October 27, 2021

Daily Wisdom: The Path to Understanding

adi-da-in studio3Ken Wilber in “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

[Chogyam] Trungpa [Rinpoche] had to introduce translative and lesser practices in order to prepare people for the obviousness of what is.

Exactly the same thing happened with Adi Da, another influential (and equally controversial) adept (although this time, American-born). He originally taught nothing but “the path of understanding”: not a way to attain enlightenment, but an inquiry into why you want to attain enlightenment in the first place. The very desire to seek enlightenment is in fact nothing but the grasping tendency of the ego itself, and thus the very search for enlightenment prevents it. The “perfect practice” is therefore not to search for enlightenment, but to inquire into the motive for seeking itself. You obviously seek in order to avoid the present, and yet the present alone holds the answer: to seek forever is to miss the point forever. You always already ARE enlightened Spirit, and therefore to seek Spirit is simply to deny Spirit. You can no more attain Spirit than you can attain your feet or acquire your lungs.

Nobody got it. And so Adi Da, exactly like Trungpa, introduced a whole series of translative and lesser transformative practices–seven stages of practice, in fact–leading up to the point that you could dispense with seeking altogether, there to stand open to the always-already truth of your own eternal and timeless condition, which was completely and totally present from the start, but which was brutally ignored in the frenzied desire to seek.

For more, read the entire article.

Wishing you all a wonderful and joyous Christmas

image002You are here to be the poem only you can be.
You are here to sing the song only you can sing.
You are here to be the Unique Presence of Being and Becoming in the world that no one else but YOU can be!

Classical enlightenment, the old enlightenment, viewed uniqueness as the enemy. The belief was that your experience of uniqueness would obscure the realization of your identity with All-That-Is. That ego or separate self is something to be surrendered, pushed aside, utterly dissolved in the timeless Absolute. There is an element of truth to this—the ego must be trance-ended. You must end the trance of the ego.

You will always experience yourself in part as a separate self—that is as it should be. If you did not, you would be psychotic or otherwise deranged. What you need to trance-end is your exclusive identification with your egoic separate self. For it is your sense of being, but a skin-encapsulated ego, that creates the sense of suffocation, fear, and drabness that passes as your life. This fundamental error in identity is the root of virtually all suffering. Your disconnection from your larger context, and the aliveness it holds for you, gives birth to every form of egoic grasping and addiction.

But the ego contains within it more than a glimmer of truth. As we’ll see later, the ego bears gifts that require clarification.

Clarification takes place through contact with the transcendent, resulting in the revelation of the larger whole of which the separate self ego is but a part. The gifts of the ego, which are the intimations of your infinitely valuable uniqueness, can then flower in your higher realization as Unique Self.

We must love and nourish our egos, not destroy them altogether. Ego prefigures and points toward Unique Self.

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self, The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment
page 9 and page 16

Also Sharing With You this awesome audio/music clip from Dr. Marc Gafni that tells us that the only answer to outrageous pain is outrageous LOVE.

The Victorious Surrender

imgres-5God is waiting for us to give up the imitations in our lives so that we can receive the real thing. Imagine what would happen if we really opened up to the knowledge that there is a force holding things together without our being in control. What if we surrendered to that force and allowed it to guide us in our lives? What if we stopped to realize that the planet is constantly supporting our lives?

The very air we breathe – unless we interfere with the natural systems – is constantly made available to our lungs by plants and ocean plankton through an incredible process of photosynthesis. The universe is consciously supporting us and breathing life into our souls at every moment. For the Hebrew mystic, creation is not a one-time event. It is instead a continuous process, hinted at by modern quantum physics, in which the universe recreates itself in love at every second.

This essential giving up of control does not mean that we do not expend enormous effort and energy in trying to chart our destinies and repair the world. It does mean that we need to do so in a way where we understand that even as we labor mightily, we know that it is simply not all up to us. Knowing that, we consciously invite the universe to partner in our efforts, breathing its life and energy into and through us.

The spiritual process of giving up control is called by the Hebrew mystics bittul. Usually, this is explained as self-nullification to God. In reality, it means something quite different. Rather than abnegation, it is a way of making ourselves transparent to God. We give up lower self control because we desire the higher divine self to flow through us. This is the experience of eros modeled on the sexual. We can access it in creativity, prayer, sexuality, study and any other arena of life in which we are willing to be lovers.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: Light

imgres-6Light, quantum wisdom teaches us, has two distinct properties that describe it: the particle property and the wave property.

