World Spirituality Practices: Sacred Text Study – An Excerpt from The Mystery of Love by Marc Gafni

An Excerpt from The Mystery of Love by Marc Gafni

Sensuous Study – The Erotic Text

The Baal Shem Tov, 18th century founder of the Hebrew mystical movement called Hassidism, writes that the ecstatic swaying motion which is characteristic of Hebrew prayer is the swaying and rocking of the couple in lovemaking .

The Maggid of Mezritch writes that when one prays he must be aroused and become the feminine waters of the Shechina . Again the requirement is not for men or women to be sexually aroused when they pray, rather that all four qualities of the erotic modeled in the sexual, fullness of presence, interiority, interconnectivity and yearning find expression in prayer. It’s about eros, not sex! Prayer is erotic.

We are used to thinking of intellectual pursuit as a pretty dry kind of affair. And even if it excites us it is clear that the mind is the primary faculty engaged in the pursuit of intellectual depth. Well, as you might expect at this point, the myth masters of Jerusalem had a markedly different idea. For them the engagement with wisdom was a more passionate and erotic kind of affair.

Source after source speaks to the erotic nature of study through the use of sexual analogies. Elijah of Vilna, the founder of a great kabbalistic school in the latter part of the 18th century, writes that one can only study if one has an ever chai, a throbbing phallus . Clearly the sage of Vilna did not mean that one has to have an erection when one studies. It’s about eros, not sex! What he was suggesting is what I refer to as the textualization of eros. That is to say after the fall of the temple, the sacred study text became for the Hebrew masters one of the primary places of erotic expression. So textual study became the place where one experienced:

  • the fullness of presence,
  • the entry into the inside of a text, where student and text merge into one,
  • the yearning for divinity expressing itself in the yearning for deep understanding of the sacred text,
  • and finally the deep interconnectivity of being, realizing that all of reality is somehow expressed in the sacred word.

When the Temple was destroyed the masters knew that the holy writ of biblical myth needed to be expanded and deepened. The temple, which was the archetypal object of erotic desire in biblical writings, was no more. Where was holy eros to be found? The ingenious and revolutionary answer for the masters, whispered to them from within the folds of the tradition itself was the textualization of eros! The sacred text itself became the Holy of Holies in the temple. Every student was potentially the high priest. The text itself was regarded as a living organism whose soul could be erotically penetrated by all who loved her sufficiently. From the inside of the text the word of God could be heard and a new Torah channeled.

The model for eros is virtually always the sexual. Contemporary philosopher Joseph Soloveitchik implied but never explicated the ritualed eroticism in the Synagogue service. The Torah scroll is taken out of the ark for public reading and study. She is undressed. Her lavish coverings are removed, revealing a scroll of bare animal skin. She is then laid on the altar-like reading table and spread open. The reader places a phallic-like pointer on the spread parchment between the two scrolled sides and begins to chant the text aloud. The esoteric erotic mysteries are hidden in the most open of places.

In a tour de force the process of study is described in the Zohar much in the way the 12th century troubadours a hundred years before described their flirtation with their loves. In the romantic ideal of courtly love, though, the beloved remained forever beyond reach. In the more hopeful image of the Zohar, the lover ultimately merges erotically with his beloved. {The text, like most medieval texts is written from a male perspective. New mystical texts need to be written today by women manifesting the Goddess.)

The Torah is like a beautiful woman, who is hidden in a secluded chamber of her palace and who has a secret lover, unknown to all others. For love of her he keeps passing the gate of her house, looking this way and that in search of her. She knows that her lover haunts the gate of her house. What does she do? She opens the door of her hidden chamber but a crack and for a moment reveals her face to her lover, and then hides it again immediately.

Were anyone with her lover, he would see nothing and perceive nothing. He alone sees it and he is drawn to her with his heart and soul and his whole being. He knows that for love of him she disclosed herself to him for one moment, aflame with love for him. So is it with the word of the Torah, which reveals herself only to those who love her. The Torah knows that the mystic (hakim libba, the wise of heart) haunts the gate of her house. What does she do? From within her hidden palace she discloses her face and beckons to him and returns forthwith to her place and hides. Thus the Torah reveals herself and hides; she goes out in love to her lover and arouses love in him .

…Only then, when he has gradually come to know her, does she reveal herself to him face to face and speak to him of all her hidden secrets and all her hidden ways, which have been in her heart from the beginning. Such a man is then termed perfect, a ‘master,’ that is to say, a ‘bridegroom of the Torah’ in the strictest sense, the master of the house, to whom she discloses all her secrets, concealing nothing.

The image in this text and the other sources cited above both in regard to prayer and study are clearly erotic and not sexual. That is to say, the sexual is quite literally not only a metaphor for, but as in this last image, also a model for the fully erotic. To say that the Zohar’s description is accurate is superfluous to anyone who has ever engaged a text in the serious and exciting business of holy amorous play.

Courting the Sacred

When I sit down to prepare a teaching the process goes something like this. First is the attraction. I generally only teach that to which I am attracted. There has to be an almost unquenchable longing to explore the subject. Second it be fully present in the impassioned pursuit, in the investment of energy and attention, in learning its contours and plumbing its secrets. Finally on the good days, there is the ecstatic merging with the wisdom, when all the disparate piece fall together in an elegantly interconnected whole. I once had such a romance when preparing a series of talks on the topic of laughter.

I had decided to give a lecture series on laughter , a topic that had always fascinated me. To prepare, I gathered my ancient texts into a friend’s apartment in the old city of Jerusalem. I barely emerged from the apartment for three days. I read source after source but somehow it did not make any sense to me. Ancient sources are very much unlike the modern essay. The modern essay is too often ‘a lot that holds a little.’ The ancient Hebrew wisdom sources are koan-like in their quality and are usually ‘a little that holds a lot.’ Moreover you can only understand them if they decide to let you inside. So I danced with them and flirted. They teased me, lead me on, but then demurred, and withdrew. Somehow it wasn’t clicking.

Finally, after three days, I arrived at two in the morning very tired and about ready to give up. ‘No, not just yet – one more time,’ I said to myself, ‘and if not, I am through with this topic.’ And as I slowly, gently read the text for the last time, it was as though light, a soft white light, illuminated the room. The words seemed to read themselves and a single elegant sentence offered herself to me. And then thunder and lightning and wild erotic ecstasy as the text dropped veil after veil until she stood naked before me in all of her sensual splendor. I was on the inside of laughter. All the sources organized themselves in an instant and unfolded beautifully as two distinct forms of laughter distinguished themselves in my soul and mind. Side issues which had troubled me gently untied their knots. And then, not more than six or seven minutes later, it was over. I was spent but happy.

But the story is not quite over yet. Exhausted I gathered my books and after sitting for awhile walked to the old walls of the city to find a cab back to my own apartment. I got into the cab and the driver, Ari, wanted to talk. Truthfully, a quiet ride would have worked just fine for me, but such was not what the universe had in mind.

“So what are all those books about?” Ari asked. I knew I could not share with him the whole story so I said nonchalantly said , “Just books I was studying.”

Undeterred, he pressed on. “Well what were you studying?”

Having little choice I answered, “I was trying to unpack the ontological and existential essence of laughter.”

Now usually that is a conversation stopper. But Ari was undeterred; he went right on. “Laughter – the essence of laughter – that’s easy. My grandmother told me about that.”

At this point, I was both bemused and interested: bemused because I just spent three days in intense erotic encounter with this idea and to think he can just throw out a few word about such a profound topic, well…. And yet interested, because I know that grandmothers are often wise and almost always worth the effort of listening. And to my chagrin, even as I half expected it, he did it. He articulated in different words, in his grandmother’s name, that great sentence of illumination that I had experienced but an hour before. Tears gently rolled down my cheek. It was much more than the affirmation of an idea. I knew that God was in me. I felt completely loved and embraced by the universe.

Everything I have described to you has nothing to do, and yet everything to do, with sex. I promise you that during this entire story, the sexual was absolutely the farthest thing from mind. And yet the process of study was no less than loving courtship leading to intimacy. Sex models the erotic; it does not begin to exhaust the erotic. At least for a few seconds on that night, I was on the inside of God’s face in the Holy of Holies between the cherubs.

World Spirtuality Music: Elliott Ingersoll

Integral Psychologist and Associate Academic Director for CIW Dr. Elliott Ingersoll also is a singer/songwriter and creator of “FreeThought Folk Music” which he performs throughout Northeast Ohio. His CD “American Infidel” was released in 2013.

Some of his music could be referred to as humorous adaptations of World Spirituality Themes. Listen to two of his clips here and find more of them on his Soundcloud Channel.



