Looking for more on the wisdom tradition that aligns you with your deepest creativity? In a three-part excerpt from the long version of Soul Prints, 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 or Unique Self destiny unrealized.

You can view Part II of this essay in full by clicking here>>

You can view Part III of this essay in full by clicking here>>

Yetzer and Yetzirah: Raising the Primal Sparks of Creativity and Passion

by Dr. Marc Gafni
from "The Way of the Dragon" in the long Soul Prints.

Part I.colorful
In biblical spirituality, information about God is relevant for one reason only. Information about God is information about us. We are commanded to be little Gods – to imitate God. Just as God stood at the abyss of darkness and said let there be light, so are we commanded to stand at the abyss of our darkness and say let there be light. A little bit of light dispels so much of the darkness. Further, just as God is a creator – creating, sculpting, painting, composing a gorgeous physical world – so, too, are we invited to create, to sculpt, to paint, and to make music.
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Awakening

by Marc Gafni

Carl Gustav Jung offered a profound direction in understanding shadow. His core teaching, drawn from many sources, is that we cannot be whole human beings without recognizing and incorporating our shadow energy. Jung has an expression that he uses constantly to express this idea: “In the Shadow is the Gold.” By this, he means to say that most of what is valuable in the human personality””the gold””can be mined only from the shadow. But what does that mean, and why should it be so? It is to this all-important question that we now turn our attention. We will seek to fundamentally evolve what shadow means and how shadow work is done! At this point, I am going to unpack directly from the original tantric sources a radical new teaching on shadow integration.[Read more…]

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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imgres-7The members of the Zohar’s holy fellowship are called “Those who turn darkness to light.”

It was their profound engagement in their personal darkness which was the matrix for their radical creativity, their light. Zohar is only revealed through the prism of one’s soul print. All creativity wells from this place. In this spirit we understand Rilke’s advice to the Young Poet: “Go deep into yourself and how deep is the place from which your life flows.”

Not all of us are soul printed to write the book of the Zohar. But all of us have the creative potential to write a book of life that shines. That creative potential is our divinity. When we say God is one, we mean original. When the Hebrew mystic experiences herself as part of God it can only be through the path of her originality.  God is an original and can’t stand imitation.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy




arising-western-sunrise-togetherFrom the Erotic and the Holy by Marc Gafni:

A line, circle, shadow story from the depths of Hebrew mysticism.

Every year in the days approaching the new year, people would be awakened for the special early morning forgiveness prayer. The truth is, people were awakened at around three in the morning and came to pray while it was still pitch black. These were not the usual morning meditations. Instead, they were special prayers of arousal in which one would try to awaken oneself from more than the sleep of the night. It was a bid to awaken from the accumulated stupor of the entire preceding year. This is the primary time of the year for teshuva, the return of which we have been speaking.

With that background of the spirit, you will understand just how amazing that what happened really was. In this particular year, everyone in the town arrived late at the prayer hall and shared the same strange dream. They had dreamt that they were awakened to prayer by the Outcast. It was a strange dream, so they did not get up till it recurred again and again, finally rousing them from their slumber.[Read more…]

Photo © by John Inglis

Is it a bad idea to suggest that "lightening up" could be a good thing for someone suffering?

Some say it can be shame-inducing. Robert Augustus Masters, the passionate psychotherapist, author, and teacher of spiritually deepening practices, has made a terrific contribution to the discussion of an integral psychotherapy. Notwithstanding the many times I find his short writings on Facebook to be insightful, today I want to offer a counterpoint. One of Robert's major themes is the importance of not escaping the dark, shadowy side to human life in favor of a superficial escapism. He even coined the influential term "spiritual bypassing" for the phenomenon of using spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, and unresolved wounds.

But is this emphasis too partial? Yesterday he wrote on his Facebook page:

Advising others to “lighten up” or be more positive can be shame-inducing, however nicely we might do it. What if they need to stay with their hate or despair or depressiveness for a while? How can we be sure that they'd be better off getting away from such states as soon as possible? Perhaps at such times we are ”” through our contact with their endarkened condition ”” starting to feel more in touch with such states in ourselves, and want the other to get away from their “darkness” so that we don't have to feel our own.