Light is understood to be a twofold phenomenon not only in modern physics but also in ancient biblical myth.  Light in Hebrew is referred to as sapir. You may be familiar with the English word—sapphire–which is derived from the Hebrew word.  A sapphire, with its incomparable blue shine, is a stone of light.

The identity of spiritual and physical light becomes clearer when we focus on two more words that spring from this luminous Hebrew root, sapir. Those words are mispar and sippurMispar means number.  Sippur means story.

Mispar, like “particle,” expresses the point-like quality of light; sippur, like wave, captures light’s fluid nature. They are sister terms, both born from sapir. Not by coincidence, these words express the unique dual nature of the spiritual light our soul prints emanate.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: authentic spirituality is revolutionary

lightning2Ken Wilber, from “A Spirituality That Transforms”:

Whereas translative religion offers legitimacy, transformative religion offers authenticity. For those few individuals who are ready–that is, sick with the suffering of the separate self, and no longer able to embrace the legitimate worldview–then a transformative opening to true authenticity, true enlightenment, true liberation, calls more and more insistently. And, depending upon your capacity for suffering, you will sooner or later answer the call of authenticity, of transformation, of liberation on the lost horizon of infinity.

Transformative spirituality does not seek to bolster or legitimate any present worldview at all, but rather to provide true authenticity by shattering what the world takes as legitimate. Legitimate consciousness is sanctioned by the consensus, adopted by the herd mentality, embraced by the culture and the counter-culture both, promoted by the separate self as the way to make sense of this world. But authentic consciousness quickly shakes all of that off of its back, and settles instead into a glance that sees only a radiant infinity in the heart of all souls, and breathes into its lungs only the atmosphere of an eternity too simple to believe.

Transformative spirituality, authentic spirituality, is therefore revolutionary. It does not legitimate the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.

Daily Wisdom: A Paradigm Shift in Understanding Joy

imgres-1Joy, teach the Kabbalists, is both a source and a conduit of energy.  The word most often associated in Kabbalah with joy is chiyut, roughly translated as “life energy,” somewhat like the Chinese notion of chi.  To be happy is to be plugged into the chiyut of the Uni-verse.  The portal to that energy is the self, the vital Unique Self.  At the same time, once you are plugged in, the joy itself is not only an energy source but also serves as a medium to channel ever-more divine energy.

Dr.Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self
Page 224

Daily Wisdom: Joy is more than an attitude; it is a potent and powerful source of energy.

 imgres-2By Marc Gafni

The idea of joy as divine energy is expressed by the Kabbalists in many different codes.  Let me share one of them with you.

A favorite epigram of the Kabbalists is simcha poretz geder:  “Joy breaks through all fences.”  One Kabbalist, the master Simcha Bunim (whose first name actually means “happiness”), used this epigram to give a novel explanation of a famous mystical passage, “All the gates are locked, the gates of tears are never locked.”  Traditionally, this verse has been taken to extol the power of a broken heart to break through all barriers when all other avenues have proven ineffective.  When nothing else works, tears can still open the gates.

In a subtle twist, Simcha Bunim turns the passage on its head:  If you are sad, he says, then you can enter only if the gate is unlocked, already wide open.  Thus, God has no choice but to leave the gates of tears unlocked.  If you are joyous, however, then you can get through even the gates that are locked.  After all, simcha portez geder, “Joy breaks through all fences.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self
Page 224, 225

Daily Wisdom: Enlightened Lovers, Shared Vision

One of the key values a couple must share in the biblical myth vision is a commitment to make the world a better place. They must be lovers not only to each other but to the world. This means that they are committed to looking beneath the surface of reality to search for the sparks of the sacred that can be hidden in the most unlikely of places. This is the commitment to love as perception: to find the good – the God points – hidden behind the obfuscating veils of an often painful reality. They are committed to healing and repairing the world even as they understand that they are not in control.

