditions of Kabbalah. The article then outlines the seven core principles of acosmic humanism that are incarnate in the typology of Unique Self that appears in Lainer’s writing (in what is termed the Judah archetype). Finally, Lainer’s view is places in a larger context even as it is distinguished from the intellectual zeitgeist of its time.

THE EVOLUTIONARY EMERGENT OF UNIQUE SELF: A New Chapter in Integral Theory (Dr. Marc Gafni)

This article outlines the basic teachings of a new chapter in Integral Theory: the postmetaphysical evolutionary emergence of Unique Self. The article begins by contextualizing the Unique Self conversation within a larger discussion on individuality and traces the emergence of the Unique Self teachings through the life and writings of the author. The core Western understanding of individuality and its affirmation of the dignity of the separate self is contrasted with the Eastern teaching of dissolution of the small self, before both are integrated into a higher integral embrace through a new understanding of Unique Self. This article elucidates how the teachings of Unique Self fundamentally change the classical enlightenment paradigm through the assertion that enlightenment has a unique perspective, which might be termed the “personal face of essence.” Perspective taking, which emerges from enlightened consciousness, is rooted in the ontological pluralism that lies at the core of the Hebrew textual tradition. The new enlightenment teaching of Unique Self therefore rests on a series of integral discernments between separateness and uniqueness, ego and Unique Self, and personal and impersonal man. The Unique Self teaching suggests a new understanding of enlightenment through intersubjective love; the Unique Self perception is then set within an evolutionary context of being and becoming, in which it is seen to express one’s response to the personal address of the evolutionary God impulse itself. In this sense, Unique Self is understood to be an essential chapter in the emergence of a truly evolutionary mysticism.

GUEST EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION from the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice 6.1 (Dr. Marc Gafni)

In his keynote at the Integral Spiritual Experience, Wilber described Unique Self as ‘something that is extraordinary, and historic, and not to be denied.’ I want to share some of what I see as historic about the Unique Self teaching, and why its birthing has been one of my primary commitments over the last two decades. Unique Self is vitally important because it reclaims the centrality of the personal as a primary category in discourse about the realization of enlightened consciousness. Enlightened consciousness itself is a fundamental category in the integral spiritual discourse because it is the implicit or explicit goal of virtually all of the great spiritual traditions that inform Integral Spirituality. … The myth of a commmunity shapes the norms of a community, even if only partially realized.

>>> Read the Paper HERE <<<

Towards a New Narrative of Identity: First Principles of Unique Self Realization (Dr. Marc Gafni)

First 4 Chapters of the Book Your Unique Self

Ken Wilber writes about Your Unique Self: DR. MARC GAFNI’S INTEGRAL UNIQUE SELF TEACHING IS SEMINAL. What you hold in your hands is a radically exciting and ground-breaking book that will change forever not only how you think about enlightenment, but how you understand, from a post-metaphysical perspective, the very nature of human life itself. The Unique Self work is magnificent, and it belongs among the “great books.” It offers what may arguably be one of the most significant contemporary evolutions of enlightenment teaching. Unique Self brings together East and West in a higher integral embrace of stunning implications. Unique Self is a pivotal step toward an authentic Enlightenment.

Unique Self and the Future of Medicine (Dr. Vinay Julapalli and Dr. Venu Julapalli)

There is a dire need for the integration of the art, science, and morality of medicine. This paper explores the deep implications of the Unique Self in integrating medicine. Co-authors and physicians Venu and Vinay Julapalli call on their extensive understanding of the promises and pitfalls of modern health care to reconceive the practice of medicine. The paper provides the framework to evolve medicine through the emergent Unique Self insight. At stake is no less than the future of how we care for ourselves and each other.

Reimagining Humanity’s Identity: Responding to the Second Shock of Existence

Paper by Academic Director of CIW Zachary Stein & President Marc Gafni Published at World Future Review.

Abstract: Foreshadowing arguments from the forthcoming book, Towards a New Politics of Outrageous Love, this paper suggests that humanity is in the throes of a species-wide identity crisis, precipitated by broadening awareness of our impending self-inflicted extinction. This growing awareness that humanity is responsible for its own fate and the fate of the planet is referred to as the second shock of existence. The second shock has spawned a great deal of discussion about the need for revolutions in technological, economic, and ecological infrastructures, yet this focus on exteriors addresses only half the picture. Comparable revolutions of our interiors must also take place—radical transformations in the very structure of our consciousness and species-wide self-understanding. This is a call for attending to the interior dimensions of the current global crises, recommending in the strongest possible terms that tremendous energy and resources be rechanneled into planning for the vast educational reconfigurations facing humanity in the coming decades.

