Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Is Marc Gafni Featured in 3 Sessions at the 2010 Integral Theory Conference? #itc2010 [Comments Reopened]

[8-8-2010 - comments are now reopened - Additional thoughts added at the bottom]

* * * * *

[UPDATE 2:
The conference organizers have asked that this thread be closed at this point. They do so from the perspective that representatives from both sides of a controversial issue have been able to express their views, which they feel is important. And from the perspective that there are more appropriate places for these perspectives to continue to air their differences. This request was made by them out of a commitment to keep the energy of the conference focused on the development of academic discourse.]

I agree and am cool with this - we can take it up at later date in a less adversarial forum.

[UPDATE: I have been asked by conference organizers to remove the link to and quotes from Marc's paper - it was never intended for publication or public use. Marc owns copyright and without his permission, posting it is a violation of trust.
I apologize for not checking with organizers about this before resharing the link. I have also been asked to include the letter of support from Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber - it is in the comments.

MY STANCE: I do not want the conference to be overshadowed by this issue. I stand by my criticisms, but there are many wonderful presenters and people at this conference. Let's have fun and enjoy the learning.

Following the conference, we can take this topic up again, and perhaps do so in a more compassionate way - I was wrong to make this the first post on the conference.

I would to like to return our focus to sharing and learning. Thank you for your passion about this, and your understanding.]


As many readers may already know, I am the official blogger for the 2010 Integral Theory Conference this weekend at JFK University. Although the conference does not begin officially until Friday, I am beginning my blogging efforts today.

Having looked at the schedule pretty closely to see what I will be missing as I blog the events Mark and Sean want to highlight, I noticed that Marc Gafni will be speaking in three separate sessions (one of his own), but there was no paper posted in the list of presenters. I figured he may not have submitted a paper, or it had not been received yet.

What I didn't figure was that he had submitted a paper, and that it is horribly written (not the slightest bit of editing), and that far from academic, it is little more than a self-justification (in his own mind) for his history of sexually inappropriate relationships with students.

An anonymous reader of this blog left a comment on an earlier post about the conference and provided me a link to the article (which has subsequently been removed from the ITC site - and with good reason).

Here is the comment that was left, with the original PDF link to Gafni's article (removed) (because this was left as a public comment on the blog and not sent as a personal email, I am assuming I can repost it here) - nothing ever disappears completely in cyberspace:
I’m curious if you’ve had a chance to read the paper Marc Gafni submitted for the conference, entitled “Spiritually Incorrect: Sex, Ethics and Injury.” Rather than a clear, academic presentation of Integral theory, it’s 32 pages of rambling self-justification for his sexually abusive behaviors, attacks on the women who spoke up against him, distortions of Kabbalistic teachings presented as means to defend himself, and quotes by so-called “power feminists” aligned with his perspective. Also included is the suspiciously repetitive insistence that now that he’s partnered with Mariana Caplan, he’s completely monogamous.

His writing reveals that, if nothing else, this is a man who is using his teaching platform to promote his own self-serving and warped agenda.

According to the posted schedule, Gafni will be presenting three times at the conference.

You’ve been so good about raising public concern about questionable spiritual teachers; there are many of us who are profoundly grateful for your articulate voice of integrity! So I thought you might want to be alerted to this recent example of the inappropriateness of this brilliant yet disturbed and dangerous man being presented as a leader in the Integral world.

For some reason Gafni’s name and paper no longer appear with the list of presenters on the ITC website (hmmm, curious), but here’s a link to the paper if you’re interested:

I downloaded the article and have read it (well, skimmed it after the first several pages - it was too garbled to read closely).
I read the article all the way through - painfully.

At one point, Gafni "critiques" the work of Glen Gabbard and Peter Rutter - explicated in Rutter's book, Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power - Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers, and Others - Betray Women's Trust. He suggests that this book is filled with "absolutist language" about relationships with clients - “absolutely never,” “Never at all,” and “There are no exceptions whatsoever” (p. 12).

With his history (The Awareness Center has been tracking his sexual misconduct for years, although the main page they had on him is now missing), one might guess he would not enjoy that book at all. On the other hand, I have not read the book, so maybe it sucks.

Yet, ALL of the ethics boards for therapists condemn and prohibit sexual relationships with clients, including the APA, ACA, ISPA (school psychologists), NBCC, and nearly every other ethics body - including the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Gafni's argument in opposition to this collective body of wisdom is this (by the way, this is one of the clearer passages) (quote deleted): the codes are amber fundamentalism, little more than dogma. And he concludes that even Jung transgressed these codes. Further, the authors he cites believe a therapist needs little more than 1-2 years of rehabilitation before returning to practice/

It is not coincidental that Gafni spent two years doing "therapy and inner work," at least according to him, after his "incident" in Israel.

If we ignore his use of the psychoanalytic model to explain transference (this is not accurate for most other models of therapy, including contemporary versions of psychoanalysis), we can focus on his real objection - the book is not based in integral theory. Yet he latches onto the one element of the book, one might assume, that justifies his continued role as a teacher - that one who transgresses can be rehabilitated.

When he first returned to public life after his "rehabilitation," Gafni tried to convince members of the integral community, including me, that if one takes an integral view on his behavior, he did nothing wrong - I am convinced he sincerely believes this to be true. But claiming an integral context does not make it right - nor does claiming an unconventional lifestyle.

Here is the real crux of his argument, however - it's the women's fault he had sex with them. (quote deleted) Their shadow use of power is equally to blame for what happened.

