ErosValue: Early Thoughts – Dr. Marc Gafni

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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

Story as a First Principle and First Value of Reality

By Dr. Marc Gafni

 This is an early draft of an essay, written by Dr. Marc Gafni. It is part of Volume Two of a forthcoming six-volume book series, The Universe: A Love Story, by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Zachary Stein with Barbara Marx Hubbard. 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 this Essay

We often speak of three great questions of CosmoErotic Humanism.

The first is Who—as in Who am I? Who are You? Who are We? This is the great question of identity.

The second question is WhatWhat do I really want? What is my deepest heart desire? These inquiries are closely linked to the great question of normativity. What is there for me to do? What is there for you to do? What is there for us to do? What ought I do? What ought we do?

The third question, the one which we want to focus on here is WhereWhere am I? Where are You? Where are We? This is the question of Universe Story. In CosmoErotic Humanism, we respond to the Where question with the following series of brief, precisely formulated sentences:

Reality is not merely a fact.

Reality is also a story.

Reality is not an ordinary story.

Reality is a love story.

Reality is not an ordinary love story.

Reality is an Outrageous Love Story, or what we might also call an Evolutionary Love Story.

An Outrageous Love Story is not a pollyannish love story. Rather, an Outrageous Love Story embraces the full ecstasy and agony of life.

“Reality is a Love Story” applies to the narrative arc of the Whole—all of Reality, in its sequenced movement, contingency, and freedom in the context of telos and plotline.

YOUR love story is chapter and verse of the Universe: A Love Story.

Your Unique Self intimately participates in the Love Story of Reality.

One of the key purposes of the writings of CosmoErotic Humanism is to validate every phrase in these sentences, based on the validated insights at the frontiers of human gnosis as found in the exterior and interior sciences across space and time. More specifically, we are engaged in synergizing traditional (premodern), modern, and postmodern Principles and Stories of Value into a new grammar and Story of Value that is greater than the sum of all previous stories or plotlines.

Here we will focus particularly on the elements and dimensions of Story. The series of sentences featured above points towards what we are calling the narrative arc of Reality.

Our point is that Story is not a mere human contrivance that developed and survived because of its adaptive power. Rather, the adaptive power of Story is rooted in its fundamental, ontological status. Reality itself is stories all the way down the evolutionary chain. Said differently, Story is a First Principle and First Value of Reality. Human beings think and feel in stories because this first Value of Reality lives in us, as us, and through us. And here we are referring to the anthro-ontological Principle that lies at the very heart of the epistemological method of CosmoErotic Humanism.

The First Principle and First Value of Story is implicit in both the interior and the exterior sciences. To approach this First Principle, we need to pause and briefly unpack four implicit elements that apply to every manner of Story all the way down and all the way up the evolutionary chain, through all levels of matter, life, and the depths of the self-reflective human mind. It will then become apparent that these core elements of Story are at play throughout all of Reality, across space and time.

The Four Elements of Story

The first element of Story is a thread of action, in which events and dynamics are causally connected to each other. (more…)

Story as a First Principle and First Value of Reality2024-03-27T07:03:03-07:00

Foreword by Howard Bloom – The Future of Relationships

Foreword by Howard Bloom

Forthcoming book: The Intimate Universe by Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Marc Gafni

To understand the book you hold in your hands, you have to understand two people: Barbara Marx Hubbard and Marc Gafni. Both of them are magic.

To reveal that magic, let me first tell you the tale of how I met Barbara Marx Hubbard, who was later to introduce me to Marc. It was 2005, and I was at a space conference at the Airport Sheraton in Los Angeles. This was not a conference I’d wanted to attend. I’d been pressured into showing up by people from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Space Society. Why had I refused to go? At first, I had been too embarrassed to explain.  The fact was that I only attend conferences where I’m speaking. There’s a reason. If I am just  another face in the crowd, that fact depresses me.

