May 26, 2022

The Five Great Awakenings ~ by Dr. Marc Gafni

Marc GafniBy Dr. Marc Gafni

The following is a condensed excerpt from the forthcoming volume Your Unique Self: The Democratization of Enlightenment.

There are five great awakening of the human spirit. Each level of awakening is to a deeper and more expanded sense of identity and consciousness.

1) Prepersonal to Personal Awakened Self. The first great awakening takes place when the human being emerges from the slumber of immersion in the Great Mother. In the dawn of human existence, the separate self has not yet emerged. This self was, to varying degrees, identified with nature and the immediate environment with no sense of an individuation. At this level, there is no sense of larger frameworks of time beyond the immediacy of the present moment or present day. This is awakening to separate self, or level-one personal. You experience this awakening in your life in the beginning of your journey as your baby self awakens to an individuated identity as a separate self ego. This is the move from the prepersonal to the personal. It might also take place when you free yourself from any pre-personal context, such as a cult or a family system which crushes individual emergence. One expression of this awakening crystallizes in Hebrew mysticism, which affirms the human being as a homo imago dei, a separate dignified self, rooted in the divine, possessed of infinite dignity, value, and adequacy. [Read more…]

Inner Revolution ~ by Sally Kempton


Feel like all hell is breaking loose? You might be experiencing a radical transformation that could change your life for the better.

Step by Step
These are the seven steps of radical transformation.

The Wake-Up Call
You realize that something needs to change.

Holding Uncertainty
You search for methods to help you change, explore teachings and avenues, all the while being willing to live with the insecurity of being in a process of identity-shifting.

Asking for Help
You approach teachers and mentors, and you strongly appeal to the power of grace itself.

Grace, Insight, and Awakening
Grace opens the situation, creating a breakthrough, inner shift, which may manifest as new gifts or insights.

Enjoying the new situation, you live in the breakthrough. It may feel like being in love.

The Fall From Grace
You lose touch with the new gifts, experience the consequences of over-confidence, and a sense of dryness or loss of contact with your Source.

You bring insight to bear on the contractions that have caused you to lose contact with grace, you apply spiritual insights to the nitty-gritty actions of life, and you experience the ripening of your breakthroughs over time. [Read more…]

Fierce Grace: The Boons of Kali ~ by Sally Kempton

(c) August 2011 By vudhikrai

(c) August 2011 by vudhikrai

“You need to find your Kali side,” I told Annie. You may know someone like Annie. She’s a production manager at a local tv station, a single mom with a busy schedule, and a really nice person. She values yoga as a doorway into peace and well-being, teaches it to troubled teens, and always stresses the importance of equanimity and other yogic virtues — non-violence, surrender, contentment, detachment.

But Annie’s approach to yoga is like her approach to life: she is so conflict averse, that its hard for her even to admit that she has negative feelings. She rarely raises her voice, and she once told me that she can’t remember the last time she felt anger. But at this moment, mired in a family conflict that involves missing money, elder abuse, and shady lawyers, Annie senses that her carefully cultivated tendency to seek peace over conflict is not helping her. She’s called me for advice: she wants to be told how to keep a good relationship with her brother and sister, and still stop them from cheating her mother out of her property. In other words, she wants me to give her a prescription for non-violent conflict from the yogic playbook.

Instead, what pops out of my mouth is, “You need to find your Kali side.” [Read more…]

Spiritual Materialism: When Spirituality Becomes a Mask ~ by Mariana Caplan

(c) January 2012 Stuart Miles

(c) January 2012 Stuart Miles

October, 2011

by Mariana Caplan

“We become skillful actors, and while playing deaf and dumb to the real meaning of the teachings, we find some comfort in pretending to follow the path.”
~Chogyam Trunpga Rinpoche

Given that global culture has been turned toward materialistic values in a way unprecedented in human history, it is inevitable that this same ethic would infiltrate our approach to spirituality. We live in a culture that values accumulation and consumption, and it is naïve of us to assume that simply because we are interested in spiritual growth that we have relinquished our materialism — or even that we necessarily should.

