The isolated ego is the root cause of murder, war, and virtually all human suffering. The ego feels its own fragility, its limits, and its ultimate powerlessness. As a result, the ego grasps for ways to assert power and experience aliveness. This causes the acting out of all forms of shadow. When you deconstruct your mistaken identity with the separate-self ego, and instead identify with your distinct path in the seamless quilt of the Uni-verse, the fear dissipates and the love returns. When the contraction of ego uncoils, your Unique Self experiences all of the good—personal love, responsibility, compassion, ethical action, activism, and all the rest—that you previously thought was accessible only through your assertion of a separate self.
The choice between personal love and immersion in True Self is a false choice. There is no contradiction between them whatsoever: The West—motivated by love and the desire to end suffering—affirmed the separate self because it thought this was the only way a person could gain the goods of the encounter, namely personal love, responsibility, contact, intimacy, accountability, compassion, and care. This was a mistake; all of those goods may be realized through the encounter between two Unique Selves who are not separate from each other, but consciously part of the same seamless coat of the Uni-verse. Personal love does not require two separate selves.
Here is an excerpt from Dr. Marc Gafni’s writing on the relationship between personal or relative love and absolute love. As he says above in this distinction, “The choice between personal love and immersion in True Self is a false choice.” Elaborating on this further, Dr. Marc says:
From an evolutionary perspective, there is really no distinction at all between relative and absolute love. The same love that initiated the big bang is the evolutionary eros that animates all of reality. It is the same love that causes quarks to come together to form atoms. Eros or love by any other name is the movement towards higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace. It moves atoms to become molecules, and then later, complex molecules. It moves cell to become multicelluar beings. Love, the movement towards higher and higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace is the eros driving all of evolution. It is the force of allurement, the omega point or strange attractor that pulls all of reality to higher and deeper levels of complexity and consciousness.
Eventually, the evolutionary chain reaches the triune brain. Cultural evolution is born, which takes man through many structure stages of consciousness, each one demarcated by higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace. The human being herself then moves to higher and higher levels of consciousness. All of this is the evolution of love. The human being begins with ego-centric love, which is a felt sense of care and concern for her immediate circle of intimates. She then evolves to ethnocentric love, which is a felt sense of care and concern for the entire tribe. Then, she evolves to worldcentric love, a felt sense of care and concern for every human being on the planet. It is at the world-centric level that a clear sense of Unique Self begins to show up. Finally, she evolves to kosmocentric, where her felt sense of caring and concern is for all sentient and non-sentient beings.
She realizes her full divinity and shifts her perspective from “her side” to “God’s side” and loves with the divine love that initiated the cosmos. From this perspective, one understands that all love is part of a continuum and all love is sourced in the same evolutionary love that initiated all that is. Absolute and relative love are, at source, One Love. And, of course, relative love is precisely what we might call personal love.
In effect, this is another example of the systemic devaluation of the personal relative to the impersonal in enlightenment teachings. In the Unique Self teaching, the personal itself is an expression of the absolute. The split between the absolute and the relative is effaced from the non-dual awakened perspective of Unique Self because, in the final analysis, emptiness is form and form is emptiness. All form is therefore Unique. In the course of evolution, there is movement to higher and higher levels of complexity, consciousness, and uniqueness. In effect, the trajectory of evolution is in some core sense about the evolution of eros, creativity, and uniqueness, which are different faces of the same one.
The evolution of eros and love, the movement towards higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace creates higher and higher levels of creativity. Creativity is a function of unique perspective and insight. And the virtuous circle of evolution continues. As uniqueness evolves, it awakens. The same is true as we saw above for evolution itself. Evolution moves from unconscious to conscious evolution. Uniqueness moves along the trajectory of evolution from unconscious to conscious uniqueness. The more conscious uniqueness becomes, the more personal it becomes. An atom may be unique, but it has only a modicum of personal quality. A human being is more personal the more they are awake and aware of their particular uniqueness and able to make contact with the uniqueness of an other.
In this sense, from a Unique Self perspective, the evolution of uniqueness is the evolution of intimacy. In the realization of Unique Self, the inner essence of reality is the infinity of intimacy. This is the realization that, at its core, consciousness is love—the evolution of consciousness is, therefore, nothing less than the evolution of love. If you then realize that God is synonymous with love, you begin to understand that the evolution of love is no less than the evolution of God. God is the infinite. The infinite is the intimate. God is the infinity of intimacy. This intimacy comes into fullness with the awakening of the Evolutionary Unique Self, which is the full human awakening to God in first, second, and third persons. The human being is called by God to be God and to incarnate the evolutionary love that initiated and animates all that is. The following is a description of the Evolutionary Unique Self.
It is not enough, however, to awaken only to your Unique Expression of True Self. There is a second critical dimension of awakening that is essential to Unique Self realization. I received a direct transmission of this second dimension of Unique Self enlightenment from my lineage teachers who are best described as evolutionary mystics.