So far, we have two main points - (1) you have to be integral to understand his sexual relationships with students, and ethics code forbidding such relationships are simply dogmatic, and (2) his relationships are outside the conventional paradigm for what is acceptable, and blaming them on his "masculine" shadow while ignoring the feminine shadow is more dogma.

I have no doubt that the women played a substantial role in what happened - these were not rapes, they were inappropriate relationships with students. In this situation, it is the teacher who is SUPPOSED TO KNOW BETTER and do the right thing. He has failed many times in this regard.

This next passage could almost be a quote from Warren Farrell, another friend of Wilber, except that Farrell would likely not be citing feminists of any kind (deleted) - he references some feminists who have critiqued the tendency toward women filing false rape/assault charges against men. In general, they are solid writers and thinkers, but I wonder how they might like be referenced by Gafni in this context.

The interesting thing about Gafni is that some of what he says has merit - some women do have sexual relationships with men and then try to hurt them with claims of abuse and harassment when it ends, and men do use their power to coerce women into having sex with them sometimes. Both of these are shadow material acted out in real time.

If one does not read this stuff with a critical ear, it's easy to get snowed by his arguments in defense of his own actions, which is all this "paper" amounts to. He has submitted a 32 page paper in defense of being sexually inappropriate with students - AND he gets to present this at the Integral Theory Conference.

I know some people involved with the conference raised their objections to his presence - and I also know that Gafni and Wilber have been friends for many years, not to mention that Sally Kempton and Diane Hamilton both support him for some strange reason I cannot conceive.

I'm sure this will not win me any friends among conference organizers, but now you know what Gafni will speaking about and you can read the paper in advance - so use that time to go see someone else.

For example, Dustin DiPerna will be speaking about spiritual development from an integral perspective, Marilyn Hamilton will be speaking on integral meshworking for resilient environments, and Dan O'Conner will be speaking about integral praxiology, an integral science of human action (I'll be blogging this one).

**********

UPDATE: 8/8/2010 - Comments Reopened

In the time since this post went up, I have received a LOT of email from people sharing their perspectives on all of this - some of whom have been among Gafni's "partners."

I have been warned that the reason other sites have removed their posts on Gafni's sexual history and allegations of coercion is that his method is to dig up dirt on people and then "convince" them to pull the posts/articles. His other approach, as he has done with The Awareness Center and with Luke Ford is to discredit them very publicly with material from their past (like chasing like, I suppose) - I guess I have that to look forward to if I continue to raise ethical issues.

For the record: I did a LOT of drugs and alcohol in my past - I was promiscuous, though not while in relationships - I did some "time" as a teenager for growing my own weed, vandalism, minor in possession, and a few other petty crimes - I was once a {shudder} a Republican (briefly), and for a couple of years I was a Communist - I have written some really terrible poetry - oh yeah, and this will be news to some people and not to others, I am bisexual.

OK, then - have at it.

**********

I did not get to attend any of Marc's presentations - Sean and Mark kept me as far away as possible. I did hear from those who attended Mar's solo session that there was no question and answer period after his sermon - his was the ONLY session where this was the case.

So much for open inquiry in the integral community.


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I was on the inside of this story for years. There has been a code of silence and fear speaking about Gafni and his illness. Many of the victims still are afraid to publicly 'come out' about what happened to them. There are so many levels at which this story is shocking, disappointing,disgraceful and downright wrong. Gafni 'hides' behind Integral Theory, using absurd rationalizations to 'snow'.

In January of 2008 I confronted Ken about Gafni's re-emergence in the Integral world and his use of Ken's name/Integral to lend himself credibility. Ken said to my face, "he is still sick. Nothing has changed. But I have no choice. He blackmailed me with my teachers."

I could go on with stories about him before he was introduced to the Integral world. This man is not well.

We all long for a compassionate and Integral approach to rehabilitation but everything begins with at least acknowledging the depth of the illness (or that there is even an illness to begin with). Gafni is still sick. I'm not sure what that means for Integral. For me it means staying far away from all things connected with Ken and the work. Sad because I love Integral and can honestly say I know the work as well as anyone I know. It has informed and transformed me but for now, I keep myself far, far away. I seek deep teachers, those who lead with the example of humility, humor, transparency and integrity.

Thank you for your courage and honesty.

BW

WH said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience about this, BW. My hope is that we can create a safe space, even if it's in anonymity, to talk about this in an honest way.

Many, many people have been hurt by Gafni's actions and his apparent denial of his own shadow in this.

What we need to do now is prevent ANYONE else from being hurt by him - and if he can step into his own actions as an agent and seek healing in an honest way, then that would be good as well. Maybe, then, those who have been hurt might find some closure.

BUT I don't see that happening as long as he is sheltered by the integral establishment - so we need to boycott EVERYTHING he is associated with.

And if it is true that he blackmailed Wilber, then Wilber needs to step up and take whatever comes - the ethical thing to do is take responsibility for one's mistakes and deal with the outcome, especially if doing so removes Gafni from public teaching under the integral umbrella.

Peace.

durgacious said...

I will respond briefly to Harriman's post. I am also responding on Ken's behalf, since he has authorized me to do so.

Harriman asks why Sally Kempton, Diane Hamilton, and many others support Marc Gafni. Here's why: Unlike Harriman, we have looked carefully at the issues involved. We did this three years ago, spending many hours reviewing material, and we have continued to monitor the issues since. Between us, over a period of time, all the people involved in the story, or their represetntatives were spoken to. The conclusions we came to were not at all ambiguous. It became clear to us as a result of our research that the complaints circulated in public forems and in the press about Marc were categorically false. Objective evaluations, following standard processes, were done in all four quadrants. Evaluations were posted on Gafni's website. Marc himself posted nuanced, detailed and clear statements that are available on the web. In other words, these issues have been seriously looked at within the Integral community. And I and others have talked extensively with Ken about it.
Later today, I'll repost a public letter, signed by myself and Ken, which contains a summation of the results of this process of investigation.

