March 30, 2020

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 5

Why have so many people, especially spiritual teachers, resisted the idea of Unique Self? What are the implications of Unique Self for shadow work? And how are these two questions related? The answer may be connected to a failure to hold paradox.

Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni explore these topics in this part of their Unique Self dialogue (a 12-minute clip from a conversation recorded in September 2012). The answer which emerges is that, in Marc’s phrasing, there is a failure to discern the difference between egoic disassociation and disidentification. In spiritual traditions which “bash the ego,” there is a risk of losing one’s ability to make out the shape of the “individuated essence of the divine mind-heart which lives in you and as you.”

In Ken’s formulation, there is a failure to understand deeply “the infinite nature of the genuine Self and its unique nature appearing in each individual.”

Listen to the audio and read a partial transcript:

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A partial transcript of the dialogue follows:

Marc: I think one of the reasons in the early years why Unique Self had such opposition is that people had such a hard time in disambiguating the distinction between ego and Unique Self. Lots of the reason was an inhability to hold paradox, an inappropriate either/or thinking. The paradox is so important here.

In paradox … the Garden of Eden, my teacher once said, is not paradise but paradox. There’s an unbelievable text which ppears in the Zohar, not really commented on a lot, which calls King David the Jester of the King. Why is he the jester?

He says to God, “Test me.”

God says, “I don’t think so.”

David says, “Test me.”

David sits on his rooftop. He sees Bathsheba bathing unclothed. The whole story unfolds. Bathsheba inappropriately becomes David’s wife. David commits a number of cardinal life mistakes. God says, “You see. I told you not to be tested. It wasn’t a good idea.”

David said, “What do you mean, God? You said I would fail the test. I said I would succeed. You’re the master. I’m the servant. so I failed.”

The Zohar says, for that reason David is the jester of the king. I remember when I first read a version of that story, in my lineage master, Mordechai Lanier of Izbica, the source of all the Unique Self and non-dual humanism work, not of the post-kind but of the metaphysical traditions. He cites the story a lot, but doesn’t explain why.

Ten years after seeing the story for the first time … I realize this is about freedom and determinism. Of course! It’s about choicelessness. You’re both choosing and not choosing. Couldn’t be any other way. The paradox is: Total divine pride and total humility. Total audacity and total surrender in the precise same moment. How to tell between someone who is genuinely living their Unique Self compared to someone who is caught in some egoic hijacking of Unique Self. It’s a nice distinction.

Ken: It is. That denial we see in the denial of the Unique Self as well. In some cases, it’s just a flat out mistake because some of these things do sound contradictory and we have to just hear an explanation to agree. In other cases there are deeper dysfunctionalism almost which is a failure to realize and deeply acknowledge the infinite nature of the genuine Self and its unique nature appearing in each individual. And so in some cases it’s an innocent mistake, and in some cases it’s part of the structure of the lie I’m caught in, vis-à-vis my Unique Self.

Marc: That’s a fantastic analysis. If we would apply the disassociation/ disidentification discernment to this issue. I think what’s often happened is that when spiritual teachers don’t disidentify from ego but disassociate from ego, that creates a blindness. You can never evolve beyond ego, you can evolve beyond exclusive identification with ego. You disassociate from ego, demonize ego, you are blinded to Unique Self, because you disassociate from anything that is unique. When you teach a radical neo-advaita tradition, which is beautiful and holy, in Kabbalah or Hindu tradition, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it, it’s the same moment… when you adopt that kind of tradition which bashes the ego – then you lose your ability to discern the contours of the individuated essence of the divine mind-heart which lives in you and as you.

Ken: Definitely. That’s part of the whole consideration that each individual needs to go through as they begin to honestly confront their Unique Self.

Marc: We’ve identified denial of Unique Self as a fundamental matrix of shadow formation and pathology. You pointed out something else recently… Two other things you shared. One was Maslow’s Jonah complex, which is fantastic. Jonah, for the listeners, is asked by the divine voice to go to Nineveh to give a prophecy, and Jonah flees from being in the divine presence. He ends up in the belly of a whale. The Jonah complex of Maslow takes on an enormously deeper resonance when you think of it as not merely self-realization, which is critical, but also Maslow’s later understanding which you’ve talked about extensively, self-transcendence. It deepens our Jonah complex.

