September 24, 2021

Daily Wisdom: Where is God?

Love implies not only freedom but responsibility – awesome responsibility. Remember Master Menachem Mendel who was asked by his students, “Rebbe (teacher), where is God?”  The master responds, “God is only where you let him in.”

The repair and healing of the world depends on our partnership with God. God steps back and says, “I cannot do it alone. I need you to be my messengers. Even more, I need you to be my eyes and ears and hands.”

When you see someone, and in the process give a person the gift of feeling seen in the world, then you are seeing with God’s eyes. When attention is paid and a person feels heard, then you are God’s ears. When you move to heal after seeing pain and hearing the cries of oppression, then divinity is visible and active in the world. The language of God is man. We are God’s love verbs in the world. Conversely, when you oppress and hurt, when you ignore the cries of the sufferer and turn a blind eye to evil, then you make God blind and deaf.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

Unique Self Video No. 6: Evolutionary We-Space

There are always two views of community. From the Western tradition, basically we are all separate selves. We can’t really come together, but we can give up some of our rights to be protected by the central government. No authentic communication is possible. Or—emerging out of a more continental philosophical tradition—is that the primary unity of reality is the community.

Neither of those positions in the world create a genuine We-space of collective intelligence. Separate selves can’t create a genuine new intelligence, so there won’t be a new intelligence.

From the UniqueSelf.com Video Blog:

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The weekend of loving outrageously

The Center for World Spirituality is pleased to share a spontaneous artistic creation inspired by a recent event of ours in connection with Shalom Mountain. John Tarcza tells us that a “wild idea started to stir and evolve uncontrollably” in him while editing audio recordings from the weekend. He combined a few minutes of reflections by Marc Gafni with music (Erik Satie Gnossienne No. 1, Buddha Bar remix) … and created this wonderful combination. John has graciously allowed us to share it with you.

[audio:https://www.ievolve.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Outrageous-Loving-remix-draft7.mp3]

Enjoy!

The one thing we all know is true
Every one of us in the room
Is that we live in a world of outrageous pain, outrageous pain
Beyond imagination

The world’s an outrageously painful place
And the only response to outrageous pain
Is outrageous loving

So I want to invite everyone to actually do a reset on intention
And to actually play one step larger
And say if you dare, if I dare,
That I want to be a lover
For the sake of the evolution of Love
Boldly, clearly, the evolution of Love
Depends on me

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Marc Gafni’s “From Sex to Eros” appearing in Spanda Journal

Marc Gafni was recently featured in Spanda Journal, the peer-reviewed biannual publication of the Spanda Foundation.

The Spanda Foundation offers publications related to “sustainable advancement of peace, knowledge, and understanding.”

Marc’s article, entitled “The Future of the Holy: From Sex to Eros,” begins like so:

“Sex. Is there anything else that so grabs our rapt attention, inessantly pursues us, occupies our daydreams, fantasies, and yearnings? The kabbalists state the obvious: God is trying to get our attention. Now I am not talking about the God who sends good people to burn in hell because they slipped up on one of his impossible demands. nor even the Grandfather in heaven who hands out chocolate to do-gooders. Forget that God. The God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist. Rather, the God that exists for us is the personal erotic life force that courses through reality. The God we believe in is the vitality of eros. The God we believe in is the force for healing and transformation in the world. The God who knows our name. That is the God who so clearly calls out to us that sex is the answer.”

For the entire article, click: SPANDAJOURNAL_C&D2.0_Marc_Gafni.

See: Gafni, M. (2012). “The Future of the Holy: from Sex to Eros”, Spanda Journal, ed. S. Momo, III,1: 131-139.

The refusal to love always means the desperate desire to retain control at all costs

This spiritual law of the universe plays itself out in many hidden ways which you need to recognize if you truly want to return to love. I want to outline for you areas where, in order to become a lover, you need to give up control. Just as the Hebrew mystics portrayed the God lover as stepping back in order to make space for world, so do we need to step back to create space for our love to flow. First, if we love ourselves, we have to give up our need to be perfect. If you don’t love yourself then you expect perfect self control. If you do love yourself, then you have to allow room for imperfection and failure. Emerson was right when he wrote, “There is a crack in everything that God has made.”

