Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Diane Hamilton Owns Her Role in the Gafni Situation

Diane posted this at Integral Life - I am grateful for her honesty, even in the areas where I disagree with her. I have always questioned her involvement with Gafni, and I have always respected her as a person of wisdom and kindness.

I am posting the whole thing - I hope Diane does not mind, but more people will see it the more it is circulated.
My Bad
Posted September 14th, 2011 by Diane Hamilton

I supported Marc Gafni’s return to teaching after a two-year hiatus because he is one of the most subtle thinkers I have encountered, he has more creative force than anybody I know, and whether you like his style or not, he has a remarkable and uncommon gift for opening heart-minds when he is in front of the room. I felt that like all of us, he should be both confronted and supported in addressing the issues that caused him to leave Israel.

Since his return to work three years ago, he has generated the Integral Spiritual Experience, the Future of Love series, the Unique Self teaching (which many of us have found to be invaluable in our work with students), and with Ken Wilber and his colleagues at CWS, he has begun to articulate the tenets of a World Spirituality which is indeed appropriate and necessary to our time. There are probably only one or two other people in the Integral world whose contributions are as significant.

What I didn’t see clearly (although I was certainly told) is that contained in Marc’s creativity and charisma is an equal and opposite impulse to self-destruct and to repeat the same patterns that have caused him and others suffering throughout his life. Whether he has one girlfriend or five, and whether the relationships are transparent or private is not the real issue to me.

The issue is that the very same people he loves still end up angry and hurt, and his relationships still become a public spectacle. And very sadly, I am one of the people who has been his intimate friend and colleague and who inevitably feels that I have to move away from a source of such unknowable inspiration and energy because the cost to me is too great and the risk to others is too high. I question how it is that someone so brilliant and insightful can repeatedly hand his enemies a loaded weapon, and like Bill Clinton did, squander the incredibly hard work and gains that he and other people have made in establishing the Integral and World Spirituality ideas in the world. My wish is that he was asking the same set of questions on his blog.

Ultimately, it is my responsibility to question myself and my choices. To be honest, I am not sure if I made a mistake in supporting Marc’s return. I still feel tremendous value in the work we have done in the last three years, and collaborating with him has been a source of great pleasure. But if anyone feels that my support of him created the conditions for them to be injured, or even disappointed for that matter, I will be accountable for my role in that.

Most importantly, I see again that my desire for change can’t be displaced onto others, but has to be rooted deeply in myself and my own patterning. I have to look into what it means to see, clarify, and take responsibility for myself and for the very real mistakes I have made in my own life, and act according to what I see.

In addition, I am still wondering what it means to genuinely love the extremely gifted and unmanageable people in my life, of which there are a few. And similarly, how to befriend the deep parts of myself that are irrevocably broken, while learning how to spare others of the ill effects of them. I have to accept that I will be criticized for rescuing Marc, but I will also determine that I have a choice not to be channeled into the role of either victim or persecutor because I genuinely believe that our lives are much too complex, profound, and ultimately beautiful to be contained by such limited categories at those.


Liz said...

I will admit publicly that I have never really felt that kismet thing with Diane Hamilton as a teacher or integral thinker or whatever. We just don't agree on a lot of stuff. Well, actually, I have no idea if she agrees with me. It's strictly a one-way relationship, lol.

In that context, I want to say that this is the first thing I've read from IL that really hits all the points and makes a clear honest statement that resonates with integrity. Nothing eath-shaking, just a real human being speaking the truth about her embodied life. That is really something.

PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...

