ErosValue: Early Thoughts – Dr. Marc Gafni

Download a PDF the Essay

The core Value of Cosmos is Eros. Indeed, the words cannot be fruitfully split.

Eros IS ethos.[1] Or said slightly differently, Eros is Value exponentialized as the Infinite Value, which suffuses Reality. Nothing exists outside of the circle of Eros as Value and Value as Eros. Eros IS ethos, and ethos, or Value, is the Ought implicit in Reality, which suffuses all of Cosmos. This is what we refer to in CosmoErotic Humanism as ErosValue.

Eros is life.

Eros generates new life.

Eros is a First Principle and First Value of Reality itself.

Eros is Value.

And Value is Eros.

Indeed, it is for that reason that we coined a new term in CosmoErotic Humanism:


ErosValue generates the Value of Life.

In its creative movement, ErosValue generates ever-greater life through ever-deeper contact. It is the movement of Cosmos that brings together separate parts into larger wholes. The greater wholes have ever-more value. At every greater level of value, the emergent whole has greater depth, consciousness, and capacity.

A subatomic particle has a certain level of depth, consciousness, and capacity—all expressions of Value.

An atom—which contains, within it, subatomic particles that have come together to form a larger whole—has more depth, more consciousness, and more value.

The notion that there is already proto consciousness at the level of atoms is found across the interior sciences and is now appearing in multiple forms across the leading edges of the exterior sciences. The premise, which explains empirical reality far better than the other stunted hypothesis, is what we call pan-interiority. Reality is neither material nor spirit [value]. Rather, Reality is interiors and exteriors all the way up and all the way down the evolutionary chain. Alfred North Whitehead, who wrote Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russel, called this proto interiority at the atomic level prehension.

Atoms come together to form larger wholes, molecules, which have more depth, capacity, and consciousness—more value.

Molecules form a larger whole, macromolecules, which have more depth, capacity, and consciousness—more value.

Macromolecules come together, intensifying their intimacy, aggregating, alluring separate parts into a larger whole with greater depth, capacity, and consciousness—more value—emerging as cells.

Matter has become life. The physiosphere has morphed into the biosphere. This is the inherent process of Eros—animating the processes of classical science and mathematics, as well as the interior sciences—which drives life all the way up the evolutionary chain. At ever-higher levels of emergence, there is more depth, capacity, consciousness, and hence more value. But while there are self-evident gradients of values, all of Reality has inherent Value. Value lives all the way up and all the way down the evolutionary chain. Eros is value generating ever-more value.

Ethos and Eros Are One: Eros Is ErosValue

Not only, however, is Eros virtually identical with ethos. Ethos is identical with Eros. In other words, there is a feeling to the ethos-suffused movement towards wholeness. That feeling is Eros. The Universe feels, and the Universe feels Eros. For the feeling of ethos is Eros. (more…)

ErosValue: Early Thoughts – Dr. Marc Gafni2024-04-09T06:55:22-07:00

Resources for the Parallax Course “Opening the Eye of Value during the Meta-Crisis”

The Eye of Value: Early Draft Essay

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2020

Read “The Eye of Value”

On the Erotic and the Ethical

Dr. Marc Gafni, Tikkun, 2003

Read “On the Erotic and the Ethical”

NonDual Humanism

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2006

Read “NonDual Humanism”

The Wisdom of Solomon

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2006

Read “The Wisdom of Solomon”

The CosmoErotic Universe

An Excerpt from A Return to Eros

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2017

Read “The CosmoErotic Universe”

Eros as Value Perception

An Excerpt from Your Unique Self

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2011

Read “Eros as Value Perception”

Eros and Ethics

An Excerpt from A Return to Eros

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2017

Read “Eros and Ethics”

ErosValue: First Thoughts

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2023

Read “ErosValue: First Thoughts”

Value: For Its Own Sake

An Excerpt from A Return to Eros

Dr. Marc Gafni, 2017

Read “Value: For Its Own Sake”
Resources for the Parallax Course “Opening the Eye of Value during the Meta-Crisis”2024-04-09T04:09:02-07:00

The Eye of Value: Early Draft Essay – Dr. Marc Gafni, 2018

Four Prisms of the Eye of Consciousness: The Eye of Value, the Eye of Contemplation, the Eye of the Spirit, and the Eye of the Heart

The Eye of Value is a term coined and shared by Dr. Gafni in multiple oral teaching over many years and in this more formal essay from 2018. This early draft was drawn from the forthcoming volumes of The Universe: A Love Story—First Meditations on CosmoErotic Humanism in Response to the Meta-Crisis by Dr. Marc Gafni. A more expanded version will also appear in forthcoming work by Gafni, Stein, and Wilber under the moniker of David J. Temple.

The essay was edited and prepared for publication by Kerstin Tuschik. We welcome substantive feedback as we prepare a more advanced version of this essay.

Download a PDF of the Essay

The Empiricism of Love: The Three Eyes of Knowing—The Three Eyes of Eros—The Three Forms of Gnosis—The Three Eyes That Are One

How do we know that Love is Real?

Not because of faith or dogma.

Rather, we know Love is real because the depth of our direct felt experience of Love tells us it is so. Our experience of Eros generates gnosis. That Love is real, and not a social construction, a fiction, or a figment of our imagination, is, like all good science, an empirical truth. This is, in fact, how all true knowledge in every field of inquiry is obtained.

Knowing through experience, however, is precisely the opposite of dogma. Knowing through experience is what we call empiricism. And knowing that Love is real—in fact more real than anything else, as the intrinsic value of Cosmos it is—is what William James correctly called Radical Empiricism.

Indeed, all of science, as opposed to organized religion, is based on the authority of direct validated experience. This is true both in the exterior science and what we have called the interior sciences. Indeed, in exterior and interior sciences, there are three ways to unfurnish our eyes—or what have been called the Three Eyes of Knowing. In fact, these Three Eyes are three distinct forms of the Anthro-Ontological Method.

In CosmoErotic Humanism, we refer to them as the Eye of the Senses, the Eye of the Mind, and the Eye of Consciousness.

The Eye of Consciousness is also known by at least four other names: the Eye of Value, the Eye of the Heart, the Eye of the Spirit, or the Eye of Contemplation.

It is this last set of eyes, by all of their names, which discloses Love’s Ultimate Reality, which is Love’s Knowledge, which is Love’s Value.

But we will see, as consciousness evolves, these very distinct eyes begin to come together, and we realize that, at the higher levels of consciousness, they inseparably inter-animate each other.

Each of these eyes illuminates a different dimension of Reality.

Each one is the province of particular dimensions of knowledge.

At higher levels of consciousness—what is sometimes called, in the interior sciences, nondual realization—the different dimensions, perceived by the different eyes inter-animate, pointing towards a larger Seamless Field of Eros.

Each of the Three Eyes goes by different names.

The Three Eyes Are:

The Eye of the Senses or the Eye of the Flesh.

The Eye of the Mind or the Eye of Reason.

The Eye of Consciousness, alternatively known as the Eye of Value, the Eye of the Heart, the Eye of the Spirit, or the Eye of Contemplation. [These names, however, are not quite synonyms. Rather, each implicitly implies a different quality of the Eye of Value. As such, we will occasionally use all of the names together with the lead name(s) being written first and the other names in brackets next to it.]

The Eye of the Senses [Eye of the Flesh] is generally referred to as empiricism. This eye is what is classically called empirical knowledge. But, as we shall see, it is referring to a very narrow strain of empiricism.

The Eye of the Mind [Eye of Reason] is generally known as rationalism, while the Eye of Consciousness [alternatively the Eye of the Spirit, the Eye of Contemplation, the Eye of the Heart, or the Eye of Value] is generally known as mysticism.

But it would be more accurate to say that all of the eyes are forms of science, what we refer to, in CosmoErotic Humanism, as exterior and interior sciences. All Three Eyes are forms of empiricism. (more…)

The Eye of Value: Early Draft Essay – Dr. Marc Gafni, 20182024-05-21T08:24:09-07:00

First Principles and First Values (Interview with David J. Temple)

Enjoy this podcast with Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Zak Stein (David J. Temple) featured on The Integral Stage Podcast on the new book: First Principles and First Values.

In this episode, Layman sits down with Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Zak Stein to discuss their jointly authored book, First Principles and First Values. They are publishing the book pseudonymously under the name, David J. Temple.

Click here to purchase First Principles and First Values now. 

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Our new book can be pre-ordered from the US and Canada (we are working on creating direct ordering from Europe and other countries – please stand by!):


Forty-Two Propositions on CosmoErotic Humanism, the Meta-Crisis, and the World to Come

by David J. Temple


First Principles and First Values is the tip of the spear in the fight for a humane future. Establishing frameworks for a new school of thought called CosmoErotic Humanism, the book is built around forty-two propositions that provide new source code for the future of planetary culture.

Like Europe in the early Renaissance, humanity is in a time between worlds, at a time between stories. First Principles and First Values contains blueprints for the bridge needed to cross from this world to the next.

“The position argued for in this book is of vital importance . . . it needs urgently to be read.”
IAIN McGILCHRIST, author of The Master and His Emissary

Order Here

First Principles and First Values (Interview with David J. Temple)2024-04-03T08:56:05-07:00

Introduction from the New Book on “First Principles & First Values”

Forty-Two Propositions on CosmoErotic Humanism, the Meta-Crisis, and the World to Come by David J. Temple

CosmoErotic Humanism is a philosophical movement aimed at reconstructing the collapse of value at the core of global culture. This movement emerges in response to the meta-crisis, understanding existential and catastrophic risks as rooted not only in failures of economics, politics, and technology, but in failed worldviews. The core of CosmoErotic Humanism is a system of First Principles and First Values that recasts cosmic evolution as a Story of Value in which humanity plays a unique role. These First Principles and First Values ground a comprehensive set of theories, including self and psychology, epistemology, scientific metaphysics, education, theology, mysticism, sexuality, and value.

CosmoErotic Humanism thereby responds to the three great questions: Where? Who? and What? It offers a new Universe Story (Where am I?), a new narrative of identity (Who am I?), and new vision of ethics (What ought I/we do?). These are some of the first words on the possibilities of a world philosophy adequate to our time of civilization transformation. What is offered by CosmoErotic Humanism is a new Story of—eternal yet evolving—Value that can serve as a context for our diversity, finally allowing us to speak of humanity as part of a shared Story of evolving Cosmic Value.

Download Chapters 1-5 of the Book HERE

To the Reader

The propositions collected here unpack the urgent moral need to articulate a new vision and theory of value. Simply put, humanity must redefine what it understands to be valuable if it is going to survive. Humans must understand the importance of what they value in the Cosmos—the reality of value itself—beyond the notion that what they value is, for example, simply an arbitrary price that can be fixed to a commodity. The idea that a tree is only as valuable as what it can be sold for is absurd. The idea that a person is only as valuable as what they can contribute to society is also absurd. In fact, both incarnate a dimension of value that is immeasurable and fundamentally irreducible to its commodified form. Yet just this kind of absurdity has been driving global culture for centuries.

