November 13, 2019

New Thought Leader Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni Discuss the Topic of Evil

Ken WilberMarc Gafni teaching at Venwoude

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. At the core of their work is key book that is slated for release in the Summer of 2015 on World Spirituality Based On Integral Wisdom Principles. This will be the source code book which their other books will emerge from and reference.

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.

An excerpt:

Marc Hello everyone. Mega-Pandit Ken Wilber, it is a delight to be with you, sir.

Ken Yes, sir.

Marc Yes, sir, and we are here for our Thought Leader Dialogue Series, and I’m here with Ken Wilber who is an initiating thought leader of world spirituality based on Integral principles, and the thought leader in the Integral Movement, and a deep partner and visionary and really active in charting the course of the Center for Integral Wisdom. And we’re here to talk about the word that is live spelled backwards, evil, evil, which is a topic that, friends, doesn’t come up often. And, Ken, I think it would be fair to say that even in Integral Theory it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, although it’s implicit in many, many conversations, but it’s not that often that it’s explicit, and, of course, it’s one of the great questions. So, Ken and I are going to just go back and forth and really have what may be the first major Integral dialogue on this topic.

Any number of people have told me, Ken, that you and I spoke about this, and I went back to see it before we talked today, that you and I spoke about this in 2005 with Patrick Sweeney at the Integral Spiritual Center, the first meeting. If you remember, the last day was an open day for the public?

Ken Right.

Marc And a number of people asked us questions about evil, and you and I had, what people said to me, was really one of the very rare Integral exchanges on this topic. So that was way back in the day.

Ken Yeah, well, evil dropped out basically with modernity.

Listen to this vibrant dialogue and read the whole transcript>>>

 

Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni in Dialogue: Unique Self Therapy (Part 8)

Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber continue the Unique Self dialogues with a segment of great interest to anyone concerned about healing modalities. Beginning with the opening question, “What would a Unique Self therapy look like?” and continuing on to groundbreaking discussion of nondual spiritual practice, this exchange provides numerous insights. From Wilber’s perspective, the essence of Unique Self therapy is uncovering the lies that we tell about ourselves, including lies about our grandeur. Wilber and Gafni concur that the Tibetan Buddhist practice of yidam (or “divine pride”) offers valuable wisdom that can be adapted for use within an integral Unique Self healing context.

This clip is a 16-minute excerpt which follows immediately from Part 7 on Unique Shadow. In the previous conversation, the pandits conclude that uniqueness paradoxically appears as a spontaneous level of consciousness at “second-tier,” the structure in which consciousness becomes more capable of looking at itself. They saw that key in charting the Unique Self’s position and understanding the nature of shadow is understanding is the relationship to levels of consciousness. [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 7

Conventional understandings of the shadow (the term first used in psychology by Carl Jung to describe the unconscious) leave many students of psychology befuddled or confused. Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni have charted groundbreaking perspectives on shadow which deepen our awareness of what it means to be human and how we can lives more fully conscious lives. Wilber’s contribution, described in Transformations of Consciousness as well as other books, connects shadow to issues in the navigation from one fulcrum of consciousness to the next. Gafni’s contribution, articulated in Your Unique Self, describes shadow as a distortion of Unique Self or an unlived part of one’s unique story.

Listen to the dialogue and read a partial transcript: [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 6

The story of evolution is the story of creativity, which is the story of Unique Self. Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber draw many key connections in this segment of their Unique Self audio dialogue conducted in September 2012. The dialogue begins with Ken Wilber’s storytelling about the nature of creativity from a cosmo-centric perspective. This builds to the amazing insight that Unique Self is actually the creator of the past and the driver of the future. More parallels and equations follow in due course.

This clip is a 24-minute excerpt which follows immediately from Part 5. The transcript below tracks the flow of the conversation on creativity up to the point at which Unique Self is equated to choice. [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 5

Why have so many people, especially spiritual teachers, resisted the idea of Unique Self? What are the implications of Unique Self for shadow work? And how are these two questions related? The answer may be connected to a failure to hold paradox.

Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni explore these topics in this part of their Unique Self dialogue (a 12-minute clip from a conversation recorded in September 2012). The answer which emerges is that, in Marc’s phrasing, there is a failure to discern the difference between egoic disassociation and disidentification. In spiritual traditions which “bash the ego,” there is a risk of losing one’s ability to make out the shape of the “individuated essence of the divine mind-heart which lives in you and as you.”

