Category: Blog

The following is a repost of an article by Mark Forman first published on Medium.com on January 18, 2017.

https://medium.com/@mforman30/marc-gafni-more-than-any-other-single-person-helped-to-semi-destroy-the-integral-movement-to-6fdccc5fee80

Marc Gafni, more than any other single person, helped to semi-destroy the Integral movement to which I and others have devoted our lives and our work. A movement to which I believe he has contributed nothing of essential import. But really, it’s his temerity — or rather, his incredible self-centeredness — to rebrand his organization the Center for Integral Wisdom and his continual attempt to hoist that flag with himself as the leader that adds insult to these previous injuries.

The reason Gafni got unprecedented pushback after the NYT article is because he re-emerged and tried to insert himself again as an “Integral” leader — yet again, at an even more public level, after years of salacious reports, breeches of trust, obfuscation and blaming of others, after many compassionate confrontations from his friends and peers, after many other pushbacks against him as an unqualified and ethically challenged leader. Everything had been tried by the best people to support and reign him in (see Wilber’s original writing or Terry Patten’s writing or John Dupuy’s, for example). The NYT positioning of Gafni as an Integral leader was therefore already several times too many for those of us who had seen the damage done to our community. I was not alone in that sentiment or in the sense of having the responsibility to say something (again).

As for this piece, it unfortunately insults the intelligence of those who have watched this unfold methodically from 2006 onwards from within the larger community (for example, from inside the JFK graduate program where Gafni and I both taught, or from within the Integral Theory Conference community where he regularly attended, along with pretty much everyone else). Much of the unfolding has been curated by William Harryman, who has an axe to grind for sure but who also often cuts true.

The reality is that there are many who were very slow to judge, condemn, and proactively sought information and dialogue with Gafni on these very topics. I heard from many who know Marc well, and have spoken to Marc, once individually and once in what I can only call a joint apologetics session with Sally Kempton. Both talks involved sophistry on these issues, with childish whining from Gafni and the blaming of others for his victimization while taking no responsibility himself. Even if some of the more serious allegations are unclear, others of an unethical nature are well documented, and the sheer numbers of them and the repetition compulsion they demonstrate can’t be denied.

None of this was knee-jerk either, it was no conspiracy. There were years of good will within Integral and then uncertainty while people tried to separate out whether this person was at all trustworthy and if his purported gifts justified his level of chaos as a person in the community. But what actually happened? One by one, John Dupuy, Robb Smith, Diane Hamilton, Terry Patten, Corey Devos, and many others — solid, mature persons all, persons who knew Gafni intimately, and had every reason and self-interest to support him til the bitter end because of their close personal and business ties — eventually disowned him in detail. Because why? Because of some kind of mass conspiracy? Because Gafni is some kind of revolutionary threat to the established order? Or because Gafni himself actually burned those bridges through credible reports from people he hurt and through breeches of trust and failures to be positively influenced by peers?

So here is how it looks to me an informal way:

Gafni is a man who teaches an intellectually-ornate form of Kaballah, warmed-over with Stranger-in-a-Strange-Land-free-love as a way to gain sexual access to women who want something of their own psycho-spiritual-sexual nature mirrored back as “special” through what he represents to them. Much more than simply being a man with a sexual appetite — which is more than fine by me, with many safe avenues for that expression — he painfully blurs the delicate ethical lines of student-teacher relations, over-and-over again. Further, he has an underappreciated ability to spot very gifted but psychologically vulnerable men (and sometimes women) looking for a type of quasi-therapeutic-paternal support, to which he will tell them what they need to hear to feel better or offer them something so that their considerable talents can be recruited for his ongoing defense.

In the meantime, he burns his bridges through breeches of trust in ways large and small, has no capacity to take responsibility, shows himself incapable of wielding power safely, and apparently cannot learn from his mistakes. He is also someone willing to cloak himself in otherwise important issues — men’s issues, the problems of victim culture, libertarian concerns around sexuality and adult choice — and then unironically paint himself as a victim (Please, consider this irony, that Gafni is the victim while giving a critique of victim culture; it’s not a trivial irony). He can’t even restrain himself from teaching others directly about the things that he clearly has serious issues with (e.g., sexuality). The last piece alone would at least be some demonstration of self-awareness.

Gafni needs to put down this paranoid conspiratorial thinking, own some of his stuff like an adult, take a sabbatical from his manic quest, and try to resituate himself in a safer arrangement for all (if one could be found). And please stop calling himself Integral, for God’s sake. If he — or Clint or whoever else — continue to put forth paranoid theories that call out those who don’t reject all the credible victim reports — or who can’t unexperience all the breeches and obfuscations we have personally witnessed ourselves and heard from those close to us — they are not going to win any sympathy.

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The following is an article written by Joe Perez, first published by worldteacher.org on March 19, 2017.

An Apology To Tami Simon

On October 3, 2011, I wrote an open letter to Tami Simon concerning remarks she made to another blogger. In her remarks, she explained her reasons for cancelling the book publishing deal of one of Sounds True’s contracted authors, Marc Gafni. She explained that “[N]ew and incontrovertible information came to light that made me aware that Marc was involved in a sexual relationship with a student and that the relationship was shrouded in secrecy…” and that the other woman “often … witnessed Marc telling lies to cover his tracks.”

At the time, I was just getting to know Dr. Marc Gafni, the former Jewish Orthodox rabbi and one-time Israeli public celebrity turned Oxford University scholar with revolutionary ideas about Kabbalah’s “nondual humanism” among other things. At the time, circa 2011, many people felt that despite a history involving personal controversies, Gafni was one of the Integral scene’s brightest stars and most promising leaders.

Given Tami Simon’s impeccable reputation for integrity, her letter to the blogger seemed likely to end Gafni’s career. It left many reasonable people wondering if she needed to say anything at all. It left many reasonable people wondering if she was handling Gafni’s controveries with even-handedness or if he was being singled out for past misdeeds unfairly. I had heard she was in fact pressured and threated with a boycott and character assassination by individuals who Gafni and his associates claimed were part of a “dishonest smear campaign” to discredit him based on “trial by Internet”.

What the heck was going on between Sounds True and Tami’s decision to cancel Dr. Marc Gafni’s book deal? As a blogger in the Integral community, I tried to get to the bottom of it. But only Marc Gafni and people close to him would speak to me. Tami declined to speak to me, but I did speak to the two women Gafni was involved with simultaneously while being in a relationship with his child’s mother. One woman spoke of atrocious behavior by Marc that made me sick to hear of it including outright lies, infidelity, and telephone stalking. But it seemed to me that there was no smoking gun of physical abuse and the relationship was consensual. The other woman spoke to me and said her relationship with Marc was healthy. Years later, in the spring of 2016, she revealed to me that she secretly felt threatened and psychologically terrorized by Marc and could not speak openly to me of her actual experience with him which was emotionally and spiritually traumatic on many levels. I didn’t know any of this at the time, and I believed her public story that she thought well of Marc.

So in October 2011, I looked for a smoking gun, some evidence to tell me to stay clear from Marc and avoid getting involved with him, despite the brilliance and usefulness and humaneness of his spiritual writings. Tami’s public letter was a warning sign, but Marc had convinced me that there were many misunderstandings between him and Tami that she was unwilling to get past. So I wrote a blog post challenging Tami where I said things like, “Since you don’t mention any specific lies it’s hard for me to determine if there’s any truth to this comment, you know. There’s nothing to investigate, nothing that Marc can say in his defense.” and “How can there be a healing of these fresh wounds between you and Marc? I have heard him say that he loves you and hopes that you will forgive him for mistakes he’s made and that he hopes you can accept his friendship. I know that he is reluctant to make a public apology so long as the stink of the recent toxic blog posts lingers in the air, but he wants healing so very much for everyone. Is there any chance you will forgive him?”

