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March 30, 2023

Three Steps to God: Awakening Your Evolutionary Creativity… by Dr. Marc Gafni

… and Reclaiming the Higher Obligation and Joy of Your Life

by Dr. Marc Gafni

Notes on an Emergent World Spirituality based on Integral Principles.

Hi Friends, I am writing you from the road. Traveling, meetings to unfold the World Spirituality movement based on integral principles, teaching, and much more. I am delighted to be alive and to be writing to you.  I am thinking a lot of these days about how to  harness the fire of your Evolutionary Creativity.

Here are some thoughts about creativity which come from deep within the Source Code of our emerging Integral world view. What a delight and privilege it is to participate with you in the evolution of consciousness. What a wild and holy privilege it is to have this conversation with you. One of the things this blog will make clear is the trajectory of emergence from Unique Self to Love to Evolutionary Creativity.  As we connect the dots, the eros and ethos of the Great World Spirituality Awakening story comes into view. So here we go…….

It is time to change the game. To up-level the great Integral evolutionary project of reconstruction–the reconstruction and evolution of God. And, make no mistake about it: Integral is a reconstructive project. We seek to unfold a vision of World Spirituality based on Integral principles, a trans-lineage path. This is the path that we have forgotten. It is the memory of the future. No ancient tradition, no pre-modern tradition by itself can address us, yet without the core insights of the traditions, life becomes a flatland of dreary emptiness without eros or telos. We make a reverential bow to the great traditions, and open ourselves to receive their wisdom in humility, even as we up-level and evolve them in Integral consciousness.

I’d like to identify for us three steps – three insights and realizations – that lead us to God. In the next blog, I will outline for you a process to awaken these realizations, which come from the practice of the greatest heart, mind, and body mystics from all ages–pre-modern, modern, and postmodern. All three steps manifest themselves through the three faces of God.

Move Beyond the Mythic God
Before you begin this three-step process into the heart of the divine, you must first move beyond the mythic God. You must shatter the Idols, or kill the Buddha. The God you do not believe in does not exist. The reconstruction of God is nothing less than the reconstruction of self as Self. But it is not only that. It is no less the reclaimed depth of delight as we devotionally bow, in Rumi-like rapture, before the personal face of the Beloved. It is the realization that wherever and whenever we fall, we fall into the arms of the Beloved. The ethnocentric mythic God that lives solely outside the Kosmos has passed away in the evolution of consciousness. We reclaim the depths of the divine post-mythic consciousness. The depths of the divine reveals itself in three faces, in the three major perspectives that are the building blocks of reality. In Integral terms we call these the First, Second, and Third Person of God or the Three Faces of God. The divine is both beyond {second person} and within {first person}, everything and no-thing, the ground and suchness of all that is {third person} as well as the beloved that lives in us, as us, and through us {first person}, even as she holds us {second person}. The Divine is both the awakened divinity that lives as us {first person}, the evolutionary process and power of the Kosmos {third person}, as well as the God who knows our name {second person}.

The Three Steps
Step One: Engage in continual daily practice to evolve beyond exclusive identity with ego: awaken to your true nature, your true self.

It is crucial to recognize that, from an Integral perspective, this practice must be done both in first person and second person. In other words, we need to engage both the first- and second-person faces of God. These are the two paths that invite, demand, and delight in your Unique Creativity, which gifts the world with your Unique manifestation of love-intelligence and sacred activism.

So let’s touch in to each path, so you can feel it and taste it.

First person Evolution Beyond Ego: Awakening to Your True Nature
To incarnate the God that lives in you, as you, and through you, you must first evolve. Not beyond your ego. You never evolve beyond your ego. You evolve beyond exclusive identification with your ego. You realize that you are an indivisible part of the seamless coat of the universe. You move beyond your limited identity as a separate self, and you access your True Self, which is not apart, but an inextricable part of the one, of all that is, of the seamless coat of divinity. When you evolve beyond ego and awaken to your true self, you realize with joy and delight that your true nature beyond any physical expression is consciousness. And you feel the alive and awakened nature of consciousness is creative.

Second Person Evolution Beyond Ego: Feel yourself held in the arms of the Mother who desperately cares about you and knows your name. Experience all of the infinity of divine power and intelligence {God in the third person or the third face of God}, sitting in a chair in front of you, pouring divine personal love into you and caring about every detail of your life even as she calls you to your fullest and highest life. Your highest life is to  engage in the creative act of the evolution of your consciousness.

