Dr. Michael Beckwith is the Founder and Spiritual Director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational spiritual community whose Sunday services in Culver City, California regularly draw 4,000 people. In his own words, “My aspiration is that every individual who is touched by the vibration of Agape is inspired to cultivate a heart of love as wide as the world.”
Rabbi Marc Gafni, now President of the Center for Integral Wisdom was then the Founder and Spiritual Director of Bayit Chadash, an international holistic movement rooted in, though not limited to, the Jewish Tradition. As Rabbi Marc shares, Bayit Chadash is “A new home for ancient souls.”
Rev. Michael begins the dialogue by sharing some of the history of Agape, as well as a few memorable anecdotes from his college years. It was, after all, as a young man studying psychobiology that his spontaneous recognition of “the Presence” first appeared—not to mention a host of other things that you wouldn’t want to tell your professor about. Now, decades later, Rev. Michael is redefining the term “higher education,” and he goes on to give some of the latest updates about the brand-new Agape University.
Rabbi Marc then turns the dialogue towards love. As he shares, the popular notion is that love is something that “happens to you”—like getting hit by lightning. Going on, he introduces the Kabbalist notion that love is not simply an emotion that happens to you, but is a deep spiritual perception that one can enact. Specifically, Reb. Marc is referring to a very high form of love, where one can perceive the nondual interconnectivity of all things, and all persons. As he points out, not only can this perception spontaneously drop upon you—”arousal from above”—but it can be actively engaged through practice (thereby transforming a state experience into a stage competence).
Ken takes a moment to situate the conversation in a kind of broader theoretical (AQAL) framework. As he explains, one of the great contributions of postmodern thought was its understanding that there is no such thing as perception, only perspectives. In the manifest world, there is no such thing as “pure perception,” because all perceptions are necessarily situated in the perspectives of the sentient beings in which those perceptions are arising. And, not only can one take a first-, second-, or third-person perspective on any given occasion, but the level of development of the individual taking those perspectives will fundamentally determine what the content of that occasion will be. Bringing it back to the current conversation, if someone isn‘t able to perceive, say, Divine Love, it‘s because they either aren’t open enough to access that perception as a state, or they aren’t developed enoughto access that perception as a stage.
Make no mistake about it, these three souls are exploring today’s spirituality; and in so doing, are touching the face of tomorrow. From the leading edge of Spirit’s own unfolding, an edge that appears to be nothing less than integral, what does it mean to describe the contours of Spirit?
Touching the Face of Tomorrow. Part 1. Perspectives, Perceptions, and Loving God.
Touching the Face of Tomorrow. Part 2. The Many Domains of Ministry.
Touching the Face of Tomorrow. Part 3. The Three Faces of God.
Stream the audios here: