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 discusses the Five Selves in the journey from Separate Self to Evolutionary Unique Self, becoming the "cause" of Reality .
Intimacy = Shared Identity
Your Unique Self is an expression of the larger field of LoveIntelligence, LoveBeauty and LoveDesire that is the interior face of the Kosmos. We call that dimension of Reality, the field, the seamless coat of the Universe or True Self.
Knowing this truth of your larger identity is the great work of enlightenment. To realize your enlightenment is simply to realize your true identity. This realization of true identity is not a frill of life for the elite or elect. It is rather the great goal, the true purpose and wondrous joy of every human life.
The transformation of identity is the transformation that transforms everything. It is the change that changes everything. The realization of True Self, is the realization of the true nature of things. It is the realization that I am quite literally inseparable from the seamless coat of the Universe.
It is in that sense that Master Dogen called enlightenment “Intimacy with all things”. But Intimacy means something. It is not, as those who adduce Master Dogen usually understand him, merely an interior feeling. We have established an intimacy formula at the core of the dharma. It begins with the phrase “Intimacy = Shared identity”.
The realization of True Self is the realization of shared identity with All of Reality. This shared identity is realized however not only by the interior sciences. It is not only a shared identity with consciousness. As if that was not enough. But - and follow closely here - this is not only a truth of the interior sciences. It is a great truth of the exterior sciences as well. For reality is interiors and exteriors all the way down and all the way up the evolutionary chain. This is a huge realization. It means that the intimacy of shared identity has exterior as well as interior expression.
You do not exist without the Higgs field in physics. You do not exist without the electromagnetic field. You would not exist without all of the forces of the physiosphere, acting on the entire range of elementary particles, virtually all of which literally live in you. The fields of physics of course generate the possibility of the biosphere of life in all of its guises. You do not exist without the coral reef, without the insects on the bottom of the ocean, without an entire range of plants. You share identity with the elementary particles, with the sun, with the world of life, all which quite literally lives inside of you. Your membranes with reality is permeable.
You do not exist without the larger field. The more you realize your shared identity with ever wider and deeper fields, the more you are intimate with all things. The more you wake up to your own enlightenment, to your true identity, which is the deepest and most shocking intimacy.
Your Unique Self is the Unique Feature of the Seamless Coat of the Universe
But here is the next step. And it is even more shocking, if that is at all possible. The first step, is the move from Separate Self identity to True Self. Your shared intimate identity with the seamless coat of the Universe is the first step.
The second step is your irreducible uniqueness within this larger field of interconnectivity, Eros, allurement and Desire. The coat of the Universe is seamless, but not featureless. And your Unique Self is the unique feature of that seamless coat of the Universe. You’re an irreducible incarnation of that unique field.
The field of True Self generates Unique Self. You.
The topic of this week’s clip below is the Five Selves. Each of these five selves live in you. Your life story is your journey in, as and through the Five Selves. The Five Selves are Separate Self, False Self, True Self, Unique Self and Evolutionary Unique Self.
Dharma of Five Selves
Let’s take a moment to recapitulate at least a small piece of the Dharma of Five Selves. When we move from pre‑personal to self, we individuate. This is the emergence of Separate Self. There is a sense of agency, a sense of identity. It is the realization that we are not our surroundings and that we are in relationship with our surroundings in some way. There is distinction and individuation. That’s Separate Self.
The shadow of Separate Self, of this notion of individuating, is thinking that that’s all we are. Thinking that we are genuinely separate from the larger field in a fundamental way. That feeling, that sense of aloneness, that sense of contraction, that’s what we call, in the negative sense, the “Ego.” The healthy ego is the healthy, integrated sense of self. That is not the way we are using the term Ego. We are rather referring to the Ego in its shadow form. The ego in its shadow form is a contraction. It’s a coiling of infinity into a finite point and then that finite point dissociates from the larger field of infinity.
The contraction is not in the discretion of infinity into a point. That dissection of infinity is the intention of Kosmos. It is a feature and not a bug in Kosmos. Rather it is the coiling and contraction of that point, which is the place of distortion. The point, the unique point dissociates from the larger field.
This dissociation, this attention fixation on the contraction where we think that that is all we are, is the source of pain. That’s the source of suffering. If our attention is stuck, if we cannot feel or see beyond the contraction, then we keep looping again and again. We keep looping through yesterday and looping through the old traumas and we can never get out of them. Because that is all we are. This is what we have called “False Self”. False Self is all the distorted forms of Separate Self.
The beginning of the transformation is to actually give a more accurate answer to the question of, “Who are you”?