Diane and I, as spiritual teachers, as women and as people concerned and dedicated to helping anyone who is genuinely abused, stand firmly and proudly with Marc, whom we know deeply as a person of depth, heart and integrity. So do many others in the Integral community who have personal experience of him as a teacher, colleague and friend.
Mr Harriman has posted blogs for a couple of years,after refusing repeated offers to meet and share with him objective information, face to face. Whatever his personal feelings or his personal agenda, the absurd suggestion that something is being hidden or covered up is preposterous. His attempt to use his position as the official blogger at the integral theory conference to attack Marc is disingenuous at best. There are many substantive issues to be discussed at this conference. It is a great gathering of energy.

Anyone interested in Gafni's perspective on the feminine and the masculine is welcome to attend his session at the conference, and will find it to be nuanced, and filled with a sense of personal responsibility as well as his deep understanding of the Integral perspective on this and other issues.

Finally a word in relationship to Ken, since he has asked me to respond here. Ken has been apprised of and often deeply involved in the processes and investigations that have gone on over the last several years. His support of Marc is unwavering and based on his own ethical integrity. Ken, like myself, Diane, all of the many evaluators, and many others in and out of the Integral community are fully cognizant of the issues involved, , and profoundly support the righting of any and all injustices, whether to the feminine and to the masculine. I wish everyone a good and productive conference. Enjoy.

WH said...

I am assuming that durgacious is Sally Kempton - so thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. By the way, it's Harryman, with a y, not an i.

My post was based on the article he wrote for the conference - he brought up the issue of the "past controversy," which makes it fair game for discussion.

I have read the letter attributed to you and Ken - and after speaking with a couple of the people involved in this issue (including one of the women who have not gone public out of fear), I remain entirely unconvinced. I'm sure you will understand when I tell you I will not share their names.

Marc has expressed his interest in speaking with me - he can do so if he chooses - and ALL of it will be on the record.

When Marc first came back onto the scene, he waged a serious effort to convince me of his innocence, including calling me at home - I shared his phone message, and those of others who also called me at home, with several mental health professionals I am friends with, all of whom warned me that he may well be a narcissist. His writings suggest this as well, especially the article he wrote for the conference.

I hope everyone has a great conference, as well.

WH said...

Hi Sally Kempton,

You have left around ten or twelve versions of the same message now, so I am allowing the first one to stand, and posting this comment so that others know that the earlier comments was from you.

Anonymous said...

My sense is that Wilber had too much to gain from having Gafni back on board. True that Gafni probably manipulated the situation in a way that 'forced' Wilber's hand but Integral had much to gain from Gafni's return.

Knowing him as I do, I've seen him work his 'magic'. He knows how to work people to get what he wants and he has a knack for finding people with power and money. I have a strong hunch that he thought of the whole ISE event. That is the way he works. Undoubtedly, Wilber knew Gafni has much to offer his organization.

The sad thing for me is that I remember trying to persuade friends that he seduced, friends who were brilliant, charismatic, highly educated and adept at seeing people's 'stuff'. They offered every counter argument I've read from people like Diane Hamilton and Sally Kempton. Every defense they offered, taken out of context, seemed possible. And then, after all of the abuse, the lying, the secrets, the double binding, the mind games, the fear, the pathology of the narcissist laid bare before their eyes-it was so obvious that he had been transparently sick from the first time they met him. I know many, many of his former 'students', who LOVED him, were taken by him, thought he was a holy man, so good natured and selfless. They attacked those who warned that he was a liar, a manipulative, power hungry person. All evidence was 'manufactured' by those who were 'jealous' of him. And of course, these people said, he is so 'human', he shows us his imperfections every day. We're not being duped, thank you very much. We weren't born yesterday. We would never follow someone blindly. Well, in the end, after the extent of his lying was revealed, these same people, the ones who bought his act, were left wondering how they could have allowed themselves to be so blind.

I hope and pray that the truth is disclosed and that those who have been hurt so deeply can begin to finally heal and trust spiritual teachers again.

BW

Anonymous said...

And, let it be known, I have evidence of my claim made above. Wilber did categorically say 'Gafni is sick' to my face. He basically threw up his hands and said 'there is nothing I can do. He tied my hands behind my back'.

And to answer the silly comments of Pseudo-Sally, none of the women has ever been able to speak publicly about how Gafni lied and manipulated them. Having a cache of email correspondence isn't equivalent to knowing the 'facts' of the case. Shame on you for practicing idiot compassion. Shame on you.

BW

Clint Fuhs said...

Hi Everyone,

I have absolutely nothing to gain from anonymity...so here it is straight up: My name is Clint Fuhs. I am founder of Core Integral, on the board of Integral Institute and senior student of Ken Wilber. I have worked directly with Ken for the last 7.5 years. Go ahead and google me to verify.

I am sharing all of this up front because, frankly, I think that the reliance on anonymity in the blogosphere has severely, and sadly, degraded the sophistication of the discourse such an arena can support.

Next, I am not going to comment on the blog about Marc. This is because, as I have stated before, (once to William directly), I do not believe this arena is the most productive, compassionate, and effective place to have that conversation.

