Watch This Featured Clip by Dr. Marc Gafni
Welcome, everyone. It’s a hard time. It’s a painful time. We live in a world of outrageous pain, and the only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. One of the things that we’re trying to do here at the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution and we’re also trying to do it in a broadcast program that’s its own world that spun off originally from the center and the foundation and is now an independent and beautiful movement which is called One Church: Many Paths, One Mountain—we broadcast every week and we’re together every week; it’s an incredible community of some 10,000 people around the world—what we’re trying to do is what I would call sensemaking. We live in a moment of decentralized sensemaking. We don’t rely at this point on the government or the church. Our information ecologies are broken. Our sense of larger patterns and larger worldviews has been fractured and fragmented.
So as we find ourselves in the middle of this outrageous pain, the pain of the coronavirus, which is now a collective pain across the world, I just read an amazing set of stories about five Italian doctors, heroes, heroes of outrageous love who died this week, and the stories abound across the world. And we don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re doing everything we can to flatten the curve, but we’re not doing enough. Will we be able to flatten the curve? What are the timeframes? There’s an enormous amount that needs to happen now.
But what I want to talk to you about in this moment is the sensemaking that we need to do. Now, sensemaking takes place in the context of action, so clearly the very first thing that needs to be done now is to heal the sick, to have enough ventilators, to have enough beds in hospitals, to not collapse the medical system, to not collapse the economy, because the economy is about people being able to buy basic necessities. It’s about survival in the most essential of ways. Let’s take the United States just as an example. Seventy percent of the families in the United States live from paycheck to paycheck.
So the amount of pain and dislocation and disruption and suffering is intense and real and we need to respond to it, and the only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love, and outrageous love means that there are outrageous acts of love to perform, and it’s not just the Italian doctors who are being the most incredible—this is a moment where Italy truly is filled with outrageous lovers, unbelievable beyond imagination—but it’s not just those Italian doctors. It’s all of us who need to be, in this moment, heroes. We need to protect our elderly who are more precious than precious. We need to provide every resource we can. We need to share our homes when it’s appropriate within the context of physical distancing. We need to share our resources, which means our money and our time. We need to share our hearts. We need to join hands. We need to respond to outrageous pain with outrageous love.
Various aspects of Eros – Video with Dr. Marc Gafni
Stay tuned for the new Online Course with Dr. Marc Gafni to be launched soon: Our First Steps as “Homo Amor”. The course was recorded during the last Festival of Love in Holland and is being produced right now. It will be launched on our CIW Programs Platform. Snippets of that course were used for the video above.
What is Eros?
So in A Return to Eros, we tried to define what eros means. And we got almost there. It was one of the more depressing moments. We got like, just about there, then we published it, and then I realized it was one tad off. Right? And I just like, killing myself, calling the publisher, “Stop, stop, stop!” And he said, “Fuck you, don’t talk to me. No one cares.”
But here’s the best definition of eros. This is what eros … right, we got almost there in Return to Eros. And I apologize, we’ll correct it in the next edition.
Eros is … and listen. Try and look like, wildly excited about this, because this took me 20 years, this very simple sentence. So just look … just, even if you don’t get it, just like look, like, “Wow, that got so amazing. Like, that’s so fantastic.”
Okay, ready? So Eros is … eros is … Eros is the experience of radical aliveness moving towards ever-deeper contact and ever-larger wholes. W-H-O-L-E-S. And those of us who are hanging out with Joost someplace in France, we did that sentence over there, right?
Eros is the experience of radical aliveness which desires. It’s filled with dripping desire to make ever-deeper contact and create ever-larger wholes. That is the quality of eros. Eros is all the way up and all the way down.
Eros and Desire
Every single person in this room, and every single person in the world has some experience of our basic needs, the dignity of our desire, being fundamentally degraded. Desire is the quality of finitude. It’s not just the shame of aliveness, it’s the shame of finitude. It’s the shame when my basic needs are shamed. My fundamental desire for the first scene, food, and the second scene, touch. Your Need is My Allurement restores the dignity of personal need, which is not a psychological category. It’s not an existential category. It’s not even a spiritual category. The word’s too narrow. It’s not even just a scientific category, but it’s the essential structure of reality. The structure of reality is eros, desire, is the intimate Universe, and the entire intimate Universe lives in me.
What Whitehead called the Lure of Feeling for the primordial One, which drives every quark and atom, which is how we describe prehension, which moves atoms to come together, is alive in me all the way up and all the way down. When you have a structure of reality in which there’s no sexual narrative, and there’s no narrative of touch, and there’s no narrative of desire, and there’s not an understanding that I am a unique expression, a unique set of allurements, that allurement guides my life. Allurement is clarified allurement. I wrote 1000 pages on that. How do you clarify your desire, the clarification of desire? The distinction we’ve made between eros and pseudo-eros. Of course, that’s all in place. But, remember that all desire is the source of ethics.
From Pre-Modernity, through Modernity, to Post-Modernity – Video with Dr. Marc Gafni
In this video excerpt from the Summer Festival of Love 2018, Dr. Marc Gafni paints a historical overview of how humanity landed in this critical moment, where we have all the power in the world but lack a story to give it meaning in a way that evolves us all.
Stay tuned for the new Online Course with Dr. Marc Gafni to be launched soon: Our First Steps as “Homo Amor”. The course was recorded during the last Festival of Love in Holland and is being produced right now. It will be launched on our CIW Programs Platform.
Dr. Marc Gafni:
We’re ready? We’re ready? Yeah? We have a little drum roll in the house. Drum roll in the house. Yes, drum roll in the … oh my God. Here we go, and…
You think by the way, what we’re about, the conversation we’re about to have all week, you think this conversation is happening everywhere, it should be. It should be happening at the best conservative think tanks, and the best liberal think tanks of Europe, and Asia, and America. It should be happening at the leading university departments all over the world. But it’s not.
This is the conversation that everyone knows needs to happen, but it hasn’t happened in a real way since the Renaissance. That’s a very big deal. When I make an assertion like that … So, I’m trust able on some things. I don’t make casual assertions. I’ve spent my life hanging out way too many wild central nights with books. Till 5:00 in the morning I’ve plowed through thousands and thousands of volumes in my life. This conversation is not happening. It’s the single most important conversation we can have, which is after all of the deconstruction, Postmodernity. How many people have heard the term Postmodernity? Anyone?