The mystics and realizers from every great pre-modern, modern, and postmodern tradition yearn to know the heart of reality. They yearn to know God. But what do we know of the unknowable God? The second-person mystics all say something stunningly simple and wondrous. There is one thing we do know about God: God is creative. Consciousness is creative. The Tao is creative. How do we know? Because here we are, right now. Just open your eyes and look around. Or, if you prefer, just close your eyes and look around. We live in a world of manifestation, infinitely complex and beautiful manifestation. Creativity is an essential quality of the divine.

Step Two: Awaken to Your Unique Self.

Then, you take the next step. Your awakening deepens. In First Person, you awaken to your Unique Self. This is the realization that the coat of the Universe is seamless, but not featureless, and that you are a unique feature of that seamless coat. You realize that while the total number of true selves is only One, every manifestation of True Self sees through a unique set of eyes. This is Your Unique Self. Through Your Unique Self, God’s creativity lives in you, as you, and through you. In Second Person, you realize that God loved you so much that he signed his name all over you. Your Unique Self is the personal face of essence, unlike any other, utterly unique, emanated by God. You are God’s special beloved even as you are God’s partner in the evolutionary healing and transformation of all that is.

Step Three: Awaken to Your Unique Gift, Obligation, and Vow.

Your Unique Self creates your Unique Obligation and Unique Vow. First Person: In the Buddhist tradition, the bodhisattva is one who seeks buddhahood through practicing noble action. The bodhisattva vows to postpone his or her complete awakening and fulfillment until all other beings are awakened and fulfilled. The determining factor in his or her actions is compassion, moved by the highest insight and wisdom. The realization of Unique Self may be regarded as bodhisattva activity – the unique manifestation of wisdom and guidance. The Unique Self bodhisattva vow is an expression of evolutionary joy and responsibility, even as it is a commitment to the fulfillment of your evolutionary obligation.

A note on Obligation at the second tier of consciousness:

Now we need to pause for a second, and in these brackets, talk about the strange and unpopular word “obligation.” Many of us recoil when we hear the word “obligation.” We identify obligation with arbitrarily imposed limitations by church or state that suffocate the naturally free human being. Let’s inquire for a moment what obligation might mean at a higher level of consciousness than the obligation imposed by an authority external to you.

This inquiry yields the deeper truth that obligation is the ultimate liberation. Obligation frees you from ambivalence and allows you to commit one thousand percent to the inherent invitation that is the Unique Obligation present in every unique situation. Obligation at this level of consciousness is created by the recognition that there is an authentic need that can be uniquely addressed by you and you alone. For example, let’s say you are stuck on a lush tropical island with and old, boorish ugly man who has no obvious redeeming features. You are absolutely certain that you will never be rescued. The two of you are stuck on this island forever. There is abundant food on the island. The problem is, due to a physical ailment, this man with no obvious redeeming features that are easily discernible is unable to feed himself.  Are you obligated to feed him?

The question is not whether it is noble or even good to feed him, but whether you are obligated to feed him. I have posed this question to thousands of people in audiences over the years. Virtually everyone agrees that in this situation you have an absolute obligation to feed him. This obligation is substantively different from the external obligation imposed by a fundamentalist or what Jean Gebser calls a mythic consciousness. This is not the obligation imposed by a mythic god, king, state, or government. This is an obligation to help preserve life that is inherent to consciousness itself. In articulating the demand of consciousness inherent in this freely assumed obligation, I have developed the four-fold doctrine of “higher obligation.” Higher obligation is the obligation that wells up from the higher structure-stages of consciousness.

The fourfold doctrine of obligation is directly based on the fourfold structure of need. Need creates obligation.

First, there is a need. But not only is there a need, it is an authentic and not a contrived need.
Second, you clearly recognize the need.
Third, you have the skills and creative capacity to meet the need.
Fourth, the need can be effectively addressed only by you. The matrix of these four factors creates the matrices of your Unique Self Obligation.

Essentially, you are obligated to give the Unique Creative Gifts that can be uniquely given only by you in this moment. While most of our gifts address more subtle hungers than food, there is no person who does not possess Unique Gifts that respond to unique needs.

