Unique Self videos series
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 1. Core Teaching of Unique Self
Unique Self is the understanding that you are ultimately unique – not merely at the level of social, psychological, and cultural conditioning, but at the level of Essence. That uniqueness of essence is your Unique Self.
Part 1. Core Teaching of Unique Self
13.7 billion years of evolution conspired in an infinite number of configurations to yield the precision, the gorgeousness, the grandeur of your Unique Self. And Unique Self lives at every level. Check your biology: the unique cellular signature. Take a picture of your immune system. You think that you’re standing next to someone and think that you’re only different in your exterior, but actually your immune system and entire biological signature is a wild ecstatic expression of uniqueness. Uniqueness lives at the biological, uniqueness lives absolutely at the social, cultural, and psychological levels – how you relate to the world at large, what we call the world of form – but Unique Self is more than that: Unique Self is your unique expression of your essence, it’s your unique perspective of your enlightenment.
Your classical enlightenment – your realization that you are one with the all is not that which makes you absorbed oneness which is undifferentiated; even as you become and realize the truth that you are a True Self, what Theravada Buddhists called no-self, beyond ego, beyond separate self, even as you realize the profound emptiness of your being, and I mean emptiness here not in a Western sense but in a spiritual sense, meaning that you are empty of anything which is not full. So you are profoundly full of your essence, and your essence is that you are one with all that is, and the illusion that you are separate, a skin-encapsulated ego is actually incorrect. You realize your essential identity is one that all that is, but your uniqueness does not disappear; quite the contrary, you realize that you are a unique expression of all that is; your Unique Self sees through a unique set of eyes. Not only is your manifest self unique, but your unmanifest self is also unique. Your are unique at every level of your being and becoming: body, soul, and spirit. There is no expression of you which is not a particularized expression of essence — an individualized crying out of the mind of God. Wow. That’s an incredible understanding that changes everything.
This is not a dogmatic understanding, but one that emerges from realization, a deep deployment of the Eye of the Spirit, which is the faculty of perception which takes us into the interior spaces of reality. A deep perception of the Eye of Spirit awakens you to your Unique Self, awakens you to a realization of your infinite specialness, your infinite uniqueness. Your Unique Self Enlightenment is to be able to live that uniqueness fully in the world. Any attempt to be an imitation, any attempt to escape your originality, is the seduction of the ego, the isolated, separated, alienated self struggling to imitate in order to somehow get by. But the actual source of your creativity is your originality. The source of your joy is the delight which emerges from living your unique story. So the invitation of a full-bodied, full-hearted, full-souled, full-spirited enlightenment is to incarnate, to inhabit your Unique Self.
Ultimately your Unique Self is God having a YOU experience … “My name is Marc.” God having a Marc experience is what happens when I am living my Unique Self. When I am caught in ego and imitating, when I am in contraction, when my coiled small self struggling to survive overtakes me, then my Unique Self gets distorted or occluded, but when I inhabit the full gorgeousness of the unique expression of All-That-Is, of the unique expression ofSource that lives in me, as me, and through me, then I awaken to the fullness of my power, my joy, my mind, my heart, my sensuality, my creativity. That is the invitation of Unique Self Enlightenment.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 2. Answering the call
The unique individualized expression of Essence that is you, calls you, invites you to find your vocation—the claiming of your unique voice in the world.
Part 2. Answering the call
What does it mean to answer the call?
To answer the call is to respond to the call that lives in you, as you, and through you, of your Unique Self. The unique individualized expression of essence that is you calls you, invites you to find your vocation—the claiming of your unique voice in the world. To find a voice that is yours, not imitative, you have to inhabit your Unique Perspective.
Your Unique Perspective is your particularized way of looking at the world, the angle at which you look at reality that opens a space of insight open only to you alone. There are shared spaces of insight; we can all look at the same book or bush, but ultimately we are all looking at it from a different angle. We have a common language. Your perspective is inescapable; it is the prism through which you experience reality.
What emerges from your Unique Self / Unique Perspective is a set of pleasures, unique skills that you have in the world, unique proclivities, capacities, all of which come together to reveal Your Unique Gift. It is available to the world through no one else but you. To know that you have a Unique Gift which is desperately needed by All That Is. No one else has the capacity to give that gift. This is a realization that changes everything.
That realization of your Unique Gift—which flows from your Unique Perspective, which is an expression of your Unique Self—creates your Unique Obligation. Obligation is a word that has gotten lost. We think of it as something that is imposed on us by our parents or a church or a culture that we don’t fully identify with. We think of it as imposed by external persons, variables. But at its core it is the unique expression of the love-beauty and love-intelligence that is you…
Obligation is the expression of you fulfilling the gift that is only yours to give, meeting the need that can only be met by you. That’s the joy of enacting your unique obligation. It’s not heavy or burdensome. It can be difficult or challenging, but it creates in you a sense of joy. Joy is a by-product of living your Unique Self.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 3. Reclaiming obligation at second tier consciousness
When we hear the word “obligation” in our post-postmodern context, we cringe. It makes us contract. We feel like we spent so many years in therapy getting beyond the obligations that violated us. But the only genuine freedom is the freedom to fulfill your Unique Self by meeting the unique obligation of your life—that’s what it means to be free. Anything else is a form of slavery.
Part 3. Reclaiming obligation at second tier consciousness
To answer the call is to live a values-driven life, a purpose-driven life. It’s to incarnate the values of your life in the unique and gorgeous way that you are able to, that only you are able to do. To do so is to fulfill your Unique Obligation.
When we hear the word “obligation” in our post-postmodern context, we cringe. It makes us contract. We feel like we spent so many years in therapy getting beyond the obligations that violated us. But actually the only genuine freedom is the freedom to fulfill your Unique Self. Anything else is a form of slavery.
To actually fulfill your Unique Self—which is to meet the unique obligation of your life—that’s what it means to be free.
There’s a five-fold doctrine of Unique Self obligation.
Imagine you’re shipwrecked with Mother Teresa alone on an island. Mother Teresa was a great woman, and she was tough, an inordinately difficult woman. She’s completely impossible. She drives you nuts. You know you’re not going to be rescued. It’s just you and her on this island for the rest of eternity.
She goes scuba diving and breaks both her arms, and she can’t eat. Do you or don’t you have an obligation to feed her? I’ve asked this question the world over and 99.9999% of the people say yes…even though if you let her die you will never be found out and it will not affect the world. Why?
There’s a need.
It’s a genuine need. It’s not frivolous.
You have the capacity to address that need.
You’ve identified the need.
You’re the only person in the world who has the ability to both identify and fulfill it.
When these five obligations are met, you create obligation at a higher level of consciousness—what we sometimes call second-tier consciousness. When all these things are in play, you have fulfilled your Unique Self obligation and you are at ease. You have a right relationship to the world. You are fully inhabiting your story.
Imagine if you were able to live in the world with that experience…at every moment in your life. There’s a song you can sing, a way of being and becoming, that is yours alone. That profound realization, that awakening to your Unique Self, creates in every moment of every day a profound sense of obligation that enlivens you and transforms your life to one filled with a plentitude of meaning, sensual Eros, as you live a life of enlivened play in the world giving your Unique Gift.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 4. Why Unique Self matters
Unique Self matters for a thousand different reasons, but the first one is that it is the only way to address the fundamental human nightmare of being irrelevant.
