October 31, 2020

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

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

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

Dr. Marc Gafni
Dance of Tears
(in press)

 

Daily Wisdom: The world is filled with Soul Print hints

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

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

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

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

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

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

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

 

Daily Wisdom: 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: 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)

Unique Self and Creating Your Life on Purpose

Join us for a new free event, “Unique Self and Creating your Life on Purpose”! On Thursday, Dec 6 at 6pm PT (9pm PT) Marc Gafni with be joined by Anodea Judith, author of Creating on Purpose, for a spirited discussion about the ideas contained in both their new books.

For more information, see:

http://uniqueself.com/welcome-friends-of-anodea-judith/

http://www.creatingonpurpose.net/Home_Page.html

Long concerned with the future of humanity, and passionate about awakening our collective potential, Anodea Judith has dedicated her life to healing the wounds in our personal and collective psyches. Her best-selling books on the chakras and global change have placed her among the evolutionary thought leaders of our time.

Anodea Judith holds a doctorate in Health and Human Services, with a speciality in Mind-Body healing, and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Her best-selling books on the chakra system, marrying Eastern and Western disciplines, have been considered groundbreaking in the field of Transpersonal Psychology and used as definitive texts in the U.S. and abroad. With over 500,000 books in print, and translations in 15 languages, her books have won her the reputation of solid scholarship and international renown as a dynamic speaker and workshop leader.

Anodea is founder and director of Sacred Centers, a teaching organization for life-affirming paths of wisdom. She taught with Lion Goodman for many years, co-creating the material for manifestation through the chakras through their many workshops worldwide.

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.

Unique Self Video No. 9: Evolutionary We-Space, Part II

“You don’t win an Oscar by playing someone else’s part in the play. You win the Oscar by playing your part to perfection.” — Marc Gafni, in the ninth segment of the Unique Self Video series.

Watch the video: [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: On corporate kindness

By Marc Gafni

Yet, corporations in the end are made up of real people, and real people all have the potential to be lovers.

The following is an excerpt from an acceptance speech made by Howard Schultz, the chairman and chief global strategist of Starbucks.

 “When I was in Israel, I went to Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox area within Jerusalem. Along with a group of businessmen I was with, I had the opportunity to have an audience with Rabbi Finkel, the head of a yeshiva there. I had never heard of him and didn’t know anything about him. We went into his study and waited ten to 15 minutes for him. Finally, the doors opened.

What we did not know was that Rabbi Finkel was severely afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. He sat down at the head of the table, and, naturally, our inclination was to look away. We didn’t want to embarrass him.

We were all looking away, and we heard this big bang on the table: “Gentlemen, look at me, and look at me right now.” Now his speech affliction was worse than his physical shaking. It was really hard to listen to him and watch him. He said, “I have only a few minutes for you because I know you’re all busy American businessmen.” You know, just a little dig there.

Then he asked, “Who can tell me what the lesson of the Holocaust is?” He called on one guy, who didn’t know what to do–it was like being called on in the fifth grade without the answer. And the guy says something benign like, “We will never, ever forget.” And the rabbi completely dismisses him. I felt terrible for the guy until I realized the rabbi was getting ready to call on someone else. All of us were sort of under the table, looking away–you know, please, not me. He did not call me. I was sweating. He called on another guy, who had such a fantastic answer: “We will never, ever again be a victim or bystander.”

[Read more…]

Unique Self Video No. 4: Without Unique Self, Life is Irrelevant

You don’t need to care about Unique Self enlightenment if you don’t care about having a meaningful life. According to Marc Gafni, speaking in the fourth video teaching in the Unique Self series, meaning is at the heart of what it means to be living in one’s Unique Self.

Marc Gafni:

There is only one great heresy in post-postmodernity: the belief that you are irrelevant. No one can play your part. You have a Unique Gift to give. The world is waiting, needing your Unique Gift. The Divine Force, God (and the God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist)—God as the personal face of essence, God as the Tao, the love-intelligence and love-beauty of All That Is…is seeking a voice.

Watch the video: [Read more…]

Unique Self Video Teaching No. 2: Answering the Call

UniqueSelf.com’s video introduction to Unique Self continues with Part 2.

“To answer the call is to respond to the call that lives in you, as you, and through you, of your Unique Self. The unique individualized expression of essence that is you calls you, invites you to find your vocation—the claiming of your unique voice in the world. To find a voice that is yours, not imitative, you have to inhabit your Unique Perspective.”

