September 23, 2021

Daily Wisdom: Swords – On Thrusting and Receiving

imgres-5By Dr. Marc Gafni

The symbol of the line is the sword. In biblical Hebrew the actual word for  sword, often a phallic expression, is cherev. The sword and the lance are male symbols of thrusting forward, combat and conquest. The goal of the sword is to affirm which line (sword) is higher in the hierarchy. The sword is goal-oriented. It does not have conversation; instead, it takes control. The sword cuts  through and analyzes. The sword is the discriminating intellect which divides, categorizes and conquers.  Clearly the sword/line is both a powerful force of the spirit as well as a scourge.

The circle is not about thrusting forward. It is about receiving. In the sexual image the circle always receives the line’s forward movement. Whatever position one might take, it is always the circle which must receive the line. The circle listens, opening herself up to receive the line. She is able to absorb the line’s thrust – develop it, unpack it, and give birth to something entirely new. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: What to write on the tombstone of a self that never existed…

infinity-225From Ken Wilber’s “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

Let [an awakening] start right here, right now, with us–with you and with me–and with our commitment to breathe into infinity until infinity alone is the only statement that the world will recognize. Let a radical realization shine from our faces, and roar from our hearts, and thunder from our brains–this simple fact, this obvious fact: that you, in the very immediateness of your present awareness, are in fact the entire world, in all its frost and fever, in all its glories and its grace, in all its triumphs and its tears. You do not see the sun, you are the sun; you do not hear the rain, you are the rain; you do not feel the earth, you are the earth. And in that simple, clear, unmistakable regard, translation has ceased in all domains, and you have transformed into the very Heart of the Kosmos itself–and there, right there, very simply, very quietly, it is all undone. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Evolving Divine Consciousness

imgres-3The unfolding of divine consciousness is not a purely intra-divine process. The great privilege of being a human being is that we participate in the evolution and healing of God. We are God’s healers. It is the evolution of the human spirit that catalyzes the evolution of God. When God and man meet in an evolutionary embrace redemption is achieved. 

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

 

Daily Wisdom: How the Goddess Reveals Herself

shaktiDaily Wisdom from Sally Kempton’s “Awakened Heart”:

When you invoke the goddess, she begins to reveal herself as a subtle Presence in and around you. You sense her in the breath, and she gives you the subtlety to sense the flow of energy in your body. Maybe she lends power to your meditation, or deepens the love in your heart, or manifests as a graceful push to unexpected success in your endeavors. The more you tune yourself to the Goddess, the more you feel her presence empowering your life. The goddess, Shakti, is power itself, the very force that gives life. But, its important always to tune yourself to her liberating face. When there is something important and difficult that needs doing, ask yourself if it is in service of your highest evolution. Ask yourself if it will increase the store of love in you and in the world. Clarify your motivation. Then, ask for help from the Shakti. Ask that her blessing flow through your actions, and enlist even your mistakes to the service of love and healing.

Daily Wisdom: The essential revelation of biblical consciousness is the intimacy of infinity.

imgres-3By Marc Gafni

Prayer is man pouring out his deepest need before God. Philosophers and mystics alike scoffed at this prayer seeking the more pure prayer which pleads for alignment between man and god. Such prayer is surely sacred and noble. The psalmist prays to God “A pure heart create for me God….Take not your holy spirit from me.” Or in another passage the mystic yearning bursts out with full force: “As the deer desperately yearns after the brook of water so does my soul desperately after you O God; My soul thirsts for the living God. When shall I come and appear in the presence of God.”  Or in the Koan prayer of 19th century mystic Shneur Zalman of Liadi as he cries out in prayer;  “I do not want your hell; I do not want your heaven; it is you; you alone that I want.” All of these God in second person prayers whether coming from a dualist psalmist or a non dual mystic Schneur Zalman are an integral part of prayer. Yet none of them replace the core staple of Hebrew spiritual practice; the pouring of the heart’s deepest need before God. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Shout from the heart of what you have seen, shout however you can.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAKen Wilber writes in “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