In Ken’s formulation, there is a failure to understand deeply “the infinite nature of the genuine Self and its unique nature appearing in each individual.”

Listen to the audio and read a partial transcript:

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A partial transcript of the dialogue follows:

Marc: I think one of the reasons in the early years why Unique Self had such opposition is that people had such a hard time in disambiguating the distinction between ego and Unique Self. Lots of the reason was an inhability to hold paradox, an inappropriate either/or thinking. The paradox is so important here.

In paradox … the Garden of Eden, my teacher once said, is not paradise but paradox. There’s an unbelievable text which ppears in the Zohar, not really commented on a lot, which calls King David the Jester of the King. Why is he the jester?

He says to God, “Test me.”

God says, “I don’t think so.”

David says, “Test me.”

David sits on his rooftop. He sees Bathsheba bathing unclothed. The whole story unfolds. Bathsheba inappropriately becomes David’s wife. David commits a number of cardinal life mistakes. God says, “You see. I told you not to be tested. It wasn’t a good idea.”

David said, “What do you mean, God? You said I would fail the test. I said I would succeed. You’re the master. I’m the servant. so I failed.”

The Zohar says, for that reason David is the jester of the king. I remember when I first read a version of that story, in my lineage master, Mordechai Lanier of Izbica, the source of all the Unique Self and non-dual humanism work, not of the post-kind but of the metaphysical traditions. He cites the story a lot, but doesn’t explain why.

Ten years after seeing the story for the first time … I realize this is about freedom and determinism. Of course! It’s about choicelessness. You’re both choosing and not choosing. Couldn’t be any other way. The paradox is: Total divine pride and total humility. Total audacity and total surrender in the precise same moment. How to tell between someone who is genuinely living their Unique Self compared to someone who is caught in some egoic hijacking of Unique Self. It’s a nice distinction.

Ken: It is. That denial we see in the denial of the Unique Self as well. In some cases, it’s just a flat out mistake because some of these things do sound contradictory and we have to just hear an explanation to agree. In other cases there are deeper dysfunctionalism almost which is a failure to realize and deeply acknowledge the infinite nature of the genuine Self and its unique nature appearing in each individual. And so in some cases it’s an innocent mistake, and in some cases it’s part of the structure of the lie I’m caught in, vis-à-vis my Unique Self.

Marc: That’s a fantastic analysis. If we would apply the disassociation/ disidentification discernment to this issue. I think what’s often happened is that when spiritual teachers don’t disidentify from ego but disassociate from ego, that creates a blindness. You can never evolve beyond ego, you can evolve beyond exclusive identification with ego. You disassociate from ego, demonize ego, you are blinded to Unique Self, because you disassociate from anything that is unique. When you teach a radical neo-advaita tradition, which is beautiful and holy, in Kabbalah or Hindu tradition, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it, it’s the same moment… when you adopt that kind of tradition which bashes the ego – then you lose your ability to discern the contours of the individuated essence of the divine mind-heart which lives in you and as you.

Ken: Definitely. That’s part of the whole consideration that each individual needs to go through as they begin to honestly confront their Unique Self.

Marc: We’ve identified denial of Unique Self as a fundamental matrix of shadow formation and pathology. You pointed out something else recently… Two other things you shared. One was Maslow’s Jonah complex, which is fantastic. Jonah, for the listeners, is asked by the divine voice to go to Nineveh to give a prophecy, and Jonah flees from being in the divine presence. He ends up in the belly of a whale. The Jonah complex of Maslow takes on an enormously deeper resonance when you think of it as not merely self-realization, which is critical, but also Maslow’s later understanding which you’ve talked about extensively, self-transcendence. It deepens our Jonah complex.

But then on a practical point, our last point, what we could really do is take this whole conversation, is we can take the 3-2-1 of shadow – a gold-starred module of Integral Practice – as you’ve integrated it from the great traditions: taking shadow from 3rd to 2nd to 1st person, that’s an integration of shadow qualities into you. (Oh, that asshold lives in me.) You can go 3-2-1-0 and see they are realizations of your unlived life. Because you haven’t lived your own Unique Life, qualities such as stinginess or anger or jealousy. They might all come back online, if you trace them back to their roots, the shadow qualities are unique. They lead you back to your Unique Self. I’ve never been jealous of a ballerina. But I can walk into a bookstore and see that Ken has written another book. Then he says – I hate him – you own it. Then you see that it was his Unique Self, and that lets me live my Unique Self. Ken it’s just stunning. Unless you do that… When you actually go from 1 to 0. Follow your Unique Shadow back to your Unique Self. We’ve done this over the last few years and it’s just stunning.