Between 2011 and most of 2015, Marc Gafni and I had a positive relationship and spent over a year in public collaboration. I was on the lookout for signs of duplicity, deception, and potential abuse of myself or any associates. I did not find anything that set off alarm bells, though as I have said before Marc has a strong and domineering personality, a charismatic presence, circles of trust among his associates, and sometimes he isn’t aware of the impact that he has on other people. He is not perfect, but I never saw him as the monster or demon that his opponents put on him.

In the final days of 2015, the New York Times wrote a story on Marc Gafni as a rising political figure within the Integral community who was plagued by scandal. It brought many new developments to the forefront even though Marc was accused of no new misdeeds. At the time, I was not on the board or really very active in the organization he founded, the Center for Integral Wisdom. Nevertheless, it happened that the Board Chair of the CIW back-forwarded me a document which purported to exonerate Marc Gafni of his misdeeds. It seemed likely to me that she was sending this document, with Marc’s permission, to the Board of Directors of the CIW to influence them to stay loyal to Marc in the face of brutal public attacks on him. The author of the exonerating document has since gone on in 2017 to create a blog focused on defending Gafni against his attackers.

When I read the document, called the Integral Institute Report Summary, I soon learned that there was an entire section concerning Marc’s dismissal from Sounds True. Every single sentence of the paragraphs in this section contained falsehoods, lies, and distortions. I knew this because I had spoken not only to Marc but to the two women involved in the Sounds True controversy. I didn’t want to accept the truth that I had learned about my friend Marc. He seemed to be doing his best to prove his enemies correct who say that he is a pathological liar. While the document was not apparently written by Marc, it bore his fingerprints as a ghost writer or single source. He lied to the document’s author about key details, denying for instance that he had been involved with one of his students, even though the fact that she was his student was not in denial at the time. In fact, he made a very public defense of spiritual teachers having relationships with students to the Integrales Forum. Nevertheless, what he previously admitted, he now lied about. Wouldn’t he know he would get caught? Not necessarily, if we think through the mind of a pathological liar.  He could make Kate demand that everyone who received the document keep it secret so that the lies within it could not be scrutinized by his attackers. He was perpetrating a brilliant, risky fraud, with the reputations of every one of the Board of Directors of CIW at stake. I couldn’t stand for it. First I leaked the document to the Internet so that it could not be re-written to cover up the lies. Then I wrote what I knew to Ken Wilber and Kate Maloney and Marc Gafni. (Marc wrote me back the next day, explaining that there were “errors” in the report that would be “corrected” and republished.) Finally, at the behest of a commenter on a Facebook forum, I published my letter to Marc disclosing everything (which was soon republished by Robb Smith in the Integral Global forum).

After the incident with the leaked report, I remained distant from Marc and his organization. A few months later, I penned “An Apology as A Former Marc Gafni Defender” for my blog. I met with one of the two women from the Sounds True controversy and apologized personally for having not seen Marc more clearly and defending him for too long. But I never apologized to the other woman, who I deeply regret not having perceived her pain and validated it earlier than today. I am truly sorry. And I never apologized to Tami Simon personally.

She saw Marc Gafni more clearly than I did much sooner than I did, and I cast doubt on her testimony. She said she didn’t trust Marc, and I dismissed her concerns with a trust in him which was built on sand. She exercised sound judgment about Marc’s honesty when I did not, and I (relying on Marc’s account combined with Tami’s refusal to speak with me) insinuated that perhaps she was being less than fully honest. I regret that insinuation very much, though at the time I spoke those words I was in a difficult position. One of the brightest stars and most talented leaders the Integral community had known was being publicly assailed based on evidence outside the public view, and the controversy threatened to derail the publication of an entire body of literature which the world had a right to see. I did what I could in the situation, but I erred in judgment in key respects. I hope all three women I have apologized to will forgive me for failing as I did, and I wish them well.

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The following is a repost of an article by Monika Donimirska first published on satprnews.com on December 6, 2016.

http://satprnews.com/2016/12/06/jerry-sanduskys-abused-son-130-advocates-tell-whole-foods-change-the-culture-of-sexual-violence-2/

130 advocates addressed an open letter to board members of Whole Foods Market and Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the nonprofit founded by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Signers object to Mackey’s association with accused sexual abuser, spiritual leader Marc Gafni, as first reported by The NY Times. Advocacy organizations include Faculty Against Rape and Matthew Sandusky’s Peaceful Hearts Foundation.

130 advocates for survivors of sexual assault addressed an open letter to board members of Whole Foods Market and Conscious Capitalism Inc., the nonprofit founded by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, urging executives to “change the culture of sexual violence”:

An Open Letter to Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism: Sexual Violence Accountability

“I believe this situation affords John Mackey, Whole Foods, and Conscious Capitalism an opportunity to create positive societal change. I ask these business leaders to join with myself and other signers of this open letter to start a meaningful dialogue on prevention and education efforts to eradicate the culture of sexual violence.”

Matthew Sandusky, Executive Director, Peaceful Hearts Foundation

Advocates object to CEO Mackey’s association with accused sexual abuser, former rabbi and spiritual leader Marc Gafni, as first reported by The New York Times last December.

The Times reported Gafni describing one of his accusers:

“She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”

The Times also reported:

“A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni ‘a bold visionary.’ He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch.”

The New York Daily News reported Gafni denying allegations, stating his two underage accusers were willing partners.

The Washington Post reported on coordinated protests at Whole Foods stores in New York City and Los Angeles in May.

Mackey pledged his loyalty to Gafni in June, releasing a public statement, as reported by the Forward.

Sara Kabakov was the then-14-year-old girl whom Gafni described as “going on 35.” She came forward publicly for the first time in January in an article in the Forward: “I Was 13 When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began.”

According to a Whole Foods Market statement, Mackey is no longer on the board of directors of Gafni’s nonprofit. On his Whole Foods Market Blog, Mackey describes his involvement with Gafni as a “personal relationship.”

The letter’s signers urge Mackey to disavow Gafni, stating:

“In pledging his loyalty to Gafni, and protecting their ‘personal relationship,’ as noted on his Whole Foods Market Blog, Mackey has inadvertently hurt survivors of sexual assault and obstructed efforts to change the culture of sexual violence.”

Signers of the open letter include university professors, student advocates, CEOs, founders, and executive directors of advocacy organizations, including Faculty Against Rape (FAR), the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA), and SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), the organization featured in the movie Spotlight.

Lead signer Matthew Sandusky, founder and executive director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and abused son of convicted pedophile, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, said:

“I believe this situation affords John Mackey, Whole Foods, and Conscious Capitalism an opportunity to create positive societal change. I ask these business leaders to join with myself and other signers of this open letter to start a meaningful dialogue on prevention and education efforts to eradicate the culture of sexual violence.”

The open letter, authored by San Francisco Bay Area activist Nancy Levine, was published on the website Feminine Collective on Saturday.

Source: Peaceful Hearts Foundation

 

 

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The following is a repost of an article by Paul Levy that first appeared on www.awakeningthedream.com on August 11, 2016.

http://www.awakeninthedream.com/marc-gafni/

In early 2016 a controversy swirling around a charismatic spiritual teacher with a long history of abuse allegations grabbed my attention due to its over-the-top craziness. The more deeply I investigated the situation the more my mind was blown. The teacher’s name is Marc Gafni and he has attracted a remarkable number of renowned leaders defending him as well as many major figures condemning him. A recent spate of publicity, including a 2015 Christmas day article in the New York Times, has brought this situation, to evoke the Academy Award winning movie, into the “spotlight.”

