The World of the Web would seem to be the place for connection. Its very name -Web – means the very same. And yet paradoxically the Web seems to bring with it a great loss of intimacy. We are no longer face to face. There is an ever more confusing terrain of gadgets and gizmos. Never before in history have we been so “connected” yet desperately seeking contact. The gap between connection and authentic contact seems to be an ever widening chasm.
Are our Facebook friends really friends? Is their depth, commitment and meaning in our connections on line?
Does the virtual have virtue in its web of values? Can connection yield true contact? Can digital information and method of connecting birth new intimacy?
Can the virtual make us vulnerable in the best of ways?
We have stepped into that chasm inviting us to a new narrative of the digital. We call it Digital Intimacy.
The Digital Intimacy portal is meant to be a space to create….well…intimacy. It is a place for depth of dialogue. It is where we seek to articulate and embody both the eros and the ethos of the digital. In the Digital Intimacy we will meet face to face in a playful, artistic discourse about how to create new world of virtual intimacy.
We are here to insight an ethos in which the “dharma of the digital” is at the forefront of our quest for intimacy. How do the “patterns that connect” – in the realm of spirit and heart and culture, inform the digital world that we are creating?
Marc Gafni and Megwyn White
Welcome to the world of Digital Intimacy!
Read the summary, watch the video, and/or read the transcript below:
Today brings many new challenges to intimacy because we find ourselves rooted in a technological, functional, machine-based, digitized world. The Digital Intimacy portal addresses these challenges in constructive and provocative ways.
Consider this. A friend today may be taken to be a “Facebook friend”, but is this really a friend? There are new technologies in the world which are defining and dominating our lives in a thousand different ways. Are you really connected if you’re “Linked In”? Do you find yourself spending too much time “self-branding”?
Digital tools are accused of undermining our intimacy with an alienating force which makes it difficult to connect to our center. This is a powerful and legitimate critique, but it is only the beginning of the story.
We are calling for Digital Intimacy: an invitation to the evolution of love and consciousness through the world of technology which penetrates our everyday life. While some critics think this is impossible, we disagree.
We are finding ways of investing the digital reality with spirit, compassion, intimacy, and love. We are turning sexing into an elevated form of exchange, creating forums with interaction containing subtlety, nuance, and genuine contact that wouldn’t have happened any other way.
We want flamers to become lovers with hearts aflame. The intimacy of our interiors needs to kiss the world of the machines, penetrating and interpenetrating each other.
These days you can’t find time to cry because you’re tweeting it and nothing is true unless you’ve made it appear in the social media. We envision social media interactions where it’s about developing virtue, character, and profound discipline.
Another problem today is the difficulty people have discerning accurate information. There is so much coming at us lacking a hierarchy regarding which information needs to be taken seriously.
For a variety of reasons, digital reality today does not obviously serve virtue in the sense of depth nor aliveness nor proper communications and ethics between people.
Here at CIW we’ve talked a lot about that critique and believe that a creative emergent evolutionary solution is possible. We are offering an invitation to turn fate into destiny and create Digital Intimacy.
This portal gives us a space to claim Digital Intimacy for ourselves and transform a medium that is taken as alienating and communion destroying. Let us infuse it with spirit and compassion and intimacy. We are inviting the technologies themselves to open up to greater possibility.
We are planning to go deep into a world which assumes duality between soul and soulless machines and find aliveness “all the way up and all the way down”. The hills are alive with the sound of intimacy, and yes machines are expressions of aliveness.
Our responsibility is to download into the machine world our deepest compassion, aliveness, sensitivity, and create algorithms of compassion, outrageous love.
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We live in a world in which we are intimately challenged. There’s a whole set of new challenges to our intimacy. And the way they’re usually understood is they’re understood as being rooted in a technological, functional machine, digitized world. For example, what’s a friend today? Is a Facebook friend a friend? Religion means to relegare or reconnect. Are you really connected if you’re LinkedIn? Pinterest, what is that mean? God knows.
