December 18, 2018

About Marc Gafni

Marc Gafni is a visionary scholar, philosopher, and wisdom teacher. He is teacher-in-residence and co-initiator of the Center for Integral Wisdom. He is the leading theorist and teacher of Unique Self enlightenment, an emergent post-postmodern wisdom lineage which builds on his national bestseller Soul Prints, winner of the Nautilus Award for Best Spirituality Book, as well as the highly acclaimed Your Unique Self (2012) and Radical Kabbalah (2012), which is based on his doctoral dissertation at Oxford University.

Ten Commitments of World Spirituality Based on Integral Principles by Marc Gafni

haertmeditation_markgafni

The Commitment to the Enlightenment of Fullness:

The journey begins with a recognition of the fullness and depth of reality and to the specific experience and innate dignity of every human life. Every human being has an innate right to participate with joy in the fullness and depth of reality. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: “The Men of Trust call out their Pain to God”

imgres-8Prayer in its Original Face is also a fellowhip between God and man. God meets us as our friend in prayer.

Ephraim of Sudykov writes that we seek God’s intimate friendship even as he seeks our fellowship for we both feel somewhat out of place in the world. We seek God’s friendship in bringing before God the raw cry of human insufficiency and pain. Reading the deep intent of the Psalmist, “I pour out my complaint before you,” the Midrash teaches, “The Men of Trust call out their Pain to God.”

To pray means to turn to God as my most intimate friend and confidant. I pour out before God my true pain and authentic need. I tell God my story in prayer and God receives my story. A child who is hurt runs to his mother. In part the child wants a bandage. But no less the child seeks the presence and intimacy of the mother. The enlightened ones teach that the ancient masters are those who are able to pray like children.

We cry out to God in prayer not to inform him of our need. That would be preposterous. We cry out to God in authentic prayer precisely because we know that God always knows our need. Every human need which is genuine is possessed of infinite value and infinite dignity.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Ethics is an erotic expression of our deeper divinity

imgres-4If we come to understand that ethics is an erotic expression of our deeper divinity, we are truly moved to the ethical. For at that point we realize that it is an expression of our deepest selves, a  response to the call of our own voice. Ethics, to be compelling and powerful, must be an expression of your erotic divine nature and not a contradiction to it. So when the prophet insists that God and the God within you is beyond nature, and can therefore act ethically against nature, they are referring only to your first nature, not to your deeper second nature. Your deeper nature is God.

The marriage of the erotic and the ethical, when it takes place not merely intellectually but in all of your being, makes you the greatest of lovers.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Evolving Divine Consciousness

imgres-3The unfolding of divine consciousness is not a purely intra-divine process. The great privilege of being a human being is that we participate in the evolution and healing of God. We are God’s healers. It is the evolution of the human spirit that catalyzes the evolution of God. When God and man meet in an evolutionary embrace redemption is achieved. 

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

 

Marc Gafni on Unique Self Relationships

unique-relationshipBy Marc Gafni

There’s something I call Unique Self evolutionary relationships, what we called in the Soul Prints book “soul print encounters”. In a genuine Unique Self encounter, we each hold a piece of the other’s story. The ethical obligation implicit in the encounter itself is to return to the other Unique Self that we are meeting the piece of their story that we are holding. That’s very deep.

The words are signifiers. They are pointing to this sense that we are interdependent in a very profound way. There are accentuated points of interdependence. There are people we are more dependent on than other people. Not the people we often think. Not the people who are paying our rent or providing me with a job although that may be. They are people who are part of our story, and they are holding a piece of our story because they’re helping us to enact our lives because they hold a piece of insight about our story. So a Unique Self encounter is when our stories intermesh, intertwine, and we recognize that we are each part of each other’s story and holding a piece of our story.