I told that to Feng Hsu, the senior risk analyst from NASA who had made himself part of the pressuring team. Feng volunteered to fly up from Houston to keep me company. And he made a promise. He would assign another babysitter to me, David Livingston, the host of the Space Show. Livingston, he assured me, had heard every one of my broadcasts on the highest rated overnight talk radio show in North America, Coast to Coast, was a huge fan, and knew everyone in the space community. Feng was not kidding around. Not only did he team up with me when we attended lectures and peppered the lecturers with questions or criticism, but David Livingston was a genius at important introductions.


Foreword by Howard Bloom – The Future of Relationships2023-06-17T08:23:32-07:00

First Principles & First Values: Toward a Universal Grammar of Meaning in a Time Between Worlds – A White Paper

Living in the Tao: Toward a Global Ethos for a Global Civilization




First Principles & First Values: Toward a Universal Grammar of Meaning in a Time Between Worlds – A White Paper2023-06-17T12:21:06-07:00

Towards a New Narrative of Identity: First Principles of Unique Self Realization (Dr. Marc Gafni)

First 4 Chapters of the Book Your Unique Self

Ken Wilber writes about Your Unique Self:

DR. MARC GAFNI’S INTEGRAL UNIQUE SELF TEACHING IS SEMINAL. What you hold in your hands is a radically exciting and ground-breaking book that will change forever not only how you think about enlightenment, but how you understand, from a post-metaphysical perspective, the very nature of human life itself. The Unique Self work is magnificent, and it belongs among the “great books.” It offers what may arguably be one of the most significant contemporary evolutions of enlightenment teaching. Unique Self brings together East and West in a higher integral embrace of stunning implications. Unique Self is a pivotal step toward an authentic Enlightenment.

Read the essay below or download the PDF.

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Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment

Underlying the vision behind democracy is the recognition that every individual has dignity, adequacy and worth. This democratic understanding of the worth and standing of the individual lies at the core of what the West calls enlightenment. The Western idea of enlightenment, rooted in the great vision of the Biblical prophets, is generally understood to have entered mainstream consciousness through the political democratic movements of the mid 18th century. Western enlightenment is primarily concerned with the democratization of political power. Classical enlightenment, sometimes called Eastern enlightenment because it was greatly emphasized in the East, is about the individual merging into the greater one. The appearance of separate self is an illusion, which must be overcome as the individual realizes that one is really not separate at all but part of the one. The goal of Eastern enlightenment is moving beyond the grasping ego and desperately seeking separate self by attaining a state of consciousness in which the illusion of separateness was dissolved in the greater one. This path of classical enlightenment is seen as the path beyond suffering. Unique Self enlightenment brings the Eastern and Western understandings about enlightenment together, into a higher Integral World Spirituality embrace. Unique Self enlightenment is based on your commitment to transcend separate self into the one, even as you realize that that essence sees through your unique perspective. Unique Self opens the door to the potential democratization of enlightenment. To awaken to your Unique Self is to be lived as God, which, in truth, means to be lived as love.
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Towards a New Narrative of Identity: First Principles of Unique Self Realization

by Dr. Marc Gafni (An Excerpt from Your Unique Self)

Foreword by Ken Wilber

MARC GAFNI’S INTEGRAL UNIQUE SELF TEACHING IS SEMINAL. What you hold in your hands is a radically exciting and ground-breaking book that will change forever not only how you think about enlightenment, but how you understand, from a post-metaphysical perspective, the very nature of human life itself. The Unique Self work is magnificent, and it belongs among the “great books.” It offers what may arguably be one of the most significant contemporary evolutions of enlightenment teaching. Unique Self brings together East and West in a higher integral embrace of stunning implications. Unique Self is a pivotal step toward an authentic Enlightenment.

