Zach Stein on Unique Self and Authentic Self

Comparing the Thought of Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni

When looking at the future of religiosity in the post-industrial West, could spirituality become a locus of revolutionary thought? This is the tantalizing possibility raised by Zachary Stein, who writes that “the contemporary scene presents unprecedented configurations of religious authority, doctrinal innovation, and structure-type inter-animation.” This is the context established in the first paragraph of his article, “On Spiritual Teachers and Teachings,” published in the March 2011 issue of Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.

This opening paragraph (p. 66) sets the context for the article’s comparison on pp. 70 – 72 of two spiritual teachers, Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen. Stein briefly describes their teachings and communities in which they work. In Marc’s case, that the Center for World Spirituality, which Stein says organizes retreats reflecting “a mixture of Modern and Integral structural aspects, with translineage religious and philosophical doctrines contextualizing diverse and multitudinous contemplative injunctions and polycentric forms of teacherly authority.” Gafni’s teachings are classified as part of a lineage of acosmic humanism which is traced to esoteric Judaism, especially Rabbi Mordechai Lainer and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kooke. In contrast, he says that Andrew Cohen and the EnlightenNext community draw a lineage from panentheistic evolutionary metaphysicians including such writers as Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin.

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To read the full article, “On Spiritual Teachers and Teachings,” purchase the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, Vol. 6, No. 1, at aqaljournal.integralinstitute.org


Zachary Stein received a B.A. in philosophy from Hampshire College in 2004 and an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2006. He is currently a student of philosophy and cognitive development pursing a doctorate at Harvard. He is also the Senior Analyst for the Developmental Testing Service where has worked for years employing cognitive developmental models and metrics in a variety real world contexts. His research focuses on theoretical work in psychometrics, developmental assessment, and the philosophy of education. In recent years he has published in a variety of outlets on issues ranging from cognitive development and pedagogy to philosophy of education and interdisciplinarity. He has been involved with numerous empirical research efforts including a major leadership development project carried out for a network of federal government agencies and studies on graduate student’s epistemological development at Harvard and John F. Kennedy University.