That's pretty heavy. Hey, Robert, lighten up, buddy! Just kidding!

What he says is true, but it is just as valid to say that advising others to "stay in heaviness" or embrace their negativity can encourage stuckness in useless emotional entanglements, a backhanded way of encouraging *ourselves* to feel such states. The flip side of "spiritual bypassing" is "shadow wallowing."

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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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Unique Self mystics in the old Aramaic texts spoke of two paths, itcafya and ithapcha.

The higher path is called ithapcha, which means “to transform.” In the language of the mystics, it means to transform “the bitter to the sweet.” The bitter is not erased or diluted, however. The bitter becomes the pointing-out instruction for the sweet. Ithapcha is the way of the dragon. It is far more that just making peace with your “dark side.” It is the transformation of identity, which is an act of memory. You remember that you have forgotten. You have forgotten that you are Source.

In the language of one Unique Self mystic, the master Abraham Kook:

The primary transformation
Which reveals the light in the
darkness
Is that a person returns to himself
To the root of his soul
And that in itself
Is to return to God
Who is the soul of all souls. 

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment (p. 282).
Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.

Why have so many people, especially spiritual teachers, resisted the idea of Unique Self? What are the implications of Unique Self for shadow work? And how are these two questions related? The answer may be connected to a failure to hold paradox.

Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni explore these topics in this part of their Unique Self dialogue (a 12-minute clip from a conversation recorded in September 2012). The answer which emerges is that, in Marc's phrasing, there is a failure to discern the difference between egoic disassociation and disidentification. In spiritual traditions which "bash the ego," there is a risk of losing one's ability to make out the shape of the "individuated essence of the divine mind-heart which lives in you and as you."

In Ken's formulation, there is a failure to understand deeply "the infinite nature of the genuine Self and its unique nature appearing in each individual."

Listen to the audio and read a partial transcript:

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The pseudo-victim has genuine options which she refuses to action; she refuses to turn fate into destiny and cries more than it hurts. Another kind of pseudo-victim also may have some level of real hurt but more often than not the hurt is more imagined than real and being a victim is a freely chosen role which has many hidden benefits which the pseudo-victim seeks to exploit. The hidden victims of pseudo-victims therefore are real victims.

The underlying dogma of the Culture of Victimization is the location of human evil outside the human being. This belief significantly undermines the God field. The premise is simply that since human beings are naturally good, all evil must be the result of some external force which warps natural human goodness. The argument between the very many streams of thought who affirm this position is merely about which cause, external to the person, actually is the major factor in causing evil. For Marxists, it is the capitalist structure of economies and societies; for the staunch Republican it might be big government or television violence or liberals. For liberals it might be the old church or handguns or patriarchy.

”” Marc Gafni, The Dance of Tears

By Marc Gafni

I want to share with you a little dharma talk I gave earlier this year in response to the question, "What is pleasure?" If you're accustomed to the standard answer which says that pleasure is Hedonic, you are in for a surprise.

Listen to the audio below (about five minutes) and follow along the transcript provided.

What is pleasure? Pleasure is the universe caressing us. Pleasure is the feeling that the personal face of essence intends me to be held and loved and pleasured.

Pleasure reminds me that the world is sane, that the world intends and holds my pleasure.

In fact there's this gorgeous 3rd century Aramaic text that talks about the moment of transition, the moment we move from this life to the next life. There's the tunnel and the light and in all the cross-cultural appearances of this story, there's judgment. There's life review that happens.

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Workout

Photo Credit: jontunn


By Kristen Ulmer

This may surprise you, but discipline, perseverance, setting an intention, drive, the will; all those celebrated states usually taught by sports coaches, are completely outdated. Same with goal setting.

Here's why. I remember having to perform a difficult ski photo shoot while still recovering from an injury. I wanted to maintain status and sponsors so I “sucked it up” “did it anyway” “refused to give up” “pushed through the pain and fear.” Sounds powerful right?