There has been great confusion in value theory over the last two hundred years. On the one hand, conservatives have attempted to simplify the discussion to a single list of preordained and eternal values, which must be protected, and to which all people must pledge allegiance. At the same time, driven by a reductive materialism, scientific communities largely claim that only what is described by physics is real and that therefore nothing ultimately has intrinsic value. Given this metaphysical assumption, contemporary value theory has stridently argued that value is but a contrived human invention. The rise of postmodernity has only exacerbated this trend, labelling all values “social constructs,” “fictions,” or “figment of our imaginations.” This claim has now entered mainstream culture. To cite but one example, two extremely popular books by Yuval Harari, Sapiens and Homo Deus, present these kinds of dogmatic postmodern claims as taken-for-granted assumptions. Harari’s books have received enthusiastic endorsements from popular cultural luminaries, including prime ministers, presidents, corporate leaders, and myriad literary, spiritual, and religious figures.

Value, however, is not merely instrumental or economic. It is not a social construction or cultural contrivance—not a mere fiction covering over a truly valueless and therefore ultimately meaningless world. The propositions here begin to demonstrate that value is intrinsic to Cosmos, all the way down and all the way up the evolutionary chain. Value is foundational and evolving. It is not that human beings contrive value; rather, value precedes life. Life is an inherent expression of value. Life is contrived in pursuit of Cosmic Value. Cosmic Value in this way generates life, as life emerges in pursuit of value. We live inside of value even as value lives inside of us. Reality is value. But this is all ahead of the story.

The material collected here from the internal writings of the Center for World Philosophy and Religion. The Center is co-founded and led by Marc Gafni and Zak Stein. Together with Ken Wilber—also a cofounder of the Center—and an international team, they execute the Center’s mission: to evolve culture as needed in response to the looming threat of existential and catastrophic risk. This movement in culture has become referred to as CosmoErotic Humanism. Future volumes will include many colleagues who have been in leadership positions or dialogue with the Center for World Philosophy and Religion over the years—including Barbara Marx Hubbard, Lori Galperin, John P. Mackey, Howard Bloom, Ervin László, Sally Kempton, Daniel Schmachtenberger, and others. In each volume, as appropriate, we will recognize any particular partners who played a key co-authorship role in that particular work.

Taking the form of forty-two telegraphic propositions, this extended monograph provides a brief unpacking of CosmoErotic Humanism’s First Principles and First Values. We are not making our full arguments here; these will appear in longer forthcoming volumes. Please read through the propositions themselves, skipping ahead to those most interesting to you, those that elicit the most desire. Also review the list of First Principles and First Values (see pages 168–170) and try to hold the whole picture before beginning to read through them in sequence. Here we are putting it all on the table, as it were, so that, as we begin to publish more and elaborate on these themes, there is no confusion as to where we stand.

David Judah Temple
October 2023
Vermont, USA

Photography by Kristina Tahel Amelong

The following is the Introduction from our new book “First Values & First Principles” by David J. Temple.

Download Chapters 1-5 of the Book HERE
Order the Book

David J. Temple is a pseudonym created for enabling ongoing collaborative authorship at the Center for World Philosophy and Religion. The two primary authors behind David J. Temple are Marc Gafni and Zak Stein. For different projects specific writers will be named as part of the collaboration. In this volume Ken Wilber joins Dr. Gafni and Dr. Stein.

Dr. Marc Gafni is a visionary world philosopher and futurist, one of the leading formulators of world spirituality and religion of our time, and a beloved teacher and public intellectual with a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. He has more than twenty books to his name, including Your Unique SelfA Return to Eros, and three volumes of Radical Kabbalah.

Dr. Zak Stein is an educator, groundbreaking educational theorist, and futurist who specializes in developmental theory and metrics with a doctorate in the philosophy of education from Harvard University. He is the author of Education in a Time Between Worlds, among many other publications.

Ken Wilber is the creator of Integral Theory, with over twenty-five books to his name. He is one of the most influential philosophers of our time.

Introduction: On Redefining “Value” & Realizing Intimacy with All Things During the Meta-Crisis

The world is not what it was when the great wisdom traditions first began to (re)connect (“religion” is from the Latin religare, meaning to bind or tie) the human to the Cosmos through the identification of a Field of Value in which all life participates. The last century has seen more change in the conditions of human existence than any other period in known history. Technologies and societal evolutions have moved the center of culture outside the Field of Value. Humanity has become untethered from Reality, and more specifically: divorced from the Reality of Value. And so there is an urgent need for new forms of religion, philosophy, and culture that reconstruct value and reconnect humanity with nature and Reality.

Concern for the legacy of the great traditions is what unites the writing collected here to the modern tradition of perennial philosophy. This tradition suggests that a common core of truths can be found within all the best works of humanity’s religious imagination and interior sciences of contemplation. We propose here an Evolving Perennialism in which universal and eternal truths can be identified without becoming fixed. Eternal values evolve. As explained below, this is one of the ways beyond the devastating criticisms of accepted forms of value that modernity and postmodernity have rightfully offered. The failures of prior traditions that enthroned value do not put an end to value; in our hands, these critiques serve to evolve value. (more…)

Introduction from the New Book on “First Principles & First Values”2024-03-12T08:34:49-07:00

Dr. Marc Gafni: Anthro-Ontology and the Three Eyes

Download a PDF of the Essay HERE

This is an early draft of an essay drawn from the forthcoming volumes of The Universe: A Love Story—First Meditations on CosmoErotic Humanism in Response to the Meta-Crisis in the Great Library of CosmoErotic Humanism. The first draft of this essay was written by Dr. Marc Gafni in conversation with Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Zak Stein. It was edited and prepared for publication by Kerstin Tuschik. We welcome substantive feedback as we prepare a more advanced version of this essay.

At the core of CosmoErotic Humanism—in contradistinction for example to the Kingship model of God that dominates much of classical organized religion, or the flatland reductionism not of authentic empirical science but, rather, of the dogmas of scientistic materialism—is the realization that Reality is Eros. Eros, as we have noted, is not a one-dimensional force of allurement. If it was, Cosmos would disappear in a split-second. Rather, Eros is the precise balance between allurement and autonomy—attraction and repulsion—fusion and fission.

It is this kind of First Value and First Principle that animates our words when we write, we live in an Intimate Universe—or what we sometimes refer to as a CosmoErotic Universe. Eros seeks intimacy. Indeed, the plotline of Reality is the progressive deepening of intimacies. Evolution is the Love Story of the Universe—The Universe: A Love Story.

This gnosis of First Principles and First Values, however, is disclosed to us not through natural law, which would then be subject to the naturalistic fallacy,[1] nor through what is classically termed a supernatural intervention of revelation. We do not turn first to nature. Nor do we turn to the caricature of a small local God, owned by one nation or religion.

Rather, we turn inward. And here, we invoke the Anthro-Ontological Method. At the core of Anthro-Ontology is the realization that not only do we live in Reality, but Reality lives in us. We not only live in an Intimate Universe, but the Intimate Universe lives in us.

The far-reaching implication of this realization is that our own clarified interiors—as humans (= anthropos)—disclose a deeper truth (ontology) about the nature and structure of Reality itself. That means that the Eros—or Love—that throbs at the core of our being is not isolated or local. Rather, the qualities of clarified Eros that live inside us participate in the largest qualities of Evolutionary Love, as intrinsic to Cosmos.

These First Principles and First Values of evolution are both the ground and the telos of Cosmos.

It is within the context of this telos—these evolving First Values and First Principles—that the Reality of Cosmos unfolds.

In this context, there is no contradiction between freedom and necessity, or between contingency and elegant order and design. Eros is full suffusion and presence, and full freedom—living in dialectical relationship—which is the core nature of the Eros that animates Cosmos. Radical presence, which animates, suffuses, seduces, invites, and even subtly directs us, lives dialectically with contingency, freedom, and surprise—with the possibility of possibilities inherent in every moment.

As our close colleague, the philosopher and scientist Howard Bloom, expresses it, from the perspective of exterior science, opposites are joined at the hip.

Indeed, this notion of paradox—opposites joined at the hip—has been articulated by us, together with Howard, as itself being one of the First Principles and First Values of Cosmos. In the Eros of Cosmos, we directly experience ostensibly designed, elegant order and telos—dancing with contingency and freedom.

You can access this quality—anthro-ontologically—directly in your own experience.

Consider a truly great conversation between close friends, unfolding over many years, which is almost a sacred process.

The nature of such conversations is never pre-planned. There is no formal itinerary, no designated or designed program. They are filled with radical surprise. They are defined by contingency.

At the same time, they are not in any sense random or arbitrary. Indeed, they are filled with elegant order and inherent design. Pieces, strands of conversation, and themes weave themselves together into a larger whole that would have taken months of painstaking planning had they been pre-ordained or written out as a script. And it is doubtful that such pre-design could yield that level of elegance, nuance, and depth. Such conversations are ultimately meaningful and often disclose depth and originality in an always surprising and often shockingly beautiful fashion.

In the Eros of the conversation, the apparent contradiction between elegant design and contingent surprise disappears.

That is the nature of a genuine sacred conversation.

Conversation itself is the erotic structure of Cosmos. Conversations—exchanges of inherent design, proto-interiority, and freedom—define Cosmos from its inception.

It is in this sense that, as noted above, we join Howard Bloom in referring to Reality as the conversational Cosmos. All the way down and all the way up the evolutionary chain, within the conversational Cosmos, randomness and contingency are paradoxically seamless with elegant order and telos.


Dr. Marc Gafni: Anthro-Ontology and the Three Eyes2023-12-06T05:10:18-08:00

Dr. Marc Gafni on Anthro-Ontology: How We Know What We Know

An Excerpt from Our Online Course “Actualize: Living Your Deepest Heart’s Desire to Empower Your Life and Awaken Humanity”

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Bring it in. Silence of presence. Do we have a drum roll in the house? Do we have a drum roll in the house? Are we ready to go? Do we have, do we have, do we have, do we have, do we have, do we have, do we have, okay, so let’s do addition. Ten second recapitulation. Here we go. This is critical. Here we go. So what did we say yesterday? What did we say yesterday? And kind of part two. Just in 10 seconds. Evolution is the evolution of intimacy. Evolution, which is an expression of ultimate reality, Divinity, one face of Divinity, that would be the third face, is the evolutionary impulse. The evolutionary impulse is desire. The evolutionary impulse is the desire that pulses through reality, the feeling of the evolutionary impulses, the desire of ecstatic urgency. What is it? Desire, desire’s intimacy. So desire is Eros. It desires contact, touch. That creates greater wholeness, which is a new intimacy, intimacy, shared identity in the context of otherness.

Otherness, as we’ll see today, is critical. Leave that aside. It’s not fusion. The atom doesn’t obliterate the subatomic particles. The molecule doesn’t obliterate the atoms. The cell doesn’t obliterate the parts of the cell. The organism doesn’t lose the individuated cells. Intimacy is shared identity in the context of otherness. Plus, stay with me, big additional sentence, plus mutuality of pathos, meaning we can feel each other. So in a cell or in any intimate new whole, there’s both telos. Desire has telos, direction and desire has pathos. When we’re in desire, we feel each other. And it’s another place that the sexual models Eros, it doesn’t exhaust Eros. Pathos means, we feel each other. So intimacy means shared identity. In the context of otherness, there still you and me, we’re part of a larger field plus mutuality of pathos, which means you feel me and I feel you.

So the first loop of IntimacyDesire is I feel you, You feel me. The second loop is I feel you feeling me. Isn’t that great? You feel me feeling you. You get what I mean by the sexual models the erotic? The sexual… that’s one of the places you can do that just by kissing shoulders. And I keep coming back to kissing shoulders to liberate us from that one vision of what the sexual is. So I won’t say it anymore, but just keep it in mind the whole morning kissing shoulders is our, our icon. Okay? So the second loop of Eros is: feel you, feeling me. Feel me, feeling you. Now that can be in terms of emotion, ideas, creativity, embodiment, but there’s loops of desire. There are loops of desire. So the third loop would be, this is totally hot. It doesn’t get hotter than this.

Feel me feeling you feeling me. Cha. Cha. And it’s hot. Emotionally, we’re talking about an idea. Just like at times you’re trying to share an idea, no no, feel the idea, feel me you feeling the idea, feel me you feeling me feeling the idea. It’s gorgeous. Does everyone, did you feel that? If you wanna know what they were doing in monasteries, well they’re doing a lot of things in monasteries, but, but you know what? They were trying. When they were trying, it was this, you were talking to your study partner and it was wildly, in Aramaic it’s called a chavruta. It’s a study partner. It’s short. I feel you feeling me feeling you. That takes time. Sometimes you gotta go a whole year till you get one walk for an hour.

Okay, we got to try. We could do that. It’s like that. But that’s, that’s, that’s intimacy. And we impact each other. Because we can feel each other. So, the third loop: Feel you feeling me feeling you. So, intimacy and desire merge together. So we live, and intimacy drives, we said yesterday, the entire process, all the way up and all the way down, the desire for intimacy. Evolution is the progressive deepening of intimacies. Now, I’m going to now resist the temptation to recapitulate that anymore, so stop. Okay? But now here we go.

Okay, here we go. Here’s the sentence. Ready? So what that means is: we live in an Intimate Universe. It’s a big sentence, but it’s only the first half of the sentence. We live in an Intimate Universe, but now that means something. And that’s what it means. We’ve created a new Kosmic habit. Those words have meaning now. It’s got all that. Had we not done yesterday, that would be just a nice sentence. Not even that interesting… We live in an Intimate Universe. Now, here’s the next step. It’s wild, but we need a drum roll for this. Give me a drum over this step. We’ve got a drum roll. We got drum roll, cheap seats in the back. Let’s get the hat. Don’t give me no flag, sag, ready? The Intimate Universe lives in us. Did everyone get that?

That’s why AI is such bullshit. Now you get it. Meaning not just we live in an Intimate Universe, the entire Intimate Universe lives in us. So in other words, all of that allurement, all of that attraction right from the first quarks, every one of those quarks and leptons and muons, they’re all in us. And every subatomic particle and every atom, right from the moments of the big bang, it’s all in us, the whole thing. But in all of them, all the cells, the whole thing, it’s all living in us. So the Intimate Universe, all the way up in all the way down in Linnaeus, who’s one of the greatest thinkers that ever lived, and Goethe said no man was greater to him. Linnaeus talks about this notion already a couple hundred years ago, about: it’s all in us. All of evolution lives in us all the way up and all the way down.

Linnaeus, by the way, is awesome. All the way up and all the way down. It’s everything’s in us. And then after all of that, vibrating, pulsing, feeling, pathos, is in us, then we finally evolve. 12 billion later, later, later, later, neocortex. But the neocortex is the thought. We don’t think just in our, our neocortex is utterly indivisible from everything. And we now know, we don’t even think from the neocortex. The frontal lobe, neocortex isn’t even where we think from. We actually think from the whole body, and that’s where we’re actually on. The whole body is thinking the neocortex is one of the organizing structures. But actually the whole body is thinking, there’s heart math. The entire body is awake and alive, which is why the word Ratzon – will – which is my intellectual decision means in the original Eros.

I’m seduced after you. So look, wow. So now we’re going to bypass all of that. You know what? You get it. Now we’re going to bypass all of that and we’re going to say, okay, let’s take computational power. Access through harvesting of data, because you’ve got a trinket, which was a free g-mail, you’re giving your data. It’s exponentially increasing in these next coming years. Biometric sensors that [inaudible] exponential data, and we’re now going to actually, we’re going to basically downgrade humans and upgrade computers. Do you get what I’m saying? And it’s like you’ve got a wild animal, a beautiful wild animal, and then you tame, not just tame, you domesticate and you crush the animal. So we’re downgrading humans. We can’t even taste anymore. We eat while we’re looking at our email.

Lunch, we’re being productive. Why are we being productive? Because there’s a win/lose metrics. And we need to actually be assured that we’re actually loved in some way or another. We have to be productive, stay on our horse, we look at our email. We’re getting… win/lose metrics all the time. All of them all the time. Never stops. We don’t even taste. We don’t even taste. We just had a whole lunch. We have no idea what we just did. “Taste and see that God is good.” [Hebrew text] We don’t even taste. We barely see what’s in front of us. We can’t hear anymore. We’ve got facial recognition. We’re in every room face to face. We don’t recognize ourselves or each other in any real way. We’ve actually lost the ontology that lives in us. That’s what we meant when we said that word where a couple of eyes roll.

Don’t worry. I caught it. God, really? I mean really. Could you come up with something better? It’s a great word. Okay, and it’s going to become famous, I promise you. Okay. This is the Anthro-Ontological Method, anthro, Anthropology, anthro. It’s in me, ontology, for realsies, isn’t that gorgeous and it’s for real. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, good. Believe me, I knew it wasn’t you. Okay, here we go. So Anthro-Ontology means, ontologies, the mysteries are within us. That’s what it means: The Intimate Universe lives in us, like, wow. Which means I can trust my clarified desire. My clarified desire is a source of ontology and it’s a source of information. Harari writes, Yuval Harari, my colleague, writes one important thing. He’s a very good storyteller; the story is a bad story and it’s off in a thousand ways and he’s got some great sentences.

He says, the most important thing we need that we don’t have is we need new philosophers. What’s the story? He got that right. 1,000%. Anthro-Ontology, the Anthro-Ontological Method is: What are our shared deepest knowings and what are my unique, deepest knowings? But actually the mysteries, the ontologies live in me and they live in me and I can access them. That’s what we call One Love, One Heart. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s One Love, One Heart. One Love, One Heart. One Love, One Heart, isn’t it beautiful. It’s One Love, One Heart. We live in an Intimate Universe.

The Intimate Universe lives in us. And it’s trustable. It’s trustable. It’s not true. The second a society tells you you can’t trust your body, you’re a slave, I want you to get that. The second you can’t trust your own body… it doesn’t mean you don’t have to work with your body. It doesn’t mean you act out every bodily invitation. You’re discerning. You clarify desire. Well, but of course, duh. But, but at the core, you’re not living  in a home you can’t trust. I mean, do you get that? I mean, it makes me cry. We’re told we live in a home we can’t trust. Wow. Wow. I’m living in a home I can’t trust. I can’t trust my body.

I can trust my body. Anthro-Ontology. And Anthro-Ontology is AO. And AO is the response to AI. You got that? And that’s, AO, that’s the response to AI. And I want to just, I just want to give you a sense for a second with your permission, just going to do this very briefly, this is about three hours and I’m doing it in like two minutes. Okay, here we go. Ready? Two minutes. One everyone, okay? Do we get a drum roll? Help me out. Give me a drum roll so we are awake.

I’ll just give you a wild thing. Okay. Here’s a wild thing, I’ll just give you one source, one text, something about Shimon and something about Werner. Shimon says, why are you talking about me now? Oh, okay. So, so I was talking to this dude. I shared with somebody, this conversation, great guy named Werner Erhart and Werner starts something called originally EST and it became called the Landmark, the Forum. And it’s the largest kind of personal development transformation kind of industry in the world. And he’s a brilliant guy. Of course, his original name is Jack Rosenberg, different story. He changed it on a plane to Germany to Werner, kind of thought about it on the plane. And I met him, I don’t know him well. You know, I met him because we made contact when I was having a kind of rough moment about three years ago.

And he called me and he said, that’s nothing. Let me tell you what I went through. And so we had a great phone conversation and we liked each other. So we kept contact and we finally met, you know, I don’t know, X amount of months ago and Werner’s kind of actually like every second watching. He feels very close to the end of his life and there’s things he wants to get done and he’s not doing it. So we agreed to meet and it was a kind of a big deal. And you know, everyone around his world knows, he’s kind of inaccessible, and is like, wow. So we met in a hotel in Silicon Valley, you know, at the bar. And we spent the first hour, I would say something, I talked about Unique Self, he would talk about something.

I would say something, he would talk about something, and whatever. We suitably impressed each other, but basically nothing had happened. And you know, we hadn’t… We’re pretty much done and it took us a long time to make, and I was disappointed. You see, he was disappointed. I said to him, let’s, let’s, let’s break out some wine. So we started drinking. Four hours later, his wife comes down in the middle, he’s taking notes, we’re going like, we went ballistic. We had this awesome few hours, but here was like the height of the whole thing. So Werner has a distinction that actually comes from a Hasidic source, but the core of the distinction is right, which comes from a story about a Hasidic master in the 1950s that made his way to him. But I’ll resist the temptation to tell you any of that.

Here’s the distinction. The distinction is there’s only two choices in life, and it’s a core Landmark distinction. Either you’re in the stands or you’re on the court. That’s a great distinction. Either in the stands, you’re watching the game, you’re watching, you’re in the stands, or you’re on the court. If you’re on the court, you’re in action. I sometimes call it that in my language you’re a victim. You’re in the stands of being a victim, or you’re a player. You’re on the court. That’s always what you got to ask, where are you asking from? Are you asking from the stands? Or are you on the court? And, and I’m so tempted, but don’t, Marc, do not tell them the story of the Hasidic master where this came from. They don’t need to know that. You just want to tell it. Okay? So, boom! I’m not going to tell you that story.

So, I said to Werner, at some point… And this is where we just kind of broke open. I said, “Werner, why are we here? Why are Shimon and I friends?” Same question, Shimon and I have known each other for 20 years. We don’t talk often. He does his thing, I do my thing, but I always know he’s there, and I’m always happy that he’s there.

And we went to a festival. “[Hebrew] Shimon, can’t do without Shimon.” “Why?” “Just because.” But what’s the core of our connection? The core of our connection is allurement. I like being with him. I like hanging out with him. Allurement. So, I said to Werner, “Werner, why are you and I in this meeting? You’re so busy.” I’m saying, “Why are we here? We’re here because of allurement. We were allured to this intimacy. And allurement drives your life.” And Werner went nuts.