Watch the video and read more… [Read more…]

World Spirituality Unplugged: “What is a purpose-driven business?: John Mackey and Marc Gafni in Dialogue, Part 2″

This is the second installment of World Spirituality Unplugged, a regular new column on this website which will feature highlights from the Center for World Spirituality’s substantial audio and video archives. The audio clip posted here (less than 10 minutes) is an excerpt from a 2010 dialogue between John Mackey and Marc Gafni, originally recorded for the Future of Love Teleseries, an online event co-sponsored by CWS.

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…]

Foundations for World Spirituality: Learning the Language of God (Part 5 of 5)

Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.

Implications: A Great Voice Which Does Not Cease

Some teachers have taught that revelation heard long ago at Mount Sinai when God spoke to human beings was an event occurring once in the lifetime of the universe, calling it according to its biblical phrasing, “A great voice which did not continue.” Again, the mystics insist that another reading is possible. In the original Hebrew, the phrase “did not continue” can paradoxically be read as “did not cease.” The voice of Sinai is accessible even after the echoes of the original revelation are long since lost in the wind. The voice of revelation has never ended.

So if the voice still continues, in what form does it live on?

It thrives in the voice of the human being who speaks from the silence. This is what I have termed Silence of Presence. When we listen deeply, we are able to uncover the God-voice within us. We become present in the silence. We are called by the presence–the God-voice within us–that wells up from the silence.

Indeed the entire cultural –spiritual enterprise of the Judaic spirit in the post biblical age is to hear the voice, even in – some would say especially in – the silence. The Biblical age ended when God stopped talking. For the Buddhist, even if one were to assume some notion of divinity – there is clearly no such absurdity as a talking God. For the Hebrew however, the essence of divinity is a talking God. Indeed the Hebrew God of the Bible talks almost endlessly, pouring out 24 books of divinely spoken or inspired word – the Hebrew Canon. What to do then when God stops talking and retreats into silence? In the interpretive reaction to this silence Judaism and early Christianity parted ways. For Christianity the cessation of speech by a talking God could only be a portent of divine withdrawal of favor. They interpreted the silence as a silence of absence. God no longer talked to the Hebrews for he had chosen a New Israel. The post prophetic Hebrews however refused to accept this understanding of God’s silence. This is the silence, not of abandonment they insisted – but of mature love. It is not silence of absence but silence of presence. Imbued with intense and profound religious passion they listened to the silence and insisted that they heard God talking. That speech is the Halachic enterprise, which insists on the radical presence of the divine in every facet of existence. It is only in this sense that we understand the Rabbinic comment after the temple’s destruction, “God’s presence in this world now rests in the four cubits of Halacha”. It is not a statement of dejection or resignation – it is rather the confident commitment of the lover.

[Read more…]

Foundations for World Spirituality: Learning the Language of God (Part 4 of 5)

Editor’s note: The following essay by Marc Gafni is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.

Ten Words to Live By

The second biblical myth word symbol of freedom is actually mistranslated into English as the Ten Commandments. The people, so the story goes, having fled Egypt, gather at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Of course, nowhere in the biblical myth is there any mention of Ten Commandments. Here is where the old witty maxim, “Reading the bible in translation is like kissing a woman through a veil,” becomes not altogether untrue. In the original Hebrew, the people receive at Sinai not Ten Commandments but “Ten Words.” Here Voice becomes Word, the articulation of speech. It is the beginning of the vision that follows revolution.

The third word symbol is no less than the word “Messiah.” “Messiah” in the original Hebrew is understood by the Kabbalists, quite astoundingly, to mean “conversation.” Master Nachum of Chernobyl, mystic and philosopher, points out that the Hebrew word for messiah, Mashiach, can be understood as the Hebrew word Ma-siach – meaning “from dialogue” or “of conversation.” His assertion radically implies that the Messiah is potentially present in every human conversation—every mutual act of voice-giving.

All authentic conversation is sacred conversation. The ability to have an honest face-to-face talk in which both sides are true to themselves, vulnerable and powerful at the same time, is Messianic.

Simply put, sacred conversation is the vessel that receives the light of Messiah.

[Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: Victims and Pseudo-Victims

The pseudo-victim has genuine options which she refuses to action; she refuses to turn fate into destiny and cries more than it hurts. Another kind of pseudo-victim also may have some level of real hurt but more often than not the hurt is more imagined than real and being a victim is a freely chosen role which has many hidden benefits which the pseudo-victim seeks to exploit. The hidden victims of pseudo-victims therefore are real victims.