Such willed effort is fine in a pinch: I skied great that day, but here's the problem: doing something I didn't feel like doing was the first step toward future burn out and ultimately resenting my sport.

There's a better path.

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Richard Shwartz

By Marc Gafni

In a long discussion with my friend and colleague Richard Schwartz, founder of Internal Family Systems Theory, I shared with him my perspective on the relation of Ego and Unique Self and the larger set of core distinctions that comprise Unique Self teaching. Dick excitedly concurred and added important empirical validation from his clinical perspective and sent me this written communication after our conversation:

Many spiritual traditions make the mistake of viewing ‘the ego’ as the problem. At worst it vilified as greedy, anxious, clinging, needy, focused on wounds from the past or fear in the future, full of limiting or false beliefs about you, the source of all suffering, and something one must evolve beyond in order to taste enlightenment. At best it is seen as a confused and childish — to be treated with patience and acceptance but not to be taken seriously or listened to. My 30 years of experience exploring internal worlds has led to very different conclusions regarding the ego. What is called the ego or false self in these spiritualities is a collection of sub-personalities I call ‘parts.’ When you first become aware of them, these parts manifest all the negative qualities described above, so I understand why this mistake is so widespread.

As you get to know them from a place of curiosity and compassion, however, you learn that they are not what they seem. Instead, they are spiritual beings themselves who, because of being hurt by events in your life, are forced into roles that are far from their natures, and carry extreme beliefs and emotions that drive their limiting or suffering perspectives. Once they are able to release those beliefs and emotions (what I call burdens) they immediately transform into their natural, enlightened states and can join your evolution toward increasing embodiment of your true nature, what Marc Gafni importantly refers to as correctly, your Unique Self.

Thus, if instead of trying to ignore or transcend an annoying ego, you relate to even the apparent worst of your parts with love and open curiosity you will find that, just like you, they long for the liberating realization of their connection with the divine and provide delightful and sage company on your journey toward enlightenment. In this way you will be relating to these inner entities in the same way that Jesus and Buddha taught us to relate to suffering, exiled people.


Richard Schwartz is a leading expert in the field of psychotherapy and recognized as the founding developer of Internal Family Systems Theory, an influential therapeutical model which combines systems thinking with an integrative view of the mind and its discrete qualities.

By Marc Gafni

Your state, in this case a mystical state, is always interpreted through your level of consciousness.

Hurt is a state. This is a huge insight. You need to really take it in.

Hurt is not an objective reality that gives you license for cruelty under the cover of “I was hurt.”

Hurt is a state, and it is interpreted through your stage or level of consciousness. As you evolve, your relationship to your wounds naturally shifts. More than any other single barometer, what you do with your hurt reveals to you and others your genuine level of consciousness.


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The technology for shadow integration is love. Shadow causes a transformation of identity.  Love is the evolutionary force that transmutes shadow to light.

The inner magic and mechanism of love makes it the ultimate technology of Unique Shadow transformation.  The nature of that magic and mechanism is an essential sacred understanding necessary for your Unique Self enlightenment.

In order to integrate your shadow, your unlived life acting out and demanding attention, a transformation of your identity must occur. The key Aramaic phrase used by the Unique Self masters to describe the nature of this path is be’chavivut talya milta, “It depends on love.”

Your Unique Self
(In Press)
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 265

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@centerforintegralwisdom.org

The Unique Self is the Eros, the life impulse that drives us forward. Shadow is Eros turned around against itself. By integrating your shadow, you are liberating the trapped life energy of your Unique Self. Your life energy is not generic. It is your life energy. The portal to your energy is none other than your Unique Self. Your most persistent shadow- structure is also your most abundant wellspring of energy and life. The reclaiming of life energy happens through shadow integration. Thus, the tantric masters of the left-handed path saw shadow integration as a process of revelation by which the previously hidden Unique Self””the secret mystery””manifests as inspiration and Eros.