Marc Gafni is a spiritual self-help author and former rabbi who has spent the last several decades attracting enamored followers in various groups and then being repeatedly forced out due to numerous scandals involving abuses of sex, power and money. The most well-known allegations include being accused of sexually abusing a 13-year old girl when he was a rabbinical student, and a 16-year old girl when he was a rabbi and her youth group leader. He was forced to flee Israel in 2006 when several women there went to the police, and his revitalized career spectacularly blew up again in 2011 due to a sex scandal involving a student. There have been countless other allegations of abuse that are less well-known, and based on in-depth research it appears that Gafni has left behind a trail of trauma and destruction, doing damage to many organizations and individuals along the way.

Any of these scandals would have ended the career of most people, and yet miraculously, Gafni has managed to reinvent himself time after time; he continues to deny all allegations, portraying himself as an innocent victim wrongly accused. Rising like a phoenix from each of his previous falls, he has continually attracted support from prominent spiritual teachers and business leaders. Currently Gafni runs a “think tank” in California and is also teaching workshops on sacred sexuality, which is quite ironic and troubling for someone who has a long history of sexual abuse allegations (for close to $6,000 you, too, could study “prayer sexing” with Marc Gafni and learn how to be “fucked open to God.” Editors note: Shortly after the publication of this article, this phrase was removed from his website).

What has particularly grabbed my attention is that many of the players involved in the Gafni situation are larger than life archetypal figures, including Ken Wilber – “the Einstein of consciousness,” Barbara Marx Hubbard – “the grande dame of conscious evolution,” and John Mackey – founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, called the “prophet of conscious capitalism.” The fact that some of the allegedly most brilliant and spiritually awake among us are themselves supporting Gafni is showing us the challenge of what we are dealing with. Not merely a personal situation, it is as if central casting has sent the perfect figures to embody the deeper archetypal process that is getting acted out.

What is striking is that the crazy-making dynamic swirling around Gafni precisely maps onto a deeper archetypal process that I have witnessed many times, both in my personal life and in the world at large. It is this deeper pattern, where intelligent, highly accomplished people with the best of intentions “protect the abuser”—that I’d like to illumine. A deeper archetypal pattern appearing like this is an incredible opportunity, a sign that a deeper level of the unconscious—both personal and collective—is available for potential integration if we recognize what is being revealed.

I should make it clear that I have never personally met Marc Gafni. When I first began writing this article, I assumed a position of trying to be neutral, feeling that this would make it easier for the deeper process that I’m pointing at to be seen and received. As my inquiry continued down the Marc Gafni rabbit hole, however, I began to realize how inauthentic—and impossible—this was becoming, as I can’t pretend not to have a point of view. Not only do I find the accounts of Gafni’s accusers highly credible and having the ring of truth, but the counterarguments by Gafni and his supporters are so filled with holes that they are impossible to be believed or taken seriously.

Gafni himself has admitted that he is “sick” … that is, before he recanted in a way that has to be seen to be believed, announcing that he didn’t really mean it. Ken Wilber, founder of the Integral movement and a close friend and supporter of Gafni, has in past writings referred to Gafni’s “pathology,” “emotional illness” and “grave wrongdoing,” pointing out that his “very bright light has cast a very dark shadow.” From all appearances it seems that Gafni has had an entrancing effect on the people who support him, who seem to be so blinded by his light that they don’t see his shadow.

For example, Mariana Caplan, a supposed expert on the subject of discernment around spiritual teachers, wrote an epilogue in one of her books asserting that the complaints against Gafni were false (note: Gafni is the father of her child, and various people “in-the-know” assert that the epilogue was actually written by Gafni himself, not Caplan). The fact that an alleged expert on not getting hoodwinked by spiritual teachers may herself be hoodwinked by a spiritual teacher would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic, and is a powerful indicator of the bewitching nature of the spell cast when we are dealing with the timeless archetypal process of protecting the abuser.

Other people rationalize Gafni’s behavior—for example, Wilber has said publicly that “at worst” Gafni was an “insensitive boyfriend,” with “a lot of shakti” (a Sanskrit word for energy). John Mackey has stated that out of loyalty to his friend he presumes Gafni’s innocence simply because Gafni has told him that he is innocent. Both Wilber and Mackey, although over time distancing themselves from being publicly associated with Gafni, have yet to openly come out and condemn his actions, exhibiting what seems to be a real lack of insight and courage. As if suffering from a form of blindness, Gafni’s followers seem to not (at least publicly) recognize the depth—or danger—of his sickness.

WETIKO

The Native American people have a term—wetiko—for a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that precisely describes the collective blindness that is playing out around Gafni and his supporters. Wetiko—whose origin is within the human psyche—induces a psychological blindness such that those who have fallen under its spell not only think of themselves as sighted, but arrogantly believe they are more sighted than those who are clear-sighted. Instead of inducing people to see hallucinations that are not there, in what can be thought of as a “negative hallucination” the wetiko bug makes people unable to see what is there. Wetiko (I could—and did—write a book about it called Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil) can be thought of as a mind-virus that covertly operates through the blind-spots of the unconscious in such a way that those under its spell become its unwitting instruments to act it out—destructively—in the world while, at the same time, this virus of the mind surreptitiously hides itself from being seen.

The notion of wetiko can be enormously helpful in contextualizing the deeper process that has gotten activated around Gafni so as to help us to develop the eyes to see this psychic blindness. The antidote/cure for wetiko is to see how it covertly operates through the underlying field as well as within our own minds. Certain situations in life—such as the firestorm that has ignited around Gafni—so embody, and hence reveal this sickness of the soul that these situations can become a looking-glass into its inner workings. Just as any fragment of a hologram contains the whole hologram, the shadow that is manifesting in and through the Gafni situation is reflecting a shadow that exists deep within the collective unconscious of our species, which is to say, inside each one of us.

The process constellated around Gafni is an iteration of a fractal that repeatedly plays out in countless families as well as groups and organizations in our world. Notable examples abound – to name but a few: Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky of Penn State, the Catholic Church sex scandals, and most recently, Roger Ailes of Fox News. The process of abuse getting acted out within a group and subsequently getting covered up is a deep unconscious archetypal pattern that in-forms much of what gets enacted in the greater body politic of our world. A repeating pattern in different areas of our life—just like a recurring dream—can oftentimes be an attempt at getting our attention about heretofore unconscious parts of ourselves.

It is particularly interesting when this process gets played out in spiritual communities, with many well-intentioned, brilliant and seemingly awake people unwittingly playing roles to hide the very darkness they are supposedly in the business of illuminating. The Gafni situation is not an isolated incident in the spiritual world, but tragically, happens all too often, even in the most enlightened spiritual communities. Gaining insight into this deeper process as it in-forms and gives shape to what is playing out around Gafni can help us to see and eventually come to terms with this deeper process as it plays out within ourselves, in other areas of our lives, and in the world at large.

RED FLAGS FROM THE UNCONSCIOUS

One of the chief features that happens when abuse enters a family or community (in this case, whether the abuse is coming through Gafni’s exploitive behaviors or, as he would suggest, via his critics with their “false accusations”) is that a dissociative field—a reality-distortion field—constellates around the abuse, which usually creates endless misunderstandings and polarizes its members. The evil of abuse is a dis-integrating energy, which is to say that, in fracturing the intrinsic wholeness of the community, it creates a dis-connect among its members. The reality of what has—and is—playing out becomes obfuscated, which is to say that the truth of what is actually happening becomes very hard to discern.

Part of what makes the whole truth so hard to figure out is that so few of Gafni’s alleged victims have gone public with their stories; this makes it easier for Gafni to minimize the extent of his transgressions. And of course, the nature of most abuse is that it happens in private, making it even more difficult for outsiders to know for certain what really happened. This confusion and blindness becomes a self-reinforcing feedback loop that simply feeds into and supports the further propagation of the abuse.

