– Marc Gafni’s friends, colleagues, and supporters speak out supporting Marc Gafni, for the sake of restoring integrity. This response by AL was first posted as a comment to the Center for Integral Wisdom statement on centerforintegralwisdom.org. You can read the statement below or listen to the audio. –
I’m happy to have the chance to write in support of Marc Gafni.
What I notice in the recent furor about Marc is not only the desire to demonize him in ways that I do not recognize, but to attack anyone who supports him. This was also true of the Harryman blog episode several years ago. The tone is borderline hysterical, as if there were a madman on the loose and we need to protect the good people of the world. If I did not know Marc well I would be quite terrified–certainly the person people are describing is not someone I would want to support. So…if you are among them let me ask you to listen. I’m of sound mind. I know some of you. I don’t see you as an enemy. I am puzzled, however, at how frightened you are, and I wonder–of what?
I wonder if it might be this. Marc is eerily accurate in describing the human condition, particularly with respect to Eros and false Eros. Marc talks about Eros as a fullness of presence, of participating in the yearning force of being and of radical wholeness or interconnectivity. I think we all know that at some level. We all have our private and often furtive ways of recovering a lost sense of aliveness, be it through drugs, sex, compulsive work, controlling others, gossip, pornography, whatever. Most of our mistakes can be private…even our rigid closing off of love is private in its consequences. No one gets in trouble for that. Becoming distant is a non-action, or so it seems.
But Marc refuses to shut down, and he holds out for real Eros. Again, by Eros I do not mean sex, but rather an aliveness and fullness of life itself. He has pushed me to love more deeply, to commit more fully, to take myself and my work and my presence more seriously. There are times I have wanted him to back off, to let me settle for being just a little above average, to hold back on Eros, not to see myself as the contribution to the whole that my life is. But he is right in saying that true Eros is in being who we really are–that is what the unique self means. It has its own energy and aliveness, and none of the other strategies of false Eros can touch it. And I can see that my world needs me–not as some kind of messiah, but as the particular voice and perspective that I bring to every situation. This is a radical statement and for Marc it is true of everyone by definition. In a world filled with depression and addiction in every social class and country, even among high-performing college students, Marc’s work is a lightning bolt.
I have seen him push too hard and try to do too much. I understand that concern. He has learned to rely more on others in recent years and to seek their perspectives more deeply. He is a superb listener and loves to collaborate, and sometimes takes over. I do not know a single strong leader who is not sometimes guilty of that. It is why the prophetic voice is often run out of town. He confronts us. But I know many strong leaders who cannot themselves be confronted, and Marc is not that person. He welcomes strength, and he deeply welcomes strength in women and men. I have experienced that as a woman, and I have seen it many, many times.
I take the charge of emotional abuse seriously. I have known people who fit that description, who ambush people and deliberately humiliate and dehumanize them. Marc’s entire life is opposite to that. Women who become involved with him do so with full agency, and always one risks hurt in relationship. I’ve seen him impatient working on a project, I’ve seen him annoyed. But I have never seen him target someone in anything remotely like the way he is repeatedly targeted–and he could, publicly. He never does. The cruel tone of his accusers betrays their intent —the more shrill they become, the more obvious it is that something else is going on. It is as old as the log and speck story in the bible–we see in someone else what is true-or we fear is true–of ourselves. For anyone trained in psychology or emotional understanding to miss this is irresponsible.
I have many times seen on the internet the whisper that Marc does not have a PhD from Oxford. No doubt Oxford has been asked this question many times. He does have a PhD. It’s publicly documented, along with a beautiful letter from his thesis adviser. Marc is a top Kabbalah scholar. To question this so often is another example of the peculiar urge to destroy.
I do not know how to heal this rift but I ask us all to consider what has happened here. For many, Marc’s philosophy is part of an antidote to so much that is impersonal and life-denying in the world today. In your zeal to protect, do not invent sources of evil. There is enough injustice already. If we truly hope to offer anything to the world, we have to find and model another way to deal with anger and fear–something that embodies honesty and the hope of reconciliation. Otherwise, we are simply driving deeper the ruts that have gotten us–humanity–where we are. For this to come from those who would be spiritual teachers is its own irony. But it points us directly toward the work we need to do, and our own obligation to do it.
I would happily sign this but do not want to provide another interesting target for such a strangely misguided campaign. All of us, on any side of this, have far more essential work to do.