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in. — Leonard Cohen

For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.
—W. B. Yeats, “Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop”

Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

 

World Spirituality Unplugged: “What’s love got to do with business?: John Mackey and Marc Gafni in Dialogue, Part 1”

World Spirituality Unplugged is a regular new column on this website which will feature highlights from the Center for World Spirituality’s substantial audio and video archives which are more relevant than ever before. The short clip posted here (about 5 minutes) features an excerpt from a dialogue between John Mackey and Marc Gafni, recorded in 2010 for the Future of Love Teleseries, an online event for which CWS was a co-sponsor.

Marc Gafni, as you are well aware, is the Director and Scholar-in-Residence for the Center. John Mackey is the Chairman and CEO of a $4 billion Fortune 500 company. Mackey was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2003. John is a strong believer in FLOW principles, including free market principles and empowerment management.  He is also one of the most influential advocates in the movement for organic food. Whole Foods was the first grocery chain to set standards for humane animal treatment. [Read more…]

Interiors, Face, and the Reconstruction of Eros

By Dr. Marc Gafni

Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being.  As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic.  In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God’s face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic—which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual—more deeply in your own life.

Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries.  There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.

The First Face of Eros: On the Inside

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1  Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation.  Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.

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Where Americans import conservatives from overseas

Gay Methodist

Photo Credit: Religion News Service

 

By Joe Perez

In certain places in America, conservatives are so scarce they’ve begun to import them from abroad. Specifically, in Tampa, Florida, where 1,000 delegates gathered for the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. While liberal American Methodists pleaded for tolerance for gay people, conservatives from overseas compared homosexuality to bestiality. [Read more…]

Joe Perez on the evolution of attitudes towards gays and lesbians

Lesbian Wedding

Photo Credit: anna and liz

 

“Given enough time, modernity is enough to show traditional churches that homosexuality is not an illness or disorder, and ought to be tolerated. Given enough time, postmodernism is enough to show modernist churches that they need to accept gays, lesbians, and other sexual and gender minorities for the diversity they bring. Given enough time, an integral wave of consciousness — a World Spirituality — will be enough to show traditional churches that they have held an honorable role by keeping the flame burning which knows the inner divinity of gays and lesbians; it will be enough to show modernist churches and secular organizations the ways in which gay/straight differences in perspective offer many fruitful new avenues for investigation of  the interior life of all sentient beings; it will be enough to show postmodern churches, spirituality-based, and mission-driven organizations the best ways to bring homophiles and heterophiles and all people within whom gender/sexual/energetic polarities exist into a constructive theology of interrelationship, marriage, and social ethics. All this is within our reach in the stratums of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern life-worlds in which we dwell, but it most definitely requires a World Spirituality.” — Joe Perez

Recently on this blog: Towards a World Spirituality theology of gay marriage

 

Towards a World Spirituality theology of gay marriage

Gay Men

Photo Credit: bodies-of-art

by Joe Perez

In a World Spirituality perspective, the theologian is more like an symphony composer, with theologians from different theological traditions translating the musical notation for the musicians of different instruments. Clearly there is give and take between the symphony composer and the composer for piano, violin, drums, etc.; but ultimately they are creating new music together.

In our times, a major crisis has emerged for theology which could help to doom religion in many countries unless it is redressed: the crisis of homosexuality within the churches. No, not the crisis that gay people are religious (there have always been gay people in churches, probably in disproportionately large numbers). The issue is that our religious traditions have holy traditions and scriptures dating to pre-modern times when there was no contemporary understanding of homosexuality or modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities (LGBT).

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How Matt Emerzion changed millions of lives, one Monday at a time

Matt EmerzionBy Joe Perez

Imagine you don’t even read books, but one day become convinced that you need to write one … to help other people realize that life isn’t all about themselves. That’s what happened to Matt Emerzian after his life reached a low point and he needed to rebound. Recently Fast Company profiled and interviewed him. Here’s a part:

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A hidden danger of high states and structure stages: unkindness

DeerBy Marc Gafni

There is great danger in both in the New Age idolization of state experiences and the excessive premium that much of the Integral community places on complex levels of cognition. As I have pointed out in many teachings, higher levels of cognitive complexity do not a better human being make. It is not by accident that we rarely see posts in the blogs of persons at higher stages of development about kindness.