The teaching in this book has been evolved primarily by Marc Gafni for over three decades and draws from his own realization, insight, and the enlightenment lineage in which he stands. In Gafni’s reading of this lineage, brilliantly articulated in his three-volume opus, Radical Kabbalah: The Enlightenment Teaching of Unique Self, Nondual Humanism and the Wisdom of Solomon, (forthcoming) which I read in several highly excited nights, Unique Self is a nondual realization of Unique Perspective. This realization  expresses itself both as the Unique Perspective on a text and as the Unique Perspective of the realized individual—what Gafni terms, in Lainer’s thought, the Judah Archetype, whose perspective is a unique incarnation of unmediated divinity and therefore overrides  all previous text, including even the Torah itself. In essence, the realized individual, whose True Self has been disclosed, expresses that True Self through his or her Unique Perspective—what Gafni originally termed “Unique Self.” Hence, what Gafni calls the nondual humanism of Unique Self is rooted in this equation, in my wording:

True Self + Perspective = Unique Self.

Unique Self brilliantly articulates the idea that within each of us is a post-egoic nondual realization of unique perspective, a unique incarnation of unmediated divinity. The Unique Self re-inhabits all the natural capacities of the human body-mind and all its multiple intelligences. It embraces its capacity for math, for music, for introspection, for love and interpersonal connection—all the talents and capacities given to human beings—with- out dismissing the True Self, the One Spirit condition that connects us all. Unique Self drenches and permeates the entire system of what is known as Eastern and Western forms of enlightenment.

The full crystallization of this New Enlightenment/Unique Self teaching that Dr. Gafni initiated, in which he and I have partnered, emerged through a series of many important dialogues that we had over nearly a decade. Through these dialogues, a highly significant new chapter in Integral Theory has emerged. These conversations were coupled with intensive dis- course that Marc and I had with other leading Integral Spiritual teachers and thinkers, including, initially, Diane Hamilton in a catalytic role and later Sally Kempton. World Spirituality based on Integral principles is an entirely new lineage—a trans-path path. Unique Self models the emergent World Spirituality based on Integral principles in that it includes all the good stuff of previous paths, but adds a whole new level of emergence. And that is something that is extraordinary, historic, and not to be denied.

A Note to the reader



Please do not skip this note. It will guide you through the book.

There are two different ways to read this book. Let’s call them Track One and Track Two. The first track is simply to follow the order of the chapters. The advantage of this approach is that Part One and Two unpack the core enlightenment teachings that ground the rest of the book. However— and this will be important for readers primarily interested in the practical application of these teachings—you can also choose to take another road through the book. Read the first three chapters, which will take you about one hour. Then, skip directly to Parts Three, Four and Five, which contain the chapters immediately applicable to your day-to-day life. These are the chapters on sacred autobiography, living your story, love, shadow, sexing, joy, evolutionary relationships and much more. Once you’ve read these, you can circle back and read the core framework teachings on Unique Self enlightenment in Parts One and Two, which will add profound depth to your understanding and embodiment of the latter part of the book.

Each part of this book deals in depth with a different dimension of Unique Self:

Part One lays down the core teaching or model of Unique Self enlightenment.

Part Two places the Unique Self model in a larger evolutionary context and unpacks a global vision of what it means to live your “evolutionary Unique Self.”

Part Three teaches you what it means to live your story and incarnate the infinite dignity of your sacred autobiography—or a Unique Letter in the evolving cosmic scroll.

Part Four deploys the Unique Self teaching toward a radical re-under- standing of Love, Joy, and Shadow in our lives. The sections of love and the two chapters on shadow are key as they significantly evolve our understanding of shadow integration, which is presently an essential but profoundly misunderstood dimension of the spiritual path.

Part Five offers a critical new understanding of sexuality and relation- ships in light of Unique Self. The section on sexing presents a new map of six forms of sexing, which re-orients and deepens the sexual in a significant way. The chapter on Unique Self encounters outlines seven principles of evolutionary Unique Self meetings, and it re-visions the essential nature and skill of all relationships.

Part Six deploys the Unique Self model in relation to parenting, malice, and death in a way that fundamentally changes our understanding of all three. And finally, the Epilogue places the realization of Unique Self in the context of the emergence of a Global Spirituality based on Integral principles.

Please use the table of contents and index. They are very detailed and will be helpful to you in identifying a particular topic you are called to or in finding a particular section after you have finished your first reading.