But then on a practical point, our last point, what we could really do is take this whole conversation, is we can take the 3-2-1 of shadow – a gold-starred module of Integral Practice – as you’ve integrated it from the great traditions: taking shadow from 3rd to 2nd to 1st person, that’s an integration of shadow qualities into you. (Oh, that asshold lives in me.) You can go 3-2-1-0 and see they are realizations of your unlived life. Because you haven’t lived your own Unique Life, qualities such as stinginess or anger or jealousy. They might all come back online, if you trace them back to their roots, the shadow qualities are unique. They lead you back to your Unique Self. I’ve never been jealous of a ballerina. But I can walk into a bookstore and see that Ken has written another book. Then he says – I hate him – you own it. Then you see that it was his Unique Self, and that lets me live my Unique Self. Ken it’s just stunning. Unless you do that… When you actually go from 1 to 0. Follow your Unique Shadow back to your Unique Self. We’ve done this over the last few years and it’s just stunning.

Unique Shadow is the yellow brick road back to Unique Self. Jung. Sometimes Jung got it, sometimes he doesn’t. He moves away from it, back and forth. Jung’s complex. What he didn’t get is – and he got a lot and we’re all in his debt in so many ways – is what I would call the virtue of Unique Self. He used to say I’d rather be whole than good. Your Unique Self is your wholeness and goodness together. He had some idea which is based on his elevationist move. You’re either going to be whole or you’re going to be good, based a view of religion which makes you good but not whole. Unique Self invites you to your wholeness and goodness as one.

Listen to the entire dialogue:

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Daily Wisdom: Divine Imagination

God is the possibility of possibility – limitless imagination. The first of the ten commandments is “I am God.”  When this God is asked to identify himself, He responds, “I will be what I will be.” That is, ‘You cannot capture me in the frozen image of any time or place. To do so would be to destroy me.’ It would be to violate the second commandment against idolatry. Idolatry is the freezing of God in a static image. To freeze God in an image is to violate the invitation of the imagination. It is to limit possibility.

The Temple modeled after the Biblical myth tabernacle in the desert is the product of imagination. In a wonderfully paradoxical set of mystical texts, Bezalel, the master craftsman of the book of Exodus, receives no clear blueprint from God or Moses on how to build the tabernacle. And yet he builds it in accordance with “God’s will.” For the Kabbalists, this is a hidden allusion to the power of holy imagination to intuit cosmic truth.

When the mystics suggest that Bezalel is “taught by God,” they speak in code. The artist is “wise of heart,” “filled with the spirit of wisdom, intuition and intimate understanding.”  All of these draw their inspiration from the breath of divine imagination.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Erotic and the Holy

Daily Wisdom: “I am God”

Sacred hermeneutic is ultimately an erotic act according to the mystics in which the God in the interpreter meets the God and the text and realizes that they are one.

It is this erotic merger with the divine in the act of interpreting sacred text which has been the central realization of my own personal path to the divine.  In this meeting between infinite and finite, the meetings blurs into a merger, a unio-mystica, achieved  through the meditative ecstatic intellectual act of sacred study. Thus when we engage text we meet both third person descriptions of reality, a second person encounter with the Noten Hatorah, the torah given in the eternal now by the eternal divine thou, as well as the merger of the mystic with the word of God in which the voice of God speaks through the mystics Torah in the realization that “I am God.”

The Dance of Tears (in press)
Dr. Marc Gafni

Unique Self Video No. 13: The Intellectual and Social History of Unique Self

When intellectual historians trace the emergence of Your Unique Self out of its multi-faceted lineage, they look look first to the Unique Self Timeline as well as the following video, in which Marc Gafni describes the idea’s lineage.

Unique Self emerged about 25 years ago when I first began what I call the Soul Print teaching. I was delighted and privileged to put out a book called Soul Prints: Your Path to Fulfillment and a PBS special. The PBS special was horrible. The book was really good.

