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February 7, 2023

Nijole Sparkis & Marc Gafni on Healing the Shadow in Relationships

The Difference Between Ordinary Love and Outrageous Love

Watch this awesome dialogue between Nijole Sparkis and Marc Gafni from her awesome interview series “Heal the Shadow in Your Relationships 2!” Read the beautiful introduction Nijole wrote in her email to the participants of this series announcing this interview:

Heal the Shadow in Your Relationships 2 video series

Click here to learn more about this powerful interview series!

GET BLOWN OPEN to the irreducible unique expression of Love Intelligence awakening as YOU. The clarion call to Shadow integration is much more than just knowing that you have drives that are darker than you want on the front page of the New York Times, and being aware of it. Shadow integration is actually an expression of profound enlightened consciousness.

Beloved cutting edge wisdom teacher Dr. Marc Gafni says your Shadow is your unlived life. And when you don’t live part of your life, you lose a critical dimension of your own Life Force. When you lose your Life Force, your energy devolves, your whole system protests & says “Give me back my essence!” Live your story! Live the missing piece of your story. And when you don’t do it, your system acts out. It acts out with Shadow qualities – pettiness, anger, contraction, rage, jealousy, or promiscuity which violates your own interior values.

Dr. Marc shares with us:

  • The huge distinction between Shadow and Shadow qualities
  • How the Oneness of the Universe may be seamless, but not featureless
  • A live case study of how to follow your Shadow back to the Light!
  • The solution for women who attract abandoning or non-committal men
  • The solution for men who attract non-receptive or angry women
  • The difference between love, romance, and infatuation
  • How to live from Outrageous Love rather than Ordinary Love

… and so much more!

You CAN re-connect with your True Self, be nurtured by your aliveness, and create LONG love lists!

Wishing you Blown-Open, Outrageous Love,

Nijole (Neola)

P.S. Some of what I LOVE about Dr. Marc Gafni: He has inspired many, comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable. He reflects back to people their most gorgeous selves, shares teachings of love, pricks egos, and calls others, by his very being, to truth and integrity. For some Marc is a teacher, for others a spiritual friend, for still others a spiritual artist, and for still others a revolutionary catalyst of social change and evolution. Marc Gafni’s teaching is filled with love of people, love of God, and love of all of creation. It is also scholarly, hip, serious, deep, funny, profound, sometimes startlingly original, and always invested with the intent to transmit not only insight but also, and especially, an open heart.

Enjoy the interview:

Read the beautiful partial transcript/ notes, Nijole took and graciously allowed us to use:

MARC GAFNI: We all have Shadow. In human potential movement, Shadow integration work has become the clarion call. Generally understood as your pettiness, anger, contraction, jealousy, rage, promiscuity that violates your own interior values. That’s how most books on Shadow understand it. That’s a mistake, a limited view of Shadow. If that IS what Shadow is, why would you want to integrate it? Why would you want to integrate your desire to murder someone? You might integrate it in the sense that it’s better to be aware that it’s there and be in relationship to it & not in denial. So that’s one level that integration of those dimensions of Self is in play. Better to hang out with someone who knows they have Shadow, because someone who’s in denial of their Shadow is impossible and always acts it out in the most pernicious & terrible way.

That’s actually not what the Shadow is. The clarion call to Shadow integration is much more than just knowing that you have drives that are much darker than you want on the front page of the NY Times & being aware of it. Shadow integration is actually a summa bono, expression of profound enlightened consciousness.

So here’s the distinction that changes everything – & a good distinction is more than just cognitive, mind maps, mental constructs – it lands in your body, your heart, your gut, your toenails, becomes a framework from which you live – it’s transformative. You practice within that distinction, you can’t bypass it, you can’t access states of consciousness & say “I’m going to change my state & by changing my state, I’m going to change my life.” That actually doesn’t work. You need to have a new map, new mental furniture, a new framework & then animate that framework through states – you need both. You actually create the most powerful new state through actually creating new distinctions that offer you insight into your reality.