The vulgar world is already shouting, and with such a raucous rancor that truer voices can scarcely be heard at all. The materialistic world is already full of advertisements and allure, screams of enticement and cries of commerce, wails of welcome and whoops of come hither. I don’t mean to be harsh here, and we must honor all lesser engagements. Nonetheless, you must have noticed that the word “soul” is now the hottest item in the title of book sales–but all “soul” really means, in most of these books, is simply the ego in drag. “Soul” has come to denote, in this feeding frenzy of translative grasping, not that which is timeless in you but that which most loudly thrashes around in time, and thus “care of the soul” incomprehensibly means nothing much more than focusing intensely on your ardently separate self. Likewise, “Spiritual” is on everybody’s lips, but usually all it really means is any intense egoic feeling, just as “Heart” has come to mean any sincere sentiment of the self-contraction. [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: What is “Temple Consciousness”?

imgres-3To be in temple consciousness is to be in God. Eros pure and simple. This shift in consciousness is hidden within the folds of biblical myth text itself. We have already seen that the biblical term lifnei hashem, usually translated as “before God,” can be more fruitfully unpacked as “on the inside of God’s face.”

This allusion plants the seed for the much more radical move made by mystic Isaac Luria in the 16th century. In Luria’s graphic and daring vision, the world is not formed by a forward thrusting male movement which creates outside of itself. Quite the contrary – Divinity creates within itself a sacred void in the form of a circle. This is the Great Circle of Creation. The circle, unlike in the original biblical image, is within God. It is an act of love which moves God to withdraw and make room for other – paradoxically – within God. [Read more…]

Dailly Wisdom: What do I really want?

what-do-i-wantDaily Wisdom from Sally Kempton’s Awakened Heart:

In this wild new year, I’ve been finding that asking the right question is even more useful than making a resolution. Here’s one I’m working with: ‘What do I really want?’ I notice that when I ask the question deeply, moment to moment, the answers are often surprising. What your personal, historical self wants is often different than what your impersonal self–the soul–wants. What your heart wants is often different than what you think you should want. So, asking this question at deeper and deeper levels can help you recognize the pull of the soul’s longings, while also honoring the wants of the personality-self. As you keep asking the question, and bringing to consciousness the different layers of longing inside you, they begin to integrate.

See more updates from Sally on Facebook.

Daily Wisdom: Tears of Transformation

imgresFrom Marc Gafni’s Daily Wisdom post:

Suddenly, in the chair beside him, Nietzsche took off his spectacles, buried his face in his handkerchief, and burst into sobs.

Breuer was stunned.  He must say something.

“I wept too when I knew I had to give up Bertha. So hard to give up that vision, that magic.  You weep for Lou Salome?”

Nietzsche, his face still buried in the handkerchief, blew his nose and shook his head vigorously.

“Then, for your loneliness?” [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The Choir of Creation

imgres-2Lines and circles dance together in the hierarchy of nature. For chains for example are key to every eco-system. A chain is hierarchical, yet it is also made up of interloped circles! The balance of nature means that there is an appreciation for each, at every level. That you can’t be where you are without the other being where they are!

The erotics of interconnectivity however extend beyond the community of human beings. We are not alone on this planet. A wonderful encounter is recorded both in the Zohar and in an ancient Hebrew mystical text called the Perek Shira, the Chapter of SongThe Chapter of Song is a stunning tract which knows to tell that every creature on the planet has its own unique song. Moreover, it cites a sacred text from the Torah as the source of every creature’s song. The implication is radical and beautiful. The Torah, which includes all twenty-four sacred books of the Hebrew Bible, does not address humans alone. Both speak to and express in some mystical way all of creation.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Spiritual realization carries a terrible burden: an obligation to communicate

Woman shouting from snowy mountain topKen Wilber from “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart–perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakeable public example–but authenticity always carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacement. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.

Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of bad infinity.

Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: Those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others (that is the ultimate meaning of the bodhisattva vow). And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must.

Read the entire article…

Daily Wisdom: Even God must be Becoming

imgres-2In Hebrew mysticism, in radical departure from Aristotle, being is infinitely inferior to becoming. Even God, to be perfect – argued the mystics – must be becoming. Which person do we think of as more evolved – one who is static or one who is always growing and expanding? Clearly the latter, respond the mystics to their own question. A person who is not growing is in some sense flawed. Some would even say that the moment we stop growing, we start to die.  Well then – why would you then deny God the same perfection?