Elliott Ingersoll is a licensed psychologist and clinical counselor in Ohio. He is professor of counseling/counseling psychology and “Distinguished Faculty Member” at Cleveland State University. His research interests span a broad spectrum including psychopathology, mental health diagnosis, psychopharmacology, and spirituality in counseling and psychotherapy. He has authored or co-authored six books and dozens of peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on mental health related topics.

Elliott has been inspired and influenced by the Free Thought movement of the late 19th century and particularly by Robert Green Ingersoll, a leading freethinker of that time. He believes the most important skill for a human being is critical thinking seasoned with compassion.

He has worked with Ken Wilber and the Integral Psychotherapy Team at Integral Institute since 2004 developing the Integral Psychotherapy approach. Integral Psychotherapy draws upon all validated psychotherapeutic approaches to help clients deal with psychological symptoms or live more fulfilling lives by removing barriers that come from living unconsciously. As an Integral Coach, he helps clients take action through motivation, methods of inquiry, and assisting clients in using the Integral Model to achieve their goals and improve their lives.

Ken Wilber: An Excerpt from his Foreword to A Sociable God

It is common to look at social evolution in terms of the various modes of techno-economic production, moving from foraging to horticultural to agrarian to industrial to informational (what I would call the lower right quadrant, or social systems). By supplementing that analysis with a focus on worldviews (which move correlatively from archaic to magic to mythic to mental to global), A Sociable God was able to make a series of predictions that have held up quite well. One was that the breakdown of civil religion (as discussed by Robert Bellah) would leave American culture open to several trends, including a retrenchment and even resurgence of fundamentalist religion, as well as regression to narcissistic New-Age agendas and intense self-absorption (a resurgence of Romanticism in ist unhealthy forms).

It’s not hard to find corroborative evidence for both of those in today’s culture. But another, riskier prediction involved the fact that beyond the rational-egoic (and centauric) level is the first stage of postrationality, referred to in A Sociable God (somewhat unhappily) as the psychic level, which supports a panenhenic nature mysticism. The prediction was that the most widespread, popular themes of a newly emerging spiritual orientation would therefore involve panenhenic nature mysticism and Gaia worship, along with a considerably reinterpreted shamanism, focused on ecological consciousness and gross realm unity. More than I imagined, this has become the case.

On the one hand, this is altogether salutary, coming just in time, one hopes, to help stem a certain ecological catastrophe wrought, not by modernity per se, but by typical human greed, a greed which–most definitely present from the time of archaic foraging, but which at that time had not the means to express itself globally–finally found a way, by hijacking the fruits of modernity, to make itself suicidal on a global scale.

Alas, with this resurgence of nature mysticism has also come the standard, correlative distrust of all higher mystical states, including deity mysticism and formless mysticism. These are, as always, misinterpreted by panenhenic enthusiasts to be “other-worldy” and therefore supposedly anti-earth, anti-Gaia, and anti-ecological, whereas they actually transcend and include all of those concerns. But the nature mystics have often come armed with venomous words for souls who seek yet deeper and higher occasions, and I believe it will be decades before this particular fury runs ist unpleasant course.

It was by focusing on a developmental and evolutionary view of consciousness that these books (especially Up from Eden and A Sociable God) were able, I believe, to contribute to an understanding of these various movements. Toward the end of this period I began, not so much to question the evolutionary model, as to appreciate both its strengths and its weaknesses. In particular, studies in developmental psychology were already starting to suggest that development does not proceed in a linear fashion through a series of discrete ladder-like stages. Rather, overall development seems to consist of numerous different developmental lines or streams (such as cognitive, moral, affective, psychological, and spiritual) that progress in a relatively independent fashion through the basic spectrum of consciousness. If we simplify the spectrum of consciousness as going from preconventional affects (e.g., narcissistic rage, impulse gratification), conventional affects (belongingness, care, concern), postconventional affects (universal love, global altruism), and post-postconventional affects (transpersonal compassion, love-bliss, Kosmic care). Likewise with cognition, morals, needs, psychological (or self) development, and spiritual development (considered as a separate line), among many others.