Though much of the alleged abuse was sexual in nature, in one sense the fundamental abuse that is getting acted out around Gafni has more to do with issues of power and control. The primary channel through which abuse operates is the medium of the psyche, which is to say that, in its essence, it is psychological in nature. In fact, men have also publicly accused Gafni of abusing his power over them in ways that were quite detrimental. Enacted under the cover of the unconscious, the abuse is practically invisible and therefore hard to see.

A key way of illumining and getting a handle on the abuse, as if stalking a wild animal, is to follow its footprints as it covertly operates through the unconscious psyche – be it of an individual, a group or within our own minds. When the unconscious becomes visible, if followed with awareness, it reveals itself to be a doorway, potentially leading us back to ourselves.

We can follow the unconscious manifestations of the abuse by noticing the various red flags that signify that we are encountering the energy of wetiko. For instance, many of Gafni’s students, friends and colleagues, responding to the multiple accusations of abuse, have written positively glowing statements in support of him. They talk about how loving, warm, generous, well-intentioned, brilliant and filled with integrity he is. And yet—raising a glaring red flag—none of the people writing these supportive statements are seriously investigating or hearing what the accusers are saying. If Gafni’s supporters listened to and actually responded to the accusations, it would add a level of credibility to their defenses of Gafni that is heretofore lacking. Instead, they are simply making blanket statements about how wonderful Gafni is, all the while subtly (or not so subtly) inferring that the accusers are making “false claims” against Gafni. It is not simply that Gafni’s supporters are not hearing the accusers’ voices (a passive act), but on the contrary, they are actively putting down, invalidating and in some cases actually attacking the very voices to which they are not listening.

The indisputable fact is that the people who are writing these wonderful endorsements of Gafni have no idea what actually happened – they weren’t there during the experiences and never spoke with those directly involved. Yet, they are writing “as if” they not only have an authority to comment on the accusers’ claims, but represent themselves as if they have more authority than those who had the actual experiences with Gafni. This bears repeating: Gafni’s supporters—who are in no position to know what happened—are telling people who are in a position to know what happened, what happened! This is a red flag signifying the unconscious, announcing to all who have eyes to see that the darkness of the unconscious is playing itself out so as to—potentially—come to light.

Wetiko works through the projective tendencies of the mind such that we become entranced—bewitched—by our own projections. When Gafni’s supporters refer to the false accusations made by his accusers—as if it is an irrefutable, objective fact that these claims could not possibly be true—his supporters are actually doing the very thing that they are accusing Gafni’s accusers of doing! By accusing Gafni’s victims of making false accusations, his supporters are themselves making false accusations, for his supporters are in no position whatsoever to know the truth of what they are talking about.

Some of Gafni’s supporters have even suggested that the reason accusers are attacking Gafni is because shadow forces in their psyches have been triggered by and are reacting against “the forces of light and love” that Gafni is bringing into the world! Prominent meditation teacher and long-time supporter Sally Kempton has accused Gafni’s critics of projecting their shadow onto Gafni, which is exactly what his supporters are doing via their accusations. This shadow projection suggests once again that the unconscious is playing itself out in the most maddening of ways. Accusing others of doing what we ourselves are doing—as if we’re looking in a mirror and responding to our own reflection as if it is other than ourselves—is wetiko in a nutshell.

Spiritual teacher Barbara Marx Hubbard is still openly and actively supporting Gafni, claiming she is “certain” that he is innocent of the charges against him. After a lifetime of doing great work, I find it sad that Hubbard is tarnishing her legacy by her misguided support of Gafni. In her recent statement supporting Gafni, Hubbard accuses his critics of “not being interested in facts.” A more clear example of projection is hard to imagine. Who is the one, Barbara, who is not interested in facts?

Let’s deconstruct Hubbard’s argument for a moment. She mentions that there is “extensive material that refuted these [abuse] claims.” The extensive material she is referring to primarily consists of statements and reports that, according to many insiders, were compiled and written by Gafni himself, including an “Integral Institute Report” that is often touted by Gafni as vindicating him. This report has been discredited by Joe Perez, once one of Gafni’s most vociferous defenders before he began to snap out of Gafni’s spell. Commenting on this report, Perez writes, “it was deeply flawed and did not address some of the most serious allegations against him … [in one particular section] every single sentence contained a falsehood or half-truth! … It reeked of cover up, not exoneration.” To reiterate, a document that “reeked of cover up” is one of the primary sources that Barbara Marx Hubbard is using not only to refute the accuser’s claims, but to accuse them of not being interested in facts. It’s truly mind-warping!

SPELL

Wetiko is a deceiving spirit; those who are unconsciously taken over by it—as Gafni certainly appears to be—can manifest as seeming masters of deception. To quote Gafni’s third ex-wife, “He was so efficient and convincing a liar that I view all of his supporters…as victims of his pathology.” According to numerous reports of his victims, Gafni would swear them to secrecy—thereby keeping the whole community in the dark about what was actually happening. This compartmentalization is an externalized reflection of the inner state of fragmentation of the psyche when abuse is involved. In a case where the micro reflects the macro, keeping parts of a whole system separate and dis-associated from each other is how the centralization of power and control gets institutionalized in the body politic of our world.

From all of the evidence, it appears that Gafni is so dissociated from the darkness he’s acted out that he has fallen into a state of lying to both himself and others and then believing his own lies. Once we sufficiently pull the wool over our own eyes like this, however, our consciousness, as philosopher Herbert Marcuse put it, then becomes inured to its own falsity. As if in the throes of an addiction, we then become compulsively driven to sustain our lie by whatever means necessary, lest we snap out of our self-generated cycle of denial and self-deception, which would unravel our false sense of self, as well as our psyche.

Lying is one of the roots of wetiko disease. Lying to ourselves and then convincing ourselves that we are not doing so is a classic version of doublethink, a process in which—putting ourselves under a spell—we literally brainwash and hypnotize ourselves. Becoming convinced of our own lies is a state in which we can develop a certain charisma and become very convincing to others. There is little that is more convincing than an evil we have self-righteously committed that, through self-deception, we convince ourselves is actually beneficent.

By all accounts having a magnetic personality, Gafni is very talented at enchanting and “charming” people into his view of things—his world-view—as he has enchanted himself to a degree that is infectious and catching. Due to his charisma, he has practically a preternatural ability to motivate people to support him and a cause greater than themselves. This ability to motivate others is an incredible gift, but if channeled through one’s unprocessed shadow with its craving for power, it can have all-around destructive effects.

Some supporters have mentioned that, having known of the accusations when they first met Gafni, they simply asked him about them, and, according to their accounts, he then went out of his way to explain what was really going on. The part of Gafni that has fallen for his own lies evokes the corresponding suggestible and potentially bedeviled part of others’ psyches and hooks them, spellbinding and entraining them into his spin. People then believe—hook, line and sinker—Gafni’s version of what happened, forgetting that there are at least two sides to every story. As part of his spin, Gafni reportedly does all he can to discredit his accusers as liars who are not to be trusted; for once people snap out of the spell he’s cast and he can no longer control what they think or say about him, he tries to control what others think about them. His supporters’ critical faculty disabled, they don’t do their due diligence nor any further research to see if what Gafni is saying is actually true or not; they simply believe him. This is an outer example of how wetiko works within our psyches. The wetiko virus can’t steal our soul; rather, it tricks us into giving it away ourselves.

