Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Robb Smith's Response to the Marc Gafni Situation

Robb Smith is the CEO of Integral Life, he was one of the small group of people who chose to believe Marc Gafni's retelling of the events that occurred in Israel in 2006 (along with Diane Hamilton, Sally Kempton, and Clint Fuhs) - and in Gafni's version he was the victim, not the students and co-workers with whom he had been having simultaneous affairs.

At the time, I was the lone integral blogger arguing against Gafni being welcomed back - or if he was to return, that he not be allowed to teach in public or take private students. No one listened. Last summer I called him out on the plagiarism issue (here and here), and he weaseled his way out of that one, leaving Diane Hamilton to take the blame that squarely fell on him.

Now, as I detailed yesterday, Gafni has once again proven himself to be the man all his ex-wives (three, read this from the third wife), ex-lovers, and the eight or more organizations that have fired him have always argued him to be.

I called on Robb, as one of the people responsible for bringing Gafni back into the public realm to make a public statement, and he has - not as strong as it could be, in my opinion, but more than I expected. Gratitude for that.

He began with this at his Facebook page:
Today we have been called to listen and can hear wounds calling out for healing. Please don’t be afraid. Where our deepest dreams and self-held aspirations meet our most profound yearning for communion lives an awesome opportunity for awakening to our true nature. May all my friends, and any who see me as an enemy, experience the ecstatic embrace of our only one Self. All who weep in sorrow, I stand with you, I gently hold your hand that divine bliss can heal your heavy heart. Where there is suffering let us face it together. Let us be here now. And let us answer the suffering by listening ever more loudly. Let us sing together in joy. Let us infuse our hearts with the joy that fuels compassion. Let us be the only Joy that heals all wounds. Rama bolo, rama bolo, bolo ram.
That's nice, and fluffy, and, well, nice. But at Integral Life, where it matters since he is the CEO, he was a little more serious.
Where I Stand
Posted September 13th, 2011 by Robb Smith

Dear friends:

I found out about Bill Harryman’s allegations against Marc Gafni about 3 weeks ago. Though I was surprised that, like those of 5 years ago, they involved the intersection of sex and manipulation, at Integral Life we have for the past year been separating our activities from those of Marc. Our separation over the past year obviously did not derive from this recent scandal; long ago it became clear to us that we moved through the world in very different ways. Integral Life and Integral Institute have discontinued support of Center for World Spirituality and almost a year ago we decided to make ISE 3 our last year as a partnership with I-Evolve.

After talking directly to Tami Simon about the recent situation, it was clear to me that Integral Life was a bystander to the recent allegations and couldn’t make a preemptive or unilateral statement involving a situation in which we weren’t involved. But, as I described to Tami, I am tired of running to the scene of a fire and finding a spiritual teacher holding matches. I will not stand by and let Integral Life’s community (and integral theory’s reputation in the world) die of smoke inhalation. I just will not let our organizations be associated with this kind of reckless controversy. We aren’t big on wielding power unnecessarily but we will keep fire starters away from our home.

In a conversation with Diane Hamilton yesterday she pointed out that perspectives are limitless but that action is singular and concrete. So although the Integral Life team has taken many perspectives on this situation, we stand by our actions. They include the following.
  • By mutual agreement with I-Evolve, Integral Life has assumed full control and responsibility for ISE 3 as of last week. We’ve already established an awesome new event leadership team and will be announcing the new design in coming weeks. (Suffice it to say that everyone on the team is ecstatic that the event will refocus on Ken Wilber’s unique architecture of creativity as a living praxis in our lives.)
  • We have removed Marc’s contributor pages on Integral Life as we prepare to migrate the site to its new design in coming months.
  • I have asked that a formal “Policy of Ethics” be put in place for all contributors to Integral Life by end of Q1 2012.
When I wrote on Facebook this morning that I appreciate Bill Harryman’s contribution to this community I really meant it. I think Bill is right to call me to account for my rationale of inviting Marc Gafni back into the community 3 years ago. I see his point and believe that I understand it. As of right now I don’t hold tightly the idea that it was the right call. But I think it was. Just as the justice system is designed to let ten guilty men go free rather than allow one innocent man go wrongly sentenced, I insist on first-hand experience that I can stand by in my judgment of someone's character. I have it, and have acted on it.
Read the whole statement.

I appreciate that Robb has made a public statement - and if anyone had been talking to the victims in the first place and taking their perspectives into account, people may have gone to Robb with the information that I ended up posting.

BUT, no one trusts integral leadership to the right thing when one of their own is involved.

If II and IL had stayed with Ken Wilber's original assessment (i.e., Marc's illness) and not been sucked in to Gafni's rationalizations and twisting of the truth, none of this would have happened, at least not in the integral world. 
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