Each of these developmental lines or streams traverses the same basic levels or waves, but each does so in a relatively independent fashion, so that, for example, a person can be at a very high level of cognitive development, a medium level of interpersonal development, and a low level of moral development, all at the same time. This shows how truly uneven and non-linear overall development can be. A massive amount of research continued to demonstrate that the individual developmental lines themselves unfold in a sequential manner–the important truth discovered by developmental studies. But since there are at least a dozen different developmental lines, overall growth itself shows no such sequential development, but is instead a radically uneven and individual affair. Moreover, at any given time a particular individual might show much growth in one stream (say, psychological), while showing little or no growth in others (say, spiritual). None of this could be explained by a single-stream evolutionary model, but all of it made perfect sense according to a levels-and-lines model (so-called phase-3).

Read the whole foreword>>>

Key Media on World Spirituality

The Emergence of a World Spirituality based on Integral Principles

Listen to Ken explain why the World Spirituality Project is one of the most important emergents in the world today.

Note: As of 2014 we have changed the name of our organization from The Center for World Spirituality (CWS) to Center for Integral Wisdom (CIW). The World Spirituality Project is now one of the (if not THE) most important projects at CIW.

“The emergence of a World Spirituality based on integral principles is one of the great and urgent invitations for the evolution of consciousness in our time. The Center for World Spirituality is leading the way in this bold adventure. I am honored to be active as part of the leadership of CWS. I am convinced that over time CWS has a pivotal role to play in the evolution of consciousness through the development and dissemination of a World Spirituality based on Integral principles.”

The Future of Spirituality and Religion

In a series of two dialogues, Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni discuss with Harville Hendrix, who together with his wife Helen is the founder of Imago Therapy, the Future of Spirituality and Religion–while working towards a coherent vision of World Spirituality based on Integral Principles.

Listen to the first 10 minutes of their first dialogue here:

To listen to the whole series, click here>>>

Integral God

One of the key components of a World Spirituality based on Integral Principles is to evolve our notion of God.

“The God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist. The mystic God is dead. So, let that God go.” ~ Marc Gafni

In a series of dialogues, Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall and Dr. Marc Gafni were talking about how God appears differently at different stages of consciousness.

Dr. Marc Gafni starts the first dialogue by setting up the meta-question:

As we’re trying to develop a world spirituality based on Integral principles, one of the key ideas we have is this distinction between what we call ‘wake up’ and ‘grow up’. Wake up refers to waking up, the way we use the words, waking up to states of consciousness. I wake up to a higher state of consciousness, for example, a state of consciousness in which I realize that I’m not separate from everything, but I am part of the seamless coat of the universe. I move beyond my limited identification with what Gregory Bateson called “my skin-encapsulated ego” and I access a larger sense of my identity. And that has all sorts of implications in terms of how I look at the world, etc.

This is material that you are all, of course, very familiar with, and Wyatt has taught many times, I’ve taught many times, and we’ve lived in our lives. That’s waking up, and that is what’s often called enlightenment. That’s classical enlightenment. So Shankara, the major teacher of Vedanta, particularly Advaita Vedanta, is all about this kind of awakening. And whenever you hear terms like liberation, awakening, selfinquiry, who are you really, it’s always about this. So that’s waking up.

But one of the things we’ve realized is that waking up isn’t sufficient. You also need to grow up. To grow up refers not to higher states of consciousness, but to higher structures of consciousness, to higher stages of consciousness, to higher structure stages of consciousness, of the kind that were so beautifully described by Jean Gebser in his kind of breakthrough work, by James Mark Baldwin in his earlier work where he talked about the different stages of consciousness in the three major lines of the aesthetic, the moral – the good, the true and the beautiful – and the scientific. Baldwin talked about the aesthetic, the moral and the scientific, and about clearly different emergent levels of consciousness in each one, much like we would use the terms from Kohlberg’s research – egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric, cosmocentric – which are different levels of moral consciousness, Piaget, who talks about different levels of cognitive ability, from concrete operational to formal operational, which is his highest level.

So the other part of world spirituality is not just waking up, but growing up, growing up to higher and higher levels of consciousness, and at each level of consciousness God appears differently. So if we would take, for example, the model of Spiral Dynamics, which is one model that you and I have talked about before, which is the Graves model which is the source of it, that Dr. Woodsmall who is with us is really one of the world experts, not only at this model, but he’s actually evolved it, deployed it, integrated it with other material which gives it an enactment, but which is all beyond this conversation. Dr. Woodsmall is one of the leaders in the world in evolving this material to a whole new level, which we’ll get to hear about in the coming weeks.

