May 26, 2022

Clinical Somatic Education: A New Discipline in the Field of Healthcare

Mary Ann Gray VoorhiesPresenting Clinical Somatic Education

(Otherwise known as Hanna Somatics, created by Thomas Hanna, Ph.D.)

by Mary Ann Gray Voorhies, Clinical Somatic Educator

Clinical Somatic Education, according to Thomas Hanna in his article of the same name, is as follows. These are his words:

The flowering of a series of developments that have led to a discipline that is as consistently effective as any branch of medical science … This type of somatic education is the use of sensory-motor learning to gain greater voluntary control of one’s own physiological process. It is somatic, meaning that the learning occurs within the individual as an internalized process. Prior to the advent of this teacher/learner form of somatic education, the same self-transformatory events have been commonplace in human history.

“Miraculous” cures and healings and radical changes in physical skills and health are the common lore of martial arts and religious history. Because the mechanisms of such healings performed by shamans across the globe were hidden within the internal process of individuals, they have always (heretofore) had the aura of mystery — the mythology of “good” and “bad” spirits or “good” or “bad” energies. It is this same hiddenness that causes the work of 20th century somatic educators to be “miraculous” in the same mysterious way that the pre-scientific world viewed shamanic work. In a series of articles it will be my task to reveal to the reader an understanding of the somatic world in general — and of somatic education in particular, so that the mystery and mythology can be dispelled. [Read more…]

Unique Self & Reincarnation with Marc Gafni & Michael Murphy – Final Part 9: A Meditation from the Vast to the Personal in Powers of Ten

The dialogue between Michael Murphy and Marc Gafni ends on a contemplation of the vast, infinite complexity and beauty of an ever-expanding Universe expressed also as the infinite complexity and beauty of each soul… of each irreducibly Unique Self… ever-evolving… ever-expanding.

Unique Self & Reincarnation with Marc Gafni & Michael Murphy – Part 8: On Using Discernment: The Many Ways to Pray

We are multidimensional human beings… When we pray, from what part of our Being are we praying from? The discussion continues learning the practice of prayer not as dogma, but as an empirical and experiential practice that has proven results. Learning to pray not from our small and separate ego drives, but from our Unique Self, is consciousness changing and transformative.

Unique Self and Reincarnation Part 7: East-West Enlightenment and a New Empiricism

What are the practical implications of reincarnation when we deconstruct dogma and embrace the many forms of empirical knowledge… as many as seventeen types of empirical knowing… that inform us of deeper human existential realities? Marc Gafni and Michael Murphy discuss Integral Transformative Practice.

Part 7: East-West Enlightenment and a New Empiricism


Unique Self and Reincarnation Part 6: God With Form and God Without Form

Marc and Michael continue their discussion on reincarnation, in this piece, reflecting upon the pulses of cultural transmission from east to west, and that we are now in an exciting time period of being able to evaluate all past traditions and wisdom of the global village, evolving a deepened empirical understanding and experience of the nature of God and the journey of the soul through more than one physical embodiment.

Part 6 – “God With Form, and God Without Form”

Unique Self and Reincarnation Part 5: Prayer and the Cosmic Vending Machine

If we take all theology and dogma out of the discussion, and look at empirical evidence, where do rigorous conversations on topics such as the positive effects of prayer or the possible reality of reincarnation take us?

Part 5 – “Prayer and the Cosmic Vending Machine”

True Self Meditation for People with Dementia

by Steve Raymond


I met a lovely woman not much older than me in a coffee shop. She said something humorous, and we began a conversation that emotionally moved me because she was quite open with the fact that she is in Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease. She carried it well and very lightly, and shared her personal story with me quite eloquently.

In Monterey, I volunteered for too-short-a-time with the Alzheimer’s Association as a facilitator for a support group for people with Early Stage Alzheimer’s. The people in our group were mostly younger, ranging from 54 to 78, with three younger than 60. So, they were not just Early Stage, but also Early Onset. I say “too-short” because life changes brought me away from that work, and I felt very incomplete about it.

Photo by Julie M. Daley

Photo by Julie M. Daley

There are lots of sobering statistics and valuable information that are readily available at the National Alzheimer’s Association, with great advice for PWD’s (People with Dementia), and their caregivers. I have a somewhat different perspective to share.

