by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 1 of 6)

The realization of the personal which has been derided as the separate self or ego is so important that I want to ask you to enter this even more deeply with me. You need to feel a sense of this realization in your own being. You need to feel the love and care implicit and explicit in the loving personal address of the Cosmos.

There is clear a moment in where you will need to move beyond separate self and realize the underlying unity of all that is as the seamless coat of the universe. You will need to trance-end the merely personal to realize the next station on the road to your  enlightenment. This will engender in you a profound love. It will open your heart in a radical and unconditional way. It will move you beyond alienation into full integration and power.

[Read more…]

Unique Self Essay by Julia Press, M.S.W.

puzzle_imageLet me begin by telling you that until about a month ago, I had not known of Marc Gafni.  My husband introduced me to Marc's Internet videos on Unique Self.  With enthusiasm he told me that Marc was saying so many of the things I have been bringing forward to our gathering community.  Upon watching the videos, the joy that burst forth from within me was beyond description.  I immediately sent away for YOUR UNIQUE SELF and RADICAL KABBALAH, Books 1 and 2.  I feasted on these sacred writings on each of the following three weekends.  Page after page, Marc was describing the very experiences and understandings that have unfolded over the years of my own being's evolution and in my work midwifing souls on the path of consciousness.  I felt I had known Marc for years.  For me, there is the added nectar of Marc's saturation with Kabbalah which has been and is in great part my own portal and path into the deep mystical realms of understanding and living life.

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John and Sean

John Thompson and Sean Wilkinson are board members at the Center for World Spirituality and Europe’s leaders in the practice of Circling.

Are you wanting to bring your Unique Self deeper into your relationships? Are they truly finding more intimacy, play, growth, and fulfillment your deep longing knows is true?

Then circling is a practice that can breath new life into spiritual work and a great vehicle for those wanting to express their unique gifts with others.

What is Circling?

It’s relational group meditative practice that develops our capacity to skillfully bring our attention and appreciation into connection with others. With careful guidance and group presence, individuals can start to develop a deeper trust in the inherent intelligence in themselves and other. Circling Europe has been deeply inspired by Unique Self teaching and has found this practice to be one of the premier ways of deepening into this great dharma.[Read more…]

from No Boundary by Ken Wilber

It should be apparent by now that shadow projection not only distorts our view of reality “out there,” it also greatly changes our feeling of self “in here.” When I project some emotion or trait as shadow, I still continue to perceive it but only in a distorted and illusory fashion””it appears as an “object out there.” Likewise, I still continue to feel the shadow, but only in a distorted and disguised fashion””once the shadow is projected, I feel it only as a symptom.

Thus, as we have just seen, if I project my own hostility toward peo­ple, I will imagine that people are harboring hostile feelings for me, and thus I will begin to feel a creeping fear of people in general. My original hostility has become my projected shadow. So I “see” it only in other people and I feel it in myself only as the symptom of fear. My shadow has become my symptom.

[Read more…]

imgres-1“Mystic philosopher Teillhard de Chardin writes, ‘The farther we penetrate into matter by means of increasingly powerful  methods – the more we are overawed  by the interdependence of all the parts.’  In the beautiful image of Mahayana Buddhism,  speaking accurately for the Kabbalah as well, the universe can be likened to a vast net of jewels–the reflection from one jewel contained in each. In the words of Isaac of Homil, and countless Hebrew mystics over the ages downing whiskey in European shtetls or running ecstatically through Jerusalem’s ancient streets, ‘Alt is Gud v’Gud ist Alt — All is God and God is All!’

[Read more…]

imgres-6The Hebrew phrase or koan of “loosen the reins” is too wonderful not to share with you. “Harpeh et HaMoshchot.” Harpeh, meaning “loosen,” is also the word for heal. There is something powerfully healing in letting go of the tightness – loosening the fixities. The word for reins, moshchot, also means attraction or desires. Let your desires breathe; your deepest attractions are wise. Listen to them.

Implicit in the sexual circle are three levels. Circle: unchecked raw sexuality.  Line: sexuality delimited and controlled by ethics.  Circle: The Secret of the Cherubs.  The sexual models but does not exhaust the erotic. This is not an abandonment of ethics. It is a higher ethic which has absorbed the sacred intrusions of the line even as it  reintegrates the primal longings of the circle. Eros and Ethics merge.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy


imgres-7The practice of prayer is a teaching to the human being about the identification of genuine need. What is it that I truly desire? This is the sense of the popular aphorism, “Be careful what you pray for.” the prayers I choose to bring to God, the deep desire with which I pour out my heart like water before the living god, must be my most true, intimate, and genuine desire. Prayer is thus a spiritual exercise in the clarification of desire. Thus, side by side with spontaneous prayer and the creative prayer written by the individual who prays, there is also the prayer book written by the enlightened masters over the ages. It is not that their words necessarily contain mystical secrets to open the gates–although they well may–but rather it is that the prayer book is a great teaching on the identification of true desire.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(in press)

[Read more…]

imgresOriginally, creation was said to have been a one-time event, an erotic, divine implosion in which the primal line bisected the primal circle and cosmos poured forth. This image was recast by post Renaissance Hebrew mystics in the light of the re-ascendancy of circle consciousness. Hebrew Mystic Levi Isaac, for example, opens his commentary with a radical assertion: creation is happening every second. The force of love which is divinity is constantly pouring through existence. Indeed, it is existence itself.

