September 21, 2020

The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 8): Western Enlightenment

By Marc Gafni

“The first way we talk about enlightenment is from a mystical perspective, the shift of consciousness from small self to True Self. But the second way enlightenment is used in the English language is to refer to the Western Enlightenment. And every Westerner is familiar with this Western enlightenment. It’s the same word as used by Eastern or mystical traditions where one attains a new state of Being … the same word is used to refer to Western enlightenment, which is very different because in Eastern or mystical enlightenment the goal is to move beyond the separate self. The separate self is seen to be the source of suffering because as long as I see my self as separate, I have to compete with you, I have to grasp, I have to prove that I exist…”

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The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 7): The Fallacy in the Traditional Enlightenment Teaching

By Marc Gafni

“Why now? Why is a World Spirituality based on Integral principles which has as its core the democratization of enlightenment, which is the natural emergent of the Unique Self consciousness, why is it a possibility in a way that it never was, and why is it an urgent necessity in the way it never was?”

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Don’t ever turn to stone. Take a leap to learn new things.

Photo Credit: thriol

 

By Kristen Ulmer

People ask me all the time why I started Ski to Live.

I want to tell you a story about my past you may find shocking. It explains why I started these evolutionary mindset ski and snowboard camps, and also illustrates the next top mindset tip.

When I was 22 years old I was competing in local Utah mogul competitions and generally coming in last place. Heck, I hadn’t even owned a pair of ski pants until two years prior — just competing in anything was a big step.

That summer, while my fellow competitors trained on snow at expensive camps at Mount Hood, Whistler or even South America, I decided to take a trip to Asia by myself. For 5 months. To work on my self esteem.

I had two rules on this trip. I made these rules because I realized my self worth was entirely based on the fact I was pretty, and could ski well. I realized I wasn’t going to always be pretty, or always ski well, and I thought I’d better find a way to build a more solid personal foundation. [Read more…]

The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 6): What is Enlightenment?

By Marc Gafni

“What’s up in the evolution of consciousness in this moment in time is three components, a kind of holy trinity, what I refer to in my teaching and writing as the democratization of enlightenment. It’s an emergent World Spirituality based on integral principles and as Unique Self consciousness or Unique Self enlightenment. These three emergent structures of thought, emergent structures of being and becoming, are interrelated, inseparable from each other.

What does the democratization of enlightenment mean? Democratization as in democracy on the one hand, and enlightenment on the other hand. It’s the unique nexus of those two powerful, earth-shattering, mind-bending, heart-rending ideas that change the very nature of how we engage all that is. When you merge them together, something new larger than the sum of the parts emerges…”

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The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 5): Three Images of World Spirituality

By Marc Gafni

“Let’s try to envision World Spirituality for a second. Let me suggest three images. The first would be an orchestra, a great symphonic orchestra, in which every instrument is playing its music. From the diversity of instruments, what is yielded is a great symphony. In the premodern world, the religions believed that their instrument was the music. But the postmodern world has taught us is that the instrument is the critical context that shapes the music, the texture, the sound, the tonality of the music, but the spirit is not the surface structure. Spirit is the depth. And all the instruments are playing music. From the diversity of this music, of the instruments, comes the symphony…”

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The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 4): Who does World Spirituality address?

By Marc Gafni

“Who does a World Spirituality address? If we discern carefully, World Spirituality is transformative to the four major types of people in the world. First, there are the hundreds of millions of people who are post-traditional. They’re the people who can no longer locate themselves within a great tradition, a classical religion. Their experience, the way they’ve been brought into the world, their cultural exposures are such that they can’t locate themselves in a religion or a great tradition, and yet they are profoundly engaged and extremely compelled by Spirit…”

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The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 3): Why World Spirituality, why now?

By Marc Gafni

“Why now? Why is a World Spirituality based on Integral principles which has as its core the democratization of enlightenment, which is the natural emergent of the Unique Self consciousness, why is it a possibility in a way that it never was, and why is it an urgent necessity in the way it never was?”

Watch the video:

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A Place where everybody knows your Original Face?

Starbucks Olive Way

By Joe Perez

There’s a recently redesigned and expanded Starbucks Coffee within walking distance from my home in Seattle. I used to go in there quite a bit, but gradually the place has become so busy and noisy that it’s impossible to find a good seat (sometimes it’s even been standing room only), so I’ve found alternatives.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Starbucks was ever a “home away from home,” but it was the spot where I first attended a Seattle Integral meet-up, and where I met many business clients for a while. Now I’ve come across an article in Forbes claiming that Starbucks may be making their coffee shops intentionally a bit uncomfortable so that they drive away people who linger too long in one spot and bump up the customer churn rate. [Read more…]

The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 2): Structure of this Teaching

By Marc Gafni

“What is World Spirituality? How do we realize this vision of World Spirituality? Who does it address? And why is World Spirituality so essential and possible today, an opportunity that hasn’t existed in 2,000 years?”