He said, “Oh my God.” So, in all… And we recorded these conversations, all Landmark distinctions, I just missed allurement. That’s an on the court distinction, I’ve got to change and rework the system. He just got wildly excited. And the way a person does who is not egoically bound to my system that I… No, he’s just wildly excited. Allurement.

So allurement lives inside of me. Does everyone get that? Allurement’s Anthro-Ontology. Allurement actually… I can actually trust my allurement. My allurement… I follow my allurement. And to actually know that kind of changes everything.

So, I want to give you just a simple text, which is about: how do we know things? So, we know things, say the mystics, because, not that mystics are good. There are idiot mystics like there are idiot scientists. Mystic doesn’t mean good. A lot of corrupt mystics, a lot of mystics doing bad shit, … mystics. No, there are mystics who are clarified, and mystics who aren’t, just like anything else. But the best of the mystics. The best of it is an interior scientist. And I’m an interior scientist. I’m doing experiments in interior science.

So I want to read you just a couple of little passages, just you get Anthro-Ontology. And Anthro-Ontology is: the allurement lives in me and I can trust the allurement. The allurement means that which I desire, my clarified desire. And where does it live? In my body.

Here’s Kook, Abraham Kook, interior science, erotic mystic. He says, “To ask about the higher knowing… ” And I’m translating here. “To ask about the higher knowing, how do you know, has no meaning. Once we find it in the center of the heart-soul, there lives a higher spirit and a treasure of organized knowing which fit together. And this is the highest of all proofs. And all knowledge that comes from research is only a means by which to arrive and clarify this higher knowing, which the soul spills forth from within the deepness of her depths.”

Anthro-Ontology, AO. But if we don’t have a sense of AO because we’ve got a reduced human being who’s been disqualified, reduction, we have reduced the human being to a flatland, separate self, materialistic web of exteriors, well then, why don’t we get the most powerful web of exteriors we can find, which is AI. Do you get that? The logic makes sense. But no, it’s AO. But it’s Anthro-Ontology. It’s: the mysteries are within us, and if we don’t invest in info-tech and biotech and nanotech, which means the consciousness of those people who are creating it, with Evolutionary Love, and with the realization that I live in the Intimate Universe and the Intimate Universe lives in me.

We don’t put Homo amor into the world so that it’s accessible to every man, woman, and child, we don’t tell that new story, then the exponentialized AI, naturally becomes the culmination of reality.

Second text: “All words reveal themselves within the heart-soul. And the more we immerse…” Here’s the word, immerse. In other words what’s that word, immerse? Everyone? Immersion.

That’s what we’re doing this week. This week’s not… This week is beautiful, it’s not easy. Does everyone get what I mean by that? I’m having a beautiful week, I’m not having an easy week. Does everyone get what I mean by that? It’s a beautiful week, not an easy week. And there’s always a part of me that dreads the festival. Fuck! It’s festival time. It’s hard. How many of you can access that? Access it, it’s really important. In other words, the reason we need it is because we need immersion. I have to be immersed. We don’t immerse anymore. When they did Lakshmi chance in Kashmir Shaivism, they weren’t on the web and emailing and moving, they were deep in Anthro-Ontology. The mysteries are within, but we’ve got to go within. And we got to actually sit in it and let it well up. All the words reveal themselves within the heart-soul. And the more we immerse ourselves in inner knowing of the content of the heart-soul, the more our knowledge about everything increases and increases.” I wouldn’t miss the festival for anything. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Last one. “Let each person describe with truth and completeness what his/her heart-soul shows them.” That’s not reduction, everything, no, it’s just, no, there’s a unique truth which is where we’re about to go.

“Let him/her bring forth his/her spiritual fruit from potential to actuality without false lips of superficiality. And from sparks like these…” from sparks like these, that is from each of us, “torches of light will gather, and will illuminate the world with their glory. Particles of inner truth of flame like these will gather together as great truth.” Anthro-Ontology.

Here’s the last piece, and then we’re ready to start. Here’s the last piece. Last piece, and we’re going to finish on time, for sure, it’s all good. Just relax. We’re in Vipassana, it’s all good.

What’s the definition of life? It’s very beautiful. What’s the definition of life? So you might say, everybody, DNA. But that’s not true because for example, when we find old remains of skulls, we check the DNA. So DNA as Dr. Venu knows, and who knows much more about this whole field than I do, of course. So I’ll go to him for questions. But just the basics. The DNA obviously lives after you’ve passed. So, DNA is obviously not the marker of life. So I looked up, I don’t know, 60, 70 texts over the last couple of weeks.

And pretty much what people say is that life is connected to metabolism. And metabolism means, there’s this process of life. So, for example, a mineral crystal is not alive. It’s got a pattern of intimacy, do you get what I mean by that? A mineral crystal has a particular molecular, atomic pattern, has a pattern of intimacy, but it’s not alive.

What does it mean to be alive? It’s very beautiful. And this just hit me six days ago, like middle of the night. Actually to be alive is to be in dynamic intimacy. Because actually anabolic, catabolic, what does it mean? It means I’m constructing, I’m building and I’m building. I’m building. That’s actually, there’s anabolic and catabolic pathways in metabolism.

And all what metabolism means is, it’s the livingness of a cell. A cell, a mineral… The crystal doesn’t have cells. A cell is the mark of life. And a cell means it’s metabolizing. And metabolizing means… But these are just words. What happens with scientists, science gives something a word and we stop thinking, we stop imagining. We can’t actually see what it is. Can’t see it in front of us.

So, metabolizing actually means, on the one hand, there’s these, we call them anabolic pathways, which means we build complex molecules, meaning new configurations of intimacy. But just… do you notice that? You could lose all of these; metabolism, anabolic pathways, complex, you don’t even see what’s happening.

Actually, what it means is, reality builds complex molecules from simpler ones. Meaning, new patterns of intimacy emerge, and then old structures break down, they’re called catabolic pathways, in order to pour new energy. So, old structures of intimacy break down because they’re not… You got to pour new energy into life.

So, life itself… This is wild, and we’re going to end our recapitulation here. Life is… the very definition of life, ‘evolving intimacy.’ Wow! And in all of the science, you could, as happens all the time, completely not even notice.

Let’s just breathe that in with permission. Thank you.

Get the Whole Course Recorded during that Festival

Dr. Marc Gafni on Anthro-Ontology: How We Know What We Know2023-09-02T06:26:00-07:00

Exploring the Paradox and the Problem of Evil and Outrageous Pain – Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber in Dialogue after the Success 3.0 Summit

How do we live in a world of Outrageous Pain?

In this conversation Dr. Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber explore the paradox and the problem of evil and Outrageous Pain. They talk about the problem of suffering and the problem of evil in the world.


Exploring the Paradox and the Problem of Evil and Outrageous Pain

Marc We’re going to talk about the problem of suffering and the problem of evil in the world. How do we live in a world of outrageous pain? From that place we going to kind of end and take questions on what we talked about, if there is something pressing or something else and we’ll each answer the question. So, you will be able to hear the play and the answer while we continue our usual dialogue through your questions. I talked about Ken very little before, just kind of understated.

I am going to say just one thing, Ken has two things going for him, the second one is much bigger than the first. I’m insanely right mind, that’s awesome. He’s kind of pended integrator, actually standing and integrating and weaving in a way that’s virtually unparalleled in the generation. It’s a stunning integration that’s actually tipping the source code of what is possible and I made a decision to locate myself here and I wouldn’t have started the think tank with anyone in the entire world, not any other candidate other than Ken. There were two people in the running, there was only one. There was only one person possible to do this thing with, in this culture, in this moment. That is actually his second-best attribute.

His first is, he’s a wild outrageous lover in the deepest essence of who he is. Everything he is about outrageous love, the entire integral project is about weaving creating the force of attraction which everyone and everything has a place at the table. Everyone is included, nothing is excluded to weave a possibility of a world of outrageous love. From that place and in that place, we live in a world of outrageous pain.

Ken Yes, absolutely.

Marc So take us in, take us in. Those shoes, by the way, are fucking awesome. Just saying. Let’s just start and we began this conversation. What do we do with the problem of pain? You don’t address it a lot in your books, a couple places here and there. Like, 8 years ago, at the spiritual center, I think it was Patrick Sweeney that asked us a question when we had that exchange. So, you start off. How do you enter that and the I’ll take it from there?

Ken One of the things that you start to notice about pain and suffering is that it seems very much to be connected with the type of self-identity that you draw. One simple way of putting it is that the more things that appear outside of you that feel other to you are ones that can afflict pain. The Upanishads say for example wherever there is other, there is fear. A very interesting notion that as soon as we recognize something outside or separate from us, then that then can hurt us. The more we recognize it, our identity envelopes that, includes that, then the less that thing can come across as pain.

Until, when we get to the supreme identity, an identity with everything arising moment to moment. This is traditionally defined as no pain or no suffering. There’s an idea of tradition, enlightenment, awakening, Moksha, freedom, the great liberation, the supreme identity is defined as a dropping away of suffering. That doesn’t mean pain is gone. You can still experience pain, but because you are identified with it because it is not something outside of you, because it is not something you are fighting or contracting against, it doesn’t cause suffering.

So, pain plus the self-contraction is suffering. As you get rid of the self-contraction, you can get rid of suffering and then pain is just an interesting, energetic sort of vibration, but it is not something that is threatening you, because it is no longer outside of you. So, when you get into states of enlightenment, states of non-dual unity, consciousness, then there is literally nothing outside of you, nothing feels like it’s outside of you. You get this deep feeling that everything that is arising is the texture of yourself. That all of this is what you are.

So, even right now, you’re not, if you actually sort of watch how your awareness can shift, the standard idea would be that you are in this room. Everybody kind of agree with that. But if you stand back a bit, let your awareness relax and unfold, you start to recognize that actually this room is arising in your awareness. You are actually embracing this room. This room is something that is in you and the same as you go out and you can look at the environment out there, you can look at the mountains, you can look at the clouds going through the sky and the clouds are something that is arising in your awareness. The clouds are in you.

So, as you continue in that fashion, you can get yourself into a state where the entire universe is arising within your fundamental awareness. Within your own being. In that situation, there is nothing outside of you and because of that there’s nothing you fundamentally can desire because there’s the thing outside that can be desired and in the same way there is nothing that can threaten you. There is nothing that can frighten you. There’s nothing that can harm you because there is nothing outside of you.

Marc Usually at this point of the conversation, I would say something like you’re always the most brilliant explainer of Buddhism, better than Buddhism itself. What the fuck, man? Here’s where we would go back and forth and kind of feel it, of course. You are approaching it, again, you always just restate it better than its stated the first time. The response to outrageous pain is actually shifting your own identity in a core way.

Ken Sure.