Isaac Luria, the teacher of my teachers, the great evolutionary mystic of the Renaissance period, taught that every action that a person takes must be with the explicit consciousness and intention of tikkun. Tikkun is best translated as the evolutionary healing and transformation of all of reality. Every action must be invested with evolutionary intention. In Luria’s language it must be leshem yichud, meaning for the sake of the evolutionary integration and transformation of all of reality.
Said simply in the language of the evolutionary mystics themselves, to awaken to your Unique Self is to “shift your perspective.” The way the evolutionary mystics say it is simply to shift your perspective from “your side” to “God’s side.” To the evolutionary mystics, to awaken means not necessarily to have a profound mystical state experience in which you feel all of being living in you; rather, to awaken is to dramatically, yet simply, shift your alignment. To no longer align with your will, but with God’s will.
We do not mean God here in the old mythic sense of the ethnocentric God who created the world in six days and is anti-science, vengeful, and anti-humanity. By God, Luria refers to the evolutionary process of unfolding which drives and animates the kosmos on every level of existence. God’s will is the will of the kosmos. God is what Aurobindo refers to in his great work The Future Evolution of Man as the evolutionary imperative or what has been more recently renamed as the Evolutionary Impulse (Hubbard, 1998). It is the creative force of the kosmos, which is, intends, and moves All-That-Is toward healing and transformation. It is the evolutionary impulse that lives in you, as you, and through you.
To awaken to your Unique Self means to awaken to the impulse to evolve, which is the divine creativity surging in
you at this very moment, reaching toward the good, the true, and the beautiful. To awaken to your Unique Self is to realize—as the evolutionary mystics taught us—that you live in an evolutionary context. To awaken to your Unique Self is to realize that your True Self is not static. When we thought that the divine field was an eternal absolute, then naturally we felt that the realization of True Self was the awakening to your unqualified eternal, absolute, and unchanging consciousness. The evolutionary mystics, however, from Luria to Schelling to Kook to Aurobindo, awakened to the evolving nature of spirit. As we moved into modernity and Darwinian science, the contemporary evolutionary mystics realized that their initial insight into the evolution of spirit applied not only to spirit, but also to the evolution of the biosphere, of the physical world. As my teacher Abraham Kook writes, “all of reality”—matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit—“is always evolving.” To be a mystic is to know something of the interior face of the kosmos. The novice knows today what only the most advanced souls knew five hundred years ago, that evolution is the inner mechanism of mystery.
For example, Renaissance mystic Isaac Luria and his school of Kabbalists had a deep knowing of the inner evolutionary process of spirit. They knew through deep mystical contemplation that the awakened human being was actively and consciously engaging in the evolution of all of reality. In their more audacious nondual formulations, these evolutionary mystics, writing in the 16th century, realized that man is responsible for the evolution of God.
They understood and clearly articulated that the specific privilege and wild responsibility of the human being is to awaken to conscious evolution. And, these very evolutionary mystics are the original inspiration for the core teaching of Unique Self. This is far different from an “awakened impersonal function.” By contrast, Unique Self is the personal after the impersonal and is characterized by irreducible uniqueness.
In this broader evolutionary mystical context, it is possible to say simply that in the awakened Unique Self, evolution becomes conscious of itself. It is the awakened Unique Self feeling the imperative of evolution consciously alive in herself that is therefore called to give her Unique Gifts for the sake of the evolution of all of reality. So, the Unique Self in full realization might be more accurately termed the evolutionary Unique Self. The awakened Unique Self who has evolved beyond exclusive identification with ego is constantly being called by the evolutionary impulse. Indeed, it is in consciously aligning his Unique Self will with the evolutionary will of the kosmos that the human being is pulled beyond ego to True Self, and then to the personal face of True Self—Unique Self. One does not escape ego by awakening to the evolutionary Unique Self. Ego is always present. However, by identifying with the infinitely larger context of the evolutionary Unique Self, the limited identification with ego is gloriously trance-ended. See the chart on the stations of Unique Self here (link automatically downloads a .pdf file).
- Can you identify three examples in your life of ways that the love that exists prior to creation and the love that moves the sun and the stars, as Dante writes, also addresses you personally and knows you by name?
- If the first question is challenging, begin by looking for three examples or tastes of personal love in your daily life. These could be found in a favorite poem, a beloved bike, a sweet memory that touches you uniquely, a special pet, a loved one in your life, a Unique Self relationship, etc.
- Then, consider how these three expressions of personal love are voices of God that invite you to your own Unique Self evolution.
- Think of a time when personal love has invited you or allowed you to move beyond the contraction of the separate self.
- Think of another time when personal love has invited you to your personally best evolutionary moment or expression. When has personal love become the outrageous love that overcomes inertia in some stuck area of your life? You might think of Jack Nicholson’s character in the 1997 film As Good As It Gets saying to Helen Hunt’s character: “You make me want to be a better man.” What are the personal evolutionary love invitations in your life?
- How do these expressions of love, in the personal or transpersonal sense, help you move beyond the fear and contraction of the ego? Can you identify this sensation of Love as it is holding the contraction in your body, in your felt-sense, or in your psyche?