I have Aspergers which previously presented as Narcissism which is now being redefined as a particular level or scale of Autism in the DSM-5. Narcissism can manifest as genius while at the same time the narcissist's self-absorption can wreak havoc with their personal relationships. People with discerning eyes can literally see the times when Gafni says something that the expression on his face says is a lie (thanks to the TV show, "Lie To Me"). So, from that perspective the victim DOES have the ability or option to take responsibility for their own inability to discern the lies. There is no real fault in this situation. A genius is a genius because of their unique way of thinking which is not obvious to most people which is what distinguishes the genius from other people in the first place. However, the other side of that uniqueness is a different way of handling social situations which will catch a LOT of people off-guard. As I have learned about my Asperger level of Autism perhaps Gafni can learn about his Narcissism level of Autism and thereby be AWARE of his appearance to other people so that he can be responsible for it himself. If more people in the Integral realm understood the various levels of Autistic manifestations instead of ONLY looking at SDi 1st Tier meme distinctions then I think that SDi would take a BIG step forward.

What do YOU think?

Shawn Phillips said...

How wonderfully, clearly and painfully articulated, Diane. As I would expect...

I can (as in CAN) imagine the pain, challenge and difficulty of this time, through the lens of my own experience of course.

It's interesting (messy word) that some "conditions" that impact others are inclined to cause great reaction and lessened empathy than others.

The patterns that Marc seems to recreate, seem to be actions that leave little room for compassion--and ample for judgment.

Now, let's just say for the sake of argument, that this was an addiction to a substance that was at the root of the destructive cycle... and while people were hurt, no doubt, it was more clearly not his direct intention to injure but a side-effect.

Might that evoke some understanding and compassion? Not that I am suggesting that an addiction would give a free pass to avoid responsibility.

Perhaps... something to think about... something else.

And, of course, most likely it is an addiction that is at the root of this pattern. So it seems from this distance.

To Your Full Strength,


ZenCloe, Netherlands said...

Good to see this from Diane, who many of us did think was #1 reason behind Gafni's return. Gafni is a very polarizing figure as many have already mentioned, and many teachers probably weren't even aware of how the community here, in USA and throughout the small integral world became broken and divided when Gafni was brought back. I appreciate you seeing this, Diane Hamilton even if it is quite late and damage is not just a few women, but much broken in professional relationships, small sanghas and friendships even. But as you do, we all much take our own responsibility for our own action. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,

This is what i hear you saying when reading your statement:

"I don't apologize for forcing Gafni back into the integral community. He's a smart and sweet guy, and that's much more valuable then people's safety, besides I had fun hanging out with him.
When I finely realized how abusive and sick he is, I didn't warn anybody, but rather quietly cut all ties with him. I didn't want to jeopardize my reputation.
Again I don't regret anything...bla bla bla...we need to hold the paradox...I need to look at myself... some more new age BS to cover my ass.
The only responsibility I have is asking myself why I always support such abusive men."

Diane - how about recognizing the leading role you had in causing what has just happened! and the huge part you took in enabling marc to abuse more women.

You've put so much of your life energy and time in supporting marc and discrediting anybody who spoke the truth.

How about investing some of that energy to track down the women from Israel who screamed the truth, trying to stop this from happening again, and who you've discredited publicly, calling them liars!

Track them down and apologize personally! You owe them at least that!

Robb quoted you saying: "perspectives are limitless but that action is singular and concrete."

Saying that you are taking responsibility is not the same as taking it.

TAKE responsibility!

Susie said...


Jami said...

I have a bit more respect for her, but I am with Liz
And anon had some good points. I still dont trust her
What teachings I have heard of hers were a lot of
Empty words. If Anonymous is right then IL has
Difficulty with accountibiliy all around.

Jami said...

Oh and her comment about rescuing Marc says it all. You
Can't rescue anyone! Mar. Has to do his work & her
Need to rescue is her illness that she is clearly unaware of.
This sick system won't change until they learn about boundaries and it is becoming clearer to me that that is lacking in this group of individuals.

speechless said...


If you really want to take responsibility and effect changes in your life, I would suggest that the first step would be to be more honest about the situation. The man has a 30 year history of sexual predation of which you were warned but could not see at the time. The only thing different about this sex scandal and his previous ones is that this time it happened to you.

