Further Integral ‘Insight’ into Masculinity

In Numen, Old Men I highlight how the integral community replicates many of the problems of the wider men’s movement, and new examples keep on cropping up. This week sees the Male Sexuality and the Masculine Invitation for a workshop in Salt Lake City. The spiel reads:

“For this 3-day weekend retreat at a beautiful, green-built, urban retreat center in Utah as Dragon’s Den begins its 2-year evolution of what it means to be a man in our postmodern world. Spiritual artist and teacher Dr. Rabbi Marc Gafni and his team of evolutionary teachers lead an exploration to find your cutting edge in body, mind and spirit through your masculine form. Discover how to hold your masculine power. Learn how to deepen, expand and deploy this power as the highest expression of your Authentic Divine Self. Navigate the unique demands of your life in an integral community of like-minded evolutionary men. Step into your greater wisdom, lead from a greater perspective and discover how your sexuality is essential to your purpose in the world.

During our 3-day retreat you will:

* Understand the 5 core characteristics of the Masculine Sexual Self

* Dive into the 5 dimensions of the Feminine Sexual Essence

* Gain integrated practices for working with Pain, Intimacy and Love

* Learn the 3 most potent practices to cultivate your Masculine Power

* Embody the new Emerging Masculine Identity for the 21st Century”

As I wrote back in The Guardian earlier this year in reference to the presentation of masculinity in Andrew Cohen’s EnlightenNext magazine, “It seems that if a man wants to express his spiritual side, whether it be in a church or at the glossy leading edge of spirituality, he is encouraged not to think of new ways of being a man, rather to revert back to the old”. The idea, outlined above, of “masculine power” doesn’t sound particularly “evolutionary” to me, nor do essentialist ideas about the “core characteristics” of the masculine self.

The workshop is claimed to be run by “a first-of-its-kind Men’s Integral Practice Community committed to the evolution of masculine leadership and consciousness”. So, from “power” to “masculine leadership”: welcome to the Integral Promise Keepers!

It’s also hard to ignore that the workshop is being run by Marc Gafni. Just as the integral community has aligned itself with Andrew Cohen, whose abuse of students has been alleged at What Enlightenment and a new book, so too Gafni who has been accused of sexual harassment before leaving Israel to pursue his career in the US.  It clearly doesn’t bother Ken Wilber that much, who has been fielding these accusations since 2006 and, according to Gafni’s website, he “holds the Chair of Integral Kabbalah at Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute”. Now, I don’t know enough to pass comment on these accusations, but it’s not a good look, is it?

9 thoughts on “Further Integral ‘Insight’ into Masculinity

  1. Additionally ironic sales copy:

    “This is not another fad to come and go, it’s not another attempt to recapture a myth about what it means to be a man nor is it just another way to think about manhood.”

    Indeed, essentialist notions of masculinity are ideas that are mighty persistent and never seem to go, unfortunately.

    Perhaps this is a case of including too much and not transcending enough.

  2. Indeed.

    I need to look some more into the validity of these claims against Gafni (there are a few websites dedicated to exposing him, and he counters these on his own website). If the claims are true, it’s really quite shocking that KW allows these connections. It sets up a pattern of KW being clearly fascinated with the power vibes given off by alleged abusers: Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, and now this (not to mention deidaexposed.com). I see the Gafni stuff has been hanging around for a few years: I regret not coming across it earlier, as it would have been useful to have worked into Numen, Old Men.

  3. Yea, I haven’t done enough research on that issue either. It seemed like there were many accusations from multiple women against Gafni, but I’m not sure how many (if any) trials or other public confirmation of abuse.

  4. The abuse issues never surprise me … Any ideology that encourages masculine power and leadership/authority will often lead to abuse of that power. The fact that the blurb you outlined states that they will “dive into” various aspects of feminine sexuality kinda says it all!! 😉

  5. Ha, yes. I write a bit about this kind of thing in the book. “Integral feminism” is discussed as “the feminine aspect of you opens to infinity and lets it all come in with no regrets or resistance, and the masculine aspect then penetrates the world with this understanding in a very forceful firm directive way, to make it all happen. This is the gift”. My reading is: “a porno-spiritual fantasy: the feminine freely opens, infinity comes inside her, the masculine forcefully penetrates as a gift”. Of course, there’s a psychoanalytic reading to be done of this reading too! Let’s call it an act of Irigarayan mimesis, to cover my back, as it were…

  6. The one man I knew who lead integral worksops was very Charismatic and also practiced Amenae an Australian based body healing practice. He had sex with his female clients, picked up prostitutes in Thailand and then died of a drug overdose in a hotel room. A tragedy and a shock to those who idealized him. Welcome to integral masculine practice.

  7. Ken Wilber also supported Adi Da as the great realizer and his crazy wisdom of pornography, wife swaping, orgies, and sex with any female devotee he chose. Ken Wilber then criticized Adi Da For it but still called him the great realizer. I am not against unusual sexual practices per se but it seems to me in both cases I mention their is a great deal of manipulation that does not seem very enlightened.

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