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C. R. Paul’s Report on A Conference on Religious Diplomacy In Tehran and Qom, Islamic Republic of Ir (By Charles Randall Paul)

IranPreamble: The Theory Behind My Going to Iran

It is customary for politicians in the USA to end important speeches with a public prayer: “May God bless America.” It attempts to unite the people in support of a leader’s program by signaling a majority consensus of the need for divine assistance to promote liberty and justice for all in a flourishing social order that does not perish from the earth. America is an exceptional place because it has not trashed its ideal of responsible freedom for all people even though it had to be chastened to repent of sins of theft of land from Indians and life from slaves. Americans uniquely have come over time to feel the vital importance of continuous contestation of fundamental religious beliefs and moral values without the majority imposing its belief system by violence or legal coercion (in most cases at least).

Americans, to continue their positive influence, now need to find the faith and courage to publicly ask God to bless The Islamic Republic of Iran and all the peoples in the Holy Land and Everyone Everywhere else too. A god that only blesses America is a deity too small for anyone to seriously worship these days. And we know it in our hearts. We need a strong defense program and a thriving economy and a rebirth of courage to use moral leadership in a cynical world that reduces all actions to acquisition of material power. So we have come to remember (9/11 helped) the third leg of social/political power is collective idealism—the purpose for which we desire to live as a society beyond being free, secure and wealthy. [Read more…]

The Democratization of Enlightenment (Part 1): Introducing Evolutionary Mysticism

By Marc Gafni

“Why now? Why is a World Spirituality based on Integral principles which has as its core the democratization of enlightenment, which is the natural emergent of the Unique Self consciousness, why is it a possibility in a way that it never was, and why is it an urgent necessity in the way it never was?”

Watch the video:

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Why discipline and will power are completely outdated, and an evolutionary alternative

Workout

Photo Credit: jontunn

By Kristen Ulmer

This may surprise you, but discipline, perseverance, setting an intention, drive, the will; all those celebrated states usually taught by sports coaches, are completely outdated. Same with goal setting.

Here’s why. I remember having to perform a difficult ski photo shoot while still recovering from an injury. I wanted to maintain status and sponsors so I “sucked it up” “did it anyway” “refused to give up” “pushed through the pain and fear.” Sounds powerful right?

Such willed effort is fine in a pinch: I skied great that day, but here’s the problem: doing something I didn’t feel like doing was the first step toward future burn out and ultimately resenting my sport.

There’s a better path. [Read more…]

Every Detour is the Destination (By Tom Goddard and Marc Gafni)

Detour

Photo Credit: Shannon K

 

By Tom Goddard and Marc Gafni

The Issue

Most, if not all, of us have chapters in our lives that feel like detours, or worse. A bad job, a nightmare relationship, a bout with drink, a regrettable move — sometimes all at once! Such times are characterized by anguish, or anger, or shame, or desperation — again, sometimes all at once.

Perhaps now is one such time. Perhaps a dominant thought these days is “how do I get out of this and move on to a better place?”

Perhaps not. Maybe this is a good time, with only an occasional look back at a particularly bad detour, a reminiscence tinged with shame or remorse. If we can tell the story of such a time, we tell it with justifiable anger or sadness.

Either way, whether the detours are in the rear view mirror or squarely in the here and now, our common reaction is to push them away from our experience. Life would be, or would have been, better without the detour.

The Dharma

But that’s just one level of understanding, and not necessarily the only one, or the “true” one. On one level of consciousness, at the level of separate self ego, it’s true. On a higher level of consciousness, you can hold this at a deeper level. At this higher, or deeper level of consciousness, you can behold the amazing realization that each such detour, no matter how painful, is or was essential to the unfolding, the realization, of my Unique Self.

Every detour is a destination. To know that every detour is a destination is the first step in turning your fate into your destiny. [Read more…]

What does it mean to be fair?

Snow White

By Marc Gafni

What does it mean to be fair? In one sense being fair means to be just and good. To be fair is to be honest and have integrity.

Fairness implies appropriate weights and measure. To be fair means to give things the right weight and measure accurately.

When my sons were young the phrase that would indicate that they were the most upset or disturbed was the mixed English and Hebrew idiom, “Zeh Lo Fair.” It’s not fair. When they said that, they were appealing to a universal standard of the good and the just, which has ultimate natural authority.