Part 4. Why Unique Self matters
At the most basic level, Unique Self matters because without it, life for the individual becomes virtually irrelevant.
About a year ago, I was giving a TEDx talk in Las Vegas and met a man who has since become a close friend, Eben Pagan. I met him and his delightful partner, and it was a Unique Self encounter. There was a flash of recognition.
At some point, Wyatt Woodsmall—one of the great inventors of NLP—and Dave Logan, who is a wonderful professor at USC, wrote a fantastic book called Tribal Leadership joined the conversation. The four of us had one of those delightful Plato conversations— egoless, where nobody is jousting or jockeying, but they are doing a deep reality consideration. It is one of the most delightful engagements you can have. We found ourselves in the lobby of this gaudy Las Vegas hotel for what must have been several hours.
We each talked about what we are doing in the world, and I brought Unique Self to the table. Dave says, “How does this address somebody’s worst nightmare? If it doesn’t address people’s worst nightmare it’s not useful.”
I said to Dave, Unique Self is the single response to a person’s worst nightmare. A person’s worst nightmare is to be irrelevant, an extra on the set of life, to be quickly forgotten, and ultimately know that they were not necessary.
Personal meaning is the understanding that I have a unique contribution to make to All That Is, and that’s not merely being a cog in a machine.
Communism affirmed the meaning of life, but it said that no unique individual is ultimately significant for that meaning, which ultimately makes them cogs in a larger process. That doesn’t give personal meaning.
But we know in our first-person perspective that our lives are meaningful; not to be able to identify that sense of personal relevance makes me feel insane, meaningless, ultimately not important. That is the most destructive, corrosive, and false experience of a human being.
There is only one great heresy in post-postmodernity: the belief that you are irrelevant. No one can play your part. You have a Unique Gift to give. The world is waiting, needing your Unique Gift. The Divine Force, God (and the God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist)—God as the personal face of essence, God as the Tao, the love-intelligence and love-beauty of All That Is…is seeking a voice.
Who I really am: I am unique. I am a unique expression of the All just like you are. It doesn’t mean I’m more special than you. Unique Self matters for a thousand different reasons, but the first one is that it is the only way to address the fundamental human nightmare of being irrelevant.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 5. Why Unique Self changes everything
Unique Self changes everything in almost every field, discipline, endeavor, and arena of human experience. Community completely changes when you understand it through the prism of Unique Self. It’s not just an idea or concept. It’s an expression of the Essence of being and becoming.
Part 5. Why Unique Self changes everything
1. If you want to identify your vocation, if you identify it from a Unique Self place, it’s entirely different than simply asking, “What am I good at?” You begin to approach the vocation issue in a different way. You’re not hunting for a job. You’re finding your way of bringing your Unique Gifts into the world.
2. Relationships. Who do I want to be involved with? I want to be with someone with whom my Unique Self shows up. If I’m with someone who evokes something false or counterfeit in me, or excessive identification with ego in me, that which is ultimately not authentic to my essence, then that’s not who I want to be with. I want someone who can partner with me in giving my Unique Gifts by seeing me in my fullness and supporting the unfolding of my Unique Gifts in the world, and with whom I can support and partner in giving and enacting their Unique Gifts in the world. When I approach relationship from a Unique Self perspective, my search for partnership changes.
3. Love changes. When you realize that Love is a Unique Self perception, your whole understanding of Love shifts.
4. Sexuality. We think of sex as one thing, but actually there are many types of sexing. Sexing is a verb. To be able to outline the six or seven types of sexing changes my whole understanding of sexuality.
5. Shadow. Doing shadow work—integrating the shadow—when you understand that shadow is not generic (contra what most Jungians attest), it’s not all of those shadow qualities. At its core, shadow is your unlived life, your distorted Unique Self. Shadow actually has the same DNA property as your Unique Self, so your entire understanding of shadow work changes.
6. Parenting. What’s the role of a parent? Not to ensure your child is happy. Parenting is to enact a space which allows for the Unique Self emergence of a child.
7. Death. The way I approach death changes. The question at the end of life is: Have I lived my Unique Self? When you understand that is the question, it changes your relationship to living and dying. An understanding of Unique Self shifts dramatically and profoundly that arena.
Once that insight is there—like Integral thought—it becomes startlingly obvious. And it is psychoactive: it moves in you, changing virtually everything, creating community (an evolutionary We-space).
Community completely changes when you understand it through the prism of Unique Self. It’s not just an idea or concept. It’s an expression of the essence of being and becoming. When you let it move into you, when you awaken into it…you can’t awaken to it merely by hearing about it—but by deeply entering into Unique Self space (that’s what we’ll be doing in the Unique Self Course). …
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 6. Unique Self and evolutionary we-space – section 1
Unique Self is the core technology in creating an evolutionary We-space, a space beyond any individual.
Part 6. Unique Self and evolutionary we-space – section 1
There are always two views of community. From the Western tradition, basically we are all separate selves. We can’t really come together, but we can give up some of our rights to be protected by the central government. No authentic communication is possible. Or—emerging out of a more continental philosophical tradition—is that the primary unit of reality is the community.
Neither of those positions in the world create a genuine We-space of collective intelligence. Separate selves can’t create a genuine new intelligence, so there won’t be a new intelligence.
True Selves—in the sense of classical enlightenment where we are one with the All—there is only one. The total number of True Selves in the world is one. That’s not a We-space, which has dynamic tension and creativity as a result of people who are different.
How do you create a We-space?
Unique Self is your puzzle-piece nature that naturally connects you to another even as you both realize you’re both part of the larger seamless coat of the universe. We are both part of the larger One, but both stunning expressions of that One.
Unique Self becomes, therefore, the essential and only technology that can create evolutionary We-space.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 7. The difference between Unique Self and soul
Soul in this understanding is the spiritual nature of your separate manifest self.
Unique Self speaks to a different manifest reality. It says that both your manifest and unmanifest reality are unique. Your True Self is also unique – because you have a Unique Perspective. It’s the perspective of your True Self. True Self always sees through a unique set of eyes which is your Unique Self.
Unique Self (unlike soul) lives at the level of manifest and unmanifest, the level of Spirit itself.
Part 7. The difference between Unique Self and soul
Soul means different things in the different traditions. In some of the texts and traditions, it means the spiritual quality of your separate self. As long as it means this, it is limited in time, place, and duration—so it is subject ultimately to death. It lacks the quality of the infinite. It is special, beautiful, holy, and sacred—it’s your soul—but ultimately it is an expression of separateness and subject to the contraction of the separate self.
Soul in this understanding is the spiritual nature of your separate manifest self.
Unique Self speaks to a different manifest reality. It says that both your manifest and unmanifest reality are unique. Your True Self is also unique – because you have a Unique Perspective. It’s the perspective of your True Self. True Self always sees through a unique set of eyes which is your Unique Self.
Unique Self (unlike soul) lives at the level of manifest and unmanifest, the level of Spirit itself.