your-unique-self-cover-small-squareWe’re holding a piece of each other’s story. It’s a meeting that’s not about manipulation or mutual gain. It’s beyond win/win. It has that dimension, but it’s the creation of a larger story in which each person gives the other a piece of their story that is missing and a larger narrative emerges. That’s a Unique Self encounter. That’s an ethical obligation. In other words, the ethical obligation is to give the exchange of gifts that are demanded implicitly of the encounter. It can’t be legislated by any formal canon or convocation or magisterial authority. Rather, it can only be legislated by the internal command of the Unique Selves themselves, and through discernment they are able to recognize the part of each other’s story that they are holding and give that gift as the highest obligation of essence. That’s what we mean by obligation. That’s exciting. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The essential revelation of biblical consciousness is the intimacy of infinity.

imgres-3By Marc Gafni

Prayer is man pouring out his deepest need before God. Philosophers and mystics alike scoffed at this prayer seeking the more pure prayer which pleads for alignment between man and god. Such prayer is surely sacred and noble. The psalmist prays to God “A pure heart create for me God….Take not your holy spirit from me.” Or in another passage the mystic yearning bursts out with full force: “As the deer desperately yearns after the brook of water so does my soul desperately after you O God; My soul thirsts for the living God. When shall I come and appear in the presence of God.”  Or in the Koan prayer of 19th century mystic Shneur Zalman of Liadi as he cries out in prayer;  “I do not want your hell; I do not want your heaven; it is you; you alone that I want.” All of these God in second person prayers whether coming from a dualist psalmist or a non dual mystic Schneur Zalman are an integral part of prayer. Yet none of them replace the core staple of Hebrew spiritual practice; the pouring of the heart’s deepest need before God. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Tears of Transformation

imgresFrom Marc Gafni’s Daily Wisdom post:

Suddenly, in the chair beside him, Nietzsche took off his spectacles, buried his face in his handkerchief, and burst into sobs.

Breuer was stunned.  He must say something.

“I wept too when I knew I had to give up Bertha. So hard to give up that vision, that magic.  You weep for Lou Salome?”

Nietzsche, his face still buried in the handkerchief, blew his nose and shook his head vigorously.

“Then, for your loneliness?” [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: What is the highest level a person can reach?

imgres-9Contemporary Hassidic master Shlomo Carlebach in his simple yet deceptively deep prose taught, “What is the highest level a person can reach?” I’ll tell you on a simple level. Sometimes you hear a person laughing and it sounds like laughter.  But if you have really good ears, it sounds like crying.  You listen to a hurricane, and it sounds like the wind is angry – but if you have really good ears, you know that the wind is searching for something.  It is so desperate.  A wedding is a strange thing, and if you don’t have good ears, the whole thing sounds shallow. Most people don’t hear what’s going on at a wedding. The holy bride walks in, she doesn’t say anything. The holy groom walks in, he doesn’t say anything. That’s only if you don’t have good ears. If you have truly good ears however, you can hear not only that the holy bride is crying now, but you can hear her cries from her very first cry as a baby… and the same with the groom. When they walk to the wedding, they don’t begin from a little room down the hall but from their very first second, their very first cry… to this minute, under the canopy, was one long walk.”

What Shlomo suggests, at least in my reading of his transcripts, is that the beginning of crying, the crying of the baby which is a crying of protest and the crying of longing accompanies us through life. The longing moves from pre-personal to personal. At moments of realization, tears of longing give way to crying of joy which is ultimately crying of union. The personal merges into the transpersonal.

Dr. Marc Gafni
Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Daily Wisdom: Innermost desire is the most important spiritual guide

imgresIn Chassidut the notion of longing became essential to the Chassidic understanding of the universe.  For  my teacher  Mordecai Lanier, Teshuka, meaning innermost desire, is the most important spiritual guide.  In contradistinction to Jewish moments of piety, which tried to use the mind and will to overcome desire, the master of Izbica teaches that stripping away the superficialities to access the innermost desire of our souls is ultimately the only reliable guide on our spiritual path.

Taking this one step further, the great teacher of both  non duality and God in the second person, Levi Isaac of Berdichev, teaches that not only is holy yearning a spiritual guide, but all yearning, all desires, are spiritual guides, for in the end, all yearning is really yearning  for the one.  All roads seek to bring us back to our source.  To our highest integration and one-ness.  And even when on the face of it our innermost desires seem to be for that which is base and not yet holy, a deeper reading of the script of our lives will reveal that in fact, whenever we kneel, we are always on our knees to God.  Whenever we yearn we are ultimately yearning for integration, for one-ness, for divinity.