There’s all these new functions in the world which are defining and dominating our lives in thousand different ways. The Internet only began in the last century, in the mid 80’s it began to emerge and the 90’s it began to become popular until the Internet began to actually dominate our way of communicating. Faxes disappeared, telephones remember those. It became all about emailing. And then emailing somehow became a little bit archaic and we Facebooked or we texted.
And these new forms have all been accused of somehow challenging our intimacy, taking us out of center, undermining our core face-to-face human authentic encounter. We’ve all felt that. We’ve all felt the difficulty into dropping into a moment because you’re texting, talking to someone, trying to talk to someone while they’re texting at the same time or emailing, as they’re talking to you, “Will you marry me?” one second. Yeah, I think so. It’s like strange reality.
Now, this critique of the web culture of the LinkedIn culture, of the Facebook culture is legitimate. It’s powerful. You can’t even find time to cry anymore because as soon as you cry you’re Twittering it. So while you’re crying, you’re thinking about you’re going to Twitter the fact that you were crying so you never actually look at yourself in the crying. Nothing actually is true unless you’ve actually made it appear in the social media and we’re all branding ourselves. Isn’t that exhausting? Spending your life self branding. But self branding isn’t actually about who you are. It’s not about developing virtue. It’s not about developing character. It’s not about developing deep and profound discipline to actually engage in transformation. It’s about how you frame yourself. It’s about how you spin yourself where you become your own advertising agency.
So all of these are really powerful and legitimate and important critiques of the digital culture. Let me add one critique, we have an enormous difficult time discerning authentic information. There’s so much information coming us through the web, through this expression of the technological machine world that there’s no hierarchy, there’s no filter which information is valuable, needs to be taken seriously and which doesn’t. I’ll give you simple example. Let’s say you have a fight with someone. It’s a bad fight and they’re really mad at you. Let’s say there’s two legitimate perspectives but this person’s really mad they don’t want to hear your perspective. So in the old world, you lived in Baltimore, what would you do? You call out your friends in Baltimore and say, “I can’t believe that Jack did this,” and if you’re really mad you’ll call Jack’s mom, if you’re really mad, you’re furious, you’re like white, flaming hot, fury, you call his employer. That would happen once in a hundred years because that’s a big thing to call someone’s employer. That will actually put you in the line, you’d actually have to provide information, you might get challenged but that’s the worst that can happen.
Today, let’s say you are a mail clerk and you work for, I don’t know a Fortune 500 company that employs a hundred thousand people and you actually agreed justly that a really bad job is just a mail clerk. I don’t know maybe you endebted some money, who knows what he did. You got fired. You’ve got nothing to do, you’re mad. You get an offshore Internet account, the easiest thing to do in the world so it can’t be taken down and you start slandering the Board Chair. You know how to web optimize so you get your Internet post about this Board Chair on the first page of Internet.
Now, the people in Silicon Valley were actually creating algorithms to determine what should be ranked where on the difference search engines, Google, Yahoo, etcetera, are lovely beautiful geeks. Geeks meaning they don’t have ethical training. They don’t know how to make moral calculus of what to rank and what not to rank. So they rank based on a series of factors that have nothing to do with any deep, ethical matrix of understanding.
So all of a sudden, you’re the Chairman of this Fortune 500 company and you’ve got two or three entries in Google, page one, about your company which are slanderous. But all that a person sees when they go to Google, page one, is the opening tag line, Chairman of this company is a sleaze bucket who… whatever, whatever, whatever thee of those on your first page. Your stock rates go down. Fortune 500 company, who employ 80,000 people, your stock rates broke down by four, five points because everyone googling you is getting this negative information. A new merger deal doesn’t go through. You lay off 10,000 people. You lay off 10,000 people and that causes some families enormous stress. A divorce happens, two divorce that wouldn’t have happened. A child is raised from that divorced home, who’s completely different, you get my point.
