Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guest Post: Cherie Beck - A Call to Integral Males

This guest post from Cherie Beck was actually a comment left on a post over at Integral Options Cafe that dealt with Marc Gafni, his childhood, and the behaviors that have left so many of us in the integral community feeling that he has not healed his own wounding sufficiently to be teaching in public.

Cherie is a long-time member of the integral community - and a Spiral Dynamics Trainer/Coach. I first met her back in 2005 when I took an SDi training with Don Beck - she was his assistant teacher. At that time, I was unaware that Beck also had sexual boundary issues with students (and he too is a married man).

I felt that her three-part comment, while deeply personal, was also a call to the integral community, especially the men, to become the leaders who we would want to follow.

Tough role, that one. To be a teacher and a leader requires us to know our own shit inside and out, and to know those areas that can trigger us into behaviors and expressions that are not healthy for ourselves or the community. There is a consensus among many of us that our current (primarily male) leaders are not setting a good example in that regard.

Besides her blog, you can connect with Cherie at these social networks:
And now, her post.
Cherie Beck - A Call to Integral Males

I came back from the ITC yearning for the juice. In a jam packed weekend of presentations, where is it? Where were you? One of the only people I had wanted to connect with and didn’t. Here you are - And you’ve got the juice!

I hear the cry, once again, for some kind of accounting through at least a conversation, by exposing of more points of view of this subject, to at least reflect on the process of how this community is monitoring it’s ethical standards.

I answer this time - for the same reason I came forth when the light shined upon Don Beck - the lack of a suitable container to workout these critically important issues. My yearning for the creation of an appropriate environment to meet the complexity of human sexuality, change, and leadership grows within me. I can see that I have some role to play here, so I am called forth once again.

In this situation, the conditions are different, as is my relationship with the person at the center of the conflict, although both hold positions of perceived leadership in this infant web of connections that I hear referred to as the Integral community.

In the prior instance, I choose to create a boundary so that a toxic situation could be isolated and dealt with, at least in the short term, in a manner and by people more suited to the leader involved.

In this instance, I find that your positioning of the circumstances involving Marc Gafni to be a seed through which a more public participation might help support the growth, development, and emergence of the NEXT spiritual leaders, leaders more competent to handle the demands of this community as it struggles to form into something viable and valuable to the world, as it arises from that same world. My intent is to strengthen your container in which the seeds you are planting might thrive.

As humanity pushes out beyond the structures of a postmodern worldview into overwhelming challenges posed by global problems, the solutions, at this stage, are falling squarely on the the personal development challenges of the individuals on a trajectory toward such heights. And sexuality and leadership will be the hotbed of obstacles, insights, breakdowns, and breakthroughs as the movement of transcending and including unfolds beneath our feet.

First, I want to make clear that I stand for sexuality, and sexual practice, as a compulsory catalyst for human transformation and social evolutionary change.


From this stand, I continue to look for 2nd tier approaches, lenses, and thinking to support the change that is wanting to happen. There is a huge load to unpack here. More than can be accomplished in this one, lengthy comment.

Second, fresh from the ITC (as a presenter) where I began to weave in the dynamics of generations as social holons - and cycles of times as important change patterns that are vitally relevant - and up to this point, a missing component in comprehensive integral framing, I understand that the leaders, spiritual or otherwise, that have taken us to the point we are at, are not the ones to lead us forward. Those leaders still have a role play, even if it is continuing to create the conditions within which the next leaders will emerge. Therein, I see a very appealing opening in this situation.

So as I relate to Marc Gafni, my first real exposure to him came from his participation as an panelist in the ITC session entitled "Integral as a Mass Movement or Elitist Pursuit." In the audience, I sat in front of a pregnant woman to whom Marc pointed during his introduction as (paraphrased), Mariana, the person to whom he is partnered and whom is with child.

Really? The impact of the introduction resonated in my being as, "Oh, so that is his solution. Interesting."

I walked away very uninspired from that panel session. Marc was only one of five men who voiced a perspective on the topic - and I sat listening, attentive, as a perspective arose in me to a degree I couldn’t sit still. Yet, I found myself in a conversation where there was no space in which to move.

My perspective is that in order for integral to be a movement instead of an elitist pursuit (which is what the the session projected, not from it’s words, but from it’s actions) the understanding of “movement” needs to be reframed. But that’s another story.

I offer in the forum you have created about Marc Gafni’s participation in this talked about “movement,” where my perspective does have space in which to move, a reframe:

I think the ethical question has been answered. Whatever indiscretions Marc Gafni indulged, he was evaluated as psychologically sound and competent by his peers. Personally, from where the ITC is operating today, that assessment makes sense to me. I think you’ll have a hard time changing it.

The question relevant now is: What is his impact, intended and unintended? Inside of this question I see a tight framing around the issue of integrity rather than ethics, a way of seeing which presents a path forward.

I find myself, very turned on looking into the frame of integrity. For I sense at this time, what is important for you as men, and what I yearn for as a woman in your sphere of influence, is for you to support and hold each other to a level of integrity we’ve not yet seen because the cognitive capacity of the men in this community is far beyond their practical skill set as messengers.

As a woman I can tell you my impression is that Marc is not in integrity and that the impact of such a gap is worth paying attention to. Yet pay attention to it not as a character flaw - but as a developmental challenge for him personally, and for the leadership roles within and without the community. Spiritual teachings are not easy to live into. And Integral Spiritual teachings, while they help us find our way in the territory, have also significantly upped the game.

So this is a challenge by choice, not by peer pressure, nor by collective ethical/moral obligation.

Whomever steps forward to lead the Integral Community into and out the other side of integrity - I guarantee that we will be in the company of the NEXT spiritual leaders of our time. That lights me up and has me care about what is happening here and even ignites my own sexual desire in a way I’ve not experienced before.

Well, guess what. When you bring the juice, Bill, you bring it! I didn’t have to look far to see who the first candidate would be.

I got to Alex Rollin’s comments where he says he is looking for who’s voice isn’t being heard and asks what else can be done, in a stream of information that included a public disclosure of his promiscuity. Yikes, I was left with yet another knife plunged deep into the center of my heart. But this time, though, I am well practiced, for it’s not the first knife, nor even the worst heartbreak to come from the hands of this man. For I am the one he married, and I am the one he divorced, and I am the one on the receiving end of his “just what I am doing now” behavior justifications. I am the one who continues to dwell in the crucible that is our relationship. I stayed still and centered throughout the night opening to the burning pain in my heart and letting this publicized truth integrate through my being.

Shit this stuff hurts even though it is not as debilitating as it once was.

It lasted into the next day tearing away old thought patterns and sinking deep into my core where I was able to slowly release an energy bubble, which in earlier days would have a been a primal scream likely to have brought the house down.

In the midst of this clearing I awoke to a startling clarity. In this polarized spiraling spin of yin/yang connection Alex and I have been caught in for the last 5 years, it was the dearth of love in our relationship that triggered, not caused, but triggered his “promiscuity.”

Holy shit . . . literally. He has not acted alone in what I often found to be absolutely egregious actions.

All this energy in the system that is WE, has to go somewhere, and when it can’t go up, it goes down. Sometimes it has to go down before it can go up. As a Spiral Dynamics integralist, I understand that.

Yet in that same moment, I realized that while I may not have been able to love enough before, that is no longer true. In the depths of my own heart I have a felt sense and need in my own experience of how important love is for the integral and evolutionary development of the human being, and any container for such development must be filled with it. This is a love that demands we open to all of the things we abhor, fear, and reject - to open to a “being withness” that Gail Taylor named in this community and was promptly told didn’t fit. And yes, evolution is wanting us to face the past and clear away all the old programming no matter where it came from - childhood trauma and human karma be damned. Toward this end my friends, we will need a depth of being that has yet to emerge here.

So Alex, it’s is my voice that continues to want to be heard, if by no one else but you.

In answering your second question, Alex, of what else can be done, I turn to Bill and request him to direct his energy not toward Marc Gafni, but to you as one who carries the potential to be a next spiritual leader in this community and for him to hold you accountable to your own heart, and to the truth and teachings you so readily access for others. Here in the forum of your choosing, of your stated life purpose of an open and free internet and of peer to peer engagement, through the declaration I see coming through in your comments- you have chosen to show up.

