Ken Wilber Statement on Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom

December 27, 2011

The board of directors of the Center for Integral Wisdom recently made a public statement, conveying their support for Marc Gafni as a leader and teacher in the Center.

Earlier, in a post on the Integral Life website, I have commented on the situation that developed several months ago in the blogosphere.

I acknowledged in that post that Marc, like most great spiritual teachers and pundits, has great gifts as well as human complexity. I pointed out that everyone must make up their own mind as to whether they want to work with Marc, or to be his student.

I am writing to share that, for myself, I have made up my mind. I am rejoining the Wisdom Council of the Center for Integral Wisdom, to which I invited many of my colleagues to participate.

I look forward to future work with Marc in articulating and evolving the contours of a World Spirituality based on Integral Principles.

Some of my reasons for wanting to work with Marc are contained in letters I co-wrote with Sally Kempton in 2008. However, there is one piece I want to add. I am not working with Marc despite this last blogosphere explosion but rather because of his reaction to it.

What impressed me most about Marc’s response to this situation is that though he might well have felt justified in feeling angry or hurt about what happened, by and large he focused on asking for all feedback from every possible source on why this happened. He wanted to know, at a deeper level, how he might have contributed to it himself, and what he could do to help remedy the situation and any part he might have played in this. Most astonishingly, for a spiritual teacher, he included in this list—in order to make it truly comprehensive—a search for a great therapist that he might see. He made a serious and widespread search for a therapist, and finally found an incredibly competent and highly respected one—and signed up.

This was not because he necessarily needed therapy, but simply that he told himself he was going to cover every base and make a truly comprehensive and inclusive search for any approach that might help address the situation. He was, in other words, doing whatever necessary to cover any shadow elements, should they be present. I know of extremely few spiritual teachers that would do this—that would be committed enough to their own integrity to include all possible angles, and then genuinely follow through on it. This, to me, is an indication of a genuine spiritual teacher, one dedicated to working on himself no matter how “embarrassing” it might appear to others. On this issue, even his critics will have few if any grounds for complaint at this point. Even they have acknowledged that he is, in many ways, a very gifted spiritual teacher, and this recent move simply makes him an even more gifted teacher, in my opinion.

Speaking personally, I feel that any shadow issues that Marc, (like most spiritual teachers), might have are now being actively and genuinely addressed. I repeat that I know very few spiritual teachers who have the guts to do this, and my hat, for one, is off to the gentleman.

This move also gives me confidence that Marc can and will continue to make a good spiritual leader for the Center for Integral Wisdom. Every spiritual teacher, in my opinion, should be doing some sort of shadow work, but Marc is one of the very few whom I know that is actually doing it. This is indeed, in my book at least, very impressive.

So, I hope everybody out there can join me in wishing Marc the very best in this sincere inner work—or, at the least, congratulate him for being determined and integral enough to decide to cover all the bases and then actually do so. In many spiritual traditions, forgiveness is a path to God, and I know Marc has worked hard to forgive any insults—real or imagined—that he recently received, and perhaps it is appropriate for others also to work to forgive any insults—real or imagined—received from Marc. In this atmosphere of loving-kindness, care, and forgiveness, we can all get back to this incredibly important work of Integral Spirituality.

Ken Wilber
Winter 2011

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