GUEST EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION from the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice 6.1 (Dr. Marc Gafni)
In his keynote at the Integral Spiritual Experience, Wilber described Unique Self as ‘something that is extraordinary, and historic, and not to be denied.’ I want to share some of what I see as historic about the Unique Self teaching, and why its birthing has been one of my primary commitments over the last two decades. Unique Self is vitally important because it reclaims the centrality of the personal as a primary category in discourse about the realization of enlightened consciousness. Enlightened consciousness itself is a fundamental category in the integral spiritual discourse because it is the implicit or explicit goal of virtually all of the great spiritual traditions that inform Integral Spirituality. … The myth of a community shapes the norms of a community, even if only partially realized.
The Unique Self and Nondual Humanism (Dr. Marc Gafni)
A Study in the Enlightened Teaching of Mordechai Lainer of Izbica
This essay outlines one of the key sources in the great traditions for the integral teaching of Unique Self. The Unique Self is rooted in what is termed as nondual or acosmic humanism of a particular strain in Hebrew mysticism, as expressed in the teachings of Hasidic master Mordechai Lainer of Izbica. After examining and challenging previous scholarships on Lanier, the article reconstructs a theory of individuality from Lainer’s writings, which becomes the lodestone of his nondual humanism. In unpacking Lainer’s metaphysics of individuality, his ontological understanding of will, Torah, name, and uniqueness, the framework of the Unique Self teaching become clear. The article then reconstructs two matrices of sources from the intellectual history of Kabbalah, which serve as possible precedents to Lainer’s Unique Self teaching in the older traditions of Kabbalah. The article then outlines the seven core principles of acosmic humanism that are incarnate in the typology of Unique Self that appears in Lainer’s writing (in what is termed the Judah archetype). Finally, Lainer’s view is places in a larger context even as it is distinguished from the intellectual zeitgeist of its time.
THE EVOLUTIONARY EMERGENT OF UNIQUE SELF: A New Chapter in Integral Theory (Dr. Marc Gafni)
This article outlines the basic teachings of a new chapter in Integral Theory: the postmetaphysical evolutionary emergence of Unique Self. The article begins by contextualizing the Unique Self conversation within a larger discussion on individuality and traces the emergence of the Unique Self teachings through the life and writings of the author. The core Western understanding of individuality and its affirmation of the dignity of the separate self is contrasted with the Eastern teaching of dissolution of the small self, before both are integrated into a higher integral embrace through a new understanding of Unique Self. This article elucidates how the teachings of Unique Self fundamentally change the classical enlightenment paradigm through the assertion that enlightenment has a unique perspective, which might be termed the “personal face of essence.” Perspective taking, which emerges from enlightened consciousness, is rooted in the ontological pluralism that lies at the core of the Hebrew textual tradition. The new enlightenment teaching of Unique Self therefore rests on a series of integral discernments between separateness and uniqueness, ego and Unique Self, and personal and impersonal man. The Unique Self teaching suggests a new understanding of enlightenment through intersubjective love; the Unique Self perception is then set within an evolutionary context of being and becoming, in which it is seen to express one’s response to the personal address of the evolutionary God impulse itself. In this sense, Unique Self is understood to be an essential chapter in the emergence of a truly evolutionary mysticism.
UNIQUE SELF AS IT UNFOLDS OVER THE ARC OF DEVELOPMENT from the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice 6.1
A Dialogue with Susanne Cook Greuter and Dr. Marc Gafni
How Unique Self shows up in the developmental spectrum is, from an integral perspective, a critical dimension of the Unique Self inquiry. In addition to addressing this issue in depth in “The Evolutionary Emergent of Unique Self” (pp. 136 in this issue), Marc Gafni engaged in four dialogues with two prominent developmental theorists involved in integral discourse. In two dialogues with Don Beck and two dialogues with Susanne CookGreuter, an initial exploration of Unique Self as seen through their respective developmental models was explored. Below is a transcript of the second dialogue with CookGreuter, in which Susanne and Marc explore the references to uniqueness in Susanne’s writings. What emerges is that Susanne’s empirical research confirms uniqueness as a central emergent property of awareness at higher levels of consciousness.
ON SPIRITUAL TEACHERS AND TEACHINGS from the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice 6.1 (Dr. Zachary Stein)
This article examines the dynamics of authority in educational contexts where teachers and students engage with religious or spiritual subject matter. My aim is to offer a framework that can be used to sort “good” educational relationships of this type from “bad” ones. After positioning the spiritual teacher in the context of eclectic traditions in American moral education, I look into the structure of teacherly authority and into the dynamics of this authority when it is exercised in reli- gious contexts. In the process I tease apart two types of teacherly authority for heuristic purposes, the Classic and the Modern. I discuss their respective liabilities, affordances, and most typical spiri- tual teachings. Finally, I suggest that some contemporary spiritual teachers and teachings may be harbingers of new emerging configurations of religious authority—configurations dubbed Integral. This rough triadic typology—Classic, Modern, and Integral—allows us to critically discuss the kinds of authority assumed by different types of spiritual teachers. Specifically, I use EnlightenNext (An- drew Cohen) and the Center for World Spirituality (Marc Gafni) as case studies, demonstrating how to use the framework I have developed as a way to explore preferable possibilities for the future of religion and the spiritual marketplace.