Roe vs. Wade: Evolutionary Sense Making from Polarization to Paradox: Re-entering the Field of Value

A Note to the Reader

This piece is a lightly edited transcript of a live talk given by Dr. Marc Gafni on the weekly broadcast One Mountain, Many Paths, founded by Gafni and his evolutionary partner Barbara Marx Hubbard. Thus, the style of the piece is the spoken word and not a formal essay.

Edited and prepared for publication by Krista Josepha and Elena Maslova-Lenin.

This is a 10 minute video compilation taken from this episode #298, watch the clip and read the transcript of the full episode below.

It’s such a good moment, my friends, to be together.

In this good moment, there is Outrageous Pain, and in this good moment, there’s Outrageous Love, and in this good moment, there’s Outrageous Beauty.

I want to just share for a moment what we mean when we say “Outrageous”. Because the word Outrageous is part of the core structure of the New Story of value rooted in First Principles and First Values that we are formulating, articulating, and sharing as the primary response to existential and catastrophic risk in this moment of time between utopia and dystopia, as existential risk hovers in multiple vectors and as we need to respond. But first, let’s look at the root cause of existential risk.

The breakdown of a story of value is the root cause of existential risk

We understand that, although infrastructure responses are important and valid, and social structure changes of laws, etc. are important and valid, they depend on superstructure.

This is a distinction from Marvin Harris, a Marxist theorist (Marxism is complex, and this distinction, excellent).

Superstructure is the worldview that society is rooted in. Superstructure is what we’re calling the story of value that a society is rooted in.

So what we’ve done in the Think Tank of the Center for Integral Wisdom, is trace every major vector of existential and catastrophic risk to a breakdown in superstructure, meaning to a breakdown in the core story of value that animates society.

For example, we looked at MeToo, with all of its beauty and all of its excesses:

  • When we look at masculine sexuality, with its wild beauty and its excesses, which have expressed themselves for some men in sexual harassment…
  • When we look at the acting out that takes place, within the context of feminine shadow in sexuality…

Whatever the sexuality story is, if you look at the larger issues in culture — for example on college campuses, both its actuality, and the way it has been misreported — all of those issues are rooted in a fundamental breakdown in a story of value, which is: we don’t have a sexual narrative, that meets our experience.

That’s just one example.

Therefore, the sexual experience causes enormous shame, and only by retelling the sexual story can we address those issues.

For example, in the Think Tank, we have spent several years on a project (it is now in the final stages). We have written 16 volumes on the phenomenology of sexuality. We have written what we hope is the great work in this generation on Eros, and Eros’ relationship to love and to sexuality.


Because we have to retell the story.

This need to retell the story is not just true about sexuality.

  • It’s true about economics.
  • It’s true about immigration policy.
  • It’s true about methods of governance.
  • It’s true about how technology is enacted (technology is not merely a tool, but an environment, and how those environments of technology are enacted).

All of these dimensions are dependent on a prior story of value, and how we live in that story of value is how we show up, how we make policy, how we engage.

You can’t just change policy, it’s not going to work.

Policy, in general, is about social structure, and often infrastructure (infrastructure is the structure of how things work; roads, technology environments are infrastructure). For example, healthcare programs are a mixture of infrastructure and social structure (because they’re governed by a set of laws).


  • Social structure is laws and contracts in society.
  • Infrastructure is the actual planetary stack of society, how it works, transportation and technology in all of its forms.

So what we are saying is: you cannot change the world based on infrastructure and social structure, you need superstructure. And we are saying this differently than Marvin Harris would have said it, because he didn’t understand the intrinsic nature of value.

But we are emerging out of his notion of superstructure and saying:

There is a story we live in.

It is a story of value.

It is rooted in First Principles and First Values.

And we have to retell that story, because the story is what has broken down:

  • Premodernity had stories of value connected to each of the great religions, which each claimed that its value was exclusive.
  • Then, premodernity breaks down. We realize all the religions are claiming a mutual exclusivity, it doesn’t make sense to us. Each one is saying that they’ve got the only source of value.
  • Then, we go to modernity, and modernity rejects these claims of intrinsic value and many of its major expressions, and begins the articulation of value being as merely a social construction (that was the major strain in modernity, although not the only one)
  • Then, that explodes in postmodernity, in which postmodernity argues for a complete deconstruction of all value.

For example, one popular historian parroting (or echoing) postmodernity says: all value is a figment of your imagination, a social construct, a fiction.

That’s where we are today.

We are at a moment in which the very notion of intrinsic value has been fundamentally undermined and fundamentally questioned.

Our own experience of value has been challenged as being but our own, coincidental, random, and ultimately meaningless — in any ultimate sense, meaningless — human projection. In a world which, ultimately, is a tale told by an idiot, full of sounds and fury, signifying nothing.

This breakdown of a story of value is the root cause of existential risk.

