The Unique Self and Nondual Humanism
A Study in the Enlightened Teaching of Mordechai Lainer of Izbica
By Marc Gafni
This article 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 lzbica. After examining and challenging previous scholarship on Lainer, the article reconstructs a theory of individuality from Lainer’s writings, which becomes the lodestone of his nondual humanism. In unpacking Lainers’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 placed in a larger context even as it is distinguished from the intellectual zeitgeist of its time.