Their commitment to be lovers of the world together, and not only of  each other, finds a beautiful expression under the wedding canopy. In Hebrew mystical tradition, the bride and groom break a  glass to conclude the ceremony. Why do we break a glass?  The answer in the sources is zecher le churban ha mikadah, to remember the destruction of Temple in Jerusalem. We know that the Temple with its intertwined cherubs atop the ark is the symbol of eros and love – beyond the merely sexual. The couple is affirming the mystery of love hidden in the cherubic secret. They commit to make their lives a model for living erotically as lovers in the world.

Deeper still – the Temple is a symbol of a redeemed world. A world without stomachs distended from hunger, without soldiers killed at 18 and 19, without millions of people going to sleep alone, missing the warmth and comfort of another body. The world is filled with broken people. That is something we can never forget – especially under the wedding canopy, which is a symbol of hope and healing.

When we break the glass under the hupah, the broken pieces represent all the broken people in the world. We invite all of them, from Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Gaza and Jerusalem to come under the canopy with us. We invite them to participate in our moment of perfect joy when we are on the inside of the inside. The newlywed couple promises never to forget the emptiness. They commit to do something in their lives to make this world a better place to live, for everyone. This is the spiritual contract entered into by every bride and groom with each other. This is shared vision.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

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

Daily Wisdom: God’s redemption; the evolution of God – depends on us.

By Marc Gafni

By deploying intellectual, meditative and mystical faculties, the lover of divine text moves to unpack the fresh invitation of the divine voice. The divine voice speaks presently to the individual and the community in the eternal now.

It is however more than even that. In this ongoing conversation the interpreter/lover of the text does not merely uncover the original divine intention. She does not merely reveal that which was ostensibly latent in the text from the time of  it’s inception and only now ready to reveal itself. Rather the interpreter/lover of text actually participates as a primary catalyst not only in interpreting, but in actually evolving the divine voice.

Said simply the hermeneutic act is a catalyst for – and actually participates in – what is no less than the evolution of God. When the divine lover of text reads and interprets from their own deepest divine center, the divine voice in the texts evolves, expressing truths that the original voice which wrote the text “did not know and could not have dreamed.”

This is a pivotal deep structure of Isaac Luria’s Kabbalistic thought whose essence was perhaps best captured by Nikos Katzanakis when he said, “We are the Saviors of God.” Said slightly different we are co-creators with the divine responsible for the evolving divine spirit.

Dance of Tears
(in press)
Dr. Marc Gafni

 

 

 

Daily Wisdom: Happiness does not depend on progress

Photo Credit: shagzi23

Ken Wilber, a leading voice on the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality writes in No Boundary:

But, we ask, what will happen to our drive for progress if we see all opposites are one? Well, with any luck, it will stop–and with it that peculiar discontent that thrives on the illusion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But we should be clear about this. I do not mean that we will cease making advancements of a sort in medicine, agriculture, and technology. We will only cease to harbor the illusion that happiness depends on it. For when we see through the illusions of our boundaries, we will see, here and now, the universe as Adam saw it before the Fall: an organic unity, a harmony of opposites, a melody of positive and negative, delight with the play of our vibratory existence. When the opposites are realized to be one, discord melts into concord, battles become dances, and old enemies become lovers. We are then in a position to make friends with all of our universe, and not just one half of it.

 

Daily Wisdom: As You Love Yourself

Of course, to remind another of their full beauty you have to be fully aware of your own.  The Baal Shem Tov has a wonderful teaching on the biblical mandate “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  First it is a statement of fact–you love your neighbor precisely as much as you love yourself.  For in the end, you can only perceive another’s greatness if you have glimpsed and believe in your own. Self-love is self-perception.

If this is so, then a powerful question arises.  How do you love yourself when you know all of your foibles pathologies and blemishes?  Isn’t self-love self-perception?  And does not honest perception yield forth all of the reasons why we are not lovable?  And yet most of us manage, at least to some degree, to love ourselves.  Is it just self-deception?  No, not at all.  Love is not merely perception, it is a perception-identification complex.  Self-perception means that although you are aware of the full complexity of your personae–the good, the bad, and the ugly–you identify the essence of who you are with your good–your good, loving, giving, creative, and generous self.