This is precisely the awakened realization of Unique Self in first person. It is the powerful recognition that there is a Unique Gift, a direct function of your Unique Self that can and must be given only by you. It is your gift to the good and to the evolution of consciousness. It is both the reason for your life and the joy of your existence. From a non-dual perspective, it is your Unique Gift that creates your Unique Obligation. To live your Unique Self and offer your Unique Gifts is to align yourself with the evolutionary impulse and fulfill your evolutionary obligation. The realization of your Unique Self awakens you to the truth that there is a Unique Gift that your singular being and becoming offers the world, which is desperately needed by all that is, and can be given by you and you alone. There is no more powerful and joyous realization available to a human being. It is the meshwork of meaning that fills your life and is the core of your Unique Self enlightenment.

As we said, this awakening to Unique Self happens in first person and second person.

In First Person, when you awaken to your unique self as the I AM, you realize that you are both a part of the seamless coat of the universe, and unlike any other, as a unique emanation of the divine. You realize that you have Unique Gifts to give, as part of your most essential nature as a Unique Self. You experience your unique obligation to give those unique gifts. Because you are the only person in the word capable of giving those unique gifts of being and becoming, if you do not give them, there will be a corner of the world that is left unloved. Your creativity is ultimately and infinitely necessary for the continuing great project of evolutionary creativity–the evolution of consciousness towards the place where all of the good is experienced and known as the fullest depth of all that is displayed in the wondrous magnificence of the divine symphony. Knowing that, you feel it, you taste it, and you rock it out for God with the creative depth of genius that lives in you. Giving your gift might be private or public, quiet or loud, but the universe desperately needs and yearns to experience it.

Second person: Up till now in step three we described awakening to your Unique Self as your Evolutionary Creativity – in first person. You awakened to incarnate your Unique Creativity – which is your Unique Self – the Unique Expression of love that lives as you.  Now, we move to the call to Unique Divine creativity through the face of God, God in the second person.

You can awaken to your Unique Self not only through a first-person recognition of yourself as a unique expression of the love-intelligence of the Universe, but also through a second-person encounter with the Divine. Here, through practice or as a gift of divine love, you can experience yourself being held in the arms of the Mother who both loves you and obligates you. This was the great realization of the Mother, central to the spiritual way of Hindu mystics, Kabbalists, Sufis, Christian mystics, and so many more. In Hebrew, the same root word means both Love and Obligation. What that simply means is that to be loved is to be obligated. To be loved by the divine does not mean, as religions used to teach, that man is freed of obligation. Rather, it means that God loves and holds the human being as his/her partner in the creative process.

To be loved is to be obligated. In the language of the second-person mystics – the human being is obligated as the core essence of being alive to engage in imatatio dei – the imitation of god.  The second person mystics now go the next step (and this is Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn Arabi, Akiva, Luria, Augustine, Aquinas, and the whole gang.) We are commanded by consciousness itself to be “like god.” To partner with God in the healing and transformation of all that is. But, how can you be like God if we do not know God?  Ahhh. Remember there is one thing we DO KNOW about God. God is Creative. Consciousness is Creative. Creativity is the essential manifest quality of Consciousness. So, therefore: Just as God is creative, so you be creative. To use biblical language, just as God stood as the abyss of darkness and said “Let there be light,” so too shall you stand creatively at the abyss of darkness and say let there be light. Just as God creates worlds, so too shall you as God’s partners be a creator of worlds. God in the second person, who holds you and loves you, has but one wild, ecstatic, rigorous, and uncompromising demand: “Be my creative partner in the healing and transformation of the world. Evolve consciousness, and fix the broken places with Me – because I cannot do it without you. I need your service. My gift to you in love,” whispers God in our ear even as She caresses our heart, “My gift to you is to make you my partner and allow Myself to be – at least in part – dependent on you!”

About Marc Gafni

Marc Gafni is a visionary scholar, philosopher, and wisdom teacher. He is teacher-in-residence and co-initiator of the Center for Integral Wisdom. He is the leading theorist and teacher of Unique Self enlightenment, an emergent post-postmodern wisdom lineage which builds on his national bestseller Soul Prints, winner of the Nautilus Award for Best Spirituality Book, as well as the highly acclaimed Your Unique Self (2012) and Radical Kabbalah (2012), which is based on his doctoral dissertation at Oxford University.

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