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 Joe Perez

Everyone knows the human individual is autonomous, a separate being in itself. Not so fast, says evolutionary biologist David P. Barash of the University of Washington, writing recently in "Who's in Charge Inside Your Head?" for the New York Times. Drawing on research into parasites which alter the consciousness of their victims, Barash says:

It may be distressing to those committed to “autonomy,” but such manipulators [as Echinococcus and Dicrocoelium] have inherited the earth. Including us.

Take coughing, or sneezing. It may be beneficial for an infected person to cough up or sneeze out some of her tiny organismic invaders, although it isn't so healthful for others nearby. But what if coughing and sneezing aren't merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses? Shades of zombie bees, fattened mice and grass-blade-besotted ants.

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The Center for World Spirituality is very pleased to present a new dialogue series on Unique Self featuring Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni. In this first clip (about 26 minutes), Marc and Ken each offer their own introductions to the Unique Self concept. Thereafter they discuss some of the contemporary context of the teaching which sets the stage for the conversation to follow.

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. Marc and Ken began discussing the idea of perspectives and Unique Self back in 2004. For more context, see Intellectual History of Unique Self and Unique Self Timeline.

Marc originally sourced the notion of enlightenment plus perspective in Hebrew mystical texts and Ken brought to bear the postmodern and post-postmodern notions of perspectives.

From this emerged one of the core Unique Self formulas that Ken refers to in the beginning of this dialogue. For both Marc and Ken, perspectives were foundational. Together, in a series of groundbreaking conversations, they clarified and evolved the Unique Self teaching. Listen to the audio and read a partial transcript:

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In the teaching of Unique Self, the whole/part, autonomy/communion paradox is finally clarified.  The Unique Self teaching allows us to create right relationship between whole and part, autonomy and communion.  This right relationship is the absolute key to joy, creativity, meaning and peace.

The separate self is an illusion.  Every separate self is really part of a larger whole.  To realize oneself as part of a larger whole is to be sane.  This is the ultimate communion.  At the same time, the part is not absorbed in the larger whole, but is a distinct, unique part with reality and dignity.  The unique part has its own Eros and eternity, which is precisely the Unique Self.  This is the ultimate autonomy.

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self (p. 144, 145)

Buy Your Unique Self at Amazon

In order to identify our unique selves (in theistic terms – soul prints) and to respond to the voices that call us to meaning we need to first experience the world as meaningful. One of the great cries of modernity is that it all seems to be a house of mirrors. The image of the house of mirrors indicates our feeling that there is no core essence in the world; rather all is a grand joke, an illusion, a house of mirrors in a cruel carnival. Life too often seems absurd. Nothing really matters. ”˜Absurdus’ means ”˜fully deaf’ in Latin. So often we moderns, strain mightily and often vainly, to hear the call or sense the innate purpose of being.

I believe that any thoughtful person has house of mirror moments, maybe even house of mirror years. In the end however life is a decision for meaning. There are only two choices in life. Either everything is meaningful or nothing is meaningful. If choosing to be Mother Teresa instead of Hitler is meaningful then everything is meaningful. If remembering my son’s birthday matters then everything matters.

Marc Gafni

Prism

Photo Credit: Jason A. Samfield


By Marc Gafni

Every evolved culture and every evolved individual may realize Unique Self when True Self awakens to its Unique Perspective. An early expression of this equation is sourced in pre-modernity in the great teachings of the Kabbalists. For these masters, the sacred text of the Torah is the word of God. Yet, paradoxically, in Hebrew mystical teaching a human being who is deeply grounded in True Self while fully incarnating his or her own uniqueness, also speaks the word of God!

Human insight HOWEVER is considered the word of God and, given the status of Torah, only when it derives directly from the clarified unique perspective of a human being who is connected to the ground of True Self. In this radical teaching the supreme identity between the human being and the godhead is only realized through the paradoxical portal of radical human uniqueness. Irreducible uniqueness, the full inhabiting of unique perspective or voice, is revealed to be an absolute quality of essence.

In modernity and especially in post-modernity, the early realization of the Kabbalists in regard to the primacy of perspective takes center stage. There is an emergent cultural realization, placed front and center in Integral theory, that perspectives are foundational. But in post-modernity perspectives have to often been used as the key tool of post-modernity's deconstructive project. The sentence used to deny all truth is “that's just your perspective.”

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Stephen King

Stephen King

By Joe Perez

Patriotism is often taken as the virtue of virtue by conservatives (and by politicians posing as conservatives to win right-wing votes). Mitt Romney, for example, has made patriotism the centerpiece of his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, his campaign, and his attacks against the president Barack Obama as "apologizer-in-chief" for statements made overseas admitting to the imperfections of the United States.