That does not mean that you deny your beast.  It is, of course, critical to integrate all of you into your self picture.  To love yourself is to identify yourself as part of the Shechina. Writes the Baal Shem Tov, “To love yourself is to love the Shechina.” Not to love yourself is to send the Shechina into exile. So proclaim the Kabbalists, to which Rumi adds:

By God, when you see your beauty
You will be the idol of yourself.

In your deepest nature you must know that you are the hero of your story.  In your deepest nature you are love and grace and strength and splendor.  Now you must decide to identify with your deepest nature.  Do you focus on your innocence or your guilt?  Do you focus on your ever-inevitably dirty hands, or on your ever-eternally pure soul?  To love yourself or anyone else, you need to know that your innocence is your essence.  That you always remain worthy of love.  That your innocence is never lost.

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Pages 121, 122

 

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

 

 

Daily Wisdom: Find your Voice!

Only someone who chooses to step into her story can find voice and respond to her call.

Ah! From the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud,
Enveloping the Earth-
And from the soul itself must be there sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element

–Coleridge

(as quoted by Dr. Marc Gafni in Dance of Tears)

Daily Wisdom: On Baseball and Life’s Other Great Questions

My uncle used to tell this story every year at his birthday celebration.

There were once two best friends who loved baseball. Their great theological question in life was whether there is baseball in heaven. So they make a pact that whoever passes away first will come back and tell the other whether there is baseball in heaven! Well, one passed away and sure enough, true to their pact, appears to his friend in a dream several days later.

“Well,” asks the surviving friend, “tell me already – is it good news or bad news?” 

“Truth is,” comes the response, “it is both good news and bad news.” 

“Well what’s the good news?” 

“The good news is there is most certainly baseball in heaven. Not only that but there’s the finest diamond you could imagine. Moreover all the greats are here. DiMaggio, Ruth, Cobb…and we get to play with them. Everyday you look and you see what teams are up for the next week.” 

His friend is overwhelmed with the good news. “That is fabulous!” he responds. “After all that, what could the bad new possibly be?” 

“Well, I just looked at the lineup…and tomorrow…you’re up to bat.”  

As long as we think we will live forever, we can afford to ignore ultimate issues. But once the simple truth that we are all “up to bat tomorrow” is internalized, then the search for meaning becomes a central concern.

Of course, there are appropriately many different answers as to what constitutes meaning. What is absolutely intriguing, though, is that all of the great systems of spirit viewed some form of significant giving beyond the circle of family as being essential to a life well lived!

You cannot be a lover without being committed to the growth of a community beyond your own circle.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: He becomes the Language of God….

The human self understanding as “King,” stems from the insight, fruit of all serious spiritual practice, that all of reality is included in the divine. Once one realizes that all is the Godhead then one may draw one of two conclusions. First, one might say, well if all is God then I must immediately nullify and surrender to God. And that is good. However one might also say – if all is God, then I am God as well. And that is much better. For the first realization produces what Jewish, Christian and Eastern mystics have called Via Passiva. It’s a passivism, even a kind of resignation which results from the realization that human action is but illusion and the only will which is real is the will of God.

The second far deeper realization understands that if the human being is part of God then he is ultimately liberated. All of his actions count infinitely. He becomes the language of God. God’s adjectives, nouns, verbs, even God’s dangling modifiers. His identification with the divine is not emasculating at all. On the contrary it is radically liberating and empowering. His realization that there is nothing in the cosmos independent of God, the realization that is formally termed acosmism, yields not a tepid quietism but rather, what we have termed an audacious and impassioned “Non Dual Humanism.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears
(2013)

Daily Wisdom: I cannot do it alone…..

In the image of the Temple, we are told of the priest who hears the voice of God, praying. To whom could God be praying? The answer — to us. “Please,” says the Voice. “I cannot do it alone. Please help me…”

Effectively, the gift of love which gives up unilateral control is nothing less than the gift of need. To say “I love you” is to say  “I will not or cannot do it alone.”  To say “I love you” is to say “I need you.” God needs our service!” is the great and radical cry of the Hebrew mystics. “I need you at my side. Are you willing to stand by me?”

Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Ideal of “No Practice”

Ken Wilber writes in “The Spirituality That Transforms”:

When Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a great (though controversial) Tibetan master, first came to this country, he was renown for always saying, when asked the meaning of Vajrayana, “There is only Ati.” In other words, there is only the enlightened mind wherever you look. The ego, samsara, maya and illusion — all of them do not have to be gotten rid of, because none of them actually exist: There is only Ati, there is only Spirit, there is only God, there is only nondual Consciousness anywhere in existence.