Marc For example, there’s a great non-dual master that you and I have talked about when we talked to Moshe Idel back in the day by the name of Levi Isaac of Berdichev who’s the greatest non-dual master ever. Super cool dude. I mean, he didn’t dress nearly as well as you, but he was like super, super cool. And his like Levi Isaac, and Idel calls him the greatest non-dual master of the 19th century. When he responds to outrageous pain, he actually did in Berdichev is, he held a trial where he put God or reality on trial. He actually called witnesses from all the surrounding towns, you know, orphaned widows, people who were destitute and this great non-dual master, who was a kind of Gupte figure in terms of his writing, in terms of his depth, puts God on trial.

The trial lasted a couple of weeks and then since he was the local Rabbi, he was the arbiter, he found God guilty. His response was protest, which is a different response in a lineage tradition and of course three faces of God, that you articulated so gorgeously, not in conflict but just kind of play with that other way of doing it where you protest but not from a place of contraction, I think that is how people read it.

It is not just a Separate Self protesting, but if you put the kind of classical Kabbalistic and Buddhist position together, I shift my prospective because I am one with the Divine but then that oneness with the Divinity, that lives within me, then shouts out and says, “It’s not fair!” It shouts out and says, “It can’t be this way!” and it shouldn’t be this way and by developing a kind of spirituality of protest, I am actually able to respond to outrageous pain. This is a different way to play. How does that play with you?

Ken Say more about how you play with it under different circumstances.

Marc When I am experiencing outrageous pain, I need to affirm the dignity of my life and I can only do that by actually saying that this is not fair. It’s not that I just have to shift my identity, which of course, I do, yes. But actually, it’s like prayer forms the dignity of personal need. Protest affirms the dignity of the human situation. The human situation is such that we are storied beings and although there is an egoic story we need to move beyond. There’s the Unique Self story that we have to live in and when that story is violated, it’s a violation.

We would rather hold the mystery of the violation and protest, but not from our Separate Self, paradoxically, but as Divinity, I am now crying out God’s protesting God through me. Which allows for the possibility of existential dignity of which I am always troubled, not just in Buddhism, Kabbalism, as we’ve talked about several times, has similar positions. I am always troubled by that, what Scholem used to call the anti-existential position. I know Yadah kind of talks about that also. How does that play with you?

Ken Well, fine.

Marc Fine, right?

Ken Yeah.

Marc They live together.

Ken Huh?

Marc They live together.

Ken Yeah, basically and they strike me as essentially two different perspectives on the same fundamental situation. The situation we are talking about is this outrageous, weird, completely crazy situation of the relationship between the human and the Divine. They are in so many ways deeply interwoven, they deeply need each other, they have, on the one hand, just looking at the face of it, they have different, if you will, perspectives, different views. The thing that makes the human condition such an extraordinarily wild condition, at the very least the intersection of these two…

Marc The ultimate paradox.

Ken It is.

Marc The ultimate, ultimate paradox.

Ken Completely.

Marc You can only laugh.

Ken Completely. Somebody said a paradox is truth standing on it’s head trying to get attention.

Marc Nice.

Ken it’s not just that they are contradictory, although they can appear that way, but the contradictions where both of them are known to be true.

Marc Right. No, that’s great.

Ken So, that’s very different.

Marc Paradox is the core of the whole thing.

Ken Paradox is the core of the whole thing. Paradox is the direct key to this relationship.

Marc Aren’t they parenthesis? I’d say if one thing marks integral it’s the ability to hold paradox.

Ken There are so many different aspects about that, but paradox is core.

Marc Let’s come back to paradox afterwards.

Ken Also it’s tied up with the opposites. So, what we have in the manifest world, is a world of opposites and so, you have virtually no concept makes any sense unless it’s contrasted with its opposites. Infinite doesn’t make sense with finite and pleasure doesn’t make sense without pain and inside and outside etcetera. Almost any concept we use has meaning only in terms of it’s opposite. One of the things that of course humans want to try to do is when they describe their situation, they want to describe it with a set of concepts or a set of ideas that they think captures essential truths, but right there we are stuck with a paradox because the very concepts that you use to describe what you think are true, only makes sense in terms of their opposites.

You can never get rid of those opposites and the sense that’s what a lot of the non-dual theorists say is that here’s why alternate spirit is non-conceptual, or why you can’t approach it in theoretical terms or just conceptual in terms and that is that any concept that you use to try to approach spirit is going to make sense only in terms of it’s opposite. The spirit doesn’t have an opposite. It’s not just half of the world it’s the entirety.

Marc Abraham Cook has a beautiful thing he says, “The Holy has an opposite, the Holy of Holies has no opposite.”

Ken Exactly.

Marc It’s its very nature.

Ken Exactly.

Marc It can’t have an opposite. Let’s just go back to the human. Let’s look at the paradox we just played with here. So, you put this position to the space which is, and it’s gorgeous, you have shifted your own self-perception and when you shift that, pain doesn’t go away but suffering, that part goes away and then the other position, which is no, actually, you affirm the dignity of your suffering and you protest. Where now in the old world that would have caused a theological war. Oh my God, which one is true? What we’re saying now is no, actually those are two faces of reality and those two faces of reality emerge from, let me just unpack it for 2 minutes and pass it back to you.

If I basically experience reality from a kind of mystical perspective in which there is no other. You’ve got to move beyond the personal and kind of realize that the essential underlying oneness of everything move beyond Separate Self to True Self. As you always love to say quoting Schrödinger, “Single has no plural”. Then if you’re suffering move to True Self. That would be the move you make, but if you’re kind of Rumi, and you fall in the arms of the beloved, and the beloved just fucked you over, and if you can’t actually call the person that you are in love with on conflicting pain, then you have violated the relationship.

The only way to can restore it and it’s from that perspective, it’s not a theological problem, pain, it’s an intimacy problem. It’s a violation of intimacy. As Divinity becomes not just nothingness but the infinity of intimacy. Intimacy has been violated in the relationship through suffering you can only restore the relationship by restoring intimacy. You restore intimacy by getting angry and having the dignity of your anger affirmed. We don’t need to fight because actually those are two perspectives that live in paradox, what you would call the first and second person of God and you get to actually be in both of them.

Ken Well, that’s the thing.

Marc That’s stunning.

Ken Exactly. Part of what we are dealing with here, again, is the, the eye of flash, the eye of mind and eye of contemplation. Each of these are three different types of knowing, at a minimum, that human beings have access to. One of the problems that we have is that we’re always trying to make one eye…

Marc Thé eye.

Ken Thé eye, and one eye have all of the answers and it just doesn’t.

Marc I should tell our friends, by the way, this is e-y-e, eye.

Ken E-y-e, eye. So, all of it’s connected to the I, capital I. If you look at science, for example, it bases its truths ultimately on, at least orthodox science, on the types of truths that it can find using censoring data. Censoring data or its extensions, telescopes, microscopes, X-ray machines, and so on. That’s the kind of truths that science gives us, basically.

Then you also have the eye of mind and the eye of mind can give these truths that the eye of flesh can’t. With the eye of mind, you have things like logic or mathematics or interpretation and when it comes to something like mathematics, nobody has ever seen the square root of negative one running around out there in the sensory world. Yet all of science, the eye of flesh, depends on logic and mathematic.

There’s a higher realm of truth that we have access to and then when we finally get to the eye of spirit, and again each of these eyes transcends includes its predecessor, by the time we get to the eye of contemplation then you starting to get into states of consciousness that have no other. Again, those in those states sometimes called unity, consciousness or non-dual awareness, but that’s where it gets tricky, that’s where it gets paradoxical because we have ultimately a reality that is all embracing, all encompassing and yet we have all of these differentiations and all of these paradoxes all of these contradictions in the relative realm that we really can’t solve in that realm.

So, we have to move to eye of contemplation to actually get answers to these ultimate questions but those answers themselves aren’t something that can be put into words nor can they give us nice answers in a philosophical system. If nothing else, they going to plug us in to this ultimate radical, all inclusive reality and we’re simply going to, if you will, vibrate with the truths of an all-encompassing reality. That’s itself is the answer to any questions that we would have. Who am I? Where I come from? What’s ultimately real? Though there are answers to those questions, not from the eye of flesh and not from the eye of mind, but from the eye of contemplation, from the eye of spirit.

Marc So, let me just kind of check you. Let’s jump into the eye of spirit. I have a contemplation. I just kind of want to throw a suggestion into the space and we’ve pushed back and forth on this over the years. Sometimes the non-dual teaching is presented it actually loses paradoxical nature. That is to say paradoxes’ thought to exist in the manifest world. When we actually get to oneness, there is no paradox, we’re just paradoxically non-paradoxical. Meaning, that I can be a master of total oneness, total non-dual unity and there is still other and the other is the personal face of essence that knows my name.

Now, in Kashmir Shaivism, for example, they refuse to ultimately hold the paradox because as you know the tat was the highest levels, there’s just the one. In Kabbalah they hold the paradox. There paradox is different than in Kashmir Shaivism, that actually you’re in the complete oneness, there is no paradox at all and there’s other and who’s the other? Divinity, that’s you, that’s also holding you at the very same time. That is this wild paradoxical move and without that paradoxical move, oneness, so, in some sense, there is one taste but the paradox is there is two tastes. The two tastes exist even in the highest oneness.

I remember in those months before kind of the three eyes, the three faces of God got formulated. God in the first person, thou art that, non-dual. God in the second person, I thou, and God in the third person, the energy of the Kosmos, third person. I remember we talked about Levi Isaac, bridges of the story, the same master who would make a blessing and he would say [Hebrew], blessed are you. He would go “Blessed are you, you, you, you!” People would faint in ecstasy because the “you” was so real that he realized that the “you” wasn’t a concept, the “you” was a realization. The actual realization of the eye of contemplation.

Ken Right.

Marc Without contemplation, paradoxically, and there’s where it becomes a great, beautiful, integral ability to hold total oneness so that the question is removed because there is no question, and then the other side is, the answer to the question is the question itself. Let me just go one more second on that and then back to you. So, if I question why is this happening?

I can either remove the question by saying I shift my identity, I am part of the one or I can say in the question itself, where I challenge Divinity, I challenge reality in that question is the answer because the question affirms the goodness, because I can’t challenge goodness if there’s no goodness and it affirms relationships because who an I asking the question to? By questioning itself, I am affirming the relationship, I am affirming that we love each other.

If you hear my anger and we’re angry at each other, the dignity of my anger restores our relationship. I kind of feel like in modernity, when we give an answer to suffering that is only the Ramana Maharshi answer. Without the Kabbalistic answer, we lose something. We need to hold…

Ken That’s the thing.

Marc That’s an integral move.

Ken Well, both of those are one way of looking at it.

Marc Right.

Ken And that’s the ultimate, really the sort of paradox of paradox of paradox. Which is that just by saying it’s a paradox that doesn’t like to sneak in a non-paradoxical answer. Under that paradox is another paradox. I mean, it’s the radically, infinitely of unbelievably, unendingly paradoxical nature of how human beings can see reality.

Marc And this is not theoretical that you are talking about.

Ken No.

Marc This is how I live in the world.

Ken Absolutely.

