– in Response to an Invitation of the German “Integrales Forum” in 2011

Thank you for your kind invitation to comment on the Integrales Forum position paper in regard to teacher-student relations. First let me congratulate you on this paper, which serves to initiate this important conversation. This topic is a worthy one in need of urgent address on many levels. Let me also commend your excellent deployment of the Integral framework in discussing these issues. It is the use of the Integral framework that allows for this discussion to hold the necessary complexity, multiples perspectives, and nuance that it deserves.

In broad terms, I agree with your conclusions in terms of the need for some essential standards in regard to spiritual teachers. Clearly we are all aware of the most horrific abuses that take place in the context of some pre-personal cults, as well as of some of the more subtle forms of psychological manipulation, financial dishonesty and sexual abuse that take place in these same contexts under the fig leaf of the teacher-student relationship for the sake of the dharma. To protect the potential victim and shield the powerless from the whims of the powerful is a core obligation of any community.

At the same time, as you indicate in your paper, much discernment is needed in this conversation to assure that the teacher-student function is upheld. For indeed, without this teacher-student function, both the transmission of wisdom as well as the personal and collective enlightenment of the interior face of the cosmos would be severely impaired. The teacher-student function is essential for these evolutionary goals.

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Idea Seed Banks, the “Nous Arc,” and the “Great Library”What do we need to give “our children” so they can prosper and grow into their highest potential—even though we don’t know what kind of challenges they will face in their lives?

That’s the real question underlying this beautiful talk by our Academic Director Zak Stein.

Watch and listen to this fascinating thought experiment:

What would be a “seed bank” of ideas that—if preserved—would allow us to recreate civilization from the ground up, in case humanity survived some sort of an apocalypse?

Playing off of Noah’s Arc, Zak calls it the “Nous Arc.”

Engaging in this thought experiment a bunch of questions arise:

  • Who gets to decide what should be in there?
  • What should be the content of this “Great Library?” or in other words:
  • How can we assure that we give the next generation everything they need?

The Need for Meta-Theories

In order to engage these questions, we need Meta-Theories. What are Meta-Theories?

While theories take the world as data, Meta-Theories take theories as data. Meta-Theories norm the norms of discourse.

Listen to this exciting 20-minute talk and learn:

  • What a new legitimate model of teacherly authority and intergenerational transmission could be
  • How our image of the ideal human looks like that we can teach into
  • Why we need a theory of Cosmos and Self
  • Which educational environments we need to create—in contrast to the informational environments that are stressful for most nervous systems

Enjoy the talk:


From an unedited draft of the forthcoming book Towards a New Politics of Evolutionary Love
by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Zachary Stein

Dixit-Motiwala-unsplashThe core structural principle from Integral Meta-Theory involved in the formation of a Unique Self Symphony is the scientific principle of self-organization. The idea of self-organization is according to many the single most important scientific idea to emerge in the last sixty years. It exists at every level of reality and across all four quadrants. While many scientific accounts focus only on self-organization in systems and structures in biology or cybernetics (i.e., Lower-Right reductionism), there is a whole history of work in psychology and social theory dedicated to modeling how minds and cultures are complex dynamical systems, that evolve and self-organize in remarkable ways.

Multiple scientific fields, when held in an Integral embrace, tell us that self-organization is a basic principle of reality at all levels. Most forms of evolutionary emergence are a function of this ubiquitous tendency of all life and matter toward self-organization. This leads to the idea of an inherently creative cosmos, always evolving and organizing at higher and higher levels. Throughout the evolution of the world it appears that self-organization is often catalyzed via the leveraging of uniqueness. When you look at the emergence of complex processes in nature that display remarkable forms of self-organization, such as an ecosystem like swamp or rainforest, they are always complex symbiotic systems in which there are an endless number of unique niches.

This is why one of the core ideas behind the new politics of outrageous love is enabling self-organization at the level of human culture. So we must ask, what enables self-organization at the level of human culture? The answers is clear and in keeping with both the best of what we know about evolutionary theory and the best of our ideas for political and personal Enlightenment: the catalyst of self-organization in human socio–cultural systems is the Unique Self. Paradoxically, this means that the “shape” every human needs to assume in order to contribute to the creation of a healthy social organism is unique. Strange as it may sound, a just and healthy society needs to “socially engineer” for uniqueness, especially the institutions that shape human personalities and self-understandings: schools, news media, entertainment industries, computer technologies industries, etc. The whole social system would be like an incubator for uniqueness.

