Religion Needs to Be Part of the Revolution: Evolving the Unique Self Eros of the Great Traditions

This is an almost unedited and unplugged version of Dr. Gafni’s conversation from the previous weeks of One Mountain, Many Paths broadcast. Thus, the style of the piece is the spoken word and not a formal essay. Dr. Marc Gafni illuminates the Unique Self Eros of each religion in the revolution of evolving the source code of reality.

Why does religion matter? And why does religion need to be part of the revolution?

The Eye of the Heart

We have three eyes. All three of these eyes discern the nature of Reality together. The three eyes work because we are Kosmic humans. There is no science, neither interior science nor exterior science, without the simple truth that we are Kosmic humans. Science works because we are attuned to Reality. Science works because we quite literally - according to the validated understandings of science itself - participate in Reality. Said somewhat differently, human science works because we are Kosmic humans.

With that crucial insight in hand and heart, let’s turn to the three eyes of the Kosmic human.

The first is the eye of the senses. Eyes, ears, fragrance, touch. It is through all of the embodied senses that we access sensory reality.

The second eye is what we might call the eye of the mind. The eye of the mind is mathematics, logic, and moral reasoning. It is an interior process through which we, attuned to the nature of Reality that lives in us, discern something of the nature of the Kosmos.

The third eye is the eye of the heart. And the great interior scientists, in every one of the great traditions, had a different name for it. The third eye, the eye of the Spirit, the hidden eye, or the eye of the heart. Let’s call it the eye of the heart. The eye of the heart is what actually gives us, quite literally, information about the truth of Reality, which is not accessible in any other way. The eye of the heart does HeartMath. This eye gives us access to information about all the truths that make life worth living. Truths like loyalty, Love, Joy, Delight, Eros, virtue, kindness, creativity. The eye of the heart is the portal to meaning. It opens the door to every deep knowing, without which we literally wouldn't want to be alive. It is the eye of the heart that makes us feel welcome in the Universe.

In the eye of the heart, lives the knowing that Value Is Real. Having a living, felt sense that Love is real, that Spirit is real, and that choice and freedom are real.

All of those experiences live in our first person and they're accessible through the faculty of perception, which is called the eye of the heart. The eye of the heart grants us access to the carnal knowledge of the interior sciences, that we can't know in any other way.

The Unique Self of Each Religion

In the last several centuries we have virtually shifted our entire focus to the eye of the senses and the eye of the mind. The Hubble telescope apotheosizes the eye of the mind. Contemporary physics, data science, and genetics apotheosize the eye of the mind. But all of these can only be understood and applied through the prisms of the eye of the senses. For each of these feels is rife with myriad assertions of VALUE. And value can only be seen, engaged, felt, known, discerned through the eye of the heart. But we have all but abandoned the eye of the heart. We have abandoned the inner subjectivity of the Infinite that lives “in me, as me and through me”. Or expressed collectively, “in us, as us and through us”. In doing so we have actively denuded the human being of her grandeur and degraded our interior intuitions as grandiosity. We've stopped practicing in the eye of the heart.

We have lost access to the cultural inheritance generated by the great traditions. We look at the great traditions, born in the premodern period and say, “those religions were terrible, ethnocentric, anti-science as we now understand it, anti-feminine and homophobic to boot”.

And that is true. Of course, it is true that religions have enormous shadow. But so did governments and all of the other cultural, social and political institutions of the day. Religious institution was both unimaginably profound, even as it was refracted through the prism of the structure stages of developmental consciousness which were the center of gravity in the culture of the day. And so, it was and so it always is in all realms of Reality. Thus, the premodern religions and their shadows were not particularly a religion-problem. Rather it was a Reality-problem. It was a structure of a consciousness-problem. Everybody was ethnocentric and homophobic, Reality was. That was the structure of consciousness. And religion expressed that.

Thus, in modernity there was a dominant school of thinkers that rejected and mocked religion. I might call this the David Hume School. There were other people in modernity, whom we might loosely label as the perennial philosophers, who said that religions were actually important.

A lot of perennialists said, each in their own language, that what matters in religions are not the “surface structures” of rituals, but the “depth structures”. According to these thinkers, the depth structures are the esoteric truth hidden in the core of every great tradition.

These hidden esoteric truths are not dogma, but born of direct experimentation in the interior sciences, what is often called spiritual practice. At the core of these great traditions, was the realization that you are one with consciousness. The realization that you are awareness. Or more deeply: you are awareness, aware of awareness.

The dogmas and rituals of the religion were dismissed as being irrelevant to modernity, as but the surface structures of the religion. This kind of thinking is also the assumption given in the contemporary discourse in many voices of Integral Theory around the great traditions. It is of course true in regard to some of the dogmas, for example all of the dogma that is anti-feminine, homophobic, and violently ethno-centric. But in regard to ritual and many of the core unique doctrines of each tradition, this kind of split between irrelevant and untrue surface structures and true depth structure is simply wrong.