Keywords: Global crises; Integral Theory; Human Identity; Unique Self Theory; Cultural Evolution

Because of the current state of copyright law, we only provide a pre-publication draft of this paper. There are bound to be errors that were corrected as the manuscript went through to press, so please track down the published version before citing any of this material or contact us for permission.

Stein, Z. & Gafni, M. (2015). Reimagining humanity’s identity: responding to the second Shock of existence. World Future Review. 7(1) 1-10. [pdf]

*The term Second Shock was coined by Mauk Pieper, see Pieper, M. Humanity’s Second Shock and Your Unique Self. (Independent Publishing, 2014).

Zak Stein on the Global Crises of Measurement: Whose Measures, Whose Future?

The post-modern world is overrun with measures and standards. And although we may not realize it, much of the anomie and injustice of the post-modern lifeworld is a result of the proliferation of measures and standards. Today we do not face the pathology of the “one-dimensional man” who is distorted to fit into one or a few abstract standards (although in some places and institutions, we still face that). The post-modern condition involves the fragmentation humanity, a multi-perspectival personality, refracted through a prism of standardized differentiations and mass-customization….

Here is some footage from the ITC together with the relevant excerpts from the paper. The whole video can be purchased through the Meta-Integral Foundation.

Between Unique Self and Authentic Self: Why It Matters (Dr. Marc Gafni)

This paper compares the core Authentic Self-model offered by Andrew Cohen in Evolutionary Enlightenment and the audio series Awakening to Your Authentic Self as well as other core material, which the core Unique Self model developed by Marc Gafni (JITP 6:1) and Radical Kabbalah. The purpose of this paper is to contrast and compare the implications of these two models and to lovingly critique the potential pitfalls which might emerge from core applications of the Authentic Self-model. This paper has evolved into the book Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism: Two Models and Why They Matter. Buy Now>>>

Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment (Dr. Marc Gafni)

This paper by Marc Gafni suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is the evolution of an enlightened society, with Enlightenment defined as knowledge of one’s own True Identity. Accordingly, three conclusions are drawn: First, that enlightenment is sanity and hence a necessary ingredient for all individuals, not merely for elites. Second, attaining Enlightenment does not involve denying individuality, but grasping a key distinction between separateness and uniqueness. Third, the goal of enlightenment is said to be not the evolution beyond ego, but beyond exclusive identification with ego. After these three findings, Marc Gafni suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is essential both for individual mental health as well as planetary survival. “Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment” was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Integral Leadership Review.

The God of the Encounter: The Glory of the Personal (Dr. Marc Gafni)

This paper points to the quality of the person as quality of essence. It develops a new pointing out instruction which allows the practitioner to access in first-person perspective the experience of prayer. Together with this paper, there will be a recorded guided meditation which similarly gives the practitioner direct and unmediated transmission of being held by the quality of the personal often referred to as the Mother or the Father. This paper seeks in brief form to reintegrate the post-mythic personal God into the spiritual consciousness of the leading edge.

Read “The God of the Encounter: The Glory of the Personal” here.

On Post-Postmodern Art (Dr. Marc Gafni, 2012)

This paper, developed for our think tank, was also published in Parabola magazine in November 2012. The article examines the art of one modern pastor, Claudia Kleefeld, as a model for World Spirituality themes emergent in post-postmodern art. Particularly the paper shows this form of art expressing a new post-metaphysical vision of patterns that connect, a universe animated with Eros and intelligence.

Somatology | The Study of the Mysterious Paradoxes of Unique Self (Lawrence Gold)

Too often, people get entrapped or confused by the whirl of words and abstractions of spiritual teachings not easily connected to personal experience. Zen Buddhist practitioners know this pitfall — confusing the “finger pointing at the moon” with “the moon”, itself. The solution to this problem lies not in the mind, but in the body-sense, which includes feeling and movement, mind and intuition, and which is the living matrix of all expressions of consciousness available to humans. This piece integrates the teachings of Unique Self and of Somatics, linking the languages of spirituality, science and philosophy to immediately accessible and recognizable personal functions. Welcome to Earth. Read the White Paper Here.