The moment of creation is one of ecstasy. Creation is an erotic outpouring, emerging from our ability to step fully inside, to touch what Levi Isaac calls ayin and Buddhists would call the void, to let the fullness of being pour through you.  Levi Isaac, seeker of Eros, simply cannot accept  the alienating masculine line image of creation common to the medieval schoolmen. For them, creation is a one-time event, which while originally caused by God, takes place outside of God.  Levi Isaac insists in a God who inheres in all of reality, in the ecstasy of creative union, replayed constantly in an eternal now. In his insistence, it becomes so. Thus for Levi Isaac, Luria’s image of circle being penetrated by line is the constant reality of existence. It is the yearning force of being – played over and over again.

We may at times lose touch with the interpenetration of line and circle, but is always present longing to be exposed.

~Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

To register for our Wisdom School at Shalom Mountain Retreat Center, October 10-13:
“Evolutionary Intimacy and the New Enlightenment”: (more information below)

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To register for our 4th Annual World Spirituality Retreat, October 18-20:
“Falling in Love with the Divine – Devotion and Tantra of the Heart”: (more information below)

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Venwoude Summer Festival of Love 2013 © Chahat Corten

Venwoude Summer Festival of Love 2013 © Chahat Corten

The Center for Integral World Spirituality is a vibrant community of Virtual Presence and Evolutionary Love Gatherings. We share tremendous Holy Purpose in bringing Unique Self teachings into the world. The Eros that unites us is grounded in simple truths of Unique Self teachings with which we all deeply resonate.[Read more…]

Letter from CWS Board Member and Unique Self Teacher Chahat Corten.

chahat-corten-100x100Dearest friends and partners,

How can I even start to describe to you the shower of Grace and Love, Deep Dharma transmission from Spirit via Marc that has happened here last week in the eight days of the second gathering of the CWS / Venwoude Mystery School of Love at Venwoude in Holland.

Some 150 people gathered, indeed from all over the world, to create together a field of Outrageous Love, visioned, held, loved open, and sustained in the most profound and wondrous way by Marc.

There was an unwavering stream of teaching, that was deepened and embodied in many afternoon workshops and musical & dance happenings in the evenings. The level of synchronicity that I experienced between the core morning teachings of Marc, the afternoon workshops, and all the other offerings was so magical that it sometimes took my breath away.

Many of us who have been studying with Marc now for more than three years experienced an enormous deepening in the transmitting of the teaching on the 12 principles of Eros.[Read more…]

Marc Gafni teaching at Venwoude

Marc Gafni teaching at Venwoude

The second annual Mystery School of Love has begun and is already in full swing. More than 150 people have come to celebrate with us this year’s theme: “Reclaiming Eros.” Many participants were here with us last year and are excited to be here again!

The festival revolves at its core around Dr. Marc’s several hours of Dharma transmission each morning. In the beginning of the day, spiritual teacher Chahat Corten, a leading luminary at Venwoude and a direct dharma student of Dr. Marc, begins the morning with a day-opening ceremony. Dr. Marc then meets with the twenty or so teachers gathered on the faculty of the Mystery School. Included are leading teachers who are each in their own right bright stars and key leaders of the Venwoude community where Dr. Marc serves as the World Spirituality Teacher in Residence. We will post a bit later a special piece about all the the wonderful teachers, each worthy of note and great appreciation.

The center of the emergence is the field of radical dharma and outrageous love that is woven and rewoven by Dr. Marc. The attendance at the festival has doubled in the last year and we expect that to keep doubling every year. Dr. Marc weaves a field of precise and powerful—truly “source-code-changing”—teaching, which transforms minds and explodes hearts. Dr. Marc’s mind and heart seem to merge as one and he lives for everyone as an overflowing and brilliant weaver of meaning, meta theory and grand narrative—even as he opens up spaces of genuine enlightenment that seem to shift the earth beneath people’s feet. It is an enlightenment teaching pure and simple, and the process is, as Dr. Marc calls it, Loving Your Way to Enlightenment!