Stream the first 10 minutes of the first audio dialogue here:

Listen to the whole series here>>>

Read more about Integral God here>>>

The Second Face of God

In this dialogue, Ken Wilber, Sally Kempton, and Marc Gafni–co-founders of CIW–talk about the Second Face of God, God in Second Person, the God as Beloved with whom I can have an I-Thou Relationship.

Perspectives of Waking Up, Growing Up and Showing Up

Unique Self Enlightenment and Mondo Zen

In this second dialogue from the Enlightenment Conference, Junpo Roshi and Marc Gafni take us into the worlds of their respective teachings and the perspectives of Waking Up, Growing Up, and Showing Up.

In Dialogue with Buddhism: An Intimate Conversation

John Welwood and Marc Gafni: The Phenomenology of Unique Self

John Welwood is an American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author, known for integrating psychological and spiritual concepts.

Teachings of World Spirituality

In this series from 2010, Marc Gafni welcomes you to World Spirituality! People all over the world are stepping away from their ethnocentric view of the world and becoming global citizens. They are understanding themselves in the larger context of the world and viewing themselves in a wider spiritual context. This the Spirit’s Next Move. This is the beginning of a World Spirituality.

Watch these ten videos from 2010 about the emergence of a World Spirituality:

For more videos on World Spirituality, click here>>>

Ken Wilber: A Spirituality That Transforms

From Ken Wilber’s “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

Let [an awakening] start right here, right now, with us–with you and with me–and with our commitment to breathe into infinity until infinity alone is the only statement that the world will recognize. Let a radical realization shine from our faces, and roar from our hearts, and thunder from our brains–this simple fact, this obvious fact: that you, in the very immediateness of your present awareness, are in fact the entire world, in all its frost and fever, in all its glories and its grace, in all its triumphs and its tears. You do not see the sun, you are the sun; you do not hear the rain, you are the rain; you do not feel the earth, you are the earth. And in that simple, clear, unmistakable regard, translation has ceased in all domains, and you have transformed into the very Heart of the Kosmos itself–and there, right there, very simply, very quietly, it is all undone.

Wonder and remorse will then be alien to you, and self and others will be alien to you, and outside and inside will have no meaning at all. And in that obvious shock of recognition–where my Master is my Self, and that Self is the Kosmos at large, and the Kosmos is my Soul–you will walk very gently into the fog of this world, and transform it entirely by doing nothing at all.

And then, and then, and only then–you will finally, clearly, carefully and with compassion, write on the tombstone of a self that never even existed: There is only Ati.

Read the whole essay.

Being and Becoming: Beyond Peace and Into Peace – Article on patheos Public Square

This article by Dr. Marc Gafni was featured on patheos Public Square in January 2015.

“Ignorance is not clueless; it is insightful, but only partially so. Ignorance is to take part of the story and make it into the whole.”

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the patheos Public Square on Best Practices for Peace in 2015. Read other perspectives here.

In Buddhism, there is a beautiful articulation of mystical realization called peace. It is called One Taste. One Taste means that underneath it all, there is a unified field of awareness. This One Taste is not only eternal, it is eternity itself. It is unchanging radical presence that is both the ground and substance of All-That-Is.

What does One Taste feel like? What does it taste like? Christian mystic Thomas Aquinas reminds us, citing King David in the Psalms: “Taste and see that God is good.” What does this good taste feel like? It feels like peace, stillness, bliss, ease, sweetness, elixir of honey, unconditional love, detachment, profound depth of calm, richly textured silence of presence. In the depth of I am awareness, all is exactly as it needs to be, and nothing could or should be any different than it is.

This is the good promised by most guides on the spiritual path. This is the intention of the Buddhist teaching that invites you to take refuge in the Buddha. These promises are real and true, however, they simply are not the whole story of peace. To teach them as the whole story is spiritual ignorance. Ignorance is not knowing nothing. Ignorance is not clueless; it is insightful, but only partially so. Ignorance is to take part of the story and make it into the whole.