There is nothing wrong with having an “om” symbol on your t-shirt or being an avid practitioner of meditation while also enjoying moneymaking and big business, but it is useful to explore, understand and check your integrity in relationship to your choices. Spiritual materialism is not a matter of the things that we have, but of our relationship to them. [Read more…]

Falling in Love with the Divine: Devotion & Tantra of the Heart — October 14 – 16, 2011

Falling in Love with the Divine:

Devotion and Tantra of the Heart 

Sally Kempton  &  Marc Gafni

For many contemporary spiritual practitioners, devotion is a missing ingredient in their practice. Yet part of what gives practice its juice and excitement is the living relationship with the personal face of the divine—the Being-Intelligence of all that is—by which you are personally addressed, loved, challenged, and held. Devotion, heart practice directed toward a divine other, or the divine other in a beloved, is a secret of inner awakening, and a key to emotional healing and evolutionary transformation. It’s no wonder that some of the greatest sages and teachers of all time, from Rumi to the Hasidic masters, were also followers of the devotional path. [Read more…]

If You’re Still Lonely, Call Lola by Marc Gafni


By Dr. Marc Gafni

I actually began to re-think the whole “meaning of life” question some years ago when I was in a hotel in Denver, Colorado. You know how hotel rooms work, there is a television, bed, a lot of towels, and if you look in the drawer next to the bed you will almost unfailingly find, at least in the United States, a Gideon bible. My suitcase with my own set of books had missed its connecting flight and I was at the hotel tired, without books and not feeling that great. And you know empty hotel rooms far from home can be the loneliest places in the world. So I open the Gideon bible. [Read more…]

Psychology and Spirituality: One Path or Two?


by Mariana Caplan

Originally posted on the Huffington Post.

There is great debate, and in many cases a sharp divide, between practitioners of psychology and those of spirituality. On one end of the spectrum, most of mainstream psychology does not concern itself with issues of consciousness and spirit and rejects what is not scientifically quantifiable. On the other end, many contemporary spiritual traditions view the psyche as an unreal construct and believe that psychological work is an indulgent reinforcement of the story of the false self. [Read more…]

World Spirituality Retreat: Day 2 – Cleaning Up: The Nature of Shadow

by Leyna Roget

I notice a succinct metaphor in working within the body today; our parts comprise a body, our awakened body reclaims participation within the network of ‘all that is’. There is a kind of ‘flatland’ premise that in raising children, parents’ inextricable damage their psyche so that a majority of ones life is spent equalizing those injuries. Marc Gafni begins with this example to illustrate the second principle of cultivating world spirituality: cleaning up.

Gafni redirects this theory to say that although your parents conceived you, essence has birthed you thru the vessel of your parents. Therein they are only one part of the puzzle that is your perception on this life. In seeking to find our way, we develop humility and compassion towards our parents. Then we notice the relevance of cleaning up, as relevant to our thought forms and belief systems (concrete and energetic), in order to realize the perfection of our creation. So really, from conception by our unique parents, we underwent unique challenges, which have lead us to the unique selves we are today.

Carl G. Jung introduced the term “shadow” to describe the repressed or denied parts of the Self. The practice of Shadow Work engages a “personal growth process which brings your hidden powers out of the shadow and into the light…and become more and more who we really are.” Gafni asserts that engaging in this evolution of consciousness is a luxury for many, and delving into the depths of one’s evil is especially undesirable. Through Shadow Work you are supposed take these repressed and denied qualities and then integrate them back into your self. In Gafni’s “reality consideration” (mind you, “not a lecture” he says, haha), we examine how integration of radical and destructive desires is problematic. These negative cravings are themselves not necessary to the whole of our experience as instead it’s the structure of the darkness that is transformative.

To simplify Shadow Work and say “follow your darkness it will bring you to the light” has dangerous implications as a broad teaching. Alternately, we consider an esoteric reference to the Book of Solomon (Chapter 2, Ecclesiastecles): “greater is wisdom than folly, greater is light than darkness” with the original translation for “than” as “that comes from”. The text becomes: “greater is wisdom that comes from the folly, greater is light that comes from the darkness”. Whoa. Right about now is when my head starts experiencing that throb of a post-strobe light flashing.

As Caplan mentioned earlier in the day, once we apply attention to something our prahna (life force) awakens to it presence, so if we clarify those things that trouble us the most we actually find the light is hidden in the darkness. Gafni connects this to mean, “if the fool would follow his folly he would be wise”. In the new enlightenment teaching of world spirituality, each person’s shadow “is a distortion of your unique, awakened self that needs, desires and wants to be lived.” The cleaning up of the shadow, therefore, makes sense in the context of waking up to the unique self. While I’m less likely to daydream about my uncomfortable, sad side, I notice that apart from a mild anxiety towards identifying my unique shadow, there is a profound excitement to uncovering potential that’s been hiding in the dark.

Leyna Roget networks with community organizations and businesses to introduce the inspiring stories of Planet Progress and the developing works of iNDIGO PROjECT MEDIA. She captures on and off camera images for Blog posts, Twitter updates, and various other engaging platforms to bring the viewer into the company’s interconnected sphere. Leyna creates new outlets and sustainable community events that invite the public to interact with iPM.

