“When it was recommended that I do a podcast with Rabbi Dr. Marc Gafni, I knew nothing about him. I dove straight into his body of work and my life will never be the same. This is perhaps the most paradigm shifting podcast I have ever recorded. It tells the tale of the greatest love story of all–the story of the cosmo-erotic universe Herself. In this paradigm shifting masterclass, we learn how a force he calls Eros is the fundamental substrate of creation all the way down to the first principles of subatomic matter. Gafni’s wisdom stretches back deep into the secrets of the Temple of Solomon and the mystic Kabbalist tradition. Our conversation touches a wide range of topics, including the nature of the Goddess, the democratization of enlightenment, and rewriting our sexual narratives.”
Dr. Marc Gafni and James Bampfield speak about Enlightenment and Intimacy in this beautiful conversation. “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.”
In this video Dr. Marc Gafni explores The New Universe Story, Narrative of Unique Self, Ordinary Love and Outrageous Love, What is Unique Self Symphony and The Erotic and the Holy.
What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity’s ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?
ON VALUE, THE UNIQUE SELF, AND COSMO-EROTIC HUMANISM
For episode 39, Layman meets with Marc Gafni to talk about his thoughts on an emerging World Spirituality, grounded in ritual and practice; the need for an integral orientation to encourage “dual citizenship,” embracing a global spirituality while also preserving and developing historical religious traditions; spirituality as the ground of value for human becoming; Marc’s notion of the Unique Self and its relationship to enlightenment; cosmic history as intimate conversation; and Marc’s recent work with Zak Stein on developing a Cosmo-Erotic Humanism. Dr. Marc Gafni is a visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher, and author of ten books. He is the co-founder of The Center for Integral Wisdom, and a rabbinic lineage holder in Bible, Talmud, and Kabbalah. He self-describes as a “citizen” of both Integral World Spirituality and classical Hebrew practice. He has been an editor of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice on issues of Integral spirituality and a faculty member of J.F.K. University. In 2014, Dr. Gafni co-initiated the Success 3.0 Summit and Rise Up movie, with John Mackey and Kate Maloney whose method and movement is to bring together key thought leaders and change-agents to collaboratively evolve a bold new Integral vision of Success, rooted in the entrepreneurial values of Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up, and Evolutionary Love.
Layman Pascal is joined by Dr. Marc Gafni, the co-founder of the Center for Integral Wisdom and the author of multiple books and essays on integrative spirituality and spiritual activism. Marc presents his vision of what a planetary politics could and should be, and together they explore the question of AI and the enormous challenges manipulative algorithms pose not only to informed voting, but to sensemaking in general; the emergence of techno-feudalism; the problems with voting protocols rooted in rivalrous dynamics, and the possibilities for liquid democracy or a synergistic democracy; the viability and role of nation states in a globally interconnected and interdependent society; the dynamics of intimacy, and the importance of shared first principles and a shared story; and much more.
Dr. Marc Gafni is a visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher, and author of ten books. He is the co-founder of The Center for Integral Wisdom, and a rabbinic lineage holder in Bible, Talmud, and Kabbalah. He self-describes as a “citizen” of both Integral World Spirituality and classical Hebrew practice. He has been an editor of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice on issues of Integral spirituality and a faculty member of J.F.K. University. In 2014, Dr. Gafni co-initiated the Success 3.0 Summit and Rise Up movie, with John Mackey and Kate Maloney whose method and movement is to bring together key thought leaders and change-agents to collaboratively evolve a bold new Integral vision of Success, rooted in the entrepreneurial values of Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up, and Evolutionary Love.
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 brilliant dialogue, Dr. Warren Farrell, Dr. Marc Gafni, and Dr. Kristina Kincaid discuss the newly published Think Tank Book A Return to Eros, the #MeToo Crisis, Shame, Male and Female Role Models, and the much needed new sexual narrative that the book offers.