Last, there is a footnote section in the back that is particularly important for those interested in Integral Theory as it relates to Unique Self. If you are not a theory person or an academic intellectual type just skip the foot- notes. You do not need footnotes to get the point of the book. However, for those of you, myself included, who love footnotes, know that the footnotes contain academic and intellectual citations as well as deeper dives into the sources, the intellectual history of Unique Self, and the broader context of the conversation.


Towards a New Narrative of Identity: First Principles of Unique Self Realization (Dr. Marc Gafni)2023-10-17T07:56:58-07:00

Dr. Marc Gafni: 26 Distinctions Between Ego and Unique Self 

An Excerpt from the Book by Dr. Marc Gafni Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism: Two Models and Why They Matter (Integral Publishers, 2014)

The primary critique of Unique Self teaching, leveled by students of Authentic Self in all of its names—for example, evolutionary self—is that Unique Self is but a clever front for ego. Or that even if it is not actually identical with ego, it can all to easily be hijacked by the ego. The latter is a fair and important point. However, the same critique might be just as easily leveled at the clarion call to identify with the evolutionary impulse which lies at the heart of both Unique and Authentic Self teachings. (The difference, as we have already noted, is that in the Authentic Self-teaching, the evolutionary impulse is wholly impersonal, while in the Unique Self teaching, the evolutionary impulse at its core is expressed only personally through you as the personal face of the process). It is all too easy for the ego to hijack the evolutionary impulse as a fig leaf for every manner of ego’s misdeed. Indeed, this is not a theoretical concern, but a sadly well-proved truth as the history of the evolutionary movements show. The grandchildren of Hegel’s evolutionary teaching, communism primary among them, deployed the evolutionary imperative to cover every form of heinous crime against humanity. And yet, that does not invalidate the sacred power of the evolutionary impulse, just as the crimes committed in the name of Christ do not deconstruct the truth and beauty of Christ consciousness, nor does the atom bomb disqualify the nobility of the humanist creative urge born of the new scientific paradigm. Nor does the fact that ego might hijack Unique Self lessen the critical nature of Unique Self realization. All goods may be hijacked. We must, therefore, guard against the hijacking, but we must not refuse to fly. To guard against the conflation of ego and Unique Self, it is necessary to clearly discern between these two very different states and stages of consciousness. Below, I offer the beginning of a discussion of just such a set of discernment.

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Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism

Two major works have been written within the framework of Integral Wisdom about the nature of Self and God. While they share important features, namely the evolutionary context of the conversation and a vision of Self beyond Ego, their interior visions of the quality of the Self beyond Ego are profoundly different.
Both of these visions of Self, or key dimensions of the two versions, have been adopted, directly and indirectly by many spiritual teachers. In Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism, Marc Gafni articulates the two models, their shared features and their differences, and as we seek to articulate an Integral Wisdom, why these differences matter so desperately.

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Dr. Marc Gafni: 26 Distinctions Between Ego and Unique Self 2023-09-12T10:03:49-07:00

Malice: The Denial of the Unique Self Encounter

An Excerpt from Your Unique Self by Dr. Marc Gafni

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The opposite of a Unique Self encounter is an encounter motivated by malice. Malice manifests as both the denial of, and the attempt to destroy, the Unique Self of the other. The desperate attempt to destroy the Unique Self of an other is based, paradoxically, on a primal recognition of the other’s Unique Self, and a feeling that somehow the other’s self makes one less, or not enough.

Most of the literature of the human potential movement and its daughter, the new age movement, ignores or even denies malice. But you cannot skip malice if you want to truly understand and practice love. Love is a Unique Self perception that creates pleasure and joy in its wake. Malice is a Unique Self distortion that creates envy and hatred in its wake.

