A Time Between Stories Episode 2
This series of conversations between Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen probes the intersection of absolute meaning and relative reality, within the context of the most destabilised and destabilising time in recent history.
Marc and Andrew will look deeply into the relentless challenge of being human, particularly at this unique moment in time, while simultaneously celebrating the profound cosmic and metaphysical significance of human incarnation.
Episode 2: The Three Faces of God
All the great wisdom traditions – Kashmir Shaivism, Buddhism, Kabbalah, Sufism, Gnostic Christianity – speak of three faces of the divine, or the three faces of God.
The first face of God, or God in first person, is the direct experience of nondual being as “I”. Experienced in meditation and prayer, it refers to the subjective experience of God, in the form of satori and other ecstatic peak experiences of the divine – I am God.
The second face of God, or God in the second person, is the “I-Thou” relationship with the divine; the direct experience of God as “Thou” or the great “other”. Not my will but THY will be done – You are God.
The third face of God, or God in the third person, is the recognition of God as infinite cosmic process, the great eternal unfolding of life and creation in all its magnificence and complexity – ALL is God.
All spiritual traditions are capable of expressing these three faces of God or Spirit, but historically they have tended to gravitate heavily toward one or the other. This polarisation persists within contemporary culture; the academy prefers the third person, the ashram the first person, and the traditional church – in all its forms – the second person.
Herein lies the problem. Leave out any of the three faces – any of these three primordial perspectives – and humanity as a whole finds itself in a state of schism. We risk nothing less than societal fragmentation and breakdown unless we find a way to heal this schism.
To re-vision and recreate our future – humanity’s future – we need to articulate a personal, political and social vision which embraces all three in a dynamic wholeness, in a divine evolutionary tension.
But what would a truly Integral or post-postmodern interpretation and unification of these three faces or principles of God look like?
In this dialogue, Marc and Andrew will first articulate the mythic expression of the three faces of the divine and then – looking at God in all three persons – try to articulate an evolutionary vision of the same three faces.
A Time Between Stories
We are truly living in “a time between stories” – a phase-shift in human history. We face either unimaginable utopia or dystopia, and it is far from clear which of these two parallel universes we will ultimately choose.
The apparently sturdy, reliable, fixed structures that have held our world together are on the brink of collapse. We are collectively realizing that we are not too big to fail – and in the face of such overwhelming insecurity, we may well lose sight of our moral compass completely.
Cohen and Gafni both believe strongly that unless we are in control of our internal environment – in particular our capacity for radical sovereignty and sense-making – the outcome will be immeasurable suffering for billions of people.
Cohen asserts that such sovereignty naturally arises from the liberating power of what he terms “spiritual self-confidence” – a position of deep trust that arises out of an unshakable certainty in the absolute, and an anchoring of the self-sense in that which cannot be grasped by the mind.
Similarly, Gafni describes an intention to live one’s life as “Outrageous Love” – a condition in which true sovereignty and authentic spiritual self-confidence naturally come into being. Rather than a dogmatic assertion that “it is true”, Gafni speaks of a radical knowing that “I am true”.
Cohen’s approach has always been grounded in the direct experience of nondual enlightenment, and this transmission of the ground of being – prior freedom and unity consciousness – is absolutely foundational to his teaching. For Cohen, a profound inner breakthrough from which there is no return is a prerequisite.
However, Cohen’s pioneering realisation is that such an awakening only begins to make a significant difference when it is shared, intersubjectively, between two or more individuals. He has long emphasised the need for enlightenment to make the evolutionary leap from the individual to the collective, and has pioneered practices which reliably enable profound intersubjective coherence.
Likewise, Gafni sees radical enlightenment in terms of a higher individuation beyond ego. What he calls the “Evolutionary Unique Self” participates in a new quality of consciousness – the evolutionary intimacy of a “Unique Self Symphony”. He describes the process of attainment as “loving your way to enlightenment”.
Gafni adds to this the need to democratize the possibility of human sovereignty, proposing a new “universal grammar of value” that integrates the best of premodern, modern and postmodern wisdom as a generator function for a new humanity. It is from within this shared human story woven from what he calls First Principle and First Values that Gafni envisions a radical re-making of policy and refashioning of culture.