Two Tastes

To experience peace you must paradoxically experience urgency. Let me explain. There is not One Taste but two, which are but two faces of the One. The Second Taste is not eternal and unchanging. Rather, it is dynamic and changing every moment. The Second Taste is not just peace, bliss, and quiet. It is wild, filled with cacophonies of sound, color, and texture, and makes the most beautiful, roaring, piercing music that you could ever imagine. It is not just silence; it is the eloquence and gorgeousness of great speech. It is not unconditional sweet loving, but passionate, stormy, and wild loving that makes uncompromising demands, even as it gives uncompromising gifts. A changeless reality that is absolute quiet and stillness—this is One Taste. Changing the world, the surge of emergence that begins with the big bang, makes loud and often raucous noise—this is the Second Taste that is grounded in, and moves beyond, the First Taste.

World Spirituality Music: Spirit IsReal

Project Spirit IsReal is about taking ancient Hebrew prayers and combining them with music and rhythms from all over the world: Indian Varanasi, Middle Eastern Sufi, trance, and chants from Brazil are just a small portion of the wide variety of musical influences in the project.

These prayer songs have been sung in delight over the last few years by spiritual communities in Israel.

The cultural richness is expressed by the many different instruments: sitar, sarod, kalimba, cello, lira, ney, zurna, tablas, African and Middle Eastern percussions combined with sublime vocals… and more. The musicians and singers taking part in Spirit IsReal are well-known and have successful careers in Israel.

This album crosses all boundaries. It is a moving and exciting ethnic/spiritual album that will bring joy to all who listen to it.

The Story of the Project Spirit IsReal

This project was envisioned and initiated by Marc Gafni in 2003.

He turned to Gabriel Meyer whom Marc had invited to share space in creating the beautiful energy that became the Kabbalat Shabbot and Shabbot morning prayer during the first two years of the movement in Israel that was know as Bayit Chadash. Gabriel and Marc co- led several dozen prayer services over a several year period of time. The key architects of the cd were initially R. Marc, Gabriel and another member of the Sheva band in Israel.

Marc had nothing to do with the musical dimension of the cd--being neither a musician nor an arranger nor a singer, although he loves to sing chant and pray.

Initially Marc picked the songs for the cd with Gabriel based on the songs which had become part of Kabbalat Shabbot services which they co-led. Marc shared Tora Dharma on the cd and wrote a booklet of Torah and stories to accompany it which goes which each cd.

The lay person whom Marc asked to oversee the project was no less than the infinitely talented and profound Israeli singer and record label owner Suzy Rogovin. Susy oversaw every stage of the project. Suzy has been a good friend, student and close advisor of Marc for over a decade.

She has joined the Board of CIW in 2014.

Suzy’s taste and elegance created the beautiful packaging of cd. At the end of the process, at Marc’s request, Suzy actually stepped in and saved the cd which had run into budgetary plans by buying it and adding it to her record label Primary Music.

Greetings from Marc Gafni

To each and every person reading these words:

All I want to do at this moment is to give you the biggest hug in the world. I want to invite you―with so much honor and gentleness―to remember that you are totally beautiful and gorgeous; that you are infinitely special; that you have a ‘Soul Print’―a way of laughing, living, loving, and being in the world that is yours and yours alone. I want to invite you to live that ‘Soul Print’ … to live your true story in its deepest depth and to know that when you are Yourself … Your lips literally kiss and merge with the lips of God. This is the great secret of the Kabbalah; when you are in your story, your heart opens and you have infinite space to receive the story of everyone else. When you live your story … the angels, the trees… the Seraphim and “Hayot Hakodesh”… all of reality sings in ecstatic joy. This is the secret of Shabbat expressed in these songs; let go of all the masks, peel away all of the costumes, and know that you are literally one with God… And know that the path to that ultimate union with the divine is no less than the infinitely unique and gorgeous story of your life. I promise you, in the name of all of the generations, in the name of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel that: “Every place you have been you needed to be,” that… You are beautiful… You are innocent…and every time you fall, you fall into God’s hands.
With huge love and hugs,
Marc Gafni

Listen to two songs of the CD (Courtesy of Board Member Suzy Rogovin and Primary Music):


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Welcome to the World Spirituality Project

What is World Spirituality based on Integral Principles?

What is the difference between World Spirituality and a Religion?

What is the difference between World Spirituality and Interfaith?

What is the difference between World Spirituality and Perennial Philosophy?

What is the difference between World Spirituality and Evolutionary Spirituality?

And why should we care?

What does it mean for me personally on a very practical level?

Some Key-Distinctions

There are six key distinctions which help to define World Spirituality based on Integral principles.