However, I am quite concerned about BW's use of a direct quote from Ken —particularly because it was done without permission and under the shroud of anonymity. I feel drawn to offer a soapbox speech on journalistic ethics…or maybe just ethics in general…but, it seems that most of the blogosphere is in too deep, unable to climb out of the hole it's dug and continues to propagate, comment after anonymous comment.

So, what I have to, is this: I directed Ken's to BW's quote, and he asked me to post the following:

"This quote is not from me. However, I will say that at one time I had sentiments similar to those, but not as harsh. But much of my opinion was based on false information. As Sally Kempton in particular began circulating documented, correct information, I changed my mind rather completely and decided to give Marc a second chance. I circulated several letters to just that effect (see below). Since working again with Marc, I've found him truly changed in many ways, and support him fully. See the following letter from Sally, which also summarizes my present position. Best, Ken Wilber"

I need to post the email he is referencing in another comment do to length restrictions.

Clint Fuhs said...

Here is part one of the email Ken referenced:

Dear Dennis,
First, I appreciate how the scandals within the German Catholic church might be making this psychiatrist hypersensitive to sexual issues. So, bless him for his very natural concern. Unfortunately, as you know, the very real issue of clerical sexual abuse can be used and tragically distorted when applied to people who are not abusers. This has been the case with Marc.

Before I speak in detail to the issues, you’ll know from the letter Ken sent this morning that there is no question that he believes Marc should be teaching at the Integrale event, as well as in other venues. Ken also recommended that Marc offer an optional session to anyone who wants to attend where he address these issues directly. I have checked with Marc and he is more then delighted to do so.

You correctly pointed out in your email that the psychologist in question "based himself in information available on the internet.” Let me state this very clearly. All of the information on the Internet suggesting harassment, abuse or pathology is false. Much of psychological ‘diagnosis’ of Marc’s so-called pathology comes from sensationalistic false press reports that came out in Israel at the time of the events of 2006, and have since been dis-proven, or is taken directly from a letter posted by his angry ex-wife, after their divorce. (The ex-wife has no psychological qualifications beyond a college course or two. Every psychiatrist and psychologist who has evaluated Marc’s character, psychological state and fitness for teaching directly refuted her ‘diagnoses’.)

The truth about the allegations is stated in several documents that I’ve cited below. Kelly Bearer will be sending you the links to them in a separate email that you should get soon after this one. They include a number of written statements that directly address the internet stories, including letters signed by Ken and myself, Robb’s letter, four psychological evaluations that were done after the events in Israel, as well as Marc’s letter taking responsibility for his own part in the system that contributed to these events.


It is certainly true that Marc is charismatic, and that like many teachers, he did at one time date several women in his circle. His relationship behavior was always—as email correspondence affirms—loving and responsible. Obviously he learned some very hard lessons about what is possible, and makes it very clear whenever he teaches that he is not available for such dual relationships. Marc is in a committed, monogamous relationship, and he and his partner are expecting a baby. His life partner, like myself, is extremely knowledgeable about teacher-student relationships. In fact, she has written a book about them.

Clint Fuhs said...

I am unable to get the email Ken referenced to post as a comment.

Please view it here: http://files.me.com/clintfuhs/7v4bop

WH said...

Hi Clint - I have no issue with you, personally, other than that both you and Marc called me at home, without asking about my desire to speak with either of you, back in 2008 when Marc began to resurrect his image. That felt very questionable - I wonder if Tiger Woods called sports/golf bloggers who reported on the allegations being made about his conduct? I suspect not.

Seems I am the lone remaining public voice (other than Be Scofield) who does not trust Marc or his account of things.

In fact, I have issues with all of those who support and shelter Marc (who contacted me recently to request a meeting at the conference - that's cool, if he is willing to do so in a public place, on the record - after all, he has nothing to hide, right?).

You have said before and restated above your concern about a public discussion - yet this is EXACTLY what is needed. I am not alone in the integral world in questioning Gafni's prominence in integral programs. MANY more people want a full accounting. It seems I am simply the only person talking about it publicly.

Let's do the 1-2-3 (from my 3rd person perspective).

Marc no doubt feels he did nothing unethical, maybe unwise, but not unethical (that is the argument in his paper). He may have seriously believed he was engaging in a loving, consensual relationship.

His sexual partners likely felt at the time as though they were special and loved, and enjoyed Marc's attentions. But how free were they in this situation with him as teacher and them as students? Power may have been equal, as Marc claims, but that is not how the women describe their experience. Most have not come forward, fearing a possible public attack. And many did get something positive from their experiences.

From a 3rd person objective perspective, teacher/student relationships are prohibited in every situation - and calling those codes "amber fundamentalism" does not make them wrong - they exist to protect both parties, not just the student, disciple, patient, or whatever - but the teacher, clergy, doctor, guru, and so on. If you don't engage in sexual relationships, you don't get burned.

If Integral leaders want people to take integral ethics seriously, the integral elite need to take these issues seriously, with full transparency.

Tomer said...

I don't know if Gafni has changed (though I doubt it), but coming from Israel I do know people who were his students, and whose friends got very hurt by him. Fact is, the minute Gafni heard that they went to the police, he fled the country. Since there is no law here against willingful sex between adults, I think it is appropriate that Gafni, if so sure of his innocence, come back and face the charges, or at least talk to those he hurt. Using Integral Theory to excuse himself is shameful. Having him present a paper along those lines in an official conference is despicable and disgraceful.

Thank you William for your bold and clear stand on this. I wrote about it in my own blog (in Hebrew).