Everyone in our Monterey group had clearly life-altering diminishment in their functional capacity. And yet, each person could be so acutely Present emotionally, and so aware of what was happening in their life and to their life.

One common thread in our conversations was the perceived stigma attached to the dementia. Very painfully, each described the experience of being stigmatized by the disease, as though they were now second-class citizens that are essentially written off by society as a hopeless case. This was what always brought forth the most visceral emotions, almost more than the experience of loss of abilities.

This prompted me to teach meditation to our group. In guided meditations, I would begin by having us find a place of calm centered Being-ness that existed separately from the false perceptions and judgements of others, and we would focus upon breathing in Self-Love, and owning the Truth that the dementia is a disease that is affecting their life, but that they could experience the Essence of Being entirely separate from the disease. I was always surprised that attention-span was not a problem. The group settled in comfortably for 20-minutes, and would emerge feeling a very peaceful and gentle sense of True Self Realization.
[Read more…]

Unique Self In the World – “My First Unique Self Encounter: The First Time I Ever Fell Really in Love”

Steve Raymond, Senior Teacher of Unique Self, Board of Trustees member

Steve Raymond, Senior Teacher of Unique Self, and CWS Board of Trustees member

Steven Raymond is a student of Marc Gafni and of Integral theory. For the Center for Integral Wisdom, Steve serves as a Unique Self teacher and a Board of Trustees member, and is delighted to be bringing Unique Self dharma to the New England states in collaboration with other teachers. His focus is on the integration of group experiential processes with Unique Self training for individuals and healthcare professionals, with a particular interest in the fields of conscious birthing and conscious dying.

Steve has broad experience in deep experiential transpersonal processes and therapies, and is a master of assisting others with shadow work. Steve has a private coaching/teaching practice, and provides transformative consultation to individuals, groups and small entrepreneurs. He is also a leader in foundational men’s work, is an Alumni of the Breakthrough Men’s Community in Carmel, CA, and is now setting up a men’s community group and an Awakening Your Unique Self study group in Portland, ME. He is the parent of an adult son and daughter, and the grandparent of three children, who love him as a jokester and as a mythological god on the ping pong table.

Steve writes, “The essence of my spiritual practice, my Unique Self practice, is to seek to live a fully embodied and passionate life of joy, clarity and purpose. This is how I wish to Show Up for my family, friends, clients and students. And, it must also be said, as with all human beings, there are times when we must dance with our own shadow, and I always hope to do that authentically.”

My First Unique Self Encounter: The First Time I Ever Fell Really in Love
by Steven Raymond

My Unique Self in the Third Person

The first time I ever fell really in love, I was an emotionally damaged 23-year-old man finding my way through the complex maze of my early life. My first real love was a dying 70-year old woman, and the radically Outrageous Love I shared with her transformed my life and revealed a path forward that 37 years later I assess as the discovery of my Unique Purpose, and a life-altering revelation—my Unique Self. [Read more…]

Wisdom for Your Week: Divine Tears

Kalonymus Kalman Shapira
Piasetzener Rebbe

In this beautiful and deeply moving series of short videos from 2008 from the Treblinka death camp, Dr. Marc Gafni tells us the story of Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, Rebbe of Piaseczno, who–after his whole family was killed by the Nazis–kept on teaching and loving and writing down his sermons to his students in the Warsaw Ghetto. When he became aware that the end of the Ghetto and its inhabitants was near, he buried the book in a canister. This canister was found after the end of the war and the book was published in Israel in 1960.

In one of the teachings of this last Polish Hasidic Master–as Dr. Marc tells us here–he asks himself: “What is the internal vibration of the Divine?” In Jeremiah, God speaks: “In the inner places, I cry.” Yet, in another place, it is said that in God’s inner places, there is joy and laughter.

Dr. Marc reminds us here that “in the inner space between the contradictions–that is where God lives.” And he narrates further that the Talmud, in the Tractate Hagigah, states about this: “That is in the inner house. That is in the outer house.”–without telling us which is which. Most Kabbalists read this–like a classical Vedanta, non-dual position–that in the inner places God is not affected by the world. So, in the inner places, God is all joy and laughter.