The book was the crystallization of the teaching which began in 1986 in Delray Beach, Florida, where I was an Orthodox rabbi, and I was speaking to about 500 people. I was teaching about the laws of Sabbath which are exciting and compelling and important, but somehow I couldn’t give the gift I wanted to give them. Somehow the sentence emerged – fell as grace: I said that you have not only a finger print, but you are a soul print. You have a Unique Gift to give in the world. You can actually feel the energy or subtle field or inner space change.
Everyone kind of woke up, and we knew something had happened. Ever since then, I have worked on developing on an understanding of Soul Prints… [Read more…]

Unique Self Video No. 12: Your Unique Self, The Book

Marc Gafni:

Unique Self emerges from my teaching over the last 20 years, a deep meeting between my teaching and Integral Theory, many many conversations between Ken and myself, fructified, amplified, and deepened by an inner circle of other teachers who brought their own gifts to bear, and now Unique Self belongs to no one. It’s the teaching of tomorrow, which will take each one of us.

Find your way on this radical path to personal enlightenment.

In the twelfth installment of the Unique Self Video series, Marc Gafni provides an overview of his new book, Your Unique Self:


For a transcript, see UniqueSelf.com.

Unique Self Video No. 11: On Evolutionary Mysticism

Dr. Marc Gafni:

Evolutionary Spirituality is making an important contribution. My teachers are all evolutionary mystics, a term that’s been used in the academic scholarship of Hebrew mysticism. Evolutionary mysticism is the sense that I am participating in the evolving All, the evolving process.

In Part 11 of the Unique Self Video series, Marc describes the important role he sees for evolutionary spirituality as well as its potential pitfalls. [Read more…]

Unique Self Video No. 10: What is the difference between Integral Spirituality, Evolutionary Spirituality, and World Spirituality?

An excerpt from Part 10 of the Unique Self Video series:

World Spirituality incorporates both the operating system of integral Spirituality, its pointing-out instructions, and clearly incorporates the evolutionary dimension of Evolutionary Spirituality. What World Spirituality seeks to do at every level of consciousness is offer a full expression of living—body, heart, mind, and soul—at every level of consciousness at its own level. At its highest level of consciousness—Kosmocentric consciousness, in which I feel identified with all sentient beings—I’ve identified with the Divine perspective that lives as my Unique Self. I feel responsible for past, present, and future.

Marc Gafni: [Read more…]

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: Every generation is part of the unfolding revelation of divinity

R. Kook, twentieth century philosopher mystic, teaches that every generation is part of the unfolding revelation of divinity.  Each generation, picking up from where the last one left off, moves closer to understanding the full depth and divinity of sacred rites and passages. In this sense the “covenant between me and the children of Israel”  is not only between God and the people – but “between”  the children of Israel…. and their children ….and their children – a covenant between generations. Israel means for me, borrowing a reading from my teacher Mordechai Lainer of Izbica, based on a close and creative reading of the original Hebrew, Yashar El; the direct apprehension of the divine.

The community of Israel are those who receive tradition reverentially and yet seek their own unmediated experience of divinity as the lodestone of their spiritual and ethical journey.  In this covenant each generation promises its forbearers to continue the journey of unfolding divinity though the prism of our questing souls.

Dr. Marc Gafni
The Dance of Tears (forthcoming 2013)

Unique Self Video No. 6: Evolutionary We-Space

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

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

From the UniqueSelf.com Video Blog:

[Read more…]

Read Joe Perez’s “Commentary on Unique Self Video No. 1: Gafni’s Trailblazing Theory of Unique Self”

Newly posted on Awake, Alive & Aware, a commentary on Marc’s first video teaching on Unique Self:

In this video, Marc Gafni introduces what he calls the “core teaching” of Unique Self. Stated succinctly:

Unique Self is the understanding that you are at the level of essence – not merely at the level of social, psychological, and cultural conditioning – you are ultimately unique, you are an infinitely unique expression of All-That-Is, an expression that never was, is, or will be ever again. That uniqueness of essence is your Unique Self.

The video continues with exposition highlighting the role of evolution in creating uniqueness, and then it shifts to take the Integral perspective that everything arises at “all quadrants” (or alternatively in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspectives). Gafni’s shorthand is to say that “uniqueness lives at the biological, social, cultural, and psychological levels” — essentially Ken Wilber’s quadrants in AQAL.