The word “fair,” however has a second meaning as well. To be fair means to be beautiful. [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 15): Did he blow out the candles?

Candles Flickering

Photo Credit: Dey

 

By Marc Gafni

This post concludes the “Protest as Prayer” series. It is continued from post 14.

It was late one Friday night, with the Sabbath candles flickering in the darkness, when the Rebbe stood up. He had been especially pensive this night: wrapped in thoughts and prayers of his own. He walked purposefully to the table, spat on his hands and snuffed out the Sabbath candles. In the sudden darkness the shocked Chassidim heard the cold fury and despair in their Rebbe’s voice resounding in the gloom as he intoned: “There is no Judge, and there is no Judgment.”

Rebbe Menachem-Mendel of Kotsk then walked out of the synagogue, locked himself in his room, and never came out. For over twenty years until his death he remained in isolation and spoke not another word. But his Chassidim did not reject him as a blasphemer, nor a madman. In his silent solitary rage the Rebbe of Kotsk became more respected, more loved than ever before, as the Kotsker Chassidic tradition flourished in all its contradictions.

Somehow the Chassidim understood that ultimate Doubt, ultimate challenge, when conducted from within deep relationship, paradoxically can become the ultimate service, the ultimate worship.

 

Protest as Prayer (Part 14): Three Truths

Job

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 13.

We began with three truths. God is good. God is powerful. Good people suffer. These are the three truths of Job. We hold all three. We can live in the deep and painful uncertainty of not always knowing how all three fit together. Those unable to hold the uncertainty emasculate God. This is Harold Kushner’s basic move. God can’t do anything about evil — God is nice but not powerful.

Others, unable to hold the uncertainty, emasculate man. That is pious orthodox thinker Gottlieb’s move. He has theo-logically solved the problem of suffering. He denies the rage, the protest, the unanswered question which defines Jewish text. He cannot live with the uncertainty of the question so he must argue that certainty has been achieved and the question answered.

Protest as Prayer (Part 13): There is a Spirit in Man

Wisdom

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney

 

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 12.

One of the most striking formulations of the Yehuda Moment in Chassidut is the movement’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov’s, teaching on a verse in the Book of Job. The verse in Job reads “There is a spirit in man — the breath of God — which gives wisdom.”

These words, which appear towards the end of the book, are spoken by Elihu in rejection of the ‘punishment for sin’ theodicy offered as a certainty by Job’s friends. The Baal Shem Tov interprets the verse: ‘The breath of God is the spirit of man’. [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 12): On Secrets

Secret

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 11.

That this is true is mystery and mystery is esoteric — it is secret. Secret, not because, as it is usually explained, it is forbidden to reveal the mysteries to the uninitiated; rather, secret because it is not possible to reveal the mysteries at all. For if the soul is not ready to receive the mystery then the secret cannot be transmitted. The holy energy of uncertainty is in the realm of mystery. I cannot fully explain. Yet two guidelines for those who would struggle to understand are in order.

The Rebbe of Kutzk teaches about the old man and the young baby. They both ask the same questions. ‘How, When, What, Where – Ayeh?’ [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 11): God’s Language

Hebrew Books

Photo Credit: chany14

 

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 10.

The Zohar writes that the Shechina is called “I”. This is a particularly dramatic way of expressing the idea that the Shechina speaks through the human voice. This means that whenever a person finds their voice on the deepest level, they are finding the voice of the Shechina. The human cry to God “Please be King” is also God crying out through the same voice, “Please I am trapped — bound in chains — free me and let me be King.”

God’s voice and our voice are one. The language of God is man. [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 10): God’s Emotions

God emotions

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs

 

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 9.

To go one step further — God feels the pain of the sufferer through the agency of human beings who feel the pain of other. God feels, not only but also through, human agency. We are God’s emotions.

Based on this understanding a number of mystical writers provide us with the vocabulary to re-think the idea of God’s Kingship. It was with this quandry that I introduced the problematics of God-language in a world that suffers. How can we call God King? [Read more…]

Protest as Prayer (Part 9): “The Shechina which is called I” (Zohar….)

Doorway

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 8.

The implication of this Kabbalistic strain of thought needs to be unpacked more fully. One of the core ideas in the Lurianic understanding of the religious act is the need to identify with the pain of the Shechina in exile. According to the Talmudic masters the divine presence  — the Shechina — is exiled with the Jewish people. In one of the most daring affirmations of divine intimacy, the Talmudic teachers and later the kabbalistic masters insist that the transcendent God of the Bible becomes incarnate in the suffering of the Jewish people (and, I would add, of all people). [Read more…]