Dr. Marc Gafni
from: The Dance of Tears
(in press)

Daily Wisdom: The Crying of Union

imgres-1We begin with longing. We give expression to that yearning in tears.  Ultimately, the promise of divinity is that the crying of longing will become the crying of union.  The transformation of the crying of longing, to the crying of union is part of the Tikkun, the ‘fixing’ of tears.  And this is the very process of redemption itself.

Even those who cannot cry however can find their yearning. There is a story of some Chassidim who, in the presence of the Rebbe, were dancing and singing before God, all in great devekut, in great cleaving.  And they were all crying holy tears. There was one among them, however who could not cry. He felt so terrible about this that he ran and got some onions, which he held to his eyes so he too could cry. The master, seeing this, praised his action, saying that it was very precious to God that he wanted to cry. Very often we desperately want to cry but have forgotten the language of tears. We need to be reminded that to long to cry is sometimes as precious as the cry itself.

Dr. Marc Gafni
from: The Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Daily Wisdom: The world is filled with Soul Print hints

imgres-15In truth every slice of reality in the holographic universe contains all of wisdom. The true Artisan draws wisdom and inspiration from a reality rich and replete in meaning. The world is filled with Soul Print hints. It may be the lyrics of a song, a sign on a building, an old friend you meet after years of not seeing each other, or a book that grabs your attention and demands to be read.

British thinker Adam Phillips, in his wonderful work The Beast in the Nursery, understands well the slow and subtle eros of hints.  The artist inside us, he writes, is “all the time on the lookout for material to make a dream with.”  In a series of  pregnant sentences, Phillips writes,  “For Keats, inspiration means being able to take the hint… It is not only a tuned responsiveness; it is also an unconscious radar for affinities; for what speaks to one by calling up one’s own voice.”

There is a self-fulfilling circle: the deeper one enters one’s character and voice, the more whisperings are heard and hints detected. Of course, the wink, the subtle gestures, the tilt of the head, all these are the language of lovers; hints and intimations, the hallmark of intimacy.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: We can only hear through the love that listens….

imgres-16A phrase in the Zohar used for those soul printed souls who are living their story is lechisah, whispers. To live your story is to be able to hear the intimate whisper of divinity erotically caressing your life.  We are all recipients of cosmic love notes. Paul Tillich reminds us that we can only hear through the love that listens. Buber captured the spirit of biblical myth when he wrote, “To live means being addressed – We have only to present ourselves and to perceive.” To live my story is erotic in the resonance of its melody and the fullness of the canvas. The world, when I am in my story, is no longer empty. The soul is not just here to pay back karmic debts. It has a contribution to make from the depth of its infinite specialness. It is in the making of that contribution that a human being fills fulfilled. That is the eros of living your story.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

New Year Wisdom: Arise, Arise, to Return to Your Soul

arising-western-sunrise-togetherFrom the Erotic and the Holy by Marc Gafni:

A line, circle, shadow story from the depths of Hebrew mysticism.

Every year in the days approaching the new year, people would be awakened for the special early morning forgiveness prayer. The truth is, people were awakened at around three in the morning and came to pray while it was still pitch black. These were not the usual morning meditations. Instead, they were special prayers of arousal in which one would try to awaken oneself from more than the sleep of the night. It was a bid to awaken from the accumulated stupor of the entire preceding year. This is the primary time of the year for teshuva, the return of which we have been speaking.

With that background of the spirit, you will understand just how amazing that what happened really was. In this particular year, everyone in the town arrived late at the prayer hall and shared the same strange dream. They had dreamt that they were awakened to prayer by the Outcast. It was a strange dream, so they did not get up till it recurred again and again, finally rousing them from their slumber. [Read more…]

The Victorious Surrender

imgres-5God is waiting for us to give up the imitations in our lives so that we can receive the real thing. Imagine what would happen if we really opened up to the knowledge that there is a force holding things together without our being in control. What if we surrendered to that force and allowed it to guide us in our lives? What if we stopped to realize that the planet is constantly supporting our lives?