So here’s the huge distinction coming at you – between Shadow and Shadow qualities. Shadow qualities – rage, jealousy, anger, pettiness, promiscuity that violates your own interior values whatever they happen to be. Shadow is a blocking of your Light. This is a big deal. Your Light is singular. The frequency of Light that’s Nijole is different from the frequency of Light that’s Marc. Reality is having a Nijole experience, and when reality is having a Nijole experience, reality does not want to meet Marc. Because reality is trying to “Nijole”, which is a VERB of existence. Evolution or the evolutionary impulse is awakening through & as Nijole, the Love Intelligence of reality is awakening as Nijole – that’s her Light, that’s the unique configuration of Light which is the Light that is Nijole.

To the precise extent that there is a dimension of Nijole-ness which is unlived, that Light of Nijole-ness is now in Shadow. Shadow is the distortion of your Unique Self. Shadow is your unlived life.

My good friend Prof Elliott Ingersoll, one of the leading professors of psychology at Kent State now, when he heard this distinction, he said it completely shifted his view of Shadow and made for the first time a genuine bridge between psychology & spirituality. It changes the entire Shadow conversation – your Shadow is your unlived life. Now we understand why you would want to integrate your Shadow. Because when you don’t live part of your life, when you don’t live part of your Light, you take a dimension of your singularly unique energy – it’s not a generic Shadow, it’s a singularly unique lack of Nijole-ness in the world. So when you put Nijole-ness in Shadow then you lose a critical dimension of your own Life Force. When you lose your Life Force, your energy devolves, your whole system protests & says “Give me back Nijole-ness!” Live your story! Live the missing piece of your story. And when you don’t do it, your system acts out. It acts out with Shadow qualities. Shadow qualities is the acting out that happens when Nijole-ness, the irreducible unique expression of the Love Intelligence and Love Beauty that is Nijole-ness unlike any other that ever was, is, or will be is now not happening in the world, then reality protests through Shadow qualities.

Now we understand what you’re integrating, you’re integrating your Unique Self. That completely changes the way we do Shadow work, it changes our approach to psychology, to spirituality. All of a sudden it opens up doors to transformation which are stunning.

Shadow equals Unique Self distortion. You actually can’t talk about Shadow withouth talking about the Unique Self because there’s no such thing as a generic Shadow, you have a Unique Shadow. In the great mystics who dealt with Shadow issues – we’re generally used to thinking about mysticism as people moving to become One, which is a dimension of mysticism. When I move beyond my separate self, when I access my True Self – the total number of True Selves is One, True Self is the singular that has no plural – I’m moving to Oneness. There’s actually a deeper mysticism, what I like to call a Unique Self mysticism, an evolutionary mysticism, which actually seeks not only the movement to merge with & identify with the seamless code of the Universe, but to realize that the code of the Universe, of which you are an inseparable part, is seamless but not featureless and you are its Unique feature. Therefore to awaken, to wake up, and to be awakened into your enlightenment is to realize the unique dimension of Nijole-ness that needs & desperately wants to be realized. That’s your Unique Self, that’s not your Myers-Briggs test, not your social, cultural, or psychological conditioning that gives you a particular talent or competitive advantage. It is the evolutionary impulse Essence expressing itself as Nijole-ness. It’s reality having a Nijole experience.

When reality’s struggling to have that experience of irreducible Uniqueness, & that experience is thwarted or blocked – that is to say, the Unique expression of reality is distorted, then the lack of story distorts. When you don’t live a part of your story distortion happens. So your Shadow is Unique, what it actually is, is a distortion of your Unique Self.

