Daily Wisdom Post: The lovers’s Art of Attention

So far, the two major qualities of the erotic lover have been perception and giving. We have seen how the sexual models the erotic, hinting to us how we can live a deeper, more profound existence in all areas of our lives. In order to give in the realm of the sexual, we must be great listeners – fully attentive to the subtlest nuances of our lover’s desire. Similarly, to be a giver in all arenas of being requires our mastering the lover’s art of attention.

Just as the sexual lover listens deeply to the needs of the beloved and thereby brings the beloved to satisfaction, so too must the erotic lover, in all facets of life, be deeply listening and attentive to the needs of the beloved.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

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Daily Wisdom Post: Love is as Love Does

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven

Loving and giving are inextricably bound up. The great medieval philosopher Maimonides teaches that to love God is to know the divine in both world and self. Maimonides understands well that to know and not to love is not to know. But he goes one step further; to love and not to do is not to love. Love is as love does.

So when Maimonides lists what it might mean to love God, he talks about a broad range of simple acts of goodness that we do for other people. Helping the poor, rejoicing with the bride and groom, escorting the dead at a funeral, and the list goes on and on.

Small deeds, simple acts of kindness – that is what makes me a lover of God. People are God incarnate in this world. Each person is a different face of God. To love people by being a giver is to love God. There is no great deed of loving God. There are only small deeds of giving to people – done with great love!

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: Transcendence & the Gradual Widening of Self

To be a lover is to be a giver. It is through the consistent commitment to the growth of the other expressed through regular and spontaneous acts of giving that you become a lover. Slowly over time – in a gradual expanding of self – you are able to regain and surpass even the initial ecstasy of falling in love. The ego boundaries dissolve, self is expanded to include other, and the true intimacy of shared identity is achieved. This is the spiritual dynamic between lover and beloved. It is of course important to remember that the beloved could be a man or woman, a community, a child, a vocation, location, animal or cause. The principle remains the same. There is no loving without giving. Love always involves the willingness to transcend self for the sake of the growth of an other.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: You-nified

As we have said, the model for being an erotic lover – in all facets of our existence – is the sexual. I see you and you are gorgeous, magnetically dazzling, to me. I yearn for you – all of me wants to break down and dissolve the barriers between us, to enter the inside, where the world stands still for a moment and I am inside the chrysalis of all reality. You-nified.

Since being a lover is modeled on the sexual, we understand that love too is a perception. Moreover, love is a Perception-Identification Complex. I perceive the infinite specialness, the God point in you, and identify that highest point in you as the Real You.

In the understanding of the quantum spirit, I understand that my perception not only discloses a reality that exists, it actually brings this particular reality into existence. “I love you” means both “I perceive you in your beauty” and “You become even more beautiful under my gaze.” Remember, love is a verb. So just as when I shine shoes, they become shinier, when I love you, you become lovelier.

Built into our spiritual hardwiring is a great desire to realize the beauty and divinity that is our birthright. The experience of falling in love is a true perception of this. It allows us a glimpse of union; of what life might be when the thick walls of ego dissolve. We understand, nevertheless, that those walls will always be raised again.

Though but a poetic paradox, it is true that that which is razed, will be only raised again. Ego separation will, sooner or later, always snap back into place. It is precisely at this time, that the real work of loving begins. We seek, by doing the work, to reclaim the heights we glimpsed in the initial ecstasy. Those heights, and even greater ones.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: In Ecstacy

The perception of falling in love is but one expression, however of a broader kind, of perception. This higher way of seeing is the path of Ecstasy. Ecstasy, from the Greek word ex-stasis, means “to move beyond stasis,” that is “beyond the apparently solid, into motion, movement, and life itself.” Its Latin root ex-stare means to stand outside yourself. To say I’m ecstatic is to say “I am beside myself. I am overwhelmed by intense experience. The veils of my illusions have been pierced and something essential touched.

Ecstasy is the highest perception of love. Ecstasy is modeled in the raptures of sexuality, but expresses itself in every facet of being as well. Ecstatic dance, music, exercise, study or work are all an essential part of what we need to be, both nurtured and wise in the world. The defining feature of ecstasy is that we touch a place of union where the walls have come down. In falling in love we touch it in the experience of intimacy. We have defined intimacy as shared identity. It is precisely this expansion of self which is ecstatic. The move from I to We is the greatest joy of a human life.

The circle expands however beyond the We of intimate relationship, beyond even the We of community. Ecstasy is the erotic place where we touch most clearly what the Hindu Upanishads call tat tvam asi, “That art thou …and thou are that.” Hebrew mystics called it Hitpaalut- radical amazement at wonder of being. In Hitpaalut you feel like you are enmeshed in the fabric of being – all loneliness and alienation are overcome – not the salve of relationship which can never fully ful-fill you, but a much more profound sense of being at home. A beautiful quote from the Chandogya Upanishad:

“This my spirit within my heart
is greater than the earth, greater than the sky,
greater than the heavens, greater than all worlds.
The all-working, all-wishing, all-smelling, all-tasting one,
that embraces the universe, that is silent, untroubled –
that is the spirit within my heart, that is Brahman.
There unto, when I go hence, shall I attain.
Who knoweth this, he… hath no more doubts.”