Your Unique Self (In Press)
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 252

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@centerforintegralwisdom.org

“IT DEPENDS ON LOVE.”  In this old Aramaic phrase, “it” refers to shadow. This phrase will guide you on the path of shadow integration that the old Unique Self masters called the “left-handed emanation” or the “way of the dragon. ” The left hand implies the power of transmutation, while the right hand symbolizes the power of force. The left-handed path is referred to by the Tantric Kabbalists as Derek Hataninim, which I have often translated as “the way of the dragon ”. The way of the dragon invites not the slaying of the dragon, but rather its befriending and healing.

To follow this way is to serve and to grow through the light and energy that emanates from the darkness itself.

With the understanding of the New Enlightenment, the energy that emanates from the darkness is not foreign to us. It is none other than the displaced fullness of your Unique Self and the dis-owned freedom of your True Self. It is the energy of the radical breaking of all boundaries. You have shattered the limits of your skin-encapsulated ego, and stepped into the fullness of your distinct expression of all that is. You have realized your full identity with the divine, and all false boundaries crumble before the audacious power of your penetrating love. This is the ultimate expression of Eros.

The energy of darkness is but the pseudo-Eros of breaking boundaries in the world of illusion. When you follow the attraction to the boundary-breaking pseudo-Eros to its root, it is revealed to be the yearning for the full enlightenment of Unique Self manifestation. The coiled boundaries of separate self melt before the radiance of Unique Self.

This is the hidden intention of the old Kabbalistic koan, “The contraction of darkness is only sweetened in its root.”  The word for contraction, din, refers to your shadow.  The word “sweetness” refers to the tantric level of consciousness in Kabbalah, where light that comes from the darkness is of a higher quality than light that bypasses the darkness.

In the way of the dragon, the energy of shadow is transmuted through love.

One of the people who intuited this truth of shadow energy, even though he did not have a larger Unique Self context within which to integrate his understanding, was the philosopher Nietzsche.  He writes in his maddening and wonderful work,Thus Spake Zarathustra:

Of all the evil I deem you capable
Therefore I want the good from you
Verily I have often laughed at weaklings
Who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

Nietzsche believed that the good could never gain the upper hand unless it is infused with “the energy generated by murder.”

The poet Rilke captured the Kabbalistic consciousness of the way of the dragon in a few short lines:

Perhaps all the Dragons of our lives
Are princesses who are only waiting to
See us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
That needs our love.

Your Unique Self, (In Press)
Pages 271, 272
Dr. Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org


By Dr. Marc Gafni

I actually began to re-think the whole "meaning of life" question some years ago when I was in a hotel in Denver, Colorado. You know how hotel rooms work, there is a television, bed, a lot of towels, and if you look in the drawer next to the bed you will almost unfailingly find, at least in the United States, a Gideon bible. My suitcase with my own set of books had missed its connecting flight and I was at the hotel tired, without books and not feeling that great. And you know empty hotel rooms far from home can be the loneliest places in the world. So I open the Gideon bible.

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by Leyna Roget

I notice a succinct metaphor in working within the body today; our parts comprise a body, our awakened body reclaims participation within the network of ”˜all that is’. There is a kind of ”˜flatland’ premise that in raising children, parents’ inextricable damage their psyche so that a majority of ones life is spent equalizing those injuries. Marc Gafni begins with this example to illustrate the second principle of cultivating world spirituality: cleaning up.

Gafni redirects this theory to say that although your parents conceived you, essence has birthed you thru the vessel of your parents. Therein they are only one part of the puzzle that is your perception on this life. In seeking to find our way, we develop humility and compassion towards our parents. Then we notice the relevance of cleaning up, as relevant to our thought forms and belief systems (concrete and energetic), in order to realize the perfection of our creation. So really, from conception by our unique parents, we underwent unique challenges, which have lead us to the unique selves we are today.

Carl G. Jung introduced the term “shadow” to describe the repressed or denied parts of the Self. The practice of Shadow Work engages a “personal growth process which brings your hidden powers out of the shadow and into the light”¦and become more and more who we really are.” Gafni asserts that engaging in this evolution of consciousness is a luxury for many, and delving into the depths of one’s evil is especially undesirable. Through Shadow Work you are supposed take these repressed and denied qualities and then integrate them back into your self. In Gafni’s “reality consideration” (mind you, “not a lecture” he says, haha), we examine how integration of radical and destructive desires is problematic. These negative cravings are themselves not necessary to the whole of our experience as instead it’s the structure of the darkness that is transformative.