You can actually check – and here’s where it gets really, really practical enlightenment. Look at – everyone has in their life a kind of place where they mess up all the time, a place where the Shadow keeps happening, that same place – that’s your Unique Shadow. And you may have succeeded in hiding it from everyone but you know it’s there, deep down a well that’s my unique shadow. You can’t get rid of it. You’ve got to follow – your Shadow’s the yellow brick road. Your Shadow’s the gold. Jung’s famous sentence “The Shadow is the gold.” And the gold is the Shadow. But the deeper understanding is you follow your Shadow back to the Light. Because your Shadow is Unique. Your Shadow has actually the same, if you will, DNA quality as your Unique Self. Your Unique Shadow has the same quality as your Unique Self. So you follow your Unique Shadow back to your Light.

I bet if I asked you on this live broadcast what’s your Unique Shadow, I’ll bet you could identify it and I’ll bet we would see that whatever your Unique Shadow is, it actually comes from some place where there’s some dimension of your Radiance, of your Beauty, of your Nijole-ness that’s not yet expressed, that’s not yet alive in the world. And the only way to find it is to follow your Shadow back home. Does that make sense?

ME: Yeah, I love it. So for example, one of my Shadow qualities is I’m a recovering Perfectionist, I’m not recovering very well, still very perfectionistic, high standards, beating up on myself, demanding of everybody else, so how do I follow this home & which part is the radiant part of myself that is seeking expression here?

MG: Do I have permission to tease you for a second? People often say my Shadow is I’m a perfectionist. That’s just the exterior – the question is, where does it show up? In what areas are you a Perfectionist? Because usual people are not perfectionists across the board – some places they’re Perfectionist & other places they’re a little more sloppy – that’s how I am. Some places I show up as a Perfectionist, other places not at all, in fact lots of people wish I were.

Nijole Sparkis: In my writing, perfecting, over-editing, even takes me a long time to write an email.

MG: So in your creative expression, you’re highly perfectionistic. Here’s my guess. Look at the possible likelihood – & you & I have never spoken before, right?

NS: Right, you don’t know my past, you don’t know my story.

MG: My guess would be that you’re a Wild Woman. Clara Pinkola Estes wrote about 20 years ago, Women Who Run with Wolves.

NS: She’s my favorite, I love her.

MG: Of course, you see? Totally. You are, you’re actually a Wild Woman. You’re probably post-conventional in a very profound way. And you’re probably in your deep inner essence, an exploder of boundaries of contraction.

NS: Well that’s my purpose with all of my clients of course, I’m trying to get them to explode their boundaries.

MG: Exploding the boundaries of contraction. And at the same time you realize that you need a container. That if you actually would explode the way you’d like to explode you would have no container. So part of the paradox of your life is how do you actually let Wild Nijole have her day? How do you let her passion, her ecstasy, her appropriate boundary-breaking actually play in a way that’s still safe for you but lets – she wants to come out. The way we keep her down is by telling her “You gotta be a perfectionist.” We keep her kind of in check through a kind of perfectionism, which actually is a Shadow expression, which actually prevents the emergence of your kind of Full Wildness, your Full Power. It means you’re holding back on your Full Power. Your Full Radiance, Your Full Power, you’re afraid the world couldn’t handle that. That’d be too much.

NS: I was just exposed on Heal the Shadow in Relationships.

MG: I’ll probably never be invited back again. Gafni? Yeah, we had him once. That interview didn’t work out. It was a little problematic.

NS: He just made me a bit too vulnerable. So when it comes to relationships, you talk about Outrageous Love instead of just Ordinary Love. To help people see how to use this in relationships, I hear women say the men are too non-committal and abandoning, and the men say the women are too angry and non-receptive.

MG: So let’s look at it. What is Shadow? Shadow is your unlived life. There’s 2 ways your life could be unlived. You could be not living your True Self & you could be not living your Unique Self. I’m using those words very precisely. So everyone who’s fortunate enough to be here with Nijole, because I’d hang out without Nijole any time, she’s a Holy Wild Woman with great wisdom for the world, great – I mean I can just feel your Authenticity, which is so beautiful & so delightful & an honor to be with you.

