“The Summer Festival of Love is an event that you will experience on many different levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. During this week-long event, Dr Marc Gafni gives you the very best of his heart, mind and being when he passionately brings the Dharma. His teachings have their roots in cutting-edge scientific knowledge and developmental theories. The mind, soul and body work that you will do throughout the day will help you digest all the impressions. This personal story gives you an idea of the effect the Festival can have, helping you to discover and live your Unique Self, and create a better world. Henriëtte Versteijnen, sexologist, mental health therapist and bodyworker from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, shares her experience…
This Festival is about personal transformation through Love
“I learned about the Summer Festival of Love through the media and my then love relationship. It didn’t take me long to decide to go, after all the theme is Love. What is Love? That was my quest at that time, and I felt that relationships stood for love and sexuality. I also had heard about the Dharma Circle, the lineage, its profundity, and knew that I would get a high-quality experience at the event. That made me decide to go.
Once there, I felt the commitment. Not only mine, but also that of the others in the community. Overall, music and spiritual festivals, small and big, tend to circle informally around music, meeting people and spirituality. The Summer Festival of Love is different. Participants do not choose to come back year after year, if they don’t feel the commitment to that what ispassed on to them. The Festival is quite an intensive, maybe even a strenuous experience to the mind. Each morning, the teaching has a considerable impact. It is Marc’s calling to bring the Dharma and he works all year round to visualize it for you. It is also an interactive and energetic transfer, which allows you to truly embody the Dharma if you are open to it. Of course, you can carelessly join, but that would be a pity. This Festival is about personal transformation through Love. You are immersed in new knowledge and a loving network of likeminded people, possibly even with personal sessions with Marc Gafni. This is the perfect setting for you to take a next step in your life and personal development.”
Look into the source code of culture and see Eros as the driving force of creation
“There are various aspects to the Festival experience. First of all, there is the Dharma, the core of the teachings, which are all about living from your Unique Self as an answer of Outrageous Love to the world’s outrageous pain. Then there is Marc’s lineage from Judaism, that he skillfully mixes with top-notch scientific knowledge and wisdom from so many different fields of life. But what makes the real difference, is that Marc knows how to bring all those theories into practice, into your daily life. He knows that Love with a capital L is not just something between you and your lover. He is a man on a mission. He looks deeper, into the source code of culture and how that affects our vision on life and the world we live in. Take for example shame. As a topic, sex and sexuality are part of the teachings, making you think more deeply about their value in the shadow of porn and shame in our society. There is a lot of shame in today’s culture, and not only in relation to love. As a sexologist, I see this too. People end up in dreary stories because of shame, and Marc shifts your view on shame. It is a very intense week in which you discover that Sexuality, Eros, is the driving force behind everything, which enables you to become whole as a person. It’s a path of becoming conscious, of growing fully into your creative power. So, this is not a sex festival, nor a tantra festival or dating festival. The teachings invited me to look within myself and discover what sexuality means to me. If you are willing to open up to a different vision on love and sexuality, if dare to surrender yourself to a new world view, to a new narrative on culture, then this Festival will bring you so much.”
It is valuable on both a personal and a professional level
“I have worked with the Dharma for four years now and it challenges me on both a personal and a professional level, and that I find really unique. The implementation of Marc’s vision in my work and personal life has brought tremendous change. It has enabled me to look behind the façade of fear, see the unique lover in myself and in my clients and help them to make their own unique creation in love. Traditionally, we are used to thinking in terms of failing, shortages, shame. But if you discover your uniqueness, your true desires, what you want to express and receive in love, then you can show up as the beautiful you that you are.
Having a relationship means doing your homework, knowing who you are, standing for your boundaries and desires, so that you can become less inhibited, discover more, become more ‘juicy’. My clients are happy when they hear that sex-related problems in a relationship are quite normal and that when things start tearing up, that is the perfect time to start showing up as your Unique Self. This vision is so valuable. In my training as a sexologist, I had not heard of Eros being a deeper force, connecting everything. It helps you refine your capacity to enjoy things and thus develop your contact with the world. Eros is everywhere. Have you ever held a baby in your arms? It’s a mystery! Conception, the sun rising, the moon, the movement of the sea – we’re not separate from nature, we’re part of it and we cannot live without it. In our society, sex is seen as equal to sexuality, but you can also look at flowers in an orgiastic manner, for example. It’s the creative force in our universe.
It requires courage to change, to investigate and discover yourself and reveal yourself in a relationship, when the real contact has faded. It requires courage to dive within, also when making love to yourself. So many people feel bad if they masturbate, but why should they? It is valuable to start a discussion about that, stop focusing on what goes wrong and start looking for a solution. Talking openly about possibilities creates solutions, also in difficult times, for example when you are living with a disease. After all, everything that you experience is part of your path to becoming yourself.”
Start living from your desires
“I am so touched by the Dharma, because it has shown me that living from my desires is the way to go. In my work in the Dutch mental health sector, I see so many people with anxiety issues and depressions. Now I realize that the lost connection with their desires may be causing these. But there is no doctor or psychiatrist that navigates on desires not being lived. Instead, they focus on the pain that people experience. But we’re here to enjoy life! Of course, suffering is part of life, as is joy. Are you prepared to feel and look at the pain you experience? Which desires do you have? Everything is present within you. Somehow, in our society desires are being labelled as something you shouldn’t have. That is a misconception. Desires are not about having a lot of sex, they’re about having a good relationship, with real contact, connection and sexuality, without judgements. Desires show you how you can be completely fulfilled, what feels good and bad for you, they’re tools to look deeper into sexuality, to feel who you are. Why would you settle for a boring relationship if you can turn it into a vivid and exiting one?! The deep respect for life, the creation, that’s the best anti-depressant.”
The Festival is nourishing in so many different ways, it is priceless
“Something will happen when you participate in the Summer Festival of Love. It will touch you, affect you, even if you try not to get involved. You may feel your own resistance, and if you take your responsibility, you will change. Marc, the facilitators and the entire community of participants will support you. This experience will show your way towards the meaning and purpose of your life. You are not the only one searching for it, we all are, and culture is keeping us captive. Being at the Festival can be quite an enervating journey, especially if you are new to the Dharma. But it is absolutely worthwhile to persist and pick up what resonates with you. What helps with that are the afternoon workshops and the field that we create together. Here you get nutrition for the rest of your life.
It’s not just an intellectual experience. It’s also big fun! We dance, there are fun workshops, daily entertainment. There is a strong connection between all of us at the Festival and that really supports you, also when you go home again. You could for example become a member of the Dharma Circle, that gets together online every month.
In the past three years, I have been a facilitator at the Festival, giving my own workshop. With this exchange, the Summer Festival of Love is nourishing me in so many different ways, it is priceless. The Festivals have given me valuable notions to live my life to the fullest, to see that we’re rather androgyne, more than just male, female, hetero or homo. That each of us is born with a unique potential, yet we are limiting ourselves and each other. Those limiting beliefs are being overturned during this week, which is nice, because you will become less judgemental. Also, the set-up of teachings, deepened in workshops, meditation, qi gong, yoga, fun, allows you to embody what you learn in this week. This will help you move from your mind to your heart, to your gut, so that it all can find a place within you, in your life and in your contact with the people around you. Be open and curious for the new insights that you’ll get, let yourself be touched, have trust in what will reveal itself to you.
You may think that this Festival is controversial, yet it is hip, modern, playful, alive, fulfilling, connecting, enriching. The renaissance started with a thousand people. Let’s have an impact, fulfilment in a connected life and joy in every day of our life.”