Unique Shadow is the yellow brick road back to Unique Self. Jung. Sometimes Jung got it, sometimes he doesn’t. He moves away from it, back and forth. Jung’s complex. What he didn’t get is – and he got a lot and we’re all in his debt in so many ways – is what I would call the virtue of Unique Self. He used to say I’d rather be whole than good. Your Unique Self is your wholeness and goodness together. He had some idea which is based on his elevationist move. You’re either going to be whole or you’re going to be good, based a view of religion which makes you good but not whole. Unique Self invites you to your wholeness and goodness as one.

Listen to the entire dialogue:

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Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 4

In the fourth segment of the August 2012 dialogue between Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni, the issues are front and center. The pandits find a common ground in their distinction between True Self and Unique Self, and its importance for changing today’s conversation around enlightenment and all that follows from that. Wilber and Gafni both refer to Wilber’s early writings which speak of the difference between “personal plus” and “personal minus,” and find similarities to Gafni’s True Self/Unique Self distinction. Marc draws a parallel between Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy and what appears in his own writings as a “level one/ level three” fallacy.

One of the most interesting points is made by Ken who uses strong language to criticize the doctrine emergent from Theravadan Buddhism and forms of Western Buddhism which are heavily influenced by it. Wilber calls the philosophy a “disaster,” and notes that later strains of Buddhism including Mayhana and Zen, have to one degree or another begun to rectify the mistake.

Listen to the dialogue and read a partial transcript: [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 3

What is the difference between the True Self and Unique Self? Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni approach this topic in the third part of the dialogue on Unique Self (about 24 minutes). Early in the conversation, Ken says:

Ken Wilber: The egoic self still has not yet passed through Emptiness, so it still believes it has a real existence and is something that is permanently everlastingly existing instead of something that is timelessly existing, and its specialness comes from the way it is different from other egos, and it still hasn’t experienced the True Self. At most, it exists at the soul level. The soul still exists — the soul is essentially the self in subtle realms. In the causal realms, it’s the True Self. The whole point that making sure you’ve passed through Emptiness is to strip through the soul of the separate self at that level.

Marc coined the term “Unique Self” in his book Soul Prints, and has been working to develop the Unique Self teaching for over two decades. Marc’s latest book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, explores and unpacks it even further. For a timeline of the Unique Self’s development, see the Unique Self Timeline.

Listen and read more… [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 2

This week we are presenting the second in a multi-part dialogue series on Unique Self featuring Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni (a series which will continue all autumn). In this second clip (about 20 minutes), Ken and Marc situate the Unique Self within the context of Integral Theory, in particular the differentiation between structures or stages of consciousness on the one hand and states on the other. They conclude by differentiating between specialness as an egoic claiming of place, which is competitive and aggressive, and a Unique Self specialness which is “the currency of connction.”

Marc coined the term “Unique Self” in his book Soul Prints, and has been working to develop the Unique Self teaching for over two decades. Marc’s latest book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, explores and unpacks it even further. For a timeline of the Unique Self’s development, see the Unique Self Timeline.

Listen to the audio and read the partial transcript as well as some Background Material below… [Read more…]

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 1

The Center for World Spirituality is very pleased to present a new dialogue series on Unique Self featuring Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni. In this first clip (about 26 minutes), Marc and Ken each offer their own introductions to the Unique Self concept. Thereafter they discuss some of the contemporary context of the teaching which sets the stage for the conversation to follow.

Marc coined the term “Unique Self” in his book Soul Prints, and has been working to develop the Unique Self teaching for over two decades. Marc’s latest book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, explores and unpacks it even further.

Marc and Ken began discussing the idea of perspectives and Unique Self back in 2004. For more context, see Intellectual History of Unique Self and Unique Self Timeline. Marc originally sourced the notion of enlightenment plus perspective in Hebrew mystical texts and Ken brought to bear the postmodern and post-postmodern notions of perspectives. From this emerged one of the core Unique Self formulas that Ken refers to in the beginning of this dialogue. For both Marc and Ken, perspectives were foundational. Together, in a series of groundbreaking conversations, they clarified and evolved the Unique Self teaching.

Listen to the audio and read a partial transcript: [Read more…]