September 21, 2020

Newest Thinking on Unique Self, from a dialogue with Bert Parlee and Marc Gafni, at the recent Integral Leadership Collaborative


Your Unique Self: Giving Your Gift — Dr. Marc Gafni — Audio Transcript

Bert Parlee: Marc has an incredible breadth of wisdom and knowledge, not only in the spiritual traditions, but his doctorate is from Oxford, he’s a scholar, speaks various languages, and the way he weaves stories, drawing from all streams of life that he brings into his very embodied organic teaching style. Welcome Marc. [Read more…]

God 9.0: Does Christianity Have a Future? by Tilmann Haberer

By Tilmann Haberer

‘I am spiritual, but not religious‘– many people make this distinction. They describe themselves as spiritual and maybe they mean by this that they follow a more or less intensive discipline such as Yoga, Vipassana or Zen. Or maybe they lay the Tarot. Perhaps they also believe that, for them, the existence of a higher order is self-understood. However, this higher order has little to do with the god spoken about in religion. For the established religions – in particular Christianity, Islam and Judaism in our part of the world – have gambled away our trust, which, for centuries, was taken for granted. Of course there are reasons for this. One of the most important of these must be that, historically, the churches often played a very disreputable role. Crusades, burning of witches, persecution of heretics and those with different beliefs, religious wars, the conquering of Middle and South America with fire and sword! The list is endless, as endless as the streams of blood and tears that the churches have caused over the course of the centuries. This list carries forward to the present day; the abuse scandals scream to heaven. [Read more…]

Are You Ready to Wake Up? by Marc Gafni

If you’re here, that’s because you are ready to wake-up! This is about awakening. This is about not being asleep, conducting your life as business as usual. In this inspiring video, Dr. Marc welcomes you to a new vision and a new reality…Welcome to the Center for World Spirituality.

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.

World Spirituality Retreat: Day 1 – Waking Up

Be the Unique Poem that You Are

by Leyna Roget

There’s this tingle of excitement fizzing around inside me as I start to realize that evolving, not just for oneself, but also for the entire global neighborhood, is a powerful message to consider. “These words are going to hold and comfort hundreds of thousands of people”, says Marc Gafni about his explanation of the first integral principle to a world spirituality: waking up.

Gafni points out that teachings on enlightenment are not more present in mainstream conversation because if we are to assert ‘awakening’ through popular esoteric guides, our expression of uniqueness is distorted and even discouraged, in lieu of a single ‘oneness’.

In “waking up” we must acknowledge that there is something to awaken to, where we have otherwise been sleeping. Being asleep in this life means not being aware of the inner and outer workings in your day-to-day life.  Many people are already familiar with this concept.  When we wake up, we perceive our true nature of reality. The Sufi’s call your true nature the supreme identity, or the oneness of all; an identification that is no longer a separate ‘me’ experience, but a ‘we’ interpretation of life; a non-egoic identification with actions and purpose.  What Gafni stresses is that there are two stages of awakening: the internal impulse and the external or evolutionary impulse.

The internal is the interpersonal or the “I” way of seeing my life connected to a universal stillness; a collective presence, a depth and beauty of relating to everyone because we are all made of a human essence.  This is often achieved through meditative practices and shifting the perception of yourself in relation to the whole of existence.

The external awakening therefore involves a reflection on the process and how you’re evolving in a process that is itself evolutionary. Basically, we are very intelligent beings, and we both participate and affect how we become ‘enlightened’.  We are aware of our ability to reframe that which is an evolving model of enlightenment.

Sometimes I feel like I’m throwing a wrench in my own process by being so open to its impermanence, like I can’t get a grasp of it.  Maybe Gafni sensed this in me (and some of the others) because I received subtle reassurance in hearing that “our life attains infinite significance in all that is in every moment”.

Upon leaving our first (half day) in mixed contemplation and confusion for how I am to honor my unique self throughout this dual awakening, I playfully note that we are housed in the Lotus Room, a flower which undergoes its own waking up “from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.”

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.

Meditation for Life: Awareness and Transformation by Sally Kempton

Meditation will show you where you need to work on yourself, but your very awareness of an unconstructive mood or behavior is actually the first step to changing it.

