Posted September 13th, 2011 by Marcy
With deep respect, love, and an open heart, I am writing today to the Integral world as a student, colleague, and friend of Marc Gafni’s, as a board member of Center for World Spirituality, and as one of the two women mentioned in Harryman’s blog. I speak only, and entirely, for myself here.
Let me start by offering thanks to Integral, for everything that Ken and the integral perspective have opened up in the source code of Consciousness. It was Marc Gafni who introduced me to Integral theory two years ago, weaving it in with his own teaching at a conference I attended.
I resonate with the Integral frame because I have always leaned toward comprehending the wholeness of reality, and contemplating how all facets of life interrelate and evolve. I dove into Integral theory voraciously, because I knew that understanding the map would help me to move with greater efficacy as an agent of healing and transformation in my own life, and open up worlds of ultimate and personal meaning in relationships with others. Marc is my teacher, and I am deeply grateful to him as well as to Ken, Sally Kempton, Warren Farrell and others. Integral understanding has been woven into my work as a songwriter, musical artist, and teacher of voice.
In the past year, I have also studied the literature and discourse of power feminism and victim feminism, as well as read many discussions of teacher-student relationships as they play out in our times. For many, playing it safe is preferable to living on the edge. But what would the leading-edge of consciousness be if it didn’t involve risks and leaps, both in thought and practice into unknown territory? Is this not where our own moments of deepest growth and highest possibilities of transformation also occur? It is here that I call on all of us to hold and receive one another beyond our limitations and failures. We are all broken hallelujahs. What we do to our teachers and each other in the spiritual world, often seems to me to be horrific.
One of the great Integral teachings is that frameworks matter, because evolving capacities for complexity, caring, and concern matter. How we tell our stories matters. So may we hold the conversations with deep love and respect for one another, and create contexts of safety in which we uphold one another’s greatness.
Here is my truth within these events: I am a fully empowered adult woman who has been working on behalf of what I want to bring into the world. In the natural course of doing so, I have stepped into many different roles and ways of relating, and done so in the most responsible way I know. One of these included for a time an intimate dynamic with Marc that expressed itself sexually. To suggest that this violated our student-teacher relationship, or that I was in any way victimized, is actually a degradation of the feminine, and of the masculine too. I had a relationship with Marc that was beautiful and profoundly mutual. Marc is direct, clear, and loving. He is also powerful and complex, as are most dynamic men and women. However, there is not a bone in his body which does not deeply honor the feminine. Marc is strategic, but always for the sake of the larger good and not for personal or crass ends. In my work with him in both teaching and organizational contexts, I have been deeply moved by witnessing his loyalty and dedication to the highest good possible for everyone around him. I have watched his eyes light up as he has shared ideas about the ways in which he might stand for a human being’s deepest unfolding. He cares immensely about the people he teaches, works with, and even casually interacts with, in the same passionately intimate sense that that he cares about his lovers, about the dharma or about the evolution of consciousness. I have watched him follow through with people in ways that demand a level of sacrifice and devotion that are beyond what anyone might imagine.
So I want to stand for my own power in my loving relationship with Marc, my teacher, colleague and friend. It is truly time for the emergence of an integral feminine that does not let itself be hijacked by masculine power games, or lose itself in a supposedly ‘feminine’ refusal to own power. I have no wish to step further into the blogosphere. My deepest hope is that these conversations be resolved in a quiet and dignified way. However, if any unfair negative consequences emerge from this matrix, I will stand in the ways I feel called to do; I will speak out powerfully about anyone willing to manipulate the powerful feminine for their own power ends or to close their heart when confronted with the authentic complexity of relationship.
If you ask whether I experienced hurt in my relationship to Marc, my answer is this: Of course I was hurt at times, and so was he hurt in relationship to me. All relationships have their emotional complexities and hurt is nearly always a part of any relationship between human beings. Authentic interpersonal challenges always arise when people get together. These deserve to be worked out between the parties themselves in a mature and respectful manner, and not in the public domain. These challenges should never be used, especially by those outside the relationship, to degrade the beauty of what existed between two people. To do that is to desecrate our deepest humanity.
I entered willingly and consciously into a dual relationship with Marc. Power between us was shared; in many ways I held more power, since I am a board member of CWS and a funder of the organization. For me, I did not want to engage in a more intimate relationship unless it was held privately. This was also his preference.
I feel violated when my private relationship is discussed and distorted by people who would suggest that I was a victim or that such a relationship was inappropriate. That is a misrepresentation, which insults my dignity, discounts my power, and feels painfully abusive of the feminine.