In understanding the role that Gafni is playing and the effect he is having on others, it is important to not just psychoanalyze him, only trying to understand Gafni’s psychology from the personal, reductive point of view. From all appearances, it seems that Gafni has fallen into and been taken over by the unconscious such that he has been seized by, surrendered to—and has become an instrument for—the mesmerizing power of the archetypal realm to act itself out through him. The very great power of the collective unconscious can be used for the highest good—helping people to awaken—or, if acted out unconsciously, can be channeled destructively in a way that disempowers other people. When someone is unconsciously taken over by the living power of the archetypal dimension, they can access these very powerful transpersonal energies to play upon, enchant and manipulate the souls of people like so many strings of a musical instrument, and—just like we see in the situation getting conjured up around Gafni—entrain and entrance others to do their bidding.

Here is an example of the inverted, upside-down, mind-melting, crazy-making reality-distortion field that has gotten conjured up around Gafni. Adam Bellow, a prominent right-wing editor whose books include memoirs of Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, as well as an attempted discredit of Anita Hill’s claims of sexual harassment, is a supporter of Gafni who, based on his public comments, seems to have fallen under his spell. Bellow, commenting on how some of Gafni’s accusers say that his supporters are “under some weird kind of spell” writes that Gafni “has no such magical power of enchantment. If he does, I’m certainly immune to it.”

But is he really immune? Bellow has written that he has seen “how he [Gafni] conducts his relationships … I have been consistently impressed by the love, respect, and loyalty he inspires in all who know him.” [italics mine] The cognitive dissonance in Bellow’s statement is obvious, as he is implying that Gafni’s accusers don’t know him, which is exactly the opposite of what is true. Most of Gafni’s accusers are actually the ones who know him best and who saw him in all manner of situations, including sexual – they were his lovers, wives, teaching partners, closest friends and members of his inner circle. They thus likely knew Gafni far better than Bellow ever will. This makes me think of the psychological dynamic that happens when someone points out the unconscious shadow in the field; they are typically viewed by people who aren’t seeing the shadow as being blind. I would point out that Bellow seems to have gotten entranced by Gafni’s outward appearance; the one who doesn’t seem to know Gafni is Bellow himself.

According to Bellow’s way of thinking, the fact that Gafni manifested to him as being a loving person “proves” that what Gafni’s accusers are saying could not be true, which is a fallacious use of logic. Of course people who act out abuse often appear loving – they wouldn’t find victims otherwise! I call this maddening “ill”-logic wetiko-logic, which is both a symptom and cause of psychological illness; i.e., it is truly crazy-making for all involved. This false logic does everything it can to avoid getting to the crux of the matter, all the while thinking and protesting mightily that it is doing the opposite.

It is as if Gafni’s supporters think that just because he is accomplished in some areas of his life, he couldn’t possibly do something reprehensible in another, which is a very limited, naive and fragmented point of view that lacks a deep understanding of the multifaceted nature of the psyche and its enormous capability for self-deception. This unconscious, unexamined assumption is how people of some importance, such as clergy, doctors, teachers or “pillars of the community” frequently get away with sexual abuse, child abuse, violence, etc. The un-reflected upon and erroneous assumptions intrinsic to the perspective held by Gafni’s abettors is a crucial factor that supports and allows the abuse to continue to play out. Without these enablers, the abuse could never happen in the way it does.

Many of us suffer from an unconscious willingness to be fooled by appearances. Gafni’s supporters seem to be falling prey to a well-known psychological dynamic—when we see a genuine part of someone, we can easily assume this one aspect is the totality of the person, i.e., who the person is. When Gafni’s supporters see his genuinely good aspect—which is an authentic part (but only a part) of who he is—it is easy to assume that this is all of who he is. It is important to not solidify Gafni as either all-good or all-bad, for, like all of us, he is an amalgam of light and shadow. Many of us are unable to consciously suffer the ambivalence of holding the seeming contradiction which embraces the fact that another person—like ourselves—can have both dark and light elements at the same time.

VICTIMIZER DISGUISED AS THE VICTIM

Part of why it’s so hard for the supporters of someone who is acting out abuse to see what is actually happening is that they become attached to an overly positive image of who they think the abuser is that feeds into their comfortable, comforting—and tranquilizing—image of the world and themselves, which serves to keep them asleep. This can feed into people’s unconscious need to believe the person who they think of as representing a positive ideal. This need can further feed into people’s unconscious and simplistic desire to think they know exactly where good and evil reside in the external world, thereby shielding them from any serious inquiry regarding the darkness within themselves. Avoiding looking at the darker parts within fulfills an unconscious need to identify themselves as solely innocent and good. This marginalization of their own darker parts insures that the evil will always appear projected outside of themselves in the form of some “other.”

People such as Gafni are like magnets around which, and portals through which, the spell of wetiko becomes cast in the surrounding environment, polarizing the field in the process. Being unfamiliar with our own potential for darkness renders us susceptible to fall under the thrall of the will-to-power of the archetypal shadow as it enacts itself through someone like Gafni. The fact that Gafni is so brilliant and so easily able to co-opt the deepest insights and language of the spiritual wisdom traditions to justify the behavior of his shadow makes this particular situation especially fascinating, challenging and dangerous.

Without knowing it, people who are supporting Gafni have gotten drafted (or more accurately, by their own volition “enlisted”) into Gafni’s version of “the way things are.” As if subscribing to and becoming pawns in someone else’s dream, Gafni’s supporters have disabled their own discernment and given away their ability to have their own experience, all the while thinking they are doing just the opposite. When we give away our intrinsic ability to interpret our own experience, other people, particularly those attracted to power—such as Gafni—are more than happy to interpret things for us.

In a perverse (arche)typical pattern that oftentimes gets constellated in just such situations, in addition to denying the accusations and then attacking the accusers, Gafni then casts himself as the victim, claiming that, as a result of the accusations, he has felt “intense pain beyond imagination.” In his reactions, Gafni is playing the classic role of what I call the “victimizer disguised as the victim.” Reversing the roles of victim and perpetrator, Gafni claims that he, rather than his victims, is the victim of abuse. It should be pointed out that Gafni’s strategy of casting aspersions on the true victims is simply a camouflaged form of the very abuse that he is so dramatically denying.

Feeling betrayed and victimized by an alleged coordinated conspiracy against him—what he calls a smear campaign that he likens to a modern day witch-hunt—Gafni claims to be the victim of “attempted social murder.” He has stated that he feels “socially raped,” claiming that he is the victim of “social media rape.” These are strong and ironic words from someone who over decades has himself been accused of sexual abuse. Using very charged political terminology, he has compared his accusers’ behavior to a form of terrorism, accusing them of being engaged in a jihad against him, supposedly motivated by professional jealousy and resentment. He has also likened his ordeal to that of black men who were lynched! These over-the-top outrageous comparisons make me wonder if Gafni has no sense of shame whatsoever. The whole situation feels twisted beyond belief.

ILLUSION COLLUSION

When abuse is acted out and covered up in a system, the psychic blindness of wetiko—in which many members of the system turn a blind-eye to the abuse—propagates itself through the field via people’s unconscious reactions of looking away from both the abuse and what it is triggering within themselves. To spread itself throughout the field, wetiko needs a group of people to be its purveyors, which is why collective situations are breeding grounds for its destructive influence to flourish. A collective psychosis, wetiko is highly contagious, spreading through the channel of our shared unconsciousness—reciprocally reinforcing and feeding off and into each of our unconscious blind spots—rendering us oblivious, i.e., blind, to our own madness.

In subscribing to his version of the way things are, Gafni’s enablers are colluding with his illusions; etymologically, the word “collude” has to do with “the sharing of an illusion.” In a self-perpetuating circular feedback loop, by buying into and hence agreeing with Gafni’s illusions, his supporters are further validating and confirming the seeming reality of these delusions, thereby co-dependently reinforcing both his madness as well as their own. An impenetrable field, like a protective bubble, gets collectively conjured up around their shared unconsciousness that actively—and aggressively—resists both facts and self-reflection at all costs, thus perpetuating the spell-like trance of those in its thrall. Anyone reflecting back to them their state of unconsciousness—in our example, Gafni’s accusers—gets demonized and seen as a threat. This is how a collective psychosis keeps itself in business.