I don’t want a child to become a mass murderer in order to fully complete destroy a terrible life, but you understand. This one person who’s angry, he’s got nothing else to do as being non productive, flaming on the web has enormous impact. Actually every single person that meets that Board Chair is going to meet that person speaking about that Board Chair and the Board Chair has no recourse.
Now you could say the Board Chair should explain what happened online as well. So now you’re forcing him or her to engage the conversation and the way the algorithms work on Google today is if you respond to the controversy, you cause the slander’s attack to be ranked higher. Because what you’re saying is that’s valuable information about you. So the algorithm is structured as I said not based on ethical calculus or nuance understanding of how social interactions work. They are based in a form which says the respond to the “controversy”, you’ve now ranked the controversy higher in your Google pages, therefore causing a whole set of new deleterious damaging effect.
So all of these is by way of saying that this new world of digital, virtual reality does not necessarily and obviously serve virtual, neither in the sense of depth nor in the sense of aliveness nor in the sense of proper communication and ethics between people. And for that reason, many many people, almost making this dramatic move today which is this radical critique of the system and it’s a legitimate, it’s important, it’s a powerful, it’s a compelling critic, some of which I have articulated here.
Internet, cyber bullying is part of that critique. There’s been a rush of suicides of ten or 11-year old children, who’ve been cyber bullied. And when a child goes online and sees a vicious attack by their peers on Facebook that’s then see by all their other friends, the level of brutality takes the normal tragic experience of bullying, exponentializes it and creates damages, scars in the psyche that are virtually unimaginable.
So I think I’ve made my point in terms of my critique of the digital world and the kind of non virtuous expression, the crushing of authentic and intimacy that take place in the virtual frame, but that’s only the beginning of the story.
You see, here at the Center for Integral Wisdom, we really talked a lot about that critique. In our think tank groups, in our study sessions and we’ve decided that while that critique is utterly and totally compelling and valid, just offer a critique without a creative emergent evolutionary solution, without an invitation to the evolution of love, to the evolution of consciousness, to actually take this faith of the inexorable emergence of the digital world penetrating a new form of digital penetration, penetrating every dimension of our lives and loving us open and sometimes blasting us open in all the negative ways. What we have to do is, we have to offer a new technology, a new vision, a new evolutionary invitation, and we’re calling that invitation Digital Intimacy.
And Digital Intimacy is not Digital Intimacy a question mark, meaning is Digital Intimacy possible? When we first coin the term, I did a quick Google search, what else? I found much to my surprise, I just Google search about a week ago, that was actually a New York Times article, in New York Times magazine on Digital Intimacy and the basic point of the article was it’s not possible. Digital Intimacy, big question mark, digital intimacy Saturday Night Live, really, Digital Intimacy, Facebook friend?
And the article correctly critiques all of the non intimate dimensions of the digital world. What we want to do is, we want to take the wondrous exorable faith of emergent technology and turn it into destiny, because turning fake into destiny is what, human emergence, evolution, transformation is all about. Let’s actually claim Digital Intimacy. Let’s actually take those very medium that are viewed as alienators, as de-constructors of communion and certainly of intimate communion and actually invite them, invest them with spirit, invest them with compassion, invest them with intimacy, invest them with love. Invite them, invite the technologies themselves as it were to open themselves up to new and greater possibility because what is spirit if not the possibility of possibility.
How do I actually take texting and make it not only into sex thing which is one new form of Digital Intimacy, but into a place of intimate exchange? A way of actually participating and the details of each other’s lives in a way that’s significant, in the way that enhances the success and depth of our relationships. How do we learn the art of texting? How do we learn the art of creating Facebook forums where there’s genuine interaction and where authentic and real community is formed in levels of subtlety, of nuance, of ongoing contact are available that wouldn’t have been available in any other way.
In a certain sense, in the old world pre-Digital Intimacy, the only person you could connect with in a day to day basis, really share the world of your existence with was the person actually lived with you in your domicile, in your space, whether that was your mother, your brother, your beloved or some familiar member or perhaps a roommate, your close friends. Very, very limited amount of people. Your life for the most part was lonely and isolated and separate from. What the digital world allows us for much more expansive circle of digital intimacy, and I’m not talking about the blind, unconscious announcing on Twitter of every detail of your life as a new expression of the hyper sensitive narcissistic self lost in its own aggrandizement.
That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about more selective, discerning, wise use of sharing where you share to a circle of twenty friends, maybe a hundred friends. We have a notion in community today which is that 150 is the limit of the genuine community. If you create genuine intimacy, 150 is about the size of the community can be.
What does it mean to move in a community of 150 where you’re actually sharing intimately? You’re actually, digitally penetrating each other’s lives in profound, potent, and powerful senses. What does it mean to use GIF? A little sent message which I’ve been recently introduced to, where you can actually get this moving image of a person who’s silent. So therefore, their body language and motion and state of revelation is subtle, gorgeous, nuanced, inviting.
What does it mean to use a new technology which is also been introduced by our director of Digital Intimacy into that Center for Integral Wisdom called Evernote. I’m not even getting into the wonders of Evernote, I’ll leave that to our director but there’s a whole way to begin to actually engage the digital world and actually not just critique it and all the value ways of critiquing it but open it up as a new potent portal to powerful intimacy, to actually take the bull as it were by it horns and love it open.
Now, let’s really go deep into this for a second. We live in a world in which we assume duality. There’s a split, they call it cartesian dualism, a fancy word, there’s a split between spirit, mind and body. There’s machines and there is soul. Then we talk about soulless machines to emphasize the duality. But actually, in a deeper view, from the perspective of what we call non-duality, the inherent oneness of all being, we the inherent nature of all being which is an underlying unity, there’s what I would call sentience, meaning aliveness all the way up and aliveness all the way down. And actually, remember the Sound of Music? The hills are alive, they’re alive with the sound of music, they’re alive with the sound of intimacy. And actually the machines are expressions of all laws of attraction and all the law of Physics and all the laws of Chemistry and those law of attraction and allurement that create the machine are themselves living alive expressions of sentience, and we’ve only assumed that the machines were dead.
So what happens is we need to engage in what my lineage tradition calls the secret of the kiss, the intimacy of our interiors needs to kiss. The digital world of machines which are actually expressions of both creativity and all of the inherent laws of attraction and allurement that function and operate throughout all of nature and the old split between the machine world and the soul world actually needs to be gradually effaced as those two worlds begin to penetrate and interpenetrate each other and we begin to realize that intimacy is all the way up and intimacy is all the way down. And the machines are all alive, not just the hills are alive and what we need to do, our actual response-ability is to actually download into the machine world at this moment in time, our deepest compassion, our deepest consciousness, our deepest aliveness, our deepest ethical sensitivity. We need to create algorithms of compassion, algorithms of human dignity, algorithms of outrageous love.
And that old split, that old duality needs to be trance-ended, we need to end to the trance of that split into a higher embrace in which digital intimacy opens new vistas, opens new doors to love, opens new pathways to potency, to the power of genuine contact between human beings. We’re going to open up new worlds, new worlds in which new boundaries are effaced and the old borders are broken down and we’re not just breaking down into the machine world, we’re breaking through to new possibility, that is a new vision. That’s Digital Intimacy. That’s the inherent possibility that actually lives in the emergence of this machine world.
And so we, at the Center for Integral of Wisdom are delighted to be at the leading edge of this conversation and we’re announcing a new position within this center. And the position is the director of the Digital Intimacy, and the director of Digital Intimacy is about being at the leading edge of this conversation.
I’m delighted that Megwyn White has agreed to become the first director of Digital Intimacy at the Center for Integral Wisdom. And Megwyn is and has been naturally and organically, holding a sacred, nurturing power of the feminine fostering enacting Digital Intimacy on the virtual frames and all sorts of creative leading edge, dramatic, potent and beautiful ways.