So there’s two words – True Self & Unique Self. Your True Self in Buddhism you’d call it your Buddha nature. In Hinduism, your Atman which is Brahman. In Lurianic Kabbalah, your Yeish which is Ain, which basically means full identification with your God Self. That’s your True Self. Your Unique Self is the unique expression of the God Self. You can have either of those or both of those can be in Shadow. Your True Self can be in Shadow which means I’m identified with my contraction, my limitation, my anger, my pettiness, my unresolved trauma. I’m going to a therapist every week to work it out because I’m identified with it, that’s who I am, that’s all I am, I’ve got to work that out. If I don’t work that out, there’s nothing else. I identify with my wounds, I become my wounds. But what happens is I dis-identify with my True Self.

Here’s the wild paradox – let’s take it from the perspective of the feminine & the guys. So we’re kind of rejecting, non-committal. Everything always happens in 3 dimensions of reality & we’ve got to be willing to work it through. So there’s 3 things happening.

If a woman is dis-identified from her True Self, that is to say the Full Radiance that she is, the full incarnation of Goddess that she is, she hasn’t rested in that Goddess. She can’t rest because she’s not nourished by her own aliveness. Therefore she only is nourished by receiving the aliveness from him – he’s gonna leave. Absolute rule. If you’re not nourished by your own aliveness, which is your True Self. Your Shadow is that your True Self is not nourishing you. You’re dis-identified, you’re disconnected from that True Self, you’re not nourished by your own aliveness, so then the person that you’re coming towards feels like OMG – she needs my aliveness to survive, therefore my energy is sapped & drained, & I’m not nurtured. But if you encounter someone who is actually nourished by their own aliveness, then you feel nurtured by contact with them & you wanna be there. So as long as my True Self, my Radiance, is in Shadow – & my radiance is not “I’m trying to fall in love”, my Radiance is “I’m LIVED as Love! I’m being love, I am Radiance, I am open as Love, I’m walking through the world lived as love & I am loving the moment open, because that is who I am.” And then I’m going to attract to myself whether or not I’m 10 lbs. overweight or not. Because I’m Radiance.


Men feel like women are angry or rejecting – that’s for one of two reasons. One is men are disconnected from their Purpose, from their drive. For many, many years men received their purpose by being disposable. Meaning men fought in an army & were willing to die, or they worked hard to make enough money which someone else spent, so they could provide & be good providers, they had to be on their white horse. As long as he was on his white horse, the woman would love him but he felt like if I fall off my white horse, I’m actually not going to be loved. So men are kind of like feeling wow, I’m actually not loved for who I am. The rejection they’re feeling is actually real.

Just like women were made into sex objects for 2,000 years, men were made into Success Objects. Actually the Feminine has to embrace the Masculine for his Unique Self. You’ve got to be willing to marry the beauty of the man, to hold his beauty. And when men feel like they’re not held in their beauty, they’re only success objects, then they feel like they’re not loved for who they are, that’s the rejection they feel.

And actually they’re not entirely wrong. The masculine’s been demonized, men have been made out to be fundamentally predators, and the feminine has been lionized. So men bad, women good. Masculine problematic, feminine beautiful. Not true. Masculine & feminine are both beautiful, they both have Light & they both have Shadow, the masculine Shadow & the feminine Shadow.

So the masculine is feeling at this moment in time, both personally & culturally rejected. We need to reclaim a vision of the heroic masculine. We need to be in devotion to the emergent Goddess feminine & in devotion to the heroic masculine. Because otherwise the masculine’s actually gonna feel rejected in a profound & real way, because he is! When he feels rejected, he feels shame. He’s made bad. His sexuality is rejected & it’s shamed, he’s called a predator. His purpose is no longer clear or apparent because there’s no war to fight. If he wants to go major in Art History, no one’s going to go out with him –

NS: Except for a strong, masculine woman.