To give you a little taste of it, we want to share with you just the first few minutes of Marc Gafni’s opening dharma talk, where he sets the frame by giving us 6 principles and commitments for the upcoming week. This is before any of the real dharma got started—this was the first hello:

[Read more…]

Naked Female On Rocks Facing Lightening by Victor Habbick

©Victor Habbick, www.freedigitalphotos.net

 “Any part of your story that you do not live,
lives in darkness”¦
part of your story is in shadow.
To come home you must recover and
embrace the memory of your fullest self.
Until the story of your life is lived
you will go on yearning for it.”
Dr. Marc Gafni in Your Unique Self


It is so exciting to be on this journey together with all of you, our readers and participants in courses and retreats, my wonderful colleagues and friends, and my beloved teacher and friend Dr. Marc Gafni, who has invited me to team up with him in this sacred endeavor of writing this series of articles, which will ultimately become a book, as well as in this holy adventure of Integral Wisdom, World Spirituality, and Unique Self.

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(c) 2012 photo courtesy of photoexplorer.

(c) 2012 photo courtesy of photoexplorer

In a recent dialogue over Unique Self, thought-leaders Marc Gafni and Rob McNamara discussed the overlapping topic areas in their recent books, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment and Strength to Awaken/The Elegant Self.

They discussed”¦

  • Whole-hearted engagement.
  • The full richness and depth of every moment as the way in to Unique Self.
  • The interrelationship of their books.
  • The ego's basic habit.
  • The three traits of the Enlightenment of Fullness: Embodiment, Uniqueness, and Creativity.

You can register for the full dialogue on this page.>>>

Below is a partial transcript from their dialogue in which Marc Gafni elaborates on his definition of the Enlightenment of Fullness.

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Excerpt of the Essay by Dr. Marc Gafni:

In their 2013 ITC conference presentation, Marc Gafni and Sally Kempton will explore “Integral God: Sacred Activism and Falling in Love with the Divine.” To explore this, they will consider two models of self in evolutionary mysticism and why these models matter. Both models emerge at the time of important updates to the source code of enlightenment. The first update is the understanding that all of reality, including spirit, is evolving, and this is a shared understanding of both Unique and Authentic Self teachings. The second update to the source code of the enlightenment teachings can be understood as the emergence of the awakened personal function, and this is a key area of divergence between the Unique and Authentic Self teachings. Read more in this excerpt from the introduction of the essay :


Unique Self and Authentic Self in Context:

Marc GafniWithin the Integral context, two ways of thinking about self have emerged which are distinctive both in their shared contours and significant distinctions. One framework or model has been called Authentic Self, and the other, Unique Self.[i] Their implicit assumptions suggest both a shared worldview and subtle but important distinctions in their vision of the ideal homo religiousus. These distinctions are foundational with vast implications in virtually every dimension of life, and therefore, need to be laid out with clarity and precision. Each suggests a different understanding of what it means to wake up from the narrow identity as a separate self or ego self into a more enlightened and correct identity as, respectively, Authentic or Unique Self.[ii]  Both the Unique Self and Authentic Self models locate themselves within the context of classical mystical enlightenment teaching. Neither emerges from a western flatland paradigm which views the self as an isolated and discrete unit, or what has been called a skin-encapsulated ego. For both Unique Self and Authentic Self, the first major step towards enlightenment is the realization that the person is not merely an ego or separate self, but rather that the person’s true identity is their absolute, essential, or true self.[Read more…]

(c) 2010 Salvatore Vuono

©2010 Salvatore Vuono

In the final installment of this three-part essay below, which is excerpted from the long version of Soul Prints, Dr. Marc Gafni writes that we can transform and raise our passion and artistic creativity. We transform them into a powerful drive for the sensual and the holy, realizing that, in a redeemed world, they are one and the same. As long as our spirituality remains vapid and empty, we indeed need to repress the more primal, creative passion, lest it overwhelm us. Primal passion unrealized is soul print destiny unrealized.

From Part I: "Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo created. And yet, creativity is still viewed as suspect by much of the religious community. Art per se and artists to be sure are suspected of being amoral at best and, more probably, immoral. Acting, painting, sculpture, song are held in both high esteem and moral disdain. Why? The answer, which we have already introduced in our earlier discussion, emerges from an understanding of the deep linguistic and conceptual relationship between the biblical myth terms Yetzer and Yetzirah. Yetzirah means creativity; Yetzer is best translated as primal instincts, including but not limited to libido (Freud), the drive for power (Adler, Nietzsche), and the need for meaning (Frankel). In the Hebrew language, which is the ultimate source of all biblical myth thought, Yetzer and Yetzirah are the same word, linked etymologically and conceptually. The point:  I cannot create without connecting deeply to my most primal instincts."