And then with “it’s your unique perspective on your enlightenment,” we see the key conceptual move central to the whole construct: Unique Self IS “enlightenment” in all four quadrants. So by definition it is the source of illumination, wisdom, and identification with the All, the central qualities associated with “enlightenment” as seen from an individual perspective. So the reason that we are calling Unique Self the “Next Chapter of Integral” is that it develops a practical, useful, new construct on top of the AQAL Integral Framework (one which has the support of Ken Wilber, the chief developer of AQAL, a salient fact).

Read the whole thing…

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…]

Unique Self Video Teaching No. 1: Core Principles

“Unique Self is the understanding that you are at the level of essence – not merely at the level of social, psychological, and cultural conditioning – you are ultimately unique, you are an infinitely unique expression of All-That-Is, an expression that never was, is, or will be ever again. That uniqueness of essence is your Unique Self.”

With those words, Marc Gafni began to present the Unique Self teaching for a series of 20 free short educational videos. For the full videos including transcripts, see the UniqueSelf.com Video Blog.

For a transcript of the first video, see UniqueSelf.com.

Unique Self Dialogue: Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni, Part 2

This week we are presenting the second in a multi-part dialogue series on Unique Self featuring Ken Wilber and Marc Gafni (a series which will continue all autumn). In this second clip (about 20 minutes), Ken and Marc situate the Unique Self within the context of Integral Theory, in particular the differentiation between structures or stages of consciousness on the one hand and states on the other. They conclude by differentiating between specialness as an egoic claiming of place, which is competitive and aggressive, and a Unique Self specialness which is “the currency of connction.”

Marc coined the term “Unique Self” in his book Soul Prints, and has been working to develop the Unique Self teaching for over two decades. Marc’s latest book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, explores and unpacks it even further. For a timeline of the Unique Self’s development, see the Unique Self Timeline.

Listen to the audio and read the partial transcript as well as some Background Material below… [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…]

What is evolutionary enlightenment? Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen in dialogue

With the launch of UniqueSelf.com, a wide range of dialogues have been published which cumulatively situate Unique Self within the context of Integral Spirituality and Evolutionary Spirituality. Over the next several months, Spirit’s Next Move will be highlighting this new material and inviting commentary and discussion.

Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni, two of our most influential teachers of enlightenment, engage the nature of spiritual realization in an excerpt from “Authentic Self and Unique Self,” published in the March 2011 issue of Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. Additionally, in the 2011 “Future of Love” teleseries (audio provided at the bottom of the page), the discussion of these important topics continues.

Perhaps no topic in contemporary spirituality is more discussed than the nature of enlightenment and how it relates to the modern, post-modern, and emerging integral world.

Andrew Cohen is one of the most influential figures in the dialogue, bringing wisdom that is defining a movement called Evolutionary Spirituality, which identifies essence with the evolutionary impulse itself and issues a powerful call to shed limited identifications of the self. Cohen breaks from classical enlightenment thinkers in his description of spiritual realization as constantly evolving.

Marc Gafni, co-founder of CWS and the most influential voice defining Unique Self Enlightenment, offers a view of enlightenment which overlaps and also differs from Cohen’s vision in important respects.

Two of their public dialogues are now published on UniqueSelf.com.

Listen to the audios and read a partial transcript: [Read more…]

Daily Wisdom: The Original Light of Goodness is Shattered

On MarcGafni.com, a new quote from Dr. Marc Gafni‘s Your Unique Self :

At the moment of the big bang, the original light of infinite goodness is shattered. It is shattered in the way that the heart of the lover is shattered…

Read more…

 

 

 

A Report from the Summer of Love Festival

An update from this great place Venwoude in collaboration with the Center for World Spirituality, our Summer of Love Festival.

We are creating a mystery school of LOVE here.

Working the first day with our Holy yes and letting ourselves be seduced to give up the habits that keep us caught in small self. And instead letting us be seduced by our Greatness.

After Falling in Love deeper and deeper, going through the Separation and finding the Sweetness after we do the Work of LOVE.

The Practice is that we all see each other through Gods’ eyes.

Each day we add a new level of that practice and you see people sitting in couples all day, doing the Practice.

This morning in a Grace filled Dharma-talk everybody realizes their Unique Puzzle Piece.