Unique Shadow, Fubar Culture and the Evolving Cosmos by Trevor Malkinson

By Trevor Malkinson

“The root of our restlessness is the whole evolution of the cosmos itself. When we think about ourselves and our destiny, we can’t dissociate them from the destiny of the whole universe.” – evolutionary theologian John Haught

At the 2010 Integral Theory Conference, I attended a presentation by Dr. Marc Gafni where he explored the core dimensions of masculine and feminine shadow. As Gafni went through his list of eight essential characteristics of masculine energy – and their attendant shadow possibilities – an explosive series of connections started to fire in my wee brain; the penny dropped, the slot machine alarms started to sound, and suddenly a hundred drinking nights from my life started to pass rapidly before my eyes. There were beer bongs, shot gunned cans, AC/DC, road trips and hazy mornings on unknown couches. Then scenes from the cult movie Fubar started to flash in my mind too, and at once I thought I’d understood the deeper motivations of the characters Terry and Deaner. In a sudden revelation, in an apokalupsis of sorts, I realized what had so often driven so many of us to just given’r (1).

But before getting to that story, a little legwork needs to be done. Firstly, for those who may be unfamiliar, what is meant by the word shadow in the paragraph above? Generally speaking, the shadow is a psychological term for aspects of our self that have been disowned or repressed by our conscious mind. To do ‘shadow work’ is to bring this material into our awareness, hopefully relieving us from its negative unconscious disruptions and re-integrating the suppressed aspects of ourselves into the totality of our conscious being. There’s a rich psychological literature on the shadow, with different schools offering differing views, and it’s not my intention to summarize or evaluate that body of work. For this article, I’m concerned solely with Marc Gafni’s original contribution to that lineage of thought, and the important insights that I think can be drawn from it.

For Gafni our shadow is intimately related to another dimension of his work, the unique self. Somewhere on the continuum between personal ego and eternal Atman, Dr. Gafni has introduced a third dimension that he calls the “unique self”. You might say that the unique self is the flavor and character of the eternal as it pours through our own unique constellation of characteristics and into the world as form. If we can open up and be a vehicle for the animating depths of the cosmos that run through us – if we can put ourselves in alignment with Thy will- we can express this evolutionary thrust through the unique forms and capacities that make up our own (unique) perspective. We can serve the divine with the particular form that has arisen as us; we can become, as Gafni puts it, one of the divine’s “infinite faces”.

[Read more…]

Turning Poison into Nectar: Tantra and the Transformation of the Heart

Sally Kempton and Marc Gafni will guide a practical, hands-on exploration of the essential tantric methodology around transforming negative emotions into liberating energy and finding the gifts in shadow energies.

Thursday, May 5, 2011
6:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Rudramandir – Rasa Room
830 Bancroft Way, Berkeley


Sally Kempton's picSally Kempton is a master of the delicate art of integrating enlightened wisdom with daily life. As a mature practitioner of the tantric path of unfolding kundalini, she not only articulates the subtle insight of the tantras, but generates a field of energy through which others are able to access their own inner wisdom and meditative experience. A former swami, she is the author of Meditation for the Love of It, and writes the popular Wisdom column for Yoga Journal. Sally teaches internationally, and is a core teacher in the Integral Spiritual Center. Her workshops present subtle teachings with humor and depth, and create a space that allows deep breakthroughs for many of her students.


Dr. Marc Gafni holds his doctorate from Oxford University and has direct lineage in Kabbalah. He is a Rabbi, spiritual artist, teacher, and a leading visionary in the emerging World Spirituality movement. He is a co-founder of iEvolve: The Center for World Spirituality, a scholar at the Integral Institute, and the director of the Integral Spiritual Experience, as well as a lecturer at John F. Kennedy University. The author of seven books, including the national bestseller Soul Prints and Mystery of Love, Gafni’s teaching is marked by a deep transmission of open heart, love and leading edge provocative wisdom. Gafni is considered by many to be a visionary voice in the founding of a new World Spirituality and one of the great mind/heart teachers of the generation.


Meditation for Life: Is It True? Is It Really True? by Sally Kempton

by Sally Kempton

Twenty-five years ago, inspired by Gandhi’s autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, I decided to practice absolute truthfulness for one week. I lasted less than two days. On the third day, a man I was trying to impress asked me if I’d read Thoreau, and I heard myself saying, “Yes,” despite the fact that I hadn’t. A few minutes later, I forced myself to confess the lie. Truth is, that wasn’t so hard. What turned out to be harder was looking at why I’d lied. It was deeply humiliating to my ego to recognize that I had such an attachment to looking smart that I couldn’t admit not having read the book. And once I’d started looking into the motive for that lie,  it started a whole process of inquiry that actually hasn’t stopped since.

[Read more…]

The Teal Shadow – Integral Expert, First-Tier Allergy (By Kelly Sosan Bearer)

by Kelly Sosan Bearer

The Integral Expert

We all  have shadows, or disowned, repressed, dissociated parts of ourselves, and as we grow and develop from one stage to the next, and even as we grow into higher stages of development, a simple fact remains — the shadow does not go away, but rather follows us as we ascend into the higher reaches of self. Is it possible that certain types of shadow qualities are more probable to arise at certain levels of development? When we apply this question to the integral or teal level of development, what types of shadow material will we generally encounter in both ourselves and others? When we have the courage to take an honest view of ourselves, and as we learn more about and live an integral life, what shadow tendencies do we see? Let’s explore, with a light heart and hand, the general flavors of shadow material that we may be grappling with specifically once we acquire an Integral awareness. Two specific shadow manifestations that can potentially arise with Integral awareness, at the teal level of development, can be called the “integral expert” and the “1st tier allergy.”

We do not necessarily need to understand the Integral approach for our center of gravity to be stationed at teal. With that said, once we learn the Integral model, in all of its dimensions, we can often come away feeling like we now fully understand everything. Comprehending the Integral model helps us feel as though we can find a place for everything and anything we come across, both within and without, which is truly wonderful — but it can easily begin to eclipse our relationship with the Mystery, with the Great Unknown. Here, it is possible for the “integral expert” shadow to manifest. This shadow quality can actually inhibit our growth and development. For instance, if we feel that we know everything, why would we continue to explore how the Integral model manifests in real time? How is it possible to approach the mystery of existence from beginner’s mind? How can we let the grace of Spirit fall into us if we are closed to new possibilities arising? We want to be aware that the potential for this “integral expert” shadow to arise is very real and to notice how it manifests. This is no fault of the Integral approach, but an issue of translation on the part of the practitioner. Once we are integrally informed, there seems to be a tendency to feel like we know everything, while Integral wisdom simply suggests a few parameters to help honor everything we CANNOT know…

While it is true that “cognition is necessary but not sufficient” to grow into higher stages of consciousness, many of us tend to step off the developmental ladder once the mind is properly satiated. And what can satiate a thirsty mind more than Integral theory? Again, this is not a fault of the theory. For many, understanding cognitively the Integral approach seems to replace the need for true state training. We cognitively grasp the existence and importance of states. We are even cognizant of how they unfold in a stage-like progression, moving from gross to subtle to causal to nondual. What occurs is that we truly and rather innocently mistake the map for the territory. We can often find ourselves and others more interested in talking about practice, rather than actually engaging practice on a regular basis. We can be quick to judge without actually experiencing, first hand, these topics that so fascinate and intrigue us. There is a tendency to fall victim to the “talking school” or become “armchair” philosophers — meaning, we have a conceptual understanding, a cognitive understanding, but this understanding is not grounded in any real world experience, not grounded emotionally, experientially, socially, or relationally. This can be applied to much more than state training of course, and this is used as only one of many examples of how this “integral expert” shadow quality may arise.

In extreme cases, the “integral expert” shadow can actually manifest itself in a way where people begin to misuse the Integral model to disengage from the world, to hide from life, negating all responsibility. For example, if we are approached by someone who has feedback about our behavior, or how we have shown up in a meeting, or during an exchange, one response that seems to reflect this “integral expert” shadow quality is “you should 3-2-1 that”. We may not necessarily say this out loud, but there is a tendency to internally experience this and so we brush off feedback — justifying ourselves by thinking “this person is just projecting onto me.” Instead of actually receiving, what could be very helpful feedback, we actually push it away. What is ironic here is that we actually push feedback away by using the 3-2-1 process instead of using the 3-2-1 process to go deeper into the feedback that was so graciously offered. What the Integral model invites, encourages and almost demands from us to do is actually participate in the world more, for the simple fact that we do have a greater understanding and awareness — not to use the tools of the model to hide or turn away from manifest reality.  Learn it, live it, apply it… That is what the Integral approach calls us to do in every moment.