Carmel said...

Well if it wasn't sad it would have been funny. One of the reasons I personally felt out of love with integral theory, is the feeling that its means of understanding spiritualism aren't integral at all. The theoretical concepts are beautiful and I still hold them dear and will probably use them academically someday too. But I don't find in it a deep understanding of the mechanics of man, of how our soul/consciousness works within our body. And from that perspective, there's still something wrong with Mr. Gafni* and on that level there are few people who can truly help him heal. Wilber's failure to see that is a flaw in the integral perspective on spiritualism, for me.

* If that is of any importance to you, I would recommend checking in Oxford University if Marc has indeed completed a doctoral dissertation there with that kind of paper writing skills. Based on former lies, I wouldn't be surprised if they had never heard of him. I always wanted to see his work and never got a straight answer from him. As I was writing one myself at the time, I knew it's a consuming process that left very little time to run a spiritual community and have sex with so many women while at it.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that this conversation is being opened up on this forum. I have heard from several different Integral leaders that Ken Wilber has described himself as being a hostage to Marc Gafni's agenda--that "Marc has more ambition to resurrect his career than Ken has to stop him." This is truly a sad day for the Integral movement. I have also personally spoken to many of the women he abused and their stories have a ring of truth that Gafni's refutations do not. I think it's time someone put together a petition to "stop Marc Gafni from taking over the Integral movement." Thank you for your courage in creating the space for this conversation. I am choosing to remain anonymous as I believe that Gafni is a sociopath with the potential for violent retribution against any who openly cross his path.

Duff said...

To quote Buddhist Hulk, "HULK SMASH MISCONCEPTION THAT BUDDHISTS PASSIVE IN FACE OF INJUSTICE. RAAAAAR."
http://twitter.com/BuddhistHulk/status/19758256607

Keep on Mr. Harryman. The cult of narcissism runs deep in Integral, but there are some things worth saving. I for one have no stomach for it anymore and rely on people like you to salvage the good from the ruins.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to respond directly to Ken's official response. It is blatantly false, unequivocally 'spun' that you, Ken, made your protest before your change of heart. I have dates, times, etc to prove that our meeting took place after you had publicly claimed you supported Gafni. Your assertions to the contrary are not true.

Second, allow me to clarify, once and for all that Gafni was not sleeping with a handful of students, 'like other teachers'. Gafni was sleeping with women in his 'school' in Israel, sleeping with board members of various organizations he taught for, sleeping with sisters of his colleagues, and of course continues to this day, having slept with some of the very teachers who now come to his defense. This whole thing is a travesty of justice and a despicable misuse of compassion. The entire Gafni charade is built upon lies and secrecy.

I too, like WH, call for a full, transparent investigation into what actually transpired. I personally would love nothing more than to fully disclose my true identity but, alas, I've already been threatened by various members of the Integral 'elite', warned that they would come after me. Trust me, wherever Gafni has gone he has created a culture of secrecy, silence, fear and anonymity.

Kudos to you Mr. Harryman for being a voice of courage, a voice of power and a voice of truth.

BW

WH said...

[Clint tried to post this yesterday - I'm retrying now. Formatting may be wonky as it was copied from a PDF.]

The Unique Self of Marc Gafni
By Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber

When we first met Marc Gafni, we were struck, like most people, by his brilliance and his openhearted friendliness. It was clear that he was a ‘big’ person and a gifted teacher. It wasn’t until we got to know him better that we became aware of his deeper qualities—his basic goodness, his insight into the human heart, and his profound commitment to living a life of love and service.

Gafni has a strong and charismatic presence and a sharp and elegant mind. Yet what makes him remarkable as a spiritual teacher, scholar and friend, is his fine balance of mind and heart. We have rarely met anyone with such a capacity for seeing and bringing out the best in other people. We have watched him spend hours listening to someone in pain and confusion, teasing a friend out of a bad moment, offering love and support to people he barely knows, and to old friends he hasn’t seen in years. He does these things as a matter of course, as part of his natural sense of service. He consistently offers his ideas, his insights, and his time for other people’s use—willingly helping a friend prepare a presentation, or helping two people resolve a knotty interpersonal problem.

Marc, more than almost anyone we know, lives from a profound sense of being responsible to love. In practice, that means that when he loves someone—and he has the gift for genuinely loving many people - he is willing to offer whatever he has. This willingness to love and give himself—sometime against his own best interests—is one of Marc’s remarkable qualities. One aspect of this gift for loving is that people who spend time with him will often experience a natural opening of the heart, which gets played out in their own relationships and work life.

Marc’s open heartedness is unusual, and has often been misunderstood, just as his spontaneous, playful and experimental nature has been misunderstood.


continued

WH said...

[Kempton/Wilber continued]

Yet, in the years we have known him, we’ve seen that his openheartedness is much deeper than superficial friendliness and an ability to connect to people. Marc’s refusal to close his heart, his ability to stay open with whatever life presents, springs from his realization and from his connection to God, and to a lineage of holy beings. It is based on a profound commitment to love and service, to helping others in whatever way he can - personally, spiritually, and materially. He lives from a sense of obligation to give love, to give love to a wide circle, and to make love actual in all his encounters.