If we don’t go to the root cause…

If we don’t go back to source and actually reclaim a story of value…

A post-postmodern, meta-modern, Integral, a kind of New Story of value …

— which actually can be told,
— and can be articulated,
— and can be scaled
— and can be shared,
— and can therefore reshape (once it is shared) education,
— it can reshape commerce,
— it can reshape economics,
— it can reshape politics.

That’s the way it has always happened…

When da Vinci and his cohorts were in Florence in the Renaissance, and the Black Death pandemic had swept Europe, they understood that the only response that would be effective was to tell a New Story of value.

That’s what the Renaissance did.

The Renaissance was like today; we are at a time between worlds, a time between stories.

And what did da Vinci and his cohorts do, about a thousand of them? (As I have mentioned probably a thousand times here, as Paul Tillich has pointed out, there weren’t more than a thousand people involved at the inner core of the Renaissance.)

There was this band that got together, and what did they do?

They made attempts at infrastructure, and they made social structure attempts, but at the core, they told a New Story.

They realized that the story of value that was premodernity, the traditional story of value, had broken down, and that we need to tell a New Story.

They told the New Story of value which was modernity.

Now, to the extent that modernity adopted genuine core values and articulated them, it articulated and evolved the great dignities of modernity:

  • feminism,
  • universal human rights,
  • third-person gnosis (which created science and possibilities for measurement, for moving from mere classification, in the Middle Ages, to measurement).

All of these are the great dignities of modernity.

But to the extent that the deeper philosophical understanding of modernity claimed that value wasn’t actually real — that even as modernity was articulating values, it was saying in the same breath: we’re making these up, these are not actually realthey couldn’t find a way to root the values in Kosmos once they were no longer rooted in a revealed scripture.

That was modernity’s great collapse, and that exploded in postmodernity.

Postmodernity was really modernity on steroids. It formally deconstructed all value, and created a world in which the political leadership of the world, in their core — from Putin and Xi in China, to I’d say even most of American leadership and American political leadership, and European political leadership — actually do not believe in intrinsic value.

Either they don’t believe in intrinsic values, or they make a premodern regressive traditional move, that the only value is our particular version of value in our particular religion — so that premodernity comes back online. For example, the Catholic view of abortion in America is coming back online.

You cannot actually understand Reality without understanding that the entire question is, are we living in a shared story of value?

Elena Maslova-Levin. Sonnet 8. Nature’s bequest gives nothing, but doth lend…

What is Outrageous Beauty?

Now, I began with the words: Outrageous Love, Outrageous Pain, and Outrageous Beauty.

We live in a world of Outrageous Pain. The only response is Outrageous Love.
We live in a world of Outrageous Beauty. The only response is Outrageous Love.” - Dr. Marc Gafni

We live in a world of Outrageous Beauty.

But Beauty is a value.

Beauty is not nothing.

Beauty is not just a beautiful man, a beautiful woman, or a beautiful sunset. It’s all of those.

Beauty comes in a beautiful old woman of 97, and a gorgeous, beautiful man’s face who’s 93, and you just see amazing Beauty on their faces.

Beauty comes in many shapes and forms.

But Beauty is something deeper, as Alfred North Whitehead talked about, and as the Zohar (a 13th century Hebrew interior science document) talked about.

Whitehead writes about this in Adventures of Ideas and in Process and Reality (and this is not a direct quote):

Beauty is the ability to contain oppositions.
Beauty is the symmetry that happens when diverse threads come together, and then something new is manifest.

That’s how Whitehead talks about Beauty.

Beauty is that which, as Walt Whitman said, contains multitudes, and what synergizes from those multitudes is something new which is unimaginably beautiful.

For Whitehead, Beauty is the primary experience, and Goodness and Truth are both expressions of Beauty.

That is similar to the interior sciences of Hebrew wisdom:

— Tiferet is the lumination of the Divine, and tiferet means Beauty.
— Tiferet is the lumination of the Divine, which is also called shalom, which we translate as peace, but it means wholeness.

Wholeness means that diverse values, which oppose each other, come together and live together, and they synergize and they create a larger whole of stunning symmetry, which generates a whole greater than the sum of any of the parts.

That’s Beauty.

So, Whitehead and the Zohar actually experienced Beauty in the same way. That’s what Beauty is.

A beautiful person doesn’t mean beauty in some plastic, superficial sense. It is this depth in which the entire person, interior and exterior, shines together, whether it’s the Beauty of a person, or an idea, or a landscape, or a color that integrates different colors.

  • We live in a world of Outrageous Beauty.
  • We live in a world of Outrageous Pain, and Outrageous Pain is the opposite of Outrageous Beauty.

Outrageous Pain comes from this experience where

— I take one value, and I reject other values,
— I take one experience, and I reject other experiences,
— I take one insight, and I reject other insights,

and then I build my worldview based on that one value or that one insight.

I allow my value to stand by itself, I decontextualize it from the larger field of value — and no longer do you have Outrageous Beauty; you always get Outrageous Pain.

Whenever you decontextualize a value from the larger field of value, and it doesn’t live in creative tension with the other values that creates a new whole, you create Outrageous Pain.