The Future of the Holy: From Sex to Eros (Marc Gafni, 2012)

In this paper, Gafni compares Kabbalistic and other wisdom traditions with regard to sex and Eros. He concludes that contrary to classical religion and much of psychology, Hebrew tantra insists that sex is integrally related to love and eros.

The World Spirituality Unique Self Vision of Dharma, Lineage, Students, and Teachers (Kerstin Tuschik)

From the abstract:

In this article, I want to elaborate on the concept of “Dharma, Lineage, Transmission, and the Student-Teacher Relationship” in the specific way these words are used in my World Spirituality community and specifically by the initiating teacher of the community, Dr. Marc Gafni. Marc has infused the word “Dharma” with a series of meanings which have become self-evident in our community. Because Marc has not yet written about his expansion upon the meaning of “Dharma” for the broader public, I have felt that it is necessary to do so.

The Unique Self teachings that Marc has brought into the conversation are now changing the way that enlightenment is experienced and taught around the world. In my perception, the power, love and clarity of his teaching and transmission of Unique Self enlightenment has been so profound that now, in many enlightenment circles around the world, Unique Self thinking under a host of names is virtually a given. And that although ten years ago, Unique Self Dharma was still unheard of in the enlightenment world. While this (often unconscious) adoption of the core teaching of Gafni’s Unique Self Dharma is an excellent achievement and a necessary and gorgeous step for a cogent meme to become mainstream, I find it—for the many reasons that I will discuss in this article—very important to give honor to Marc Gafni’s original inseminating work and transmission as well as to the lineage(s) that he is part of and whose wisdom he is embodying and evolving.

I, myself, have come a long way from studying cognitive concepts and maps, methods of self-transformation and healing, to studying and embodying a comprehensive dharma. The insights and discoveries I want to share with you in this article have also occurred along with the transition from being a devoted and passionate student of the Dharma to becoming more and more a teacher and lineage-holder of the Dharma myself. Specifically, I have been teaching, sharing and representing Unique Self Dharma in the German-speaking world, which in turn has deepened my own studies. So, let me share the frameworks that I have encountered and that have worked or not worked for me in relation to the teacher-student-relationship and in relation to the “Dharma.” These discernments are I believe critical for what my teacher Dr. Marc Gafni calls the “post-postmodern integral reconstruction project” which is so profoundly needed in our post-postmodern world.

Unique Self and Levels of Development (Rob McNamara)

The original paper was called Transpersonal Psychology and Unique Self and was submitted for publication to the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice (JITP) 6:1. Because of space limitations in that volume, it was published online as an Integral Institute position paper.

Here is a little excerpt:

Feel into the specific point with which your body-mind rests right now. Only you stand as the timeless unchanging Divinity known as your specific unfolding and evolution of Becoming. To inform, guide and possibly facilitate the stability and evolution of your own Unique Becoming we will next consider this Integral Yoga from a psychological perspective. We will go on a journey through Susanne Cook-Greuter’s conventional and post-conventional stages of ego development.

As you read, practice inhabiting these perspectives as a means of clarifying the evolving nature of your Unique Self and how you can participate with greater fullness in the integral yoking of Being and your Becoming.

Ego development provides a lens through which you can feel and see how perspectives, needs and directed actions towards meaningful ends transform and evolve into ever greater expressions of Embodied Fullness. At each stage of ego development you will briefly explore functional capacities and the state-stage expressions of the Unique Self. As you read, bring awareness as to where you are reading from. Notice how the stages through which you have progressed through can be felt, related to and clarified. Take note of what attracts your curiosity and what invites greater insight into your your integral yoga of the Unique Self. Finally, you may want to notice the ego stages that you have yet to developmentally establish and feel into the pull of your own evolutionary unfolding.

You can read the whole article on

Unique Self Recovery (Lori Galperin)

This paper will describe innovations to the dominant recovery models emerging from their integration with the Unique Self model. The paper will suggest Unique Self as a primary healing model in areas such as clinical dependency, twelve-step, eating disorder treatment, and trauma therapy.