The underlying dogma of the Culture of Victimization is the location of human evil outside the human being. This belief significantly undermines the God field. The premise is simply that since human beings are naturally good, all evil must be the result of some external force which warps natural human goodness. The argument between the very many streams of thought who affirm this position is merely about which cause, external to the person, actually is the major factor in causing evil. For Marxists, it is the capitalist structure of economies and societies; for the staunch Republican it might be big government or television violence or liberals. For liberals it might be the old church or handguns or patriarchy.

— Marc Gafni, The Dance of Tears

Foundations for World Spirituality: Learning the Language of God (Part 3 of 5)

By Marc Gafni

Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.

The Second Stage: from Silence to Sound

The beginning of freedom is the emergence of voice. This stage is expressed both by the initial cry of the Israelite slaves that broke their silence, as well as by Moses’ arrival on the scene. “When Moses came, voice came,” writes the Zohar. Moses does what the charismatic revolutionary always does: he gives voice to the people. Indeed, biblical myth text records the beginning of redemption with the following words: “…It came to pass in the course of many days that the King of Egypt died and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage and they cried out and their cry came up unto God.” The enslaved Israelites are received by the presence of God at the point when they move from the dumb silence of the slave to sound which is the beginning of speech, the characteristic of a free people. This “cry” is not an elegantly articulated protest – it is a cry as in the cry of a wolf, or the cry of an infant. It is primal, impassioned, pre-civilized, a howl of protest that makes it into the halls of heaven, heard by God himself.

For the first time the enslaved can express distress. They seek to articulate words that are not yet ready to form themselves on their lips. At this stage of moving toward freedom, we do not yet know how to tell our story. We do not know what we would do with the world if it were given over to our stewardship. We just know that we must protest.

The biblical myth symbol (Leviticus 25) for the transition from slavery to freedom is the primal blast of a ram’s horn. No trumpet of gold, it is rather the rawness of the ram’s horn that captures the slave’s first fitful sounds. The first thing a revolutionary movement must do is sound its ram horn–start a newspaper, set up a radio station, build an internet site. It is not by accident that the fundamentalist and totalitarian states are trying to disallow or severely limit internet access. Freedom’s beginnings are expressed in the first shouts of protest.

The sixties and seventies were such second-stage revolutionary generations. This helps explain why so many sixties hippies became late seventies and early eighties yuppies and then transformed again into the establishment of the nineties. The feeling of distress generated protest – sound and even the first glimmerings of voice–but there was no alternative vision of society to generate “speech.” Similarly, many third world revolutionaries reflect such second stage thinking. Consequently, as we all know, that not a few third world revolutionaries became the leaders of far more repressive regimes than the ones they overthrew. Because they lacked speech to articulate the primal manifestations of voice, they needed to repress all of their own pain, the very distress and disease that initially led to the revolution.

[Read more…]

Foundations for World Spirituality: Learning the Language of God (Part 2 of 5)

Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.

The First Stage: The Silence of Absence

The aforementioned passage in the Zohar (Exodus 25a) suggests that there are three distinct stages in the continuum from slavery to freedom. The first stage is silence. The second stage involves moving from silence to sound without speech. And the third stage is speech–voice and articulated word.

In the first stage, slavery, we are mute and dumb. We live our lives without ever really crying out. The routines of the everyday deaden our sense of injustice, and our passions atrophy amid the narrowness of Egypt, when all sounds are smothered in our throats. In the biblical myth, the people were silent in the first stage of exile in Egypt. The pain broke their spirits and they became mute–no longer able to even cry out, much less to express the injustices with the eloquence of speech. We all have touched a fraction of that experience when, after a protracted argument, we are so worn down that we lack the strength to protest even the most blatant offenses of those who oppose or oppress us.

In a less familiar reading of the biblical story, Talmudic masters suggest that the slavery in Egypt was not of the usual kind. In fact, the Israelites were successful and prosperous. However, the deadening quality and comfort of their routine had anesthetized the sensitivity to their own wounds of alienation. How many of us suffer and hurt, yet remain fundamentally unaware of our suffering, deadened by the soma pills of the expected, and the narrow straits of success?

[Read more…]

What is pleasure? A short dharma talk with Marc Gafni

By Marc Gafni

I want to share with you a little dharma talk I gave earlier this year in response to the question, “What is pleasure?” If you’re accustomed to the standard answer which says that pleasure is Hedonic, you are in for a surprise.

Listen to the audio below (about five minutes) and follow along the transcript provided.