The very air we breathe – unless we interfere with the natural systems – is constantly made available to our lungs by plants and ocean plankton through an incredible process of photosynthesis. The universe is consciously supporting us and breathing life into our souls at every moment. For the Hebrew mystic, creation is not a one-time event. It is instead a continuous process, hinted at by modern quantum physics, in which the universe recreates itself in love at every second.

This essential giving up of control does not mean that we do not expend enormous effort and energy in trying to chart our destinies and repair the world. It does mean that we need to do so in a way where we understand that even as we labor mightily, we know that it is simply not all up to us. Knowing that, we consciously invite the universe to partner in our efforts, breathing its life and energy into and through us.

The spiritual process of giving up control is called by the Hebrew mystics bittul. Usually, this is explained as self-nullification to God. In reality, it means something quite different. Rather than abnegation, it is a way of making ourselves transparent to God. We give up lower self control because we desire the higher divine self to flow through us. This is the experience of eros modeled on the sexual. We can access it in creativity, prayer, sexuality, study and any other arena of life in which we are willing to be lovers.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Light

imgres-6Light, quantum wisdom teaches us, has two distinct properties that describe it: the particle property and the wave property.

Light is understood to be a twofold phenomenon not only in modern physics but also in ancient biblical myth.  Light in Hebrew is referred to as sapir. You may be familiar with the English word—sapphire–which is derived from the Hebrew word.  A sapphire, with its incomparable blue shine, is a stone of light.

The identity of spiritual and physical light becomes clearer when we focus on two more words that spring from this luminous Hebrew root, sapir. Those words are mispar and sippurMispar means number.  Sippur means story.

Mispar, like “particle,” expresses the point-like quality of light; sippur, like wave, captures light’s fluid nature. They are sister terms, both born from sapir. Not by coincidence, these words express the unique dual nature of the spiritual light our soul prints emanate.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Outrageous Tragedy and Outrageous Love

Connecticut-shooting-vigil-3-jpgA boy walks into a school and kills twenty-seven people.
For no reason. Most of the children between age five and ten.
We live in a world of outrageous pain.
The only response to a world of
outrageous pain is outrageous love.
We need to become outrageous lovers.

In the same sense that the twenty-seven murders in Connecticut on December 14th are outrageously horrific beyond expression, our response must be outrageously loving beyond imagination. For every bullet of outrageous pain that destroyed life we must respond with missiles of outrageous love that affirm life. What might that mean?

Listen to “Outrageous Tragedy and Outrageous Love,” a 5-minute audio with Marc Gafni (in conversation with Bryan Franklin and Jennifer Russell).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I invite you, dear beloved friend and reader, to answer that question yourself and share it here.

Tell us what personal or communal acts of outrageous love might you or we as a collective do to respond to the outrageous pain?

Daily Wisdom: We make mistakes in the right direction

A life well lived does not mean a life without mistakes. It means making mistakes in the right direction. A famous Talmudic passage re-read by my teacher Mordechai Lainer of Izbica says roughly as follows “One cannot follow the direction of one’s life until one first fails in pursuing that very direction.” Or in another passage, the Talmud itself writes, “The wicked falls once and does not rise, the Master falls seven times and rises each time again”.

Failure and falling is part of the process. Our response-ability is  is a constant process of  Teshuva.  Teshuva means literally to return.

In the language of R. Kuk,

“Man has forgotten himself, When he remembers himself he must gather the fragments of his soul from their exile, he must return to himself, to his essential I, and when he returns to himself, at that very moment, he will have returned to God.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears

The early movements of expanding love

Photo: www.DanielLeePhotography.co.uk

By Marc Gafni

We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to a world of outrageous pain is outrageous love. We need to become outrageous lovers. What does that mean? It means to see with God’s eyes, and to let God see through your eyes. To be enlightened means to move from your perspective to God’s perspective.

Bill Clinton said recently that only a shift in consciousness will allow us to take the necessary steps to heal our future. The mystical and political are coming together because that is the invitation and demand of this evolutionary moment.