Kindness is a value that all to often is relegated by writers and thinkers to the lower levels of amber (AQAL) or blue (Spiral Dynamics Integral) consciousness. It rarely appears as a value in many Integral contexts. Or worse still it is given lip service even as it is ignored in practice when the real gods of cognition and power are worshipped.

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Daily Wisdom Post: Union is the Ultimate Erotic State

Interconnectivity, the fullness of presence, the inside of God’s face, the yearning force of being, they all characterize our experience of Union.  This is enlightenment.  Yet for the Hebrew mystic if Union does not lead us to compassion and great love then we have missed the point.  The medieval intellectual mystic Maimonides wrote a great book of mystical philosophy, Guide for the Perplexed.  In the last sentences, after the book reaches its erotic crescendo (Cheshek, meaning “raw sensual passion” is the Hebrew translation of the Arabic term employed by Maimonides), he appends an implicit postscript.  Paraphrasing:  If all this doesn’t make you a better lover of people then you are no lover of God and certainly no lover of your self.  Eros must always lead to ethics.

The human being begins her journey as part of the circle of nature.  In the creation story of Genesis 1, man and woman are created as part of the natural order.  Ancient myth reflected this circle of being, in which mortals and immortals, humans and Gods, and all of nature participated together.  This is the circle of eros.

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 323

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: Eros of Evolution

The Eros of evolution is love. Seen from the outside, it is what Erich Jantsch refers to as “self-organization through self-transcendence.”  The individual “self” of an atom trance-ends itself. The trance of separation is broken, and the individual atom organizes itself as part of a larger molecule. A new identity as a molecule is formed even as the old identity as an atom is not lost. Rather, the core mechanism of self-organization through self-transcendence is “transcend and include.” The atom transcends itself to a higher level of complexity, even as its core identity is not lost, but rather expanded and evolved. It is this internal drive within matter that, according to Jantsch and many other leading-edge theorists, moves evolution to ever-higher unions, through ever-higher levels of complexity. From quarks to atoms to cells to molecules, onward and upward Teilhard de Chardin, Abraham Kook, and many other evolutionary mystics point out that complexity is but the outside view.

The interior—not addressed by Jantsch or any of the chaos theorists—reveals that the higher the level of outer physical complexity, the more evolved the inner depth of consciousness. What emerges is that the movement of evolution is the movement to ever-higher levels of complexity and consciousness. At this point, the eye of the mind has reached its limits. Now, a new faculty of perception enters our conversation, what the Christian mystics called the “eye of the spirit,” what the Sufi teacher Rumi called the “eye of the heart,” and what Hebrew mystics called the “hidden eye.”  The eye of the spirit, deployed throughout recorded time by the great realizers in all the traditions, in a great double-blind experiment of spirit, always revealed the same inner picture.  The eye of the spirit sees clearly that the inner fabric of consciousness is none other than love.  It would therefore be entirely accurate to say that the Eros of evolution is none other than the force of love.

Your Unique Self (in press)
Dr. Marc Gafni
Pages 110, 111

 

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: Love the Stranger as Your Self

First we need to claim our body as part of our core identity.  “Through my body I vision God,” a verse from the biblical book of Job, is one of the most important mantras of the Kabbalists.  Nineteenth-century master Elimelech of Lishensk teaches that only by trusting our body can we decipher the word of God.

The second step in the redemption of Shechina would be to reclaim all of my psyche.  This includes the furthest reaches of consciousness, including the unconscious.  You must embrace all of your light as well as all of your darkness.  Any part of me that I split off and reject is in exile.  By placing it on the outside, I am emptying my self.  The more I place on the outside, the more empty I become.  Using the Shechina language of our quest, I de-eroticize my self.  My life becomes boring, vapid, and empty.  The more of my psyche I include on the inside, the more erotic I become, and the “holier” I become.  To be holy = to be erotic = to be on the inside.

