Most Recent Blog-Posts
We are proud to announce the launch of “our WebPlex.”
This is the last time we are posting to this site. From now on you will find us here.
As you know this has been a major project of the Center for quite sometime and we are beyond delighted to finally share our web cathedral of GREAT stuff with you.
We’ve put our heart and soul into the creativity needed to build out this online library of powerful new and archival content like: videos, audios, articles, courses, blog-posts… to help you play a larger game in every area of your life.
We’ve organized the content in a simple yet fresh new way to give you access to some of our best content. There are 23 portals ranging from Conscious Entrepreneurship and Success 3.0 through World Spirituality Based on Integral Principles to Outrageous Love, Eros, and Relationships. Each one is organized on our Navigation Tree to help you find whatever interests you the most. We think you’ll enjoy exploring the various areas of our Webplex and feel excited about what we’ve created for you.
We invite you participate in our online community. All you have to do is click on one of the tiles and sign up in any portal. You’ll gain immediate access to our free membership area which means you can access our Free Membership Media here, our Blogs, and Thought Leader Dialogues, plus receive a free gift.
We also offer telecourses and other products in our Media Store along with a Premium Paid Membership Area. In addition to all our Free Membership Media, for a small monthly fee, our Premium Membership Media contains some of our best video and audio recordings of recent events as well as telecourses from our archives, some of which are only offered here.
Feeling like you want come and hang? Then join us for our upcoming events. Check out our Programs & Events Section and pencil something into your calendar. We’d LOVE to have you.
We also have more than 100 thought provoking dialogues with thought leaders from around the world who have come to engage and apply the main tenets of Integral Wisdom to their respective fields. We’re positive you’ll get something good out of these dialogues. So please, go ahead and deep dive!
For those of you interested in Eros and relationship, check out this portal. In an evolving universe, and in our evolving lives, what is the future of love and relationship? In the Conscious Eros portal you will find answers to these and many more exciting questions.
Ken Wilber, Integral Theory, and The End of The World as We Know It
by Dr. Zachary Stein
These are some reflections on the work of Ken Wilber. I’ve been studying his writings for almost half my life. We’ve met a couple times (that is Ken, Rollie, and me pictured), talked at some length on the phone, and exchanged countless e-mails. Ken’s got vocal critics and Kool-aid drinking followers. I’m neither of those. I’m more of what is sometimes called an “integral kid,” meaning I’ve been reading Ken since before I could drink legally. There is a unique kind of indebtedness to those teachers who brought you out of adolescence. But it also means I’ve grown up with, in, and out of this way of thinking. So I have a special kind of distancing and even reactivity and withdrawal from it, again, like one also has with one’s best teachers. All things considered, I think you gotta love and be fascinated by all his books…
Anyway, this is mostly just me yawning at all the simplistic and pedantic Wilber haters….
Theorizing at the edge of history
If we are going to take a step in the transition from civilization to planetization, we will need a map. Each of us carries within, an image of space and time, and this cognitive map tells us who we are, where we come from, and where we are going…. [This map is] an imaging of personal values and cultural forms…. A culture provides an individual with a mapping of time and space, but as the culture goes through a period of change and stressful transformation, the [map] becomes distorted. In periods of intense cultural distortion, the [map] becomes so changed as to be almost obliterated. Then the individual becomes lost, profoundly lost in the ontological sense of not knowing who or what he is, where he comes from, and where he is going. For some this can be a moment of terror, for others, a time of release. In a moment of silence in which the old forms fall away, there comes a new receptivity, a new centering inward, and in an instant there flashes onto the screen of consciousness a new re-visioning of the [map]. There in the receptive silences of meditation the new possibilities of time and space announce themselves, possibilities that lie beyond the descriptions of the old institutions of the old culture. This is the prophetic moment, the annunciation of a new myth, and the beginning of a new culture.
—Thompson (1977 p.14)
Philosophers work in socio-cultural contexts, under historically specific conditions, with access to certain communication technologies, libraries, and media. Ken Wilber has been publishing books since 1971, producing a corpus that spans well over 10,000-thousand pages. He has worked with the changing times, from pen and paper to word processor, to the personal computer, and eventually to Internet facilitated multi-media educational initiatives. Moreover, Wilber has worked in response to a dynamically transforming American culture during a period of tremendous global change.