It’s important to say that in some traditions the soul doesn’t refer to the spiritual quality of separate self, but refers to something much closer to Unique Self. But because it can be confused, we have gone through pains to differentiate the two. Unique Self is the unique expression of your essence.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 8. Unique Self and democratization of enlightenment
Unique Self is the ultimate democratic principle. Our Unique Selves are all different. Everyone’s got one. Just like “one person, one vote”—one person, one potentially enacted Unique Self. That calls a person in a different way. When I am called to my Unique Self-enlightenment, which is to awaken to my Unique Self, I begin to become awakened, alive, and aware in an entirely different way than if I am called to experience myself as pure consciousness. The old enlightenment doesn’t address most of humanity. Most of humanity is looking intuitively and correctly at how can I enact the unique meaning of my life.
Part 8. Unique Self and democratization of enlightenment
Democratization of enlightenment doesn’t mean everyone is enlightened in an equal way. It means that the possibility of enlightenment is what William James called a genuine option for every human being who aspires to it. Enlightenment is not only the province of the elite. It can expand beyond the narrow sectors of the meditation hall in Nepal or Brooklyn, or the back streets of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods where the pious Kabbalists sit and chant. Enlightenment becomes part of the fabric of every awakened life. That’s a big deal.
Where we are in the world today is a place where there is such a crisis of resources, meaning, direction, hunger, imagination. It threatens the survival of the planet Earth, this epoch of humanity as we know it. It is oft said that a set of problems created at one level of consciousness can only be solved at a higher level of consciousness.
Generally, we understand that is true of the individual. The individual creates a set of problems at one level of consciousness, then has to evolve to a higher level to solve those problems. But it’s also true of the community, the public culture, the We-space.
Planet Earth has become a We-space. You go on to Google Earth and there’s no place you can’t see today. It’s getting smaller. We affect each other. We’re completely interpenetrated. The old teaching of the enlightenment teachers of the interconnectivity of the All with the All is no longer something you realize in meditation or chant; it’s actually an obvious truth of reality.
The esoteric truth of the interconnectivity of the All with the All a thousand years ago has become the obvious truth of interconnectivity in our lives. To solve the radical problems of today, we need to up-level our consciousness as a community. We need to up-level the consciousness of our We-space. And we can only do that in an Internet, intertwined world where billions of people affect the We-space; this is to begin to enact the possibility of the democratization of enlightenment.
To make enlightenment in the public culture and social mind a genuine psychological / spiritual possibility…Again, that doesn’t mean everyone is enlightened at the same level. It means the possibility of enlightenment awakens.
Unique Self is the ultimate democratic principle. Our Unqiue Selves are all different. Everyone’s got one. Just like “one person, one vote”—one person, one potentially enacted Unique Self. That calls a person in a different way. When I am called to my Unique Self enlightenment, which is to awaken to my Unique Self, I begin to become awakened, alive, and aware in an entirely different way than if I am called to experience myself as pure consciousness. The old enlightenment doesn’t address most of humanity. Most of humanity is looking intuitively and correctly at how can I enact the unique meaning of my life.
If I do that in a narcissistic way, then I’m lost in ego and separate self. I’m alienated. But if I do that in a healthy, awake, alive, aware way, then I want to be part of All That Is, and thereby to express all my unique gifts. So uniqueness opens the portal of enlightenment to the larger population because uniqueness is a democratized concept.
As long as you’re talking about a narrow True Self enlightenment, most people feel excluded from it. When you begin to talk about a Unique Self enlightenment, people awaken to the conversation and it becomes interesting and then it attracts attention. Once it grasps the heart, you can explain it in a new way that if you want to awaken your Unique Self, you must evolve beyond exclusive identification with ego because ego distorts your Unique Self.
Ego seeks to satisfy itself, so it might choose shortcut paths to fulfillment that don’t really do the work of identifying, living, and giving your Unique Gifts. Moving beyond ego is not only an invitation to awaken to pure consciousness, but to an awakening of your Unique Self, the great desire to move beyond ego, to identify with True Self, essence, and to enact and awaken further with my awakened Unique Self, which gives its gifts as part of a larger evolutionary context.
Unique Self and the democratization of enlightenment are inextricably linked. They are part of a larger cluster which is essential to an emergent World Spirituality.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 9. Unique Self and evolutionary we-space – section 2
When a person begins to know that they can live their fullest truth and beauty, they begin to radiate that depth to the center of the community. The community emerges the wisdom needed to evolve us to the next level of consciousness. Each Unique Self complementing the other like puzzle pieces completing a puzzle.
Part 9. Unique Self and evolutionary we-space – section 2
The tradition was to sell the most beautiful women for nine cows. The father offers his daughter for three cows. The sailor insists on paying nine cows, despite the father’s objections. The sailor remains in Tahiti. Fourteen years later, the friend returns and he sees the most stunningly radiant woman he’s ever seen and his breath is taken away.
She is his friend’s wife. In conversation, the woman says that her husband called her a “nine cow girl,” and it made her into a “nine cow girl.”
Unique Self is the realization that every human being in their own special way is a “nine cow girl.” You don’t win an Oscar by playing someone else’s part in the play. You win the Oscar by playing your part to perfection. When a person begins to know that they can live their fullest truth and beauty, they begin to radiate that depth to the center of the community.
The community emerges the wisdom needed to evolve us to the next level of consciousness. It emerges from a community of “nine cow girls,” each complementing each other as puzzle pieces—seamless features of the universe.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 10. Integral, evolutionary and world spirituality
Part 10. Integral, evolutionary and world spirituality
Evolutionary Spirituality is the emphasis on the evolutionary impulse, as Barbara Marx Hubbard says.
Integral Spirituality is a set of pointing-out instructions which allow us to make distinctions, help us make discernment in spirit, between pre-personal and trans-personal, between states of consciousness and stages of consciousness, between levels of development and lines of development, between four quadrants, between different typologies. Integral is an operating system of integral pointing-out instructions. It points out something about the nature of enlightenment, something you already know that’s there, that is always already present in you, that is enlightenment.
Integral as I’m talking about it is pointing-out instructions in first, second, and third person. First person—reality and enlightenment; second person—relationship and reality and enlightenment; third person—relationship, reality, and enlightenment. One of the pointing-out instructions is precisely the distinction between these.
Integral spirituality is an operating system of integral pointing-out instructions in first, second, and third person. Evolutionary spirituality is the emphasis on identifying with the evolutionary impulse and living with the evolutionary impulse that lives within you and through you, not ego.
World Spirituality incorporates both the operating system of integral Spirituality, its pointing-out instructions, and clearly incorporates the evolutionary dimension of evolutionary spirituality.
What World Spirituality seeks to do at every level of consciousness is offer a full expression of living—body, heart, mind, and soul—at every level of consciousness at its own level.
At its highest level of consciousness—Kosmocentric consciousness, in which I feel identified with all sentient beings—I’ve identified with the Divine perspective that lives as my Unique Self. I feel responsible for past, present, and future.
At every level of consciousness, there will be an expression of World Spirituality. At its highest level, World Spirituality lives in an evolutionary context. It is an expression of evolution awakened to itself.