Not so, the Rebbe of Piaseczno… Read the partial transcript of the story as told by Dr. Marc Gafni:

[Read more…]

Distinction between Ego and Unique Self #23: Eternity or Death

Dark Tunnel With Light by pakorn


by Dr. Marc Gafni from Your Unique Self

The ego strives for immortality it can never achieve, and therefore displaces its grasping for eternity onto projects of control and conquest. The Unique Self experiences authentically what the ego longs for mistakenly—namely the recognition that it is divine and therefore eternal.

This distinction is essential and therefore deserves a brief clarification. The separate self emerges at a certain stage of human history and at a certain stage in the development of the individual human being. As the sense of separate self solidifies, so too does the terror of death. The person feels correctly that death is wrong, that they should not have to die. They feel that they are eternal and should live forever. They are right. The core intuition of immortality could not be more correct. But locked as they are in separate self ego awareness, they mis-apply that core intuition in two ways.

First, because they are utterly identified with the ego, they apply their intuition of immortality to the egoic separate self. They think that the ego will live forever. Second, because they are identified with the now-eternalized ego, and yet at the same time are gripped by the fear of death, which is oblivion to the ego, they seek all sorts of Viagra-like identity enhancers. They make the finite goods of the world into infinite goods. Money, surplus goods, power, accumulated pleasures—all become identity enhancers for the ego. Their purpose is to give the ego a felt sense of its immortality. But since the ego is not immortal, all of these death-denying immortality projects are doomed to failure.

Even though the ego does make these two essential mistakes, the ego’s intuitions are not wrong. When the mistakes are corrected at the level of Unique Self, the truth behind those intuitions can emerge. After you disidentify with your separate self, your Unique Self appears as a distinct and indivisible part of the eternal one. It is in your Unique Self that you realize your immortality. The Unique Self expresses correctly the mistakenly applied, but inwardly correct, intuition of the ego.


Further discussion:

A 2012 article in The Guardian has gone viral and is still circulating in social media: “Top five regrets of the dying.“ An Australian nurse in palliative care, Bronnie Ware, had for many years questioned her patients during the last 12 weeks of their lives about any regrets they might have. She has recorded their answers in a blog and eventually wrote a book about them.

When looking at these responses from a Unique Self perspective, we read of the patients regretting not having lived their Unique Selves: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” was the most common answer. [Read more…]

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


Is no one in charge inside our heads?

By Joe Perez

Everyone knows the human individual is autonomous, a separate being in itself. Not so fast, says evolutionary biologist David P. Barash of the University of Washington, writing recently in “Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?” for the New York Times. Drawing on research into parasites which alter the consciousness of their victims, Barash says:

It may be distressing to those committed to “autonomy,” but such manipulators [as Echinococcus and Dicrocoelium] have inherited the earth. Including us.

Take coughing, or sneezing. It may be beneficial for an infected person to cough up or sneeze out some of her tiny organismic invaders, although it isn’t so healthful for others nearby. But what if coughing and sneezing aren’t merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses? Shades of zombie bees, fattened mice and grass-blade-besotted ants. [Read more…]

In the blogosphere, attacks on alternative medicine from questionable sources


By Joe Perez

At first, I saw no reason that I should link to this blog post by a pseudonymous blogger who calls himself Orac. He claims to be a surgeon/scientist, and I have little doubt that he is. He is skeptical about all complementary/alternative medicine, which he likens to The Secret and New Age woo-woo nonsense.

At his Respectful Insolence blog, he writes:

…CAM [complementary alternative medicine] is nothing more than placebo medicine. It makes it easier for me to remind people that intentionally practicing placebo medicine is unethical (because it requires lying to the patient) and paternalistic, just like 60 years ago when conventional doctors did actually order placebos for patients. In a perfectly Orwellian turn of phrase, advocates of “health freedom” and CAM advocates are in essence advocating a return to that sort of paternalism. As I’ve pointed out before, CAM cloaks itself in rhetoric suggesting that it “empowering” patients to “take control” of their health. In actuality it denies them the most important tool to do that: A appraisal of the rationale behind a proposed treatment, along with an assessment of its potential benefits and risks based on science, not fantasy. Instead, it substitutes tooth fairy science, pre-scientific vitalism, and utter faith in the practitioner for science and reason.