Popular philosophical movements are especially symptomatic of their times. In retrospect historical moments are often best understood in terms of the ideas that thrived during them. Athenian Democracy and the Sophists and Socrates, Medieval Europe and the Church, The American and French Revolutions and the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and Darwinism and Romanticism—no trick of critical historiography could disentangle these groupings of ideas and events, these civilizational eras. What ideas will be associated with the past 60 years, the era since the start of the so-called American Century? What have been the popular philosophies in the post-industrial social systems that emerged after World War II? This question is complicated by the dynamics of the era, which witnessed explosive advances in informational technologies that enabled an unprecedented diffusion of ideas before a growing global public. It is too soon to tell, but the culture of late capitalism—post-modern culture—may very well be defined in terms of its having lacked dominant comprehensive doctrines (Habermas, 1990; Jameson, 1992). This has affected all aspects of life, from the media-saturated textures of our action-orienting self-understandings to the economic policies that structure national geographies.
By Elliott Ingersoll, Ph.D.
The word “psychology” was coined in the 16th century from the modern Latin psychologia which in turn is taken from the Greek psykhe meaning “breath, spirit, soul.” If these words signified similar things to the 16th century Greeks as they do to us you’d never know it. To sign up as a psychology major in any of the world’s mainstream universities in the early 21st century “psychology” is still described as “the science of mind and behavior.” As all historians of psychology know most of the emphasis in the last 200 years has been on the “behavior” piece. We are still “fuzzy” on the “mind” piece. If by “mind” we mean our mental experiences, sentience, and the field of awareness that these arise in we still come up short. There is growing evidence that “mind” is also a social phenomenon being sculpted dialectically by our interactions with other creatures and the environment. Also there is mounting evidence that at least the experiences of “mind” may be more affected by things like our gut bacteria than ever thought possible even 20 years ago. This may be thought of as another “interactional” dynamic. We carry more DNA for the bacteria that symbiotically work with us than the DNA of our own cells. All these interactions affecting our mental experience and what we call our “mind” seem to suggest more of a field effect than a solitary reality.
In physics, the field effect refers to modulating the electrical conductivity of a material by the application of an external electric field. I try to be very cautious about using similes from physics to discuss psychology. Here I want to relax my caution to use the simile two ways implying the “material” in the description of physics field effects is akin to our solitary experience of “mind” and the “field” in physics akin to the cacophony of situations and stimuli we are immersed in from cradle to grave. What I am pondering is whether what we colloquially refer to as “our mind” is possibly only one aspect of a vast and potentially infinite array of interactions, influences, and overlapping fields.
Ok so back to the two ways I am playing with the simile of field effect: First we know that much of our being relies on electrical activity including our brain. And we know that human brains electrically (and otherwise) entrain with other brains in the presence of certain stimuli. Some stimuli (experiences) are more entraining than others. Drumming and all music have the potential for strong entrainment as do physical activities done in groups like dance, sports, sex (imagine a dyad if the group thing bugs you here), and various “crowd phenomena like so-called “mob psychology” (and “no” this is not psychoanalysis of Vito Corleone but rather how people will do things in crowds they won’t do alone and where the increase of energy is almost wave-like in a so-called “mob happening.”).
Second I feel playing with the simile of field effect to describe “mind” is valid because we are all immersed in a series of fields whether you think of them concentrically or as an overlapping cacophony of potential influences. Part of training “mind” is discerning, focusing, and choosing from among those influences. Some are such that we can make them objects of awareness then “choose” to focus on them (for example choosing those people we will allow emotionally closest). Others are things we are totally immersed in and necessary for survival (like gut bacteria) or characterized by chaos patterns that make them more variable (crowds, things that happen to us, elements in the environments we physically inhabit).
