Approbations for Radical Kabbalah
By Ken Wilber
“This is a great work of inspired and audacious scholarship. Professor Moshe Idel’s letter of recommendation to Oxford University, and Professor Richard Mann’s words (comparing Marc’s work on Kabbalah to Elaine Pagels’ work on the Gnostic gospels), which introduce these volumes, speak for themselves. Similarly, the statements by Michael Zimmerman from the perspective of a chief justice of an American supreme court and by Sally Kempton, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, and Rabbi Winkler as scholars and teachers of enlightenment show something of the broad relevance of the volumes, as do the remarks by Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Zachary Stein.
I read Dr. Gafni’s masterwork on Radical Kabbalah in its first drafts almost seven years ago. It was then over a thousand pages long, and I read it over two or three days with great excitement. I sent Marc a series delighted emails, after reading every few chapters. The breadth, depth and the sheer importance of the work moved me. I immediately recognized it as a semi- nal work, identifying a critical lineage of enlightenment from the tradition of Kabbalah, which needed to be incorporated into the Integral model.
Introduction to ‘Your Unique Self – the Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment’
by Ken Wilber
“We live in extraordinary times. In the history of all humanity, there have only been five or six major world transformations: somewhere around 500,000 years ago, humans began to emerge as a distinct species, with an archaic worldview which separated us from the great apes. Around 50,000 years ago, the archaic worldview gave way to a magical worldview, anchored in foraging, hunting, and gathering. Then, around 10,000 years ago, farming was discovered. Simple farming, with a hand-held hoe, called horticulture. Concurrently, the worldview of simple magic gave way mythic-magic–more complex, and more sophisticated.
Around 4,000 B.C.E., the animal-drawn plow was discovered, and horticultural gave way to agrarian, while mythic-magic gave way to fully-developed mythic, with its traditional fundamentalistic values. The mythic world ruled until right around the Renaissance in the West, where myth began to give way to reason, which exploded during the Enlightenment. The rational worldview, along with its scientific materialism, and with its modern values, became in many ways the official worldview of the modern West. Until, that is, the 1960’s, which saw the last major world transformation–this time from modern to postmodern, from monolithic reason to postmodern pluralism and the “cultural creatives”.
Ken Wilber, Integral Theory, and The End of The World as We Know It
by Dr. Zachary Stein
These are some reflections on the work of Ken Wilber. I’ve been studying his writings for almost half my life. We’ve met a couple times (that is Ken, Rollie, and me pictured), talked at some length on the phone, and exchanged countless e-mails. Ken’s got vocal critics and Kool-aid drinking followers. I’m neither of those. I’m more of what is sometimes called an “integral kid,” meaning I’ve been reading Ken since before I could drink legally. There is a unique kind of indebtedness to those teachers who brought you out of adolescence. But it also means I’ve grown up with, in, and out of this way of thinking. So I have a special kind of distancing and even reactivity and withdrawal from it, again, like one also has with one’s best teachers. All things considered, I think you gotta love and be fascinated by all his books…
Anyway, this is mostly just me yawning at all the simplistic and pedantic Wilber haters….
Theorizing at the edge of history
If we are going to take a step in the transition from civilization to planetization, we will need a map. Each of us carries within, an image of space and time, and this cognitive map tells us who we are, where we come from, and where we are going…. [This map is] an imaging of personal values and cultural forms…. A culture provides an individual with a mapping of time and space, but as the culture goes through a period of change and stressful transformation, the [map] becomes distorted. In periods of intense cultural distortion, the [map] becomes so changed as to be almost obliterated. Then the individual becomes lost, profoundly lost in the ontological sense of not knowing who or what he is, where he comes from, and where he is going. For some this can be a moment of terror, for others, a time of release. In a moment of silence in which the old forms fall away, there comes a new receptivity, a new centering inward, and in an instant there flashes onto the screen of consciousness a new re-visioning of the [map]. There in the receptive silences of meditation the new possibilities of time and space announce themselves, possibilities that lie beyond the descriptions of the old institutions of the old culture. This is the prophetic moment, the annunciation of a new myth, and the beginning of a new culture.