Postmodern, postmodern means really simply. This postmodern moment which says that all the earlier stories of the past were wrong. Postmodernity says that pre modernity meaning up to the Renaissance. The great traditions, the great religions, up to the Renaissance these guys got it wrong in a really bad way. Voltaire leads modernity with the cry: remember the cruelties. The great evil of pre modernity that was unleashed through the power of sanctioned official religion. So, Postmodernity critiques the hell out of pre modernity, but forgets to make a distinction.
A Guided Meditation with Barbara Marx Hubbard
Follow along with this evolutionary meditation below:
Read Along with Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Evolutionary Meditation
Let’s take a meditative moment now. You can do this anytime, every day. Just place your attention at the origin of creation, in the mind of the divine, in the infinite, and just breathe up the core of that spiral of evolution. Universe, up through all the billions of galaxies. The planet Earth. The coming forth of life on earth, animal life of human life.
Now place that core of the spiral in your lowest Chakra, and let it be the source of security, the process of evolution within you. Now breathe the core of the spiral up through your generative organs. And realize, invite the core of the spiral to shift those cells within you from degeneration toward regeneration. Since you are a future human with evermore to express.
Now, bring that core of the spiral up into your solar plexus. Feel the yearning to empower, to give forth your power in all its fullest, holding that core of the spiral within it, and then let it go out and express the full radiance of your being.
Now let’s bring the core of the spiral up into your heart and feel within yourself the love of the process of creation itself, of the divine intention, of the impulse of evolution in your heart. And breathing it in for a moment, feel a person that you deeply love, and allow that impulse to go into the heart of that person. And then ask that person to let that impulse go into the people they love. And then, allow them to express that impulse to the people they love.
And allow the impulsive of love to spread further and further into the world. Each of us is only six degrees of separation from anyone in the world. And in this meditation let’s allow the impulse of creation to reach through our hearts, to those we love, to those they love, to all love one another.
And infuse the noosphere, the thinking layer of earth, with that energy that will bring our entire planetary consciousness alive, awake and aware of the emerging humanity that we are becoming.
And then, now just come back to center. Feeling yourself to be a member of a planetary communion, of pioneering souls everywhere on earth, arising, awakening, and feeling their connectivity throughout the planet. For this is actually the truth. It is happening now. Thank you.
This is an excerpt from the online course “Becoming a Future Human.”
Who do we need to become in order for humanity to make it though its current dangerous technological adolescence and to create a world that is truly commensurate with our full human, scientific, social, spiritual, and technological capabilities? If you are here to embody your unique gift fully for the benefit of all life and play your role as a steward of the cosmos and the birth of a new humanity, then welcome! This course is for everyone that knows humanity is at the brink of an epochal shift, that believes we can create the world the great sages knew was possible, and that wants to be a part of co-creating that world together.
Our sixth Summer Festival AKA Mystery School of Love in Holland ended about four weeks ago and we are all finding back into day-to-day life.
What a fantastic time we had.
For me personally, the Festival and Dr. Marc Gafni’s beautiful teachings reminded me again of the urgency of our work in the world. There is still a narrow window of time where we, as humanity, have a choice between, as Marc put it in the Festival, “the dystopian world à la Homo Deus/ Hunger Games/ Blade Runner and the realization of our beautiful vision of a Planetary Awakening in Love through a Unique Self Symphony or the emergence of the New Human, Homo amore.” As Barbara Marx Hubbard likes to say, “crisis is an evolutionary driver.” In Marc’s language, “a crisis in intimacy generates new emergence” or “emergency creates emergence.” And yet, we need to wake up NOW.
Mystery School gives us an embodied sense of how it looks and feels like when the “Unique Self Symphony” comes alive and “Homo amore is born.”
The articulation and naming of new memes* like “Unique Self Symphony,” “Homo amore,” “Homo amore universalis,” and what we are calling “Cosmo-Erotic Humanism” emerge from a deep attunement with what Marc refers to as, citing Gabriel Marcel, “a memory of the future.” These dharmic terms carry a kind of gravitas. They act as what is known as a pointing out instruction in Tibetan Buddhism for the new memetic structures that have the potential to create that envisioned future.
Mystery School is the place where the dharma is clarified, where new dharma is “coming down”, brought down masterfully by Dr. Marc Gafni, our master-weaver of the dharma. He transmits into the space a field of enlightened consciousness that is so filled with outrageous love and insight that in that field people literally wake up to their own highest potential. And yet, Marc makes the center of the field not himself but the dharma. In that sense, it resembles the lineage that formed, as he reminds us again and again, not only around the teacher but rather the dharma and the community. Mystery School is a central sacred function of the Center’s and Foundation’s mission. From that all else flows: books, courses, personal and collective transformation.
The Festival of Love shows us that this awakening IS possible and it can happen in almost no time. Seven days of studying and practicing the dharma and living and creating together really IS enough for that to take place. The last day I found myself looking into people’s eyes and saw the new openness, the beauty, and love that were present. I heard it in every word that was spoken. I heard it in testimonials. I felt it in my body. I was home. We were home. Homo amore was born and taking its very first steps.
That’s the transformation in all four quadrants** that is so desperately needed. It is the only transformation that can really take hold. It is one of the “small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos” that, according to Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine, “have the capacity to shift the entire system to a higher order.”
That’s what we are working for. Being in this embodied dream at least once a year is essential to renewing our spirits. Our work serves the emergence of more and more of these islands that can then connect and shift the whole system.
What is needed for these islands, these embodied Unique Self Symphonies, to emerge, is exactly what is present during the Festival:
- There is a sense of allurement and urgency that brings people together and a sense of celebration and yearning for fulfillment. Marc has been introducing new core teachings on allurement for the last several years and they reached a scientific and mystical crescendo this year at Mystery School.
- We all stepped outside of our resignation, our comfort zone, and the ordinary limitations of what we think is possible.
- A core model Marc has articulated in a forthcoming book with Barbara Marx Hubbard and in the Homo Amore Manifesto with Dr. Zak Stein and Barbara Marx Hubbard, is the three levels of relationship: role mates, soul mates and whole mates. Dr. Warren Farrell, our esteemed colleague, friend, and board member talks about role mates and soul mates in sociological and psychological terms. Marc talks about these three levels in existential, evolutionary, and mystical terms. Marc’s particular focus is on level three, evolutionary relationships, or what he and Barbara are calling whole mates. At the Festival we engaged all three levels of relationship with each other.
- We are role mates: Everybody has a role to play and is fully committed to that role. We know that every role is necessary, everybody is recognized and appreciated for all they bring into their roles, the instruments they play in the symphony.