So calling advocates of alternative medicine unethical peddlers of fantasy with Orwellian delusions is “respectful insolence” now? [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 3): Two 19th Century Russians, Nachman and Dostoyevsky


Photo Credit: Bradley Wind


By Marc Gafni

Note: This post is continued from Part 2.

It is this paradox that Dostoyevsky in Brothers Karamazov does not fully grasp. He does not understand that the rage of Ivan is the rage of ‘heresy that is faith.’ Ivan, responding to Alyosha’s certainty of belief, has just described to him the brutal murder of a child torn apart by dogs for sport. Ivan’s uncertainty burns with the fiery anger of faith:

Although the passage is longer than what one would usually expect in a quoted text, it is so germane to our theme and so compelling that I did not shorten it. Thus I invite my dear reader to experience the truth and power of Ivan’s plea. He needs to be read as a modern echo of Abraham’s cry “Will the judge of the entire world not do justice?” [Read more…]

Faithful, expansive perspectives on Easter as a super-natural event


By Joe Perez

On the If Darwin Prayed blog, Bruce Sanguin asks himself good, tough questions about belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says:

[Read more…]

On the three different types of tears


By Joe Perez

Soulfulness includes the ability to express deep and often sorrowful feeling. In tears, aspects of the soul are released from the body, flowing erotically from one soul beyond itself. Marc Gafni in The Dance of Tears (forthcoming, Integral Publishers) has even categorized three major types of tears:

[Read more…]

Simplicity Beyond Complexity: The Question Is the Answer (A Reponse to Suffering) by Marc Gafni

By Marc Gafni

Part I: The Question

One of the great teachings of the Integral Consciousness, which informs the emergent World Spirituality, is that frameworks matter.

The old world of the great traditions understood this very well. The framework is the meta-narrative, the big picture or worldview, the Great Story through which we interpret our experience.

To date in history, there have been three primary Great Stories. The pre-modern story was the story of simplicity, what I would call first simplicity. In terms of depth and interior enlightenment, this story was anything but simple in the simple-minded sense of things. It was the greatest interior view of the depths of kosmos, ever disclosed by the great human faculty of perception—the eye of the spirit. It was nonetheless, simplicity, because in large part[1], it claimed to have clear-cut answers to many of the great questions of Who we are, Why we are here, and Where we are going. Particularly, it claimed to offer clear and simple explanations of why human beings suffer or, said slightly differently, why bad things happen to good people. The Story was painful but simple. Suffering was a direct and clear part of the divine plan which human beings—if they looked deeply enough—were capable of understanding.

The Great Story of the old traditions was rejected by modernity and post-modernity. The profound simplicities were undermined and human kind found itself living in vast complexity. First Simplicity was replaced by a new complexity.

[Read more…]

What’s Wrong With Martyrdom? – Lessons from Mohamed Bouazizi, Socrates, and Obi-Wan Kenobi

by Trevor Malkinson

A Spark Can Set a Field on Fire

On December 17, 2010, a Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Bouazizi had been the main provider for his family since the age of 10, selling vegetables everyday in the market (1). For years he’d been bullied, harassed and humiliated by police; it was almost a daily occurrence. They would take away his scales or his produce, or fine him for not having a permit, which was basically a bribe because no permit was officially needed. The country of Tunisia had been under an authoritarian regime for twenty-five years, and corruption and nepotism were rampant. A vast majority of the country’s wealth was in the hands of a small elite group, most of whom were blood relatives of President Ben Ali. On December 17 Bouazzi was harassed again, this time physically. And this time he’d had enough. After his request to speak to a local official was denied (as usual), Bouazzi bought some paint fuel, sat down outside the government building of the same unavailable state official, doused himself in the flammable liquid, and lit a match heard round the world.

As we all know now, this act by Bouazzi sparked an immediate uprising in Tunisia, one that spread to many other countries in the region and, at the time of writing, continues to spread. The conditions for this revolutionary outpouring have been in place for some time. The people of Tunisia, and Egypt, have long been disgruntled, and opposition groups had been quietly forming on sites like Facebook and elsewhere for several years (2). But it was Bouazzi’s desperate act of self-immolation that broke the dam open into virtual release. It’s hard for us to fully grasp the severity and totality of this kind of deed; it seems so radical and so awful. In one single snap of the fingers, this action negates all the core fears of our self-interested separate self- fear of pain, fear of suffering, and ultimately, fear of death. This horrific display of burning oneself alive in protest throws into stark relief the total commitment of the person doing it, and the total rejection of the injustice he and others had endured. Something sonic radiated outward on the day of December 17, 2010; in this act of self-negation, in this horrendous self-sacrifice, Mohamed Bouazzi managed to ignite a brush fire throughout the wider whole.