Transcript of the Dialogue
I am delighted to be here with Warren Farrell and Kristina Kincaid. Kristina Kincaid is my co-author and partner in this wonderful book that’s actually behind Warren there, A Return to Eros. Maybe Kristina will show us a copy of the book as well, awesome. And Warren is a dear friend of ours and a board member of the Center front of wisdom, which is our think tank that’s committed to evolving the source code of culture itself. Both in terms of scientific issues, economic issues, business and relationships, Eros are the social structure and fabric of our society. And we’re in the middle of this incredibly poignant, potent powerful and painful moments, which we’ve been talking about at the think tank for 70 years.
Which is the crisis of sexuality in the culture and the crisis of Eros. Right? The crisis of identity, right? The fact that there’s not a genuine narrative of identity, of purpose. There’s not a genuine narrative of sexuality, we don’t have a real universe story and finally, there’s no narrative of power. So four narratives that are missing, a narrative of power, of identity, of sexuality and a universe narrative. A narrative of meaningful universe itself. And in that absence, right? Every manner of the dogs of hells are loosed, right? Because of course sexuality is the single most powerful force that we meet in our everyday manifest world and yet we live in this world, where postmodernity has deconstructed all distinctions around sexuality.
And yet we sense the centers gravitas. It’s not quite like eating, right? And yet we have no distinctions around this gravitas, we have no rules of consent, we have no narrative of sexuality. And so Kristina and I, had that really delight when the think tank sponsored this project deeply. Right? To actually engage for a number of years and in authoring this book of A Return to Eros. Like it is the radical experience of being fully alive … That’s the full title of A Return to Eros – The radical experience of being fully alive – Sex, love, eroticism in every dimension of life. And in some sense we could say that a return to our Eros is the best response we think available today, to this me too moment.
I and so perhaps Kristina perhaps will begin with you, any thoughts you have on just A Return to Eros in response to me too. A Return to Eros, why it matters to you, right. Your just initial thoughts then we’ll go to Warren, right? We’re just to talk about the book and why the book matters. And why it actually has the capacity and to really change the source code, to really change the conversation. So Kristina.
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
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.
from the Mystery School of Love 2015 and the forthcoming Online Course “God Is Eros”
Some Statements by Dr. Marc Gafni in this video:
Guilt means I did something wrong. Shame means that I am wrong. Shame is the root of all evil.
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In best sexual moments, the meaning of life is self-evident.
Sexual shame is the experience that I cannot come home in the sexual.
The start of the Irak war was directly related to our sexual confusion.
The video ends with an invitation to a practice:
Explore how the sexual has influenced your life by writing your own sexual sacred autobiography.
God Is Eros: Seven Tastes of Sexing with Marc Gafni
In order to create the bright future that we yearn for, we need a bold vision of the deepest and most Outrageous LOVE that will prompt us to “be and become” the greatest possible version of ourselves.
The key to our joy and personal fulfillment is to engage erotically in all areas of our lives…
Discover the Secret of Eros in Order to…
- Experience pleasure, adventure, and freedom in your life
- Live passionately in your life, all of your relationships, and the work you do in the world
- Return to innocence but on a whole new level
- Cultivate an enlightened sexuality that enhances your ability to live more powerfully in all areas of your life
- Receive the power to live epically & be powerful in the face of challenge
Watch this teaching by Dr. Marc Gafni as our special gift from our Online Course on Reclaiming Eros:
Some of the themes Marc Gafni covers in this video:
- The lineage of the “Einstein’s of Consciousness”
- King Solomon, his wives, and the Temple in Jerusalem
- The Raiders of the Lost Ark – The Ark of the Covenant
- The Practice of Jewish Yoga
- The Talmudic Story of the Poisoned Cookies
- Temple Consciousness and Sexuality
- Eros in Exile
- Reclaiming Eros = Reclaiming Temple Consciousness
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.
From Mystery of Love by Marc Gafni:
The greatest crisis of our lives is neither economic, intellectual, nor even what we usually call religious. It is a crisis of imagination. We get stuck on our paths because we are unable to reimagine our lives differently from what they are right now. We hold on desperately to the status quo, afraid that if we let go, we will be swept away by the torrential undercurrents of our emptiness.