- There is real expertise and longtime experience that people bring to their roles. No one person could create the whole Festival without relying deeply on the expertise and experience of many others.
- To give but one example: Our awesome chefs not only know how to cook, create delicious meals, and take care of many special needs of the participants, they also know how to create their kitchen, order the right amount of high quality food for everybody, and hold a team of scholars who assist in the kitchen as their practice of outrageous love. And last but not least, they are deep in the dharma. For them, cooking IS the embodied dharma.
- We are soul mates: We see each other, we recognize each other, and we stand for each other’s greatness and full emergence as Evolutionary Unique Selves. We hold each other’s wounds and vulnerability even as we see each other’s greatness.
- We all have our moments of contractions but, unlike in our regular lives, it never takes long until we bump into another person who gives us a hug, looks into our eyes, reassures us that we are not alone, and gently but firmly invites us back into the interconnectivity of the whole, the intimacy that Marc has defined as “shared identity in the context of otherness.”
- That is the We-Space that is needed if we really want to live a transformed life. Without it, living our transformation can often feel like an uphill struggle.
- We are whole mates serving a shared evolutionary purpose. Without that, all of the above would not be sufficient. What makes the whole work is that – as Marc often says – “this is not a personal transformation seminar; we come together to change the source code of culture; we come together to serve the emergence of the New Human, Homo amore.”
- The Unique Self Symphony comes alive because it serves a purpose way greater than itself. That’s what makes us overcome obstacles that couldn’t be overcome without it. It makes us grow beyond our small ego selves. We are not serving anyone’s ego. We are in devotion to that shared purpose, that new emergence, that new dharma that makes the new emergence possible. That itself, the new dharma, is, in the language Marc began using in Evolutionary Church this year, “a new configuration of intimacy.” And yet, the dharma never trumps the individual. We are always in devotion to the Unique Self of every single person in the room, on this planet, and greater still, every sentient being in this whole universe.
- Perhaps what moves me most about Marc’s teaching is not the brilliance or the dazzling quality it has – although that is awesome – and not even his radical devotion to the dharma and to each one of us – although that is also pretty awesome – but rather, when people enter the field he is creating through the dharma and his own devotion and transmission, they become bigger, more beautiful, more powerful, and more kind and devoted to each other than anyone would think is possible. Everyone becomes more, and once Marc has generated the field, he quietly slips out of it to return to his study.
- Because of that devotion to our shared evolutionary purpose, our own transformational process is fueled by the whole. We know that through our own transformation we participate in the evolution of the all. It is exactly through this that every single person’s transformation is much greater and more profound than in any other personal transformation seminar I know of.
- We have a shared dharma, a shared framework or narrative that gives us shared values and a language for our deep conversations. Together, we are in devotion to and serve the evolution of that dharma. It is not a teacher-centric community. Rather, the dharma, the teacher, the community, and the multiple leaders in the community all interact together and form what Marc calls, drawing from cosmology, “the multiple centers of our Unique Self Symphony.”
- We have shared practices and actually practice together. We practice in dyads, small groups, guided practices, and workshops, while listening to the dharma with full devotion is a practice itself.
- There is lots of space for participation. Everybody is included. Nobody is excluded. If only one person steps out, even just internally, it is felt by the whole room. We invite each other back in, all the time.
- There is self-organization and real leadership.
- While Dr. Marc Gafni is creating the dharma, holding the whole system, and weaving it all together as the master-weaver he is, Claire Molinard and Chahat Corten are in the field, connecting with everybody, and holding both the organization and the energy.
- This year, Kristina Kincaid, James Bampfield, Micky Masset, Thomas Jaggers, and myself, along with an incredible staff of teachers and leaders, held key parts of the space.
- There are countless contributors holding their specific pieces and stepping into leadership in their fields, all of which are brought together in a daily contributors meeting that is essential in connecting the dots.
- Everybody is held and seen. Everybody is adored, recognized, desired, chosen, intended, and needed.
These are the ingredients for a Unique Self Symphony come alive, for the New Human, Homo amore, to be born.
The imaginal cells are coming together in a field of resonance.
Let’s go and create these new communities, these islands of coherence, these Unique Self Symphonies.
As Jesus said, so often quoted by Barbara Marx Hubbard, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Or as Marc would say, citing the ancient text: “The God voice dwells from in between the Cherubs above the Arc of the Covenant.”
That is the space in-between that is felt whenever we meet in, what Martin Buber has called, an I-Thou relationship, where everyone embodies their full unique eros, where a We is formed larger than the sum of the I’s, while every I is fully honored and held.
Let’s come together to study and practice, share our lives, our insights, and transformation with each other, and contribute to a higher evolutionary purpose. Step by step, breath by breath… we participate in the “evolution of love.”
Kerstin Zohar Tuschik
*Merriam-Webster defines a meme as an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. “Memes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes and so on) are to culture what genes are to life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the gene pool, cultural evolution may be driven by the most successful memes.”—Richard Dawkins
**For more about quadrants in Integral Theory, see our Integral Theory Portal.
Join Our Evolutionary Church Collective
The Evolutionary Church Collective is our response to these times of global uncertainty, crisis and breakdown.
We are a group of pioneering souls who are committed to activating a new set of potentials within ourselves and within humanity so that we can cross the evolutionary threshold into a viable and sustainable solution for a radically new way of living in symbiotic relationship with each other where we all become agents of personal and social change.
An Invitation by Kerstin Zohar Tuschik
Many of you have asked us how they can contribute more – aside from donating money, which is of course always an option.
It is for YOU that we have designed our new program that we just launched with the first small team of outrageous lovers:
The CIW Intern Program is a program we are creating for people who are allured by our shared purpose of changing the source code of culture, participating in the evolution of love and consciousness, and co-creating what Barbara Marx Hubbard and Marc Gafni together have called the “Planetary Awakening through a Unique Self Symphony.”
This program is an opportunity for you to contribute to this purpose while simultaneously training yourself in the distinctions that are at the core of our dharma in real-life and work situations.
Next to me holding the structures of the Center as Executive Director and Treasurer, I am also responsible for several projects. One of these is the CIW Intern Program.
Another one, in co-creation with Dr. Marc Gafni, is what we call the Distinctions Project. We look at the different dharma distinctions that have the power to transform our worldview, our selves, and our culture, and ask questions such as:
- How can these distinctions be applied to our personal and professional lives?
- How can understanding these distinctions transform how we live our life NOW?
- How can they transform the way we work and collaborate?
- How do they become memes that can transform the culture we live in?