—Thompson (1977 p.14)
Philosophers work in socio-cultural contexts, under historically specific conditions, with access to certain communication technologies, libraries, and media. Ken Wilber has been publishing books since 1971, producing a corpus that spans well over 10,000-thousand pages. He has worked with the changing times, from pen and paper to word processor, to the personal computer, and eventually to Internet facilitated multi-media educational initiatives. Moreover, Wilber has worked in response to a dynamically transforming American culture during a period of tremendous global change.
Popular philosophical movements are especially symptomatic of their times. In retrospect historical moments are often best understood in terms of the ideas that thrived during them. Athenian Democracy and the Sophists and Socrates, Medieval Europe and the Church, The American and French Revolutions and the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and Darwinism and Romanticism—no trick of critical historiography could disentangle these groupings of ideas and events, these civilizational eras. What ideas will be associated with the past 60 years, the era since the start of the so-called American Century? What have been the popular philosophies in the post-industrial social systems that emerged after World War II? This question is complicated by the dynamics of the era, which witnessed explosive advances in informational technologies that enabled an unprecedented diffusion of ideas before a growing global public. It is too soon to tell, but the culture of late capitalism—post-modern culture—may very well be defined in terms of its having lacked dominant comprehensive doctrines (Habermas, 1990; Jameson, 1992). This has affected all aspects of life, from the media-saturated textures of our action-orienting self-understandings to the economic policies that structure national geographies.
The dharma of Outrageous Love, Eros, and Unique Self has never been more alive than during those last couple of days. Evolutionary Relationships and Unique Gender are connecting the dots between the Awakening as a Unique Self and the Unique Self symphony.
“We are the erotic mystics reweaving and evolving the source code of reality.” – Marc Gafni at the Summer Festival of Love 2015
Marc Gafni first published a version of the lines and circles teaching in his book, The Mystery of Love (Atria, 2003).
The teaching has evolved dramatically over the last 13 years. He gave a more advanced version of it in Venwoude several years ago to a small inner group at the community. The version we heard at the Festival is the deepest and most advanced version we have of this dharma.
“All forms of reality that don’t have in them
the marriage of masculine and Feminine
are no reality at all.
There is no higher form.
They have no potency and no blessing in them.”
“Blessing only flows when the Masculine and the Feminine dance in their Higher One.”
– The Zohar
Testimonial by participant David Steel:
What an incredible blessing this week has been. I have had the opportunity to study and learn with one of the great teachers of our time. I know that in many ways I will never be the same. I have truly begun to understand and appreciate my “Unique Self.”
The following is a condensed summary of the dharma of the second part of the festival with many quotes or paraphrased statements from the teachings.
In the evening of day 5, Ken Wilber called into the Conference adding his wisdom on Gender from an AQAL perspective, engaging “in the kabbalistic process of Tzimtzum,” as Marc called it, and “contracting brilliance and light into a single point of ten minutes which communicated something profound and potent and game changing.”
At the end of his talk Ken concluded (paraphrased from his talk):
We as humanity are at such a high level of consciousness that we actually have a choice which characteristics we want to embody. Each Unique Self is a unique embodiment of lines and circles. For the first time in history we can select our own gender profile.
The participants responded with love, appreciation, and a standing ovation for him.
On day 5 and 6, a profound healing of the Masculine (or what we preferred to call the line quality) in its beauty happened, it radiated from every face of both men and women as well as from the spaces in between. We were and still are in awe of what is possible in just a few days together in devotion to the dharma, when the Unique Self symphony comes alive.