Several years ago Marc suffered a profound injustice, which continues to be perpetrated on some malicious websites, and to be spread by people who do not understand the truth of the situation. That there was significant injustice done to Marc through false complaints, is something that I and others have concluded after much examination. Among those are Zen teacher Diane Hamilton, Integral CEO, Robb Smith, author and spiritual leader Dr. Gabriel Cousens, lawyer and philosopher John Kesler, Rabbi Gershon Winkler, Rabbi Avram Davis, journalist Jeff Bell. fFrmer Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Andersen, spiritual teacher Paul Goodberg, author Mariana Caplan, psychologist Dr. Cindy Lou Golin, psychiatrist and author Dr. Joseph Berke, author and transformational teacher Katherine Woodward Thomas, psychological evaluators, Thomas Meeham and Dr. Keven Udis, lawyer Charlotte Miller, Esq, former Utah Chief Justice Michael Zimmerman, as well as a group of credible professional third person
evaluators including the leading polygraph expert in sexual issues in the United States. All of the people cited above are serious professionals and leaders, who know Marc well, and are highly sensitive to the honor and protection of the feminine.

The evidence makes it abundantly clear that the horrendous claims made about Marc on what can only be described as Internet vendetta or hate sites hidden beneath the fig leaf of victim advocacy, are without a shred of truth. To even need say this is in some sense offensive. It is somewhat like a Jewish person needing to deny anti–Semitic claims on a neo–Nazi site.

To reach this understanding, we reviewed hundreds of pages of material, which had been gathered and recovered over a period of two years. This material included direct transcriptions of correspondence bearing on the issues at stake, gathered from virtually all of the key players in the story both before, during, and after its unfolding. We also read an enormous amount of supplementary supportive material as well. Between us, all sides were spoken to directly or indirectly.

After looking at all this, and weighing the perspectives of all sides, we came to the clear conclusion that the complaints made in the public realm, and which continue to be disseminated on certain Internet sites, were categorically false. This is not to deny—as he himself has recognized - that Marc’s rather bohemian lifestyle and other factors related to Marc, at the time and in earlier periods in his life, were contributing factor in the situation. This is always the case in any situation.

Marc has both recognized and apologized in public and in writing, for his part in the contribution system that fostered conditions, which allowed this injustice to occur. Marc has said both in private and in public time again that “even if one has five percent responsibility in an event one must take one hundred percent responsibility for their five percent. This is what differentiates a victim from responsible player in the game of life”. We are convinced that despite the injustice Marc has not only kept his heart open and not become bitter or a victim but he has also taken one hundred percent responsibility for his part in the contribution system and learned what needed to be learned.

continued

WH said...

[Kempton/Wilber final]

Sadly some of the people who acted out some mixture of fear, cowardice malice, hurt or other motives have not recognized their substantive part in the contribution system and not found the courage to step down or apologize. We also came to a deep understanding of some of the ways that politics and malice played out in these events. For example, it is difficult to understand what happened without recognizing the pivotal role played by male, politically motivated malice, which in one case was directed against Marc for several decades. In the same way, one also has to recognize the workings of feminine shadow as it plays out in the collective as well as in individuals, and also the way
in which the masculine uses and hides behind sexual politics to serve agenda of power and malice.

If you care to know more about this, Marc’s website contains a section entitled Controversy where you will find some, though not all, of the documentation on these issues. Marc decided for the time being to go on with his life and not expose on this website some of the key players and motivating factors that contributed to this great injustice.

The tragedy and injustice, which Marc suffered, has paradoxically given him great gifts. Life invited him to examine himself, to purify his motivations and his ego, and to strengthen his realization, humility and practice. All this only deepened his commitment to love. His compassion seems to widen every day. Marc is simply one of best human beings I have met in my long life of knowing great human beings. It is an honor and a privilege to call him my spiritual friend and colleague. Moreover we believe that Marc’s experience has deepened him into the kind of Integral Spiritual leader and teacher that we need to help lead the movement in the future decades.

Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber

Kempton is an internationally known spiritual teacher, who spent 20 years as a swami in an Indian tradition. She writes a monthly column, Wisdom, for Yoga Journal, and is the author of The Heart of Meditation: Pathways to a Deeper Experience. In the 70s, she was an early spokesperson for the second-wave feminist movement.

Wilber is the leading philosopher and pandit of the worldwide Integral Evolutionary movement. He is the author of over a dozen major works including Sex Ecology and Spirituality, Up From Eden, Atman project and Integral Spirituality. He is the most widely read living philosopher in the world today with enormous moral and spiritual influence in many spheres of public life.

Anonymous said...

hi sally - thanks for your comment . I know very little is going to get you guys over at integral to see things differently, but here is my personal experience

I was sexually abused by both my uncle and my mother's boyfriend when i was younger

And, its ALSO true, that they were both amazingly wonderful people in many ways, always, and i would say genuinely willing to help out, both with wide open hearts, in so many ways, and yet with severe boundary problems in this one area

in fact, there may be some truth to the abuse even being a distortion of their wide open hearts and love, in some wierd way

now, my mothers boyfriend was one of the most loved members of our commiunity precisely because he was so genuinely loving, luckily for me he admitted his abuse, so i never had to go through having to convince people i was not lying

my uncle just called me a liar, to this day, works with kids, in fact, he is an award winning coach, i have been to the police, but his employers refuse to do anything about it because, in their words, "he is so good with kids"

my family who he accidentaly incriminated himself with, so they do believe me, still talk to this man, because he is so kind in other ways

see - in the area of innapropriate behaviour sexually, it is not necessary that you are a horrible all round person

What bothers me, is that in personality Mark very much reminds me of both these men

I am quite sure there is a shadow there, and most people who have seen him in action have no problem believing that he could, inadvertantly perhaps, push himself over another's boundaries, and one can only assume this tendency would have been worse when he was younger

anyway - thats my two cents, i think there probably is a problem there, AND marc also possesses the characteristics you see,

there is no automatic conflict - in fact the more i see of mark, the more i see the lie

what i would like to know and what is not clear, is whether mark was seeing more than one woman at once, as is hinted at, and whether they knew about each other, which,apart from the ethics question of being with students, is also highly questionable morally?

where can i find the answer to this question?