In Personality Psychology or Psychotherapy Theory it is common to hear people describe themselves as a “community of selves.” Mind seems a similar phenomenon in that it is a seeming solitary experience that is one aspect of a vast and potentially infinite field of influences, interactions, symbiosis and accidents. In future blog entries I will discuss levels of the field of psychology in the context of Unique Self Psychology. We will also explore why “soul” keeps popping up in etymological explorations of the word “psychology.”
Integral Psychologist and Associate Academic Director for CIW Elliott Ingersoll, Ph.D. 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. Elliott 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.
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.
We wish all our readers a good and sweet year: L’Shanah Tovah U-Metukah. Read more about the cosmocentric rereading of the ritual of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday, by Dr. Marc Gafni, here>>>
In Evolutionary Love,
The Center for Integral Wisdom Team
Archives of the CIW Spirit’s Next Move Blog
Dr. Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber meet by phone regularly to discuss new thought on a wide range of topics, including the future unfolding of the Center and its initiatives.
On this note, we’d like to share a dialogue that will appear in a different form in the book: a beautiful conversation about how the evolved and awake human being engages evil and suffering.
Listen to this vibrant dialogue and read the transcript below:
John: Well, thanks Marc. It’s good to tune in with you guys today. I’m going to talk a little bit about where I think the integral framework, one of the things that it’s largely missing, is if you think about each of the Spiral Dynamics Model or the integral integration of that, each of the frameworks has got sort of a vision of success.
It has a vision of the ideal human being. It has a vision of the ideal society. If you think about, say, the blue meme framework, say, in Europe, if you have something like it particularly in maybe England, you have something like — or in America, you have the Bible as a guide. You also had Pilgrim’s Progress as a text where the ideal human being would be pious and would be striving to ensure their salvation through good works, so you had this vision of what success looks like and that framework would be obedience to God’s word and following the divine path that’s been laid out for you that will lead to your salvation.
As we move into more modernistic consciousness, modernistic framework, you have one of the early … texts, so that would be Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, as well as his way to wealth. And much of the success literature of the 19th and 20th Century is very much in sort of a modernistic framework or consciousness. It could force sort of a vision of the ideal human being, which in this case is very individualistic and oftentimes striving for wealth, for prosperity, through hard work and through savings and frugality, and through having a strong ethical code of fair trade and honesty.
Continued below the video…
The Success 3.0 Summit, this amazing gathering from October 30th to November 2nd, 2014 in Boulder, Colorado of the world’s leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and change-agents that was co-initiated by the Center for Integral Wisdom was a wild success.
Among the speakers were thought leaders like Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos Inc), Arianna Huffington (Editor in Chief, Huffington Post), Alanis Morissette (Singer/Songwriter & Activist), Blake Mycoskie (Founder, TOMS Shoes), Barbara Marx Hubbard (Author, Social Innovator, Evolutionary Thought Leader), Michael Franti (Lead Vocalist of Spearhead & Activist), Casey Sheahan (former CEO, Patagonia), Lynne Twist (Global Activist & Author), Adam Bellow (Vice President, Harper Collins), Ibrahim Husseni, Business leader, Ben Jealous (former President & CEO of the NAACP), DJ Spooky (Composer, Musician & National Geographic Emerging Explorer), Tom Chi (Innovator & Founder, Google Glass), Jack Canfield (Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul), and many others.
The goal of the summit was to articulate a new, transformative vision of conscious living, innovation, and social impact and to create a new definition of Success that can lead humanity into the future. And that was exactly what happened. The partnership between Marc Gafni, the President of Center for Integral Wisdom, John Mackey, the board chair, Kate Maloney the co-board chair and Ken Wilber the Co-Founder of the Center was so clear and beautiful that it naturally manifested this powerful event which so many people in the room felt was perhaps the most powerful event of this kind that had ever attended in their lives. I want to particularly note the love and respect between Marc and Kate that was subtle and quiet in the space but clearly lit up the room.
In the Media
About 600 people attended the event live and thousands of people watched at least part of it through the live stream. The event was wildly shared through social media with many thousand tweets on twitter alone. Gaiam TV will screen the videos of it by the end of the month. And last but not least, many of the speakers and attendees were recorded alongside the event as part of a movie that will emerge from this. So, stay tuned.