Socrates and the Seeds of the Modern World

In this article, I’m attempting to inquire into the troubled notion of martyrdom, and asking what role it might still possibly play in our lives as evolutionaries today. I should make it clear in advance that I’m not championing sacrificial death as a recommended method of social transformation, and/or the final goal of the spiritual journey! However, since martyrdom has taken this particular form many times in the past, we need to explore what’s been at play and at stake in this history. As good integralists, we should be able to enter into that territory and strip out the intelligence and wisdom involved, while simultaneously rejecting any outmoded forms of its expression.

There are many definitions of martyrdom and most define bodily death as its essential characteristic, yet this hasn’t always historically been the case. Not all martyrdom has this final result. Here’s a working definition of martyrdom that I think is realistic in its generality: “In its purest form, martyrdom is a voluntary, conscious, and altruistic readiness to suffer and offer one’s life for a cause” (3).

Let’s consider a couple more famous examples of martyrdom to further inquire into what’s involved, and why it still might be an important concept for us today.

One of the most celebrated examples of self-sacrifice in history is that of Socrates. Socrates was the great “gadfly” to the people of ancient Athens; in his bare feet and robe, he relentlessly questioned all the assumptions of his day. He dared those around him to question their lives, to take nothing for granted, to accept no authority but that of their own minds (ie. he rejected the authority of the gods). “The unexamined life is not worth living”. It’s hard to truly capture how radical this statement was in 5th century Greece. For all his rabble rousing, for all his disruption of the status quo, Socrates was eventually put on trial for “impiety” and “corrupting the youth of Athens”.

When the court found Socrates guilty and asked him what he thought his own punishment should be, Socrates goaded the jury by saying he should given free meals for the rest of his life, in the manner of an Athenian hero. It’s likely that this unapologetic irreverence resulted in the jury’s final choice of death as the penalty. Later, while awaiting execution, Socrates’ friend Crito came to him with a plan to break him out of jail and help him flee into exile. Socrates refused. He believed in the values that he’d lived by and espoused- the examined life, justice, freedom of speech, civic virtue- and he was going to stand by them to the final moment, no matter what the consequence.

Why have these defiant actions by Socrates inspired so many writers, artists and philosophers down through the ages? The famous painting of ‘The Death of Socrates’ by Jacques-Louis David (1787) is only but one manifestation of this enduring inspiration. I know this story of Socrates stirred me when I first encountered it. There was so much courage and commitment, so much inner strength and integrity, such a total unwillingness to buckle in the face of adversity and hardship. It’s hard to be at the forefront of evolution, outside of the center, alone on the curve. Much of what Socrates fought and gave his life for we all now enjoy as our cultural backdrop today. It’s worth asking ourselves, what role did Socrates’ heroic example play in helping the values he espoused to overcome the dominance of the traditional mythic worldview? In what way did his sacrificial act help usher in the next emerging world? Could we do the same?




Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Strengthening of the Force

There’s another famous example of sacrifice that comes to us from the cinema. Late in the movie Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi is engaged in a light saber duel with Darth Vader in a critical scene aboard the Death Star. During this battle Obi-Wan chooses to sacrifice himself in front of a watching Luke Skywalker, his young Jedi pupil in training. Why does he do this?

The key to this question seems to me to be twofold. First, just before Obi-Wan Kenobi lets himself be killed, he says to Darth Vader, “If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. Obi-Wan seems to sense that this act will somehow strengthen the power of the Force. And perhaps it’s in this very moment that Luke- seeing his mentor being slain- finally commits to do his training, finally makes the full inward choice to become a Jedi and defeat the Empire. Thus, Obi-Wan’s act was a self-sacrifice intended to give strength and hopefully victory to the Force in its struggle against darkness and evil. It’s interesting to note that Kenobi’s bodily form simply dissipates into thin air when struck by Vader’s light saber. This seems to symbolically indicate that through this act he’s returned to the Source.