By Sally Kempton [cross-posted from Patheos.com]

Meditation makes you more self-aware. That’s one of its biggest gifts, even though we don’t always like what we see. When meditation is really working, it has a way of showing you unknown parts of yourself—pockets of your psyche that are beautiful and sublime, but also parts of yourself that are not so tasty. In fact, there will be periods when your life seems to bristle with situations that seem designed to reveal your most embarrassing reactive patterns and unskillful ways of coping. And I’m not even talking about big crises, just about the normal irritations of life.

Maybe you get the flu, or your back goes out, and you realize how cranky you feel when you’re physically uncomfortable. Maybe you notice the impatience in your voice when you talk to your teenager. Or, as happens regularly to a friend of mine, the moment of truth can come from a co-worker asking you pointedly if you would be acting so prickly if you’d meditated today.

The gift of meditation in these situations is that you have resources that can let you shift out of these patterns—sometimes right away.

That’s why an experienced meditator knows that the moment when you see your own stuff is valuable, especially if you can resist the impulse to kick yourself across the room for not having it more together. Not only does it show you where you need to work on yourself, but your very awareness of an unconstructive mood or behavior is actually the first step to changing it. In other words, the awareness that allows you to recognize your state is also the source of the energy that can transform it.

Most of our more disturbing emotions or behaviors come from areas of the psyche where we have chosen to remain unconscious. In Hindi, the word for these unconscious, immature qualities is kacha, meaning “raw” or “unbaked.” (In one of Rumi’s poems, he compares the unripe soul to a chickpea that needs to be softened by cooking so that it will become a tasty morsel!) All of us are partly kacha, and it’s our practice that cooks us, or if you prefer, ripens us.

But the kind of practice that transforms us is not a mechanical accumulation of rituals and focus exercises. It is practice with awareness and practice of awareness that actually changes the texture of our consciousness. Awareness itself, with its clarity, its impersonality, its spaciousness, and its capacity to hold everything within itself, is the fire that will cook or ripen our immature feelings and behaviors. Just holding these feelings non-judgmentally in Awareness—being their witness without either acting on them, trying to suppress them, or getting lost in our stories or beliefs about what is happening—is often enough to change their quality from raw to baked.

This principle holds true for any situation we face, whether internally or externally generated. Because our awareness is a small-scale version of the great Awareness that underlies all that is, when we direct attention non-judgmentally toward something that causes suffering either to ourselves or to others, we are actually bringing that state or mood or behavior into the light of the great Awareness itself.

Awareness not only illumines the dark corners of our psyches but can also transmute the strange energies and raw feelings that dwell there. Then the energy that has been tied up in them is freed to become available for more creative endeavors. We are spiritually ripe, baked, when all our knotted energies and feelings have been freed and re-channeled to manifest as wisdom, power, and love. How this happens is one of the mysteries of Consciousness. What we do know is that the act of turning Awareness toward our inner moods, states, and feelings is the great tactic for setting that alchemy in motion.

Inquire Within

The sages of Vedanta gave the name atma vichara, or self-inquiry, to this act of becoming aware of ourselves.

Vichara is not just thinking about something, nor is it the same as psychological self-analysis. It is a yogic practice or self-reflection in which we hold our attention on inner phenomena in a steady, focused fashion without going into meditation. There are two basic types of vichara. One is the contemplation we do to get in touch with our deeper wisdom, to open the space of revelation, to understand a spiritual teaching, or to touch our Self. The classical inner question “Who am I?” (taught by Ramana Maharshi and others) is an example of this type of vichara.

The other type of self-inquiry is contemplation of what blocks our experience of the Self. When we feel out of sorts, instead of giving way to the feelings or getting lost in the story we are telling ourselves about them, we focus our attention on the feelings themselves. We let ourselves fully experience the feelings. We notice the thoughts that accompany them. We observe the state of our energy, the sensations in our body. At times it can be helpful to trace a feeling back to its source, perhaps to discover the frustrated desire or fear or expectation that may have triggered it. But the most important thing is to keep noticing our inner feelings and the state of our energy until it becomes second nature to notice the symptoms of being off-center.

