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March 21, 2023

A New Model of the Student-Teacher Relationship

I think those of us on the spiritual path could agree that the student-teacher relationship deserves an upgrade, not only for the 21st century practitioner-student, but also for the 21st century spiritual teacher. In this video, Dr. Marc Gafni shares with us the possibility of a new model of the student-teacher relationship. What characteristics do you think should be included in a new model of the student-teacher relationship for the 21st century?

Marc-Gafni Color-300x224SquareDr. Marc Gafni holds his doctorate from Oxford University. He is a rabbi and an iconoclastic teacher of Kabbalah and World Spirituality. He is the director with Ken Wilber, Sally Kempton and Diane Hamilton of the Integral Life Spiritual Center and core founder and faculty member of iEvolve: Global Practice Community. He has written seven books, including the national bestseller Soul Prints, and The Mystery of Love, an exploration of the relationship between the sexual, the erotic, and the sacred. Gafni is considered by many to be a visionary voice in the founding of a new World Spirituality.


  1. yes, well said

    one could add …dueling, dramatic, destructive, and developmental…. aspects of the Student/Scholar -n- Teacher/Transcendentalist relationships

    dueling…usually between two
    dramatic…as in drama of 3 or more
    destructive…as self evident!
    developmental…as in creative evolution

    of the vow-els of self (…body,life,mind,self,soul…)


    GOD’s free-willing, co-creatives

  2. Somewhat bemused with Dr. Gafni’s commentary about student-teacher relationship, I reflected on how I would describe my teaching approach. According to the models described, the dynamic I seem to have with my students fall into the “dual relationship” category.

    My client’s outcomes are fully dependent on my ability to listen, observe and learn what their needs are every moment without prior assumption of how the session is going to proceed. I am powerless to authentically help if a reciprocal, adaptable, transcendent relationship is not developed. And, my ongoing growth as an effective teacher is dependent on this dynamic as I learn something new from each unique client experience. In essence, we evolve together.

    The friendship is essential. The intimacy that is necessary to instigate authentic change is deeper than most relationships humans experience. As the teacher I must create a safe, comfortable environment for students to trust and be their unique self. I must fully believe my students are capable of co-creating their future self, recognize and embrace all their qualities, have a sense of their guiding beliefs and relationships with all aspects of their lives impacting their state of health and being, sense and discuss changes in these fundamental characteristics, and feel genuine care and affection for them. The student must embrace that love, be willing to face their ugliness and beauty with me, and trust the process to allow unobstructed flow of universal knowledge to transfer through us. Laughter, tears, and exclamations of epiphany are shared, with laughter being a consistent element.

    Past the apprentice stage in their profession, not practicing from unique self consciously or unconsciously would eventually break down the teacher spiritually, therefore becoming ineffective if not destructive; explaining why many political and spiritual leaders falter and information being taught in all educational realms is largely obsolete or irrelevant with increasing amounts of students lost in disillusionment. This demands teachers and leaders strive to continually evolve themselves so their “best face forward” is also their true face.

    I can’t agree that one requires an “evolved student” to make the model work. If this were true, humanity would be doomed. I feel if more and more teachers, leaders, and parents strive to transition to this relationship model regardless of the student, we evolve together. Will a teacher be able to develop that relationship with every potential student? No. Yet even what appears to be a failure at the time, as if a student doesn’t respond well to what the teacher believes is a dual approach, the experience will have been necessary for both teacher and student to grow. In my personal life experience and many stories throughout history and the world, it is often a mentor that opened their heart to a seemingly hopeless case resulting in profound effect, regardless if the receiver was aware of it at the time even resisting the help and friendship. Transmission is not always immediately obvious; as we know every word, action and thought can be transmitted at a subtle, subconscious level. Upon reflection, former students often recognize how such experiences were critical in their transformation.

    The conventional models tend to dominate certain industries, yet there has always been exceptions as I have experienced with my own mentors. I also feel the Shift that has been growing for the past few years has created more evolutionary teachers and leaders that intuitively guide in a genuine interactive spirit. There is need to officially draft these models to guide those who seek a teacher or aspire to become one, distinguishing a preferred path in line with evolutionary thinking. In that sense, the dual model is “new”.

    If the question were asked of any type of teacher subscribing to iEvolve or similar organizations to choose which of the three models would best describe their approach, I feel many would choose the dual relationship. As is proposed above, I hope others will share their experience to help define the qualities of this evolutionary teaching model.

  3. I think a relevant and insightful discussion on the subject can be seen here:



  1. ievolve gpc says:

    A New Model of the Student-Teacher Relationship. http://bit.ly/aYCyME #integral #spirituality

  2. marcgafni says:

    RT @iEvolve_GPC A New Model of the Student-Teacher Relationship. http://bit.ly/aYCyME #integral #spirituality

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  4. […] The fourth is a link to a video on the CWS website where I discuss the possibility and even desirability in certain contexts of dual relationship between teacher and student. https://www.ievolve.org/2010/09/a-new-model-of-the-student-teacher-relationship/ […]

  5. […] 55) The fourth is a link to a video on the CWS website where I discuss the possibility and even desirability in certain contexts of dual relationship between teacher and student. https://www.ievolve.org/2010/09/a-new-model-of-the-student-teacher-relationship/ […]

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