The shift in consciousness that we are invited to is no less then the awakening of the outrageous lover that lives in us. The outrageous lover shatters her mistaken identity as a skin-encapsulated ego, loving only what serves her superficial survival and prosperity. The outrageous lover expands beyond the contractions of ego, into larger and larger fields of felt caring and concern. The purpose and trajectory of her life is the evolution of love. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: God’s redemption; the evolution of God – depends on us.

By Marc Gafni

By deploying intellectual, meditative and mystical faculties, the lover of divine text moves to unpack the fresh invitation of the divine voice. The divine voice speaks presently to the individual and the community in the eternal now.

It is however more than even that. In this ongoing conversation the interpreter/lover of the text does not merely uncover the original divine intention. She does not merely reveal that which was ostensibly latent in the text from the time of  it’s inception and only now ready to reveal itself. Rather the interpreter/lover of text actually participates as a primary catalyst not only in interpreting, but in actually evolving the divine voice.

Said simply the hermeneutic act is a catalyst for – and actually participates in – what is no less than the evolution of God. When the divine lover of text reads and interprets from their own deepest divine center, the divine voice in the texts evolves, expressing truths that the original voice which wrote the text “did not know and could not have dreamed.”

This is a pivotal deep structure of Isaac Luria’s Kabbalistic thought whose essence was perhaps best captured by Nikos Katzanakis when he said, “We are the Saviors of God.” Said slightly different we are co-creators with the divine responsible for the evolving divine spirit.

Dance of Tears
(in press)
Dr. Marc Gafni

 

 

 

Daily Wisdom: As You Love Yourself

Of course, to remind another of their full beauty you have to be fully aware of your own.  The Baal Shem Tov has a wonderful teaching on the biblical mandate “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  First it is a statement of fact–you love your neighbor precisely as much as you love yourself.  For in the end, you can only perceive another’s greatness if you have glimpsed and believe in your own. Self-love is self-perception.

If this is so, then a powerful question arises.  How do you love yourself when you know all of your foibles pathologies and blemishes?  Isn’t self-love self-perception?  And does not honest perception yield forth all of the reasons why we are not lovable?  And yet most of us manage, at least to some degree, to love ourselves.  Is it just self-deception?  No, not at all.  Love is not merely perception, it is a perception-identification complex.  Self-perception means that although you are aware of the full complexity of your personae–the good, the bad, and the ugly–you identify the essence of who you are with your good–your good, loving, giving, creative, and generous self.

That does not mean that you deny your beast.  It is, of course, critical to integrate all of you into your self picture.  To love yourself is to identify yourself as part of the Shechina. Writes the Baal Shem Tov, “To love yourself is to love the Shechina.” Not to love yourself is to send the Shechina into exile. So proclaim the Kabbalists, to which Rumi adds:

By God, when you see your beauty
You will be the idol of yourself.

In your deepest nature you must know that you are the hero of your story.  In your deepest nature you are love and grace and strength and splendor.  Now you must decide to identify with your deepest nature.  Do you focus on your innocence or your guilt?  Do you focus on your ever-inevitably dirty hands, or on your ever-eternally pure soul?  To love yourself or anyone else, you need to know that your innocence is your essence.  That you always remain worthy of love.  That your innocence is never lost.

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Pages 121, 122

 

Daily Wisdom: Godot is waiting for us

Dr. Marc Gafni:

God is called in biblical myth “Shadai,” translated by the wisdom masters as, “He who said to his world, ‘Dai’–enough.” Two meanings well up from the word.

The second meaning is that God turns to you and me and says, “Enough. You are enough! Know that you are worthy enough to be called to the ultimate service of tikkun, the healing and repair of the world.”

For God to give up full control means, for the Hebrew mystic, an invitation to the most exhilarating, ecstatic and overwhelming partnership that the universe can offer. It is not us waiting for Godot; instead, Godot is waiting for us. God’s echo is heard in the voice of the prophet. “Why did I come and there was no one? Why did I call and there was no response?”

The Erotic and the Holy