Biblical myth expresses the same idea in the language of love.  There are three love mantras in biblical myth:  Love God; Love yourself; Love the stranger.  Deeply understood, all three are of course the same thing.  To love yourself is to love all of you–the God in you and the stranger in you.

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 315

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: The Creative Gaze

The Kabbalists were often referred to as mistaklim or chozim, roughly translated as the Looker or Seers.  To get a handle on what that might mean, just imagine how we feel when someone looks at us with erotic, loving eyes.  We feel energized, uplifted, and embraced.  We become more vibrant, audacious, and alive.  We feel safer in the world.  The sense of alienation, separateness, and loneliness of our empty days and painful nights seems to lift.

The more steady the loving gaze is, the more we can steady ourselves and chart our direction and purpose on the path of being.  It begins with the loving eyes of mother and father–our first lovers–and continues throughout our lives.  Love’s eyes sustain us, nourish us, and connect us to the essential aliveness that courses through the universe.  Being seen makes us alove and alive.  The same is true of God.  The gaze of the mystic sustains and even “creates” God.

Once a few years back, my son Yair walked into the room. He sat and started playing with his Gameboy.  I began looking at him, but really looking, perceiving him, loving him, with all my heart pouring out through my eyes.  I was seeing every beautiful detail of his being as he sat there innocently playing.  Suddenly he started singing. Yair singing?!  A rarity.  Could it have been from my love pouring out in his direction?  He got up and sort of danced his way out of the room.  Yair dancing?!

Well, proper scientific data it is not.  But it was enough for me. It was exhilarating!  Since then I have done this practice in a thousand different places–in streets, lecture halls, pubs, churches, libraries and synagogues.  As a result, the world has been much more full of singing and dancing.  I realized that a loving gaze can transform reality.  We call this in formal theology imatatio dei, the imitation of the divine force.  Just as God looked lovingly into the darkness and there was light, just as God’s gaze made it good, so too can our loving perception transform darkness into light and chaos into harmony.  Try it!

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Pages 125, 126

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: 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

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: Soul Print Hints

A word in the Zohar used for those souls who are living their story is lechisah, meaning “whisper.”  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.”

To live one’s story is erotic in the resonance of its melody and the fullness of its canvas.  The world, when we are in our story, is no longer empty.  The soul is not here just pay back karmic debts.  It has a contribution to make from the depth of its infinite specialness.  Through making that contribution a human being feels ful-filled.  That is the eros of living one’s story.

The universe is full of whispers, and they are talking directly to you.  And here is the paradox–the more you act as if you are being addressed, the more you will be. 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.

Each person has their unique talent, pleasure, obligation, form of silliness, and pathology.  These are all personal soul print hints that direct you toward living your story.

The Mystery of Love
Dr. Marc Gafni
Pages 243, 244

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Eros Audio Series: Sweetness and Sexuality

Join Dr. Marc Gafni in this free short audio clip. Tradition of sweetness is level three consciousness. The sexual will teach us the wisdom of every facet of life.

 

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Daily Wisdom: One Love

To really get the great esoteric teachings of one love, to know love as the strongest force in the Uni-verse, we first have to understand that love is not just a feeling. Rather, love is the motivating force driving and animating the entire Uni-verse. Love is not merely a human emotion. Love is both the currency of connection between human beings and the essential Eros that drives the evolutionary process as a whole. Love is the Eros of all relationship even as it is the very Eros of evolution itself. Personal and impersonal love are one. One Love. Evolutionary Love.”

 

Your Unique Self
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 10

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom: Love breaks out…

“This movement of love and Eros, which is visible in third person from the simplest cellular level to the most advanced human level, is at all times felt in the second person as love. In the realized human being, love breaks out.  This is, finally, love revealed. Because evolution is the constant increase of complexity—paralleled on the interior by the constant increase of consciousness, whose inner relational quality is love—in the evolved human being who has reached the level of self-transcendence, the operation of love itself breaks into consciousness and becomes a prime motivator for individuals.”

 

Your Unique Self
Dr. Marc Gafni
Page 120

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org