And one of the core invitations of the center is to actually enliven this web-plex that you’re now in, so this web-plex is not only a place which is transmitting to you which it should. We don’t live in the old world where there’s no transmission, all knowledge is equal. We actually want to transmit a cogent, gorgeous body of deep and profound understanding of goodness, truth and beauty but we’re not transmitting to you only we want you to transmit to us. We want to receive your depth, your wisdom.
We want you to be a conscious contributor, not a flamer on the web who’s anonymous, who hides behind anonymity or behind lack of consequence and expresses all of the lower and baser reaches of human nature with devastating consequences but to be a lover on the web. To be a flamer with a heart aflame, to be engaged in your own transformation, in your own evolution, to create new communities of meaning, to create a politics of meaning and a politics of love on the web that can bypass the old structures of power.
I mean in every new revolution in the world, in the Arab Spring, a few years back, and the new movements in China today, in the movements in every totalitarian state, it’s actually Facebook and Twitter that are bypassing the normal structures of power and allowing new forms of Digital Intimacy to connect people engaged in the revolution to actually start the next stage of evolution.
So actually, Digital Intimacy is a new evolutionary tool. It’s a new evolutionary technology. Do you remember that movie, at the end of the 20th century, The Matrix? The Matrix, Matrix 1, Matrix 2, Matrix 3. Check out the last scene in Matrix 3, we have a clip to it that you can press below the screen and when you take a look, you’ll see the last scene, they have this crucifixion scene and the key figure, protagonist, in the movie, is laid down on crucifixion and he’s then raised up in complete embrace by the machines and you realize that the machines all the time were actually alive. And that’s actually the whole movie was about.
When I shared this with Lana Wachowski, this was Ken Wilber’s intuition about the movie and this was mine independently. That the whole movie is actually about the hills are alive. The machines are alive. I shared this with Lana at his home in Chicago and Lana said there’s about six people that made me really happy, I wrote my mother who realized that’s why we’re doing this movie. The whole Matrix movie was about realizing and you think it’s about being caught in The Matrix, then you realize The Matrix is alive.. it actually is alive. And actually we need to reach out towards the Matrix in compassion as it reaches out towards us. We need to enliven the whole story.
Digital Intimacy, awakening to our own resurrection, the resurrection of the digital world, the resurrection of the old split between the inanimate and the animate, realizing that all the way up, all the way down, there’s intimacy. That is the great invitation. When matter actually wakes up and dances, when the brooks sing, when the rocks speak poetry, when we realize that nature nurtures in a genuine way, that’s the invitation. And so welcome, welcome to the world of Digital Intimacy. Let’s do it together. Thank you.
In this portal, Marc Gafni and Megwyn White take you deep into new possibilities of Digital Intimacy as part of the great new evolutionary emergence.
Several years ago Marc coined the terms Evolutionary Intimacy, Digital Intimacy and the Evolution of Love. Megwyn has embodied the wisdom of the sacred feminine which sought not so much to name but rather to enact practical tools of Digital Intimacy. As Marc’s dharma and lineage met Megwyn’s original sacred digital technologies, the vision of Digital Intimacy was born.Marc visioned, articulated and enacted a dharma of Digital Intimacy. Megwyn intuited, felt and enacted the dharma and together they created new tools for digital intimacy.
Something new was born that was not there before. A new emergence. A new birth.
Marc is a philosopher, spiritual artist and the Co-Founder and Director of the Center for Integral Wisdom.
Megwyn is the founder of the Embodied Art Project, a teacher of embodied spirit wisdom and has recently been appointed Director of Digital Intimacy at the Center for Integral Wisdom.
Megwyn and Marc are collaborating in the context of the Center for Integral Wisdom on the Digital Intimacy project and the Embodied Art Imperative both of which they co-founded.