It's one of the great flaws in many expressions of perennial thought. The rituals of a religion are not just surface structures, the rituals of a religion are the Unique Self of that religion. The Unique Self of that religionUnique Self is the unique quality of intimacy. Rituals, laws and much of doctrine, is the unique quality of intimacy, the unique quality of meeting, the unique quality of intimate communion, between the Infinite and the finite, incarnate in the Unique Self of that great tradition.

That erotic embrace of the Divine, which expresses itself in those intimate caresses and whispers are what we call ritual, doctrine, and sacred text. In the folds of language, in the ravishment and rapture of ritual, in the gorgeous consciousness of ceremony is that unique intimate quality, which is in some real sense culturally untranslatable.

You can't translate this unique, intimate quality into Universal principles. Because it's not about Universal principles. There are underlying principles of religions that are universal and shared by all the religions. That is the great perennial insight that Marcello Ficinio and others began to realize in the Renaissance. But that's not all of what a religion is. That's one dimension of a religion. A religion is much more than that. A religion is a unique expression, a particular form of the intimate, erotic embrace of the Divine.

We can't actually have a conversation with the religions as long as we're looking at them as if they are the benighted natives and we are the sophisticated postmodernists or even post, post modernists or meta-moderns.

We actually have to be able to enter into the intimate space of a unique religion. If we can really open ourselves up, for the first time in history, those standing outside the intimate circle of religious practice can actually receive or taste the fragrance of their intimacy.

So of course, we reject the dimensions of any religion that are ethnocentric because we understand that the experience of God, as it appeared in that religion, is refracted through a prism of psychological maturity and the prism of structure of consciousness. Revelation is received through our structured stage of consciousness. But we receive not only the Universal principles, but also the Unique Self instrument of a particular great tradition as an essential part of the music of what we might call the Unique Self Symphony of Spirit.

We can and must learn to integrate these intimacies in a new Unique Self Symphony. The Unique Self Symphony will not emerge from a kind of benign imperialist reduction of the religions to their universals.

That's the major mistake of the perennialists. The rituals of the religion are not as the perennialists said, their surface structures.

The religious rituals of the religion are their intimate, culturally untranslatable, ecstatically urgent embraces - each form a unique incarnation of the erotic dance with the Divine.

Recommended Further Reading

SELF In Integral Evolutionary Mysticism

Two Models and Why They Matter - Dr. Marc Gafni

We Need to Liberate the Experience of Revelation.

You also can't talk about Reality without talking about revelation. We have this narcissistic idea that we are the only actors in the Universe. The human being acts. The human being initiates. The human being invokes. Which is true. We do initiate. We do invoke.

But actually there's a two-sided conversation in Reality. Reality is a history of revelations. And if you read the history of planet Earth, it's a history of Divine revelations. And they're not mythic. They're not made up. They're the actual lived experience of the deepest, most subtle and speculative minds across every period of history, across every cultural space, across every geographical space. There's a cascading series of revelations.

Prophecy or revelation is when the Divine initiates and the Divine invokes. But then we have to listen. In the marriage, the Hieros Gamos, the meeting between the human being and the Divine, we mutually co-participate in each other. We have to listen. We have to receive the revelation. And we also need to know that revelation is always refracted through our psychological maturity and cultural structure stage of consciousness.

There are three core intimate knowings or principles required to receive revelation in our time. A reception which is crucial to our survival in this crucial juncture in human history:

  1. At the core there's the one unified field of meaning. The universals that bind us all. The narratives of identity. The universe stories.

  2. There are intimate cascading waves of relationship that emerge out of Infinity, that personally address Reality. Revelation is real. Revelation is not made up. We realize that each religion has an intimate language, intimate ritual and intimate erotic dance with the Divine. And that language can't be reduced to surface structures. We can choose to be loyal to one of the languages of intimacy. We can choose to be monogamous with that intimacy. But we must realize that there are cascading streams of intimate Infinity, incarnating in different structures, forms and modes. So while we are monogamous. God is madly loving. God is polyamorous. And if we root ourselves in a primary tradition, we are invited to have wondrous dalliance with other forms and traditions. But if there is no primary monogamy, it all gets empty and confusing very quickly.

  3. There is no sharp split between the awakened human and the Divine. Human beings participate in Divinity even as we are held by Divinity. On that paradox we will write at a different time. But for now it is enough to say the following: revelation is interpreted through our particular structured stage of consciousness. We need to actually receive the revelation. We must train our listening. But we are not passive listeners. We are active receivers of revelation. As active receivers we must - with great Joy - clarify and evolve our own consciousness in order to hear more clearly. Our listening co-creates the revelation. There is always going to be a human to be a hermeneutic prism through which the pure word of God is refracted. God speaks in the language of humans.

And if we actually evolve our consciousness, if we evolve our God-ness, then we’re going to hear that revelation much more clearly.

[This blogpost is almost all direct quotes from Dr. Marc Gafni collected from the raw transcript of the featured clip below, which is created from the free weekly broadcast of One Mountain, Many Paths, happening live every Sunday at 10 am PT]

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Religion Needs to Be Part of the Revolution: Evolving the Unique Self Eros of the Great Traditions - from the Inside