Marc There is nothing theoretical about this conversation at all. Am I able to live and hold the paradox or am I not? And that affects my ethics, it effects my sexuality, it effects the way I do business, it affects how I show up in every moment in the world. Am I holding paradox or am I not?
Ken Exactly. There’s, in a sense, a deeper paradox where both of those are held.

Marc Are held.

Ken So, that’s what stops either one or the other from being the final answer.

Marc Paradox is all the way up and all the way down.

Ken All the way up, all the way down, all the way in, all the way out, all the way left, all the way right. Because of this peculiar situation, where we have a single universe, if you will, a single spirit, if you will, but it is manifesting. So that means simultaneously infinite spirit is remaining itself, fully. It is also going out of itself, fully. So, it’s both remaining itself and losing itself.

Marc It’s losing itself.

Ken Right there you have a formula for a universe that is always going to be doing that when you are trying to get to the ultimate answers. It’s always going to be fully in itself and fully out of itself. Fully paradoxical and paradoxical about paradoxical. Endlessly, because any time you stop that, then you fix on just a single monolithic answer and that’s the one thing it isn’t, is it isn’t that.

Marc Totally, which is why the traditions lost uniqueness. Uniqueness seemed to be if you moved beyond your Separate Self and your part of the one, how can you also be unique? I remember 10 years ago, when we started talking about it, everyone said that’s completely crazy. You become no self because you can’t be unique if your part of the one. That’s kind of obvious. The answer is of course not. Actually, paradoxically, I can move beyond my separateness, I can be completely part of the one and yet utterly and irreducibly unique in the very same moment. Without that realization and in that sense, I would say that the great traditions, none in there most esoteric form, in their most taught form, were actually guilty of refusing to hold paradox because paradox is hard to hold.

Ken Exactly. Again, there’s, behind all of that, is paradox is the truth standing on its head to attract attention. That’s mere a contradiction which is truths that disagree with each other and just disagree with each other, this jam. Paradoxes are two truths, disagree with each other but we know both of them are right. We know that both of them are true.

Marc Exactly, both of them are true.

Ken That’s where it gets interesting. That’s where you are getting very close to the Holy of the Holies.

Marc Let’s just maybe go one more step and I think there’s some other people in the line, so we will let them ask some questions. There are still some people in the line. Let’s try to go one more step back and forth. The only way I can show myself or people paradoxes is by pointing it out. Not something like a pointing out instruction, you point it out. Is there anybody in this room who’s married?

How’s it going? Who’s married? Are you married? What’s your name? […] Gavi, I knew that, okay. So, Gabi is your husband around someplace? Where is he? […] Raj, okay, so let me just ask you a question. This is kind of paradoxical. When you married Raj, did you have a choice? There was basically no one else for you to marry. He was like the last guy around. [Can’t hear answer 31:40] Was it free, what is a free choice that you made or was it utterly determined? Which one? Was it free or just obviously determined? […] So, how can that be? Both is one of my favorite words.

I obviously chose Raj, right? I mean, obviously, right? […] And there is actually no one else in the world that can be my husband, other than Raj? Even though I heard a little about your past. You went out with a few other guys. We’re not going to mention any of them right now. So, Gabi is holding in her body paradox. She totally chose Raj, and yet there is no possibility that she ever could have married anyone else other than Raj. How could that be?
That is the paradox of freedom and determinism, you actually embody it. I looked at Gabi and I thought of Gabi and Raj like perfect paradox right there. It’s like clearly obvious. That’s pointing out. That’s the eye of the spirit.

Ken Yeah. The whole point of the eye of the spirit is that whenever what its direct immediate realizations are. Whenever they are expressed in conceptual terms, they turn into paradox. These two opposites that are, both of them can’t be right, and yet we know that both of them are right.

Marc Just because it’s us and it’s our Monday call, if you had to pick in your life what is paradoxical, where would you go? Everything, right?

Ken Sure.

Marc Give me an example, just for fun. Just you and me, right?

Ken In terms of do I feel awakened or do I feel self-contracted, ignorant, caught in an illusion, sin, separation, and the tendency is to think, oh gosh, I am in the self-contracted state but I can get in a released, realized awakened state and right there that itself already that’s an incorrect move. I got it wrong, right?

Marc From the start. I am going to become enlightened.

Ken Exactly. The eye of the spirit in two completely separate realms and I am going to get out of one and I am going to get into other. Even if I did that, all that I would have is half of reality.

Marc Right and who would want that?

Ken That’s not going to be good. So, it’s going to have its own form of suffering. It’s suffering of incompleteness; it’s suffering of not really being all embracing. In that sense, deep, deep, deep paradox is the way that spiritual truth shows up in conceptual live mind.

Marc In your day-to-day experience, you kind of feel both always happening. Total freedom…

Ken Part of the trick, and it really is kind of tricky, is that if you look at the opposites the idea is that you really want to be able to get to a position where you can see that all of the opposites are true. You don’t want to end up trying to get just the good, just the pleasurable, just the positive and get rid of the negative and get rid of the evil and get rid of pain, etcetera. You don’t want to hold on to life and get rid of death because underlining both of those is whole reality and both of those, the negatives and positives, are just like if you are drawing a painting, you need both light and dark in order to draw this painting and right now we have this whole painting that’s arising in our awareness right now.

It’s a total painting of all that is. It’s a complete painting and so we consider that and we have essentially one of two possible approaches to it. One is we look at everything that is arising, everything we’re feeling, everything we’re seeing and we say okay, I like that, and I like that, and I like that, so I am going to try to hold on to there. I don’t like that, I don’t like that, I don’t like that, so I get this primordial avoidance of some aspect of the total painting, of all that is.

In that primordial avoidance, I am splitting reality and I splitting myself from it and I am delivering it up in fragmented pieces, which are broken, torn, partial, tortured, tormented and that’s going to convert pain into suffering. That’s the typical way that we do it. The other is through some of the more meditated or contemplative ways and that is to basically relax and allow everything in the total painting of all that is, to arise. Don’t look away from any of it, don’t turn away from any of it, don’t push away from any of it, but radically embrace everything that is arising moment to moment.

Marc I mean, there it is. Maybe just to pick up from that and to finish the last piece and then take questions. So, paradoxically, and here’s the position of the kind of evolutionary mystic, on the one hand it is all perfect, it’s ultimately all perfect and yet I’ve got a change everything at the same time. This notion of Tikkun and Kabbalah is that actually I am participating in liberating the sparks, there’s this kind of emanation of Divinity into, as it were, vessels of reality. Those vessels explode, they break, the shards of the vessels are scattered and then as the heroic human being, I liberate the sparks from the vessels and return them to their source.

That’s Tikkun, I am fixing reality. In that fixing, I am fixing a reality that’s perfect and here’s the wild thing, Abraham Cook, the mystic that we love so much, he says there is two kinds of perfection. He says it in a very simple and beautiful way. He says, “If you have two friends…”, he likes to [Word 39:20] all his spiritualizations, “You have two friends and one of them has got this perfect life. They’re awesome. They’ve always been perfect. Then you have another one who is imperfect but really struggled to perfect. Which one is more perfect? Obviously, the second one who is imperfect but struggling in order to perfect. How can it be then that Divinity can only be perfect?”

If we realize that it is actually more perfect to perfect yourself. Cook says, “Even Divinity itself is evolving. That actually Divinity is completely perfect, yet paradoxically evolving all the time.” [Hebrew 39:57] It’s just the ability to hold that that allows us to live in the world and to kind of, I just know it in my life, I am like ecstatically happy and I am filled with pain. Pretty much all the time and every second I am in complete ecstasy and I cry all the time and I laugh. It’s almost like we cry out of one side of our mouth and we laugh out of the other side of our mouth. To be able to hold that and not to refuse either of the sides, so we’re born in that.

Ken Well, that’s the only actual response to this extraordinarily, deeply ingrained, paradox of ultimate reality. As we strive to understand it through the eye of mind and through the eye of flesh, and so being able to hold on to both sides of those is the way that we stretch our awareness to be able to include the entire painting of all that is.
Everything that is arising is to be embraced in that sense and that’s a practice itself, that is itself an extraordinary action of putting your arms out and embracing everything that’s arising to acts of outrageous love and so on. What you are embracing are these dual aspects of paradox and even the paradox of the paradox and I mean, it is an infinite hall of reflecting mirrors.

Marc It just literally changes everything.

Ken Yeah. The problem with so many approaches to theological systems and spiritual systems they try to nail it to just one.

Marc hey refuse to hold it, they refuse. Utter refusal of the whole paradox. Extremists feel better when they wake up in morning because they take one value, they decontextualize it from the larger constellation of values and they make it a whole.

Exploring the Paradox and the Problem of Evil and Outrageous Pain – Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber in Dialogue after the Success 3.0 Summit2023-06-17T12:23:18-07:00

A Special Gift from Our First Live Sacred Retreat: Truth and Laughter

Enjoy this beautiful excerpt on Truth and Laughter from our recent Sacred Retreat.

Register for Evolutionary Church Every Saturday 9-10 am PT Online
A Special Gift from Our First Live Sacred Retreat: Truth and Laughter2023-06-19T09:41:21-07:00

Essay on Gratitude by Dr. Marc Gafni


by Marc Gafni

This essay was written in different forms over many years. I first taught this Torah some 13 years ago in 1995 in Jerusalem at talks I gave in the Yamim Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem at the Zionist confederation. This was the seed of material that I would later contribute to a co-authored book by myself {and Ohad Ezrahi} on Lillith. Ohad had been struck by Tishbi’s comment identifying Lillith and Leah and shared it with me. I shared with him my understanding of Leah. The pieces fit together and we both inhabited a broader and fuller view of Leah and Lillith. {I discuss this book and it’s genesis in somewhat more detail under the Lillith section.} The material was then published in a Hebrew book called Vadai, in English A Certain Spirit.

Later, the material evolved again as sacred text met sacred autobiography, in meeting Brother David Steindl-Rast and talking with him of Gratitude and God, and in reading and receiving some of the Torah of a work called The Dawn Horse Testament by Da Free John recommended by Treya Wilber in the book Grace and Grit.

The material and my understanding has again evolved significantly since this writing, particularly in wake of my growing non-dual realization. At some point, I was guided to an obscure Torah of the Seventh Rebbe of Lubavitch, in which he wrote that the practice of the Modeh Ani prayer with which the Hebrew initiate begins his day is the practice of realization of Yechida She-Be-Nefesh, the Yechida quality of the soul.

The Yechida dimension of the soul is the radical and full realization of the already and every present non-dual ground of reality from which we spring, of which we are a part, and from which we never separate. It is the realization of ultimate grandeur and ultimate humility. It is having nothing, knowing nothing, and being no one. It is having everything, knowing everything, and being everyone.