This is, of course, only a scene from a movie and we needn’t spend too much time arguing the finer points of this fictional episode. However, our art can (at its best) be a voice for some of our deeper yearnings and potentials, and this famous scene might be worth a moment of contemplation. Just before Obi-Wan is struck down he smiles warmly, gathers himself inwardly, closes his eyes and awaits his destiny. We can ask ourselves, could we find such strength and such inner grace in a moment of our own self-sacrifice? And from what or where does such peace emanate?

Whole System Transition and A New Political Martyrdom

As many of us are becoming increasingly aware, the modern world-system has reached a crisis point (4). We’ve reached the limits of our ever expansive growth, and many of the natural systems on which we depend are in increasing danger of collapse. We’ve hit what systems theorists call a bifurcation point– a point of overwhelm where a system either starts to disintegrate into its previous forms, or emerges, through evolution, into a higher and more complex level of organization and control (5). Author Jean Houston describes the process we’re undergoing as whole system transition, and we can all feel the turbulence and uncertainty of this unique evolutionary passage.

One of the things that’s helping to destabilize the world-system is a current form of unrestricted free market capitalism, sometimes called neoliberalism (6). Under this economic policy, dominant for almost thirty years now, an extreme and unsustainable portion of the world’s wealth has become concentrated in the hands of a privileged few. Just a few weeks ago, both The Atlantic and The Economist ran cover stories discussing a new global elite (7). The situation has become so stark and unavoidable that this sort of talk has officially moved outside of small groups of leftists, and has entered the mainstream. It’s into this overall context- threats of systemic collapse, great disparities of wealth, continuing war- that the political theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have proposed to reclaim the notion of martyrdom as a viable political concept and course of political action. In their 2004 text called Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, they describe two forms of martyrdom:

The one form [of martyrdom], which is exemplified by the suicide bomber, poses martyrdom as a response of destruction, including self-destruction, to an act of injustice. The other form of martyrdom, however, is completely different. In this form the martyr does not seek destruction but is rather struck down by the violence of the powerful. Martyrdom in this form is really a kind of testimony– testimony not so much to the injustices of power but to the possibility of a new world, an alternative not only to that specific destructive power but to every such power…This martyrdom is really an act of love; a constituent act aimed at the future and against the sovereignty of the present. (8).

In Hardt and Negri’s call for a nonviolent testimony we can hear the echo of Percy Shelley’s famous political poem The Masque of Anarchy (1819), said to be one of the first modern statements of the principle of nonviolent resistance. Shelley writes:

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.

And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,
What they like, that let them do

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away


‘Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek

Hardt and Negri are quick to point out that we shouldn’t go seeking out this kind of martyrdom. They write that “this martyrdom, when it arrives, [is] only a by-product of real action and the reactions of sovereignty against it”. We can again inquire within ourselves, at this critical moment in history, what are we willing to sacrifice to help enable a successful transition to a new phase in human history? In the face of likely reactions from the dominant status quo, what are we willing to risk in our lives to secure the future health of the global whole (9)? As evolutionaries, what practices must we undertake in order to ready ourselves for such martyrdom?

Evolutionary Spirituality and The Return to the Whole

“It’s the central urge in every atom, To return to its divine source and origin, however distant, Latent the same in subject and in object, without one exception”. Walt Whitman, A Persian Lesson

The demands of this world historical moment might seem daunting, but there’s reason to be hopeful as we continue to wake up and grow up within this context (10).  When it comes to growing up– or the process by which we evolve through waves of psychosocial development- the folks at Spiral Dynamics Integral have some interesting clues as to what might lie ahead. According SDi, the turquoise value-meme (or “the Globalist”) is characterized by what they call a  “Sacrifice-self”. Here’s some further data about the emerging worldview of the turquoise value-meme:

Sees self as part of a larger, conscious whole; feels responsible to the overall good; motivated by survival of life on the planet; political form is whole-Earth networks and interconnections; motivated towards the macro management of all life forms toward common good in response to macro problems; complex, multidimensional thinking; motivated to find unity and ideas and goals of whole-Earth impact (11).