World Spirituality calls every human being to live as an evolutionary Unique Self—a Unique Self who lives in an evolutionary context and feels the unique evolutionary impulse which is your Unique Self, which is the personal face of essence. It’s a popular movement. It seeks to make the fullness of enlightenment available as a genuine option to every human being. It includes the evolutionary impulse imperative. It is based on the operating system of integral spirituality and it moves outwards. It develops a whole new set of teachings – Unique Self teachings, democratization of enlightenment teachings, and others – and begins to become an essential feature of the public culture. It becomes a place where people at every level of consciousness can identify and begin to enact at their level of consciousness a World Spirituality.
Proponents of Evolutionary Spirituality—some are close friends—talk about evolutionary spirituality as being at the leading edge. That’s important and good. World Spirituality may be a leading edge expression—Spirit’s next move—but it is meant to embrace not only the leading edge, but it’s meant to become a democratized genuine option for every person at their level of consciousness.
So this begins to give you a sense of the relationship between Evolutionary Spirituality, World Spirituality, and Integral Spirituality, from my perspective where I’m sitting as one of the leadership group in the enactment of World Spirituality. It’s an ongoing conversation. This holy trinity—World, Evolutionary, Integral Spirituality—has a different unique gift to give to the conversation, and they all influence each other.
If we can all move beyond egoic branding issues—which I think everyone across the board is doing in all three of those systems—then we experience ourselves as part of the evolutionary process, as personal unique irreducible essences (from my perspective). When we apply appropriately Integral principles and discernments, we will create a movement of spirit which will completely reshape—in the most positive, enlivened, loving, ethical, compassionate way—all of tomorrow.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 11. Unique Self and evolutionary spirituality
Part 11. Unique Self and evolutionary spirituality
It might be fair to say—and we actually coined this term in a beautiful phone conversation between myself, Ken Wilber, and Andrew Cohen—we were talking about the relationship between the earlier evolutionary thinking in Kabbalah and evolutionary spirituality, and we called Kabbalah a kind of proto-evolutionary spirituality. At the time when the great Kabbalists were writing the key evolutionary tracts—the later phases of the Zohar in the 13th cenury, the key teachings of Luria in the Renaissance, the notion of the evolving biosphere wasn’t in play. There are glimmers of the idea in the most esoteric of texts, but there was no empirical evidence for it and it wasn’t really in consciousness at all. It came into consciousness in the hundred years before Darwin, and Darwin crystallizes it and it explodes into public culture as one of the four great ideas of the last 200 years. So clearly evolution itself is evolving. We are understanding that all levels of reality are evolving.
The notion that there is an evolution of divinity itself is a core feature of Lurianic thought. My colleague in Jerusalem, who wrote a fantastic doctorate on Luria, quotes Nikos Kazanzakas to summarize Luria’s doctrine of the evolution of God: “We are the saviors of God.” What he means is that God is evolving. There’s something new that is being created that didn’t exist before. There’s an evolution of divinity.
From a non-dual, Lurianic, Kabbalistic perspective, from the interior face of essential reality – the human being is an inextricable part of the divine. There is no separation. The human being participates through his or her own evolving in evolving the divine consciousness. That idea is a core idea. As a trained Kabbalist who has received and drunk from the lineage of Kabbalah, the notion of an evolutionary context is core to what you might call my mental furniture. It’s an absolute given.
And clearly evolution evolved through Darwin—and people like Aurobindo and de Chardin and Abraham Kuk—write extensively on this notion of the evolving nature of reality, the evolving nature of Spirit. Kuk and Aurobindo are parallel figures, one in Kabbalah and the other in Hinduism. De Chardin emerges in their wake. They deepen the idea. Once you have the evolution of the biosphere at play, the game changes.
Having said that, having recognized the evolutionary moment, let me point out the limitation of some of the ways that Evolutionary spirituality has expressed itself in the world.
First: in its initial expression in Fichte, Schelling, Hegel— that school of German Idealism—actually produced vision of the world which in some sense became a kernel of the worst forms of oppression that were ever created. The dialectical materialism which comes out of Hegel becomes in distorted form a kernel of both communism and Nazism, and the two manage to kill hundreds of millions of non-combatants in the most brutal of ways. They elevated the process above the person. The impersonal evolutionary process—awakening to it—became the essential movement in a human being’s awakening, and, that is to say, the least problematic.
The second we lose the irreducible dignity of every individual human dignity, and it is sourced in their uniqueness, we’re in trouble. It’s a slippery slope into the most brutal forms of human depravity. So I’m hesitant when I hear ways in which evolutionary spirituality is championed in the world in ways in which the impersonal seems to trump the personal, where the process seems to trump the individual human being. My lineage tradition that I am sourced in is wary. There always needs to be a dialectical tension between the infinite value, dignity, and adequacy of the individual and the infinite adequacy and dignity of the community. They need to be in play with each other.
Part of the dharma of Unique Self is to realize that you can never lose sight of that unique human being. Of course let’s be clear. The same way that the doctrine of Unique Self can’t take responsibility for the hyper-narcissism of the Western world, the hyper greed of certain capitalistic expressions (not genuine capitalism, but what John Mackie has called crony capitalism, which is run on greed, which is run on insane hyper-narcissistic inflation), because it’s a distortion … obviously you can’t hold Evolutionary Spirituality responsible for its own distortions. Each one needs to be wary of its own shadows.
[Concludes with a story.]
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 12. The Unique Self Book
Part 12. The Unique Self Book
I want to give you a sense of what you’ll receive in the book. It’s some 22 or 23 chapters. Each chapter is a process of awakening. The book is designed not as a mere individual download – though there is a lot of dharma teaching there – but it is designed as a psychoactive process, a transmission of Unique Self Enlightenment, Unique Self awakening.
In the book we unfold the key dimensions of the Unique Self dharma: the awake, alive, living organism of the teaching that lives in you and acts in you and transforms you. That’s part one. There are seven chapters on the core new enlightenment teaching: Unique Self as the change that changes everything.
In part two of the book, we move into the distinctions between ego and Unique Self. We outline 25 essential distinctions –again, not as an informative list, but as a series of psychoactive and transformative instructions that allow you to feel into and make those distinctions in your life. So you will be able to identify when you are living from Unique Self and when you are living from ego, and it changes everything.
And then three: we identify the eight stations of Unique Self, so you can find your way to identifying and living your Unique Self.
Four: then we unfold and develop the relationship of evolutionary spirituality – living and identifying with the unique impulse of evolution that lives in you, as you, and through you – which changes your life.
Five: we talk about the relationship between eros and Unique Self: how eros and Unique Self play together.
Six: there’s a section on what it means to live your story, how to write your sacred autobiography, and how to transcend loneliness specifically through living and acting your Unique Self.
Seven: love and joy and Unique Self—a re-working of what it means to be a lover. You’ll have a wonderful time with those chapters.
Eight: two chapters on shadow and Unique Self which completely shift our understanding of shadow. One shadow work teacher said it completely shifted her understanding. And seven laws of love—the transformational elixir in following your Unique Shadow back to your Unique Self.
