– 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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Wisdom for Your Week

Watch this beautiful excerpt from a Sermon with Dr. Marc Gafni at the Pacific Coast Church in 2014.

By listening to this rich talk that uses storytelling, inquiry, and sacred text reading to transmit the deep wisdom of the lineage masters, you will learn:

– Why God is not only the Infinity of Power but also the Infinity of Intimacy

– What it means to live in an Intimate Universe

– How Christ incarnated to be an expression of that Infinity of Intimacy

– Why Being God’s Unique Intimacy is our greatest Joy and deepest Obligation in our daily lives

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

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

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HeartAt this key time in history we are called to evolve and embody Love, Sex and Eros! The sexual is the ultimate spiritual master. Deep understanding of the sexual is the ultimate guide to accessing the spirit in every dimension of our reality. To be a great Lover ”” an Outrageous Lover in all facets of your being ”” you must listen deeply to the simple yet elegant spirit whisperings of the sexual.

This event is a co-production with our Teaching Center Institute of INTEGRAL EVOLUTIONARY TANTRA in New York City.

Workshop: Oct 4 – 6, 2013
Fri 7–9 (free evening session)
Sat + Sun 10–5:30

Free Dialogue Evening! LOVE, SEX & EROS
Friday, Oct. 4 from 7-9 pm between Dr. MARC GAFNI
and WARREN MOE, Director, Inst. of Core Energetics

Please download the Flyer here for info on how to register.

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imgres-3By Marc Gafni

Prayer is man pouring out his deepest need before God. Philosophers and mystics alike scoffed at this prayer seeking the more pure prayer which pleads for alignment between man and god. Such prayer is surely sacred and noble. The psalmist prays to God “A pure heart create for me God”¦.Take not your holy spirit from me.” Or in another passage the mystic yearning bursts out with full force: “As the deer desperately yearns after the brook of water so does my soul desperately after you O God; My soul thirsts for the living God. When shall I come and appear in the presence of God.”  Or in the Koan prayer of 19th century mystic Shneur Zalman of Liadi as he cries out in prayer;  “I do not want your hell; I do not want your heaven; it is you; you alone that I want.” All of these God in second person prayers whether coming from a dualist psalmist or a non dual mystic Schneur Zalman are an integral part of prayer. Yet none of them replace the core staple of Hebrew spiritual practice; the pouring of the heart’s deepest need before God.[Read more…]

Charles Randall Paul, Ph.D., is one of the most creative leading edge orthodox theologians in the world today. He is board chair, founder, and president of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on healthy methods for engaging differences in religions and ideologies, and he is currently completing two books: Fighting about God: Why We Do It and How to Do It Better and Converting the Saints: An American Religious Conflict. He is on the board of editors for the International Journal of Decision Ethics. Charles is also a member of the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality.

Today the Spirit's Next Move blog features a 25-minute audio conversation between Dr. Charles Randall Paul and Dr. Marc Gafni, director of CWS and scholar-in-residence. In this segment, Gafni establishes the essential contours of Unique Self teaching on enlightenment and Paul asks for clarification regarding its implications for Eastern enlightenment. Gafni says that unattachment is a higher integral embrace of East and West, and its general position is that nobody is entirely wrong. Every great system has its own understanding that is true and partial, he says. The great understanding of the East is that to move beyond suffering, you have to move beyond your identity as a separate self. And Unique Self retains that central insight by incorporating the teaching that separateness is the source of suffering but it is different from uniqueness.

Charles takes issue with Marc at times, as their exchange on the nature of Western enlightenment in the Renaissance shows, along a path towards a greater shared understanding. They agree that the roots of Western individualism can be traced back both to Christianity as well as the Judaism's teaching of Imago Dei, but neither religion fully escaped ethnocentrism. It was not until the Renaissance, Marc says, that the individual is given dignity qua individual without being located in a particular religious context.

Listen to the audio:

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This white paper, “Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment,” by Marc Gafni suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is the evolution of an enlightened society, with Enlightenment defined as knowledge of one’s own True Identity. Accordingly, three conclusions are drawn: First, that enlightenment is sanity and hence a necessary ingredient for all individuals, not merely for elites. Second, attaining Enlightenment does not involve denying individuality, but grasping a key distinction between separateness and uniqueness. Third, the goal of enlightenment is said to be not the evolution beyond ego, but beyond exclusive identification with ego. After these three findings, the Marc Gafi suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is essential both for individual mental health as well as planetary survival.





“Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment” was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Integral Leadership Review.

"Enlightenment is not only the province of the elite. It can expand beyond the narrow sectors of the meditation hall in Nepal or Brooklyn, or the back streets of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods where the pious Kabbalists sit and chant. Enlightenment becomes part of the fabric of every awakened life..."

Marc Gafni, from the Unique Self Video Blog, Part 8

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In the fourth segment of the August 2012 dialogue between Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni, the issues are front and center. The pandits find a common ground in their distinction between True Self and Unique Self, and its importance for changing today's conversation around enlightenment and all that follows from that. Wilber and Gafni both refer to Wilber's early writings which speak of the difference between "personal plus" and "personal minus," and find similarities to Gafni's True Self/Unique Self distinction. Marc draws a parallel between Wilber's pre/trans fallacy and what appears in his own writings as a "level one/ level three" fallacy.

One of the most interesting points is made by Ken who uses strong language to criticize the doctrine emergent from Theravadan Buddhism and forms of Western Buddhism which are heavily influenced by it. Wilber calls the philosophy a "disaster," and notes that later strains of Buddhism including Mayhana and Zen, have to one degree or another begun to rectify the mistake.

Listen to the dialogue and read a partial transcript:

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"Soul in this understanding is the spiritual nature of your separate manifest self. Unique Self speaks to a different manifest reality. It says that both your manifest and unmanifest reality are unique." Marc Gafni

The seventh installment of the UniqueSelf video series answers the question, "How is Unique Self different from soul?"

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By Joe Perez

The term 'susupti' (Hindi), deep sleep awareness, is worth knowing. The 8th century spiritual master Sankara analyzed human sleep states, concluding that there is no real existence of the self. In contrast, Ramanuja's analysis of sleep implies that there is a Supreme Self which is present even during deep sleep. The latter view is consistent, I would say, with the position of the American philosopher Ken Wilber, whose work is a touchstone of World Spirituality.

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This week we are presenting the second in a multi-part dialogue series on Unique Self featuring Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni (a series which will continue all autumn). In this second clip (about 20 minutes), Ken and Marc situate the Unique Self within the context of Integral Theory, in particular the differentiation between structures or stages of consciousness on the one hand and states on the other. They conclude by differentiating between specialness as an egoic claiming of place, which is competitive and aggressive, and a Unique Self specialness which is "the currency of connction."

Marc coined the term "Unique Self" in his book Soul Prints, and has been working to develop the Unique Self teaching for over two decades. Marc's latest book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, explores and unpacks it even further. For a timeline of the Unique Self's development, see the Unique Self Timeline.

Listen to the audio and read the partial transcript as well as some Background Material below...

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By Marc Gafni

"What's up in the evolution of consciousness in this moment in time is three components, a kind of holy trinity, what I refer to in my teaching and writing as the democratization of enlightenment. It's an emergent World Spirituality based on integral principles and as Unique Self consciousness or Unique Self enlightenment. These three emergent structures of thought, emergent structures of being and becoming, are interrelated, inseparable from each other.

What does the democratization of enlightenment mean? Democratization as in democracy on the one hand, and enlightenment on the other hand. It's the unique nexus of those two powerful, earth-shattering, mind-bending, heart-rending ideas that change the very nature of how we engage all that is. When you merge them together, something new larger than the sum of the parts emerges..."

Watch the video:

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Oak Tree

Photo Credit: Tie Guy II

By Marc Gafni

One of the simplest definitions of sanity used in the psychological literature is knowing who you are. To be sane is to know your identity, to recognize your name.

For example if I tell you that my name is Ken Wilber when my name is really Marc Gafni and I insist on being called Ken Wilber there is a fairly good chance that I am a bit insane. Or more than a bit. Because I am claiming a name not my own and I do not know my true identity. But the distance between the identity of Marc and Ken is relatively small, actually almost negligible, when compared with the vast distance between my separate self and true self.