On day 7, we finally entered the circle. This is what I wrote immediately after the teaching to capture some of the essence of what happened:[Read more…]
In a recent Blog-Post “Waking Up to a New Love Story” on HuffPost The Third Metric Marc Gafni wrote:
We need a new story. A new cosmos story. A new waking up story. We need to know once again and beyond anything we ever knew that the universe is a love story. Not an ordinary love story, an Outrageous Love story. We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is Outrageous Love.
The Looks and Feel of a Board Meeting
68 people gathered including staff members, supporters, Advisory Board, Board of Trustees and Executive Board members (see below*).
The purpose of the board meeting was threefold:
- To clearly unpack the core mission of the Center for the entire inner community.
- For the inner community to get to know each other.
- To commit as a larger community to play a larger game and to take direct responsibility for the evolution of consciousness in every possible way that we can.
Richard Barrett‘s long awaited book The Metrics of Human Consciousness has been released on amazon.
This book has been a major CIW Think Tank project over the course of last year.
The genesis of this book dates back to the time when Richard met Marc at a conference on Conscious Capitalism, held at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California in 2012. Richard was at the conference to present a paper on measuring the consciousness of leaders and organizations. Marc was at the conference to present a paper on the concept of the Unique Self. Very quickly, the conversation between the two of them turned to developing a metric for measuring the consciousness of the Unique Self.
After the conference Marc broadened the conversion with Richard to involve Zak Stein, the Academic Director of the Center for Integral Wisdom, and Ken Wilber, on of the co-founders of the Center. After several conversations, we (Marc and Zak) asked Richard to begin to explore the possibility of constructing a Unique Self metric. Richard accepted the challenge and joined the board of the Center as senior scholar. This books represents the first output of this exercise.
Richard Barrett offers us an exciting new direction for measuring consciousness. He has proven that the insights these measures bring can significantly improve our individual, organisational and societal performance. The work of the Barrett Values Centre stands as a testament to what can be achieved by seriously applying ourselves to the measurement of conscious.
Part of the ongoing conversation on these topics was this beautiful dialogue between Ken Wilber, Richard Barrett and Marc Gafni on the nature and necessity of Personal and Societal Transformation:
The Success 3.0 Summit, this amazing gathering from October 30th to November 2nd, 2014 in Boulder, Colorado of the world’s leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and change-agents that was co-initiated by the Center for Integral Wisdom was a wild success.
Among the speakers were thought leaders like Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos Inc), Arianna Huffington (Editor in Chief, Huffington Post), Alanis Morissette (Singer/Songwriter & Activist), Blake Mycoskie (Founder, TOMS Shoes), Barbara Marx Hubbard (Author, Social Innovator, Evolutionary Thought Leader), Casey Sheahan (former CEO, Patagonia), Lynne Twist (Global Activist & Author), Adam Bellow (Vice President, Harper Collins), Ibrahim Husseni, Business leader, Ben Jealous (former President & CEO of the NAACP), DJ Spooky (Composer, Musician & National Geographic Emerging Explorer), Tom Chi (Innovator & Founder, Google Glass), Jack Canfield (Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul), and many others.
The goal of the summit was to articulate a new, transformative vision of conscious living, innovation, and social impact and to create a new definition of Success that can lead humanity into the future. And that was exactly what happened. The partnership between Marc Gafni, the President of Center for Integral Wisdom, John Mackey, the board chair, Kate Maloney the co-board chair and Ken Wilber the Co-Founder of the Center was so clear and beautiful that it naturally manifested this powerful event which so many people in the room felt was perhaps the most powerful event of this kind that had ever attended in their lives. I want to particularly note the love and respect between Marc and Kate that was subtle and quiet in the space but clearly lit up the room.
In the Media
About 600 people attended the event live and thousands of people watched at least part of it through the live stream. The event was wildly shared through social media with many thousand tweets on twitter alone. Gaiam TV will screen the videos of it by the end of the month. And last but not least, many of the speakers and attendees were recorded alongside the event as part of a movie that will emerge from this. So, stay tuned.