Nine: in great depth, sexuality and Unique Self. We outline seven kinds of sexing and a unique form of tantric sexuality which is Unique Self sexuality.
Ten: we talk about the seven laws of evolutionary Unique Self relationships. We call them Unique Self encounters.
Eleven: we talk about Unique Self as the form of parenting. It changes the source code of parenting.
Twelve: we talk about Unique Self and its relationship to malice, and how the desire to destroy the Unique Self of another destroys relationship.
Thirteen: Unique Self and death, mortality.
Each one of these dimensions is a kind of enlivening process, a catalytic and psychoactive process which changes how you are in the world.
Finally, there are three more components. First, there is an extensive set of footnotes. You can skip them. If you are a theory person, they will give you an idea of the relationship between Integral Theory and Unique Self. If that doesn’t live in your life, skip it. But if you are an Integral person, it’s thoroughly discussed.
Second, there’s a section on Unique Self and World Spirituality – how they are emerging together in the world.
Third, you have a beautiful invitation for you to live your Unique Self, which is the essence of the whole thing. As Trungpa wrote, we come to speak dangerous words. I ask only that you listen dangerously. Blessings and total love to you on your journey to your Unique Self.
Unique Self emerges from my teaching over the last 20 years, a deep meeting between my teaching and Integral Theory, many many conversations between Ken and myself, fructified, amplified, and deepened by an inner circle of other teachers who brought their own gifts to bear, and now Unique Self belongs to no one. It’s the teaching of tomorrow, which will take each one of us.
Find your way on this radical path to personal enlightenment.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 13. Intellectual and social history of Unique Self teaching
Part 13. Intellectual and social history of Unique Self teaching
Unique Self emerged about 25 years ago when I first began what I call the Soul Print teaching. I was delighted and privileged to put out a book called Soul Prints: Your Path to Fulfillment and a PBS special. The PBS special was horrible. The book was really good.
The book was the crystallization of the teaching which began in 1986 in Delray Beach, Florida, where I was an Orthodox rabbi, and I was speaking to about 500 people. I was teaching about the laws of Sabbath which are exciting and compelling and important, but somehow I couldn’t give the gift I wanted to give them. Somehow the sentence emerged – fell as grace: I said that you have not only a finger print, but you are a soul print. You have a Unique Gift to give in the world. You can actually feel the energy or subtle field or inner space change.
Everyone kind of woke up, and we knew something had happened. Ever since then, I have worked on developing on an understanding of Soul Prints.
Soul Prints emerges from my lineage tradition in Kabbalah. Today I don’t teach in that tradition. It informs me, it defines me in my cellular structure, but I teach in this new lineage which is World Spirituality – which is awesome and beautiful and exciting and delightful and a privilege and honor. It exists in certain moments in esoteric Christianity, Arabian Sufism. I kind of took it from the air, as it emerged that day in 1986; and I went back to see who else in the intellectual history might have felt and thought in this way, and for the next 15 years it was core to the teaching I did in the world.
And it spread in different ways. At some point, Sounds True did a Soul Prints workshop … and Simon and Schuster did the Soul Prints book and PBS did the Soul Prints special. So it began to find its way into the world.
In Soul Prints, I use the term “Unique Self.” There are two ways we talk about the soul print and/or Unique Self – one, the soul quality of the individual; second, as the unique expression of All-Oneness. We use it in both ways in an undiscriminating way in the book. That’s the first level.
The second level is the work I was privileged to do with Mordecai Lainier of Izbica. I never met him. He became my lineage teacher. He died in 1848, but I was able to, honored to, and invited to by grace merge with his teachings. A year or two later, I moved to Jerusalem and met a circle of people who were influenced by a neo-Hasidic singer, whose favorite book was the Teaching of Mordecai Rainier of Izbaca.
Over the years, I had a tempestuous complex relationship with his teaching and at some point accepted him as my teacher. In 2002, I went to Oxford University. Around this time, 2003, I wrote the core of my doctoral dissertation – about a thousand pages – on Mordecai Rainier of Izbica. I submitted it and it was approved in 2008. Now that teaching, which I call Radical Kabbalah: Unique Self and Non-Dual Humanism – is being offered as a two-volume work in the summer of 2012 from Integral Publishers. That’s the second stage of the work.
Third. At some point, I begin a series of conversations with Ken Wilber who gloriously and prophetically, and with a visionary sense, initiated the Integral Spiritual Center. The ISC was for a couple of years a kind of Camelot. We came and delighted in each other, and in the exchange between different lineages. Although the term was never used there, World Spirituality was birthed in the ISC – it was the notion of trying to create a trans-path path which transcended and included all the lineages in a higher vision of what a contemporary spirituality might look like.
In 2003 – 2005, Ken and I had a series of conversations about Soul Prints, the term Unique Self in Soul Prints, and about perspectives. In Kabbalah, when a person clarifies their perspective, they speak the Word of God. I wrote Ken a long letter after a conversation at his loft about how your clarified perspective creates new God or new Torah in Kabbalah. Out of that comes this wonderful formulation by Ken: True Self + Perspective = Unique Self.
Ken and I then evolved this Unique Self teaching … At some point in 2006, Ken invited me to give a Unique Self / Soul Print teaching at ISC. Ken suggested in a phone conversation that we identify Soul Prints both as soul prints and as Unique Self—because it is a more neutral term which doesn’t get lost in the potential misunderstanding of soul, which one might understand as the spiritual nature of separate self, which is the spiritual nature of the manifest; whereas Unique Self is also unique expression of the unmanifest. It’s True Self + Perspective = Unique Self.
I was delighted to answer Ken’s invitation to teach Unique Self to a group of 40 or 50 spiritual teachers at ISC in February 2006. That seeded Unique Self in the world in a particular way. An enormous amount came out. Genpo Roshi and I had a delightful time in that particular space. Genpo brought Unique Self into his Big Mind teaching. His colleague and student, Diane Hamilton, a close friend of mine, began facilitating the voice of Unique Self in the Big Mind process, and what came together was a wonderful and rich exchange. When Genpo published his book on Big Mind, there was a section on Unique Self as a critical evolution of the Big Mind teaching. Big Mind by itself is what we might call True Self—what Kabbalah calls expanded consciousness.
Big Mind is contrasted with small self. Usually you would facilitate the voice of small self and contracted ego with Big Mind. What Genpo and Diane began to do is, after receiving and encountering the Unique Self teaching, they began to facilitate in the 1st person the Unique Self voice as “the apex of the triangle,” meaning you have small self, Big Mind, and the apex in Unique Self. This is the nature of influence. I was profoundly influenced by Diane’s deep soaking in Buddhist teaching and through Genpo and Big Mind and his deployment of the voice dialogue process as a Big Mind process. It shaped different dimensions of how I looked at the world. And Unique Self had influence on this Buddhist teaching. That was the grace that was invoked by Ken at the ISC.
That’s one place Big Mind began to have impact in the world.
I remember Sofia Diaz talked to me beautifully about how it shifted something profound for her in her own process. John Kesler incorporated Unique Self in his teaching on polarities and the stillpoint between polarities which has had influences in the world specifically at Pacific Integral in Seattle where John’s been a formative force.