The Biblical Certainty Moment

A Declaration of Gratitude

Every morning begins with a proclamation of a certainty and gratitude. Before the start of each day, I say the prayer Modeh Ani Lefanecha and in so doing make the ultimate statement of certainty. Modeh ani lefanecha – I give thanks before You, I give thanks in Your presence–is a clear and strong statement of divine relationship. In it one speaks directly to the divine, acknowledging the daily presence of the Spirit in our lives, the divine role in creation, and the divine dimension of ourselves created in the image of God. Emerging from the nightmares of “maybe,” the darkness of “so what,” I begin the day with the certainty of “Before you, I give thanks.” Thanks or gratitude is the ability to pierce the veil of experiential uncertainty and experience oneself as held in the fullness of the divine embrace. Every act of gratitude is both an expression of that clear moment of perception as well as a heart opening movement, which makes that perception available.

This certainty and gratitude is not intellectual; it is instinctive and primal. It is not a schematic knowledge of the way of the world; it is a deep internal understanding of the way of the divine within. Gone are the medieval days when we could employ Aristotelian physics to offer rational proofs for the existence of God. In a post-Kantian world, the easy certainties of the medieval schoolmen are simply not available to us. In the discarded image of the old world, faith meant, “it is true.” Today faith means, “I am true.” I am true because I am in the presence of God and because the presence of God is in me. I believe not in set of dogmas that seek to explain the nature of all that is; rather I believe in the divinity of my humanity and I know that all that is courses through my Self.

It is this core certainty of being and the primal experience of gratitude that, according to the esoteric teachings of the Kabbalists, the Modeh Ani prayer seeks to access every morning as we engage the waking world. One way this is expressed in the code of the Kabbalists is in the simple reading of the closing words of the Modeh Ani prayer. The words Rabah Emunatecha are addressed to God and literally mean, “Great is your faith.”

The postmodern Kabbalists teach that this is the faith of God in Man, the divine affirmation that man is “enough.” In the nomenclature of the Kabbalists, the Modeh Ani prayer affirms to man his ‘Yechida She-Benefesh,’ the baby-faced divine that is the essence of every man. How grateful am I to be part of God.

Careful investigation will show that this expression of certainty and gratitude does not emerge from a moment of easy faith, of happy embrace. It is not the religion of the happy-minded. On the contrary, this prayer is the liturgical encapsulation of a fragile moment of certainty and gratitude that is hard won, emerging from confusion and distortion: a moment whose power is far-reaching, tragically fleeting, and yet ultimately transforming. Rather than being a quiet statement of the obvious, this core certainty prayer reverberates with the pain and struggle necessary for transcendence.

The classic commentaries on the Liturgy record no source for the Modeh Ani prayer. It has found its way into the consciousness of a people without leaving behind any trace of its origin. Here we seek to unpack its source and to begin our quest for the certainty of being and the joy of gratitude that is our birthright.

Modeh ani emerges from the words of Leah, wife of Jacob, on the occasion of the birth of her fourth son, Judah:

She conceived again and gave birth to a son, and she said: This time I thank God – ha pa’am odeh et hashem.” And therefore she called his name Judah…”

Notice how, on the birth of her fourth son Judah, Leah says “hapaam odeh et hashem” — “this time, I thank God.” Odeh from the biblical text and Modeh Ani from the liturgy mean the same thing: I acknowledge, I thank. When I wake up in the morning and say Modeh ani, I am conceptually, linguistically, and experientially reformulating Leah’s acknowledgment of and thanks to God upon the birth of Judah.

Why about this moment is so transformative that in re-engaging it every morning human beings access their own sense of divine enough-ness?
Leah is popularly seen as the lesser of two sisters, the matriarch that most of us find difficult to remember; so why do we find ourselves repeating her words every morning? Modeh Ani is one of the first prayers a parent teaches a child. What is the secret of this chant? Words in Jewish meditative text always have a story. To understand the psycho-spiritual moment of faith that the Modeh Ani words invite us into, we need to unpack the story of the words. We must explore the story of Leah: a heroic journey from confusion and alienation to core certainty and gratitude that we repeat daily in the course of our lives.

Who is Leah?

Jacob arrives at Laban’s home and, in the only biblical story of love at first sight, falls immediately in love with Rachel, Leah’s younger sister. He agrees to work for seven years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. This handsome romantic stranger appears out of nowhere exhibiting superhuman powers of strength, not to mention charm, and falls in love–not with Leah–but with her younger sister. Leah is painfully peripheral. The text even tells us that Rachel is deemed the beauty of the family, while Leah is very much the inelegant ugly duckling archetype. Leah is on the outside.

However, when the seven years are over and Jacob has completed his labor of love, Laban deceives Jacob and marries him to the seemingly inelegant Leah. In the gloom of a night wedding Leah stands heavily veiled next to the unsuspecting Jacob under the wedding canopy. It is not until the following morning that Jacob realizes he has been duped: he has married Leah instead of Rachel. When Jacob protests, Laban gives him Rachel as well, on the condition that Jacob will work an additional seven years.

Although Leah is usually viewed as but a pawn in the manipulations of her father Laban, a close textual reading paints a more complex picture of the event. The simple fact is that Laban could not have deceived Jacob on his wedding night without the full complicity and cooperation of Leah. Indeed according to the implied assumptions of one Midrash (biblical exegesis), it is clear that Leah is fully complicit in defrauding not only Jacob but her sister, Rachel, as well.

Another Midrash suggests that, after a few years in Laban’s service, Jacob began to understand the way his uncle’s mind worked. He suspected that Laban would attempt to trick him into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. In order to pre-empt Laban, Jacob taught Rachel a set of signs so she would be able to signal to him that it was indeed her under the wedding canopy, thus preventing Laban from exchanging her with Leah. A wise move; but Jacob had not taken into account the possibility that Rachel would give the signs to Leah. That evening Leah stands under the wedding canopy facing Jacob in the darkness. Jacob tries to make out her face but the veil does its job too well. He does not panic, but smoothly signals to the woman opposite him, and she fluently responds. All has gone according to Jacob’s plan; the marriage proceeds. But the veil must at some point lift. The Midrash offers a dramatic description of how Jacob confronts Leah the following morning. The early rays of sunlight begin to filter through the tent walls, and Jacob gradually begins to make out the face of his beloved. The veil of darkness lifted, he sees…the…eyes of…Leah! Jacob, outraged, cries out: “All night I called out ‘Rachel, Rachel,’ and you answered!” Indeed, Leah did not remain the silent pawn. She was fully complicit and answered to the name of her sister in the passion of first sex, playing an active role in the deception. After the wedding ceremony, Leah took care to make sure the deception was not revealed until too late.

Leah is Us

It is not for naught that we asked earlier: “Who is Leah?” The ultimate question in every person’s life is, “Who am I?” It is this core uncertainty about identity that Leah is desperately attempting to resolve by marrying Jacob. When Laban substitutes Leah for Rachel, Leah still has ways of letting Jacob know that he is being deceived. But she chooses instead to participate fully in the deception. She shows no reluctance, because her father’s actions suit her own designs. She wants to marry Jacob. Moreover she feels she must marry Jacob. It is through Jacob that she thinks she will finally touch a sense of inner certainty and gratitude For the first Leah can say with certainty, I am grateful to be me.

It is through Jacob that Leah accesses the truth of her own being. If Jacob were to divorce her, she would need to destroy Jacob in order to retain the integrity of her own self. Of course she would develop elaborate sets of psychological, moral, and spiritual explanations to explain her need to destroy Jacob. She might say that she bears Jacob no ill will, that she is merely protecting other women from Jacob. Even the simplest among us often manifest genius when it comes to self-deception. If Jacob does not love me, cries Leah, then clearly he loves no one. Moreover he has never loved anyone.

Jacob will be demonized by Leah even as Leah refuses to integrate her shadow, which she has projected onto him. That is not to say that Jacob might not bear genuine responsibility; but between responsibility and demonization runs a long and treacherous road. Whenever we demonize another we merely show that we lack core faith in our own essential truth.

In Kabbalah radical personal insight which realizes the ontic identity of the human being and God is called Shekina. In the stunning non dual language of the Zohar,

“Shekinta De’Ikra Ani.”

“The Shekina which is called Self”

When one has not realize his already and ever present Shekina nature then according to Lurianic Kabbala the energy of the demonic lurks ever ready to subvert the energy of the Shekina to the pathologies of evil. Kabbalah refers to this as the dance of the demonic. In the language of Kabbalah the demonic “erotically sucks from the back of the Shekinah.” The back of the Shekina refers to the unconscious Shekinah. The human being who is disconnected, wholly unconscious of her radical nature as Shekinah.

Demonic in this context refers not to red devils with pitchforks but to the far more ominous and destructive energy field of the demonic. The demonic are the People of the lie. They violate the signet ring of God which is truth.
And yet People of the lie are often not easily discernible. They hide between the sheets of noble ideals, in the vacuity of righteous jargon, and most insidiously in the self righteous murder of other always in the name of ethical and spiritual idealism.

The demonic however is recognizable by three demarcating characteristics.
First the tendency of the demonic is to demonize. The demonization of other virtually always stems from a deep discomfort with the lie deep inside of us. That discomfort is so unbearable that we externalize it and then project onto other. More often then not, onto one whom we once loved and we feel has somehow rejected us.

We all experience the rituals of rejection. The question is only; Does our suffering evolve into compassion or devolve into malice. Do we suffer the slings and arrows of love’s inevitable misfortune as insults which Close our hearts and move us respond with UnLove? Or do we muster the discipline to maintain our internal rigor and remain Open as Love even in the face of the rituals of rejection. If we are able to remain in divine communion, to stay open even in the face of apparent rejection, then we being to experience the legitimate hurts of love not as insults but as wounds. We begin to practice the wounds of love. When we finally learn how to suffer the wounds of love with open body and heart we touch the certainty of our own divinity and are filled with an awesome gratitude.

It is when we experiences the hurts of life as insults then we close as UnLove which is the soil of the demonic. The basic movement of the demonic is to demonize.

The second characteristic by which the demonic may be recognized is its utterly destructive nature. The good with all of its flaws and imperfections builds. The demonic behind all its righteous rigor and joyous jargon is still discernible by the destruction which is its true intention. Love spends years building worlds that malice sometimes destroys in a day.

The third characteristic which by which the demonic can be recognized is its utter lack of gratitude. To be grateful requires the ability to perceive the innate goodness in the action of an other towards myself. The demonic type always ascribes base motives even to all the good turns which are done him. She perceives the demonic even in the good, not understanding that it is but a projection of her own interior. The defining quality of the divine person is infinite gratitude, which wells up from the full experience of one’s own divine person. And to be truly grateful, we must be grateful even to those demonize us. Even demonizer, that is even the demonic, in non dual understanding, are but angels of God’s love.

The human being can never achieve any sense of fulfillment until essential uncertainty of identity is satisfactorily resolved. The magic of the Hebrew language is such that the etymologies for the words Uncertainty–safe–and satisfaction–sippuk–are identical. The resolution of personal safek is difficult. We often avoid the necessary effort and pain required to answer the question of identity by consciously or subconsciously forging a pseudo-identity. One form of pseudo-identity is the demonization of the other.