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Summer Festival of Love, marc gafni, dr. marc gafni, gafni, love, summer festival, center for integral wisdom

From Zak’s Blog:

Finally, after years of work, my doctoral dissertation turned book is printed and for sale!

Here it is on Amazon. Some of it can be viewed via Google Books.

Social Justice and Educational Measurement is part philosophy of education and part historical-critical narrative of standardized testing practices in the United States. It represents years of reseach and collaborations with some of the greatest minds in the field of education. The book seeks to provide valuable frameworks and practices for teachers, students, and parents, as well as educational activists, scholars, and policy makers.

Here are some blog posts where I excerpt various sections of the book:

– Rawls on Civil Disobedience

The Inefficiency of Inrustice

– Democratic Schools and The Future of Testing

Read more…

Academic Director of CIW, Dr. Zachery Stein has been interviewed by PatternDynamics founder, Tim Winton.

“Zak and Tim discuss complexity, how to see it, how to manage it, and the power of values aligned with a ‘systems view’ in creating a more generative humanity. Zak is Chair of the Education Program at Meridian University. He received his Bachelor’s from Hampshire College, and his Master’s and Doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Zak co-founded Lectica, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting social justice through the reform of large-scale standardized testing, where he worked for over a a decade. Zak’s publications have bridged topics in the philosophy of education, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and psychometrics. He has recently completed a forthcoming book: Social Justice and Educational Measurement: John Rawls, the History of Testing, and the Future of Education (Routledge 2016).”

In the recording, Tim and Zak discuss the following:

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The goal of an “integral psychology” is to honor and embrace every legitimate aspect of human consciousness by embracing what is true in each of them. This portal on the Center for Integral Wisdom multi-plex presents an integrative view of consciousness, psychology, and therapy.

The rise of an Integral Psychology is one of the greatest invitations of the century. It draws on pre-modern, modern, and postmodern psychological models to find patterns which are healing, transformational, and integrated in a model that includes mind, soul, and spirit.

The psychological models also include interior and exterior distinctions, levels or structures of consciousness, typologies, and states of consciousness. Integral Psychology is the understanding that we have this great new source of wisdom in the world which emerged.

There has been a huge contribution to thought in the past couple hundred years with Freud but also with our new understanding of the human mind which says that we hold in our conscious selves what we make unconscious, including the early drivers (wounds) that shape our personality and deconstruct the vital eros within us.

Integral Psychology offers maps, each of which offer a set of healings or techniques to return the human being to fuller human existence, a more effective being and becoming.

Each of the 11 or 12 major schools of psychology has a somewhat different map of existence, of the human mind, and distinct suggestions for what the best method is for transformation. What Integral psychology seeks to do is to recognize what is true in each of these seemingly exclusive models. Specifically, it recognizes that each of them is true but partial.

Each school of psychology speaks to and addresses a different level of human existence or consciousness. All of them are healing and need to be integrated into the healing wisdom of humanity.

In trying to evolve a global ethic for a global civilization, we need to integrate them into a seamless psychological model that includes all the elements of mind, soul, and spirit. Likewise all the interior and exterior dimensions must be included.

Finding the best practices of all the schools of psychology is one of the great invitations of this century.

In the Integral Psychology portal you find media, essays, and blogs on Unique Self & Psychology, Unique Shadow, Integral Psychology, and much more. Enjoy!

Whose Measures, Whose Future?

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

I’ve placed the relevant excerpts from the paper below: Stein, Z. (in review). Desperate measures: the global crises of measurement and their meta-theoretical solutions. Paper prepared for the 4th Biannual Integral Theory Conference, Sonoma, CA. July 2015. [pdf] [pdf_slides]

Global Crises of Measurement: Whose Measures, Whose Future?

To help gain an overview the situation with regards to post-modern planetary measurement infrastructures, I’ll follow a common trope in critical meta-theory, from Habermas (1973) and Bhaskar (1993) to Harvey (2014), and talk in terms of a series of crises. What follow are best understood as crisis because they are systemic, endemic, and signal a need for deep structural transformation (in the strictly Wilberian (1995; 1999; 2006) sense of the term, as a need for vertical structural transcendence and reorganization). All of these crises are interconnected, ricocheting between the system and the lifeworld, and around the quadrants and planes of social being. I cannot detail each of the six crises here due to limitations of space, so I offer only overviews and allusions.

Economic crisis: poverty, inequality, and econometrics

It has been known for some time that GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is a simplistic misrepresentation of the health of any national economy; it is also a poor index of cultural modernity, human rights violations, and democracy (Sen, 1982). Yet GDP continues to be discussed in a serious manner and continues to drive national economic agendas. Similarly, most representations of profit, the so-called bottom line, are also gross simplifications of what makes a company valuable. In both cases a simplistic quantitative index is use in summary, and in place of richer qualitative analysis, or even just a more complex quantitative analysis with multiple parameters.