The only response to Outrageous Pain is Outrageous Love

In America this week, we have seen Outrageous Pain, as Roe vs. Wade (which I’ll talk about in a second) was overturned.

Our response to Outrageous Pain is:

We live in a world of Outrageous Pain, the only response to Outrageous Pain is Outrageous Love.

Outrageous Love Festival

What is Outrageous Love?

In this New Story of value we are telling, one of the qualities is Eros or love as perception, which is the ability to see the whole (you can take a look at in a book called The Mystery of Love, there is a chapter on perception, and a book called A Return to Eros, where there’s also a chapter on perception, where we unpack the qualities of Eros).

Outrageous Love means:

— I love you means I see you.
— I don’t identify you with one part of you, and then identify that as all of you — and therefore dismiss you — that’s what hate means.

Hate means:

— I see one narrow part of you, it might be a shadow part of you.
— I identify you with that shadow,
— I identify you with that scandal,
— I identify you with that place that you fell — that place that you yelled, that place that you were enraged, that place where you made a mistake –— and I say that’s who you are.

No, I can see all of you.

To be a lover is to see with God’s eyes.
It’s to see the landscape.
It’s to see the thought-scape.
It’s to see the mindscape.
It’s to see the heart-scape with God’s eyes, and to know that it contains multitudes.

Love is perception.

Outrageous Love is Outrageous perception.
It is to see, and when you see, you see Beauty.

Roe vs Wade: the second you demonize the other side, we are out of Beauty and we are in Outrageous Pain

Now I want to apply this. And we are just setting the intention, but the intention is important to set today.

Because with this setting of intention, I just want to look at what happened in America last Friday [June 23rd, 2022].

  • There was a constitutional right to abortion that was enacted in the United States some 50 years ago, by the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court just overturned that constitutional right, and there is a huge divide in America.
  • There is an enormous celebration by pro-life activists, and there’s enormous mourning by pro-choice activists.

Both sides are filled with intelligent people, not evil people.

I want you to get this.

The second you demonize the other side, we are out of Beauty and we are in Outrageous Pain.

Fabulous, beautiful people, filled with a sense of value, are on one side.
Fabulous, beautiful people, filled with intelligence and a sense of value and goodness, are on the other side.

So what happened?

I want to really get this, this is so deep.
I know this is really subtle, what we’re about to do.
This is super-subtle.

We are here to actually say the things you cannot read in the news. We are here to go deeper, we are here to get underneath.

I want to see if we can capture this, what is actually happening here. I want to see if we can find it deeper than deep and actually do evolutionary sensemaking.

What is happening in the pro-life versus pro-choice clash

So in the clash between the pro-life position and the pro-choice position, several things are happening that need to be pointed out, that are beyond important.

1. Each side is claiming a value as the ultimate value, and in some sense or another, dismissing the value of the other side.

  • The pro-life people are saying the value is life, but particularly they mean the life of the unborn baby — that’s the primary value, protecting the value of the life of the unborn baby is the primary value. Therefore, they call themselves pro-life.

But actually what they’re doing is, they are hijacking the value of life, turning that into an absolute value and ignoring a second value, which is the value of choice.

  • Now, the pro-choice people are doing the same thing. They are picking a value, choice. It’s the woman’s right to choose, that’s what they’re talking about; choice. They are calling themselves pro-choice.

But actually, in doing so, they are decontextualizing choice from the larger field of values which includes life, and making choice the primary value, and in some sense, the only value before which all other values must bow.

Now, again, the pro-life people are doing the same thing. They are decontextualizing life, in this case, the life of the baby, from the larger field of value, which includes life of the mother and includes choice (and those are related), and saying their value reigns supreme.

But here’s the thing, it’s very beautiful.

The word value in Hebrew is erech. Now, erech means value, and erech also means context. Erech means constellation, or field — meaning the value in a larger context of values, or the constellation of values, or the field of value.

So the word value in Hebrew means context or constellation, or the larger field, because no value exists independently of the larger field.

Whenever you isolate a value from the larger field of value,

— and you transpose it into an absolute value, before which all values must bow, at whose altar you worship and bend your knee slavishly,
— then you create idolatry, then you create Outrageous Pain.

Does everyone catch that?

It’s deep. It’s important.

2. Each side caricatures the other’s position in order to highlight the absurdity of the other’s value.

In this great argument between pro-life and pro-choice, the way they’ve framed the arguments is actually absurd.

They’ve each claimed a value, they have then rejected the other value. They have caricatured the other’s position in order to highlight the absurdity of the other’s value.

I want to go slow here for a second, and go deeper.

I want to get both sides of it, so I’m going to actually cite two texts here.

  • One is a Washington Post article that I read yesterday [June 25, 2022], which is one of the two key liberal papers in the United States.
  • The second is a post (number 68 posted on February 6, 2019) by a colleague of mine, with whom we’ve actually chatted a whole bunch of times. We did a big public debate back in 2005 and we got about a thousand people there. We are about to have a second one in Los Angeles. His name is Dennis Prager, and we’ve had dinner a couple of times. Dennis Prager, in what he calls his Fireside chats, in number 68, does a chat on abortion, which is highly relevant.