Both Cohen and Gafni see a deep and abiding virtue in humanity - a truth, beauty and goodness that is real and tangible, even amid the sometimes painful limitations and vulnerabilities that we are reminded of, and humbled by, on a daily basis.
Both men agree that for spiritual attainment to mean something, it cannot be only rooted in the ego-self-personality, and that any basis for real change must include a new hierarchy of values that places radical spirit at the apex of our attention. What this actually means in terms of our models and practices for invoking the new human will be one of the key themes of these conversations.
These two distinct but strongly aligned approaches to the wicked problems faced by humanity ultimately point in the same direction – only through a radical reorganisation of our sense of value can our capacity for clear thinking, feeling and sense-making be unleashed.
In their first dialogue, Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen will share and explore their deepest insights into the ultimate mystery that lies beyond life and death.
- From the deepest metaphysical perspective, what is the distinction between life and death?
- Is life the manifestation of an eternal metaphysical source, or is it merely the extraordinary emergence of a fundamentally material process?
- How do our conscious and unconscious convictions about the ultimate source of the evolving universe affect our moral and philosophical relationship to living and dying?
- Is consciousness part of an unbroken developmental continuity in the cosmos, or merely an emergent epiphenomena of matter?
- Is death the absolute end of what was, or a transition that is part of an infinite unfolding?
- Is the nature of death a question of belief, or do we have real data to support our understanding of it? If there is data, then what is it and where do we find it?
- Do we have a more enlightened relationship to death in the 21st century, or can the great wisdom traditions still illuminate our understanding?
- Is the fear of death an experience to be transcended, embraced or both? Is living forever a wish that we would want fulfilled?
- What are the political, social and economic implications of our relationship to death?
Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen
Dr. Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen are spiritual teachers and thought leaders who share a strong foundation in an evolutionary approach to spiritual awakening and practice. Both are original and innovative thinkers who have produced pioneering bodies of work in evolutionary spirituality, and formulated many of its core tenets.
Their teachings uphold and demystify the foundational principles of traditional, modern and postmodern wisdom streams, weaving them together into an integral whole. The aim of these dialogues is to generate a creative and dynamic evolutionary tension – to catalyze an awakening to higher and deeper states and stages of consciousness, liberating insights and life-affirming perspectives.
The dialogues will unfold organically over time as an inspiring example of emergent spirituality in action – one that gives rise to its own unique tapestry of coherence and meaning.
A Time Between Stories Episode 2
Series of FREE dialogues
Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen in an inspiring demonstration of emergent spirituality in action
Live interactive Zoom video call
Including 90 minutes of dialogue and 30 minutes of Q&A
Video recordings available after each event
Lifetime access to all dialogues in the Manifest Nirvana library
Date and Time
Manifest Nirvana and One Mountain, Many Paths Present
A Time Between Stories: Dr. Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen in Dialogue
Thursday 4th February 2021
Video recording will be made available after the event
USA: 8am PST • 9am MST • 11am EST
EUROPE: 5pm CET
INDIA: 9.30pm IST
Andrew CohenResident Teacher
Andrew Cohen is a spiritual teacher, author, cultural visionary and inspirational speaker. His work has been acclaimed by luminaries from all walks of life, from academics to philosophers to spiritual pundits.
Andrew has become known for his willingness to boldly cast aside the sacred cows of the spiritual world. His work grapples with demystifying the wealth of knowledge found in the great wisdom traditions, and with making enlightenment deeply relevant to a post-modern audience.
Dr. Marc GafniCo-founder of The Center for Integral Wisdom
A visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher, and author of ten books, Dr. Marc Gafni earned his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. Gafni is considered by many to be a kind of Einstein of Philosophy who is leading a team of thinkers articulating a new vision of meaning for the world.
He teaches on the cutting edge of philosophy in the West, helping to evolve a new ‘dharma’ or meta-theory of Integral meaning that is helping to re-shape key pivoting points in global consciousness and culture.