When you give up your commitment to the next moment’s unfolding, you give up on God. On your divinely unfolding soul print. God’s gift to you is your life. Your unfolding and growth during that life is your gift back to God, for God expands in our growth.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

Daily Wisdom: What is the highest level a person can reach?

imgres-9Contemporary Hassidic master Shlomo Carlebach in his simple yet deceptively deep prose taught, “What is the highest level a person can reach?” I’ll tell you on a simple level. Sometimes you hear a person laughing and it sounds like laughter.  But if you have really good ears, it sounds like crying.  You listen to a hurricane, and it sounds like the wind is angry – but if you have really good ears, you know that the wind is searching for something.  It is so desperate.  A wedding is a strange thing, and if you don’t have good ears, the whole thing sounds shallow. Most people don’t hear what’s going on at a wedding. The holy bride walks in, she doesn’t say anything. The holy groom walks in, he doesn’t say anything. That’s only if you don’t have good ears. If you have truly good ears however, you can hear not only that the holy bride is crying now, but you can hear her cries from her very first cry as a baby… and the same with the groom. When they walk to the wedding, they don’t begin from a little room down the hall but from their very first second, their very first cry… to this minute, under the canopy, was one long walk.”

What Shlomo suggests, at least in my reading of his transcripts, is that the beginning of crying, the crying of the baby which is a crying of protest and the crying of longing accompanies us through life. The longing moves from pre-personal to personal. At moments of realization, tears of longing give way to crying of joy which is ultimately crying of union. The personal merges into the transpersonal.

Dr. Marc Gafni
Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Daily Wisdom: Innermost desire is the most important spiritual guide

imgresIn Chassidut the notion of longing became essential to the Chassidic understanding of the universe.  For  my teacher  Mordecai Lanier, Teshuka, meaning innermost desire, is the most important spiritual guide.  In contradistinction to Jewish moments of piety, which tried to use the mind and will to overcome desire, the master of Izbica teaches that stripping away the superficialities to access the innermost desire of our souls is ultimately the only reliable guide on our spiritual path.

Taking this one step further, the great teacher of both  non duality and God in the second person, Levi Isaac of Berdichev, teaches that not only is holy yearning a spiritual guide, but all yearning, all desires, are spiritual guides, for in the end, all yearning is really yearning  for the one.  All roads seek to bring us back to our source.  To our highest integration and one-ness.  And even when on the face of it our innermost desires seem to be for that which is base and not yet holy, a deeper reading of the script of our lives will reveal that in fact, whenever we kneel, we are always on our knees to God.  Whenever we yearn we are ultimately yearning for integration, for one-ness, for divinity.

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

Daily Wisdom: The Crying of Union

imgres-1We begin with longing. We give expression to that yearning in tears.  Ultimately, the promise of divinity is that the crying of longing will become the crying of union.  The transformation of the crying of longing, to the crying of union is part of the Tikkun, the ‘fixing’ of tears.  And this is the very process of redemption itself.

Even those who cannot cry however can find their yearning. There is a story of some Chassidim who, in the presence of the Rebbe, were dancing and singing before God, all in great devekut, in great cleaving.  And they were all crying holy tears. There was one among them, however who could not cry. He felt so terrible about this that he ran and got some onions, which he held to his eyes so he too could cry. The master, seeing this, praised his action, saying that it was very precious to God that he wanted to cry. Very often we desperately want to cry but have forgotten the language of tears. We need to be reminded that to long to cry is sometimes as precious as the cry itself.

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

 

Daily Wisdom: The world is filled with Soul Print hints

imgres-15In truth every slice of reality in the holographic universe contains all of wisdom. The true Artisan draws wisdom and inspiration from a reality rich and replete in meaning. The world is filled with Soul Print hints. It may be the lyrics of a song, a sign on a building, an old friend you meet after years of not seeing each other, or a book that grabs your attention and demands to be read.

British thinker Adam Phillips, in his wonderful work The Beast in the Nursery, understands well the slow and subtle eros of hints.  The artist inside us, he writes, is “all the time on the lookout for material to make a dream with.”  In a series of  pregnant sentences, Phillips writes,  “For Keats, inspiration means being able to take the hint… It is not only a tuned responsiveness; it is also an unconscious radar for affinities; for what speaks to one by calling up one’s own voice.”