Dennis is clearly articulating some version of a pro-life position, and the Washington Post was articulating some version of a pro-choice position.

Now, I want to watch this carefully.

So Prager, correctly and wisely, at least in part (when I say correctly and wisely, I mean not in an ultimate correct and wise sense, but I mean from a polemical perspective, for the sake of argument) he opens:

  • He speaks about a number of bills being presented to legislators. He presents them to actually argue that abortion should be a woman’s choice, because after all, we need to have control over our own bodies. Particularly abortion should be a woman’s choice in the third trimester (between six and nine months), when clearly there’s fetal viability. That’s what he makes the subject of his piece.
  • Then, with that context — so he’s now evoked the context and the vision of a baby that’s clearly alive in the mother — he then makes the second point, and from that perspective of the last trimester, he essentially mocks the notion that women should be responsible for their bodies.
  • Because, he says, the notion that women are responsible for their bodies is not the issue. The issue is not the body of the woman, the issue is the body of the baby. Now, in the third trimester, that’s fully true.
  • Then he goes on to say, if in fact that baby in the third trimester was born prematurely and the mother killed the baby, would that be okay? Well, obviously, that wouldn’t be okay. So then one becomes emotionally invested in the pro-life position, and it seems to be patently obvious.

He makes the point that actually, it’s not just about the woman’s body, it’s about a baby inside the woman’s body (that’s why we don’t ask the woman how’s your body, we say, how’s the baby doing? during pregnancy). Clearly, there’s a sense of the baby, and that we’re talking about protecting the life of the baby in the third trimester.

Now, when we’re looking at an extreme bill, which Prager mentions. I haven’t researched all of these bills, I’m actually citing Prager about these bills. But I’m going to actually ask one of the researchers to actually find those bills.

[Editor’s note: Prager gives no specifics about which bills he has in mind, but, at the time, the governor of Vermont signed a law which puts no thresholds on abortion. There are other states that put no legal threshold on abortions, effectively allowing abortion in the third trimester, leaving the decision to the woman and her doctor: Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont].

But Prager is referring to these bills, and he is trustworthy in that sense; he’s a trustworthy source. So I trust him in that sense, I don’t think he’d talk about bills that didn’t exist.

Now, what he’s doing is he is taking the position of choice, the pro-choice position, and he’s showing its expression in its most extreme form, almost a caricatured form, which is absurd.

That bills like that were put forth, I have no doubt, and I believe that those bills are on the face of it, other than in extreme circumstances, absurd.

As does virtually everyone, because everyone agrees that if there’s full fetal viability, and we’re in six or seven months, the notion of an abortion takes on an entirely different meaning. It’s not just about the woman’s body, but it’s about the baby.

Okay, that’s clear.

But what has Prager done?

  • He has caricatured the choice position and made choice into an independent value that stands by itself, and then showed it to lead to Outrageous Pain.

Now, again, when I say Prager has done it, it’s not actually Prager who did it. It’s actually the bills that were introduced on the pro-choice side that argued for this radical notion of choice being the exclusive value.

But Prager intentionally picks up on that in order to characterize the pro-choice position, and that is a distortion of an extreme kind on Prager’s side.

Here’s the other side, Washington Post.

Washington Post is reporting on the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and a number of other major outlets did the same thing that the Post did.

They interview any number of people and any number of abortion clinics that are immediately shutting their door and refusing abortions based on how they understand the law.

Indeed there are “trigger laws” in certain states that are in place that say that right after Roe vs. Wade is overturned, then state laws are passed on abortion, and some of those state laws — Oklahoma, for example — will prohibit abortion immediately [Editor’s note: Indeed, there are many states in which abortions are now banned absolutely, the ban is expected to come in effect soon. This can be tracked here]. Meaning, as soon as there’s fertilization, abortion should be immediately prohibited.

Now, let’s go slow.

The position that abortion should be immediately prohibited as soon as there’s fertilization is an extremist pro-life position, just like the position that would allow choice in the third trimester is an extremist pro-choice position.

In other words, a position that would say that we ignore the body of the woman, we ignore woman’s choice, let’s say in some time in the first trimester, let’s not talk about what that dimension should be, is actually a fundamentalist position of the worst kind that actually denies the depth and the wisdom of most of the great traditions.

  • For example, there are important Upanishads in the great Hindu tradition that talk about the soul entering the baby much, much later.
  • There are actually even Upanishads that talk about the soul entering the baby at the end of the second trimester. That’s dramatic, but let’s not get that dramatic.
  • There are major sources in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and particularly in the Talmud, that argue for the possibility of abortion in any number of quite a wide range of possibilities, within at least a certain dimension of the first trimester.

Now, in the period of time in life in which I functioned formally as an orthodox rabbi, within the Orthodox Hebrew wisdom tradition, in accordance with the laws of the Talmud, I was in touch with the leading decisis of the day; the great saints and sages with long white beards, who were experts in decision-making of the day, including Moshe Feinstein, one of the greatest sainted decisis of the day.