Which of course already quickly appeared in a piece of Art from the Art class.

In more and more and more trees LOVE-tokens are appearing……….. and we are only half way through the festival!!

All LOVE from the Festival of LOVE at Venwoude, ‘We are Loving our way to Enlightenment.’

I’ll have pictures to post very soon.

Daily Wisdom: Arousal from Above

Love is almost always proceeded by an act of will. We do not fall in love unless we decide to fall in love. Only after we internally give ourselves permission are we open to the experience. But once we open the gate, the radically pleasurable perception of falling in love, and the joy and wonder created in its wake, are given to us free of all charges. The Kabbalists refer to falling in love as “arousal from above.” The love granted to us is real enough; it is simply not the result of human effort. It is something which is aroused from beyond.

According to the Kabbalists, there is nothing malicious or even capricious about the whole enterprise. Falling in love is a gift from God, pure and simple. Falling in love is a divine gift from a God whose primary characteristic is love for Her creatures. God bestows upon us a gift of inner certainty and clarity.

On the other hand, the nature of such a gift is that it is too great for us to accept fully. We cannot hold the dazzling brilliance of the light… something shatters. We can touch the love for a time, but we lack the vessels to hold it.

Falling in love is actually the core of the Kabbalistic Big Bang myth. A close reading of Lurianic Kabbalah reveals the powerful meditative truth that the motive force of creation was God falling in love with the world. Out of that love emerges the universe. God emanates a world in love. The image for this emanation is light pouring into vessels. God “in love” with the world. The emanation of light just keeps pouring forth. The vessels, however, are unable to hold the light. They shatter. The process of living is to gather the sparks of this fallen light and to repair the broken vessels.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni


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

Daily Wisdom Post: Evolutionary Love

The Eros of evolution dances up the evolutionary spiral to higher and higher levels of complexity, and consciousness emerges from the evolutionary soup. It is a continual process of self-organization through self-transcendence, in which self transcends itself to recognize and join other in higher embrace. Love by any other name. The evolutionary ladder continues to spiral to ever-higher and deeper levels of complexity and consciousness. Each higher level is always defined by ever-higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace between the evolving cells and organisms. Plants, amphibians, mammals, then higher mammals, until we get to the full bloom of human consciousness. This is the Great Story of One Love: Evolutionary Love.

Your Unique Self (in press)

Dr. Marc Gafni

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

On Boundaries, Mechanism of Conscious Evolution, Perennial Philosophy and Experiential Approach to Integralism (By Oleg Linetsky)

By Oleg Linetsky

Open letter to Ken Wilber and integral teachers

Dear Ken,

First of all I would like to express my deep love and gratitude for the light of wisdom you bring and your incomparable contribution for the good of sentient beings. Your works had a great impact on my own life, for which I am very grateful to you. On my journey through the pages of your books I experienced a true divine joy.

In this letter I would like to illuminate a side of the Integral Approach (IA) which up until now remained in the darkness, i.e. boundaries. Just like any other objects inside the quadrants, boundaries are objects that can be felt and realized, so they cannot be ignored and left outside the integral map. There are boundaries, even though also illusory for the non-dual witness.

In the natural state of non-dual oneness it becomes clear that all forms arise from the light of primordial ground, and even boundaries are a concentrated light of clarity of the nature of the mind and the final barriers on the way to the inexpressible. They are the very core of our feeling of aliveness and awakeness. They let us feel joy and suffering of life and make life meaningful. The message about boundaries (as five elements, fivefold mahabhuta or five skandhas) came to us from ancient traditions dating back thousands of years. This message is as valuable for humanity as The Great Chain of Being. There is a special method which lets us study boundaries today even in our usual waking state. Boundaries are the missing link between the absolute and the relative, emptiness and form, spirituality and religion, IA and its popularity.

Today we see that the message about boundaries actually describes the mechanism of conscious evolution, understanding of which can promote a progress of humanity towards 2nd tier and simply help us living from the deepest part of us that you and Marc Gafni call the Unique Self. Five boundaries described here are right about how to live in resonance with our Unique Self and how to resolve the problem of wise choice in everyday life using an integral approach.

[Read more…]