Virtually nobody got it — nobody was ready for this radical and authentic realization of always-already truth — and so Trungpa eventually introduced a whole series of “lesser” practices leading up to this radical and ultimate “no practice.” He introduced the Nine Yanas as the foundation of practice — in other words, he introduced nine stages or levels of practice, culminating in the ultimate “no practice” of always-already Ati.

Many of these practices were simply translative, and some were what we might call “lesser transformative” practices: miniature transformations that made the bodymind more susceptible to radical, already-accomplished enlightenment. These translative and lesser practices issued forth in the “perfect practice” of no practice — or the radical, instantaneous, authentic realization that, from the very beginning, there is only Ati. So even though ultimate transformation was the prior goal and ever-present ground, Trungpa had to introduce translative and lesser practices in order to prepare people for the obviousness of what is.

Read the entire article. Ken Wilber is a leading voice in the Integral World Spirituality movement, and more of his writings can be found on www.kenwilber.com.

Daily Wisdom: Tears in a cross-cultural perspective

Tears or their absence in every culture across time are considered the signposts of spirit glimmerings of eternity and whisperings of divinity.   Tears are the divine whisper which utters the secret of our destiny in a tear drop. Heinrich Heine cries out in ecstatic rapture, “What poetry there is in tears;” Hebrew Wisdom would add, “What Wisdom there is in tears.”

A central mystical practice is to keep a tears journal. Identify the five major episodes of crying in the last twenty years of your life.  Then give voice to those tears. Language them even though their truths are beyond words. You will hear the voice of God speaking directly to you with much of the wisdom, courage and direction you need to guide your life.  For the Zohar when tears are present we know that God is present.

“The Sava wept and his tears fell upon his beard.
He said, Sava, weary in strength,
How wonderful are these tears upon your beard!
They are as wonderful as the goodly anointing oil
That would fall on the good white beard of Aaron.
Speak your words Sava,
For the holy King is present.”

The Sava takes the wondrous sight of his tears as a sign that God is present.  For the Sava the presence of tears equals the presence of God.

Thus to understand the language of tears is to know the language of God.

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

Daily Wisdom: Transformation of Identity

Unique Self mystics in the old Aramaic texts spoke of two paths, itcafya and ithapcha.

The higher path is called ithapcha, which means “to transform.” In the language of the mystics, it means to transform “the bitter to the sweet.” The bitter is not erased or diluted, however. The bitter becomes the pointing-out instruction for the sweet. Ithapcha is the way of the dragon. It is far more that just making peace with your “dark side.” It is the transformation of identity, which is an act of memory. You remember that you have forgotten. You have forgotten that you are Source.

In the language of one Unique Self mystic, the master Abraham Kook:

The primary transformation
Which reveals the light in the
darkness
Is that a person returns to himself
To the root of his soul
And that in itself
Is to return to God
Who is the soul of all souls. 

Dr. Marc Gafni
Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment (p. 282).
Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.

Daily Wisdom: Alexander and the Eye of Acquisition

A Story from Marc Gafni:

The rapist, the corporate raider, the Don Juan, and the conqueror are always taking. The sad result is that they never give and therefore never receive. Therefore, the more they take, the less they have. As a result they always remain empty. For many of the biblical mystics, the symbol of conquest was Alexander the Great. He took almost the entire known world of his day. Yet, insisted the masters, without becoming a lover, Alexander would necessarily remain empty.

The legend tells of Alexander finding the Garden of Eden, symbol of all fulfillment, on the African continent. Now the Talmudic masters have a little bit of a soft spot for Alexander. They saw in him not only a conqueror but also a wisdom seeker. So along the way to Eden, Alexander is depicted as growing wiser and slowly divesting the personality of a pure taker.

In one of his adventures Alexander is confronted by an army of women warriors – mythological symbols of Eros and Shechina. They say to him, “It is not worth your while to attack us. For if we kill  you – you will be known as ‘the king killed by women,’ and if you kill us you will be known as ‘the cruel king who killed women.’” A lesson in the futility of taking.

[Read more…]