These distinctions are at the basis of our work together. This program is an invitation to participate in our emergent Unique Self Symphony.
Step inside by joining our new CIW Intern Program. By saying Yes to this invitation you commit yourself to…
- Contributing some of your time and your skills to the Center
- Applying the dharma distinctions and practices to your work and your life
- Creating breakthroughs in your own life and work through these principles
- Creating a Unique Self Symphony together and making mistakes in the right direction
You become a member of a dedicated team working together and receiving training and coaching in these distinctions.
You commit to contributing about 3 hours of work per week PLUS…
- Participating in a weekly team call with me and the other interns to regularly locate ourselves in the widest possible context.
- Attending a weekly half-hour buddy call to practice together.
- Completing at least one of our online courses every 3 months, which you will get access to as part of this program. – These courses provide the context for our work.
- Participating in a 2 hour training and coaching call with me and the other contributors about every 6 weeks to deepen our understanding and realization.
Some of the skills we are looking for right now include…
- Working with WordPress
- Video and audio editing
- Working with Infusionsoft
If you are interested in the program, please email me at kerstin (at) centerforintegralwisdom.org with a brief application:
Tell us who you are, what skills you have that are needed by us, and why you want to join the program.
What breakthroughs do you want to create in your life by applying the dharma and joining this program?
I am looking forward to getting to know you.
With outrageous love,
Kerstin Zohar Tuschik
The Center for Integral Wisdom
The existential risks we are facing “are not different in kind, but they are different in magnitude and speed,” says Daniel Schmachtenberger in a recent podcast—called the 2050 Podcast, The No Fluff Podcast about the Big Picture, Positive Impact & Life Purpose. The exponential tech we created cannot “be put back in the bag,” so we need to create what he calls “anti-rivalrous environments that make us safe stewards of the level of power that exponential tech brings, or the human experiment completes.”
In a more poetic way he elaborates further that exponential tech is bringing us the power of Gods. Now we have to have the love, prudence, and wisdom of Gods to guide us.
Daniel says that creating an anti-rivalrous environment has never been done and there are a few prerequisites that need to be built into the prototype system:
- We need to make sure that the system doesn’t incentivize harm.
- The prototype needs to be big enough, so it can be a close-loop system—meaning it needs to be something like a city-state.
- The system needs to be anti-fragile and autopoietic.
In order to create it, we need to tap into a different sense of our humanity, says Daniel.
How Do We Create a Unique Self Symphony?
This new sense of our humanity is what we at the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution call the new human, Homo Amore Universalis, that is enacted by all people realizing their Evolutionary Unique Selves and coming together in a Unique Self Symphony.
Learn more about how to create a Unique Self Symphony in our 5-part video series “The Power of a Unique Self Symphony” on MarcGafni.com:
How can we create “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” that Charles Eisenstein alludes to in lots of his work? How do we co-create a world that works for 100% of humanity, as Buckminster Fuller has called it?
From Sexual Ethics to Sexual Eros Part 4
Let us give two very simple examples of the body’s knowing: diets and sexual partners. New diet books proliferate, with dozens of them being published every year. Every new diet claims to have cracked the code to easy weight loss. The well-known fact, however, is that diet books have a minimal impact on people. People cannot regulate the most visceral function of the body—eating—based on external rules. The truth is that we do not need diet books. The law of the body always knows when you have had enough to eat and what kinds of foods you should be eating. But when the wisdom of the body is drowned out in the din of our busy lives, we turn to diet books. The diet books almost inevitably fail us if we do not first reconnect to the erotic ethics of the body.
To hear the voice of the body, we need to become proficient in our discernment between Eros and pseudo Eros. Let’s say we feel hurt by some event in our lives. We fall into the hole. We are afraid to stay in the hole, so we seek to fill the emptiness with pseudo Eros. We reach for a Baby Ruth candy bar. We get an immediate rush of sugar. It is damaging to virtually every system in our body. Our consumption of sugar violates our Eros. Candy bars are pseudo Eros. But you do not need a diet book to tell you that. Just feel the experience in your body after one, two, and then three candy bars. When we deny the truths of the body, we begin to read diet books, in all the arenas of our lives. Our Eros becomes blocked, and we lose access to the living divine presence that flows through us.
In the second example, we consider our sexual partners. With whom should we have sexual relations? There are many relationship and religious books that answer this question. But actually, in order to know whom to have sex with, we need only to access the truth of our bodies. Our bodies know perfectly the distinction between sex that is an expression of our vitality and sex that is a violation of our vitality. Relationship books or laws governing sex will not get you there.
The Rejection of Body Absolutism
But that does not mean that diet books or ethical books are unnecessary. Akiva writes, “If the Torah would not have been given, we would have learned all wisdom from the Song of Solomon.” We have cited this Tantric teaching several times in order to open up the radical wisdom of the body. But that does not in any sense imply that we want to revert to the body as our sole source of ethics. The Secret of the Cherubs rejects a kind of body absolutism in which the body becomes the sole Holy Grail. This rejection of naive body absolutism is essential for three primary reasons:
In the body there are states of profound expansion that yield great wisdom. This is the natural state of the body when the character armor is shed and the force of the divine flows unobstructed.
From Sexual Ethics to Sexual Eros Part 3
The old split between body and soul that lies at the heart of Western civilization has not healed or transformed our world. There is a better way to live. Imagine a world in which we called the courtesan a sacred intimate and the great enlightenment implicit in the sacred secrets of the body became known to every man and woman, young and old. What if a new sexual humanism began to teach us what it means to live in Eros in all dimensions of our lives?
The principle we just articulated—that all failures of ethics have their source in a breakdown in Eros—reminds us just how vital a return to Eros is. There is only one choice at this crucial juncture in history: love or die. Love outrageously, or die. It is not enough merely to love one’s family. We must participate in the evolution of love. This happens when we realize that love is not an ego strategy for comfort. Real love is outrageous, not merely sweet human sentiment but the very essence of existence itself. Outrageous love is the evolutionary love that animates and drives the self-organizing universe. Outrageous love is Eros, suffusing and driving all reality.
Love in the Body
Sex is but love in the body. In Hebrew Tantra, the body is not merely a vessel to hold the light. Rather, it is the highest form of light. In the image of Hebrew Tantra, at the moment of the world’s inception (called “cosmogenesis”), a divine shaft penetrates the divine circle, and vessels are formed that hold light. The light is too intense for the vessels. In a defining primordial event, the vessels shatter. Some of the light from the vessels returns to its original source in the Godhead. Some of the light descends downward, where it becomes trapped in the shards of the broken vessels. This is taken to mean that hidden in our physical world of embodiment—which is a world of broken vessels and broken hearts—there is light that can be liberated by the one who has attained mastery.