I could go through ten or fifteen other people…
Then what happened is the Integral Life Practice book – a beautiful book put together by Terry Patten, Marco Morelli, Ken Wilber, and Adam Leonard –which added a chapter at the end on Unique Self as an emergent teaching from the ISC. Unique Self began to find its way directly into the Integral conversation.
In this stage of development, together with Robb Smith, Diane Hamilton, Sally Kempton, we initiated the Integral Spiritual Experience. Together with Ken Wilber, we chose the topic of the first experience as Unique Self. Because I was privileged to be catalytic in that conversation, I chose the Unique Self conversation. So 500 people gathered from 35 countries to talk about Unique Self.
In the teacher’s meeting leading up to the actual event … a document emerged from Robb and Diane and myself and Ken and Sally, called an Integral View of Unique Self, which has since been significantly evolved and updated and incorporated into the footnotes of the Unique Self book. Integral became a home for the Unique Self teaching. Unique Self, in essence, became a new chapter in Integral Theory.
First stage is Soul Prints, second stage is Unique Self and Non-Dual Humanism (my doctoral work at Oxford), and the third stage is the infusion of Unique Self and the Integral world in which Unique Self becomes a Next Chapter. That has its final or deepest expression in Integral’s academic journal. Sean Hargens kindly invited me to be the guest editor of a volume on Unique Self. It has seven or eight articles all around Unique Self. I wrote two articles; one is a classical academic article on the core theory and the other is a lineage article based on the Hebrew mystical sources. Zach Stein wrote a wonderful article which among other things compared the Unique Self teaching with the Authentic Self teaching. Dustin DiPerna wrote a lovely article independently developing the idea of the Unique We.
And all sorts of things began to emerge. JoAnna Hunt together with her partner Laura did a weekend in which they took the eight stations of Unique Self which are core to the Unique Self book and did an entire weekend for their coaches based on the eight stations of Unique Self. The teaching has found its way far and wide.
There’s been a sharpening. At least five sets of dialogues…mine, Ken’s, this emergent teaching, Andrew Cohen’s teaching (which emerges from a different strain of Authentic Self). Andrew and I did a separate dialogue. When Andrew came to Israel in 2005, we did a dharma dialogue on the nature of uniqueness and we have clarified our positions and have had seven, eight, or nine exchanges, and finally did a recorded dialogue in the Future of Love series.
There was a second conversation that Zach Stein did on the relationship between Unique Self and Authentic Self. Sonja Student, who is head of the Integralist Forum in Germany, in March or April of 2012, did a dialogue on the relationship between Unique Self and Authentic Self. On the Beams and Struts website, Chris Dierkes wrote a great article comparing Unique Self and Authentic Self. Dustin DiPerna and Michael Wombacher did a fantastic dialogue on Unique Self and Authentic Self in the summer of 2011. That’s just five offhand.
There’s a lot of conversation in the broader Integral / Evolutionary communities trying to clarify that these are important distinctions. Both Unique Self and Authentic Self speak about individuation beyond ego. But there’s a different cast or quality to the teaching. They both inform each other. That gives you a sense of the play of Unique Self teaching.
The other place that Unique Self is influencing and dancing and dialoguing is outside of the Integral world.
Eben Pagan and I have had some fantastic dialogues about Unique Self – at least 10 different times – and that’s coming to play in the way that it is. We’re developing together a teaching called Actualize that is speaking to an entirely different audience.
We’re writing a book called Answering the Call, which is a more popular book, one designed to speak to a broader spectrum of consciousness. Ultimately, it’s our belief that Unique Self will seed the potential of a genuine democratization of enlightenment. Joe Perez, who has been a career coach for many years, is going to use Unique Self …
In Holland, we’re working on developing a new Tantra in which Unique Self sexing is at the core.
I’m working with Richard Schwartz. We’re going to put out a paper on Unique Self and internal family systems. We’re going to influence each other in a delightful way.
I’m working with John Mackey on a paper on conscious capitalism and Unique Self. There’s an enormous amount happening.
We’re working on a new shadow process based on Unique Self teaching. This is just to give you a sense of the excitement. I’m going to give you just a couple of snapshots of the future.
Lori Galperin has galvanized a group of therapists at the Castwood treatment centers and they are developing Unique Self modules that are going to be developed for chemical dependency, eating disorders—the entire world of treatment—a Unique Self process.
In the world of business, I am speaking to a number of key people – Wyatt Woodsmall, Richard Barrett, John Mackey – about how Unique Self might be a practical application.
In the world of spirituality, we’re developing a Unique Self process which will have its virgin voyage in November 2012. We’ve already given two Unique Self online courses in 2010. Now we’re going to create a Unique Self process.
Lastly, I’ve had wonderful conversations with Laura Wood and Zach Stein and Clint Fuhs about what it means to create a Unique Self Index, a metrics which measures Unique Self. It’s not a simple process. We’re beginning to think about that.
We’re beginning to see a catalytic lode stone of World Spirituality teaching which will be added to, evolved, energized, by many people. It’s the initial catalytic offering. Everyone is going to help shape it in appropriate ways. We’ve put together the core dharma into the world and it can find its way.
And I hope that gives you a sense of the emergence of Unique Self, the catalytic role that it’s been able to play already in the last six or seven or eight years…. and of its deep history, the enormous potential for its future in creating a world in which everyone knows that they are living uniquely.
That’s what it’s about. The notion that every human being is an irreducible unique essence, has a story that is worth receiving. No human being’s story can be reduced as a means to another person’s story, and when we live that, and when that becomes part of the source code of consciousness, then and only then we will begin to have moved towards a world in which we can really love each other outrageously. Love is the ultimate Unique Self perception.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 14. Unique Self and levels of consciousness
Part 14. Unique Self and levels of consciousness
Let’s draw an Integral distinction between states of consciousness and stages or structure-stages or levels of consciousness, which are words that are used interchangeably in Integral Theory.
A state of consciousness is usually transient, though not always. I want to add that there’s a strong claim in Kabbalah and Sufism that there are some states which once sustained leave a lasting and irreversible impression. However, for the most part, they are ephemeral. They come. They give you a deeper, wider view of the true nature of reality, and they recede.
These states can be positive or negative. You can have a drunken state – and this is neutral, an orgiastic state. They leave some form of permanent or non-permanent memory.
A stage or structure-stage or level of consciousness is talking about a unique developmental stage or structure that exists over different lines of development. So if we are talking about motor development, there’s the structure stage before you learn to ride a bike and after you learn to ride a bike.
I have a young son, Zion, who is 20 months old. I have watched him develop over the last 20 months who is being raised by his awesome mother Marianna with some help from me. Every time I can see him he can do something new. He gains a new skill that he didn’t have before. Those are structure-stages of development. You can have a musical line of development or emotional line of development or moral line of development.
For example, along the moral line of development, there’s talk among Kohlberg’s students in Integral Theory of four core levels or structure-stages or stages of moral consciousness: ego-centric consciousness, where my felt sense of concern is really just for me and those who help me survive; then you expand, transcend and include, and you widen your felt sense of concern to include your entire group or tribe, which is called socio-centric or ethno-centric consciousness; then you transcend and include, you retain your sense of loyalty to your inner group and yourself, but now your sense of felt love, caring, and concern expands and includes all of humanity.