BAMBOOZLE

It is a rich contemplation to attempt to understand why good, well-intentioned and highly intelligent people allow themselves to be hoodwinked and bamboozled by the figure of the abuser and wind up protecting him. To quote scientist Carl Sagan, “If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us.” When we have been taken—captured—by the bamboozle, at a certain point it is too painful to admit this to ourselves. Facts become meaningless; it is easier to reject evidence than to admit we’ve been wrong. To quote Mark Twain, “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”

One of the major factors that keeps us caught in the bamboozle is that it’s an unconscious way of avoiding and protecting ourselves against our own pain. Yet our unconscious reaction against looking at the fact that we have been duped or conned ultimately feeds, in a self-generated feedback loop, the very pain—and the unconscious guilt—that we seek to avoid. Our looking away, which is an avoidance of relationship with a part of ourselves, is the very blindness that is at the root—both the cause and effect—of wetiko. Combined with most people’s aversion to being wrong, this is how we are complicit in insuring that we stay asleep. Sometimes we just don’t want to know the darker truths.

One of the most destructive dynamics in the human psyche is when the darkness of the unconscious becomes visible and makes itself available for being made conscious—whether in our night dreams or waking life—and we choose to ignore it. We have then chosen, in Jung’s words, to remain “artificially unconscious,” which serves to further feed the deleterious effects of the unconscious in the field—thereby strengthening wetiko, both out in the world and inside of our minds. New Age, spiritual communities are notorious for their practically pathological inability to discuss—let alone deal with—what is referred to by the word “evil,” i.e., the potential destructive forces in both the human psyche and the cosmos at large.

There is a counter-incentive built into the very fabric of abuse that makes it hard to snap out of our denial and self-deception and see the darker truth of what is actually happening, as we have to be willing to have the courage to experience the traumatizing—and painful—nature of this realization. To see through and recognize the delusion of our overly positive image of who we thought the abuser was and realize that he has a darker aspect is shattering to our sense of the way things are. For example, the late Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, referred to Gafni’s “brilliance that had a dark center,” and wrote that he was “devastated” when he realized that he had become “an unwitting accessory to his depredations.” Seeing the person’s dark side can so shake us up as to be traumatizing—inducing a form of PTSD—making us feel unsafe, as we see through the illusion that the world (and the people in it) are the way we thought it was. Many people simply make the easier, and less painful choice to stay asleep, blaming the victims for creating such a disturbance. If only the accusers would just shut up the problem would disappear!

Similar to stepping out of a cult, it takes courage to snap out of the groupthink of the collectively agreed-upon version of the way things are and see the potential abuse in which we have been colluding. There is no getting around the fact that snapping out of our spell entails self-reflecting, looking at and owning the darkness of our own unconscious shadow. This involves not only seeing through the false, overly-positive image we have of the abuser, but seeing through the false, overly-positive image we have of ourselves as well. Our consciousness—and self-identity—simultaneously expands to greater heights and deeper depths, as we embrace more of the possibilities—both good and bad—of which we are capable. This involves real courage, as is always the case when we see through our illusions and see things—and ourselves—as we really are.

It’s important to be aware that many of Gafni’s accusers were once his loyal supporters and defenders at the time of their involvement with him. This led to a painful awakening when they realized how deeply they’d been manipulated and lied to, and how they had betrayed their integrity to help cover up his previous abuses. An increasing number of Gafni’s former supporters in recent months and years have had the courage to admit they’d been duped and are warning the public not to trust him. One powerful example was at a live storytelling event I attended, where a woman bravely shared how she’d been seduced by Gafni, conned into covering up his previous abuse, and ultimately had her trust in him betrayed in a devastating way.

In addition, many prominent rabbis recently put out a petition denouncing Gafni, stating, “Some of those who sign here were severely misled and even once defenders of Gafni’s integrity only to see that we too had been deceived.” Author and spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey, who had originally dismissed the accusations against Gafni, spoke with several of his victims, who shared, to quote Harvey, “some of the most painful and devastating” stories of abuse he had ever heard. Much to his credit, Harvey had the courage and integrity to realize that he had been hoodwinked and strongly came out condemning Gafni’s behavior.

Reportedly, what has helped people snap out of the collective spell and connect with their own experience, and hence, themselves, is stepping away and no longer being in touch with Gafni—and therefore not being under the influence of him managing their perceptions. Situations like what is transpiring around Gafni typically get healed when a leverage point—a critical mass—has been reached and enough people see through the endless subterfuge and smokescreens, connect with each other through the creative power of their collectively shared lucidity, step out of their silence, and actively speak their true voice — a process that is, in fact, happening today. We are complicit in abuse if we have bought into the lie that we have no power to change it.

COMPASSION

The fact that some of the supposedly most awake among us—e.g., Ken Wilber, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Sally Kempton and John Mackey—are still supporting Gafni (be it through their actions or their deafening silence) is a powerful sign that we all have our blindspots and can potentially fall asleep at any moment. This realization can deepen our compassion – for both others as well as ourselves. Compassion is truly empowering; it levels the playing field, equalizing us as human beings, as we are all composites of light and shadow.

Wetiko is a collectively dreamed up phenomenon. We have all collaboratively dreamed up into materialization the Gafni situation, with the myriad roles of abuser(s), supporters of the abuse, victims and accusers reflecting a deeper unconscious archetypal process happening within the shadows of our own mind. All of these various interlocking roles in the field reciprocally co-arise together, which is to say that these roles don’t exist in isolation, but only exist and take on their meaning relative to each other as interdependent parts of a dynamically unfolding whole system. Seeing others as separate from ourselves and each other is simultaneously the cause and result of wetiko disease. Our intrinsic interconnectedness—the fact that we are not separate from each other but rather, inter-related—is itself the deeper process that is being revealed. The realization of our interdependence naturally gives birth to great compassion—the wetiko dissolver par excellence.

If we could use this very compelling and painful melodrama to help us awaken to a deeper level of compassion, then Marc Gafni will indeed have served as a great teacher … just not in the way he imagines himself to be.

————–

A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is the author of the newly released book Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes Your Father (Awaken in the Dream Publishing, 2015), as well as Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil (North Atlantic Books, 2013), and The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis (Authorhouse, 2006). He is the founder of the “Awakening in the Dream Community” in Portland, Oregon. An artist, he is deeply steeped in the work of C. G. Jung, and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over thirty years. He is the coordinator for the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. Please visit Paul’s website www.awakeninthedream.com. You can contact Paul at paul@awakeninthedream.com; he looks forward to your reflections.

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The following is a repost of an article by Sam Kestenbaum first published on August 2, 2016 on Forward.com.

http://forward.com/news/346632/controverisal-new-age-guru-marc-gafnis-latest-venture-teacher-in-residence/?attribution=home-hero-item-img-1

Applications are now being accepted for a year-long course on New Age tantric sex, which include instruction on “total body orgasms,” “Prayer Sexing” and “Pleasure Dharma.” Classes begin in October and applicants who enroll before August 15 receive a generous discount.

One of the course’s teachers? Controversial one-time rabbi Marc Gafni.

Gafni, a New Age guru and former rabbi accused of abuses of power through his career, including molestation of a teenage girl, has another venture — as “wisdom teacher in residence” at the Institute for Integral Evolutionary Tantra.

“We need to be willing to stand with each other in sexuality,” Gafni wrote in an introductory message on the organization’s website. “We need to learn what that means with all of its complexity, with all of its shadows.”