From Sexual Ethics to Sexual Eros Part 2
In sexuality we are all vulnerable. To be a great lover in the sexual, technique is woefully insufficient. Genuine sexual Tantra has nothing to do with circulating the energy up your spine through practiced breathing. Genuinesexual Tantra is about making love with an unguarded heart. This requires radical vulnerability. Authentic sexual Tantra is about merging your heart with your yoni and phallus. Yoni and phallus are not merely exterior forms of genitalia. They are qualities of being that live in every man and woman. It is only from that place that you can be vulnerable enough to risk being ultimately fierce and ultimately tender. It is only from that place that you can risk sexing your partner open to God or letting your partner sex you open to God.
Both of these wonders require your total surrender. The ethics of the sexual is the ethics of vulnerability. You have to be willing to let your partner witness both the surrender of your power and your surrender to your power. Your small self and contracted ego disappear in erotic sex. In sex Eros, we bypass ego and access our most sacred, scared, and secret selves.
A new vision of human possibility emerges from our vulnerability. “Sex is ethics” means that we are radically loyal to the vulnerability aroused by our sexing. We are loyal even after the ego rushes back in, eager to reassert its dominion. Loyalty means that we do not—years later—tell a different story in which we negatively revise our experience of the sexual. Sex that was beautiful, mutual, and vulnerable cannot ethically be recast as predatory or abusive. Regret is not rape, just as arousal is not consent. That is a violation of the Holy of Holies. Remember the two teachings of Akiva: “All the [biblical] books are holy” and “The Song of Solomon is the Holy of Holies.” The sexual love song is the Holy of Holies. To falsely narrate a sexual experience or to break sexual boundaries without invitation is to violate the Holy of Holies.
From Sexual Ethics to Sexual Eros Part 1
We recently had dinner with a colleague who has written some significant work on Eros. It is far more nuanced than virtually anything else out there. In general, we think her work is studded with insight, and we are delighted to recommend it. However, we believe she makes two important mistakes that need to be addressed in the spirit of public debate because they are so impactful in terms of how we experience our lives.
First, she collapses the sexual and the erotic. For her, Eros is a term that for the most part refers to the sexual. She is talking, however, not about banal sex but about what is often called great sex. By Eros she means sex that is, at least on some level, hot and deep. She then makes a very dramatic claim: that Eros by its very nature is transgressive. With this we take exception. The nature of the erotic (including the sexual) is subversive but not transgressive. The difference between these two positions is vast.
Transgressive means to violate an appropriate value or boundary. Subversive implies the intentional subverting of cultural values or boundaries for the sake of a higher vision. Transgressive undermines that which should not be undermined. Subversive is revolutionary, undermining that which needs to be overthrown. The difference is subtle but highly significant.
Our colleague is somewhat of a sexual anthropologist. She looks at the practice of sexuality and finds that what is most alive in people’s sexual lives involves transgression—by which she means transgression of the cultural mores held by society or even by the people themselves. Of course, that is exactly the point we were making in the previous chapter. But we would argue that transgression is not the ideal state of the sexual but what one might call the unconscious or shadow expression of the sexual. It is descriptive of the fall of Eros. The goal is to move from the unconscious to the conscious, from shadow to light. When we liberate Eros, we are able to access the aliveness of transgressive sex in the context of our committed relationships of whatever nature they might be. The way to do so is to restore temple consciousness—that is to say, a world in which sex is not transgressive but subversive.
Sex is subversive in that it points to an order of being beyond the conventional. Ordinary reality involves pragmatic surface relationships in which each person looks out for his or her own self-interest. The basic social contract of society is built on precisely such notions of individual self-interest and civil interaction. Sexuality models the possibility of breaking the boundary of the superficial to enter the deep. Sex, in its ideal form, subverts the “normal” order of society.
On A Return to Eros
In this translineage conversation, Sianna Sherman, Sally Kempton, and Dr. Marc Gafni talk about how they each view Eros, Shakti, radical aliveness and how we can go about embodying this sense of allurement in our lives.
Sianna Sherman is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher, evocative storyteller, and passionate speaker at conferences and festivals throughout the world. She is the founder of Rasa Yoga, Mythic Yoga Flow®, and co-founder of Urban Priestess® – a platform that serves the empowerment of women. She was featured in Yoga Journal as one of the 21 top teachers shaping the future of yoga. Sianna has a unique ability to touch the human heart through story, transmission and devotional practice. As a globetrotting yogini, she leads high-vibration gatherings, teacher trainings, workshops, sacred site retreats and pilgrimages as an offering of Love. Sianna is an innovative, visionary spirit with a deep devotion to Soul Alchemy, and her teachings are a true convergence of science, mysticism, art and yoga. Her vision is to serve for the Benefit of All Beings & awaken magic into the world!
Sally Kempton teaches meditation as a process of inner exploration, in which we learn to integrate heart, mind and body in order to experience our natural state of wisdom and love. Sally also offers a wide variety of classes on yogic wisdom texts, as well as hands-on, contemplative practices for moving through psychological obstructions, understanding the intricacies of inner life, and how to apply spiritual principles to relationships, work, and life in our time. Students say that her classes create an atmosphere of support and joy that allows deep exploration. “Sally’s classes are deeply transformative,” a student says. “Her guidance is gentle and loving, yet challenging in all the right ways. She brings yogic teachings out of the books, and into real life in a way that makes it totally practical.” Though Sally offers many courses for beginning meditation students, she is also regarded as a ‘teacher’s teacher’, whose approach inspires long-time practitioners to free themselves from routine meditation practice, and move deeper.
Dr. Marc Gafni is a visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher, and author of ten books, including the award-winning Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, the two-volume Radical Kabbalah, the recently-published Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism: Two Models and Why They Matter, and Tears: Reclaiming Ritual, Integral Religion, and Rosh Hashana. Marc Gafni holds his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. He teaches on the cutting- edge of philosophy in the West, helping to evolve a new “dharma,” or meta-theory of Integral meaning that is helping to re-shape key pivoting points in consciousness and culture. Together with Dr. Kristina Kincaid he authored the recently published book A Return to Eros that is the topic of this dialogue.
Oh, my God, welcome, it is so good to be here with you Sally, Sally Kempton and Sianna, Sianna Sherman. Two goddesses incarnate, and teachers and transmitters and what an absolute delight to be with you. We’re here to talk about Return to Eros, which is so critically crucial exciting, delighted, honored to be with you. Sally, I turn to you.