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imgres-1In this dialogue below, thought-leaders Marc Gafni and Rob McNamara discuss the overlapping topic areas in their recent books, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment and Strength to Awaken/The Elegant Self.

They discuss...

  • Whole-hearted engagement. What does physical strength have to do with your awakening and well-being? Rob McNamara describes his approach to the robust integral practice of whole-hearted engagement in the body-mind moment. We all have jobs, family, relationships, friendships, and our well-being to look after. Rob says, here, "Day to day, we tend to push the fundamentals off the table, and they tend to slide.  And, I think there's a way that we can integrate all the major faculties in to a really robust engagement. And, that's what I get really excited about around Strength to Awaken."
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(c) 2013 satit_srihin

©2013 photo courtesy of satit_srihin

In this three-part essay, excerpted from the long version of Soul Prints, Dr. Marc Gafni writes that we can transform and raise our passion and artistic creativity into a powerful drive for the sensual and the holy, realizing that, in a redeemed world, they are one and the same. As long as our spirituality remains vapid and empty, we indeed need to repress the more primal, creative passion, lest it overwhelm us. Primal passion unrealized is soul print destiny unrealized.

From Part I: "Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo created. And yet, creativity is still viewed as suspect by much of the religious community. Art per se and artists to be sure are suspected of being amoral at best and, more probably, immoral. Acting, painting, sculpture, song are held in both high esteem and moral disdain. Why? The answer, which we have already introduced in our earlier discussion, emerges from an understanding of the deep linguistic and conceptual relationship between the biblical myth terms Yetzer and Yetzirah. Yetzirah means creativity; Yetzer is best translated as primal instincts, including but not limited to libido (Freud), the drive for power (Adler, Nietzsche), and the need for meaning (Frankel). In the Hebrew language, which is the ultimate source of all biblical myth thought, Yetzer and Yetzirah are the same word, linked etymologically and conceptually. The point:  I cannot create without connecting deeply to my most primal instincts."

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by Dr. Marc Gafni from Your Unique Self

Your egoic story can be taken away by the circumstances of life. Your Unique Self story can never be taken away from you.

Ego can be taken away from you. Unique Self can never be taken away from you.


Further discussion:

In his book Your Unique Self Dr. Marc continues with a beautiful, very personal, and deeply touching story, which shall be reserved for its readers. Another example for this would be the story of the great Rebbe of Piaseczno, who has found and lived his Unique Self story in the midst of the greatest destruction, so beautifully told by Dr. Marc in this video series.

For the conclusion of our series on the distinctions between Unique Self and Ego, it remains to be said: It is time to put it all to work in our daily lives, in our personal Unique Self stories.

[Read more…]

from Your Unique Self by Dr. Marc Gafni

Money, power, and pleasure, when experienced at the level of ego, appear separate from the divine field and trap you in the clutches of grasping and striving. When experienced from the level of enlightened consciousness, money, power, and pleasure are expressions of your Unique Self touching the divine. Pleasure from the place of Unique Self is experienced as a divine caress reminding you that the world is sane and good. Ego pleasures feel narcissistic, and solidify the coiled contraction into small self. They never satisfy; you are constantly driven to get more and more, and someone else's pleasure makes you feel your own lack. The same pleasure experienced from the consciousness of Unique Self expands your heart and consciousness into the love-intelligence, love-beauty, and love-pleasure of All-That-Is. You are satisfied by even the simplest pleasure, and you delight in the pleasure of others.

Similarly, power and money grasped by the ego seek to support the false belief of the separate self that it will live forever. Power and money are used to accumulate goods you do not need, and to acquire superficial control over others in order to assure yourself that you are valuable and worthy. Money and power experienced from the consciousness of Unique Self are gracefully and skillfully deployed with delight for the greater good of all beings.

Separate from the divine field, money, pleasure, and power appear as foolish and even grotesque identity enhancers for the ego. This becomes radically apparent whenever we encounter death. The ego is confused. It fails to discern between separateness and uniqueness, and so the goods of existence are hijacked to serve its own impossible goal of survival””separate from the larger field of love-beauty-pleasure-intelligence from which it was never separate and never can be separated.

Correct intuitions that are hijacked and misapplied by the ego are contextualized and reclaimed at the level of Unique Self. These include eternity and the finite goods of the world, the goodness of pleasure, the divine aspect of power, and more. All of these are reclaimed without grasping at the level of Unique Self.

Further Discussion:

One of the things Dr. Marc teaches us to recognize about pleasure is that it is not pain's opposite. In fact, he teaches:

The opposite of pain is comfort. To achieve pleasure you must be willing to bear the discomfort of being displeasing to yourself, of feeling worthless, inadequate, depressed. It is only by sitting in the pain that you can find the pleasure. (p. 282 of Unique Self)

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