And we allowed abortions, meaning we decided the law, we adjudicated the law, and many women are involved in adjudicating this law. It’s about the law, it’s not about the people.

The law was adjudicated in favor of abortion within a certain dimension of the first trimester within orthodoxy, meaning within the most stringent form of the interpretation of Hebrew law.

The question is: When does the fetus step into being a person who is, in some sense, independent, and needs to be considered as a person, and that’s a very real question.

Actually, there’s no monopoly on that.

The great traditions of spirit had an enormous range of conversations about that.

When we integrate the best of premodern, modern, and postmodern, in order to create a New Story of value, we have to integrate the best wisdom of the great traditions that actually had a very sophisticated position on abortion, that actually allowed and integrated two values.

  • One value is choice, and the woman’s health, and the woman’s wholeness, and the woman’s wellbeing, and the woman’s possibility for expression in the world.
  • Another value articulated protection of the baby and the life of the baby.

Clearly, those are both values, and those are both critical values.

The second we step out of the field of value, and this is critical, there is no possibility of coming to a higher synergy and higher Beauty.

To be clear, these decisions need to be made from the depth of understanding, not by men or women, not by patriarchies or matriarchies, but by men and women working together.

I’m now functioning in a more universal world, but when I was within the Orthodox Hebrew wisdom tradition, I long argued that women who are expert in law and tradition, and in compassion and love in this particular field, should be the ones who are adjudicating the decisions on abortion.

There are many, many women who are brilliant experts at the text and at the medical issues, and at the embodied experience level.

And clearly, we are in a generation where we shouldn’t have men deciding these issues for women.

We should have, within each tradition, great women who are involved in adjudicating these decisions, who actually experience these realities in their body.

We’re at a new moment in time.

So although patriarchy is a complex word and it’s overused and misused, it also has some legitimacy and some importance. But let’s take patriarchy out of this conversation.

So let’s find this, friends.

This is a big deal.

In order to actually engage in this conversation, we can’t caricature the other side.

We cannot do the Washington Post caricature, which says that actually the intention of all pro-life legislation on abortion is to disallow abortion at the moment of fertilization. That’s actually not the case, nor should it be the case.

Although, the Washington Post is absolutely right that there are states that have articulated trigger state laws, in which a law is going to be triggered 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned; they’ve been on the books for many years.

In some of them — I’ve got to check each one of them, at least one of them I know right now — it actually triggers a law which makes abortion immediately illegal.

So we will have to look, I haven’t had time to research all of the detailed legal issues.

The decontextualization of value is idolatry

But clearly, there are serious voices in the pro-life camp that are doing what the Washington Post is claiming.

That is a complete fundamentalist move which idolizes; it’s the idolatry of one value, which is the idolatry of the pro-life vision.

It says we have to protect the life of the baby, which they argue, against the great traditions of most of the religions, begins at fertilization.

That’s extremism!

Extremism means you pick one value, you decontextualize your value from the larger field of value, and then you say you can never have enough of your value.

Does everyone get that?

That’s not Outrageous Beauty.

Outrageous beauty incorporates and integrates contradicting values.

And there are real laws in real states right now that are claiming that position, which is a complete violation of Spirit. I want to say that really clearly.

There are real states and real laws that are making that claim right now, not the entire pro-life movement, but there are clear powerful expressions of it happening right now, and that is idolatry.

I just want to say it clearly: that’s idolatry.

It is an extremist fundamentalist position: the taking of one value, and decontextualization of that value from the field of value, and then propping it up as an absolute for which we must all bow.

So that’s one extremist position on the pro-life side.

But then, on the pro-choice side, and it’s part of what has fostered this — not all of what has fostered this, it’s been fostered by both sides, but part of what has fostered it — is the kind of bills that Prager described, which argued for a choice possibility even at the third trimester, which shocked, which sent ripple waves of shock through the pro-life community and created a counter-reaction.

So here’s the thing.

The demonization of either side, which is the demonization of the other’s value, or more specifically, the transformation of my value into an absolute before which all other values must bow, that is Outrageous Pain.

The only response to Outrageous Pain is Outrageous Love

Outrageous Love: love is a perception, love is knowledge, love is gnosis.

Martha Nussbaum correctly titled one of her books, Love’s Knowledge.

Love allows me to see,
love allows me to know,
and love allows me to perceive Beauty.

Both as the Hebrew wisdom material sciences articulated it
and as Whitehead correctly articulated it,
Beauty contains multitudes.
Beauty contains contradictory values,
and from that contradiction,
paradox emerges and new synergy and new Beauty arises.

Now I want to go deeper. Let’s see if we can go deeper one step. It’s wild, and it’s important and, it’s critical. Can we go one step deeper, who’s up for one step deeper?

This is so subtle, and it’s beautiful, and it’s important.
But it’s not easy to get.
So let’s go step at a time.
Let’s go deeper for a second.