Rocky Anderson said...

I have tried to make a comment on the Integral Life web site, but apparently one must become a paid member in order to even leave a comment. (Very curious!) So I will make the comment here and hope that it comes to the attention of whoever is responsible for the Integral Life web site.

On that site is a piece about slavery that Marc Gafni claims to have authored. The title is "An Integral Action Proposal in Response to the Horrific Human Rights Violation of World Wide Slavery." Under that title is the following statement by Marc Gafni: "The following is an initial draft of a proposal on human trafficking which I wrote together with my teaching partner at iEvolve, Diane Musho Hamilton." In fact, most of the piece was written by Alan Barstow. It has been copied almost word-for-word in the piece posted by Mr. Gafni on the Integral Life web site. Mr. Gafni gave no credit to Mr. Barstow for what Mr. Barstow wrote. In fact, there is no reference whatsoever to Mr. Barstow on the Integral Life web site. Neither Mr. Barstow nor High Road for Human Rights has granted permission for the publication of the piece.

I received Mr. Barstow's piece many months ago and forwarded it to Mr. Gafni. Mr. Gafni, who was then on the High Road for Human Rights Board of Directors, was going to prepare a "solutions" section and provide it to me so the entire piece could be posted on High Road's web site (www.highroadforhumanrights.org). After receiving Mr. Gafni's initial draft, I sent to him a couple of questions I felt needed to be addressed in the solutions section before we posted it. Even those questions are contained in the piece posted by Mr. Gafni on the Integral Life web site. ("Of whom are we demanding each item? Also there needs to be specificity for each 'demand.' When, how much, who, where?") Those questions are found in Mr. Gafni's post after the third "Source" at the end of the piece. (Those sources are almost all from Mr. Barstow's work as well.)

Mr. Barstow spent a great deal of time researching and writing his piece. I know because I had numerous conversations with him, and corresponded at some length with him, about what we were seeking to have included in the piece. I provided Mr. Barstow's final work product to Mr. Gafni solely for the purpose of Mr. Gafni researching and writing a section about the steps toward solutions regarding slavery for use on High Road's web site. I did not receive a final draft from Mr. Gafni, who informed me that he did not have time to complete the project.

Since then, we at High Road have worked on a solutions section for several months and have posted it, along with Mr. Barstow's excellent contribution about the nature and scope of worldwide slavery, on the High Road web site.

Mr. Barstow and I had no knowledge of the use of Mr. Barstow's piece on the Integral Life web site until it was recently brought to my attention by a High Road supporter.

This is a very unfortunate matter. I am writing this only to make clear Mr. Barstow's authorship of his outstanding paper on slavery.

Rocky Anderson
Executive Director, High Road for Human Rights

Anonymous said...

taken from a business week article on male archetypes, marc certainly
resonates with one of the following, which is up to you to decide

The Lover leader seeks emotional oneness with each person in the organization. He can be romantic and sensual with coworkers, but in a responsible and ethical way. He never violates anyone's physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual space. Although his sensual nature is evident, he puts appropriate boundaries around it. Everyone knows that he is committed to his spouse, or if he is single, he is involved with one person at a time. At the same time, with those he works with, he has a wonderful sense of humor, play, and enjoyment. He is fun to be around.

The leader holding the Lover energy also has his serious side. His sensual nature and his openness to everything and everyone make him very sensitive and vulnerable. He senses the pain of the world and of others and embraces it. He does not fee/ for others, that is, he is not interested in sympathy or pity towards others, since this is always a condescending stance, but rather the Lover feels with them, he feels what they feel, he feels their pleasure, hurt, anger, fear or joy, that is, he is compassionate. His ability to feel what others feel motivates him to seek healing and justice for them. He wants everyone to be as happy as he is. His sensitivity also makes him very aware of the limitations of himself and others, and so he is very forgiving if someone in the organization wrongs him. In general, he is very tolerant and accepting of the foibles of each human being, including himself. As he loves others, so he loves himself.


The Addict leader on the other hand is characterized by unbounded sensuality. He is a sensual glutton, not knowing where to draw the line. He thus may allow himself to become infatuated with coworkers, seduce them and violate their physical, emotional, and moral boundaries. Even if he is not sexually involved, he tends to become emotionally enmeshed with those around him and is jealous or full of rage if his love-object gives his or her attention to others. The Addict leader is insatiable for attention. He can never get enough. He has to be the center of attention. Since he has no boundaries, there is a sense of "lostness" about him. He may become financially irresponsible, using the organization's money for his own luxurious living. His sensual connection to everyone and everything without limits makes him fickle, undisciplined, narcissistic, and restless, and makes his life fragmented and chaotic as he goes with the flow of whatever sensory things are happening around him. Life is a roller-coaster ride of senses and emotions. Often he is addicted to food, alcohol and/or drugs and does not take proper care of his body.

Michael said...

I left the Integral movement about 6 months ago. Why? the re-emergence of Gafni and the absurd narrative of Gafni as victim. No thanks. I prefer my spiritual teachers to exemplify integrity and no matter how I try, I can't put integrity and Gafni together in the same phrase.

Anonymous said...

It's not that complicated- check out sexaa.org

Anonymous said...