On the other hand, liberals and progressives have often demonstrated an allergy to patriotism and some of the things associated negatively with it (xenophobia, ethnocentrism, simple-minded acceptance of the ruling party, foreign policy aggression, etc.). It's almost as if patriotism is a litmus test dividing the ethnocentric from the more worldcentric views of the world.

But this isn't quite that simple. An Integral approach does not tell us that patriotism is good or bad, more developed or less developed. It tells us to honor all the ways of relating to patriotism that contribute to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And when talking about patriotism, it is the case that progressives who can honor patriotism often make the best case for its virtues, and conservatives who argue against the downsides of patriotism are often its best critics.

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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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... and Reclaiming the Higher Obligation and Joy of Your Life

by Dr. Marc Gafni

Notes on an Emergent World Spirituality based on Integral Principles.

Hi Friends, I am writing you from the road. Traveling, meetings to unfold the World Spirituality movement based on integral principles, teaching, and much more. I am delighted to be alive and to be writing to you.  I am thinking a lot of these days about how to  harness the fire of your Evolutionary Creativity.

Here are some thoughts about creativity which come from deep within the Source Code of our emerging Integral world view. What a delight and privilege it is to participate with you in the evolution of consciousness. What a wild and holy privilege it is to have this conversation with you. One of the things this blog will make clear is the trajectory of emergence from Unique Self to Love to Evolutionary Creativity.  As we connect the dots, the eros and ethos of the Great World Spirituality Awakening story comes into view. So here we go.......

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Your Unique Self: Giving Your Gift ”” Dr. Marc Gafni -- Audio Transcript

Bert Parlee: Marc has an incredible breadth of wisdom and knowledge, not only in the spiritual traditions, but his doctorate is from Oxford, he's a scholar, speaks various languages, and the way he weaves stories, drawing from all streams of life that he brings into his very embodied organic teaching style. Welcome Marc.

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by Leyna Roget

Terry Patten is a firecracker of a teacher, and yet every bit of the exuberant knowledge he imparts on us is lined with love. For him, integral living is about formulating a commitment to the social framework of humanity through raw honesty and integrity. Patten leads us in a series of yogic moves to enter into the sacred space of our bodies. Our three body centers (head, heart, center) are the three faces of God through which we can awaken to the ”˜I AM-ness’ of the divine and one another. We tap each limb of our body alive and our mind and heart follow.

Patten has such a poignant way of recognizing the mind-body connection as integral to realizing our full life force – individually and collectively. Through ”˜involution’ our human, personal experience is accessed and is able to evolve, because really, our ”˜involutionary given’ is that we are human AND humanity. With the birth of the cosmos, the big bang (or ”˜holy yes’ as Patten puts it, haha) “evolution is a single story line that unites all of human knowledge”. Maybe the big bang knew what it was doing because once we came to be complex forms of life we were able to see the process by which we came to be. So, evolution has become self aware through us, and we are witnesses to our involution of self. Think about the universe having the gift of life, but not realizing it until billions of years later. Now think about your birth and being written a check by the universe, totaling the infinite sum of your worth to the world, and now, to be present means cashing it in yourself for all you have always been worth. OMG.

It wasn’t enough for Patten to be enthusiastic in his delivery, there was a certain amount of tenacity to his urging us to “make a contribution, be a part of that which is a healthy human adaptive response to this moment”¦anything less than that is unacceptable and you know it in your heart”¦you have to find a way to validate your own existence”. Amen. What’s the first step to validating our BEING-ness? “Be willing to feel all of it un-buffered, and be seen in it” – in that gritty, scary, revealing, shameful, beautiful, honest, unique you.

Patten gets to the heart of this breathtaking dialogue by asking, “what does it take for us to be real with one another”¦to touch and be touched”¦to be trustworthy?” This leads us into a series of group exercises that entreat us play and share in a space of vulnerability, with interpersonal communication anchored in love. We sit intimately close, in circles of four people. Being utterly present, we take rounds to concisely address a single question or statement: How are I feeling? … What is something that will allows others to know me better? ”¦ What I’m ashamed of is ”¦ The tension I’m living with is ”¦ A commitment I’m willing to make right now is”¦ Wow. What a remarkable exercise in letting down your guard and TRULY getting to know people! We connect through these fears, evolutionary questions, and the desire to take our “involution” seriously.

I’ll forever cherish the challenge to take a chance with presence by “being dangerously real” and “listening with a beginners mind”. We are reminded to author and narrate our divine reality. Patten’s invigorating approach to human / humanity wholeness is energizing. What happens matters, what you do matters, in this moment – own it!

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 Leyna Roget

We’re still at that settling in stage of the retreat, which makes our morning yoga/meditation courtesy of Mike Brabant a refreshing, group energy bonding experience. Not to mention, a little comedy with your down dog never hurts, as we fan out our palms into ”˜alien hands’ for stability. Marcy Baruch greets us this morning, appropriately setting the tone for togetherness with her melodic words, “I am the space behind I am”¦we are the space behind we are”. While we sing to honor many voices, this intimate retreat is as much a challenge to individual purpose, and in so embodies the third principle of world spirituality: growing up.

John Welwood initially coined the term “growing up” in his book Toward a Psychology of Awakening in reference to becoming psychologically whole. Marc Gafni explains, in the model of world spirituality, this description of growing up is more synonymous with our understanding of the awakening or ”˜waking up’ stage. Therefore, growing up means the ability to move through higher and higher structures of consciousness in our life. As we age we organize and understand our experience of reality through a lens, our consciousness. For example, a child will have a distinct way of connecting the dots of self and experience in this world, versus an adult. Consciousness as a structure progresses from egocentric (limiting outlook to focus mainly on oneself), to ethnocentric (identification with the needs of a specific group), to world-centric (valuing the needs of humanity). Thanks to Terry Patten’s presentation of the next stage as “cosmocentric” (empathic identification and compassion for ALL that is), I’ve just had my consciousness blown open beyond the constraints of our natural world. Ironically, many religious texts operate from a love for the cosmos perspective, but the authoring person(s) is still bound to their egocentric view so the narrative shows up through a popular ethnocentric lens.

Being a Sustainable Human Presence

Growing up is about being an awakened form of consciousness in this world, “the next expression of the human race, the homo-noetic”. What I appreciate more than anything is how no-nonsense Patten is about telling us grow up, and own up to our call as spiritual practitioners. We must honor a sustainable human presence and be “authentic to the health of the fabric of the whole human system”. Everyone is capable of breaking through to an epic life purpose, as long as they are willing. “It’s about getting right with God and the call to exemplify greatness…When we tune into the profoundly good news of our divine nature, we begin towards oneness, and concurrently discover an urgency to care for humanity with love and activism”. Every person, in their individuality, has the ability to fill in the gaps towards elevating humanity to a functioning system of interconnectedness. This feels like a YAHTZEE kind of moment!

Answering the Call of Ecstatic Love

Living in a cosmocentric consciousness is about more than just being a global citizen. Marc Gafni illustrates this point beautifully with a discussion on the concept of obligation. The Hebrew translation for obligation is “ecstatic love”. This expression of love beyond limits is how we embody the seamless (but not featureless) source code of the world. When we perceive a cosmocentric existence, it is as though we experience the world as living in us. For many in a relationship with power, the message of obligation centers on what is “right” as opposed to what is centered on love and unity. It is the demand for to fulfill an obligation that often discourages authentic action. Gafni suggests that we must reclaim power as an expression of truth and change the dimension of obligation to be innate to our awakened unique self AND evolutionary urgency. It’s quite simple, obligation is created out of genuine need, recognition of a need, ability to meet the need, and seeing oneself as the only one able to meet that need. Therefore, obligation as a stage of developmental consciousness is actually embodied in our essence. Our waking up and growing up to our purpose is really to love ecstatically. Whether you understand your cosmocentric quest as a public or private practitioner, the shift of our internal structures in living in a state of ecstatic love (or obligation), has a dramatic affect towards creating shifts in the lives of others, and the heart of the cosmic source code.

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

“To refuse the call means stagnation. What you don't experience positively, you will experience negatively” - Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

In the Hero's Journey ”˜monomyth' that Joseph Campbell discovered scattered throughout the world's mythological traditions, the journey always starts with the call to adventure. The hero or heroine, often an average unsuspecting person, is summoned to leave the safe confines of their world and journey into the unknown on a quest they don't yet understand. In the 20th century, two major motion picture trilogies- Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings- gave epic representations of the hero's journey, and people flocked to these films en masse. Why are we so drawn to these depictions of the hero's journey and the adventure of taking up ”˜the call'? What exactly is the calling, where is it emanating from, and why are we so attracted to it?  This article is an extended reflection on the nature of the call and how it shows up in our religion, our art, our culture, and perhaps most importantly, in ourselves.

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