Second Simplicity of Dharma
It was gorgeous to see the many ways the Dharma of Unique Self, Eros, Outrageous Love, and World Spirituality, that Dr. Marc Gafni has been articulating and outrageously transmitting for the last several years, has played a role in this amazing happening.
Most of the speakers started to use the 6-word Mantra Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up. Dr. Marc Gafni, Visionary Scholar, Wisdom Teacher, and Co-Founder and President of CIW, brilliantly transmitted these thought forms in his opening speech. He suggested that every generation needs to participate in the evolution of consciousness. And:
“It is our turn. We are here to articulate an ethics of success that is rooted in Outrageous Love. Outrageous Love demands a new vision of success.”
He also introduced one of his key terms, the word Second Simplicity. Second Simplicity is what he calls the Simplicity that comes after Complexity. After having really grasped the complex concepts, we can get to a stage where we can express them in a compellingly simple way–thereby reaching people from all stages of consciousness. [Read More...]
Last week, our initiatives were featured in different ways in two forums: Patheos.com and the Integral Church Blog.
Interview about Success 3.0 Summit on Patheos
Patheos.com is running an interview with Dr. Gafni about the Summit–on their front page. Read all about the interior vision for the Success 3.0 Summit coming up Halloween weekend in Boulder here. Patheos is the leading religion site on the World Wide Web today with seven million unique hits a month.
At the end of October, a select group of the world’s leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and change-agents are gathering in Boulder, Colorado to articulate a new, transformative vision of conscious living, innovation, and social impact. The goal? To create a new definition of Success that can lead humanity into the future.
Leo Brunnick, co-founder and CEO of Patheos.com, invited Marc Gafni—author, World Spirituality leader, and co-founder of the Center for Integral Wisdom—to share the vision of the Success 3.0 Summit.
Marc, tell me about the Success 3.0 Summit. What’s it all about?
Success 3.0 Summit is an exciting gathering of the best hearts and minds around the one central issue that affects everyone: what does it mean to be successful? We all have hidden success myths that define our lives. We have a profound need to be successful, but in general we have separated being successful from being good. We have limited the criteria of success to things like money, status, or power, but have found that these things are not fulfilling or holistic or profound or joyous or energizing. In order to evolve the real source code of culture, we needed to rework this core issue.
Center for Integral Wisdom featured as key new emergent in Integral Lineage
Center for Integral Wisdom was also featured as a key new emergent in the Integral Lineage beginning with Rudolph Steiner and running all the way through Ken Wilber’s seminal Integral work and then with Marc and Ken founding the Center for Integral Wisdom; this was reflected in an independent scholar’s Timeline of Integral Spirituality by blogger, interfaith minister, and co-founder of the Integral Church in St. Petersburg in Florida (founded in 2012) Joran Slane Oppelt.
Starting with a lecture in Paris by Rudolf Steiner in 1906 where he commented on the “integral evolution of man,” through Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Pitirim Sorokin, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Aldous Huxley, Jean Gebser, Allan Watts, Arthur Koestler, Jane Loevinger, Clare Graves, Michael Murphy, Ken Wilber, et al. to the foundation of the California Institute of Integral Studies, the Integral Institute, and CIW, this timeline tracks the emergence of many strands of Integral Thought and Spirituality.
For those of you interested in the history of the Unique Self Teaching, which is one of several–in Ken’s phrase–”evolutionary emergent teachings” for which Marc has been the lead theorist in the articulation of an Integral Spirituality, see here.
Unique Self was featured in a special edition of The Journal of Integral Theory & Practice (6:1), the two-volume academic treatise on Radical Kabbalah, the classic Unique Self book Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment and a new work on Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism: Two Models and Why They Matter.
A new certification program in Unique Self Coaching designed by Integral Master Coaches Barbara Alexander and Claire Molinard at the request of Marc Gafni launched its first training in June 2014 as the Unique Self Coaching Collective. The program will run over a 9-month period, with three intensive meetings and nine months of both personal coaching and supervised Unique Self Coaching of volunteer clients.