Only when we can recognize and identify the actual inner sensations of being out of alignment with ourselves can we get back in touch. Without that recognition, we only know that we are uncomfortable, and we have little chance of adjusting our state.

Self-Inquiry in Action

Imagine the following scenario. It is early morning, and you have been up late working on a project that is approaching its deadline. You need to get to the office early to meet with your team to finalize some important loose ends. As you are putting the coffee on the stove, your 10-year-old daughter announces that she feels sick. She has a high fever and a bad cough. She needs a day in bed and a trip to the doctor. You realize that there isn’t anyone you can get to stay with her at such short notice. You will have to stay home and take care of her. Yet if you don’t keep your appointment at the office, your project hasn’t a chance of being completed in time. The thought of what this will mean sends you into a rapid spiral of panic. “Why do things like this always happen to me?” you hear yourself thinking. “My life is so impossible.” Fear, frustration, anger, and despair.

At this moment, you make a crucial yogic choice. Instead of letting yourself careen into acting out of your panic and anger, you consciously pause. You make up your mind to pay attention to your own state and to deal with it before you try to take action.

You take a couple of deep breaths, and then you check in with yourself. You scan your body and notice the rhythm of your breath. You discover that your breathing is choppy—in fact, you are actually holding your breath. You notice a clenched sensation in your diaphragm and stomach muscles and a tightness in your chest. You realize that your heart is also feeling tight and closed and that there are threads of fear shooting through it. Your energy is alternately fluttering and sinking, sometimes rushing through you in waves of panic, sometimes flattening out as depression and a feeling of helplessness. Your thoughts are all about victimization: “It’s so unfair. Why can’t someone besides me take care of things for a change? Why is this always happening?”

This moment of stopping, turning inside, checking yourself out, noticing how you feel, and observing your thoughts without buying into them is a profoundly significant moment of yoga. It will give you the power to act from a more resourceful, skillful place, rather than simply reacting to the difficulties in the situation. Now instead of blocking your discomfort or trying to distract yourself, instead of overriding your emotions and plunging ahead regardless of how your inner energy feels, instead of letting your strong reactions overwhelm you so that you blow up at your daughter or paralyze yourself with resentment or paranoia, you use these feelings as a signal to stop and return to yourself.

Realigning

Once you have recognized your own state, you can begin to work with it. For this you have a number of different options.

The first step, always, is to bring your attention to the breath. The breath automatically connects the ordinary mind to the deeper Self. When you grab hold of the breath and just follow its rhythm for a moment or two, or take a couple of full breaths, it will eventually center you.

For me, the second step in realigning with my deep center is to bring my attention into the heart. Once I have recovered my wits through a few rounds of steady, deliberate breathing, I drop a sort of inner plumb line inside to the area of the middle chest, beneath the breastbone, and I let my attention rest there until I feel the inner heart space relax and expand. When energy is stuck in the head, your thoughts tend to go in circles and you come up with rote, uncreative solutions to your issues. Once your attention moves into the heart, you are automatically in touch with your intuition. You are in one of the essential centers of spiritual wisdom and awareness. Resting in that seat in the heart, you can do whatever other practice is needed. You can ask your inner intuition what is the best thing to do.

But these are just two of your available options. You have others. You might decide that you need to spend some time soothing yourself, perhaps by replacing your agitated thoughts with a more positive thought. You could practice a few moments of mindfulness, ‘sitting’ in the heart and noticing the thoughts, feelings, and inner sensations as they arise. You could ask yourself a question like “Can you let this thought go?” and then breathe it out, or simply wait for a natural recognition that the thoughts and feelings are simply arising and passing through—and that you can let them go.

Another thing you can do is give yourself a teaching. My teacher used to say that the reason we study spiritual texts is so that they’ll come up when we need them and help us coach ourselves into a more resourceful state.

A friend once told me about a practice she used during a particularly difficult season at her university department. She had a hostile colleague who would interrupt her, question her agendas, and generally harass her. She got through it by reminding herself, “You are in the peaceful mind of God.”