Second Simplicity of Dharma
It was gorgeous to see the many ways the Dharma of Unique Self, Eros, Outrageous Love, and World Spirituality, that Dr. Marc Gafni has been articulating and outrageously transmitting for the last several years, has played a role in this amazing happening.
Most of the speakers started to use the 6-word Mantra Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up. Dr. Marc Gafni, Visionary Scholar, Wisdom Teacher, and Co-Founder and President of CIW, brilliantly transmitted these thought forms in his opening speech. He suggested that every generation needs to participate in the evolution of consciousness. And:
“It is our turn. We are here to articulate an ethics of success that is rooted in Outrageous Love. Outrageous Love demands a new vision of success.”
He also introduced one of his key terms, the word Second Simplicity. Second Simplicity is what he calls the Simplicity that comes after Complexity. After having really grasped the complex concepts, we can get to a stage where we can express them in a compellingly simple way–thereby reaching people from all stages of consciousness.[Read more…]
Dr. Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber meet by phone regularly to discuss new thought on a wide range of topics, including the future unfolding of the Center and its initiatives. At the core of their work is key book that is slated for release in the Summer of 2015 on World Spirituality Based On Integral Wisdom Principles. This will be the source code book which their other books will emerge from and reference.
On this note, we’d like to share a dialogue that will appear in a different form in the book: a beautiful conversation about how the evolved and awake human being engages evil and suffering.
Marc Hello everyone. Mega-Pandit Ken Wilber, it is a delight to be with you, sir.
Ken Yes, sir.
Marc Yes, sir, and we are here for our Thought Leader Dialogue Series, and I’m here with Ken Wilber who is an initiating thought leader of world spirituality based on Integral principles, and the thought leader in the Integral Movement, and a deep partner and visionary and really active in charting the course of the Center for Integral Wisdom. And we’re here to talk about the word that is live spelled backwards, evil, evil, which is a topic that, friends, doesn’t come up often. And, Ken, I think it would be fair to say that even in Integral Theory it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, although it’s implicit in many, many conversations, but it’s not that often that it’s explicit, and, of course, it’s one of the great questions. So, Ken and I are going to just go back and forth and really have what may be the first major Integral dialogue on this topic.
Any number of people have told me, Ken, that you and I spoke about this, and I went back to see it before we talked today, that you and I spoke about this in 2005 with Patrick Sweeney at the Integral Spiritual Center, the first meeting. If you remember, the last day was an open day for the public?
Marc And a number of people asked us questions about evil, and you and I had, what people said to me, was really one of the very rare Integral exchanges on this topic. So that was way back in the day.
Ken Yeah, well, evil dropped out basically with modernity.
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.
Let [an awakening] start right here, right now, with us–with you and with me–and with our commitment to breathe into infinity until infinity alone is the only statement that the world will recognize. Let a radical realization shine from our faces, and roar from our hearts, and thunder from our brains–this simple fact, this obvious fact: that you, in the very immediateness of your present awareness, are in fact the entire world, in all its frost and fever, in all its glories and its grace, in all its triumphs and its tears. You do not see the sun, you are the sun; you do not hear the rain, you are the rain; you do not feel the earth, you are the earth. And in that simple, clear, unmistakable regard, translation has ceased in all domains, and you have transformed into the very Heart of the Kosmos itself–and there, right there, very simply, very quietly, it is all undone.[Read more…]
The vulgar world is already shouting, and with such a raucous rancor that truer voices can scarcely be heard at all. The materialistic world is already full of advertisements and allure, screams of enticement and cries of commerce, wails of welcome and whoops of come hither. I don’t mean to be harsh here, and we must honor all lesser engagements. Nonetheless, you must have noticed that the word “soul” is now the hottest item in the title of book sales–but all “soul” really means, in most of these books, is simply the ego in drag. “Soul” has come to denote, in this feeding frenzy of translative grasping, not that which is timeless in you but that which most loudly thrashes around in time, and thus “care of the soul” incomprehensibly means nothing much more than focusing intensely on your ardently separate self. Likewise, “Spiritual” is on everybody’s lips, but usually all it really means is any intense egoic feeling, just as “Heart” has come to mean any sincere sentiment of the self-contraction.[Read more…]
And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart–perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakeable public example–but authenticity always carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacement. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.
Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of bad infinity.
Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: Those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others (that is the ultimate meaning of the bodhisattva vow). And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must.
Read the entire article…
Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber continue the Unique Self dialogues with a segment of great interest to anyone concerned about healing modalities. Beginning with the opening question, "What would a Unique Self therapy look like?" and continuing on to groundbreaking discussion of nondual spiritual practice, this exchange provides numerous insights. From Wilber's perspective, the essence of Unique Self therapy is uncovering the lies that we tell about ourselves, including lies about our grandeur. Wilber and Gafni concur that the Tibetan Buddhist practice of yidam (or "divine pride") offers valuable wisdom that can be adapted for use within an integral Unique Self healing context.
This clip is a 16-minute excerpt which follows immediately from Part 7 on Unique Shadow. In the previous conversation, the pandits conclude that uniqueness paradoxically appears as a spontaneous level of consciousness at "second-tier," the structure in which consciousness becomes more capable of looking at itself. They saw that key in charting the Unique Self's position and understanding the nature of shadow is understanding is the relationship to levels of consciousness.
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From Ken Wilber’s “A Spirituality That Transforms”:
And so, even as we rightly criticize merely translative religion (and all the lesser forms of transformation), let us also realize that an integral approach to spirituality combines the best of horizontal and vertical, translative and transformative, legitimate and authentic–and thus let us focus our efforts on a balanced and sane overview of the human condition.
But isn’t this view of mine terribly elitist? Good heavens, I hope so. When you go to a basketball game, do you want to see me or Michael Jordan play basketball? When you listen to pop music, who are you willing to pay money in order to hear? Me or Bruce Springsteen? When you read great literature, who would you rather spend an evening reading, me or Tolstsoy? When you pay sixty-four million dollars for a painting, will that be a painting by me or by Van Gogh?
All excellence is elitist. And that includes spiritual excellence as well. But spiritual excellence is an elitism to which all are invited. We go first to the great masters–to Padmasambhava, to St. Teresa of Avila, to Gautama Buddha, to Lady Tsogyal, to Emerson, Eckhart, Maimonides, Shankara, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Bodhidarma, Garab Dorje. But their message is always the same: let this consciousness be in you which is in me. You start elitist, always; you end up egalitarian, always.
But in between, there is the angry wisdom that shouts from the heart: we must, all of us, keep our eye on the radical and ultimate transformative goal. And so any sort of integral or authentic spirituality will also, always, involve a critical, intense, and occasionally polemical shout from the transformative camp to the merely translative camp.
Read the whole piece…
[Chogyam] Trungpa [Rinpoche] had to introduce translative and lesser practices in order to prepare people for the obviousness of what is.
Exactly the same thing happened with Adi Da, another influential (and equally controversial) adept (although this time, American-born). He originally taught nothing but “the path of understanding”: not a way to attain enlightenment, but an inquiry into why you want to attain enlightenment in the first place. The very desire to seek enlightenment is in fact nothing but the grasping tendency of the ego itself, and thus the very search for enlightenment prevents it. The “perfect practice” is therefore not to search for enlightenment, but to inquire into the motive for seeking itself. You obviously seek in order to avoid the present, and yet the present alone holds the answer: to seek forever is to miss the point forever. You always already ARE enlightened Spirit, and therefore to seek Spirit is simply to deny Spirit. You can no more attain Spirit than you can attain your feet or acquire your lungs.