The foundation of the training is Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and Marc Gafni’s Unique Self dharma. The process facilitates one diving inward to clarify the front edge of their development and engaging in practices that connect to Creative Source to engage one’s unique potential and embody the stabilized emergence of Unique Self consciousness. Unique Self Coaching Collective Training Brochure 2015-16
The first participants are all experienced in varying degrees of Integral Theory and Unique Self teachings. I am profoundly delighted to be among this professionally diverse, talented and accomplished group of thoughtful and heart-expanding evolutionaries. We are collectively full of praise and gratitude for the elegant and comprehensive program designed and taught by Barbara and Claire.
Future programs are scheduled to begin in the U.S. in June 2015, and in Europe during July 2015. Claire and Barbara recently joined Marc and the amazing Venwoude community for the Summer Festival of Love in Holland. They were honored to be one of the workshop contributors and appreciated the opportunity to introduce their upcoming training to be held at Venwoude starting in July 2015.
This Summer Festival of Love at our Teaching Center at the Integral Practice Community Venwoude in Holland has again exceeded all expectations. More than 175 participants came to love and be loved open, to break the boundaries of their smallness, and to participate in the evolution of love itself.
On a personal note, I, Kerstin, have been thoroughly cooked over the last 20 years with intense spiritual experiences at all kinds of events, retreats, and seminars. None of them have prepared me even vaguely for what I have found in retreats with Marc Gafni over the last 3 years: the depths of the dharma transmissions, the openings of hearts, minds, and souls, the embodiment of outrageous loving, the humility and audacity of his teachings, his passion and devotion that is deeply infectious, and the depths of community I have found here again and again. And although each time I think this is IT, that it cannot be any better, it always gets better. It deepens, opens, connects us to the greatest depths and highest heights, and opens the gates to heaven, flying higher and higher and higher.
In this Festival, everyone could feel the Goddess dancing among us again and again. And Marc danced her all the way, taking every one of us with him. And the wonderful community of Venwoude and of Center for Integral Wisdom created such a clear, warm holding container that new people could dive into it immediately with almost no resistance. Wow!
Let’s hear from two participants:
Blog post by Stefan Schoch: A Summer Festival of Love
“Actually” I just wanted to relax for 2 days, when I drove to Venwoude at the 4th day of the Center for Integral Wisdom/ Venwoude Mystery School of Love Festival (following a personal invitation).
Unique Self & Reincarnation with Marc Gafni & Michael Murphy – Final Part 9: A Meditation from the Vast to the Personal in Powers of Ten
The dialogue between Michael Murphy and Marc Gafni ends on a contemplation of the vast, infinite complexity and beauty of an ever-expanding Universe expressed also as the infinite complexity and beauty of each soul… of each irreducibly Unique Self… ever-evolving… ever-expanding.
From Deconstruction to Reconstruction: Marc Gafni and the ‘Unique Self’ – A White Paper by Kathy Brownback
In her recent white paper from January 2014 Kathy Brownback, Instructor in Religion and Philosophy at the highly respected Phillips Exeter Academy, discusses how the Unique Self teaching goes to the heart of the deepest questions that students have asked her throughout the years. In her words:
Most likely you’ve asked yourself some of the same questions I’ve been asked by [...] students:
- “People keep telling me to be myself, but I don’t really know who that is. I feel pulled in so many directions.”
- Do we have free will, at all? Or are we totally determined by our genes, and conditioned by our environment?”
- “Why, in the midst of all they have, are so many people angry and dissatisfied? Can I hope to avoid this? Why is there so much addiction? Why depression, among people who have so much to offer?”
- “I haven’t found any kind of God I can believe in, yet I somehow feel there is something more to life. Your thoughts?”
- “Are science and religion looking at the same world? They seem so contradictory. Your husband is a physicist. Do you argue about this?”
- “Is there such a thing as truth? Is there anything I can be certain of?”
- “Do you think life has some kind of point, or meaning? Or is it, as Shakespeare said, ‘a tale told by an idiot’? It really feels that way. Then all of sudden, even though I have no real answers, the feeling goes away.”