Okay, so the first thing I think we need to establish is exactly what is Eros? Maybe Marc you could give us any definition of Eros that really goes to the heart of it, just so everyone will be on the same page in this conversation.
Fantastic. Thank you, Sally. When we speak of Eros, we’re talking about something which is core to reality. Eros existed for at least 12 billion years before there was sexuality. We know that. Eros is the experience of radical aliveness, moving towards ever greater contact, and ever larger wholes. That sentence, which is birthed over 20 years is the nature of reality, the experience of radical aliveness, moving towards ever greater contact and ever larger wholes. That basic movement is the nature of reality itself. One could actually say, since God is reality and reality is God, God is Eros. Reality is Eros. God’s not only Eros, God’s Eros, right? That actually shifts everything.[Read more…]
On A Return to Eros
In this dialogue, John Friend & Desi Springer, Founders of the Bowspring Yoga Method discuss with the co-authors of our Think Tank Book A Return to Eros, Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid, the importance of frameworks for a new sexual narrative and the embodiment of Eros.
Welcome, it is delightful to be here with you all. This is Marc Gafni. I’m here with Desi Springer, and John Friend, and Kristina Kincaid, and we are here to do a conversation on the Return to Eros, the new book that Kristina and I are delighted to have just put into the world through our Center for Integral Wisdom, where John, you’re been a board member for a number of years. And, John, you and Desi, Desi, you and John, are now doing this international global community built around this next leading age innovation in embodiment and yoga, the Bowspring Method.
So, maybe, let’s just start. Tell us, Desi, John, John, Desi, kind of a word about it.
Very good. We’re excited about the Bowspring Method as part of an emerging new modeling, a new paradigm that at first, it came out of the modern postural yoga world where four, literally, the last century, in the various styles, it came out of India, and spread through the West, have held a certain modeling, we consider quite patriarchal, very linear, based even on certain bio-mechanical ideas that the skeleton of the human hold the body up, and therefore to make it more upright, and you try to align your spine straight up and down. You pull your tailbone down and pull the top of your head up. This general alignment idea is all over the world.
Well, it was Desi, when I started working with her five years ago and collaborating, she said, “John, you know, have you really considered making the body more curvy?”
I said, “Well, if you do that, you’re gonna get compression in the spine. Believe me I’m an expert of so many years.”
She was very respectful and didn’t really push the argument, but in some time I started to see her point, and through certain evidence that we don’t need to get into right now, that it was, literally, helping my own body and many of our students and clients, not to follow into this modeling of just linearity and straight up and down, and the curviness, what Desi said, when you’re really in this state of true openness, when you are in a state of pure eros, in love, the body is gonna take a natural ecstatic form. If you look at it, it’s not straight up and down. It’s not this linear, like a military position. It’s a curvy, open position, and not just on the front. It’s on all sides so this has been a huge shift for us. We’ve been putting it out. Now, a large part of the modern postural yoga world is even shifting toward curvy, dynamic, functional movement. This is the really rage right now. We’re offering a very organized, systemized method, the Bowspring. That’s what we’re calling it.
We Cannot Do It Without You
In order to create a better world, a world in which there is freedom and justice and dignity for the lives of all humans and sentient beings, we need a new narrative of reality. We need a new story that’s not only compelling, but accurate in both the exterior and interior sciences.
At the Center for Integral Wisdom, we have identified five key areas that create the framework for this new story. When each of these keys become activated within the individual and within society, we believe that new potentials within humanity will emerge. These new potentials will give birth to viable and sustainable solutions for a new way of living in symbiotic relationship with each other and with the planet.
Key 1: Activate a New Identity
The only thing that affects long-term, sustainable change is a genuine transformation of identity that happens through proven insights about the true nature of ourself and the true nature of Reality. This set of interrelated insights, grounded in both interior and exterior sciences, allows us to link together pieces of information that didn’t previously make sense, and to suddenly gain profound understanding of how we fit into a new whole. Our personal identity up-levels to what we call our Evolutionary Unique Self. Activating a new identity is the prerequisite for the activation of new potentials in humanity.
Key 2: Activate a New Evolutionary Universe Story
While pre-modernity and modernity gave us a vision that drove personal transformation, innovation and progress, postmodernity has failed to give us anything more than a laundry list of the shortcomings of its predecessors.
The result? We find ourselves lost, personally and collectively – unable to effectively move towards a future that promises outcomes comparable to what we saw emerge from the Renaissance: a complete transformation of consciousness which birthed a new set of human potential within every sector including the arts, sciences, spirituality and medicine.
We find ourselves faced with a perilous future – the potential for devolution of our species and the planet unless we’re able to activate a new vision of reality… right now.
Our new narrative is one in which reality isn’t a fact, it’s a story whose creative source is the Evolutionary Impulse, and each of us is personally implicated in the story. With this realization, we’re able to take decisive action with our creative gifts because we know there are needs within our circle of intimacy and influence that only we can fulfill.
Key 3: Activate New Practices
Practices by themselves don’t create change. Practice in and of itself doesn’t work unless we have game-changing insight into the nature of who we really are and into the nature of reality and our place in it.
Within that new framework, we must then activate a new set of sustained practices that reinforce the resonant frequency of those insights so that they become part of our personal and collective consciousness.
Some of these new practices include:
- Evolutionary Prayer
- Outrageous Love Letters
- Embodying Distinctions of the 5 Selves
Key 4: Activate a New Map
Our current maps of reality no longer work for us because they don’t accurately describe the territory that we’re experiencing. In the last decade we’ve experienced a quantum leap in our capacities and potentials in every sector from science and technology to education, medicine and the arts and spirituality. We’ve become a global community of people who can connect – in an instant, with a mobile phone or lap top computer – to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
But we don’t have a map that accounts for where we’re at on the Evolutionary spiral, much less a map that integrates all the information we’ve gained from looking back at our past spirals. And we don’t have a map that shows us where to locate our unique genius within a new vision of reality or that allows us to find others to join our geniuses to create what we most want to give. Which is why so many people have felt lost.
The Wheel of Co-Creation 2.0 is one map that we can begin using to locate ourselves within the story of creation and harness the creative potential of the collective.
Key 5: Activate A New Community
In every generation there are people at the leading edge who come together in communion, each holding a piece of the new consciousness. When the consciousness is held in this sacred space, it becomes the mechanism for evolution. Evolutionary Church has become one such community.