Nobody got it. And so Adi Da, exactly like Trungpa, introduced a whole series of translative and lesser transformative practices–seven stages of practice, in fact–leading up to the point that you could dispense with seeking altogether, there to stand open to the always-already truth of your own eternal and timeless condition, which was completely and totally present from the start, but which was brutally ignored in the frenzied desire to seek.
For more, read the entire article.
Whereas translative religion offers legitimacy, transformative religion offers authenticity. For those few individuals who are ready–that is, sick with the suffering of the separate self, and no longer able to embrace the legitimate worldview–then a transformative opening to true authenticity, true enlightenment, true liberation, calls more and more insistently. And, depending upon your capacity for suffering, you will sooner or later answer the call of authenticity, of transformation, of liberation on the lost horizon of infinity.
Transformative spirituality does not seek to bolster or legitimate any present worldview at all, but rather to provide true authenticity by shattering what the world takes as legitimate. Legitimate consciousness is sanctioned by the consensus, adopted by the herd mentality, embraced by the culture and the counter-culture both, promoted by the separate self as the way to make sense of this world. But authentic consciousness quickly shakes all of that off of its back, and settles instead into a glance that sees only a radiant infinity in the heart of all souls, and breathes into its lungs only the atmosphere of an eternity too simple to believe.
Transformative spirituality, authentic spirituality, is therefore revolutionary. It does not legitimate the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.
Ken Wilber, a leading voice on the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality writes in No Boundary:
But, we ask, what will happen to our drive for progress if we see all opposites are one? Well, with any luck, it will stop–and with it that peculiar discontent that thrives on the illusion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But we should be clear about this. I do not mean that we will cease making advancements of a sort in medicine, agriculture, and technology. We will only cease to harbor the illusion that happiness depends on it. For when we see through the illusions of our boundaries, we will see, here and now, the universe as Adam saw it before the Fall: an organic unity, a harmony of opposites, a melody of positive and negative, delight with the play of our vibratory existence. When the opposites are realized to be one, discord melts into concord, battles become dances, and old enemies become lovers. We are then in a position to make friends with all of our universe, and not just one half of it.
Conventional understandings of the shadow (the term first used in psychology by Carl Jung to describe the unconscious) leave many students of psychology befuddled or confused. Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni have charted groundbreaking perspectives on shadow which deepen our awareness of what it means to be human and how we can lives more fully conscious lives. Wilber's contribution, described in Transformations of Consciousness as well as other books, connects shadow to issues in the navigation from one fulcrum of consciousness to the next. Gafni's contribution, articulated in Your Unique Self, describes shadow as a distortion of Unique Self or an unlived part of one's unique story.
Listen to the dialogue and read a partial transcript:
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Ken Wilber writes in “The Spirituality That Transforms”:
When Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a great (though controversial) Tibetan master, first came to this country, he was renown for always saying, when asked the meaning of Vajrayana, “There is only Ati.” In other words, there is only the enlightened mind wherever you look. The ego, samsara, maya and illusion — all of them do not have to be gotten rid of, because none of them actually exist: There is only Ati, there is only Spirit, there is only God, there is only nondual Consciousness anywhere in existence.
Virtually nobody got it — nobody was ready for this radical and authentic realization of always-already truth — and so Trungpa eventually introduced a whole series of “lesser” practices leading up to this radical and ultimate “no practice.” He introduced the Nine Yanas as the foundation of practice — in other words, he introduced nine stages or levels of practice, culminating in the ultimate “no practice” of always-already Ati.
Many of these practices were simply translative, and some were what we might call “lesser transformative” practices: miniature transformations that made the bodymind more susceptible to radical, already-accomplished enlightenment. These translative and lesser practices issued forth in the “perfect practice” of no practice — or the radical, instantaneous, authentic realization that, from the very beginning, there is only Ati. So even though ultimate transformation was the prior goal and ever-present ground, Trungpa had to introduce translative and lesser practices in order to prepare people for the obviousness of what is.