by Marc Gafni

Why, if these complaints were not true, did I sign a letter that took all responsibility for what happened onto myself and attributed what happened to my ‘sickness?’

My initial response emerged from a place of radical shock, confusion, trauma, and fear. All products of the mind’s illusion, yet painfully real at the time.

Though at the time I was not thinking clearly about this, in retrospect I realize that the decision to write the letter was driven by several factors.

I felt that as “Captain of the Ship” I needed to take responsibility for any sickness that appeared in a system that I had created. I also recognized that the clash between my post-conventional values and the values of the systems in which I lived, and the holding of privacy to resolve that tension, made me vulnerable to attack. Though I had sincerely believed that I had a right to a private life, it seemed clear that the unconventional nature of my personal relationships could not be held ‘safely’ even in the alternative spiritual culture of the movement I headed, and that they had put my work at risk.

I also found the notion of engaging in a sensationalist conflict in the public realm so abhorrent and defiling to both my heart, to my students and to the public good, and the experience of personal betrayal so painful and devastating, that I preferred to fall on my own sword. I believed that writing the letter would, in some measure, end the attacks, and give me time to heal and think things through.

Finally, I had simply been blind-sided by the speed and incomprehensibility of these events.

Landing in Israel on May 11, 2006, I was met by an angry voice on the phone, which apprised me that something horrific had happened―something of which I had no warning or even the remotest suspicion that it was even possible.

Within minutes, I learned that drastic action had already been taken, based on the assumed veracity of the complaints. There had been a rush to judgement with no attempt to contact me or hear what both sides had to say.

It is difficult to describe in words the despair and shock that filled my body and spirit. The people whom I was told had filed the complaints had never indicated to me that there were any issues or that they were unhappy with our relationships.

Indeed, as the record indicates, our communications had indicated the precise opposite. Not in my wildest nightmare did I ever imagine the absurd possibility that someone would file a false complaint against me for sexual harassment.

I was so devastated that I literally could not breathe. Nor could I go more than several minutes without being overcome by paralyzing grief.

My friends, the woman I thought I would marry, my close teaching partner, and the other leaders of the community had essentially abandoned me without in any way having contacted me to cross check the truth of falsity of the complaints. These persons were for the most part people to whom I have given everything I had to give in heart mind and commitment.

Yet, swept up as the inner circle was by hysteria, fear, self interest of various forms, some more obvious and others more subtle, radical distortions and outright falsehoods, feminine shadow manipulated behind the scenes by masculine shadow, that is to say women encouraged and manipulated by men, at one of whose clear intention was malevolent, a series of betrayals took place.
{In reading the literature on precisely this sort of situation I have learned that this kind of hysteria, running for cover, abandonment of fair inquiry and careful due process, protective running for cover and betrayal is not uncommon}

All of this crushed my heart and soul with a searing pain that I cannot quite find words to describe. While I take full responsibility for my part in the contribution system that allowed these events, nothing in my action or person even vaguely justified the cruelty rooted alternatively in weakness, fear or malice that unfolded.
To add to the horror, when I searched my computer for the files and correspondence that would have disproved the complaints, I realized that they had been erased. I spoke with counsel who advised me that in Israel, unlike in any other country in the world, sexual harassment is a criminal offense with all that implies.

The image of my children seeing me go to jail for an offense that I never committed, simply because I was unable to disprove the complaints , dominated my consciousness and guided my actions in the following weeks―until I was able to reconnect with my center, my natural love and authentic self, and walk through the fear. I wrote the letter in an attempt to give myself time to do this. I did not fully realize that writing the letter would be taken as a confession that the complaints were true. They are not.

Why Did I Leave Israel?

When I realized the full complexity of the situation, I contacted the local police, and was told that they had no interest in speaking to me, and that I had every right to leave the country.
So the myth that I somehow fled the country or other such false rumors are simply untrue.
If the police had any sense that they wanted pursue the complaints they were welcome to contact me. My email did not change for two years until my website went up. I am very easy to contact and available for any conversation.

No one had requested an interview with me and there was no legal reason for me not to leave.

I flew to the United States for four reasons.

1) In order to gather the information necessary, through the reconstruction of my hard drive and through a series of other information gathering methods, to fully disprove the complaints as they were reported to me via the press and other channels. This was accomplished successfully. We were able to gather and recover masses of documentary materials and other kinds of information about all of my relationships in the last five years to ensure that no false complaint could be filed which could not be fully refuted.

2) In order to recover my inner center through intense spiritual practice.

3) In order to have the time and space to do the necessary inner work, of both a psychological and spiritual nature, which the magnitude of the trauma demanded. I experienced this as a death. Death requires full life review. I was committed to reviewing my entire life in order to understand clearly what my part had been in the contribution system that created the conditions that allowed these events to unfold. What was my personal responsibility in this story? What inner transformation needed to be accomplished? I knew that all this would take time.

4) Finally, I needed to reflect on the broader implications of all that happened, to seek the teaching in it all, and to begin to write the teaching down in a way that might be of benefit to others.

In the two years since these events took place, I’ve received advice from two groups of people. The first group advises me to return to Israel and wage a significant campaign, no matter who gets hurt, to prove that the complainants lied. The second group advises me, for spiritual and other reasons, to simply walk away and get on with living a productive and good life, doing my best to serve God in whatever way I can.

My general inclination is to follow the latter path. I have been to a large extent able to walk through my fear, to touch the inner point of love and power, and to make decisions and act from that place.I have decided to walk away and move on with my life. I humbly seek to be of service in the world in every way I know how.

If you are interested in a more elaborate statement on these matters, please click here.

Why Do Sexual Harassment Complaints Cause Damage Even when Untrue?

I have since learned that my situation follows a clear pattern. When complaints of sexual harassment are leveled against a leader or teacher, the people around him will often act precipitously, rushing to judgement without fully investigating what actually happened. Their actions, understandably, are driven by fear, and act without checking the facts or investigating both sides of the story. Some common factors here include:

      bad legal advice;

 

      the desire―especially in spiritual, academic, or religious contexts―to be seen as protective of the women involved;

 

      failure to recognize feminine shadow;

 

      an inability to hold the complexity that attends the relationships between men and women;

 

      fear for their own reputations;

 

      general ineptitude or weak-willed leadership;

 

      an assumption that women or groups of women filing complaints are always telling the truth;

 

    and fear of having their own sexual histories exposed.

I held my relationships private because as a public figure, I did not want them to be misconstrued by people who have an interest in such distortion, or held up for unkind and dishonest scrutiny. I did not believe that transparency was necessarily an absolute value. I believed it legitimate for me to have a private life; this in no way contradicted anything I believed or taught.

I still believe that this is theoretically correct. However, I have since come to realize that, practically, transparency or conventional boundaries are the only workable possibilities.

Even today, it is difficult for me to grasp what happened given the context of mutuality, intimacy and affection, shared power and shared vulnerability, which held all of these relationships.

 

Meet Dr. Marc Gafni, Visionary Philosopher,
Author, and Social Innovator

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