Relationship is a gift which is the highest obligation of essence. The Unique Self encounter is the practice of holding a piece of another person’s story and receiving a piece of your story from them. Seen in this way, Unique Self fundamentally re-visions all types of relationships.
Q & A
The following is a transcript of an excerpt from a dialogue between Joe Perez and Marc Gafni in July 2012 (audio file available for download at the bottom of the page).
Joe: We’re here with Unique Self dialogues. Right now, ten minutes with Marc Gafni on Unique Self and Relationships…
Marc: That’s a wonderful topic, and there’s a chapter in the book that deals with it at some length. But let’s touch something of it. First, there’s something I call Unique Self evolutionary relationships,what we called in the Soul Prints book “soul print encounters”. In a genuine Unique Self encounter, we each hold a piece of the other’s story. The ethical obligation implicit in the encounter itself is to return to the other Unique Self that we are meeting the piece of their story that we are holding. That’s very deep.
The words are signifiers. They are pointing to this sense that we are interdependent in a very profound way. There are accentuated points of interdependence. There are people we are more dependent on than other people. Not the people we often think. Not the people who are paying our rent or providing me with a job although that may be. They are people who are part of our story, and they are holding a piece of our story because they’re helping us to enact our lives because they hold a piece of insight about our story. So a Unique Self encounter is when our stories intermesh, intertwine, and we recognize that we are each part of each other’s story and holding a piece of our story.
So, for example, Joe Perez and Marc Gafni meet. We’re holding a piece of each other’s story. At a particular point when we met, I’d never met you. I know vaguely that there was a book by Joe Perez called Soulfully Gay but I didn’t know much more than that; and we met in the blogosphere when I was in the midst of a particular story and you held that story and you added to it in a particular way at a particular moment of time – clarification, and integrity; at the same time, as it emerged, you were looking for where is the next unfolding in your framework. You had done some work within the Integral Framework, but it was missing something for you; and then you encountered World Spirituality and Unique Self and it gave you pieces of yourself, enacting your story, that weren’t yet online. At the same time, I was looking to unfold World Spirituality and you had pieces of that story that you were able to unfold in particular ways. That’s a Unique Self encounter.
We’re holding a piece of each other’s story. It’s a meeting that’s not about manipulation or mutual gain. It’s beyond win/win. It has that dimension, but it’s the creation of a larger story in which each person gives the other a piece of their story that is missing and a larger narrative emerges. That’s a Unique Self encounter. That’s an ethical obligation. In other words, the ethical obligation is to give the exchange of gifts that are demanded implicitly of the encounter. It can’t be legislated by any formal canon or convocation or magisterial authority. Rather, it can only be legislated by the internal command of the Unique Selves themselves, and through discernment they are able to recognize the part of each other’s story that they are holding and give that gift as the highest obligation of essence. That’s what we mean by obligation. That’s exciting.
Joe: There’s a lot more to that as well, as someone reading Your Unique Self will see. There are actually seven different laws or principles of Unique Self relationships, or as you call them, Unique Self encounters. Could you summarize the laws or pick one or two that are a good place to start for someone learning about Unique Self encounters?
Marc: Let me pick one. A second law of Unique Self encounters, of evolutionary Unique Self relationships, is that genuine contact needs to be made. What that means is there can’t be a distorting prism which stands in between the two selves.
For example: Let’s say that I meet someone, and that person had a difficult relationship with their father. He never recognized them clearly; they were systematically mis-recognized by their father, and that experience was brutal. Then I meet that person. Then we start to work together in a collegial context, or an employee/employer context, or a love relationship, and I give that person some dimension of critique, offered in a loving and beautiful way. Now that person I gave the critique to is furious with me. Why? Because contact hasn’t been made.
That person is now projecting onto me or constellating in me the experience of being wounded, systematically mis-recognized, emotionally brutalized, by her father. That’s so deep in her woundology structure that when she meets someone who is similar in certain external respects to her father, that unfinished business with her father comes between us having a genuine Unique Self encounter.
We haven’t had a Unique Self encounter because our two uniquenesses haven’t touched. In order for our uniquenesses to touch, we have to disambiguate, clarify the distorting prisms. it has to be me and you talking, me and this particular person, a man and woman, having a direct contact; and direct contact can only happen when I step out of a trance. I’m lost in a pain-trance. I’m in pain over my unfinished business with my father. I’m in pain over being brutally and systematically mis-recognized, so therefore in my encounter with Marc I’m not able to have a Unique encounter with Marc. Our two Unique Selves don’t kiss because every time we meet it’s through the prism of my ancient pain with my father. That’s the second principle which we talk about at great length in the book.
Unique Self encounter requires contact. Lots of encounters don’t require contact. We can partner on a project, we can laugh, drink, and never have contact. Contact in a utilitarian way doesn’t require contact. But in a Unique Self encounter in which we are trading each other’s story, that requires contact. Unique Self changes and re-visions the entire arena of relationships as it does almost every arena. In that way, I think it’s fair to say that Unique Self is psycho-active. When you come into contact with it, it transmutes, reorganizes, recognizes, and re-deepens every field that it encounters.
File Size: 18.6 MB
Learn more about Unique Self and Relationships:
- See “Chapter 21: The Seven Laws of Unique Self Encounters,” Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment (Integral Publishers, 2012)
- “Marc Gafni & Sally Kempton on Unique We.”
- “Dustin DiPerna on Unique Self and Unique We.”