You have a worldcentric level. And then at level four it expands again to cosmo-centric consciousness where your felt sense of caring and concern expands to all sentient beings, and even blurs the distinction between sentient and non-sentient beings, and even blurs the distinction between past, present, and future, in which you also realize a heightened level of moral consciousness in which you also realize your full identity with the Godhead. That’s an example of structure-stages of consciousness. And there are different systems, developmental systems, that identify different ways of telling the story of structure-stages of consciousness.
Famous among them is a system developed by Clare Graves and expanded by his students, Chris Cowan and Don Beck, which color codes the levels of consciousness. Susanne Cook-Greuter has done some fantastic work, and there have been conversations recorded between Susanne and myself, which were published. Don Beck has done important work in the Spiral Dynamics system. Jane Lovinger, Bill Torbert, Robert Kegan, Jenny Wade… there’s a whole school of probably a hundred different developmental theorists dating back to Baldwin and Pierce who trace the structure-stages of human development.
So there are states and stages. Stages, once attained, are permanent. They don’t go away. Each stage is permanent. You can’t skip a stage. You have to go through all the stages.
What is Unique Self?
The core way we refer to Unique Self is as both a unique structure-stage of consciousness and a state of consciousness. Primarily it’s a specific structure-stage of consciousness that comes online as a natural spontaneous expression of living into your uniqueness at higher levels of consciousness. Of course knowing about Unique Self might be one of the things that spurs you, causes you to grow up to higher levels of consciousness. It’s the transmission, the teaching, and study of Unique Self that is one of the things that awakens you.
When you awaken, grow to higher levels of consciousness (in one system it’s identified as violet and another it’s yellow), Unique Self comes online in a big way.
At what stage of consciousness does it begin to come online? For Don Beck, it’s yellow, which is the beginning of second-stage consciousness. And for Susanne, her term for the emergence of second-tier consciousness is Construct-Aware, and even before, you have the beginning. Unique Self comes online as a natural expression of self at these higher levels of consciousness. In this sense, Unique Self is a demarcating feature of second-tier consciousness, the higher structure-stages of consciousness. That’s one expression of Unique Self.
What’s also true is that when you awaken to True Self – your classical enlightenment – you also realize that your True Self only sees through a unique set of eyes, and you realize that your awakened state of True Self is actually a state of Unique Self. That realization takes place in second-tier consciousness….
Three. Unique Self exists as a reality all the way up, and all the way down. It is always true. Uniqueness is the nature of form. But uniqueness doesn’t awaken to itself until the higher stages of consciousness. Evolution is always happening. But only recently – after physical evolution, which is followed by biological evolution, which is followed by cultural evolution— evolution begins to waken to itself and become conscious. Unique Self is always true. Uniqueness is always the nature of self and all sentience. However, when Unique Self awakens to itself you have a higher evolutionary emergent of conscience, which is why we’ve called it A New Chapter in Integral Theory (which is the title of my article on the same in JITP 6:1).
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 15a. Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up
Part 15a. Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up
And I want to talk to you about what each of those means.
Wake up means to move beyond narcissistic self-involvement with your own contracted story. Most people live lives around their contracted self, thinking about the petty details of their story. They are their own self-context. But when you wake up, you wake up to a deeper truth. You wake up to the truth that I am not merely a skin-encapsulated ego.
I am sitting here with my friend Eric. If I said my name is Eric, he would think it was a joke. But if I keep doing it for an hour, he calls my good friend Chahat and says he’s insane. He think’s he’s Eric. Then Chahat says I’m really insane. To be insane is to not know your identity. To actually think that I’m only a skin-encapsulated ego, separate from All That Is, and to not know that my True Self is THE True Self, Essence, inextricable indivisible part of All That Is, not to realize that all the love-intelligence of the All flows through me, but to think that I am apart … that is to be asleep. So to wake up is to wake up to the true nature of reality, to blow up your mind as a separate mind, alienated, and to wake up to your enlightenment.
That’s the first step: waking up as True Self.
In World Spirituality, you can adopt or deploy any number of practices which will be outlined in the World Spirituality practice book – which I am co-writing with Tom Goddard – 10 major practices for this bucket of wake up practice.
The second major dimension of World Spirituality is grow up.
Growing up means to grow up to higher levels of consciousness. For example, at one level of consciousness, I might have a magical interpretation based on bloodlines and magical relationships between people, the clan, and the Earth which gives me protection (legitimate but partial insights). But by itself, a magical interpretation of the world is insufficient. At a higher level, I might move to a mythical interpretation. And then I might move to a rational interpretation of reality when I move beyond identifying myself by my membership in a particular church but I am governed by universal principles, and then I might move from there to a perspective which is far more multi-cultural, which recognizes the unique contributions of every culture and honors them in a new way, and then I might move to an integral consciousness in which I take the best of every level of consciousness and integrate it at a higher level, the best of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern consciousness and integrate it and act at a higher level.
Or, in moral development, you go from ego-development to ethno-centric to world-centric to cosmo-centric. Those are expanding or ascending levels of moral consciousness.
To grow up is to grow to higher levels of consciousness, emotional consciousness—actually measured development in all lines—the most important being moral development. I might also develop cognitively. Piaget measured those lines of development. I might develop to higher stages of leadership. The core growing up is to grow to higher levels of consciousness in an ever deeper view of the world: from magic to mythical to rational to pluralistic to integral. Each of those represents a higher level of consciousness.
How? We are now developing new practices that allow you to grow up. In the World Spirituality practice book, we are developing growing up practices.
The third facet of World Spirituality practice is show up. To identify your Unique Gifts. To fulfill your Unique Obligation. To see through the eyes of God in your Unique Perspective. Of course these are related because when you wake up as True Self at world-centric and above you realize that your True Self is unique. But doing the work to clarify your unique perspective, gifts, and responding to your unique needs, that’s the work of show up.
Lighten up, number four, is shadow work. It’s to identify the unique way you mess up—how to follow your unique shadow back to your Unique Self. Everyone has a unique wound, and when you identify it this allows you to bring your Unique Self back online. So we identify practices in the World Spirituality practice book both for showing up and lightening up.
Finally, there’s open up: to open up as love in the world as an embodied self. Your sensuality. Your sexuality. In whatever is for you the right committed context for love and sensuality and the full range of emotion to express itself. Here, again, there is a series of understandings and technologies. There is a teaching that I have developed from my lineage tradition called the three stations of love. There is understanding the nature of Love as perception, giving, and openness (the trinity in understanding the nature of love). There are the three faces of Love: love in the first person (living as love), second person (being in love with other), and third person (love as the Eros of evolution, the love that moves the suns and the stars which moves atoms to become molecules…) Within open up, there are three trinities: the three faces of love, the three means of love (giving, opening, perception), and the three stations of love (falling in love, individuation, and re-falling in love). … Submission, Separation, and Sweetness.
Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up. These are the core structures of World Spirituality teaching. The names aren’t that important. They’re labels to allow someone to hold easily the teaching. The teaching comes from two core places: Unique Self teaching and Love teaching, which I’ve developed over the years with wonderful interactions with many people, and Integral Theory. They come together to form the matrix of World Spirituality practice which is exciting and fantastic.
In each of these five buckets, you need practices. Each person is going to do different practices. At different times in a person’s life they might focus on a different area. There is a profoundly Unique Self dimension. You actually wake up to your unique eyes which is the full awakening. You grow up into Unique Self. You show up as Unique Self. You lighten up by following your Unique Shadow back to Unique Self. And Love is a Unique Self perception; you live uniquely as Love; you are a unique expression of the love-intellligence of All-That-Is.
Unique Self is the animating teaching of all five and you begin to see how Unique Self and Integral Theory come together in this larger frame. That’s the cornerstone of World Spirituality practice.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 15b. Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up
Part 15b. Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up
The names aren’t that important. They’re labels, lovely branded labels, to allow someone to hold easily the teaching.
The teaching comes from two core places: Unique Self teaching and three stations of Love teaching, which I’ve developed over a number of years, and Integral Theory. They come together to form the matrix of World Spirituality practice.
In each one of these five buckets, you need practices. Each person is going to define, as it were, their own “religion.” – the practices they choose. Different grow up practices, different lighten up practices, etc. At different times in their life, they might focus on different areas. All of the teachings revolve around Unique Self.
Your highest growing up is Unique Self. You lighten up by following your Unique Shadow back to Unique Self. Love is in 2nd person a Unique Self perception, and in 1st person you live as live but live uniquely as love, and in
3rd person you are the unique expression of all love-intelligence of All-That-Is.
Unique Self is the animating teaching of all five – and you begin to see how Unique Self and Integral Theory come together in this larger frame. That’s the cornerstone of World Spirituality practice.
Marc Gafni on Unique Self – Part 15c. History of the terms ‘wake up, grow up’, etc.
Part 15c. History of the terms ‘wake up, grow up’, etc.
The wake up/grow up distinction is sourced to John Welwood’s book, Psychology of Awakening, and I thank Sally Kempton for the reference. John really develops this; he makes a break between the awakening dimension of the spiritual line of development, waking up to classical True Self / no-self enlightenment– and growing up, which is doing the psychological work, which is psychological maturation. There’s waking up and growing up. John’s teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of Naropa University, when he would talk about the “jewel and lotus” teaching in Buddhism, he would say the mantra– meaning grow up. The jewel and lotus means wake up, so in essence Trungpa was saying grow up. Really you can source this in some sense [of] wake up, grow up in Trungpa’s insight [as] coming from the East that we need to do both kinds of work.
There are two different lines of development. The mother of my son and dear close friend, Marianna Caplan, is a protégé of Welwood, and she does real work with people on these two different lines of development.
Ken Wilber, a colleague of John’s, either in discussion with John or independently, moved into this distinction between wake up and grow up, and deployed the distinction extensively. Ken used it slightly differently. He uses wake up like John, but he uses grow up to refer specifically to levels of consciousness. Of course, levels of consciousness per se – developmental theory– is all of developmental theory. Awakening is the great traditions. We’re taking the developmental traditions and the great wisdom traditions.
In Kabbalah, which is my source tradition, that distinction is made very extensively. There’s a whole set of practices for growing up– meaning psychological maturity– and waking up, enlightenment. Then what happens next is Dusitn DiPerna made a wonderful suggestion to me and to Ken, which is to add in a more complete set of terms. In the context of Integral Religion, he suggested adding in show up and clean up (in relation to shadow work). I shifted the term clean up to lighten up (I like the word better as a label; we’re not really talking about content).
I also shifted the meaning. Open up became about Love. The teachings I’m doing [are] on the three stations of Love, the three meanings of Love, and the three faces of Love, two of which I developed and a third which comes from the great traditions and Integral Theory. So open up became understandable in light of these Love teachings. And show up is all about the Unqiue Self teaching. And lighten up is a specific teaching about the Unique Shadow and following it back to your Unique Self.
This cluster of terms became a transformation in meaning in terms of the context of the Unique Self teaching: growing up to the higher levels of developmental consciousness which your Unique Self expresses itself spontaneously. Lighten up, following your Unique Shadow back to your Unique Self. Open up at these three trinities of love: three natures of love, and three faces of love (for example, Love as a Unique Self perception in the second person).
All of these terms have been recast in terms of a merger between Integral Theory and Unique Self. Lots of people contributed to this. My work in Unique Self theory is one piece of it. John Welwood, Ken Wilber, Dustin DiPerna, Marianna Caplan’s sourcing in Trungpa, [they] have all contributed. And now we’re using this five-part schematic as a simple way of delivering the formula of World Spirituality in the world. Wake up, grow up, show up, lighten up, open up.
We’re making it easier to access the teaching, and it’s important because the teaching has to have amplitude. The nature of the great tradition is that you can access it at all different levels of consciousness and sophistication. You can be a popular Buddhist doing prostration to an idol, and a pure-emptiness Buddhist, and you’re all practicing Buddhism. Judaism, Christianity, are all experienced at different levels of consciousness. It’s helpful to have a simple formula to create an elegant, Steve Jobs / Apple interface. It’s the interface of a World Spirituality app with popular culture. So I hope that gives you a sense of where these terms come from.
Marc Gafni on Chant as a sacred practice – Introduction
Intro: What is Chant?
Maybe a good way to understand it is to relate the spiritual practice of chanting to the practice of meditation. Said simply, meditation is a way to enact or invoke or access the Enlightenment of Emptiness. Chant is a way to enact or invoke or access the Enlightenment of Fullness.
If I would make a distinction, the classical Eastern mystical tradition, which shows up in particular ways in Hasidism and Jewish Kabbalah and certain strains of Christian mysticism, is about realizing Emptiness—that which is beyond any concept, that which is the Ground of all Being, that which is empty of all that is not full. It is the substance of all that is. It allows me to ground myself in True Self.
It makes me realize that my true identity is the True Self and the total number of True Selves is one. True Self is non-conceptual. It is beyond all structured content. It is Emptiness.
The Enlightenment of Fullness—which is a term I first deployed two years ago—describes the emergent property of World Spirituality. It emerges out of the ground of Emptiness, the Fullness of All That Is, and expresses itself in a non-dual fashion in all of the fullness of life: in sexuality, commerce, communication, structures of organization and consciousness, the play of nature, the ecstatic dance of mathematics and physics.
It is the Fullness of the Infinite, which animates all of the finite, which is ultimately not different than the infinite. The finite and the infinite are one. The interior face of the cosmos is infinity which garbs itself in this world in all the garb of everyday life. The Enlightenment of Fullness is to realize and live an enlightened, awake, alive, aware life. It means I am always fully awake in myself…and to access that fullness we use chant.
Chant is not a sing-along just as meditation is not not-talking. Chanting is a practice—a full-bodied, full-hearted, full-minded practice—through which I open the door to the Enlightenment of Fullness..precisely like meditation is a full-bodied, full-throated silence which involves heart, mind, and body through which I open the portal to the Enlightenment of Emptiness. In the end, both are one.