MG: Right. Actually for Eros in a relationship, you need polarity – strong masculine with strong feminine to be able to be in play with each other. The man has to be willing to surrender to his woman & let her love him open when she’s in her masculine, & she needs to – even if she works all day in a corporate office – she needs to be able to surrender to the power of his masculine & let him love her open. And you need to be able to move the polarities of power in that very profound way. That is just a little entry point into this.

NS: We are just scratching the surface I can tell. So much to talk about. [NS tells him he should lead the charge for the heroic masculine, he says he’s co-writing a book on that right now that’s under contract.] What’s the difference between love, romance, & infatuation?

MG: You asked a question earlier about the difference between Outrageous Love & Ordinary Love so let’s look at each of those. Ordinary Love is what we usually call love. Ordinary love is a general sense of a human experience, experience of an emotion, & it’s usually the emotion of infatuation. That’s usually what we call love. Sometimes love lives on after you fall out of love, & then that kind of feeling of affection remains but for a very limited amount of people, people who are your security system – your partner, your mother, your best friend. We have very short love lists.

Ordinary love will never take you home, ordinary love will never transform you, will never liberate you, it will not happen. Because ordinary love is ultimately a strategy of the ego, a strategy for comfort, for security. Actually the people who are on our ordinary love lists, if you check carefully, they’re the same people who appear on our ego-centric security lists. So our love lists are too short.

Outrageous Love is actually the very inner quality of reality itself. Outrageous love is not mere human sentiment, as Tagore wrote, Outrageous love is the heart of existence itself. Outrageous love is what Dante referred when he wrote about the love that moved the sun & the stars. It’s what Whitehead talked about when he wrote about evolution – the gentle movement towards the divine by the gentle persuasion of love. What Peirce called Evolutionary Love. It’s the love that drives quarks, are allured together to become atoms, & atoms are allured together to become molecules by this law of inherent attraction & love in the Universe which then becomes alive & more potent as we move up the evolutionary chain & actually bursts into consciousness with the human being who actually chooses to make contact & to love. And then human love evolves & expands as we move from ego-centric love where we love ourselves & our survival peeps, to ethno-centric love where we love our whole clan, we love our people, to world-centric love where we love every human being, to cosmocentric love where we love all of reality. That’s an evolution of love, that’s an evolution of Eros. That love is Outrageous Love.

When you awaken to Outrageous Love, when you awaken as an irreducibly unique expression of the Love Intelligence that Itself is the animating Eros of all of evolution awakening as you, & you bring that Outrageous Love as the inner quality of your relationship, you realize this is not a little egoic, strategic game to give me some comfort & security, this is evolution itself, the impulse, the God-ecstatic impulse of evolution awakening as me & seeking to make contact without another dimension of reality which is just like quarks are seeking to make contact. You actually have all of evolution moving in you & this is the essential aligned movement of reality. You’re now aligning with the inner quality of reality. You’re not trying to defy the competitive world & find a little moment of love, you’re actually aligning with the very nature of reality itself.

And here’s the difference – if you’re holding hands with someone with ordinary love, it’s nice, comforting, the hands get clammy after a minute or two but you kind of work with that, it’s a nice moment of comfort. But you hold hands with someone with Outrageous Love, the world stands still. Kiss someone with ordinary love – it’s ok, it’s lovely, it can be pleasurable, it can even be arousing, it’s what it is. Kiss someone with Outrageous Love, when giving & receiving blurs into one & you become part of the very pulse & throbbing of reality itself, & everything stops, & all of reality opens up & you love the moment open & you find yourself on the inside of the inside – it’s 2 different things.

NS: This is like the love the poets have written about!

MG: The poets were sometimes clear & sometimes confused. Shakespeare for example, is always confused between ordinary love & Outrageous Love. The poets are intuiting this possibility, but what happens is the poets have a sense of it but they don’t have the distinctions. They have the state that we talked about earlier but they don’t have the distinctions. So often the poets get there before the philosophers do. Some poets really got it. But other poets like the Romantic poets didn’t get it – they tried to locate Outrageous Love solely between human beings. They viewed it as human experience.