Malice is a verb in the same way that love is a verb. however, it is essential to remind you that being aroused to malice does not mean that you let yourself be seduced by the arousal. You have every ability to clarify your arousal and transmute it into goodness and love. The kinds of people that might arouse you to malice are:

  • People who remind you that you are not living your Unique Self.
  • People who you think, by their very existence, are taking away your ability to let the radiance of your Unique Self shine in the world.
  • People you believe stand in the way of you fulfilling your Unique Self.

In these situations you will be sorely tempted—if you think you can get away with it—to seek to destroy their Unique Self in order to cover up the inchoate yet agonizing pain of your disconnection from your personal essence.

Know in advance that you will experience great resistance to this teaching. Your  primal,  desperate  desire  is  to  deny  any  connection  between yourself and malice. it may be that you have never acted it out. This is good. or you may be one of the people that M. Scott peck describes in his book People of the Lie. I have called them people of malice. people of malice are people whose own early pain has made them evil in the way that they act in the world. The core expression of people of malice is that they attack, undermine, or demonize others, instead of facing their own failure. The attack may be subtle or overt. However, it is always covered by the sophisticated fig leaf of respectability, or even by noble motives.

You may know someone like this; they seem respectable, even noble, yet underneath the veneer, they have wreaked brutal destruction—often on those who were or are in their closest circles of intimacy. This might include parents driven by malice toward their children, an employer toward an employee or the converse, friends and colleagues, a teacher toward a student, or a student or group of students toward a powerful teacher. Their malice is almost always covert. Echoing Milan Kundera, it would be correct to say, “Since malice can never reveal its true motivation, it must plead false ones.” Leading British psychoanalyst Joseph Berke informs us that malice is to moderns what sex was to Victorians. It is to be repressed at any price. it is an obsession, best denied, avoided, or forgotten. The perpetrators of malice often claim to be “protecting” some imagined victim from harm. If you even suggest they might have any other motivation that is less than the pure mask they don in the world, they are outraged. There is nothing the people of malice fear more than having the lie of their motivation or the ugliness of their hidden machinations exposed. There is a ferocity to malice. This makes it intuitively frightening for people to confront. so most people withdraw into the shade of their own cowardice, covering their coward’s tracks with well-reasoned and plausible disclaimers.

Often the coward finds it easier to energetically join with the movement of malice than to oppose it. This is the worst and most deplorable form of laziness, albeit one of the most common, even if hidden from the public eye. It might take the form of blaming the victim or exaggerating their responsibility. If in some sense “he had it coming,” it is easier to rationalize joining the executors of malice than it is to arouse the discernment and courage necessary to oppose them.

In the great spiritual traditions, much of the judgment after our death about who we were in this world, as well as the greatest creator of karma, is related to how we behaved when confronted with malice that was disguised as a righteous cause. Did we speak truth to power? Or did we cleverly disguise our cowardice with a thousand rationalizations, even as the Unique Self of your friend, colleague, or teacher was thrown under a bus?

Malice Is Painfully Private, Publicly Dangerous

Let’s look more closely now at the phenomenon of malice, so you will be able to identify it clearly. It is absolutely necessary to liberate the world from malice. As you read, keep in your heart that malice is a poison that threatens the blooming of Unique Self more than anything.

Malice operates through a simple four-stage process: Malice (1) Per- ceives genuine flaws, (2) Exaggerates or distorts them, (3) Minimizes the good in the attacked person’s character, and (4) Absurdly and insidiously identifies the person with their distorted caricatures, painted by the purveyors of malice themselves.

The internal perception of malice operating in you or your friend is the same as love, for malice is love’s opposite. Just as love is Unique Self perception, malice is Unique Self distortion. The malice-motivated distortion happens in two ways. First, you might see the Unique Self of the other, but since that image provokes the pain of your own lack, you try to tear it down. Or second, distortion might mean that you cannot see—you see only distorted images of the other—you have lost the ability to see with God’s eyes.

In malice you sense the awareness of something provoking you as either an unbearable feeling of intense pleasure or as a “grenvious” vexation. “Grenvy,” a term coined by Joseph Berke, is the ill-fated brew of greed and envy that produces the potion of malice.