A man with a tendency to lose his temper during moments of frustration works with a famous yogic technique called “Practicing the Opposite” from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. When he notices rage surging up inside him, he takes time to become aware of the thoughts associated with the feelings, and then fills his mind with counter-thoughts like “I have great tolerance and respect for these people.” Even though it isn’t always true, holding the positive thought calms his mind enough to make him less reactive.

For me, a line from the Bhagavad Gita, “You have a right to the work alone, but not to its fruits,” often comes up when I’m caught in desire for a particular outcome. Contemplating this resonant, mysterious teaching helps me detach myself from my fears, my wants, and my expectations so that I can act more objectively.

So once you have paused, checked yourself out, and recognized the way it feels to be out of your center, you have many options for beginning to come back to yourself. As you keep working with this threefold process of recognition, self-inquiry, and practice, you learn to navigate your own rough waters and to find the harbors that are always there.

This moment of stopping, turning inside, checking yourself out, noticing how you feel, and observing your thoughts without buying into them is a profoundly significant moment of yoga. It will give you the power to act from a more resourceful, skillful place, rather than simply reacting to the difficulties in the situation. Now instead of blocking your discomfort or trying to distract yourself, instead of overriding your emotions and plunging ahead regardless of how your inner energy feels, instead of letting your strong reactions overwhelm you so that you blow up at your daughter or paralyze yourself with resentment or paranoia, you use these feelings as a signal to stop and return to yourself.

Sally KemptonSally Kempton An internationally known teacher of meditation and spiritual wisdom, Sally Kempton is the author of Meditation for the Love of It and writes a monthly column for Yoga Journal. Follow her on Facebook and visit her website at www.sallykempton.com.

Turning the Bitter into the Sweet: Next Steps of Spirit – 3-Part Audio Series: Part 2

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 two, Lama Surya Das explores with us the Next Steps of Spirit.

[Read more…]

Marc Gafni: What is the Separate Self?

In this video teaching, Dr. Marc Gafni defines with his students during his annual five-day Urban Retreat in the Summer of 2010, the notion of Separate Self. What is the Separate Self? How do we know our True Self? Marc Gafni introduces and explains that each person is a skin encapsulated ego (to borrow the phrase) and needs to move beyond one’s Separate Self towards one’s True Self, ultimately realizing one’s Unique Self.

[Read more…]

Articulating a World and Evolutionary Spirituality: The Integral Imperative of Spirit with Dr. Marc Gafni, Michael Pergola, & Mariana Caplan — Sept. 16 – 18, 2010

Articulating a World and Evolutionary Sprituality based on Integral Principles: “The  Evolutionary Imperative of Spirit in Our Time,” presented by Integral Spiritual Experience, One Spirit Seminary and Center for World Spirituality, with Dr. Marc Gafni, Michael Pergola, and Mariana Caplan.

Evolving a World Spirituality Spirituality based on Integral Principles is the urgent need and great adventure of our time.

The yearning to articulate a World Spirituality is rippling across the globe in the hearts and minds of tens of millions of people. For some people, the classical religions have lost their power. They seek a path of practice and commitment that transcends the traditions. For others, their intuitive desire is to transcend and include the traditions. They seek to live as dual citizens, rooted in their tradition, even as they locate themselves as citizens in the broader community of World Spirituality.

A World Spirituality based on integral evolutionary principles and rooted  in the shared truths held to be self-evident by all great systems of spirit and gnosis across historical time is urgently needed at this moment in history. At the same we recognize that the shared truths held by all the great systems are interpeted through the level of consciousness held by the practioners of the particular spiritual system. Ethnocentric consciousness will always produce ethnocentric religion, pluralistic consciousness will produce pluralistic religion and integral consciousness will produce integral religion.

Naturally this religion will appear in many different forms including Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc.  Evolving an authentic life rooted in commitment and freedom articulated and lived in the principles and practices of World Spirituality at the highest possible level of consciousness is the next great step in spirit’s unfolding.

The Center for World Spirituality is writing a series of groundbreaking books and creating new templates for spiritual practice, education, and community. The templates are at once rooted in the past, present, and future. Welling up from an integration of the leading-edge emergent evolutionary insights taught by spirituality, psychology, and the sciences, World Spirituality paves the way for the next stage of evolution, seeding the ground of hope that is our collective memory of the future.

