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March 21, 2023

Distinction between Ego and Unique Self #16: Yes or No

by Dr. Marc Gafni from Your Unique Self.

2012 Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

©2012 Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles


Your ego is always contracting and saying, “No.” Even when your ego says, “Yes,” it is only because it is afraid to say, “No.” Your Unique Self is always expanding and saying, “Yes.” Even when you say, “No,” it is only to make room for a more authentic “Yes.”


Further Discussion:

The following is excerpted directly from Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment (pp. 357-59), Chapter 25, “Say Yes”:

In Hebrew the word “yes”—kein—means “integrity.” Yes is the ultimate affirmation of our integrity. The question of your existence is whether you can say Yes to the unique destiny and adventure that is your life. That is self-love! From the place of ego you remain perpetually unsatisfied. Located in Unique Self, everything fills you.

John Lennon tells about the first time he met Yoko Ono. He heard she was having an art show in London:

So I went and there was a little white ladder that led up to the ceiling. There was a little hanging magnifying glass and something written on the ceiling. So I picked it up and looked through it at the writing. And what was written was “YES.” If it had been something like, “rip-off” or something negative I would have left. . . . But it was positive and loving and so I stuck around.

Remember, we come into this world trailing clouds of glory with core knowledge of our omnipotence, beauty, infinite power, and infinite potential. And then we hear a chorus of voices for the first ten years of our lives, and the only word they seem to be saying is No, No, No. We gradually come to associate maturity with saying No. When an idea or new direction comes up, our first response is to posit why it won’t work. We are brilliant at it. Even the most simpleminded person becomes a genius when it comes to saying No. We can think up twenty reasons why it will not work before we can think up two reasons why it could. We have all become Dr. No with advanced degrees. But somewhere deep inside, the Yes remains, an eternal child of your Unique Self. We know on the inside of the inside that Yes is the answer.

One of the great literary masterpieces of the twentieth century is James Joyce’s Ulysses. Joyce spends reams of pages portraying the No reality encountered in the streets of Dublin by the main character, Leopold Bloom. Joyce masterfully maps the life of the archetypal human whose life is a series of unnecessary losses. The death of Bloom’s son and father, his daughter’s leaving, the passing of his youth, and finally the adultery of his wife. Yet, in the last scene of the book, Bloom returns home to his sleeping wife. Never mind it is a recently desecrated bed. Never mind he sleeps with his feet at her head. It is still home, the erotic haven of the inside. The book ends with a crescendo of Yes. As his wife feigns sleeping, we float along in her stream of consciousness, finally concluding with reminiscences of the early ecstatic hours of her and Leopold’s love. It is a definitive return to Yes:

And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

The Yes here is sexual. The sexual in this passage models the Eros of life. The overwhelming perfume of this sexual Yessing signifies hope, promise, and possibility in the most expanded erotic sense. For the sexual is the full ecstatic urgency of the urge to merge and the urge to emerge throbbing inside of us. This final Yes has magically transformed the seven-hundred-plus pages of modern existentialist Nos. It was James Joyce who reminded us that Yes is a feminine word that signifies the end of all resistance.

A Very Personal Evolutionary Yes…

This particular distinction and the examples above have always spoken to me on a personal level.  For starters, when I discovered difficulty on the Ph.D. path, I reached a point at which I couldn’t say yes anymore to my program of study or my dissertation topic, thereby making me a Dr. No in training, slogging through massive resistance.  For a number of years after that, after discovering Integral theory and even after completing my dissertation and continuing in the world of higher education, my yes to healing the spirit-matter split and embracing the material contours of my life was hard to locate.  Evolutionary Unique Self study and practice, however, has shown me a way back to my genuine yes in many interconnected and surprising ways, moving me away from resistance. Karla McLaren points out that resistance can also be understood as principle of physics and chemistry.  She writes:

Resistance is the ability to oppose, withstand, or strive against an action or a thing. For instance, a resistor in an electrical circuit interferes with and opposes the flow of electricity in order to turn it into heat or power, while a chemical resistor opposes the action of a corrosive agent and protects substances from erosion or disintegration. In physics and chemistry, a resistor can create change, or it can act as a protection against change. Resistors have an almost alchemical ability to use their oppositional capacities to transform one thing into another… Resistance is not the problem; it’s actually a gift of emotional alchemy. If you can honor your resistance and turn consciously toward your suffering (and your stress responses), you’ll become tremendously resourceful and useful in ways unimagined by those who strive for calm and unaffectedness at all costs…. True awakening cannot come from slipcovering your soul and pathologizing your emotions or your emotional resistance; true awakening can only occur when you allow emotions, resistance, and suffering to touch, inform, and even seriously disrupt you. The only way out is through. (The Language of Emotions, p. 383)

Or, in other words, the only way out of resistance is to give the evolutionary yes that is sourced from your Unique Self. The type of work of discerning and aligning with this yes is rewarded with still further infusion of grace and energy, which is reinforced by your continued evolutionary unfolding. As Dr. Marc mentions in a footnote from the forthcoming Dance of Tears book (Integral Publishers, 2013), “The name for this divine ecstasy in response to human action is often termed by the kabbalists Sha’a’shua.”

(c) 2010 Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

©2010 Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

The James Joyce example from the Your Unique Self book passage above is also significant in my own sacred autobiography.  A friend of mine named Shawn once took to calling me “the flower of the mountain.”  A student of the classics himself, this reference to Joyce wasn’t lost on him.  And, the accolade wouldn’t have been a problem, except that he was using it during a moment of silence in a group conversation about poetic craft.  I had apparently been a silent observer of the group, and Shawn turned to me and said, “You’re awfully quiet. I guess you are here as ‘the flower of the mountain.'” This instantly transformed me from observer of to ornament for the conversation, an extra on the set.  I felt unseen and as though my particular Unique flower, which is deeply interested in nuances of poetry and craft, had been crushed by Shawn’s bootheel as he was happily trudging through those mountains.  CWS Web Scholar Kerstin Tsuchik describes more about this dynamic in Distinction #15 (Bigger or Smaller). A Unique Self is never merely the flower of the mountain, connected in an ornamental or tenuous way to the conversation and context at hand.  A Unique Self is immersed in the flows of yes that texture her evolving lifestream. This is what happens when we move beyond the No of ego to the Yes of essence: we find our way to the inside of the friendships and conversations that support our development and contributions in the world, including the development of our Unique Gifts and the feeling that the parts of our Unique Stories that we may have been unable to previously articulate can now be communicated.

Click here to see Dr. Marc Gafni on Tumblr.


How do you give your deepest yes? Is the yes you give on a daily basis aligned with the energy of your personal evolution?  Do you feel God calling you through the fabric of your yes?  What kind of yesses does this passage invite and what kinds does it not invite?  What did you say yes to today? What will you?

You are most welcome to share with us your thoughts and feelings on this distinction either in the comment section below or on CWS’s Facebook page!


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