Unique Self Institute

On the difference between Unique Self and Authentic Self

Spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen and Dr. Marc Gafni share a vision of a Self beyond Ego.  However, their interior visions of the quality of that Self 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. These two models, their shared features, and their differences are the topic of  Dr. Gafni’s book, Self In Integral Evolutionary Spirituality, in which he articulates why–as we seek to articulate an Integral Wisdom–these differences matter so desperately. Dr. Gafni summarized the basic points of his book in the following article:

I have been asked numerous times to clarify the relationship between Authentic Self (in the teaching of my colleague and friend Andrew Cohen) and my teaching of Unique Self. Honorable dharmic dialogue rooted in a search for the deepest possible truth which is emergent from a matrix of mutual love and respect is hugely important. We have lost the art of such dialogue because for so many of us, ideas, dharma, worldviews, and their implications, have ceased to matter. Happily, part and parcel of the reconstructive project implicit in Evolutionary, Integral and World Spiritualities is the possibility of a new post-metaphysical integral worldview which is embracing, illuminating and evolving. To the extent that worldviews matter, and I believe they matter vitally, fleshing out the core paradigms is of vital importance. I have very briefly addressed this issue in scattered footnotes throughout Your Unique Self. Further conversation in this regard within the context of this work would have taken us far astray from our core purposes. To better serve the task, however, I wrote a book Self In Integral Evolutionary Spirituality, which outlines, from my perspective, the core parallels, core distinctions – and why they matter – between Authentic Self and Unique Self teachings.

In this space I offer only a very brief formulaic set of equations, which summarizes in concise form the basic points of the book. Virtually all citations in the equations are drawn from the most recent official statement of Authentic Self teaching in Andrew Cohen’s book Evolutionary Enlightenment. All the subsequent citations in the Unique Self equation are drawn from Marc Gafni, Your Unique Self, The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment. All constructive and loving critique, which will further clarify the teachings, is most welcome.

1) The Level of Personal Self in the Authentic Self Teaching

Ego = personal = separate self = individuated self sense = uniqueness = unique self sense = special = narcissist personality = inauthentic – merely personal = personal prism = secondary = external sheath = personal drama = petty personal = not you = personal which is, “if not irrelevant, secondary’’ to process = personal which is “outer sheath” = relative = past = little or no choice = culturally conditioned = relative

2) The Level of Impersonal Self in the Authentic Self Teaching

You = impersonal I = authentic self = impersonal evolutionary impulse = impersonal process = absolute = truth of impersonality – impersonal creativity = primary = heroic impersonal = courageous = beyond ego = thrilling = future = eros = eros of evolutionary impulse = god = eros of impersonal process = god = metaphor = no god outside of you = you = personal self is an illusion, result of conditioning = choice only at the level of the impersonal = impersonal process = god does not care about your personal self = god = metaphor for impersonal = cares only about your contribution to the impersonal process = your personal needs are irrelevant or at least secondary to the process = you are not special

3) Personal and Impersonal in Unique Self Teaching

Unique Self enlightenment includes both the impersonal {True Self} and the personal face of Essence which is the personal that appears beyond the impersonal. The core distinction is between the personal that appears before the impersonal True Self has been realized, and the Personal that emerges after True Self has been realized, namely Unique Self.

Evolutionary Emergent of Unique Self = Personal Face of Essence = Essence Beyond Ego = Distinction between personal at level of ego and Personal beyond True Self = Personal after Emptiness = there is no impersonal self anyplace in the manifest world = the impersonal is an illusion = the impersonal always appears personally in the manifest world = specialness beyond ego = courageous = God having a Marc experience = uniqueness is an irreducible feature of essence = the personal beyond the impersonal = self beyond ego = Form and Emptiness are one = all four quadrants tetra arise = Individuation beyond Ego = Individuation as Enlightenment = the post egoic personal face of the process = the unique post egoic personal incarnation of the evolutionary impulse = Unique Self = eros of unique self = eros = relationship = evolutionary intimacy = partnership with the divine = second face of god = uniqueness = choice fully emergent at the level of Unique Self = Self beyond Ego