So therefore if Outrageous love lives just between you & let’s say your romantic partner, then if your romantic partner thing goes wrong, you’re devastated, you’re gone. And you’ve got to demonize them & you lose your own sense of kind of basic integrity & your life spirals downhill & pretty soon you’ve got a disease & you’re sick & you’re out of the game.

But if you actually realize Outrageous Love is the inner quality of reality itself, & this particular person was a shining diamond reflecting the light of the sun of Outrageous Love in your life, but they’re not the sun. So that you can actually locate in yourself Outrageous Love, you actually awaken as Outrageous Love as the inner nature of your reality. And if your Outrageous Love is in Shadow then you seek ordinary love to give you what only Outrageous Love can. You’ve got to awaken as Outrageous Love.

NS: Well this is definitely the next evolution of love & relationship. I’m sure many of us are still in that human experience level of Ordinary Love.

MG: That means that right now, here & now, Marc & Nijole get to fall in love. We’re never going to sleep together, we’re not going to have a romance –

NS: I have a husband.

MG: Right, & your husband & I would fight in the war together, we’re all good buddies, but that’s not what falling in love means. It means I get to be blown open by the depth of the Beauty, the Goodness, the Truth, the Beauty of Nijole that took 13.7 billion years of reality to manifest unlike any other with a unique quality of intimacy, & a unique perspective, unique wisdom. Does a Rembrandt in any way outshine Nijole-ness? Of course not. So I get to bow in devotion & delight, in response to this radiant beauty of evolution waking up as Nijole & I get to fall in love.

And then there’s no jealousy, it’s like I don’t wanna be Nijole, that’s not my job. My job is to be in devotion to Nijole & my job is to be blown open. I get to fall in love. My heart says I get off the phone & I go wow, I just spoke to Nijole & she’s just so alive & so present & she’s so authentic & she so wants to transform & you can feel all the transformation she’s gone through & you feel kind of her unguarded heart & I’m ecstatic the rest of the day. And what have we done, we’ve kind of exiled that kind of being blown open to loving a piece of art. I love art, I’m a major art lover but do you think a piece of art even vaguely approximates the beauty of Nijole-ness? OMG, Oh My Goddess!

NS: We’re talking about the Absolute Truth, my ego is not taking any of this in, people!

MG: It’s true, that’s what we’re afraid, we’re afraid – we have a pleasure ceiling, my ego, no, no – it’s got nothing to do with your ego, it’s who you are. And actually to deny Nijole-ness is to slap the Goddess in the face.

NS: Exactly, so as an expression of God, I take that in, yes, thank you.

MG: Yes, yes!

NS: And I honor the God in you as well, and the beautiful expression of God that you are.

MG: Yes, yes!

NS: Saying these fabulous things & making us all aware of how much greater our love can grow & express & be & evolve, and I totally appreciate that, so yes, this is a true love moment.

MG: We get to fall in love, yes, our love lists are too short.


FREE GIFT: Talk he gave co-convened with Ken Wilber called the Integral Spiritual Experience & this was one of the 5 places where they landed this Unique Self teaching in the world, so he gave a keynote on the relationship of the Unique Self to Shadow. So a lot of the principles we talked about are in this talk & it kind of walks you through this new understanding of Shadow. And whether you’re doing your own personal transformational work which we all need to be doing, or you’re a teacher or a guide or you’re doing transformational work with other people, this set of distinctions will really blow it open for you.

You can claim your Free Gift here: Understanding Your Unique Shadow>>>

About Kerstin Zohar Tuschik

Kerstin Zohar Tuschik works for CIW as Executive Director, Scholar and Author, and by representing the Center in the German-speaking countries. Besides studying Human Resources Development, Integral Theory, Project Management, Dance, and Physics, she has been on a conscious path of spiritual and personal growth for more than 20 years. She is a student of Unique Self, World Spirituality, and Conscious Eros, and a Senior Teacher of the Unique Self method in Europe.

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