I'm having doubts about leaving a comment on here as it seems that it could be explained away by all the comments that came before it, that by definition of being a supporter, people should be wary of me, etc, but I feel compelled.

I was a therapist and currently work in the field of mental health, and currently also heading towards ecology. I know some of the Integral set of thinking, AQAL, etc, mostly through my husband who is quite the fan of Integral, and I was trying to learn a little bit to keep up. And subsequently found it (mostly AQAL and the Spiral Dynamics side) to be very valuable in my life.

I am also a woman with a past history of sexual abuse. I've had years of therapy, both talk and body work around the issue of my sexual abuse and I feel I'm pretty well settled with it at this point. I also think because of my abuse past, I have a pretty damn good bullshit detector because of this.

Oh, did I also mention that I am currently a private study student of Marc Gafni? (April 2011)

Oh, there go the alarms, I'm sure. Now you can't trust anything I say, no matter how accurate I might be? I must be "tainted, seduced, corrupted." Well, I've never really cared about that sort of thing, so here goes.

I've not worked with many people on the Spiritual side of things, I'm pretty skeptical of the whole field. My first "formal" look into this (besides having a Buddhist father, a Quaker mother and a Buddhist Integralist husband) was through Adyashanti, I think I was 35 years old, only a few years ago. I had the thought somewhat later, a year ago or so, "I would really love to work directly with him." but he doesn't take private students.

At the time, I was looking for a Teacher, my first "formal" spiritual teacher. I ended up with Marc. And here goes my corrupted, tainted self, but the work has changed my life in many positive and fulfilling ways that I wasn't able to get through therapy (I support therapy in all ways, don't get me wrong!). And wow, I didn't have sex with him, or was offered to, or even wanted to have sex with him! Wait a minute, did I miss out! Damnit!

There wasn't and hasn't been anything at all inappropriate to our work together. And again, I have an excellent bullshit meter (I know, I know, I'm being manipulated by this serial sex abuser!!!) and I haven't had any experiences of being unsafe. In fact, I feel completely safe in my work with him. Granted it took a little time, but I'd be suspicious of the Dali Lama at the beginning, as with any teacher (in college) or psychotherapist (just who are you and why should I tell you all my crap). In no way has Marc ever acted or reminded me of my (or any) abuser. Rather, he’s been very supportive, incredibly on point around my issues, both of psychological (which he is not my therapist but since it’s all interlinked...) and of the deeper “spiritual”, if you want to call it that.

I personally see that Marc has a lot of charm and charisma, that he does work on the world in certain ways, pulling people into Integral, getting the Center for World Spirituality going, and all that. Fantastic, we need someone birthed by the Energizer Bunny to help put out Integral. And I can see how people might misconstrue his energy as being narcissistic and too personable. That he is logistically flaky, that he has a big ego at times, that he is a crazy whirlwind of wild energy. Oh my gods, wait, is he a human being?!

I realize that this post was written in 2010 (partly responding to one in 2008 as well). Yes, I'm aware of his past; yes, even before starting my work with him; yes, I'm aware that people still think certain ways about him. But I would hope that instead of looking at the man's past and locking him into a set of labels and behaviors, that as Integralists, and hopefully compassionate human beings, we allow for the possibility of change in people in this world.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:43,- may I respond to a few of your points?

"...instead of looking at a man's past and locking him into a set of labels and behaviors,..." If this were one isolated incident you might have an argument, but repeated incidents over a period of 30 years is much more than a label. A psychiatrist would diagnose this as a "pathology". In police/legal terms it is known as "having a history".

"...that as Integralists and hopefully compassionate human beings..." Of course we are compassionate. It is somewhat insulting for you to assume that just because one is unwilling to simply dismiss or ignore this past history, one is not compassionate. Gafni is not counting on your compassion, he is counting on your naivete.

"...we allow for the possibility of change in people in this world." Well, Gafni certainly does change. He changes locations, wives, his name, his personal history, his ideology - in fact, he changes everything except his behavior. He will crash and burn again. His disorder demands it.

All that flailing around that he does - you describe it as "crazy whirlwind of wild energy" is simply manic behavior. He can't focus on a point or follow through with a thought. You can tell he's just making it all up as he goes along. And please don't be too impressed that he can read you. You have a personal conversation and are blown away by how "incredibly on point" he is around your issues. Just look at how much of yourself you've given away in a few short paragraphs. Any stage hypnotist or carnival sideshow fortune teller can do the same thing. You are what's known as a "mark".

May I suggest to you, Anonymous, that you are a relative newbie to spiritual seeking. It is a journey. Most of us get taken in at least once, sometimes more, along the way. Time is not on Gafni's side, but it is on yours. Keep seeking after the fall.

Anonymous said...

"all that flailing around" can be as one person suggested, manic behavior.

Or it can also be a way to keep people off balance.

Lee Lozowick used to do this. Before he gave a lecture in 2002, he was quiet, was talking with some friends.

Onstage, he went ballistic and into Wild Man mode.

Likewise, Andrew Cohen stood in an aisle in an auditorium prior to one of his lectures, gazing out at the crowd, 10 minutes before his lecture ws scheduled to begin. He stood still, gazing out at the people filing into the room.

Onstage, Cohen paced around and blathered away.

This kind of manic behavior can be part of a performance that is controlled. Ive seen street hustlers do the same thing when hitting on people for spare change--its a strategy designed to ID a 'mark' and then get the target feeling off balance and off kilter.

This is a low level boundary violation and easily, too easily rationalized as 'crazy wisdom.'

Yuck.