The Five Reasons Why Evolving a World Spirituality is an Evolutionary Imperative in Our Generation; An Evolutionary Imperative that Depends On Us.

For the first time in history the core challenges to survival that we face today are not local to a particular religion, country, or region. The challenges are world challenges, ranging from the very real threats to the very ground we walk on and the air we breathe, to world hunger, to the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a rogue state, to the most pressing issues of social and economic justice. There is no place left to hide in the word and the old spiritual truth of the essential oneness of it all, the interconnectivity of it all is not longer a hidden teaching but an obvious truth for all to see. Whenever new life conditions come to pass a new evolutionary leap in consciousness and culture is required to meet them. The global challenges we face require the evolution of a new spiritual consciousness in which we realize that what unites us is so much greater than what divides us, namely a World Spirituality.

For the first time in history there is a critical mass of at least two hundred million people who have reached world centric consciousness. Simply put these people have expanded their circle of caring and concern beyond their ethnocentric affiliations. These are people who are at home  in the world and who feel responsible for the world as a whole and not merely for their country or religion.

For  the first time in history the most profound teachings as well as living teachers, from all the great systems of spirit, are readily available in a non-coercive and openhearted form, not only to people of that particular religion, but to all who would come to study and practice.

For the first time in history the notion of dual citzenship is readily understood and available. Not only can one be a dual citzen of two countries but one can also remain committed to one’s native or chosen spiritual tradition while at the same time being a citizen of world spirituality.

For the first time in history there are hundreds of millions of well-educated people who, although they cannot find their homes in the traditional religions, are searching for a compelling universal set of spiritual principles by which they can live their lives

The Specific World Spirituality Technology that will structure this weekend practice and study intensive is the Three Faces of Spirit. More on what this means below!

Deploying Three Faces of Spirit, we will enter deeply into:

  • The Study of Sacred Texts as a core Spiritual Practice
  • Evolutionary Integral Relationships practice
  • Evolutionary Integral Nature practice
  • Enlightenment Practices of Meditation, Chant, and Voice Dialogue

Deeper Explanation:

This workshop will be a deep experiential dive into one of the profound teachings of  Integral Spirituality that emerges from the Great Traditions and which finds strong expression in Kabbalah, Kashmir Shaivism, and esoteric Christianity. This classic teaching as it emerges in Integral through its being rooted in the first, second, and third person perspectives.

We will look into the arising of these three perspectives in our lives and demonstrate how they all must be deployed to create an integral evolutionary understanding of every dimension of being. The specific focus of the workshop is a series of instructions that will point the way to a world spirituality rooted in integral knowing.

Currently, each face of spirit finds expression in a particular institution of culture. The first face appears in the ashram, the second appears in the synagogue, and the third appears in the University. Each claims that true gnosis can only be achieved through its particular methodology.

Zen practice is centered around is the 1st person practice of meditation. Buddha is the archetypic hero of this perspective.

Church, in all of its forms, holds the second person of spirit. Its core practices are prayer and devotion. Rumi and the Hasidic masters are the archetypal expressions of the 2nd Person of Spirit.

The University is the classic modern expression of the 3rd Person of Spirit. Objective study, science, and empiricism are the core practices.

We will show through analysis, conversation, and practice (the Three Faces themselves) that all three perspectives inspire different emotions, invite different forms of knowing, yield different experiences of growth and are engaged through different sets of practices.

We will address the profound gifts of each of the three perspectives.  We will also point out the limitations of each perspective when divorced from the other two.

The three faces of Spirit each arouse a different emotion. The first face of spirit arouses bliss. The second face of spirit arouses love. The third face of spirit arouses awe.

We will also engage the four major arenas of living and show how the three faces of spirit manifest in each of these arenas.

These arenas are:

  • The Study of Sacred Texts as a core Spiritual Practice
  • Evolutionary Integral Relationships practice
  • Evolutionary Integral Nature practice
  • Enlightenment Practices of Meditation, Chant and Voice Dialogue