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January 27, 2023

World Spirituality: Spirit’s Next Move?

Tami Simon speaks with Marc Gafni, a rabbi and teacher of Kabbalah and World Spirituality. Marc speaks about love as the motivational force in the universe. He also discusses a new and important emerging topic, that of World Spirituality, and the possibility of creating a shared context of meaning between all the faith traditions of the world. If you’re interested in World Spirituality, this dialogue is for you!

World Spirituality: Spirit’s Next Move

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Tami Simon is the founder of Sounds True, a multi-media publisher dedicated to disseminating spiritual wisdom. Over their 22 year history, Sounds True has produced over 600 titles, been nominated twice for the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing companies, and is North America’s leading publisher of spoken-word spiritual teachings. 

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.


Partial Audio Transcript

Tami Simon: You’re listening to “Insights at the Edge.” Today my guest is Marc Gafni. Marc is a rabbi and a teache of Kabbalah. He’s the author of several books, including The Mystery of Love, as well as the national bestseller, Soul Prints. In addition to an audio learning edition of Soul Prints, Sounds True will be releasing Marc’s newest book, Your Unique Self: The Future of Enlightenment.

In this episode of “Insights at the Edge,” Marc and I spoke about love as the motivational force in the universe. We also discussed a new, important, emerging topic, that of World Spirituality, and the possibility of creating a shared context of meaning between all of the faith traditions of the world. Here’s my conversation with Marc Gafni.

So today I want to talk about World Spirituality, which I know is a subject you’ve been deeply engaged in, studying, quite a lot, and speaking about more and more. So to begin with, what do you mean by World Spirituality?

Marc Gafni: The mystics, Tami, talk about via negativa, which is what it’s not. Sometimes we’re not sure what something is, but we know what it’s not. So let me just start with what it’s not. It’s not a world religion; it’s not a new form of Baha’i. It’s not a reducing of all the religions or losing of them. So that’s what it’s not.

It’s an evolutionary step. And it’s not interfaith; it’s beyond that step of interfaith when, as someone once said, Jews who don’t believe in Judaism get together with Christians who don’t believe in Christianity, and discover they have a lot in common. So it’s not a kind of reduction of interfaith, and it’s not a kind of homogenization that we’re all one, which is another form of domination, “Let’s create a new dominating world religion,” which is kind of scary. So that’s the mystical move of “We can’t talk about God, but we know what God’s not.” So that’s what it’s not.

So now what is it? What is its life-positive quality? So a World Spirituality is the understanding that there’s a deep, shared vision held by all the great traditions, both the spiritual traditions, the psychological traditions, the great traditions of knowing in the world, that if you link them together, and you take the best strength of each one, the best medicine of every tradition, and you link them together into a larger necklace, into a larger symphony, where each instrument plays its music to perfection, you get something that actually unites us. You get a shared context of meaning that we’re all living in.

And the goal of a World Spirituality is to address a world in which the leading edge of the world—the opinion-makers, the hundreds of millions of people living at certain levels of prosperity who are creating the future—are actually, to a large extent, living in a context of meaninglessness, of no ultimate sense of value, no ultimate sense of purpose, no ultimate sense of “Why am I here, and where am I going?” And when that happens, the center doesn’t hold. For the first time in the history of the human race, the leading edge of the world is living without a kind of moral, spiritual context, because they have in some sense internalized the critique of religion, which was so devastating in the last few hundred years. And so the context becomes a flatland context, without depth, without quality.

So a World Spirituality seeks to say, “Beyond all the dogmas, what’s the deep understanding of knowing that we have, of the nature of what is, what we’re doing here in the world, how to be kind to each other? What is it that unites us that’s so much greater than anything that divides us?” And that’s what a World Spirituality is seeking to articulate.


  1. Hi Tami and Marc,
    I’m pretty close to the choir you’re preaching to, so I thought I’d give you some feedback on your presentation. You’ve got some great ideas here–they even forward some of Ken Wilber’s stuff a little bit–and I want them to land strongly with people.

    When you dismiss Darwin as dead in the water, citing only a book by Bruce Lipton, when you claim that no serious scientist is on board with random mutation, you make it seem like your intended audience is strictly new-age folks. I want you to appeal to more rigorous intellectuals and scientists as well, people who understand Darwin enough to understand a real critique of neo-Darwinian theory. Ken does this too–we get these beautiful, cogent arguments about developmental psychology and spirituality next to these blunt dismissals of ideas that most of the scientists I know still believe, even the most systems/complexity/epigenetics-hip ones.

    There is a similar problem with your 5th force idea. You’d have to work harder to extend it credibly into biological evolution. The systems-thinkers I know believe that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is probably driving the movement toward biological complexity, as in Sagan’s Into the Cool. If you want to say that it’s love, don’t just assert it. Give us an argument for love as more parsimonious than entropy so we can see what you’re taking into account.

    Sell it to the scientists too!

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