First-Tier Allergy 

Another shadow quality that may arise at the teal level of development can be called the “first tier allergy”, which is the general resistance to participating with all structures prior to teal.  This often shows up as mistaking the idea that people can be color coded according to the developmental models we use in Integral theory. We are all probability waves, as Kohlberg points out — the probability of finding a particular behavior at a particular time tends to follow the 25-50-25 rule. But often too many of us walk around dismissing people as being “so totally green” or “way too orange”. With these strong judgements, we tend to cut ourselves off from 95% of the world. Elitism is fine — because everyone is invited, snobbery is not. All too often we come off as Integral snobs when we use developmental schemes as a way to judge others and ultimately ignore them simply because they are not inhabiting the same developmental space that we are. One of the major benefits of Integral awareness is that we can act as developmental wizards, understanding that each and every level of development is utterly needed and appropriate, that we can locate within ourselves all of the levels of first tier, and realize that everyone has the right to be at any stage they are stationed at. This is a Upaya, or a skillful means of the model — one that could potentially help the world tremendously in a number of areas from politics to spirituality, education to business, ecology to healthcare. The importance of understanding where someone is stationed developmentally is not to judge them and write them off completely, but rather to inform us so that we can then choose the best way to interact with this person to have the best possible outcome. This outcome is understanding. And an understanding that then translates into action in the world on the part of the person we were just engaging. Imagine if we were to touch one person a day with the implications of the Integral approach? The possibilities are endless.

Of course the “expert” and “allergy” can manifest at each developmental stage and these are generally a part of the growth process. As we grow from one stage to the next we tend to dis-identify with the stage we previously inhabited. Another way to say this is that we make our previous subject, object — we turn our 1st-person experience into a 3rd- person experience. During that process, it is almost certain that we can acquire an “allergy” (or an addiction, but that’s another post) to our previous level of development. Once we grow into a higher stage, it is also possible that with a deeper and wider understanding of self, we can feel as “expert” to our previous self. The difference at the integral or teal level of development is that the “expert” and “allergy” of the growth process in first tier, has the potential to actually turn into shadow qualities.  We now have greater vision and responsibility to recognize the “integral expert” and “1st tier allergy” shadows and to work with these repressed aspects of self. Fortunately, the Integral model not only includes, but encourages us to work with our shadow traits. The 3-2-1 process is a great place to start.

Kelly Sosan Bearer
Kelly Sosan Bearer serves as the Executive Producer for iEvolve: Center for World Spirituality. She is the Curator of Integral Spiritual Experience. Kelly also serves as the Executive Producer, Host, and Founder of Integral Chicks Podcast. Since 2003, Kelly has produced over 60 live and virtual practice events. Previously, Kelly worked for Integral Institute & Integral Life from 2003-2008 and has been a student of Integral theory and practice for over twelve years. Kelly is an ordained Zen Monk in both the Soto and Rinzai schools. She is a published author in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. She completed her graduate studies at Naropa University with Master’s in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology. Follow Kelly on Twitter | Join Kelly on Facebook.

Turning the Bitter into the Sweet: Following the Darkness to the Light – 3-Part Audio Series: Part 3

In this three-part audio series, Lama Surya Das, Sally Kempton, and Dr. Marc Gafni engage in an exciting and cutting-edge dialogue on Turning the Bitter into the Sweet. In part three, Dr. Marc Gafni explores with us Following the Darkness to the Light.

Marc-Gafni Color-300x224SquareDr. Marc Gafni holds his doctorate from Oxford University. He is a rabbi and an iconoclastic teacher of Kabbalah and World Spirituality. He is the director with Ken Wilber, Sally Kempton and Diane Hamilton of the Integral Life Spiritual Center and core founder and faculty member of iEvolve: Global Practice Community. He has written seven books, including the national bestseller Soul Prints, and The Mystery of Love, an exploration of the relationship between the sexual, the erotic, and the sacred. Gafni is considered by many to be a visionary voice in the founding of a new World Spirituality.

sally-kempton-60x60Sally Kempton, formerly known as Swami Durgananda, is recognized as a powerful meditation guide and as a spiritual teacher who integrates yogic philosophy with daily life. She is the author of The Heart ofMeditation, and writes the popular Wisdom column for Yoga Journal. A teacher in the tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism Sally conducts conducts workshops and retreats on applied philosophy and meditation. She is also a core founder and faculty of iEvolve: Global Practice Community.

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars. Surya Das teaches and lectures around the world, conducting dozens of meditation retreats and workshops each year. Based on his relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Surya Das founded the Western Buddhist Teachers Network and has organized three week-long conferences of Western Buddhist Meditation Teachers with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India.

[Read more…]