You have every right to feel hurt. Not only did you give him your self and your love, you also gave him your good name, your reputation and all your contacts. You paved the way for him with Ken Wilber and Integral, recommended him to your contacts (honestly, do you think he would have speaking engagements in Germany and Holland if it were not for you?) and you were in the front line of defense, covering him, protecting him from criticism. That man wouldn't even have a career if it were not for you.

Then Marcy enters the picture - cute, young, blonde, completely new to Integral and naive to the manipulations of a seasoned con man. Of *course* he's going to sleep with her. His ego demands it. And I'm sure he was desparately in need of a "hiatus" from the woman who just compromised her own reputation for him, devoted and entire chapter of her latest book to covering for him and just bore his child. Or was she still pregnant when all of this happened?

Tami Simon has got his number now. So has everyone in the Orthodox and Renewal movement and a lot of Integral people are becoming aware. Below is a link to a gentleman's blog entry relating the moment his opened to what Gafni really was.

Try to be more honest in your discernment.


PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...

Let's not forget the equal and perhaps even greater roll that Ken Wilber had in "bringing Gafni back" and outright endorcing him as an "expert" within the Integral realm. Talk about "embracing the Shadow." Gafni was never bashful about his use of one of the well-defined Jewish strategic teaching tactics being to use DRAMA as a means of not only bringing attention to otherwise blasé issues but bringing light to areas that might not otherwise be paid attention to. By looking at the Gafni issue I was personally introduced to the concept Narcissism which led to my own evaluation of myself as a Narcissist which led to my further understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and the Autistic Spectrum. If more people in the Integral realm understood the various levels of Autistic manifestations instead of ONLY looking at SDi 1st Tier meme distinctions then I think that SDi would take a BIG step forward. So there definitely appears to be a need for Psychiatric scientific-oriented wisdom within SDi because the majority of SDi practitioners appear to have fallen into the new-age trap of of wishfool thinking without evaluating the actual reality from the actual DEMONSTRATION of people's actual actions that people should have the opportunity to learn from if they choose to do so.

"The veil is being lifted, are you willing to look beneath it?"

MartyC said...

Hi William,
I've been in this "dialogue" before and found it a bit like the character in the Bruce Willis movie, who says listening to Credence Clearwater Revival is like having a pine cone stuck up his ass. So I won't bother going over the same territory when most don't listen.

But what I do find worth pointing out is that, though you've given front page billing to Diane Hamilton and Robb Smith's perspectives (which line up with yours), you haven't done the same with Marc Gafni's position paper ( It's a rather important perspective to have featured, no, in order to allow your readers to at least know what Gafni is thinking? You did post a link way down in the comments on the first "Breaking news" post, but you could have done the same thing with Hamilton and Smith.

Marty C.

(And given the drubbing that Tom Goddard got for not confessing his connection with Gafni, my wife is a student, and I'm connected with the Center for World Spirituality. And I'm Caucasian. And male.)

Anonymous said...

When my 4 year old does something wrong, I teach him to say I'm sorry. Simply and clearly. This would be a good place to start.

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous commenters. First would be to say "I'm sorry. I was wrong." Hiding behind the phrase "my bad" is what people use when they want to acknowledge that something may have happened but it wasn't their fault and they're not taking responsibility for it. I have a boss who uses it all the time. I realize people over at IL are all praising your bravery for that flaccid, wimpy, non-apology you posted but you will have to be more honest than that if you are sincere in what you say is your desire to help yourself. Start by growing up.

And yes, be more honest in your language. Try forgoing all the integral gobblydegook and call a spade a spade. "...our lives are too complex, profound and ultimately beautiful to be to be contained by such limited categories... Oh come on. No wonder you're having trouble. It's all really much more simple than you are making it. Gafni is an asshole and he fooled you. It really is that simple.