There is a self-fulfilling circle: the deeper one enters one’s character and voice, the more whisperings are heard and hints detected. Of course, the wink, the subtle gestures, the tilt of the head, all these are the language of lovers; hints and intimations, the hallmark of intimacy.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: Authentic spirituality starts elitist and ends up egalitarian

st-theresa-avila
From Ken Wilber’s “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

And so, even as we rightly criticize merely translative religion (and all the lesser forms of transformation), let us also realize that an integral approach to spirituality combines the best of horizontal and vertical, translative and transformative, legitimate and authentic–and thus let us focus our efforts on a balanced and sane overview of the human condition.

But isn’t this view of mine terribly elitist? Good heavens, I hope so. When you go to a basketball game, do you want to see me or Michael Jordan play basketball? When you listen to pop music, who are you willing to pay money in order to hear? Me or Bruce Springsteen? When you read great literature, who would you rather spend an evening reading, me or Tolstsoy? When you pay sixty-four million dollars for a painting, will that be a painting by me or by Van Gogh?

All excellence is elitist. And that includes spiritual excellence as well. But spiritual excellence is an elitism to which all are invited. We go first to the great masters–to Padmasambhava, to St. Teresa of Avila, to Gautama Buddha, to Lady Tsogyal, to Emerson, Eckhart, Maimonides, Shankara, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Bodhidarma, Garab Dorje. But their message is always the same: let this consciousness be in you which is in me. You start elitist, always; you end up egalitarian, always.

But in between, there is the angry wisdom that shouts from the heart: we must, all of us, keep our eye on the radical and ultimate transformative goal. And so any sort of integral or authentic spirituality will also, always, involve a critical, intense, and occasionally polemical shout from the transformative camp to the merely translative camp.

Read the whole piece…

Daily Wisdom: We can only hear through the love that listens….

imgres-16A phrase in the Zohar used for those soul printed souls who are living their story is lechisah, whispers. To live your story is to be able to hear the intimate whisper of divinity erotically caressing your life.  We are all recipients of cosmic love notes. Paul Tillich reminds us that we can only hear through the love that listens. Buber captured the spirit of biblical myth when he wrote, “To live means being addressed – We have only to present ourselves and to perceive.” To live my story is erotic in the resonance of its melody and the fullness of the canvas. The world, when I am in my story, is no longer empty. The soul is not just here to pay back karmic debts. It has a contribution to make from the depth of its infinite specialness. It is in the making of that contribution that a human being fills fulfilled. That is the eros of living your story.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: The secret of acting with appropriate effort

Michael Phelps wins in the men's swimming 200m individual medleyFrom Sally Kempton’s Awakened Heart:

Someone asked me to write something about appropriate effort–effort that doesn’t involve struggle. Here are a few thoughts, and I’d love to hear what others have to say.

Appropriate effort starts with clarity of intention. The intention will create directionality to what you do. Once you’ve made the intention, notice the objections and doubts that come up, and ask yourself, “Can I let them go?”

Notice the resistance. Notice the stress. Notice the expectations, hopes, fears. Keep asking, “Can I let this go?”

Ask for help from the invisible world. Learn to sense the slight shift in the field when your request is received.

Then do what you have to do, with full presence. Presence is the secret. When you’re making effort with full presence, your effort has a feeling of inevitability and power.

For me, the secret of acting with appropriate effort is to ask myself, “If this were the last act of my life, how would I want to do it?” That question always brings me into full presence, without fear for the outcome. It lets me bring my whole self into what I’m doing–and savor the process.

Daily Wisdom: Those who turn darkness to Light

imgres-7The members of the Zohar’s holy fellowship are called “Those who turn darkness to light.”

It was their profound engagement in their personal darkness which was the matrix for their radical creativity, their light. Zohar is only revealed through the prism of one’s soul print. All creativity wells from this place. In this spirit we understand Rilke’s advice to the Young Poet: “Go deep into yourself and how deep is the place from which your life flows.”

Not all of us are soul printed to write the book of the Zohar. But all of us have the creative potential to write a book of life that shines. That creative potential is our divinity. When we say God is one, we mean original. When the Hebrew mystic experiences herself as part of God it can only be through the path of her originality.  God is an original and can’t stand imitation.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

 

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…]