She also asks what role contemplative practices should play in education and academic life and what they might have to do with the study of science, or the humanities and the arts. Should they have a place in the curriculum? [Read More...]
Working on our exciting new Web-Plex that is soon to be launched, we have just published a brand-new article by Annie Lalla & Marc Gafni about the spiritual path of “Loving Your Way to Enlightenment.” It will be a part of our new World Spirituality Portal as well as the book project by Chahat Corten Loving Your Way to Enlightenment which organizes Marc Gafni’s World Spirituality teachings on love as both the path and goal of spirituality.
And don’t miss Annie Lalla and Marc Gafni teaching at Kripalu Retreat Center on June 6-8, 2014 on Loving Your Way to Enlightenment: The Path of Outrageous Love – A weekend workshop with Marc Gafni & Annie Lalla: Through a set of powerful teachings, insights, meditative transmission, movement, chant, and partner work, Marc Gafni and Annie Lalla explore the path of the outrageous lover and teach you how to ignite the experience of outrageous love within yourself.
Loving Your Way to Enlightenment
by Marc Gafni and Annie Lalla
We have killed all the Gods except for Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the goddess of True Love. True Love is the altar before most of us still worship. Our new sacred credo is “I love you.” Our true sacred credo is usually revealed when the stakes are the highest—at our moment of death. When planes hit the World Trade Center and people had a few seconds to live, they called home and recited the credo, I love you.
And yet somehow our spiritual world of practice has become separated from our world of love. Our enlightenment studies seem to often point us beyond personal love, which is viewed as the realm of attachment and separate self.
It is for that reason that we want to invite you to a new spiritual path: The path of Loving Your Way to Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is knowing your true nature. Your true nature however is not just one taste as some are wont to say. It is two tastes. In Yoga terms we might say that your true nature is Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is being. Shakti is becoming. Shiva is your deep sense of being. It is the deep impersonal unchanging essence that lives in and as your deepest identity. Your Shakti nature is more connected to the dynamic dance of becoming. Shakti is the love intelligence that lives awake in you and as you. The impersonal enlightenment of Shiva may be available sitting in meditation alone. But if you awake to the realization that your true nature is personal Shakti love, then just sitting meditation will not get you there. This is not the personal before the impersonal but the personal beyond the impersonal. You will have to awaken to your true nature as personal love. Or said differently you have to “love your way to enlightenment.”
Featured White Papers
There is a dire need for the integration of the art, science, and morality of medicine. This paper explores the deep implications of the Unique Self in integrating medicine. Co-authors and physicians Venu and Vinay Julapalli call on their extensive understanding of the promises and pitfalls of modern health care to reconceive the practice of medicine. The paper provides the framework to evolve medicine through the emergent Unique Self insight. At stake is no less than the future of how we care for ourselves and each other.
Unique Self and the Future of Medicine
Medicine is at a critical crossroads in its evolution from antiquity to our modern age. This article aims to reconceive the future of medicine. Key to this conception is an understanding of the evolution of individual development. To this end, the discussion will first outline the stations of the selves, on the path to what has been termed the Unique Self by spiritual thinker Marc Gafni. Next, the discussion will distinguish between two poles of development and outlook, in order to understand how the insight of Unique Self integrates these dualities. It will then view the Unique Self from three perspectives, or four quadrants, of reality and also illustrate how Unique Self appreciates the balance between part and whole. The discussion will subsequently correlate the stations of the selves with the history of medicine and further examine dualities in medicine that parallel those of the self . It will then elucidate how an understanding of Unique Self fundamentally shifts our envisioning of the practice of medicine. This shift renews the unique calling that is the art and science of healing.
Universal to the human experience is care of our health. Medicine is defined as “the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure ofdisease.” The topic of medicine is therefore relevant to all of humanity.
In the United States, the practice of medicine has reached a critical crossroads. National spending on health care has been estimated to total $2.8 trillion in 2012, which is 18% of the gross domestic product (GDP). It is projected to increase to about 25% of GDP and 40% of total federal spending by 2037. Few dispute that this trajectory is unsustainable.