Both pro-life and pro-choice stepped out of the field of value

Paradoxically, both the pro-life and the pro-choice position, I believe, in their own interior, have stepped out of what I would call the field of value.

I want to explain what that means, we’re going deep now.

It’s going to be paradoxical and surprising on both sides.

One, the position of much of the left, which is expressing the pro-choice position, is deeply entrenched in the postmodern matrix, and the postmodern matrix deconstructs value. Value doesn’t actually exist, you’re not in a field of value.

But no one can live without value.

  • So once you step out of the field of value, you choose one value, and you make that value not a value in the field, but your identity.

— That value actually becomes your identity.
— That value becomes your absolute.
— That value becomes a kind of Puritanism.
— That value becomes your crusade.

  • Because that value is no longer a value in the field of value, that value becomes you, entirely your identity, and any compromise on that value is a compromise on your very existence.
  • Therefore, you become a rabid extremist; you become angry, you can’t have a real conversation, you can’t engage in facts.
  • Because your identity is that value, and that value is decontextualized from the field of value, and therefore that value brings Outrageous Pain.
  • And there’s no Outrageous Love to respond to it, that will bring us to Outrageous Beauty.

Now let’s get to the other side, the other side is deep.

The other side, you would think well, but the pro-life people, they are in the field of value.

No, they’re not.

  • The pro-life people have actually regressed; most of the pro-life position is animated and funded by either fundamentalist versions of Christianity or particular Catholic versions of Christianity — let’s catch this — which are actually, in their core belief systems, premodern.
  • In premodernity, it wasn’t a field of universal value with multiple values in the field. It was a field of value that was hijacked and colonized by one set of, in this case, often patriarchal interpreters. Here I will use the word patriarchy, although I often don’t use it because it’s overused and misused, as my friend Warren Farrell has pointed out. But here I will use it. In other words, men, who were not living in women’s bodies (some of them were deeply sensitive to women in many ways, and some of them were definitely not).
  • There was a particular position on the role of women in society, and in most of Christendom, and that came together with legitimate life considerations of the baby, and formulated a set of laws of a particular extreme fundamentalist nature, both in Catholicism and in the sources of many of the fundamentalist Christ traditions that are happening in America, in their more kind of Baptist or fundamentalist forms.
  • What is happening now is, much of the pro-life movement is animated not by the field of value, but actually by a premodern position that’s paradoxically not in the field of value.

How do you know the premodern positions were not in the field of value?

Because they actually claimed that only their position was value, and that all the other competing religious positions were not only wrong, but the competing religions deserved to be killed, as either infidels or heretics, burned at the stake, tortured by the Inquisition.

Let’s get this really clear, that’s not a position in the field of value.

So the pro-life movement is informed not by the field of value, the pro-life movement is informed actually by being out of the field of value; they’ve stepped out of the field of value, they’ve caricatured the field of value, and hijacked it.

  • So therefore, now their identity is bound up with their parochial, self-aggrandizing, essentially narcissistic position. It’s us, and it’s no one else.
  • Therefore, it can’t consider other very substantive saintly religious positions on this issue of abortion, that take fundamental issue with any of the extreme expressions of it.
  • For example, no allowing of abortion to at least some segment of first trimester, which is utterly absurd.

To be clear, I myself have adjudicated abortion cases with women who are experts in the law, together in which I encouraged the women in those conditions to get an abortion, together with her husband, because having the baby would have actually destroyed her life.

Did I think I was destroying a baby’s life?

Absolutely not.

There’s very, very saintly reasoned, stunning positions of some of the deepest hearts and minds, looking at the law in the Talmud, that supported that ruling.

All of that has been thrown out by the pro-life expressions in their extreme forms, which are decontextualizing one value from the field of value in a premodern way, in which only their interpretation of that value is considered in any way legitimate.


Does everyone begin to see it?

In other words, you begin to see what we mean when we say that…

In order to evolve the source code of consciousness and culture, in order to move beyond polarization, we have to actually tell a New Story of value, which is a story of Outrageous Beauty.

Outrageous Beauty means that we have articulated a story of value rooted in First Principles and First Values, in which choice and life are obviously both First Principles and First Values, out of which synergy emerges, which generates, in response to Outrageous Pain — through Outrageous Love — Outrageous Beauty.

Now remember, this is really, really important…

When you step out of the field of value,

— and you choose one value, an idolatry before which you kneel, your identity which you can’t compromise on
— you create Outrageous Pain,
— and you create polarization.

You create polarization because you’ve stepped out of the field of value.

So the two values clash with each other, and each side thinks they’re representing value. They’re not, they’re representing narcissistic identity or idolatry.

You get that?

Now let’s go one last step, and it’s really beautiful.

If both sides step into the field of value, then they share the field of value together

I want to get this really clearly, and this is a big deal.

This is a whole new notion.

So imagine you step into your true identity.

What’s our true identity?

So we know, as Albert Einstein correctly pointed out, that separation is an optical delusion of consciousness. The notion that I’m a separate self is an optical delusion of consciousness, it’s not true. There is no ultimate separate self. Separate self is real, of course. I should experience myself as an individuated, separate self with appropriate boundaries, that is of course real.

