When the Life Imperative Insists on Making Yourself Whole … No Matter The Cost

joe-at-coffeeA writer needs to write, never more so then when he has been keeping secrets which eat away at him relentlessly and which demand opening to the light. Knowing the world won’t accept you, the darkness gathers. An explosion is inevitable … with growing openness, a creative explosion.

I never really thought I’d be as brave as I must be to complete my vision for the Brave New Worlds blog. There is now an editorial calendar for this publication which fills me with emotional dread and existential terror. It involves the publication of of four short books on this blog plus supportive material within the next 9 months. It will force me to give you, my reader, the first barely expurgated look at my psychological and spiritual evolution since writing my autobiography, Soulfully Gay, more than 13 years ago. I will need to take you along the topsy-turvy, rolly-polly ride which has unsettled every previous belief (without disjarring them entirely), documented with reams of correspondence and private journals never before seen publicly.

Much of these four books are already written, except for introductory notes and minor editing. So I can see what’s coming. At times they’re grotesque and ugly, scandalous and creepy, wicked and shameful. Some people will never forgive me for revealing the hidden story that I wished I could avoid detailing in public (but I can’t, I’m afraid). But if you have an Integral sensibility and an open heart and mind, perhaps you will find in these upcoming publications a beacon of hope, an illumination into unstudied and misunderstood realms of abnormal psychology and spiritual exuberance, and even a remarkably original vision of how to move humanity forward from this point in our history. It is a vision that goes beyond the problems we face in the manifest realms to the plague confronting unseen places.

Why is this necessary? For starters there’s the sense I’ve felt that after writing a tell-all autobiography at the age of 33/34, that I promptly went into the closet again. My life went on, drama after drama, jail cell after jail cell, psych ward after psych ward, abandoned manuscript after abandoned manuscript, mixed with an indefatigable commitment to spiritual practices that were totally off-the-chart (in other words, often improvised by the seat of my pants in life-threatening situations). To the physicians, I was a mental patient. To my own reckoning, I was a mystic engaged in a radical spiritual practice of witnessing seldom noticed subtle phenomena at the edge of consensual reality. I made friends and enemies in the unseen places, and experienced new dimensions of love and hatred. And out of these observations, I grew adept at a practice of being among the first in a lineage of what I call “World Shamans”: world-walkers without a tribe who are loyal only to the tribe of humanity and,  indeed, all sentient beings (known and unknown) in the Kosmos.

World Shamans? Witnessing psychotic delusions and re-framing them as a hermeneutics of consensual reality’s breakdown? Perhaps this is just so much rationalization on behalf of a bipolar man seeking meaning in the essentially meaningless. But who the hell are you to tell me this persuasively? Have you seen what I have seen? Have you seen reality face crises unlike anything ever told? Have you been contacted by non-human entities through “telepathic” connections, spirits and beasts and demons bearing messages of terrible Armageddon and hope for curing what ills us? Have you found yourself convinced that you have been given prophecies by God … in a world where such message are dismissed as lunatic ravings by haters both within and outside the churches? Were you ever given a special urgent mission for spiritual renewal, only to face utter failure?

And all of this will be explored in Brave New Worlds over the course of the next year … and more. I haven’t mentioned the most scandalous stuff. I need to bear the scandalous stuff too, as much as humanly possible and permitted, so I may be whole again. The secret must be lifted. No one truly knows the burdens I have carried or the scar of secrecy entailed.  And within the months ahead, it will all be open for you to form your reactions.

Good for you, for reading along. I welcome you on this voyage in this website. We have a remarkable nine months ahead of us, if you have the commitment to continue your readership.

An Apology as A Former Marc Gafni Defender

In 2011, I became friends with Dr. Marc Gafni, currently the head of the Center for Integral Wisdom. I visited him and listened to him extensively discuss the allegations of various parties (mostly women alleging emotional or sexual abuse), and learned that he had an archive of private materials in his defense. I perused the private materials and, after some deliberation, came to see matters much as he did, as a misplaced and unsubstantiated vendetta.

In all of my deliberations, I relied mainly upon public information and his private archives, except for one scandal. It was the scandal that brought Marc and I together, actually. Tami Simon, the head of Sounds True, cancelled Marc’s book deal, alleging that Marc had been inappropriately involved with two persons, one a student. Marc expressed regret about some of his behavior, such as asking for privacy/secrecy from the women, but not all of his behavior. I interviewed the two women and attempted to interview Tami. When Tami refused an interview, I posted a blog post with my interview questions for her. I really didn’t feel I had enough information to judge Tami, but I did feel that Marc’s behavior while problematic was not an obstacle to his continued involvement in the Integral community.

In 2012 and 2013, I collaborated with Marc on a variety of projects, the most important being my work to help ensure that the website for Your Unique Self got off the ground. For over a year I was an independent contractor for the Center for World Spirituality (which would later be renamed CIW).

Continue reading “An Apology as A Former Marc Gafni Defender”

A Good Discussion of the “Scandal Of Particularity” From Integrally-Informed Perspectives…

Trevor Malkinson (via Facebook)

… on Trevor Malkinson’s blog. His view:

I have no doubt that Jesus must’ve been a powerful presence; I like Cynthia Bourgeault’s recent interpretation of Jesus as one of the great wisdom masters of the ancient world. But I find the notion that the Incarnation was an event that only happened in one particular unique individual unfortunate. I agree with the writer of The Gospel of Thomas that “divine Reality exists inside and all around you” (Logion 3), that is, we all have access to Christ consciousness. The point of our lives is to become Incarnations ourselves. The philosopher Hegel, who also attended seminary for awhile, agreed. In his Phenomenology of Spirit, he writes that in the Incarnation God has only now achieved “its own highest essence” (1). However, Hegel writes that in the Christian view that Spirit has incarnated in only One particular person, “Spirit as an individual Self is not yet equally the universal Self, the Self of everyone” (2). That is, it is not yet recognized, to use Hegelian language, that the universal Self is the true Self of every particular person.

The focus on a single particular Incarnation also prevents us from seeing the Spirit that lives in others, that dwells and gurgles in the world all around us.

As a student of Roman Catholic theology at Harvard 20 years ago, the notion of the “scandal of particularity” is familiar to me.

The way it’s formulated in orthodox Catholic doctrine is essentially a rationalization for making the ultimate ethnocentric move: asserting your religion is the One True Faith. But it’s an idea that can be re-formulated at different stages of Christian faith, and different levels of consciousness. Marc Gafni’s idea of Unique Self, for instance, reclaims particularly of self in a non-ethnocentric way.