Our work at the Center is as much ecstatic as it is urgent and essential.
With these 5 Keys, we are bringing forth the necessary framework for awakening new potentials within humanity in order to co-create a world worth saving.
We are radically committed to this work, and have been able to continue because of the outrageous love and support we have received over the years from community members like you.
We are deeply grateful and have made the infographic below to show you exactly how you have re-sourced (as we say in Evolutionary Church) our projects since the beginning of the Center in 2011 through your contributions.
Help Us Resource the Center for Integral Wisdom! Your Donation Makes a Difference!
Or Donate the Old Way by Making Your Check Payable to:
The Center for Integral Wisdom
PO Box 702
San Anselmo, California 94979-0702
Today is the first day of Chanukkah and we, the team of the Center for Integral Wisdom with our President Dr. Marc Gafni, want to give you a little gift.
Get a little taste from our Reclaiming Eros Self Study Online Course
Listen to the Story of the Holy Snuff Box
Marc Gafni has also told the Story of the Holy Snuff Box on his blog:
Everybody knows that Holy Beggars hold the world together. Thus would one modern master introduce the following sacred story. Never, never pass by a holy beggar, and they are all holy. Walk across the street. Go out of your way! Who knows who he really is? Who knows what great soul lays hidden in that tattered beggar? You never know… You never know. All you can know that is if someone asks, they must certainly need.
One day a beggar came to see the Holy Israel, Master of the Name. He was angry and depressed. “What kind of a God do you have. I used to be rich – I helped many people. But now look at me – I have lost everything. It’s not fair. How did such a fate fall upon me?!” And with that the beggar broke down into tears.
“Sweet Yossele,” said Israel, Master of the Name. “All the mysteries are in your own life. Think back to Yom Kippur six years ago.”
And now the master Israel had Yossele’s complete attention. For how did he know that his name was Yossele – and how could he know what he had done six years ago? Master Israel continued. “It was a fast day, the holiest day of the year. A day when we pray all day long. People on that day are at their weakest, but also at their highest. You remember, Yossele, that you brought the snuff box to the prayer service?” For although on this fast day eating is proscribed, fragrance is permitted. Often, as in the prayer fellowship I grew up in, snuff boxes would be passed around, to offer fragrance to revive the spirits for prayer.
Imagine being fully expressed with an unstoppable life force that aligned you with the will, the desire, the knowledge and the creative impulse to engage ALL areas of your life full-on; without fear or shame stopping you from moving forward. Imagine the transformative power and positive impact you’d have on your personal relationships and potentially be a major influence in the world.
This is what you will learn and become through taking this 9-week video course, professionally filmed on location during the First Festival of Love in Holland.
Uncover the Secret Powers of Eros in Order to…
- Become fully alive, fulfilled, and at home in your own life
- Live a life of passion, purpose, and integrity to fulfill your most important goals
- Discover a new relationship to sexuality as teaching you how to live erotically in all the non-sexual dimensions of your life
- Enrich not just our personal existence but our whole society
- Find the power to kindle radical Outrageous Love in your life for your loved ones and beyond
- Reimagine your life and all of the reality to create the world that works for everyone
- Find joy, vitality, and success in every area of your life
This course is the ideal companion to our wonderful think tank book A Return to Eros:
On A Return to Eros
In a recent dialogue, Swami Chetanananda (“Swamiji”), the abbot and spiritual director of the Movement Center, a teacher in the lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, who is a powerful presence and a source of great nourishment for those who come in contact with him and John Friend who has developed two major systems of yoga and is a master and transmitter of the yoga tradition in an embodied form, came together with CIW President Dr. Marc Gafni to discuss the recent book of the Think Tank A Return to Eros.
- Why we so desperately need a new narrative of Universal Eros as it is layed out in the book
- Why it is essential to overcome the fear of our own bodies and fear of our own sexuality that is so deeply engrained in our culture
- Why sexual ethics needs to be grounded in a sexual Ethos
- How this new narrative of Eros results in a new narrative of the sexual that is both deeply grounded in the old traditions and yet evolves way beyond it
Transcript of the Dialogue
Enjoy the Meditation with Dr. Marc Gafni and Read the Transcript Below
Get comfortable. If you are listening to this while you are driving please don’t get comfortable. Anyone else, get comfortable, in a good posture, your back upright, not rigid. Your chest is lifted and open. Become aware of the sensations in your body. Feel your buttocks sitting on the seat. Feel your spinal cord lifting up to the heavens and down, rooted, as axis mundi, as what the Sufis call the pole, into the earth. Your Unique Self becomes the pole between heaven and earth. Feel the sensation of air against your skin, feel your clothes as they sit on your body, feel the air as it moves across your face, feel your muscles throughout your body. Feel your belly.
Be present with the sensations of your body, bring awareness to these sensations and when your mind wanders, gently bring your mind, in a nonjudgemental way, back to center and pick up from where you left off. Become aware of your breath. Feel the breath entering in and out of your nostrils. Feel the warm air, feel the parts of your body that move with the breath, feel your chest rising, your belly expanding and contracting. Feel your abdomen, feel your shoulders dropping.
Noticing, becoming aware, not directing your breath in any way, and stay there for a while, following your breath.
by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Kristina Kincaid
It was the sensual Persian poet Hafiz who understood the full power of erotic surrender in every arena of life. The ecstatic poem “Tripping Over Joy” transmits something about the power of surrender:
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
Loosening the Reins
The one master who saw it as his role to reclaim the erotic at the core of life was the Baal Shem Tov, Master of the Good Name. We have already met this master of Eros in this book, and we will encounter him many more times along the way. The Baal Shem Tov was an eighteenth-century magician, mystic, and healer who founded the movement of spiritual renewal, Hasidic Judaism, that swept Eastern Europe in the 1700s. The story is told of a fateful meeting between Jacob Joseph of Polnoye, a well-known religious master of the time, and the Baal Shem.
The master from Polnoye had apparently heard of the Baal Shem before but had refused to join his ecstatic movement. Then Jacob Joseph heard that there was a lone individual in the marketplace telling stories. His stories were preventing people from coming to the prayer house for morning prayers. He had his attendant summon the renegade storyteller with the intention of severely reprimanding him. The Baal Shem came to him, smoking his pipe.
by Kerstin Zohar Tuschik
A couple of days ago, many of us returned from the fifth annual Mystery School with Dr. Marc Gafni in Holland. Still basking in the aftertaste of it, we are in the process of integrating it all into our bodies and our lives.