My suggestion would be to give up the idea that Gafni is brilliant and genius and all those other words you use to describe him. He hasn't made valuable contributions to spirituality or anything else. He takes others ideas and makes them his own. The only two books of his that went anywhere - Soul Prints and Mystery of Love - were because they were co-written and edited by his wife at the time (which he refused to acknowledge). His own writing is laughably unreadable. Try reading his paper for the 2010 Integral Theory Conference for a sample of his own writing. Look how he tried to pass off that Barstow piece as his own. Left you to clean up after him on that one, too, didn't he?

I could go on but I've had enough. I'm not sure you have though, Diane. Because through all of this you say you are "not sure" if you "made a mistake in supporting Marc's return". You just keep holding on to all that shit. Because as soon as you let go and see it for what it is, you will be forced to accept responsibility for it and do something about it.

Good luck with all of this. It won't be easy.

PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...

Anonymous (at 1:25 PM), what exactly do you think was done "wrong"?

Are you aware that one of the reasons why Narcissists are labeled as such is due to their inability to understand and acknowledge the effect that they have on other people because their brains are ONLY oriented to get what THEY want?

Anonymous said...

Amen to everything Anonymous 5:25pm wrote. Simple and to the points. Diane, you are deeply confused person ... and you and others suffer for it.

MartyC said...

There's a terrific desire for simplicity and simple clarity in these comments--"Gafni is an asshole and he fooled you"--which is too convenient. I'm imagining if one of anonymous's life choices were subjected to such an analysis, there might be a different tune being sung. Maybe not--perhaps your lives are righteous along whatever lines you espouse. But I doubt your lives are that simple. Or pure.

Also, in terms of responsibility, which whoever-you-are are accusing Marc and Diane of, wouldn't it be in keeping with such an ethic to put down your real name when commenting?

Also, clinically speaking, there's narcissism as a personality disorder, which is what "anonymous" described (only being able to hold one's own perspective), and narcissism as a character trait, which simply describes the tendency to hold one's perspective as central/primary. One is a pathology, and the other is simply a point along a spectrum. Every character structure is a mix of narcissistic (self first), borderline (other first), or schizoid (nothing/no-thing first), and there's no getting away from this.

So to simply (and simplistically) label Gafni a "narcissist" is diagnostically incorrect, and too convenient for the accuser in that he/she inevitably is going to have some kind of characterlogical bias in how they relate to the world. What you are doing is constructing a story and self image which projects the Bad and holds onto/owns the Good. Again, convenient.

If Integral is about anything, it's about meeting the challenge of holding life in its complexity, and not falling for the seductiveness of simplification and projection of shadow.

Which is not a denial of responsibility, of course: responsibility for one's actions are a part of that complexity, and though I don't like Diane's choice, I respect the holding of complexity and paradox in her position, and I also accept that I don't know all the factors that went into her choice to distance from Marc, so I can't make that categorical a denunciation.

Oh, and as to the claim that Marc's actions are wrong because of the harm he did to his student (a harm that "must" be there, categorically), from her statement, it doesn't seem that there was harm, and that she is taking responsibility for her decisions and their consequences. Some comments on this blog have questioned whether she wrote the reply, whether she's competent to make adult choices (babe in the woods, easy prey for the Narcissist, etc.), and these are all incredibly disrespectful and (again) convenient. If the same logic was applied to any of Marc's (often anonymous) critics, I'm imagining a hell of a lot of kicking and screaming about disempowerment, invalidation, how-could-yous!, etc.

So, if any of the anonymous's bother to respond, my prediction is that the response will go something like, "What do you expect from an associate of Marc's?", or, "This is the kind of attitude that allows women to be harmed," or, "What an asshole!" In other words, not engaging what I've said but rather finding a way to slot my comment into a pre-determined (and convenient) narrative: which boils down to something like, "I'm righteous, and you're not."

(Full disclosure: my character structure falls along the narcissistic spectrum, but not clinically diagnosable.)