“The sexual is the ultimate Spiritual Master,” Gafni wrote.

A one-year course at the school, starting this fall and held over six weekends in New York City, with 16 bi-weekly online workshops, costs $5,750. There are nine “total body orgasm” sessions and students are also allowed two “interactive online sessions.”

Applicants may chose to enroll in a “two-year transformational program and a four-year practitioner program” after which they will be a “Certified Outrageous Eros Relationship & Sexuality Practitioner.” Applicants must send in a completed application form, wth a letter of recommendation, and go through an interview process before being accepted into the program.

The Institute for Integral Evolutionary Tantra is affiliated with the Center for Integral Wisom, Gafni’s think tank. The program incorporates “Integral and Evolutionary Theory,” New Age concepts that Gafni has helped shape. The institute is led by Kristina Kincaid, a member of Center for Integral Wisdom. Gafni has been involved with the institute since at least 2013, when he co-taught a weekend workshop including guidance on “how to move though the abuse of the sexual to sexual integrity.”

Gafni has had many other incarnations over the course of his career, including an emerging leader in New York Orthodox circles and a celebrated, then derided, spiritual leader in the Jewish Renewal movement.

Reports of sexual impropriety have dogged Gafni for years.

In 2004, the New York Jewish Week spoke with a then-anonymous woman who said a 19-year-old Gafni had “repeatedly sexually assaulted” her beginning in 1980. “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her,” Gafni said in an interview with that paper.

That woman, Sara Kabakov, came forward publicly for the first time in this newspaper last year and says that Gafni molested her.

“When I was 23 — the age past which, according to New York state law , a person who suffers abuse as a minor loses the ability to press charges — I was still trying to get away,” Kabakov wrote. “I was unable to think about what had happened to me.”

Under New York law, child sex abuse victims must file civil suits against those they hold accountable by the time they are 23. However, experts say that it can take decades for someone who has been abused as a child to come forward.

No charges were ever filed and Gafni said that this was a consensual relationship.

Gafni was also accused of having relations with a 16-year-old female student from a youth group he led in 1986.

Gafni rose to prominence in Israel as the founder of an experimental spiritual community called Bayit Chadash around 2000. But in 2006, several female members of Gafni’s Israeli community came forward to say that Gafni had being having affairs with each of them.

The community in Israel splintered apart and Gafni disappeared from the Jewish world.

He moved to Utah. In 2010, he formed his “activist think tank,” The Center for Integral Wisdom. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, formerly belonged to the center and has been a vocal supporter of Gafni’s.

The spiritual side of sex and intimacy have long been central to Gafni’s teaching. His books include titles like “The Erotic and the Holy,” and “Mystery of Love” and deal with topics like “the exile of the erotic into the sexual.”

Gafni’s defenders, who have stuck beside him despited the controversy, say that Gafni has what they call an overwhelmingly magnetic physical presence, which some call Eros.

“Marc himself is a powerful receiver [of Eros] and transmitter of it,” Adam Bellow, who is advising the Center for Integral Wisdom, told Tablet last year. “I also have no trouble believing that in his early life he had little understanding or control over this powerful gift.”

Kinkaid praised Gafni’s teaching on Eros in a 2015 public letter. “I had the profound honor and wild pleasure of … supporting Marc as the Living, Breathing, Alive, Aflame, Awakened, Dharma as he liberated Eros,” Kinkaid wrote. “Deepest Bow Ever to our Beloved Teacher for all he is, all he gives and all he lives! Amen!”

Gafni’s latest title then, as a teacher-in-residence at a institute offering courses in “Mystic Sexing,” fits well into this pattern.

“I was convinced from an early age that religion had lost what I believed must have been its original erotic vitality,” Gafni reflected in one of his books. “I knew that the sexual, if liberated and ethically expressed, must somehow hold the mystery of return to the much larger-than-sexual Eros.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

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The following is a repost of an article by Sam Kestenbaum first published on Forward.com on June 15, 2016.

http://forward.com/news/342742/whole-foods-ceo-remains-loyal-to-marc-gafni-despite-abuse-claims/

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is standing by his friend Marc Gafni, a controversial New Age guru and former rabbi accused of abuses of power through his career, including molestation of a teenage girl.

Mackey until recently sat on the board of Gafni’s think-tank, Center for Integral Wisdom. Activists have been pushing Mackey to publicly denounce Gafni.

In a recent statement given through a publicist Mackey said he did not condone sexual assault — but would believe Gafni was innocent until he was proven guilty, and that he would remain loyal to his friend.

“Loyalty and the presumption of innocence are important values to me, so I will not join those who are condemning him,” Mackey said. “I am, at once, presuming Marc’s innocence and firmly standing against what he’s accused of.”

The statement appeared first in a LinkedIn post by Nancy Levine, a recruiter in Marin County who has been blogging regularly about Gafni. Julie van Amerongan, director of programs and events of Conscious Capitalism a business ethics group at which Mackey is a board member, emailed the statement and verified it in a later exchange with the Forward.

Van Amerongon said that the statement was given to her in May, though it does not appear to have been published anywhere, and that it “makes clear his alignment with our organization’s stated values.”

Gafni was born Mordechai Winiarz in 1960 and attended Orthodox yeshivas in the New York area. He emerged as a popular youth leader in his twenties.

Early reports of sexual impropriety, which came to light in a 2004 article in the New York Jewish Week by Gary Rosenblatt, date back to those years.

The New York Jewish Week spoke with a then-anonymous woman who said a 19-year-old Gafni had “repeatedly sexually assaulted” her beginning in 1980. “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her,” Gafni said in an interview with that paper.

That woman, Sara Kabakov, came forward publicly for the first time in this newspaper last year. She says that Gafni molested her.

“When I was 23 — the age past which, according to New York state law , a person who suffers abuse as a minor loses the ability to press charges — I was still trying to get away,” Kabakov wrote. “I was unable to think about what had happened to me.”

Under New York law, child sex abuse victims must file civil suits against those they hold accountable for their abuse by the time they are 23. Many experts say that it can take decades—well into adulthood—for someone who has been abused as a child to come forward.

No charges were ever filed and Gafni said that this was a consensual relationship.

Gafni was also accused of having relations with a 16-year-old female student from a youth group he led in 1986.

Gafni later moved to Israel and around 2000 founded an experimental spiritual community called Bayit Chadash in Tel Aviv.

Gafni’s wrote books, hosted a television show and his career seemed to thrive.

But in 2006, several female members of Gafni’s Israeli community came forward to say that Gafni had being having affairs with each of them.

The spiritual community in Israel folded and Gafni disappeared from the Jewish world. He moved to Utah.

In 2010, he formed an “activist think tank” called The Center for Integral Wisdom.

Members of that center, which formerly included Mackey, have been among his most vocal supporters.

In May demonstrators gathered at a Whole Foods supermarket on the Upper West Side in New York to protest the relationship between Mackey and Gafni.

Rabbi David Ingber, the spiritual director of Romemu and onetime student of Gafni’s, spearheaded the protest.

Ingber also previously organized an online petition titled “Stop Marc Gafni From Abusing Again,” which garnered thousands of signatures.

“Real people have suffered from his pathology and real people have been silenced while Gafni lied and covers up his sickness,” Ingber wrote in an online post last year, explaining why he was coming forward to campaign against a former associate. “Gafni convinces people to defend him (or they feel compelled to do so) and so the game goes.”

Mackey’s full statement is below:

Contact Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com or follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum.

 

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The following is a repost of an article by Haley Fox first published on www.jewishjournal.com on May 26, 2016.

http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/protesters_pressure_whole_foods

When the new 365 by Whole Foods Market — a more affordable outpost of the luxury grocery chain — opened Wednesday morning in Silver Lake, the atmosphere in the parking lot was palpably upbeat: pedestrians hustled around clutching reusable totes and a DJ was blasting classic rock and soul.