Malice elicits forceful attacking and even what psychologists in the field have called annihilating behavior. Malice is not connected with legitimate causes at its core—it always hides behind them. it is painfully private, yet when it bursts out of control, it is publicly dangerous in the extreme. It is fed by what Berke calls a distorted “inner world of fact and fantasy, brought about by the confused interplay of perception, memory, and imagination.” “There is bad intent that arises in the world; there is intent to hurt and do evil to other people—we have to confront that.” This sadly correct truth was spoken by my beloved friend Ken Wilber several years back in a public dialogue we did on the topic of evil in the world. Ken was responding to a questioner who made the all-too-common argument that all the tragedy that befalls us is ultimately our own creation, and thus we must take 100 percent responsibility for everything that occurs. The new age narcissists cannot bring themselves to bow before the mystery, so they claim all power to themselves.

Of course, more often than not, the hidden agenda is that the victim has no right to be outraged or demand justice. Since the victim is the creator of their own reality, the ones who have been hurt should be taking responsibility. This cleverly lets the inflictor of pain off the hook. The moral context of justice and injustice, right and wrong, and good and evil is undermined by a subtle relativism in which no ethical discernments are genuinely possible. Or, in a related scenario, the abuser themselves claim to have been abused, thus legitimizing the pain inflicted by them on the true victim. This type of claim is one of the most aggressive and insidious disguises of malice.

This new age view has found a strange bedfellow in distorted American presentations of Theravada Buddhism. since everything is the result of cause and effect, you must be the creator of everything in your reality. If you take total, 100 percent responsibility for everything, you will find your way to spiritual depth and maturity. so the popular dharma goes.

This view is not all wrong. It is in fact a powerful and desperately needed  antidote  to  the  victim  culture  that  so  pervades  much  of  the american spiritual scene. We have been ushered into a new world where any hurt party claims victimhood and uses the claim to inflict all manner of abuse. This often comes together with an abdication of responsibility and often the filing of some sort of suit or complaint. The filing of a complaint gains the ostensible victim a long list of goods, far beyond finances. attention, focus, community, love, and a feeling of power and aliveness are high on the list. Those who encourage and even instigate false complaints are often driven by hidden or disowned malice.

Often, the true predator is the victim who inflicts cruelty and pain on their alleged tormentor to a degree far greater than whatever imagined or even genuine hurt the victim themselves may have felt. Disguised as the victim, the true predator receives the communal love and support. The true victim, cast as the predator, is debased, dehumanized, and ostracized in a thousand cruel ways.

In this context, it needs to be said that while the Buddhist teaching, with its demand for self-responsibility, is a desperately needed and crucial counterweight to the abdication of responsibility through the false claim to victim status, it is only part of the story. At the same time, what is clear from the scenario of false complaints is that self-responsibility is no more than a partial truth. Whenever something happens, you must identify what part you played in creating the conditions that allowed for suffering to occur. You may have contributed 5 or 50 percent to the system. even if you have only 5 percent responsibility, you must take 100 percent responsibility for your 5 percent. But not more. The other part of the story is often the malice of other players in the situation.

Taking total responsibility is actually a disguised form of hubris. it is a refusal to give up control. in this case, the control is maintained precisely through “taking responsibility.” But your insistence on being the sole creator of your reality ignores the larger creative field of which you are but one small part. it ignores the greater evolutionary intelligence at work in and through your life. it ignores the mystery, and blithely dismisses all other people in the story as but supporting actors in your narcissistic control drama.

Total control of your life in the form of total responsibility is not an expression of spirit—quite the opposite. it is one of the more clever disguises of the narcissistic ego.

What is appropriate is for you to identify your contribution, if any, to creating the conditions that led to your suffering. You can and must take 100 percent responsibility for your part. This, however, is a more nuanced, sacred, and humble posture than 100 percent responsibility for everything.

This posture bows before the mystery, even as it recognizes the possibility of malice.

