on Unique Self
In this excerpt from “Executive Editor’s Note,” published in the March 2011 issue of Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, Sean Esbjörn-Hargens explores the spiritual themes of Unique Self from an academic perspective within the context of integral discourse. He holds that it provides “a powerful way of integrating the enlightenment traditions of the pre-modern East and the modern West.”
By Sean Esbjörn-Hargens
In January 2010, I asked Marc Gafni to serve as Guest Editor of this issue. Given his foundational role in the development of the field of Integral Spirituality and his recent initiative (in collaboration with his partner Mariana Caplan) to create a Center for World Spirituality, he is not only qualified but he is the best person for the job. So it is a real honor to have Marc serve in this role. He is a rare combination of someone who as a rabbi is deeply grounded in a specific religious tradition (Kabbalah), is birthing emergent new forms of evolutionary spirituality, is an expert in Integral Theory, and is an accomplished academic, as his articles in this issue and forthcoming volume from SUNY Press amply illustrate (Gafni, In press).
In alignment with the theme of the first ISE, we decided to have the inaugural issue in this series showcase the Unique Self. Opening the series with the Unique Self is also appropriate in that these teachings, as developed and presented by Marc, represent a truly worldcentric and planetcentric mysticism that provides a powerful way of integrating the enlightenment traditions of the pre-modern East and the modern West. It has been easy for spiritual traditions to embody a states-based Kosmocentrism, but too often it has been a partial embrace that does not fully include a mature stage-based emancipatory worldcentric articulation. I believe this is best explained by the integral distinction of Kosmic state-stages and vision-logic structure-stages. The Unique Self gives equal attention to both. This is another reason why it is fitting to start this series with the Unique Self. One of the defining characteristics of Integral Spirituality, as presented by Ken Wilber (2006) in his book of the same title, is the notion of “dual enlightenment” (i.e., vertical and horizontal enlightenment). Marc’s articulation of Unique Self provides the first sophisticated and mature expression of this “unique” integral position.
About Dr. Sean Esbjörn-Hargens
Sean is a global leader in the application of integrative thinking to leader development, organizational design, and mixed-methods design. In 2011 he founded MetaIntegral a social impact network that supports change leaders around the world in applying integrative principles. Sean’s passion lies at the intersection of design, integral theory, and embodiment. He has published and edited numerous articles, chapters, and books. His most recent book is Metatheory for the Twenty-first Century.