What is pleasure? Pleasure is the universe caressing us. Pleasure is the feeling that the personal face of essence intends me to be held and loved and pleasured.

Pleasure reminds me that the world is sane, that the world intends and holds my pleasure.

In fact there’s this gorgeous 3rd century Aramaic text that talks about the moment of transition, the moment we move from this life to the next life. There’s the tunnel and the light and in all the cross-cultural appearances of this story, there’s judgment. There’s life review that happens. [Read more…]

Gay enlightenment? A moment for LGBT spiritual revival

By Joe Perez

Posted today on the MyOutSpirit.com Blog:

Every so often I address a column or blog post to my lesbian, bisexual, and gay readers. This one’s for you. And, because your journey is my journey, and ultimately there is only One True Self – this column is really for everybody.

Whereas mainstream pundits and public intellectuals in the U.S. are focused on the next election, and many other folks are focused on the next Saturday night, there is a wider and deeper perspective. Looking as wide as this moment in over 2,000 years of socio-cultural evolution since the beginning of the Common Era, and looking as deep as this moment arising when the cutting edge of individual consciousness is a postmodern mindset, and even this edge has become dull and dismal.

It is an odd time to be gay or bisexual. For American men of my generation – past 40 – our lives have been crises of meaning and meaninglessness. We were born into a world in which the reigning moral, religious, and spiritual authorities condemned how we love and would have forced us into closets, castration, or so-called reparative therapy. We could read the mystics and enlightened sages of centuries past and with only a few exceptions could find no evidence that affirming the spiritual dignity of same-sex love was meriting even a moment’s thought. And we did, and by unprecedented numbers gays, lesbians, and bisexuals rejected organized religion and set out upon paths of individual spiritual seeking. They found their ways into Zen monasteries, radical faerie gatherings, drumming circles, hot yoga classes, and not a few very, very, very liberal churches and synagogues (places where they worried about marginalizing atheists and making sure language was neutered of any hint of white heterosexual patriarchy).

Read the entire article…


Follow Joe Perez’s writings for gay and bisexual men at Gay Spirituality Blog.

Foundations for World Spirituality: Learning the Language of God (Part 1 of 5)

Editor’s note: The following essay is published as a white paper of the Center for World Spirituality think tank. Our Spirit’s Next Move blog is pleased to announce the paper’s availability.

“As the Kabbalists point out, the word Moses spelled backwards is Ha Shem, meaning ‘the name.’ Importantly, Ha-shem in biblical Hebrew also is the most common reference to God’s name. When you respond to your call and realize your soul print, fully becoming your name, you become one with God. When Moses did this, he found his voice, he became a prophet.”

By Marc Gafni

To live your story is to move from a state of slavery to freedom. Slavery is not limited to our old image of the oppressed Hebrew or black slave being whipped by the cruel master. We are all potentially free, just as we are all potentially slaves. Our intent in this brief essay is to at least begin to unpack a core intuition of the Zohar —that a free person is a person who has found voice. As we shall see in the very last paragraphs of this discussion the implications of freedom are wondrous indeed!

The Hebrew name for the Passover Storytelling Ritual, which celebrates and reenacts the dynamic movement from slavery to freedom, is Pe-Sach. Renaissance mystic Isaac Luria reminded us that Pe-Sach is a combination of two words—Peh, meaning “mouth,” and Sach, meaning “talk.” Pe- Sach, therefore, means the mouth that talks.

One school of Hasidic masters unpacks this idea by defining redemption as the emergence of speech. To move from a dumb and mute existence to a communal storytelling existence is to undergo redemptive transformation. “To be redeemed,” writes one mystic, “is to lead a history-making, storytelling, communing, free existence.” To be in exile is to lack history, tell no story, fail to commune, and exist as a slave, silent.

The most oft cited source for this idea is a stunning passage in the Zohar which describes the Egyptian slavery as the “exile of speech.” In Kabbalah, every biblical nation represents a different organ of the body; Egypt represents the throat. The mystics read the Hebrew word “Egypt” literally as meaning narrowness. The throat is, of course, the narrow, constricted passage between the wide spaces of the heart and mind. The narrow throat, Egypt, is thus the ideal symbol for the exile of speech. Speech remains caught in the throat, in the dark passage, and can’t make it to freedom’s gateway, the mouth. Redemption comes in the birth of the word. In the actual process of your retelling, you reclaim your story. But to be capable of retelling your story you need voice. Redemption then is the process of finding voice.

[Read more…]