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Soul Prints, Unique Self, Integral Thought and Non-Duality

A communication on Soul Prints and Unique Self from Marc Gafni to a leading group of non-dual theorists and teachers in the United States:

Dear Friends,

I am in between teachings so have time to write but a brief response to your questions about Unique Self/Soul Prints and how it integrates with the non-dual teachings that are so important in any truly integral view of reality, which we all take as self-evident.

It is very important to understand that Soul Prints do not emerge from the world of ego or soul but rather from radical non-duality. Soul Prints is an expression of the Self with a capital S.

The way I teach it to my students: Story and non-Story are one. Or, in the expression of the great vehicle of Buddhism, Emptiness is Form and Form is emptiness. Or, in classic Kabbalistic expression, Keter is Malkhut and Malkhut is Keter. This is non-dual humanism in the fullest sense of the word. To explain what I mean, let me offer a simple map of the three classic levels of transpersonal consciousness that-as Ken Wilber has pointed out – show up one way or another in virtually every system.

We can call them Communion, Union and Identity. Communion which Scholem felt was critical in Hebrew mysticism is ultimately dual. God in the second person. Union moves towards non-duality and full non-duality is achieved in Identity. Or we might use Ken’s more classic terms which he deploys in his wonderful essay “The depths of the Divine;” psychic, subtle, casual and non dual. Or we might call them Ego Soul and Self. Or we might call them Ani, Ayin Ani. Or we might call them might use eastern terms in which psychic and subtle might be roughly equivalent to savikalpa Samadhi. At the highest edge of savikalpa Samadhi the way I understand it there is already a glimpse of the formless void of the next stage.

This next stage of formless union, what for some Kabbalists would be called Ayin, the realm of the impersonal, approximates the eastern state of nirvikalpa Samadhi; This is a stage of formless awareness which is beyond the personal. Wilber calls this stage the casual state. The highest and deepest stage is however beyond even the formless state of Ayin, Nirvikalpa Samadhi; this is the non-dual which is the very suchness of all being. It the suchness of both emptiness and form, both personal and impersonal. This is the world of one taste or Sahaj {sp?} in eastern language or the Shma declaration of Hashem Echad, God is one in Judaic consciousness. The way to reach the ultimate non dual realization –for example according to Mordechai Lainer of Izbica – is through the prism of Soul Prints.

Soul Prints is the absolute and radical uniqueness of the individual which is the expression of emptiness in form; it is Eyn Sof revealing itself in the only face we know – the face of unique form. It is not only that there is absolutely no distinction between the radically personal and the radically impersonal; is also that the in terms of stage of unfolding the radically personal is the portal to the embrace and identity of the absolute one. Moreover the absolute one only expresses itself through its infinite faces or what have called its infinite soul prints.

Another way to say this might be to borrow the image suggested by the Midrash in this regard; that of the ascending and descending ladders on Jacob’s ladder. For the Kabbalists this is the ladder of non-duality. On the ladder are angels of God. Angel in biblical Hebrew refers to a divine entity or to a human being. What they share in common is that each is a radically unique messenger of God. Or said differently each is a radically unique perspective. One ascends to the divine through soul print and the divine descends through soul print. Indeed all of human reality as we know it is Soul Print.

But even this language is insufficient. For in the experience of non-duality soul print is the divine. So one ascends to the divine through the divine soul print. And divinity descends to divine world of form through the divine soul print. All faces of divinity kissing each other. What the sages of old called Nashkei Ar’a VeRakia –the kiss of heaven and earth.

Now, another term for soul print might be perspective. As we have pointed out many times the classic image for unique form or Soul Print in Hebrew consciousness is Panim, face. Face is an expression in Talmudic language for what we moderns and post moderns might call perspective. This is what the ancient sages meant when they taught; “they are seventy faces to Torah”. Torah contains both objective givens and can only be read through the prism of perspectives. Ultimately in Hebrew mysticism each human being is bearer of a unique face which is by very definition a unique perspective. This is radically particular perception of the world which is shared exactly by no other being. In this sense the person is the eyes of EinSof, of the absolute. The person is the eyes of the absolute in a way shared by no other being on the planet. This is the source of our grandeur, our infinite adequacy and dignity and occasionally our almost unbearable loneliness which for this very reason can only be ultimately quenched in the caress of the divine.

How to get there; to the soul printed merge with the absolute.

Through erotic merger wit the Shekinah;

This merger takes places in several ways

The concentrated, intense and ultimately ecstatic study of sacred text.

{Hasidei Ashkenaz 12th century and Kabbalah of the Vilna Gaon and his school}

The intense meditation of sacred chant and song; {Classic Chassidic practice}

The rigorous and uncompromising process of purification of motive and desire called Berur. {Luria, Izbica, Mussar}

Classical mystical techniques of Letter combination, soul ascent, meditation, crying etc.

My your day be filled with hope

-Marc Gafni


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