December 18, 2017

You Are God’s Unique Intimacy – Marc Gafni’s Passover Sermon at Pacific Coast Church

Wisdom for Your Week

Watch this beautiful excerpt from a Sermon with Dr. Marc Gafni at the Pacific Coast Church in 2014.

By listening to this rich talk that uses storytelling, inquiry, and sacred text reading to transmit the deep wisdom of the lineage masters, you will learn:

– Why God is not only the Infinity of Power but also the Infinity of Intimacy

– What it means to live in an Intimate Universe

– How Christ incarnated to be an expression of that Infinity of Intimacy

– Why Being God’s Unique Intimacy is our greatest Joy and deepest Obligation in our daily lives

[Read more…]

Special Community Lineage Days at Venwoude and Conscious Capitalism Event at Nijenrode University

We just completed a very special series of events at our Teaching Center at Venwoude in Holland. Dr. Marc Gafni taught two Valentine’s Day events in a very beautiful church in Amsterdam. This was followed by a wonderful and very intimate two-day retreat at Venwoude on Saturday and Sunday. Capping off the 4-day weekend, we had an outstanding presentation at Nijenrode University on Conscious Capitalism with Prof. Dr. Paul de Blot, Dr. Marc Gafni, and Ken Wilber (via Skype) in front of 150 enthused Entrepreneurs.

Valentine’s Day at Vondelkerk Amsterdam

Marc Gafni at Vondelkerk AmsterdamA packed house of people celebrated Valentine’s Day in an old beautiful Church in Amsterdam with Dr. Marc’s Dharma on Outrageous Love. It was a day of profound new dharma, deep practices, and a stunning community of Outrageous Lovers. Dr. Marc took us deeply into a practice space with dyad practices, chanting, and intimate sharing. The evening session seemed to explode–after a very quiet and subtle beginning with hearts meeting in Chant and Meditation and finally and melting open into the Inside of the Inside–with a fireworks of Dharma on Outrageous Love and Unique Intimacy. [Read more…]

The God of the Encounter: The Glory of the Personal, Part 5

by Dr. Marc Gafni

(part 5)

image courtesy of Stuart Miles (c) 2013

image courtesy of Stuart Miles (c) 2013

***

God in the First Person:

“All at once I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored cloud. For an instant, I thought of fire and immense conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next I knew that the fire was in myself. Directly afterward there came upon me as sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is on the contrary, a living presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have an eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal, that the cosmic order is such that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world, of all worlds, is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain.”

~R.M. Bucke

God in the Second Person addressing man:

I will be united with you in marriage forever

I will be united to you in marriage through justice and righteousness

I will be united with you in marriage through overflowing love and compassion

I will be united with you in marriage in complete trust

And you will erotically know the divine

Hosea the Prophet: 2: 21- 23

Only someone who lacks both of these realizations can identify all that is as merely a process or impulse. Realization teaches that the all that is expresses as a process or an evolutionary impulse, but that God is process plus personal, not process minus personal. [Read more…]

Wisdom for Your Week: Divine Tears

Kalonymus Kalman Shapira
Piasetzener Rebbe

In this beautiful and deeply moving series of short videos from 2008 from the Treblinka death camp, Dr. Marc Gafni tells us the story of Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, Rebbe of Piaseczno, who–after his whole family was killed by the Nazis–kept on teaching and loving and writing down his sermons to his students in the Warsaw Ghetto. When he became aware that the end of the Ghetto and its inhabitants was near, he buried the book in a canister. This canister was found after the end of the war and the book was published in Israel in 1960.

In one of the teachings of this last Polish Hasidic Master–as Dr. Marc tells us here–he asks himself: “What is the internal vibration of the Divine?” In Jeremiah, God speaks: “In the inner places, I cry.” Yet, in another place, it is said that in God’s inner places, there is joy and laughter.

Dr. Marc reminds us here that “in the inner space between the contradictions–that is where God lives.” And he narrates further that the Talmud, in the Tractate Hagigah, states about this: “That is in the inner house. That is in the outer house.”–without telling us which is which. Most Kabbalists read this–like a classical Vedanta, non-dual position–that in the inner places God is not affected by the world. So, in the inner places, God is all joy and laughter.

Not so, the Rebbe of Piaseczno… Read the partial transcript of the story as told by Dr. Marc Gafni:

[Read more…]

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…]

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

World Spirituality Unplugged: From Jerusalem to Tibet with Love: Marc Gafni and Dalai Lama in 2008

Marc Gafni (from his 2008 dialogue with the Dalai Lama):

To love someone is to see them with God’s eyes, to perceive them at their highest place, like — as His Holiness said — the mother who sees the baby. The mother,  no matter what the baby does when older, always sees the baby as divine. Therefore we call God in Hebrew mysticism, Kabbalah, the divine breast of the Mother who feeds us all.

So we are all, like God, trying to see Other with God’s eyes. So to love is to see with God’s eyes, not an emotion, but a perception. … That’s our basic idea. So we say we can train people to love. Because if love is an emotion, we can’t train an emotion. But we can train a perception. We can train people to see.

So good Hebrew teaching is to train people to see… and to give… The Hebrew word for “love” also means “to give” and “ecstasy”… Ecstatic emotion that comes from giving. In Hebrew tradition, I first give, and if I give, I love. That’s just a gentle wisdom from Jerusalem to Tibet. Thank you so much for your wisdom on loving…

Video after the fold…

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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

 

 

Launch of new interfaith center in Vienna raises hopes

Rabbi David Rosen, writing in Huffington Post, explains the importance of the launch on Monday of the King Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. The initiative was launched jointly by Austria, Spain, and Saudi Arabia, as well as an international organization headed by a nine-member board. Saudi King Abdullah played a key role in its founding including the enlistment of the Vatican as a partner in the center.

Rosen writes:

What makes this interfaith initiative so special is not just that it has been established by three governments or that it has a multifaith board. Rather, it is the fact that this initiative has come from the very heart of the Muslim world — from the custodian of the two holiest shrines of Islam. This gives it a unique standing and, hopefully, the potential to contribute globally.

While the center seeks to be a hub for interfaith work internationally and to provide state-of-the-art technology to help empower this work, it also explicitly seeks to address situations where religion is abused and exploited for violence and conflict, and to ensure that religion is part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

[Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The gates of tears are never closed

The wise of heart in biblical consciousness are those who are deeply connected to the inner emotional rhythms of their lives.  All personal growth is dependent on emotional intelligence – wisdom of the heart. And in Biblical thought we are alive for nothing if not to grow. The archetypal symbol of the spiritual emotional intelligence in much of ancient and  modern literature is tears.  Tears have the ability to be our inner masters. Each tear, or at least each form of crying opens up a new path to follow. Each bout of tears discloses something essential about the truths of our lives.

No two people cry alike. We have already mentioned 19th-century mystic Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin teaching that we are each are own esoterica.  We are each our own secret. Wisdom is esoteric not because it is intentionally hidden, teaches Tzadok; rather knowledge is kept secret because we are unable to access it.  Further when we do finally uncover wisdom, we are often incapable of transmitting it.

One portal however which remains, to our inner secrets – both to reveal them to ourselves and to share them with intimates – is through the gateway of tears. ‘All the gates are closed’, writes the Talmud, ‘the gates of tears are never closed.’

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

 

World Spirituality Unplugged: Marc Gafni Teaches Jewish Mysticism (Part 1)

From the World Spirituality Unplugged archives: an audio teaching by Marc Gafni on Kabbalah, delivered in English in the spring of 2006 at a spirituality conference in Midtown Manhattan. In this 10-minute introductory segment, Marc brings the audience members (with several hundred in attendance) into a meditative posture and introduces chanting.

Marc Gafni:

The Hebrew word for God, the God force, whether you are a theist, or not a theist, in talking about the force of the universe, the word is breath itself. In breath. YAHH… Breath in breath. YAHH…

Listen to the audio: [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Divine Imagination

God is the possibility of possibility – limitless imagination. The first of the ten commandments is “I am God.”  When this God is asked to identify himself, He responds, “I will be what I will be.” That is, ‘You cannot capture me in the frozen image of any time or place. To do so would be to destroy me.’ It would be to violate the second commandment against idolatry. Idolatry is the freezing of God in a static image. To freeze God in an image is to violate the invitation of the imagination. It is to limit possibility.

The Temple modeled after the Biblical myth tabernacle in the desert is the product of imagination. In a wonderfully paradoxical set of mystical texts, Bezalel, the master craftsman of the book of Exodus, receives no clear blueprint from God or Moses on how to build the tabernacle. And yet he builds it in accordance with “God’s will.” For the Kabbalists, this is a hidden allusion to the power of holy imagination to intuit cosmic truth.

When the mystics suggest that Bezalel is “taught by God,” they speak in code. The artist is “wise of heart,” “filled with the spirit of wisdom, intuition and intimate understanding.”  All of these draw their inspiration from the breath of divine imagination.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: God in second person is all about relationship

Whether the relationship is that of a servant to his master or a lover and his beloved or a relationship between partners or even friends, they are all “relating” to God.

The most powerful form of God in the second person is almost certainly the prayer experience. It is told that when Hassidic master Levi Yitzchak of Beridchev used to pray he would begin the standard liturgical form of blessing. “Baruch Ata Adonai,” “Blessed are you God,” and then break out of the mold of blessing crying out in sheer joy,  ” YOU… YOU… YOU… YOU!” He would lose himself in these words repeatedly shouting in ecstasy, “YOU… YOU… YOU!!!” This is the rapture of God in the second person.

For Levi Yitzchak the blessing is a kind of Buddhist pointing out instruction. It points however not to sunyata or emptiness but to God in the second person. Nachman of Bratzlav taught the spiritual practice of Hitbodedut.  In one form this meant walking alone in the forest “talking to God as you would to your friend.”

In God in the second person we meet God and bow. In God in the second person we meet God and partner. In God in the second person we meet God and love. The key however is the encounter. It is the encounter with God in history and in the lived reality of every human being that is the essence of the God in the second person experience.

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

 

Interiors, Face, and the Reconstruction of Eros

By Dr. Marc Gafni

Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being.  As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic.  In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God’s face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic—which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual—more deeply in your own life.

Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries.  There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.

The First Face of Eros: On the Inside

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1  Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation.  Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.

[Read more…]

The Israel Moment: Reclaiming uncertainty as a spiritual value

Old Person

Photo Credit: .craig

 

By Dr. Marc Gafni

Uncertainty is ethically and spiritually essential, Marc Gafni writes here, because it allows us to reach higher certainty, avoid the seduction of false certainty, and reach spiritual authenticity. In this excerpt from Chapter One of his volume Uncertainty, Marc introduces the core “Ullai Stories” or “Maybe Stories” of the Old Testament, explaining the role of Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, as a major character in these stories.

The Israel Moment: Reclaiming Uncertainty as a Spiritual Value

Much of religious tradition can be understood as culture’s attempt to fully triumph over uncertainty. Indeed one of the most important modern Biblical commentaries argues that divine revelation is the gift of a loving God who wants to spare the world the pain of uncertainty.  Many voices in the religious world have declared unilateral victory, arguing that all of life’s doubts can be defeated through faith, religious observance, and logic.1

I believe our life experiences give lie to absolute religious and spiritual claims to certainty. Sometimes the way religious tradition critiques itself and conveys its more subtle and even radical ideas is through the seemingly innocent story. It is in this light that I understand the following wonderful story:

Yankele used to go to the market every week to buy the basic necessities for the Sabbath. Every Friday, he would buy Sabbath candles for one ruble, bread for one ruble, and Kiddush2 wine for another ruble: three rubles were all he and his wife could spare for the Sabbath meal. One day, Yankele arrives at the market with the three coins jingling in his pocket, and he comes across an elderly gentleman that he has never seen before. The old man looks at him deep in the eyes and says softly, “Excuse me, young man, but I am terribly thirsty. Could you please buy me a cup of tea?”

[Read more…]

Prayer is not a dogma. Prayer is pointing-out instruction for God.

Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

Pictured: Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev

By Marc Gafni

We are all despearate for communion. It is what makes our lives worth living. Communion is the movement from loneliness to loving. It is the experience of being held and received.

We are all systematically mis-recognized. To be recognized is to be seen. To be seen is to be loved. To be love is to be in communion. It is only when we are seen that we are called to the fullness of our glimmering beauty as unique incarnations of the the divine treasure. It is only when we are seen that we feel moved the personal evolutionary impulse that lives in us to give the unique gifts that are only ours to give and that are desperately desired by the all that is.

To be in communion is to know that Your deed is God’s need. It is the realization of communion that gives us joy and calls us to evolutionary responsibility.

[Read more…]

Eros Audio Series: Sweetness and Sexuality

Join Dr. Marc Gafni in this free short audio clip. Tradition of sweetness is level three consciousness. The sexual will teach us the wisdom of every facet of life.

 

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Eros and World Spirituality: 2 audio teachings by Dr. Marc Gafni

The Temple Mysteries and the Next Stage in the Evolution of Sex!
Dr. Marc Gafni teaches about the ancient Temple Mysteries, in accordance with great esoteric kabbalistic tradition. Gafni, through his unique mixture of love, transmission, and esoteric teachings brings the temple mysteries to the modern and postmodern world.