But that’s not my deeper identity, my deeper identity is that my separate self is located in a larger field.

I don’t exist, for example, without certain microbes at the bottom of the sea; I actually have no life without them.
I have no life without the coral reefs.
I have no life without the larger field of the biosphere.
I have no life without the larger field of consciousness; my consciousness is not a separate consciousness;
I’m living in the field of LoveIntelligence and LoveBeauty and LoveDesire and LoveConsciousness.

We call that True Self.

Now, True Self is in that field.

So in that field of True Self, is there any difference between Marc and Elena, or Chahat, or Marc and Larry?

None, we’re all the same in True Self! In the field of True Self, there’s one True Self; the total number of True Selves in the world is one.

True Self is the singular that has no plural.
It’s the seamless coat of the universe.
It is the one heart.
It is the one Eros,
It’s the one consciousness that animates the four forces of physics, that is, as systems theory points towards (in its deeper expressions, not in its surface expressions) the one Kosmos, if you will.
That’s why it’s a uni-verse.
It is one text.

That’s True Self.

Now, this is subtle, and it’s beautiful.
True Self is the same as the field of value.
Value is True Self.
Value is consciousness.
Consciousness is value.

In other words, value is everywhere.

A lot of times today, post Claude Shannon, we talk about information. Claude Shannon is one of the fathers of information theory, but Claude Shannon actually wrote a paper with Warren Weaver, where he pointed out that what information is at its core is not bits and bytes, which is how it was used in information theory.

But actually, as Warren Weaver writes with Shannon, in about 1948, information, at its core, is meaning or value.

In other words, when three quarks associate with each other — two down quarks and one up quark, two up quarks and one down quark, one’s a proton and the other’s a neutron — that which brings them together to create a proton and a neutron, that’s value.

There are values that exist from the first nanoseconds of the Big Bang, when gazillions of quarks reign, and there are only 16 kinds of particular configurations of value which create 16 forms of quarks.

I mean, it’s wild!

The universe is not random, in any sense, shape, or form.

The universe has a dimension of spontaneity and contingency and freedom in its core, that’s in the context of enormous beauty, in which opposites synergize in fields of value in configurations of intimate coherence.

So the field of value is like the field of True Self.

I may have lost a couple of people here because I know it’s a deep dive, let’s see if we can get it.

True Self is the singular that has no plural, it’s the field of one consciousness.

Consciousness is the same as value; consciousness and value are inextricably entwined with each other.

Just like there’s a field of consciousness, which we are all part of the same True Self, there is no distinction between Marc and Chahat or Marc and Elena in that field of one consciousness, that field of one value.

The second we all step into the field of value, we recognize each other in the field of value; we are part of the same true value. We are part of the same True Self.

Now, stay close.

Then Elena individuates, then Ben individuates, then James individuates; I individuate as Unique Self. Kohlene individuates as Unique Self.

[Editors note: for a deeper understanding of Unique Self, you can download Chapter 1–4 of Your Unique Self by Dr. Marc Gafni for free here]

Does everyone get that?

Now there’s Kohlene, Kohlene who is a beautiful artist in Europe doing gorgeous work, and has done 12 beautiful paintings on Eros.

Kohlene Hendrickson: Uniqueness & Identity

So True Self individuates as Kohlene, that’s Unique Self.

The same way that True Self individuates as a Unique Self, the field of true value individuates as choice, or individuates as life.

It individuates as any one of the larger field of values.

Does everyone get that?

In other words, a unique value is the same as Unique Self.

That’s beautiful.

Just like True Self individuates as Jacqueline, or as Kohlene, or as Elena, or as Marc, or as Sally, so true value individuates as unique value.

It’s beautiful.

Now, True Self is not the same as Unique Self.
Unique Self is the individuation of True Self.

But stay really close now, stay really, really close.

But Unique Self is not the same as Separate Self.

Separate Selves are in what Hobbes called a state of war; there is a natural state of war between the Separate Selves. This is one of the things that Russian literature, when it’s truly trying to stand for moral clarity, is grappling with: how do we actually create peace between separate selves, each one with their own rich inner texture, and how do you create a larger field of value?

It’s very hard to do.

Bracket those two sentences if you missed them, but here’s the important point, stay close.

Unique Self is not the same as separate.

So I can only create harmony between Unique Self if Unique Self understands that I’m an expression of True Self.

If I’m an expression of True Self, then we’re all True Selves.

We’re all together in the field of consciousness.

We’re all brothers and sisters in the one love and the one heart of Kosmos, and then we’re uniquely individuated.

Then we can create synergy, then we can create beauty, and then we can create outrageous beauty.

But if we’re separate selves — what Hobbes calls in Leviathan, or in his earlier book, Man and Citizen — the natural state of war — which is nasty, brutish, and short, as our lives so often are — actually reigns.


Actually, as Leo Strauss pointed out, even John Locke was really Hobbes with a velvet glove, and the separate self is the core of Western society.