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: Arousal from Above

Love is almost always proceeded by an act of will. We do not fall in love unless we decide to fall in love. Only after we internally give ourselves permission are we open to the experience. But once we open the gate, the radically pleasurable perception of falling in love, and the joy and wonder created in its wake, are given to us free of all charges. The Kabbalists refer to falling in love as “arousal from above.” The love granted to us is real enough; it is simply not the result of human effort. It is something which is aroused from beyond.

According to the Kabbalists, there is nothing malicious or even capricious about the whole enterprise. Falling in love is a gift from God, pure and simple. Falling in love is a divine gift from a God whose primary characteristic is love for Her creatures. God bestows upon us a gift of inner certainty and clarity.

On the other hand, the nature of such a gift is that it is too great for us to accept fully. We cannot hold the dazzling brilliance of the light… something shatters. We can touch the love for a time, but we lack the vessels to hold it.

Falling in love is actually the core of the Kabbalistic Big Bang myth. A close reading of Lurianic Kabbalah reveals the powerful meditative truth that the motive force of creation was God falling in love with the world. Out of that love emerges the universe. God emanates a world in love. The image for this emanation is light pouring into vessels. God “in love” with the world. The emanation of light just keeps pouring forth. The vessels, however, are unable to hold the light. They shatter. The process of living is to gather the sparks of this fallen light and to repair the broken vessels.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni


For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org

Daily Wisdom Post: The Stones Will Sparkle

Now let me share with you something truly beautiful. It is a sort of Hebrew mystic expansion of Traherne’s moment of rapture. It is one of my favorite stories.

The disciples still tell of the time, more than two centuries ago, when the master known as the Bat Ayin, the Daughter of the Eye, received his call. The way the old students tell it, a mysterious man entered the study hall of the master in Europe and whispered with great intensity several sentences into his ear. On the very next day, the master gathered the community and announced that they had received the call of Lech Lecha, the call to go up to the Land of Israel.

The master was clearly roused to great passion. The disciples, infected by his ardor, were moved to action. The entire community over a period of a year was transplanted from Europe to the biblical land of Israel. It was around the time of the American Revolution. The community flourished in the mystical city of Safed, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

One day, however, after many tranquil years, a mysterious man appeared in the study hall. The older disciples recognized him. It was the same man who had whispered into the master’s ear so many years before. Who was he? Where was he from? No one knew.

This time, however, he did not whisper several sentences into the master’s ear. He spoke to the master for only a moment, uttering perhaps one sentence. Then he was gone. The master’s face fell. He withdrew from the study hall into his room, where he remained seven whole days. When he came out, his face shone. That same ardor and passion that had moved him to make the initial journey once again lit up his countenance. “We are not there yet,” he said, “but we will get there.”

He began to sing and dance. His display went on for nearly seven hours. What was most strange, though, was that every fifteen minutes or so, he would go to the window, look outside, and then return to the circle, dancing and singing with renewed intensity and passion.

At some point in the eighth hour, a smile of ecstasy and triumph spread across his face. “Yes,” he said softly,

“they are rubies.”

He turned to his expectant disciples and explained. “When that mysterious man you saw spoke to me so many years ago, he whispered in my ear, ‘Go up to the Land and you will see that the air lifts you up and carries you on its wings. The water sparkles and tastes like the rivers of Eden. Even the stones in the street sparkle like rubies.’ His call aroused in me great passion. I knew that it was a true call. I came to this land, and indeed the very air itself carried me on its wings. The water sparkled and even tasted like the rivers of Eden. However, the stones…were stones! Rubies they were not. They were lovely and fine, but they didn’t sparkle. And that was sensible to me. I understood that he had exaggerated just a little, and all was well.

“When the same man reappeared last week, he whispered only six words in my ear: ‘The stones do sparkle like rubies.’ My heart dropped. I understood that I had not fully heard the call. My love had grown weak. And so I spent seven days meditating, sitting with my heart, and trying to rediscover my wellspring of passion. When I felt that I had touched it, I knew that I needed you, my community, to make it alive and real. So we danced and sang, and every little while I would look out the window to see if the stones were sparkling.”

The master smiled broadly at them. “And now as I look out the window, I can tell you that it’s true. I can see clearly now… the stones do sparkle like rubies.”

The master understands that his ability to respond to his call is directly proportional to the love he feels. Our calls cannot be fully perceived other than through the eyes of passion. Love and perception are holy bedfellows.

The Erotic and the Holy
Marc Gafni

For more information on private study or to book a public teaching, contact Dr. Marc Gafni at support@ievolve.org