1. It is not Interfaith — When you consider the impetus behind it, it is arguably lacking in depth, rigor, and passion. It is sometimes said that interfaith dialogue connects Jews who didn’t believe in Judaism with Christians who didn’t believe in Christianity.

2. It is not perennial philosophy – In the work of Frithof Shuon, Gerard Heard, Huston Smith, and other perennial philosophers there are shared depth structures of meaning that all world traditions hold in common. This approach moves beyond surface structure disagreement (rituals, creeds, beliefs, etc.) and finds common depth structures. Although this is a correct, profound insight, it has a major weakness. Perennial philosophy misses the fact that all the Great Traditions are pre-modern in origin, arising in ways that have been criticized as regressive, ethnocentric, homophobic, exploitative, anti-feminine, and anti-Earth.

3. World Spirituality is perennial philosophy in an evolutionary context – It receives the deep structures of the traditions accessed by the Eye of Spirit, and it experiences meaning as evolving. Drawing on the best insights of modernity and post-modernity, it embraces the evolving context of depth structures.

4.There are two major ways in which World Spirituality relates to the Great Traditions: (a) translineage, and (b) the “dual citizen”. In the first option, the practitioner makes a translineage commitment to practices and obligations belonging to more than one tradition. In the second option, the practitioner is committed to one tradition, but does not identify exclusively with that tradition. The dual citizen transcends and includes affiliation with traditions while bringing on board the insights of interfaith dialogue and the perennial philosophy.

5. World Spirituality includes and transcends Evolutionary Spirituality – There is an evolutionary impulse living in you to which you can awaken. This core insight of evolutionary spirituality is embraced by World Spirituality, but in a manner which is not just for the élite. There are modular practices for wherever you are which are more mainstream and populist than envisioned by evolutionary spirituality.

6. For the first time in history, World Spirituality is required.

A) We need a global spirituality because our challenges are global.

B) We’ve been able to gather shared depth structures of truth. We have access to sacred texts and living teachers teaching outside of one tradition exclusively.

C) For the first time in history, there is a critical mass of people at a level of consciousness which is worldcentric. They are not only identified with an immediate circle, but with a global context.

Evolution rises to meet the new emergent of World Spirituality. We have a shared vision of spirit. What unites is greater than what divides us. Sharing a common matrix is essential to the evolutionary response that is facing us today.

White Paper: The World Spirituality Unique Self Vision of Dharma, Lineage, Students and Teachers

by Kerstin Zohar Tuschik

Abstract & Introduction

In this article, I want to elaborate on the concept of “Dharma, Lineage, Transmission, and the Student-Teacher Relationship” in the specific way these words are used in my World Spirituality community and specifically by the initiating teacher of the community, Dr. Marc Gafni. Marc has infused the word “Dharma” with a series of meanings which have become self-evident in our community. Because Marc has not yet written about his expansion upon the meaning of “Dharma” for the broader public, I have felt that it is necessary to do so.

The Unique Self teachings that Marc has brought into the conversation are now changing the way that enlightenment is experienced and taught around the world. In my perception, the power, love and clarity of his teaching and transmission of Unique Self enlightenment has been so profound that now, in many enlightenment circles around the world, Unique Self thinking under a host of names is virtually a given. And that although ten years ago, Unique Self Dharma was still unheard of in the enlightenment world. While this (often unconscious) adoption of the core teaching of Gafni’s Unique Self Dharma is an excellent achievement and a necessary and gorgeous step for a cogent meme to become mainstream, I find it—for the many reasons that I will discuss in this article—very important to give honor to Marc Gafni’s original inseminating work and transmission as well as to the lineage(s) that he is part of and whose wisdom he is embodying and evolving.

I, myself, have come a long way from studying cognitive concepts and maps, methods of self-transformation and healing, to studying and embodying a comprehensive dharma. The insights and discoveries I want to share with you in this article have also occurred along with the transition from being a devoted and passionate student of the Dharma to becoming more and more a teacher and lineage-holder of the Dharma myself. Specifically, I have been teaching, sharing and representing Unique Self Dharma in the German-speaking world, which in turn has deepened my own studies. So, let me share the frameworks that I have encountered and that have worked or not worked for me in relation to the teacher-student-relationship and in relation to the “Dharma.” These discernments are I believe critical for what my teacher Dr. Marc Gafni calls the “post-postmodern integral reconstruction project” which is so profoundly needed in our post-postmodern world.

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