At the center of the mystery are the two cherubs.
On the top of the Lost Ark in the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem temple, there are two cherubs in radical sexual embrace! Why are love making cherubs the primary image in the holy of holies of the Jerusalem Temple. And why does the biblical tradition teach that God’s voice speaks from between the cherubs?

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Daily Wisdom Post: The Alchemy of Love

“IT DEPENDS ON LOVE.”  In this old Aramaic phrase, “it” refers to shadow. This phrase will guide you on the path of shadow integration that the old Unique Self masters called the “left-handed emanation” or the “way of the dragon. ” The left hand implies the power of transmutation, while the right hand symbolizes the power of force. The left-handed path is referred to by the Tantric Kabbalists as Derek Hataninim, which I have often translated as “the way of the dragon ”. The way of the dragon invites not the slaying of the dragon, but rather its befriending and healing.

To follow this way is to serve and to grow through the light and energy that emanates from the darkness itself.

With the understanding of the New Enlightenment, the energy that emanates from the darkness is not foreign to us. It is none other than the displaced fullness of your Unique Self and the dis-owned freedom of your True Self. It is the energy of the radical breaking of all boundaries. You have shattered the limits of your skin-encapsulated ego, and stepped into the fullness of your distinct expression of all that is. You have realized your full identity with the divine, and all false boundaries crumble before the audacious power of your penetrating love. This is the ultimate expression of Eros.

The energy of darkness is but the pseudo-Eros of breaking boundaries in the world of illusion. When you follow the attraction to the boundary-breaking pseudo-Eros to its root, it is revealed to be the yearning for the full enlightenment of Unique Self manifestation. The coiled boundaries of separate self melt before the radiance of Unique Self.

This is the hidden intention of the old Kabbalistic koan, “The contraction of darkness is only sweetened in its root.”  The word for contraction, din, refers to your shadow.  The word “sweetness” refers to the tantric level of consciousness in Kabbalah, where light that comes from the darkness is of a higher quality than light that bypasses the darkness.

In the way of the dragon, the energy of shadow is transmuted through love.

One of the people who intuited this truth of shadow energy, even though he did not have a larger Unique Self context within which to integrate his understanding, was the philosopher Nietzsche.  He writes in his maddening and wonderful work,Thus Spake Zarathustra:

Of all the evil I deem you capable
Therefore I want the good from you
Verily I have often laughed at weaklings
Who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

Nietzsche believed that the good could never gain the upper hand unless it is infused with “the energy generated by murder.”

The poet Rilke captured the Kabbalistic consciousness of the way of the dragon in a few short lines:

Perhaps all the Dragons of our lives
Are princesses who are only waiting to
See us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
That needs our love.

Your Unique Self, (In Press)
Pages 271, 272
Dr. Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom: Imagination

Sex models the erotic, but it does not exhaust the erotic. One of the core qualities of the erotic is imagination. The Zohar, the magnus opus of Hebrew mysticism, says explicitly in many places, “Shechina is imagination.”

In common usage “imagination” is implicitly considered to mean “unreal.” Indeed unreal and imaginary are virtual synonyms. To undermine the reality of an antagonist’s claim we say it is “a figment of his imagination.”  In marked contrast, the Hebrew mystics held imagination to be very real. Indeed it would not be unfair to say that they considered imagination to be “realer than real.”

The power of imagination is its ability to give form to the deep truths and visions of the inner divine realm. Imagination gives expression to the higher visions of reality that derive from our divine selves. Language and rational thinking are generally unable to access this higher truth. But the imagination is our prophet, bringing us the word of the Divine, which speaks both through us and from beyond us. This is what the biblical mystic Hosea meant when he exclaimed their God said, “By the hands of my prophets I am imagined.”

The Mystery of Love, Page 81
Marc Gafni

Crisis of Imagination, by Dr. Marc Gafni

The greatest crisis of our lives is not economic, intellectual, or even what we usually call religious. It is a crisis of imagination. We are getting stuck on our paths because we are unable to re-imagine our lives differently than they are right now. We hold on desperately to the status quo, afraid that if we let go, we will be swept away by the torrential undercurrents of our emptiness. The most important thing in the world, implies wisdom master Nachman of Bratzlav, is to be willing to give up who you are for who you might become. He calls this process the giving up of pnimi to reach for makkif. Pnimi, for Master Nachman, means the old familiar things that you hold onto slavishly, even when they no longer serve you on your journey. Makkif is that which is beyond you, which you can only reach if you are willing to take a leap into the abyss.

Find your risk, and you will find yourself.  Sometimes that means leaving your home, your father’s house, and your birthplace and traveling to strange lands.

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