I make this request from a place of more than enough love, as the woman who carries the 3rd entity of the “WE” in my heart, mind, and soul as though it was a baby developing inside me, that I am not satisfied with nor will I settle for anything less than who you were born to be.

If you accept this challenge, I will stand by you as the woman who now loves, the woman who knows who she is, who recognizes who you are, who has learned who you are not, and who is partnered with you in who you are becoming; and as the woman who moves through her world in the experience of deep connection to how out of integrity you are living today.

Why? Because I care and it matters.
Cherie named Alex Rollin, her ex-husband, as a potential spiritual leader in the integral community, as well as expressing her impression that he is not living in integrity with himself. So I think it's fair to also include his response to her comments - this is all available on the blog post linked to above.
Cherie, thanks for writing in and showing yourself in such a beautiful and spectacular way in public. Really amazing!

I'm doing a little bit. I found another "leader" who was saying to everyone that he was inviting people to "put all their chickens in the shared community" basket but it turns out he doesn't want to share the eggs back or acknowledge anyone who put in a chicken.

There's about 16 nasty threads, and lots of obfuscation and nastiness. In the end I was inspired by the dialogue here so I hopped in with a full personal critique of use of power. Now the leader wants to "divorce" me. His words.

When I put up the comment, the first one above, and asked about "what else could be listened to," I did not mean that any of us privileged folk should make more noise about how cool we are or why we are all alright and back ourselves up in that the truly good are that, whether we label them that or not.

I was talking about little girls in Israel who got(?) tricked, for example, and perhaps want to share their side of the story. How about we start our own witch hunt office?

Some standing operation that is a way anyone can make accusations of anyone else, or question them. It would be like a standardized format for doing so, and an explanation of the format.

And it better not be called "integral witch hunt" either because that's bull. How about "permaculture witch hunt: for culture that lasts longer than man." Anthropocentrism is so 20th century, anyways.

Wait . . . crap, this might make witches feel bad. Hmm...How about "permaculture energy hunt: culture that lasts longer than man." The process itself would give folks who feel like they are abused a forum and format and method for speaking truth to power.

As a drunken quasi-self-authoring fool, I don't have a lot of problem with this, and I regularly lose my shirt speaking truth to power, but others are not so drunken or lucky to afford this extravagance. Those are the people we ought to be listening to.

I could give a crap about whether any current "integral" toady thinks Marc is this OR that because it is not part of a process that includes the non-hyper-enabled people's of the world.

Terrified? Good. And that, too, shall pass.
Hmmmm . . . I don't know Alex very well, although I DO know he has a wicked sense of humor. This comment seems half serious, half full of shit. Maybe I am misreading him.

Anyway, I know I am not the next spiritual leader in the integral community, but I do have some things to say, and I plan to begin saying them more publicly in the future. I also am not a teacher, so I don't know what to call my rantings . . .

I simply want to understand what it means to live with fierce compassion, to embody wise love, and find a way to share that with those who want to listen. And if I can't do it, I hope someone else can - that is the male energy we need in the leaders who will come next.


Anonymous said...

Although I am neither associated with the integral or modern jewish movements, I decided to read a few articles written by and on Gafni.

The man seems to suffer from a deep identity crisis I have witnessed in many "teachers" and pseudo-healers. Many of these creatures refuse to release themselves from the idea of the superiority of one group over the other.

In short, he seems in desperate need of a spine.

Anonymous said...

I spent a little time in the integral community. It’s rotten at its Kore.

I’ve never seen so much hyper-intellectual adolescent bullshit. Well, maybe Jersey Shore. Sexual indiscretion and bad manners isn’t turquoise, it’s just immature.

Why are there so many consultants and coaches in the integral community, but so few people that can actually build meaningful platforms of service? Maybe the reality is that the integral community can’t get out of their heads enough to pour a real foundation in society. Look at That’s a group getting traction.! And what is the Integral community doing? Uh, talking about Gafni and sex again. Sad.

The integral community is dysfunctional plain and simple. It’s not better than any other collective at any stage of development and a lot less effective than many.

As you can tell, I was not impressed.