The dispute begins in how to alter this trajectory. The debate has raged on from multiple perspectives. Some have focused on the structures of payment for health care, while others have investigated the sources of health care pricing. Some have proposed the standardization of health care delivery with an emphasis on maximizing value through evidence-based medicine, while others have highlighted the role of the social determinants of health in influencing the rising costs of medical care. The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, expanded health insurance coverage for Americans and introduced programs designed to slow spending on health care. However, there is no clear consensus on its ultimate effect in bending the health care cost curve down.
Most of the recent discussions on the practice of medicine have preferentially approached health care as an object. Evidence-based guidelines, quality measures, value-based metrics, and pay-for-performance programs presuppose an objective perspective on medicine. The increasingly acknowledged urgency of controlling spiraling health care costs has certainly advantaged this perspective, along with desires to improve patient safety and even out regional variations in health care delivery.
Somewhat drowned out in the recent movements in medicine is the voice of medical humanism. This voice presents medicine from a subjective perspective, as it highlights the individual values, goals, and preferences of a patient with respect to clinical decision making. From this perspective, paramount are factors such as honoring the dignity of patients and their families, acknowledging their cultural and ethical sensitivities, sharing clinical decision making between the patient and the physician, and upholding the autonomy of the patient in making medical decisions. Physicians voicing humanism in medicine feel that the subjective aspect is crucial in maintaining medical professionalism, demonstrating good clinical judgment, and caring for patients near the end of life. They question the effectiveness of health care based merely on utilitarian medical decision analyses, rather than nuanced conversations between the patient and physician on the patient’s perception of his/her illness and its treatment.
The two perspectives, medicine as an objective science and medicine as a subjective art, are often diametrically opposed to each other. Health care objectivists regret that “Our current health care system is essentially a cottage industry of noninteg rated, dedicated artisans who eschew standardization.” They criticize the current system as one that “overvalues local autonomy and undervalues disciplined science.” In subjective medicine, “‘Good doctors’ are celebrated for their unwavering dedication to doing whatever it takes to care for their individual patients.” In their view, this leads to excessive tests and procedures, a fragmentation of care, limited oversight of such care, and ultimately wasteful and unreliable medicine.
Health care subjectivists, on the other hand, lament that “Reducing medicine to economics makes a mockery of the bond between the healer and the sick.” They eschew the replacement of terms such as “doctors” and “nurses” with “providers,” and “patients” with “customers” or “consumers.” They feel these terms are “reductionist; they ignore the essential psychological, spiritual, and humanistic dimens ions of the relationship – the aspects that traditionally made medicine a ‘calling,’ in which altruism overshadowed personal gain.” In objective medicine, the “discourse shifts the focus from the good of the individual to the exigencies of the system and its costs.” In their view, this results in diminished independent and creative decision making, dehumanization of the patient and professional, destruction of the trust so crucial to the patient-doctor relationship, and ultimately a demeaning of medicine.
How best can we reconcile these two positions in a way that includes and transcends them both? Is there another perspective that honors medicine both as a science and as an art, without congealing the two sides into a muddled compromise that satisfies neither?
Acknowledging the instability of the current system, can we evolve medicine to a practice of greater value, efficiency, meaning, and purpose?
In the rest of this discussion, we aim to reconceive the future of medicine. Key to this conception is an understanding of the evolution of individual development. To this end, we will first outline the stations of the selves, on the path to what has been termed the Unique Self by spiritual thinker Marc Gafni. Next, we will distinguish between two poles of development and outlook, in order to understand how the insight of Unique Self integrates these dualities. We will then discuss the Unique Self from three perspectives, or four quadrants, of reality and also see how Unique Self appreciates the balance between part and whole. We will subsequently correlate the stations of the selves with the history of medicine and further examine dualities in medicine that parallel those of the self. We will finally outline how an understanding of Unique Self fundamentally shifts our envisioning of the practice of medicine. Our discussion will highlight the physician as the exemplar of the medical professional but can apply to any professional involved in caring for patients. All are included in the future of medicine.
Download the pdf of the complete article here
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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