I exist only if you do not exist. I am good because I have made you bad, is the most common refrain. A second form of pseudo-identity is the attempt to live a story that is not my own. It was Jung who said that all neurosis stems from the refusal to bear legitimate suffering. He refers to the effort and investment that are indispensable tools in knowing our true selves. This is the subtext of our drama.

The safek of “Who is Leah?” will now be answered, “Jacob’s wife.” Jacob becomes the resolution of her safek and the exclusive source of her sippuk. To gain this certainty of pseudo-identity, this opportunity to fill the void within her, she is willing to betray even her own sister. When we feel essentially unloved, uncertain about our core value, we are willing to do almost anything to touch the sippuk, the satisfaction of feeling loved–anything to resolve the core safek of our identity.

Leah feels ugly, while the text describes Rachel as beautiful. The best the text can say about Leah is that “she has ‘soft eyes.’” She feels as if she is not enough. She feels that she needs to find fulfillment or completion outside of herself, and that the person who can provide this for her is Jacob. Leah refuses her true destiny of marrying Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, who is, according to the Midrash, “fit to her,” because she is fundamentally disconnected from her identity. She is desperately trying to fit in to a form, a face, a destiny that is not hers.

T. S. Eliot captures the feeling of living without a personal center of gravity or gravitas:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpieces filled with straw. Alas
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, Shade without color
Paralyzes force, Gesture without motion

When we try to fit in to a form or destiny not our own, we are paradoxically left hollow… shape without form. We have each at one time or another tried to attain things or people by pretending to be someone other than our true self. The motivation is always a hunger, a neediness that moves us to sate our hunger with nourishment foreign to our souls. We all recognize the hollow men and the stuffed men. We have all of us, on some level, married Jacob in the darkness.

The Downward Spiral

Of course, the painful truth is that when we look to “have” somebody to fill a hole in our own identity, we never really “have him”…even if we’re married to him. Jacob is Leah’s husband, but Leah feels unloved and cries out, “The Lord has heard that I am hated.” Jacob is her husband, but he does not take walks with her at night. “This time my husband will accompany me,” says Leah in a pathos-filled cry of longing for Jacob. Jacob is Leah’s husband and the father of her three children, but there is no intimacy, no love. Jacob has not chosen her, and so Leah has nobody. She has him yet she has nothing.

But she needs Jacob! She is convinced that only Jacob will make her complete, that only Jacob can establish the certainty of her identity. If the marriage ceremony was not enough, then Leah needs to seek other ways to get Jacob. The downward spiral begins:, “If only I could do this…then I would have him.” Manipulation always creates the need for the next manipulation; using someone always creates the need to use someone else. And so she uses her children. From the moment her children are born, she begins to treat them not as people that need to be loved unconditionally, but as vehicles to attain the attention she so desperately craves from her husband. With each child the spiral plunges deeper into unrealistic fixation.

Repeating patterns of her own childhood, Leah uses her children as objects to fulfill her unrealized dreams. In the process, the children are short-changed because they are denied the unconditional love that they need to develop as full human beings with inner certainty about their worth.

Yet patterns can be broken, because the human being is free. Leah can still find inner peace and satisfaction in her self; love in the presence of God. This finally is what Leah understands when it is time for Judah to be born–Judah, the fourth child.

The Judah Moment

When her first two children are born, Leah speaks of her pain, her hurt, her feelings of rejection by her husband: At the birth of Reuben, “God has seen my suffering.” At the birth of Simeon, “God has heard that I am hated.” When her third child, Levi is born, once again she hopes that his birth will precipitate genuine intimacy and love in her relationship with her husband: “This time my husband will accompany me,” she plaintively cries out. But at the birth of Judah we hear a different song entirely: “ha paam odeh et hashem“–“this time I thank God.”

We hear nothing of pain, no mention of loneliness. Jacob is not even mentioned for good or for bad: only gratitude rings out. When Leah gives birth to her fourth child she says, “ha paam odeh et hashem.” And so she calls her son Judah; in Hebrew, Yehudah–“gratitude, acknowledgment.” Gratitude is not obeisance. I am grateful for your gift for it teaches me that I am worthy of receiving. Leah has been able to move beyond her dependency on Jacob, and to stand up in God’s presence as a dignified human being. The fundamental safek Leah had about herself has been resolved.

No longer dependent upon anyone, perhaps for the first time Leah feels her own adequacy, her “enoughness”–her sippuk. She says, “ha paam–this time.” She does not deny her past, she does not pretend it did not exist, but she celebrates that “this time” she has moved on. “This time” I value myself. “This time” I know who I am. “This time” I don’t feel I need another to fulfill myself. “This time, I thank God.” She has gained a core certainty of her identity, of her value, of her dignity.

Unlike Leah’s first three children, Judah is born with no conditions attached. Leah is able to accept and love Judah unconditionally, and it is this love that imparts to Judah a sense of certainty about himself and his place in the world.

Faith in the Nursing Mother

A friend of mine, a prominent scholar in medieval philosophy and mystical thought, once traveled from New York to visit Reb Menashe, a Jerusalem mystic. I accompanied him.

“What does emunah–faith–mean to you?” Reb Menashe asked the scholar.

The scholar reviewed various positions on the matter of faith, from medieval to Chassidic. Reb Menashe listened patiently and then responded:

“It is so much simpler than that,” he said, “Emunah is the feeling that the baby has that its mother will not drop him.”

A child wrapped in the cradling arms of his or her mother conveys the most powerful yet gentle image of certainty. The mother, merely by being present, confers unconditional love to the child. The nursing mother, in Hebrew called the omen, gives the child a sense of safety and clarity.

As Reb Menashe was aware, the word emunah – faith – plays on the word omen nursing mother. Listening carefully to the nuance in the Hebrew language, we can thus appreciate that “faith” is infused with connotations of the babe in its mother’s arms. Conversely, we can also see how the act of nursing a newborn child contains with in it echoes of God’s relationship with humankind. This is the experience of Leah nursing her baby Judah.

With this perspective on faith and on a mother’s love, we can begin to approach an understanding of how Leah’s praise to God became the matrix of our morning prayer of core certainty. I believe that Leah is able to experience herself in God’s reassuring loving presence because for the first time in her life she gives that very same experience to someone else. In experiencing for the first time her desire and ability to be unconditionally present for her son, she understands this experience to be a reflection of God’s unconditional presence for her. Just as she is the omen, the nursing mother, to Judah, God is the omen to her. So it is with all of our highest moments of faith, when we touch the God in ourselves, we feel about ourselves the way God feels about us.
There is a secret wound lurking inside all of us. It is the fear that we are somehow not enough. We secretly feel that if people really knew all of our imperfections they would not love us. Much of Western religion, in a distortion of the tradition, has reinforced this feeling: Indeed you are not enough; so aren’t you lucky that God is so wonderful that he loves you anyway…even though you are not enough? This is a love that creates radical dependency and emasculates a human being. Biblical consciousness begins with the statement, “You are enough. You could be more. God is the force within that invites you to be more, as well as the cosmological embrace that loves you as you are.” Even as we strive to grow we need to realize in the depths of our souls that we are enough.

I am grateful. Therefore I AM.

Marc Gafni

Essay on Gratitude by Dr. Marc Gafni2023-06-19T11:05:01-07:00

Audio Dialogue with Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni on Evil

Dr. Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber meet by phone regularly to discuss new thought on a wide range of topics, including the future unfolding of the Center and its initiatives. At the core of their work is key book that is slated for release in the Summer of 2016 on Integral Wisdom or Wake Up – Grow Up – Show Up. This will be the source code book which other books will emerge from and reference.

On this note, we’d like to share a dialogue that will appear in a different form in the book: a beautiful conversation about how the evolved and awake human being engages evil and suffering.

Listen to this vibrant dialogue and read the transcript here:


Audio Dialogue with Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni on Evil2023-06-16T14:34:19-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – Truthclaims

JFKU Unique Self Course – Truthclaims2023-09-12T10:30:04-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – Laughter

JFKU Unique Self Course – Laughter2023-09-12T10:30:04-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – Dharma versus Dogma

JFKU Unique Self Course – Dharma versus Dogma2023-09-12T10:30:04-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person

JFKU Unique Self Course – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person2023-09-12T10:30:04-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – Gnosis

JFKU Unique Self Course – Gnosis2023-09-12T10:30:04-07:00

JFKU Unique Self Course – Bliss

JFKU Unique Self Course – Bliss2023-09-12T10:30:05-07:00

Marc Gafni: Videos & Summary on Healing the Gap between Feeling & Healing

One of the core tenets of an Integral Planet, the Emergence Project, and a World Spirituality Based on Integral Principles is to be All In for All Life.

To be All In for All Life, you’ve got to be willing to participate in the pain, to wake up and feel it. But what we’ve done is numb ourselves to the pain to the point where we have become comfort. Comfort is the opposite of pain.

So we are never awake. Pain and pleasure are related. Pain is the pain of loneliness, alienation, starvation. It is the pain of a world desperately crying out to be heard. Millions of voices are subsisting below the poverty line. It is disconnected from itself, separated from a vision of meaning and a shared spiritual language.

We must be willing to engage with it, beginning with the immense physical pain of people on this earth as well as animals. You cannot be All In for All Life if you spend your waking hours anaesthetizing yourselves to the pain. Love, joy, and creativity can’t be realized through a spiritual and ethical bypass of the pain; they have to move through and transmute the pain.

To be All In for All Life is to engage the pain in a way that is transformative. Why do people shut down? How do you engage the pain in a way that doesn’t make you mad? These are the questions we will be engaging in the next parts.


Marc Gafni: Videos & Summary on Healing the Gap between Feeling & Healing2023-07-30T06:36:20-07:00

Tears and Transformation: Toward the Redemption of a Crying God

Excerpted from Chapters 1, 10, and 11 of Reclaiming Rosh Hashanah: The Dance of Tears (forthcoming, Integral Publishers)

Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography

Summary: In this essay, excerpted from Marc Gafni’s forthcoming publication Reclaiming Rosh Hashanah: The Dance of Tears, we encounter biblical myth character Rachel and her three levels of tears of transformation: human empathy for the suffering of other human beings, human empathy for the pain of God, and empathy of God for man. These three strands of Rachel’s tears form “a sacred circle of nondual love,” according to Marc in this passage. Furthermore, these tears of redemption express a core idea in Hebrew wisdom: “The human being, by engaging the Rachel archetype and entering into the pain of the Shechina in exile, can “through his tears” realize his ontic identity with the Shechina herself, and in this very realization, be aroused to great compassion and achieve redemption.” This excerpt introduces the mystical techniques of the crying of transformation and the transformation of crying. It is by accessing these tears that we offer redemption for a crying God.

In order to fully appreciate the nature of Rosh Hashanah theatre and the dance of tears, it is necessary to point out the implicit distinction between this biblical form of holy day theatre and the concept of theatre inherited by western civilization from ancient Greece. In classical Greek theatre, the operative principle was Aristotle’s understanding of catharsis. Catharsis for Aristotle meant the purging of the emotions.


Tears and Transformation: Toward the Redemption of a Crying God2023-06-16T14:37:49-07:00
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