The most important thing in the world implies wisdom master Nachman of Bratzlav, is to be willing to give up who you are for who you might become. He calls this process the giving up of pnimi to reach for makkif. Pnimi, for master Nachman, means the old familiar things that you even hold on to, even when they no longer serve you on your journey. Makkif is that which is beyond you, which you can reach only if you are willing to take a leap into the abbys.
Find your risk and you will find yourself. Sometimes that means leaving your home, your fathers’ house, and your birthplace, and traveling to strange lands. Both the biblical Abraham and the Buddha literally did this. But for the Kabbalist the true journey does not require dramatic breaks with past and home. It is rather the journey of imagination.
“If I don’t live on my edge, I lose my aliveness. If I don’t take my Unique Risk, I will take risks that are not mine to take.” – Marc Gafni at the Summer Festival of Love 2015
Words of Appreciation from the Summer Festival of Love
After the Summer Festival of Love, some of the contributors shared their experiences in a private email thread. We are happy to have their permission to share these Outrageous Love testimonials with you!
Dr. Kristina Kincaid, Director of the Outrageous Love Project at the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Director of the Integral Evolutionary Tantra Institute in New York City, wrote this Outrageous Love Letter about the Festival:
Hello Outrageous Lovers!
I had the profound honor and wild pleasure of participating with a most astounding team of Holy Rockstars standing audaciously together supporting Marc as the Living, Breathing, Alive, Aflame, Awakened, Dharma as he liberated Eros, in front of a crowd of over 250 people! WOW!
This is not a polite essay or an endorsement, but a mystical testimony…
The story of the holy snuff box
A beautiful story retold by Marc Gafni
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.
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.
”Do you remember, asked Master Israel, how you went around to all the congregants giving snuff to everybody?” Yossele, now spellbound, could only nod silently. “Well there was a beggar in the back of the room, lying lifelessly on a bench. You said to yourself – just for a second, ‘Why should I walk back there for him? He can come up to me to get his snuff.” Yossele was overwhelmed as he recalled for the first time that fleeting thought. “Well,” continued Master Israel “that beggar hadn’t eater for three full days. If only you knew how much he needed that pinch of snuff! He was so inside of his prayer that the heavenly gates were wide open… listening to his every word, his every sigh.
“When the holy angels saw that you did not walk back and give this holy soul some snuff, that was it – they were enraged! They decreed you should lose all your money and that the beggar should become wealthy instead of you. Well, that beggar is now the wealthiest man in your town.”
At this point, Yossele’s contrition turned to anger. “You mean that beggar has all of my money? What chutzpah! How do I get it back?”
“Actually, you can get it back,” answered Master Israel with a twinkle in his eye. “If you can find a time when you ask him for a pinch of snuff, and he refuses, at that moment all of that lost wealth will be returned to you.”
From Shalom Mountain Wisdom School teaching by Dr. Marc Gafni. Transcribed by Adael Bullock.
Divinity is not only the infinity of power; divinity is the infinity of pain. It is the infinity of tears. Divinity at its core is the infinity of intimacy. The infinity of intimacy feels your pain and doesn’t relegate it to separate self. Is there part of your pain and my pain and all of our pain that comes from an obsessive grasping in the realm of separate self? Of course. Is that unnecessary pain? Of course. And can we liberate from that pain by awakening? Of course. That doesn’t end the story of pain. That ends the unnecessary pain in the world. But then, there is the legitimate and the real pain that comes with being incarnate. That is where the Christ consciousness got it better than the Buddhist consciousness. The Christ consciousness didn’t say there is no pain; the Christ consciousness said, I die for your sins. That is a very different move. That is not the same spiritual move. One is, “life is suffering” because your mind is fucked up, so unfuck your mind, and you will not suffer – the 4 Noble Truths. The second is, suffering is so fucking intense, there is nothing you can do, so I am going to die for you.[Read more…]
To be a person of Torah, to be enlightened, is to live from the inside. To be an insider, to feel ”” oh my God ”” I have a place. It’s important that I exist. I am called uniquely to do something in the world that nobody else in the world is capable of doing except myself. The experience of my irreplacability is the beginning of my joy. The experience of my replacability is the beginning of my depression. Life is about finding out, disclosing, revealing that I am an insider.[Read more…]