The Murder of Christ

Humans seek the death and destruction of others, even as we seek their happiness. Both drives and both voices exist in every person who lives in the separate self of the ego. We think that malice only appears “out there,” that it does not show up in respectable or polite society. Sadly, this is completely untrue. lynch mobs manifest in many and varied ways. The prime movers in lynch mobs are energetically attracted to each other. They find each other. They move in unison, almost always hiding their own malice, even from each other. They are drawn to the lynch party to partner in destroying the common energetic emotional threat.

Freud’s brilliant student and colleague, Wilhelm Reich, called this not-uncommon phenomenon “the murder of Christ.” The  murder of Christ is the attempt to murder life force. All sorts of reasons justify the crucifixion. A thousand demonizations build the cross. The murderers support each other, often outdoing one another in their maligning of Christ. “see, he is calling himself Christ,” they say, in order to give evidence of his narcissism.

Remember that  malice  is  sourced  in  Unique  self  distortion.  This  is the matrix of the endless cycle of demonizing by those disconnected from their daemon and incapable of owning their demon. They lack the spiritual courage to name what moves them in their breast, which is that “he,” the always-flawed Christ they seek to destroy, has a light that threatens their light. He has an appeal, a draw, that is different from theirs. They cannot explain it. so they seek out his imperfections, magnify them a hundredfold, distort and add some major dose of lies for good measure, and the necessary mix for murder is set. hidden envy, jealousy, and greed are the basic ingredients necessary to conjure the witches’ brew.

This is the source of the “Foul Whisp’rings . . . abroad” that Shakespeare saw as the source of villainy and even murder. as author Philip Roth describes it:

The  whispering  campaign  that  cannot  be  stopped,  rumors it’s impossible to quash . . . slanderous stories to belittle your professional qualifications, derisive reports of your business deceptions and your perverse aberrations, outraged polemics denouncing your moral failings, misdeeds, and faulty character traits—your shallowness, your vulgarity, your cowardice . . . your falseness, your selfishness, your treachery. Derogatory information. Defamatory statements. insulting witticisms. Disparaging anecdotes. idle mockery. Bitchy chatter. Galling wisecracks.

It is in this regard that Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, “It is certain that envy is the worst sin that is: for all others sin against one virtue, whereas envy is against all virtue and all goodness.”

The Evil Eye

Envy, as we saw earlier, is often the envy of an other’s Unique Self, which reminds you of your own unlived life. Envy that motivates malice is directly related to what has been called through history the evil eye. The evil eye is not a superstition, but an inner trait of black character. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “the evil eye is affected by strong imagination of the soul and corrupts and poisons the atmosphere so that tender bodies that come within its range may be injuriously affected.” Envy then partners with greed, which is an “insatiable desire to take for him what another possesses.” It is motivated by a ruthless acquisitiveness, which is publicly denied.

A greedy person is concerned with possessing. An envious person is obsessed with that which they do not possess. Often greed and envy come together in “grenvy.” Berke’s work remains the most insightful analysis of the inner dynamics that animate people of malice. According to Berke, for the envious person, the “goodness must not be preserved, only attacked, spoiled, and destroyed.”

The first stage of envy is often idealization. The idealization, however, cannot last. it arouses too much anguish in the heart of the envier. Therefore, the reverse process sets in. Denigration, equally extreme and unrealistic, follows idealization. This is done to mitigate the anguish of the previous perception. So the elephant becomes a midge, the palm tree becomes a toadstool, and a cloth coat turns into a rag. A kind of hysteria sets in, and there is a refusal to see any goodness at all in the person attacked.

The distorting impact on awareness shows up not only in the envier, but also in the envied. The envied often engages in two forms of self-deception: the envied person idealizes their envier, which is not that hard because often they were once loved by their envier; or they shut down in order to avoid the pain engendered by the awareness of the envy.

One of the demarcating characteristics of malice is its intense cruelty. King David writes in Psalms, “Many have risen against me,” and he goes on to describe in exquisitely accurate detail the dynamics of deception and self-deception that guide the ostensibly respectable lynch mob disguised by the fig leaf of the “noble cause.” In Joseph Berke’s incisive formulation, “The politics of envy culminates in the effective disguise of individual or collective enmity and its expression through political relationships or institutional decisions that are ostensibly virtuous.”