At the Center for Integral Wisdom, our mission is to evolve the source code of culture by evolving the memes and distinctions that govern both our personal and collective lives. The Mystery and Wisdom Schools are our Dharma labs for the new distinctions that we are developing and learning how to deploy into culture to evolve the source code.
As our Academic Director Dr. Zachary Stein has stated so beautifully in a previous blog-post:
“Across the centuries, mystics have convened mystery schools on the edges of civilizations and worldviews. Intentionally small and remote, peopled with trusted initiates, these schools have been the storehouses of innovations in consciousness, sourced in ancient traditions, guided by a memory of the future. Off stage and out of sight, a few have always been preparing seeds for planting in the compost of the rapidly degenerating culture of the so-called civilized.”
Mystery School is where we come together as evolutionary mystics, the Wheel of Dharma turns, new dharma is coming down, SHE dances, and we can literally feel the source code shift.
Mystery School is not a personal growth seminar. And yet, paradoxically, personal transformation happens at much higher rates than at any personal transformation event. All of us committing to evolving the source code of culture, to the conscious evolution of the all, is exactly what fuels our own transformation with the power of the all.
Once we realize that we are not separate from, but unique embodiments of, the Evolutionary Impulse it all starts to make sense.
As long as it is about MY transformation, I separate myself from the all and I am narcissistically lost in ego. Once I begin to serve the evolution of the all, that same impulse becomes alive in me and my own transformation becomes a byproduct of the evolution of the all.
When you read my testimonial below and the ones of my colleagues linked to at the end, keep in mind that they are written with great delight from within the energy of the Mystery School. They are not 3rd person accounts but rather 1st person mystical testimonials.
Each year at the end of the Festival we say: This cannot get any better! And then it does get better. And OMG, we did it again! This was the most awesome Mystery School of Love EVER!!!
Deepest bow to CIW President Dr. Marc Gafni, our dharma teacher, who opened the space again and again, every morning, every moment with open heart, penetrating insight and clarity, deep humility, devotion, purity, and holy audacity. He has been more humble, devoted, pure, open, and audacious than ever, serving the dharma, serving the Goddess, serving the collective field and the awakening of every single human being in the room and on this planet while dancing with us to the end of love, the end of shame, and the leading edges of culture.
by Dr. Zachary Stein – after the 15th and final Wisdom School at Shalom Mountain, which concluded a 10 year cycle
In a popular culture that has re-packaged the great cultural revolutions of the 1960s we have to ask exactly where and what a “counter culture” could be in today’s world. One answer is that the counter culture has gone mainstream, it’s everywhere now—massive numbers are marching for women and the Earth, even more are engaging in political critique and ethical activism on social media. Cultural evolution proceeds via the center metabolizing the periphery; the fringes of culture move to the core. What was a rare view becomes common and identity formation and cultural production follow suit. Whole industries spring up around ideas and practices that used to be tucked away in obscurity. As the mainstream drifts to accommodate and commodify cultural innovations for the masses, true cultural innovation continues underground, as it always has been, articulated first and raw in some place off the map.
Across the centuries, mystics have convened mystery schools on the edges of civilizations and worldviews. Intentionally small and remote, peopled with trusted initiates, these schools have been the storehouses of innovations in consciousness, sourced in ancient traditions, guided by a memory of the future. Off stage and out of sight, a few have always been preparing seeds for planting in the compost of the rapidly degenerating culture of the so-called civilized.
The Catskills seem to be trying to hide Shalom Mountain in clouds and endless back roads, making it feel secluded enough to shout secrets into the air through a megaphone. The mystery school displaces the center of self and knowledge, shifting us to the surrounding realms of imagination, memory, instinct, and revelation. Everything is on the table, as Gafni becomes a trickster, weaving Tantric Kabbalah from ancient texts, modern science, and depth psychology. Paradox and laughter co-emerge in the dissolution of culture-wrought truncations of self, world, and God. Audacious sovereign greets audacious sovereign in a dance of co-empowerment and natural hierarchy. Gafni is repeatedly moved to tears by sacred texts, so much so that a late June thunderstorm is easily felt as God moved to tears by reading the book of Gafni’s life. So much was taught that I might only select one lesson—one from the calm in the morning after the storm.
T’shuvah means literally “to turn” and is usually translated as penitence or repentance, meaning roughly to turn towards one’s sins and mistakes, to understand them, and to fix them. This is exemplified in the tears shed by King David before the profit Nathan, followed by the King’s humble admission, “I have sinned.” He had sinned, and would sin again. David, like others in the line of the Wisdom of Solomon, is identified as one whose greatness is intimately bound up with flaws and error. The finitude, limitation, and darkness of the human being have long been the mystical keys that open the heart of Tantra. We are exactly (precisely nobody but) the ones making mistakes, taking risks, landing in failure, illness, and shadow. Religions are built around the core idea of a fall. From Adam and Eve to maya and samsara, humans are destined to make mistakes and live with them. You and I will make mistakes again and again. On one view this is terrible—the fall is our shame, and it means that no one is innocent, no one is really truly good. On another view—the non-dual view—the fall is great news because everything is grist for the Divine Mill. The Good is not some static absolute innocence of non-action. The Good is making mistakes in the right direction. We can only learn and evolve by virtue of the mistakes we make and how we respond to them.
T’shuvah is a practical answer to the idea that because humanity is destined to make mistakes we are all tragically flawed. T’shuvah is a practice for turning mistakes into insight and transformation. The practice is clear, simple, and could not be any more radical in a broader cultural where mistakes in some areas of life are enough to mark someone as untouchable for life. What could be more radical than a practice allowing for an individual and collective turning toward sin, failure, and mistakenness? We can all lose face together, abandon the moral high ground together, and turn then toward each other before God, seeking only learning and transformation through and within our own and each other’s mistakes. Individually and as a culture we must turn towards our mistakes and thus toward our Unique Selves, which are fumbling toward actualization, making mistakes in the right direction.
Importantly, the situation and dynamics in which we make mistakes have occurred before and will occur again. History repeats itself, both personally and culturally. T’shuvah becomes a kind of mystical fixing when practiced as way of life. By turning towards the dynamic that caused us to fall, seeing it, and committing to change it into something new, t’shuvah liberates the memory of each person and culture, destined as they are always to carve a unique path of mistakes. History itself must be unwound from the trauma of repetition and freed from the faltering stutter of eternal return. Beyond and after the total reciprocal forgiveness of each and everyone there is a new planetary culture that is possible. The mystery school felt like a living visitation from the future of humanity, transformed from the fall, moving up from Eden.