Now stay with me, the same thing is true about value.

In other words…

  • If I never enter the field of true value, the field of True Self as it were, if I’m not in the field of value, then the value that I choose will be not my Unique Self value.
  • It won’t be a unique value, which is the same as Unique Self, in which those unique values that emerge from the field of value can synergize.
  • It will rather be a separate value, just like separate self.
  • Then we have separate value, and because it’s a separate value, those two values will clash; they have to clash, because it’s a separate self value.
  • It’s a separate value, in the same sense of separate self.
  • So now they’ve got to clash with each other, they can’t actually find each other.
  • Because it becomes identity, just like in the realm of self, separate self becomes identity; it becomes an ego identity, which I have to defend at any cost.
  • So, too, the separate value becomes my identity, which I have to defend at any cost.
  • Paradoxically, both the pro-life and the pro-choice movement, in the ways we’ve outlined today, have stepped out of that field of value. So they don’t recognize each other, they don’t find each other in the field of one value.

If we found each other and experienced each other in the field of one value, then we’d be able to synergize, and we wouldn’t come to this day of Outrageous Pain in America.

This is deep, friends!

This is what we mean by a source code evolution.

When we’ve stepped out of the field of value, there’s no intimacy between values.

And what is intimacy?

Intimacy is shared identity in the context of otherness; that’s the intimacy formula.

So when you have intimacy between values, you can create a shared identity between two opposing values in the context of otherness, where the integrity of each value is honored.

That’s huge!

So actually, this entire conversation could be understood in terms of the Tenets of Intimacy.

Intimacy equals shared identity in the context of otherness.

The Intimacy Formula:
Intimacy= shared identity, in the context of relative otherness x mutuality of recognition x mutuality of pathos x mutuality of value x mutuality of purpose.

You apply that intimacy formula to values, and you have our whole conversation today.

It’s wild!

Now you begin to see what the Center for Integral Wisdom is doing.

This is what we’re doing together.

This is what we’re doing as Unique Self Symphony, we’re actually articulating a New Story of value.

Because right now, there isn’t a story of value.

The superstructure has broken down.

We need what my friend Daniel, calls the third attractor, I call it the new strange attractor.

I call it, in other writings, a new allurement.

We say that a complex system is based on allurement, a complex system in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and a complicated system which is fragile has no allurement.

I shared that distinction with my brother, Daniel, about five or six years ago.

  • The core to generating a New Story of value is to recognize and articulate a vision of value which is intrinsic to Kosmos and evolves.
  • It’s an evolving value, but there are intrinsic values.
  • Once we have evolving values that are intrinsic, then we’re in a field of allurement.
  • Because value allures; the nature of values is that value allures.

This is really important, and we’ll finish with this.

  • Value is Eros.
  • Eros is value, and value is Eros.
  • So Eros generates allurement.
  • When you’re not in the field of value, there’s no allurement.
  • So what happens is, you manage to find the position of your adversary not alluring, even ugly, and you caricature it as being ugly.
  • You caricature the pro-choice position in an ugly way, and you caricature the pro-life position in an ugly way.
  • But when you step into the field of value, you’re in the field of Eros, you’re in the Tao.
  • When you’re in the Tao, then all values have a place in the Tao, and they’re beautiful.
  • Now you’re moving towards Outrageous Beauty; Whitman’s I contain multitudes, or Whitehead’s notion of beauty that contains more and more and more contradictions, in which the contradiction becomes not only absolutely critical to our Eros theory, but to our CosmoErotic Humanism.

CosmoErotic Humanism, for those of you who are new, is the overarching story of value that we’re working on at the Center for Integral Wisdom, that everything’s a part of. Unique Self theory, they’re all part of CosmoErotic Humanism.

In this basic notion of CosmoErotic Humanism, we articulate a vision of Beauty which allows contradiction, not to turn into polarization, but to turn into paradox.

When you’re in the field of value, which is the field of Eros, which is the field of beauty, then contradiction becomes not polarization, but paradox.

The Garden of Eden is not paradise,
the Garden of Eden is paradox.

From that paradox, we can love each other.
Because love always holds paradox.

Paradox is uncertainty.
From that place of epistemic humility and uncertainty,
we can create new synergies and new beauties that are unimaginable.

Thank you, everyone.

We’re going to be getting together at the Outrageous Love Festival, every summer in Europe. The Festival begins August 6th 2022, and I just want to invite everyone to be there.

That’s where we’re doing the work of Outrageous Joy together; there’s mad joy in the Festival, there’s ecstasy, there’s delight, there’s laughter, there’s tears, and there’s also telling the New Story of value.

You should come to the Festival, not because it’s going to be a great experience for you, but because you’re going to be a great experience for us. Because we need you.



A Co-Creative Initiative of the Center for Integral Wisdom and the Foundation for Conscious Evolution Activating the Memory of the Future

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Dr. Marc Gafni

Dr. Marc Gafni

Author, Visionary Philosopher, Evolutionary Mystic, Social Innovator, and the President of the Center for Integral Wisdom.