When an individual in the mob is confronted, they refer to “all of us,” or say, “There are many people throughout this life who say this,” and the like, ignoring the fact that the righteous and disgruntled always attract each other.

The philosopher Socrates is perhaps the most notable victim of the “slander and envy of the many,” including, of course, the political and religious establishment of his day. all of them nodded knowingly to each other, demonizing Socrates even as they—in their collective pathology—denied any suggestion of their own envy being a motivating force, discounting this as an absurd and malevolent suggestion that did not deserve serious rebuttal.

The envy of the “successful one” by students, teachers, and colleagues was much more forthrightly recognized in older cultures. among the Khoikhoi people of South Africa, if a hunter has scored a great kill, he is sent to his hut until the village elder calls on him. he is then placed in the center of the circle surrounded by his fellow hunters, who literally piss on him. In this way, a legitimate outlet is created for the enviers to express their discontent and even rage.

If this seems culturally hard to grasp, just note the same custom in Western culture. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish tradition, when the priest offers sacrifice to the divine in the temple, a sacrifice to the “other side” is offered as well. The psychological premise is that shadow must first be owned in the person of the individual and the community before it can be transmuted and atoned for.

Envy  corrupts  and  corrodes  love.  It  turns  good  into  bad.  in Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago accomplishes this by a lethal mixture of slander and duplicity, a process of bad-mouthing and backstabbing. Envious revenge is fueled by hidden arrogance, unyielding aggression, and pride. It is based on distorted or exaggerated hurts rather than significant injury. The envier, in their internal self, considers only their accomplishments in comparison to the one envied. Envy, at its core, is grasping for Unique Self. Envious destructiveness is deliberate. The envious person denies goodwill or love toward the object of their ire. What they want to do is remove the bilious anger and bitter vindictiveness that lurks just beneath their surface self. Their surface self appears more often than not as spiritual, and filled with ostensible good intention and light. it is also possible that the surface good intention and light are real. Envy is often a vicious streak in an otherwise decent and even good personality. This is precisely why the malice of seemingly good people is so persuasive. The envious person wants to get rid of the feelings that they vaguely know exist right beneath their surface personality. They violate their own sense of goodness and even righteousness. since he (unconsciously) blames the one he envies for how he feels, he sets out to make him feel bad or appear bad. It is no accident that “evil” is “live” spelled backward. Evil stands against life force. And life force is nowhere more powerful than in the full bloom of Unique Self.

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Malice: The Denial of the Unique Self Encounter2023-09-12T10:01:01-07:00

Common Ground: Your Unique Self: What It Means to Be a Lover … from God’s Eyes

buddha-lilyBy Marc Gafni

Note: The following article appeared in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Common Ground Magazine.

The true nature of your values is always revealed in death. In eulogies, both in what is spoken and unspoken, there is something of the essential nature of your life and loyalties. Sometimes, however, before you die you are strangely privileged to declare where your ultimate loyalty lies.

It was September 11, 2001. The planes had just crashed into the Twin Towers in Manhattan. Victims had moments to use their cellphones. No one called asking for revenge. No one offered philosophical explanations or profound insights into the nature of reality. People did one thing and one thing only: they called the people close to their hearts to say, “I love you.”

“I love you” is our declaration of faith. Implicit in those words is everything holy. Yet we no longer know what we mean when we say it.

It used to mean, “I am committed to you. I will live with you forever.” Or it might have meant, “You are the most important person in my life.”

But it no longer seems to mean that. And when you no longer understand your own deepest declarations of love, you are lost. You become alienated from love, which is your home. Despair, addiction, and numbness become your constant companions.

To read the entire article, download it as a PDF file.

Common Ground: Your Unique Self: What It Means to Be a Lover … from God’s Eyes2023-09-12T10:03:27-07:00
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