This made me realize that under the prevailing planetary life conditions- the globalization of economy, culture, travel and media, and the globalization of crises- a corresponding worldview is arising within many people, one that I can feel arising within myself too. And what’s interesting about this new expanded sense of identity is that working for the health of the greater whole doesn’t feel like a ‘sacrifice’ at all.  Martyrdom only feels like a burden or a loss when we feel like we’re sacrificing for something outside of ourselves. And this is precisely the predicament of the hyper-individualized self that was born in the post/modern era. This historic differentiation out from Earth and culture is a beautiful thing; but the next move in the dialectical dance of history is to re-integrate that newly autonomous individual back within the larger wholes of which it’s always already a-part. The modern self cannot sacrifice for that which it is separate from.

However, when nothing is outside of ourselves- when we shift to an identity with the global whole- then making sacrifices in our life and actions becomes simply a natural extension of who we are. There’s no sense of loss, only of a love that radiates outwards. We naturally become willing martyr’s testifying for the new future wanting to emerge through us.

And we can take this expanded sense of identity even one step further. In our process of waking up, we can start to become identified with the cosmos as a whole. As a practitioner-student of both Andrew Cohen’s evolutionary enlightenment, and Revered Bruce Sanguin’s evolutionary Christianity, I’ve begun to contact within myself the core evolutionary current animating the cosmos (12). I learn to be a living vehicle for this Spirit as it lives through and as me; I learn to serve Thy will instead of my will. Grounded in Source, from which this creative impulse forever flows, I learn to become a conscious and willing agent of the evolutionary process. In this alignment with the ultimate whole, we forever break the chains of exile and separation, so typical and costly in our modern times. We come to complete what Ken Wilber once called ‘The Atman Project’.

When the good folks at iEvolve generously asked me to write an article for their site, I listened deep inside to what I was being called to communicate, and the notes for this article began to flow. I felt an urgency to speak of the critical time we live in, and how we’re all called to be martyrs in the birth of the next stage in human civilization. In this project we can be inspired by Mohamed Bouazizi, by the Egyptians, by Socrates and the countless others who’ve sacrificed before us on the alter of evolution. And we can also inspire others ourselves. We can lead by example, through our effort and determination, through our courage to speak up for new higher values, and through our commitment to always live from what we most know to be true. We can do the practices necessary to widen our sense of identity, and to align with the deeper currents that run through it all. The journey ahead might demand great risks and great sacrifices, but through this sacrificial effort we’ll be willing and ready. Let us come together now, and usher in that future through the testimonies of our own lives. The time is at hand.

Trevor MalkinsonTrevor MalkinsonTrevor Malkinson grew up in Victoria, BC. He did a double undergraduate degree in philosophy and environmental studies at the University of Victoria, and then did a graduate degree in philosophy at Brock University. He will be entering the Vancouver School of Theology in fall 2011, wih the intention of going into ministry in the United Church of Canada. As a chef by trade, he has a passionate interest in food and in supporting the development of a post-industrial food culture. He also has a passionate interest in evolutionary spirituality, and how the Christian tradition can live anew within this emerging worldview. Trevor is a founding member of where he writes regularly.





(4) “The modern world-system in which we are now living, had its origins in the long sixteenth century in Europe in the Americas. The modern world-system is a capitalist world-economy…The modern world-system is a spatial/temporal zone which cuts across many political and cultural units, and represents an integrated zone of activity and institutions which obey certain systemic rules”. Wallerstein, Immanuel. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. US: Duke University Press, 2007. p. 95,17.

(5) Capra, Fritjof. The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. New York: Anchor Books, 1996. p.136-137.

(6) cf. Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.   Also:


(8) Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin Press, 2004. p.346-47.

(9) In this article the author argues that protests in the West (particularly North America) are no longer effective because people are willing to risk much less (esp. jail time).

(10) This is a catchy phrase of Ken Wilber’s to describe the dual process of:  a) “Waking up”: The stages of consciousness that lead to non-dual realization; and b) “Growing up”: The essential structures of social, cognitive, and moral evolution. Wilber uses these terms in various places, but I most recently heard them while relistening to the first interview of The Future of Love Tele-series (Week 1).

(11) All the data on the turquoise value-meme comes from the course pack to the Spiral Dynamics Integral Level 1 Training program.

(12) The Reverend Bruce Sanguin’s writings and teachings on evolutionary Christianity can be found at: