by Barbara Marx Hubbard
One of the most dangerous problems we face in the world is extremism on behalf of belief. In many cases, extremists convince themselves that another faith or political system or individual is ‘evil’, and that they are justified in destroying them by any means necessary. We see this tendency, with tragic consequences, in the political sphere. We are now seeing it the so-called spiritual world. People who claim to be apostles of higher consciousness see no problem with trying to destroy others without due process, open dialogue, non-violent communication or the possibility of resolving differences with compassion, forgiveness and healing. Even more problematically they often hide their hidden agendas under the veneer of victim advocacy. The spiritual world is not exempt from malice. Malice, as Milan Kundera reminds us, “must never admit of itself so it must always plead other motives”.
This kind of behavior is terrorism. Violence of this sort is very hard to respond to creatively without becoming a terrorist yourself. Yet we have to say NO! to terrorism of any kind, including our own.
With this in mind I am called forth by my sense of justice to stand against the recent extremist process of cyber-attacks, initiated by a leader in the evolutionary spiritual community against Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom. Using his marketing skills and a carefully orchestrated cyber campaign, my former colleague Stephen Dinan has written a series of letters, blogs and articles filled with factual distortions, subtle and gross smears about Gafni, turning the same attack process against anyone who stands with Marc or considers working with him.
Stephen runs a lucrative online network, The Shift, which creates profits and fame for dozens of teachers. Many of these teachers depend on him for a major part of their livelihood. Most of the teachers who have signed onto Dinan’s petition against Marc have business ties of one form or another, or outright financial dependency on Stephen. Many of them have signed without knowing Marc personally, based solely on untrue claims. None of the claims are new. They are recycled versions of old claims that Marc has responded to in depth and that have been professionally reviewed by many conscious people of great integrity. You are welcome to read the Facts section of Marc’s personal website to see much of this material.
The fact is, Stephen has refused even to have a conversation with Marc, and has set out to destroy the reputation and ability to teach of a remarkable spiritual, social and evolutionary innovator.
I along with leaders of the Center for Integral Wisdom are fully opposed to any form of sexual harassment or abuse. At the same time, I equally stand against false accusations to try and destroy a person’s integrity and ability to function in the world. Those of us who know the truth of who Marc is are speaking out, for the sake of a new force in evolution, that is just as important for our world as the force we call democracy. This is about the evolution of our public culture. Those who first supported democracy were often killed for their courage. In the emergence of a fully empowered evolutionary movement, the integrity of our means and methods around conflict is crucial. The evolutionary movement for social change needs to be based on the fundamental principles of modern justice, not on regressive memes which conduct trials by internet with no opportunity whatsoever for dialogue, fact checking, due process, or non-violent communication.
I attended two Center for Integral Wisdom board meetings with about seventy five highly conscious men and women, leaders in business, spirit, and education who were in attendance. As Warren Farrell said at the end of one meeting, “Marc is the only leader I have ever seen with so much personal depth, presence, and teaching ability who is able to step aside and create space for everyone to shine.”
In 2016, I became the Co-Chair of CIW, an office formally handed over to me by John Mackey, whose four-year term was complete.
Many CIW board members are working actively on evolutionary projects with Marc. These include numerous books, online courses, media projects, radio shows, podcasts, and partnered initiatives—all of which focus on furthering the vision of the center, which is to influence the “source code of culture” toward ethical evolution.
Marc is author of eleven books, including two of the most powerful that I have read. First is Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, which includes a foreword and afterword by Ken Wilber. This seminal work affirms the unique creative self within everyone and offers guidance to fully realize it. Another is his scholarly, two-volume work, Radical Kabbalah, which reveals the origins in Jewish mysticism of the modern concept that free spiritually-motivated human beings embody the Divine. Marc has also authored The Mystery of Love, which speaks for the spiritual significance of Eros as force for evolution, genius and life itself.
He has written at least three unpublished seminal works which I have read that are only now being published and is deep in the middle of the next set of writings.
In Marc’s words, the goal of the center is to create “a genuine unique self symphony, in which each unique self brings their own unique gifts to create a new evolutionary we space.”
I would urge everyone to read the response to the smear campaign by the board of the directors of the Center for Integral Wisdom and especially the fifty plus blogs by Center leaders that follow it. You will feel the quality of the conversation at the Center, which is why I was honored to succeed John Mackey as co-chair of the board.
As an elder of that movement, and as a life-long advocate for the conscious evolution of humanity, I am compelled to speak up for the integrity of our means and methods to resolve conflict.
How did this well-organized attack on Marc Gafni happen?
This is a complex question; one which will be taken up directly in the future. But, here is what I personally know.
My work with Stephen deepened during a beautiful event sponsored by myself and the Shift Network. Called “Birth 2012” to celebrate the new era of evolution.
For many years, I had been describing and teaching about a coming global shift, instigated by the crisis we are facing on Earth. I know that in evolution, crisis precedes transformation.
The question for me and other evolutionaries has been how to respond to a crisis of global magnitude, one which may possibly lead to the extinction of our species. The answer is by deepening our commitment to furthering the 13.8 billion years of evolution that’s driven us toward higher consciousness, freedom, and order. The was the deeper purpose of Birth 2012.
During Birth 2012 leaders and small groups from around the world were connected in cyber-space as we celebrated this multi-media global television event at the Agape Spiritual Center in Los Angeles.
I continued to teach about and call for a full scale Planetary Awakening in the year 2020 seeing it as a critical date.
In August 2015, I invited Marc to be on a Skype call about 2020 with my friend, Ervin Lazlo, scientist and author of over 50 books. Marc, Ervin and I had a deep and delightful conversation. I asked Marc to write up a statement of our intention. Read it here and you will I am sure be as moved as we all were: “A New Coalition Is Forming to Catalyze the Evolution of Consciousness”. Marc knew nothing about Stephen Dinan’s interest in 2020 at that time. It was a wonderful conversation. I asked Marc to post it on the Center’s site and asked Ervin and my staff to post it on our sites.
Stephen told me he was furious. I called Marc and asked Marc to remove the post. He did so immediately. This is when the process of attack against Marc by Stephen began to reveal itself.
The next step happened on September 18, 2015. I had completed a student retreat at the Shift campus in Petaluma. Stephen announced his passion for 2020 — a new campaign for International Peace Day . He said wanted me to work under him again.
I replied that I would “be his partner, but not work directly under him and the Shift”, simply because I wanted to partner with others who were already working toward this date, with many kinds of events and celebrations.
“No,” he said very severely. I HAVE THE STRUCTURE. YOU WILL FAIL. YOU MUST DO IT UNDER ME.” His intense demand for control reminded me of how he behaved during Birth 2012, whenever I wanted to bring any other distinguished person in to work directly with me.
Stephen was treating me with obvious disrespect—demonstrating a not so subtle sexism, ageism, and bullying.
I mildly said that I would be his partner, but not work under him.
As I had promised, I began to introduce people to Stephen who were interested in the 2020 possibilities. I also tried to set up a conversation for Stephen to get to know Marc. He adamantly refused even to talk with Marc. I was shocked at the virulence of his refusal to communicate. He said, “I must not under any circumstances have anything to do with him.” He then told me that it would ruin my career to work with Marc. (He did not mention that he would be the person to try and ruin my career.) He handed me a stack of old attack material against Marc.
I told Stephen in subsequent conversations that there was extensive information that refuted these claims but he refused to meet or to check any of the evidence available that countered the false claims. I implored him to meet Marc and the many powerful and conscious women around him. He refused. Later I would realize that by that time he had already set his course to destroy Marc.
I myself have personally read several hundred pages of compelling information that has been meticulously gathered over the years. It is apparent that Marc has suffered injustice in many ways. I also know that he has always been and is now available to meet in mediated contexts with any individual, check evidence, take mutual responsibility, and create peace.
Stephen then gave me the number of Marc’s former wife, Chaya Lester, in Israel as well as Rabbi David Ingber in New York City. It was clear that Stephen, Chaya, and Ingber were all in touch and connected as early as this past September. Ingber and Chaya who were involved in the attack on Marc a decade ago, were central figures in the current smear campaign.
I called them both. Ingber was highly antagonistic to Marc. Chaya told me during the conversation that she might be open to the possibility of reconciliation, but then later apparently plunged again into the smear campaign against her former husband, continuing a decade of attacking Marc. In depth response to these quarters will come I am sure at the right time and place. But for now I will say that I have read a private letter circulated about Marc in 2008 which Chaya co-authored. The level of demonization is truly astonishing and ridiculous to anyone who knows Marc. The letters is so laced with virulence and so filled with “facts” that are factually untrue that the malicious intent to destroy, having nothing to do with protecting any victims, is obviously revealed.
Meanwhile, a personally offensive element of the attack began. Stephen contacted Steven Hassan, a self-published ex-cult member who calls himself “America’s leading Cult Expert.” Stephen asked Hassan to get in touch with my daughter about an “intensive intervention.” Stephen tried to frighten my daughter to persuade her to hire Hassan (at a cost of $10,000) to protect her mother from Marc.
Stephen, Hassan and my daughter exchanged emails for several days. In the email exchange the outline of the smear campaign was clear. Marc was to be “stopped in his tracks”. The “world” would be saved from Marc. Stephen would organize a NY Times article to be the center of the campaign. The virulence of the tone was truly frightening.
My daughter forwarded me these emails from Stephen in mid October, at the same time that Marc heard from the NY times columnist who contacted Marc to do the article that was apparently intended to initiate the smear campaign. My daughter wrote me that she was being taken advantage of and manipulated by Stephen, and that Stephen’s motivation was not to protect me but to destroy Marc. She was deeply offended by what she called an action of Jihad extremism. My daughter said to me: “If anyone tried to do this to my daughter, I would have called the police! “
Subsequently, Stephen also told me directly that he was contacting the New York Times to do an article about Marc. I was dismayed and realized that he is actually trying to destroy Marc and everything Marc had built.
The Times article was published on Christmas Day—December 25, 2015—a sad day to launch the next round of attacks. This article was the first in a line of many articles, some published by the Huffington Post, others in other forums re-cycling the same old material. The attacks ignored all the material Marc had already provided which refuted the claims.
None of the key writers in the smear campaign, who appeared suddenly out of no where, and who seem to have been recruited, knew Marc. Some of them hung up on Marc’s staff who attempted to call and create dialogue or fact checking. They made many blatantly false claims about Marc. Marc was regularly referred to as a child rapist, statutory rapist, pedophile, wanted in Israel for sexual harassment and the like. Not one of these is true. False claims were written both on his Wikipedia page and all over the internet. But none of the writers who were contacted were interested in facts or any form of alternative perspective.
Let me say it clearly. I and dozens of other powerful conscious women and men who work with Marc regularly are certain that Marc is neither a sexual harasser or a sexually abusive person in any way. Quite the opposite. He is deeply considerate, honoring and graceful, even in times of the most intense pressure, which would crack a lesser person. I have witnessed this myself, as have many others, countless times.
Is Marc strong, driving, larger then life, sometimes challenging in his demands on himself and everyone around him. Yes he is. He is a big person in every way and those of us who interact with him regularly, know that he is also one of the best people we know.
There were almost a hundred attack articles, Tweets and blogs during this period orchestrated behind the scenes. Virtually all attempts to correct facts were ignored or mocked.
Meanwhile, Stephen began to call my colleagues and warn them about my relationship with Marc. They called me after talking to Stephen saying outright that if I worked with Marc they would no longer hire me or fund my projects. He called my staff and board of directors, telling them of the danger of my friendship with Marc and recommending they disassociate from me. He insisted that my staff and board keep his ‘intervention’ secret, not telling me about his conversations with them. Several of them did resign. He called people who had invited me to speak at key events with Marc, warning them to disinvite me because of my friendship with Marc.
One of the claims made by the smear campaign is that people who speak out, risk “reprisal” from some supposedly powerful force massed to defend Marc. The fact is that in the ten years these people have been agitating against Marc, there has never been any form of threat or attack from Marc or his friends. All the reprisals have come from Stephen, Ingber, and their group of activists claiming to ‘protect’ others against Marc. Their reprisals have been directed at many prominent persons, including myself, who stand by Marc. Marc’s friends and supporters have been subjected to outright and behind-the-scenes attacks, resulting in everything from ridicule to loss of funding, dismissal from professional associations, jobs, and conference centers. People have been dropped from the Shift Network and from publishers—simply because they are known to stand up for Marc.
A public example of the attacks instigated by the smear campaign, is the way that former CIW Board Co-Chair John Mackey’s company, Whole Foods, has been subjected to smear attacks because he is not willing to speak falsely against Marc. The posts attack Mackey for associating “with pedophile Marc Gafni”. There is not one word of truth in this statement yet so many spiritual leaders have stood by or joined in without any true fact checking. This is not acceptable and that is why I am speaking out on these issues.