Yet while many Angelenos couldn’t wait to hit the carefully orchestrated organic salad bar, a handful of activists set up on the sidewalk to remind shoppers of a more controversial side to Whole Foods. They were protesting the company and its co-founder/co-CEO, John Mackey — specifically, his relationship to Marc Gafni, a former rabbi who’s jumped from one spiritual movement to another, leaving a trail of sexual assault allegations in his wake.

Until March of this year, Mackey served as the co-chairman of the board of directors for Gafni’s newest venture, an “activist think tank” based in the Bay Area called the Center for Integral Wisdom. Mackey also reportedly hosted board meetings during that time at his personal ranch in Texas.

“It’s important for people like John Mackey to break the silence,” Rabbi Jill Zimmerman, founder of The Jewish Mindfulness Network, told the Journal. “When someone has a long trail of abuse, there were lots of people who didn’t speak up who were able to speak up.”

Zimmerman was one of the leaders of Wednesday’s protest, which coincided with a parallel demonstration at a Whole Foods in New York. In Los Angeles, Zimmerman was joined by a few sexual abuse activists who propped up posters along Glendale Boulevard that read “Stand Up, Speak Out,” and schooled passersby on Mackey’s corporate responsibility and Gafni’s history of alleged sexual abuse.

Gafni, born Mordechai Winiarz, grew up in an Orthodox home, became ordained as a rabbi and went on to teach at a youth outreach program in New York. Two women came forward to say Gafni had sexually assaulted them as teenagers, and he later had his ordination revoked. Gafni’s been married and divorced three times, accused of plagiarism and tried to start multiple mystical and spiritual movements in the U.S. and Israel, only to have them fall apart at the seams because of lingering distrust and continued accusations.

“It became really clear that what Marc Gafni had done, and what he’s done several times, is that he’s picked up and gone into another community to continue offending again,” Zimmerman said.

Some have said Gafni has managed to dodge criminal charges because it’s common for victims to report abuse years after it occurs, and by then there is often no legal recourse due to the statute of limitations. Just because Gafni was never arrested doesn’t mean he’s innocent, said Nancy Levinevolunteer protest coordinator for the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA).

“The argument of ‘Oh, I was never charged,’ is not a great argument,” Levine said.

In December 2015, some members of the Jewish community took matters into their own hands. New York-based Rabbi David Ingber — who knew Gafni personally and said he saw him seduce several students first-hand — launched an online petition calling for Mackey, Whole Foods and other Gafni supporters to cut “financial and institutional ties” with the former rabbi. The petition stated that the many allegations made against Gafni “violate the ethical standards and sacred responsibility which governs the relationship between religious teacher and student.”

The petition garnered more than 3,500 signatures in less than six months, and since its debut, Mackey and Whole Foods seem to be quietly distancing themselves from Gafni. But that’s not enough for activists like Bill Murray, founder of NAASCA.

“They’ve just decided to say ‘no comment,’ ” he said“They are allowing pedophilia to go on because they’re not taking a stand against it.”

In May, Mackey removed a seven-part video series that he recorded with Gafni from the Whole Foods blog. He replaced it with a statement about his relationship with the former rabbi, claiming it was “conducted strictly” in his personal life and that his connection to Gafni “does not represent an endorsement or support for either Mr. Gafni or the Center for Integral Wisdom by Whole Foods Market.”

However, a link to the videos, available on the Center for Integral Wisdom’s website, remains on Whole Foods’ blog. And Mackey’s headshot and endorsing testimonial — he calls Gafni a “bold visionary and catalytic voice” — is still featured on the homepage of Gafni’s personal website.

Neither Gafni nor Whole Foods responded to the Journal’s email request for comment, but the Center for Integral Wisdom posted a lengthy online public statement in response to “the current attacks” on Gafni.

“Based on our careful review of extensive documentary evidence, numerous professional evaluations, and our collective experiences with Dr. Gafni, we fully trust that the claims of sexual harassment and abuse are false, and that other claims against him are maliciously exaggerated,” it says.

The statement goes on to explain that Gafni’s lawyer has advised him not to comment on the issues “given the defamatory nature of the false accusations.” It encourages readers to visit Gafni’s personal website or read one of his books to get a deeper sense of his character.

If Mackey and Whole Foods won’t take a stand against Gafni for ethical reasons, Murray hopes they’ll consider their stockholders and the prospective financial damages of being associated with a sexual abuser. After all, Whole Foods has plans to open these “quality-meets-value” 365 markets throughout California and the rest of the country — and protesters hope to be right there with them along the way.

“They would like to have that middle class demographic group as their customer base, and they’re risking not only not acquiring it, but damaging what they already got,” Murray said.

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The following is a repost of an article by Justin Wm. Moyer first published on the Washington Post on May 25, 2016.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/05/25/first-whole-foods-365-store-met-with-protests-over-ceos-ties-to-ex-rabbi-who-allegedly-had-sex-with-underage-girls/

As the ribbon is cut at the first 365 store in Los Angeles on Wednesday, however, protesters at that location and at a Whole Foods in Manhattan will focus on an issue unrelated to $6 asparagus water and systemic overcharging. The protesters are targeting Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s links to Marc Gafni, a former rabbi who allegedly had sex with a number of his followers, including two teenage girls, as the New York Times reported last year.

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Donna Zerner shares the story of her time with Marc Gafni (using alias Mike Rockme) in an inspiring way:

It took me ten years to feel safe enough to speak publicly about my experience with Marc Gafni.  I’m pretty sure he’ll try to attack and discredit me — that’s what he tends to do to people who expose the truth about him — but at this point the urge to speak out is far more compelling than continuing to silence myself out of fear of his retribution.

It felt both terrifying and liberating to tell my story.  Of course, in 15 minutes I was only able to reveal the tiniest fraction of my experiences, so it was frustrating what was left out… I could have easily spoken for hours and still barely scratched the surface. Following the rules of storytelling, some details were tweaked and timing of events compacted to allow such a huge story to be told in such a limited time, but the essence of everything I said was True.

I used a pseudonym for MG because the intention of the story was never to expose or blame him, but to explore my culpability, to own my own journey of disempowerment and healing. If my intention HAD been to attack him in any way, the story would have been very different!

My intention was always that the story be healing for myself and for anyone who’s been affected by a similar dynamic. It definitely has been empowering for me so far, I feel much freer after ending my silence about this intense experience.

The process of creating the story was extremely challenging, a constant surrender to the Feminine. With previous stories I’ve told, I pretty much typed them out at my computer and memorized them, but this one refused to be created that way; it would only come through my emotions and my body (requiring an often excruciating reliving of experiences). I never wrote a word, and I didn’t memorize it either — very challenging for a writer-perfectionist like me! I also had no idea how it would end until the final words stumbled out of my mouth that night. The process was all about surrender; it ultimately felt like a shamanic initiation.

The video doesn’t capture how heavy and intense the energy got in the room— by about two-thirds through it felt like the entire audience was holding their breath with concern and outrage, which is why I felt compelled at one point to puncture the heaviness with a joke (otherwise too intense for a bunch of Portlanders out for a Saturday night’s entertainment!).

My hope at this point is that the story encourages more women (and men) in similar situations to recognize their own worth, honor their intuition, and speak their authentic truth from the heart.

Please know that I hold with me a multitude of other MG-affected women (over a span of 36 years, up to the present day), most of whom are not ready to speak up but whose suffering at MG’s hands was quite profound, and continues to this day. And of course, the damage he has caused and continues to create expands to areas far beyond his exploitation of women.

I pray for truth and healing for all affected, including for MG.

 

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