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Zak Stein

Ken Wilber, Integral Theory, and The End of The World as We Know It

by Dr. Zachary Stein

zakThese 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.

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Dr. Zachary Stein, the Center for Integral Wisdom’s Academic Director, gave a powerfully insightful and informative talk at our 2015 Board Meeting about his main research subject — metrics. Dr. Stein and this talk were introduced by Dr. Marc Gafni, and followed by a Q&A session.

Some questions he addressed:

  • The surprising ways that metrics influence our everyday lives
  • How metrics can enable or eradicate uniqueness
  • How simple metrics can support our personal evolution

Listen here:


by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 6)

Two Faces of All That Is

This is the animating impulse that moved eastern spiritual teaching, motivated by love, to seek to free you from the illusion of separate self. Their great mistake was to jettison Uniqueness along with separateness by conflating the two in a way that was both unnecessary and wrong. This confusion of separateness and uniqueness forgot that you could be both part of the whole and a distinct part at the same time. The recovering of that memory is essential to healing the fractured and broken self. The dignity of the part can be held even as your are connected to the whole. You are part of the seamless coat of the universe. Seamless, but not featureless.  You can transcend your exclusive identification with your part nature, the ego, even as you identify with the larger whole. But that does not mean that your unique part nature is absorbed in the whole. Rather, it is integrated in the seamless coat of reality without compromising its unique features.

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by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 5)

God in the First Person:

“All at once I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored cloud. For an instant, I thought of fire and immense conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next I knew that the fire was in myself. Directly afterward there came upon me as sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is on the contrary, a living presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have an eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal, that the cosmic order is such that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world, of all worlds, is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain.”

~R.M. Bucke

God in the Second Person addressing man:

I will be united with you in marriage forever

I will be united to you in marriage through justice and righteousness

I will be united with you in marriage through overflowing love and compassion

I will be united with you in marriage in complete trust

And you will erotically know the divine

Hosea the Prophet: 2: 21- 23

Only someone who lacks both of these realizations can identify all that is as merely a process or impulse. Realization teaches that the all that is expresses as a process or an evolutionary impulse, but that God is process plus personal, not process minus personal.


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by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 4)

It is precisely this fellowship of prayer and prophecy, which we might refer to as the second face of God. In this pointing out instruction, God in the first person would be the face of god you feel flowing through you in meditation. God in the third person would be the face of God reflected in your radical amazement at the wonder and infinite intelligence displayed in every nook and cranny of existence. God in the second person is in the mystery of the encounter between God and Man. A relationship of intimacy is revealed between the finite and the infinite.  All of the infinite power, glory, and intelligence of the first person and third person of the divine were felt and revealed as relationship in the second encounter between the prophet and God. The precise flip side of prophecy is prayer. In their essence, they are the same. Both are expressions of the fellowship between man and God. The difference is simply this. In prophecy, God initiates and God invokes. In prayer, man initiates and man invokes.

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by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 3)

The sense of peril resulting from direct contact with the divine ground has nothing to do with any ideas that the people are sinful or the god wrathful. It is more like the famous question of the Bhagavad Gita: “Suppose a thousand suns should rise together in the sky,” what would happen to our reality? How can the individual hope to survive contact with Source? Source incarnates all the energy and power in the Cosmos and infinitely beyond.

Presence by its very nature overwhelms all individual existence.

This strange and awesome paradox is resolved not by theory, but in the very experience of the encounter itself. The living presence of the divine “which is the suchness and substance of all that is” not only IS but is also FOR man. The person experiences an overpowering concern, in which they are held, cared for, recognized, and loved–within the very encounter itself. So the paradox of the encounter is that it is, on one hand, overwhelming and at the same time radically affirming. The individual is rendered powerless, almost lifeless before the divine, even as the individual is enlivened and empowered.


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by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 2)

The most powerful expression of this realization is in the prophetic encounter with the divine mystery. This encounter runs like a thread from Abraham and Sarah to Moses, Miriam, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the larger legions of prophecy. As America’s second president John Adams has already noted, the best of everything Western man knows about freedom, love, ethics, and responsibility emerges from the great encounter between the finite and the infinite.

The Encounter with other marks the emergence of the pre-personal slumber. The baby encounters other even as the emergent human being who experiences his separate self turns to other. The  encounter–relationship–is born as the central dynamic of human existence.

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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.

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