Most recently, Stephen has crafted a cyber-attack on me, sent to all my thousands of Shift Network students saying my life would be ruined, warning them that my teaching will be destroyed by working with Marc. Perhaps he is referring to my eight books, and all of the organizations I have helped found—The World Future Society, The Association for Global New Thought, and Evolutionary Leaders. Or perhaps he was concerned about the remarkable campaign in which my name was placed, along with Geraldine Ferraro, for nomination for the Vice Presidency on the Democratic ticket in 1984, where we proposed a Peace Room and an Office for the Future to scan for, map, connect, and communicate what was working in the world. I wouldn’t mention any of this except to reveal the extent of his malice to destroy my long life of service because I choose to work with one good evolutionary teacher and friend, after 86 years of dedication to seeking the next steps toward a positive future for all.
He refuses to give me access to my students’ emails, so I could respond to his criticism and his claims directly. I want everyone to understand the depth of the problem here. I teach for Stephen and yet I have no access to the emails of my own students. So when Stephen attacks me I cannot respond and explain my position to my own students.
As I said, We are speaking for a new force in evolution itself that needs to be activated in society. This is my life-work, and this letter is an expression of that force. True evolutionary movements cannot be destroyed. Like those who first supported democracy we will not be destroyed nor will our community. We will be encouraged and reinforced by our participation in the vast citizen movement for positive change; one that does not at this time directly attempt to change existing government, but seeks to offer a “better design” that articulates common goals and matches needs with resources for the good of the greater community, as advocated so many years ago by one of my great teachers, Buckminster Fuller.
As of this week, Stephen went after the movie RISE UP, which is still in its fund-raising stage. This remarkable and important film focuses on new, more humane and environmentally-concerned visions of success. Stephen is stoking fear in some of its extraordinary cast of business and thought leaders, attempting to persuade them to drop out of the film, by concerning them that their own reputations will be attacked and by sharing the mis-information that has been spread in the smear campaign.
As I finish this letter, I want to summarize some of my thoughts.
I want you all to know that I am dedicated to working with Marc, to teaching and writing with him. Of course I recognize that like all of us has imperfections and faults.
Marc is a scholar and an advocate of spiritual/evolutionary potential for humanity, deeply imbued with the ability to communicate and inspire the evolutionary impulse. He honors and motivates people to fulfill the love and power they can each embody. There are many of us who work with him throughout the world who can attest to this experience with gratitude and deep appreciation.
I have spoken with colleagues in his teaching communities in Europe and the United States. I have worked with members of his staff and find that he is deeply admired and loved by people he has worked with for years. His gift for friendship and collaboration is a blessing in the lives of countless people.
This deliberate effort to separate us, to destroy one another is especially dangerous, activating a process of rejection without dialogue. This is a movement profoundly against the future we are all working toward.
What is needed now is not angry rejection and negativity, splitting Marc off as the Other in order to purify ourselves, but a new degree of connectivity among us that can shift the system forward toward greater complexity, freedom and synergistic order.
In the name of calling out the Shadow, Stephen and others have done exactly the opposite of what Carl Jung famously advocated. Jung described how each of us projects our undigested Shadow onto individuals and groups who serve as ‘hooks’ that reflect our own unacknowledged inner conflicts. What is the woundedness at play here that needs healing?
I am expressing my sadness over this situation and the loss of Stephen Dinan whom I considered to be a very good friend and dear colleague.
Let us seek a higher level resolution commensurate with what is being taught on Shift network such as peacekeeping, non violent communication, sacred democracy and transformation.
In conclusion I would like quote something that Marc wrote: “I want to conclude with my impossible dream: What if the result of this explosion was the seeking of a higher clarification? What if over time, all the parties could sit together, fact check, and seek genuine truth and reconciliation? Some of the key actors in this story are the same people who demand that Israel sit and negotiate with the Palestinians. I understand that demand, despite the terrorism, killing of each others’ children, and countless atrocities. Yes, Israel and Palestine must make peace. How can we demand that they make peace if we cannot, in far different circumstance, even make peace between ourselves? I am ready and willing.”
With profound determination to protect and promote humane, just, and fair behavior, and the development of Sacred Democracy,
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Also read this beautiful analysis by Dr. Clint Fuhs titled: Anatomy of a Smear: The Internet Trial of Marc Gafni