You Are an Irreducible Unique Cause of All of Reality
Who are you? Is it true that you’re a Separate Self?
Well, the first answer is “Yes”. Separate Self exists in the mind of God. There is a truth to our sense of distinction. And the notion that we evolve entirely beyond ego is not true. But here is the key. Although we never evolve beyond Ego, we can and must, evolve beyond exclusive identification with Ego. That is our natural Telos and Joy. So let’s say it again. Enlightenment is not evolution beyond ego.
Enlightenment is Evolution beyond exclusive identification with Ego.
For we know what we are more than Ego. We are more than separate self. We know - anthro-ontologically - in the depth of our being, body, mind and heart, we know that’s we are not only Separate Self. Separate Self does not even begin to exhaust our true identity. Because we know that we yearn to move beyond ourselves. We know that if we live on an island by ourselves, even though we have all of our needs taken care of, we are fundamentally devastated. We know that we yearn for contact. We yearn to touch interiority. We yearn for contact, interior to interior and body to body. Without that depth of contact we are quite literally devastated, emotionally, physically psychologically and existentially.
For all these reasons and more, we know, based on the deepest realization of the interior sciences and the exterior sciences, that I’m not Separate Self, but I’m actually True Self.
So if I understand the true nature of myself, I know that I am not merely a Separate Self, I am True Self. But I’m not just True Self, I am a Unique Self. It’s not just a field of interconnectivity. I’m a unique node. I’m a unique feature. The seamless coat of the Universe is seamless, but not featureless. There’s a standing wave and there’s nodes in that standing wave.
I’m a part that’s part of a larger whole, that’s part of a larger whole, that itself is part of the larger whole. Reality is, as Arthur Koestler reminded us, made up of Holons: Whole Parts all the way down and all the way up.
So I’m part of this larger field of interconnectivity and intimacy, that is defined by the experience of allurement and desire. I’m not just in the field of intimacy and desire, but I’m a unique node in that field. I uniquely stand at the very center of that field. There’s not one center, but there are multiple centers, so discloses mathematical cosmology today. And so knew the leading edges of the interior sciences.
I am one of those multiple centers. I am not just affected by the universal causation, which generates me, but I am cause. I am not only a product of cause and effect. I am cause. I am Unique Self.
To be cause is a crucial part of what it means to be Unique Self. It means that my unique node in the middle of that field is generative and free and cause. All of the fields are acting on me all the way up and all the way down. All of the fields hold me, are part of my identity and cause me. And all of the fields are also moved by my central node in the midst of it all, which is my irreducible uniqueness. My irreducible uniqueness is cause. So I’m both generated by the entire cause and effect, and I cause the effect. I am, literally, cause of Reality.
To actually be Unique Self is to know that I’m not just an object affected by cause and effect, but I am subject, which is cause of Reality. To be Unique Self is to know that I’m the irreducibly unique cause of all of Reality.
I am not just Unique Self, I’m Evolutionary Unique Self: the entire process of evolution moves through me. I’m aligning with the evolutionary impulse, which is the unique configuration of Intimacy, Eros, and Desire that lives in me, as me, and through me, which causes Reality.
In that precise sense, I am not merely created, but I am the creator. I am not merely caused, but I am cause. The realization of this truth must be birthed in me anew every day. That realization is generated through practice. This realization of Unique Self the New Mind that’s birthed in me in every day, in every moment.
There’s one question, which is the ultimate Unique Self practice, and the question is: "What does Reality need me to cause in the very next moment?" For to be cause is to be needed. To be cause means, as one great mystic Ibn Gabbai said, that “Reality Needs My Service”.
The great truth of Kosmos, is who we really are. It is knowing who I am and I cry out, “I am needed. I am in the ecstatic urgency and joy of being needed. Hineni. Here I am. I’m ready to be cause.”
Unique Self Symphony
But all that is not enough. We must go the next step. We link hands with other Unique Selves. We become Unique Self Symphony. We stand together to generate a “Planetary Awakening in Love through Unique Self Symphonies”.
When Barbara Marx Hubbard and I founded One Mountain, this was the dream. This is our dream together friends. All of us. This is the dream of reality. This is reality dreaming through us. But it must not remain a dream. It must become an active political and social reality. We join together and we create and generate the next stage of the self‑actualizing Kosmos. The next level of the self‑organizing Universe.
Then we unleash a cascading force of Love, of Eros unlike any of the top‑down command and control systems ever could have dreamed of.
That’s how we respond to existential risk: not just by avoiding dystopia, but by becoming utopia in person ourselves.
Homo sapien becomes Homo amor.
[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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