The distance between the belief that I am but a skin encapsulated ego, merely Marc, and the knowing which literally blows my mind that I am True Self--and that the total number of true selves is one--is literally infinite. To be sane is to know that I am not merely a separate self but true self. From the place of true self, I am able to access not only my limited power, knowing, creativity, and love, but rather all of the power, knowing, creativity, and love in the universe flows through me.

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Exeter

By Kathleen Brownback

Note: This blog post is adapted from "Teaching Marc Gafni's 'Unique Self' Enlightenment in the Classroom: Reflections from a Phillips Exeter Class in Mysticism (for the annual conference of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, November 2011, Amherst College)."

A new course introduced at Phillips Exeter Academy in the spring of 2011 began with these words on the syllabus:

What we are about to explore has many names. It has been called the mystical tradition, the perennial tradition, the direct path, the path of the heart, the journey to (and with) the beloved, the practice of yoga, and the contemplative tradition. Aldous Huxley called it “the science, not of the personal ego, but of that eternal Self in the depth of particular, individualized selves, and identical with, or at least akin to, the divine Ground.” What these traditions share is the understanding that there is the possibility of union between the self and whatever we might call Ultimate Reality or God or Spirit, and that this union is primarily realized through a path of spiritual practice.

There is no possible way to make a comprehensive study of all these traditions in one term, and no need for us to do so. The main goal here is to locate various paths within the religious traditions, and to begin to understand what is meant by “spiritual practice.”

As the first teacher of this class, my main goal was to engage the students in a deeper understanding of ego development and the way in which the contemplative or mystical dimension of religion could help them both intellectually and practically as they move into their adult lives.

Phillips Exeter is a secular independent secondary school in New Hampshire, an hour north of Boston, with a 200-year history as an academic powerhouse for boys. It became coeducational in 1972 and has retained its high academic distinction, with all students headed for college and many to the top schools in the country.

The students are bright and lively and curious. But as anywhere, they struggle at times with nonacademic life circumstances that have the capacity to affect their intellectual engagement””a superficial and highly commercialized teenage (and often adult) culture, a pervasive unease about the future of their society in an era of environmental and economic challenge, and for some, personal or family histories of addiction or depression. For this reason I sought out texts and readings that were inclined to prompt questions at the interface of psychology and religion. I had the sense that these would speak to students in both an academic and a personal way, as in fact they did.

In this paper I will first describe student background and interest, then give a brief overview of the course, then focus on the work of one scholar and teacher, Marc Gafni, whose writing in particular spoke to the students in a powerful way.

In the course of the term I had to develop and articulate to myself my own changing philosophy of teaching, which I began to explore in a 2009 article in the Exeter alumni/ae bulletin entitled “In Pursuit of Truths.”

I will describe this evolution more deeply at the end of the article, but also briefly mention it here.

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Jenga

By Joe Perez

Bestselling author Seth Godin describes "the scalability of money" on his blog. He writes:

You're not half as annoyed when you get a $25 parking ticket as you are when the fine is $50.

An investment banker isn't twice as excited about a $20 million bonus as she is about a $10 million one.

There are threshholds that determine how we feel about money-related events (good and bad), but beyond those threshholds, the relationships get all out of whack. Being a million dollars in debt feels about the same as being five million in the hole.

The way you feel about more (or less) of something probably doesn't rise or fall based on how much it cost to produce that feeling.

Read the whole thing.

Here's my follow-up question: Is there something related like "the scalability of enlightenment"?

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Whirling Dervish

From Marc Gafni‘s Your Unique Self:

The creative process that mysteriously moves from nothing to something is the God-impulse. To live as your Unique Self means to align yourself with that process, with the ecstatic evolutionary impulse that initiated the kosmos, with the ecstasy of God, which re-creates all of reality in every second of existence.

Are you ready to respond to this invitation, to offer yourself to the infinite love intelligence that wants desperately to show up in the world through and as you?

Photo Credit: neil banas

Icicles

By Joe Perez

Soulfulness includes the ability to express deep and often sorrowful feeling. In tears, aspects of the soul are released from the body, flowing erotically from one soul beyond itself. Marc Gafni in The Dance of Tears (forthcoming, Integral Publishers) has even categorized three major types of tears:

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