To simplify Shadow Work and say “follow your darkness it will bring you to the light” has dangerous implications as a broad teaching. Alternately, we consider an esoteric reference to the Book of Solomon (Chapter 2, Ecclesiastecles): “greater is wisdom than folly, greater is light than darkness” with the original translation for “than” as “that comes from”. The text becomes: “greater is wisdom that comes from the folly, greater is light that comes from the darkness”. Whoa. Right about now is when my head starts experiencing that throb of a post-strobe light flashing.

As Caplan mentioned earlier in the day, once we apply attention to something our prahna (life force) awakens to it presence, so if we clarify those things that trouble us the most we actually find the light is hidden in the darkness. Gafni connects this to mean, “if the fool would follow his folly he would be wise”. In the new enlightenment teaching of world spirituality, each person’s shadow “is a distortion of your unique, awakened self that needs, desires and wants to be lived.” The cleaning up of the shadow, therefore, makes sense in the context of waking up to the unique self. While I’m less likely to daydream about my uncomfortable, sad side, I notice that apart from a mild anxiety towards identifying my unique shadow, there is a profound excitement to uncovering potential that’s been hiding in the dark.

Leyna Roget networks with community organizations and businesses to introduce the inspiring stories of Planet Progress and the developing works of iNDIGO PROjECT MEDIA. She captures on and off camera images for Blog posts, Twitter updates, and various other engaging platforms to bring the viewer into the company’s interconnected sphere. Leyna creates new outlets and sustainable community events that invite the public to interact with iPM.

By Trevor Malkinson

“The root of our restlessness is the whole evolution of the cosmos itself. When we think about ourselves and our destiny, we can't dissociate them from the destiny of the whole universe." – evolutionary theologian John Haught

At the 2010 Integral Theory Conference, I attended a presentation by Dr. Marc Gafni where he explored the core dimensions of masculine and feminine shadow. As Gafni went through his list of eight essential characteristics of masculine energy - and their attendant shadow possibilities - an explosive series of connections started to fire in my wee brain; the penny dropped, the slot machine alarms started to sound, and suddenly a hundred drinking nights from my life started to pass rapidly before my eyes. There were beer bongs, shot gunned cans, AC/DC, road trips and hazy mornings on unknown couches. Then scenes from the cult movie Fubar started to flash in my mind too, and at once I thought I'd understood the deeper motivations of the characters Terry and Deaner. In a sudden revelation, in an apokalupsis of sorts, I realized what had so often driven so many of us to just given'r (1).

But before getting to that story, a little legwork needs to be done. Firstly, for those who may be unfamiliar, what is meant by the word shadow in the paragraph above? Generally speaking, the shadow is a psychological term for aspects of our self that have been disowned or repressed by our conscious mind. To do ”˜shadow work' is to bring this material into our awareness, hopefully relieving us from its negative unconscious disruptions and re-integrating the suppressed aspects of ourselves into the totality of our conscious being. There's a rich psychological literature on the shadow, with different schools offering differing views, and it's not my intention to summarize or evaluate that body of work. For this article, I'm concerned solely with Marc Gafni's original contribution to that lineage of thought, and the important insights that I think can be drawn from it.

For Gafni our shadow is intimately related to another dimension of his work, the unique self. Somewhere on the continuum between personal ego and eternal Atman, Dr. Gafni has introduced a third dimension that he calls the “unique self”. You might say that the unique self is the flavor and character of the eternal as it pours through our own unique constellation of characteristics and into the world as form. If we can open up and be a vehicle for the animating depths of the cosmos that run through us - if we can put ourselves in alignment with Thy will- we can express this evolutionary thrust through the unique forms and capacities that make up our own (unique) perspective. We can serve the divine with the particular form that has arisen as us; we can become, as Gafni puts it, one of the divine's “infinite faces”.

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