Lee Lozowick


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LEE LOZOWICK

 

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH

LEE LOZOWICK

 

by Hal Blacker

 

from the magazine

What Is Enlightenment?

 

 

 

LEE LOZOWICK is the founder and spiritual teacher of the
Hohm Community in Prescott, Arizona, and studied under the
auspices of Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar of Tiruvannamalai, India
(b. 1918-d. 2001), Enlightenment heir of the great Indian
sage Swami Ramdas (b. 1884-d. 1963). About twenty years ago
Lozowick was “transformed by an experience” that occurred
after waking up one morning from a night’s sleep. Since 1975
he has worked with hundreds of students and disciples in the
U.S. and Europe, including, for example, Mariana Caplan the
author of the much acclaimed book HALFWAY UP THE MOUNTAIN:
The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment . He,
himself, is the author of fifteen books, including The
Alchemy of Love and Sex and Conscious Parenting.

 

 

 

WIE: I understand that about twenty years ago you were
transformed by an experience that occurred after you woke up
one morning, literally, from a night’s sleep. What was that
experience like and how did it occur?

 

LL: It’s something I never talk about. To define the
experience is to lead people to expect something similar,
which is very misleading. So I’ve really made an effort not
to talk about it beyond saying it was the event that
catalyzed my entering into teaching work, or that catalyzed
my representing divine influence in the world. The actual
description of perceptual data is too specific and unique to
mean anything to anyone else. What I do say about it is that
I was doing very rigorous Sadhana [spiritual
practice]. None of that Sadhana was itself responsible
for the event that precipitated this shift in context and
yet paradoxically there is an association. The person who I
was in relationship with was traveling and I was living
alone. So it was the first time that I had any time really
to do a retreat and I took that week as a retreat week. The
intensification of sadhana was not what precipitated the
event and yet a strong field of practice and
intention—real exclusive intention in the sense that
there was nothing I wanted more than to serve God, commune
with God, understand God— was very crucial.

 

WIE: So you feel that what most prepared you for what
happened to you is the cultivation of that kind of
intention?

 

LL: I don’t think anything prepared me. I had no idea of
the concomitant responsibilities involved. I mean I looked
at other teachers and one of my motives clearly was to enjoy
the kind of adulation that other teachers enjoyed. My idea
of awakening was that you wake up and you’re free, and then
you sort of do what you want. I had been teaching Silva Mind
Control, a system of dream work and self-motivational
practice, for several years so I was in a position of some
authority. My idea of awakening and being a spiritual
teacher was you just got into a position of more authority,
that’s all.

In Silva Mind Control I really had no responsibility. I
did a training session and people went home and if they
didn’t practice, I didn’t care. And it was a profit-making
thing and I wanted to make money at it. I made up my own
schedule and I would travel when I wanted. My time was my
own. So I just thought that a spiritual teacher had more of
all of those things and I had no idea about the absolute
lack of freedom that spiritual teaching is. It’s an absolute
lack of freedom. You’re so committed to the communication of
what it is that inspires you that you can’t pick and choose.
You can’t say, “I’ll teach this weekend but I won’t teach
that weekend, and I’ll do this and that and the other
thing.”

 

WIE: What was it that you realized?

 

LL: I suppose it could be said that I realized the nature
of reality. Since that realization there’s been an unfolding
articulation of the nature of reality as a way of attracting
others to this work and communicating its foundation, and,
at least minimally, its intellectual boundaries.

 

WIE: You said that before you woke up you didn’t realize
the responsibility involved in being a teacher. How did you
become aware of that?

 

LL: Before I woke up, if indeed I woke up—I know I
said that in the beginning and my students continue to say
that, but it’s been fifteen years since I’ve ever claimed
that personally—I thought it was all bliss. You got
union with God and you were just ecstatic all the time.
Exactly coincident with the event that precipitated this
work came a tacit moment-to-moment knowledge of what this
work entailed. So in every moment I know what I need to
know. If what I need to know is that I am responsible in
such and such a way, I know that. That’s been constant in
the last twenty years. Whatever I need to know having to do
with my own responsibilities, with communication in a given
space, whatever it might be, I know. So everything is
tacitly obvious. There have continued to be catalysts in my
life after that event such as a book I read or a lecture I
hear, or even something random in nature. Everything was
already tacitly understood but it wasn’t all in language,
and t different catalysts that I continue to intersect with
provoke articulation.

 

WIE: What motivated you to begin teaching?

 

LL: There was no motivation. There was absolutely no
choice. There are a couple of funny stories associated with
it, one being that I knew, based on this event, that I had
to teach in a different form than I was teaching. So the
first thing I did was offer my resignation to the Silva Mind
Control organization.

I gave them several months to find a replacement and got
everything in order. That was the first thing I did because
it was very clear I couldn’t compromise the form of my
teaching in any way. I didn’t know when I would actually
begin teaching but I knew that I had to. There was no
question about it. I was walking along in New York with
someone who, when the school first began, was a student and
he said something I thought was really brilliant. I said,
“Wow, that’s deep, that’s really phenomenal. Who said that?”
He looked at me with surprise and said, “You did.” I went,
“Oh, pretty neat,” and then about a month later I began
teaching. I figured if I could say stuff like that, why
wait?

 

WIE: From your own experience, what is enlightenment?

 

LL: It’s an unflagging, not necessarily always willing,
but an unflagging, irrevocable commitment to serve what I
call the great process of divine evolution. Basically that’s
God, and we articulate what the process of God is in a very
complex way. But enlightenment is an unflagging and
irrevocable slavery to serving that which is God, the
divine, in whatever way the divine deems is service.

 

WIE: Are you saying that since awakening you know what
kind of service God wants?

 

LL: There’s not an intellectual cognition of what is
wanted in the moment. There is only action in response to
what is wanted in the moment. Then in retrospect I can
define or discuss or consider what the will of God was. But
in the moment there’s only an organic response. So the
essence of my teaching work I call spiritual slavery. And
one of the key elements of spiritual slavery is that you
don’t have to understand, because if you surrender to the
will of God you are active, you are manifested, you are
moved. And if you understand—which most of us would
like to because we’re curious and we’re thinking
creatures—that’s fine. But understanding is not a
requirement for functioning in an enlightened way.

 

WIE: What role does discrimination play in the spiritual
life, if any?

 

LL: I think discrimination plays a major role,
particularly for students in the sense that the more refined
food one eats, the healthier the system is. And that applies
on every level, including the level of what we read, what
movies we see, even who we talk to. And if we’re
indiscriminate about the energy fields that we intersect
with, then the likelihood of developing a vehicle that is
strong enough and clear enough to make the breakthrough is
minimal. So I think what Buddha talked about when he spoke
of right livelihood, right company, right speech and so on,
is important. I think discrimination is very important. I
think we should be sensitive to what we put in our mouths,
what we put in our minds, what we put in our physical
company, and things like that, if we can help it. Sometimes
we can’t help it.

The discrimination of a student in some sense has to be,
in the beginning, just an effort of education, and as time
goes on it becomes more instinctual. In my case
discrimination is itself one of the gestures of
spontaneity.

 

WIE: In 1976 you went to India and ultimately met Yogi
Ramsuratkumar, whom you recognized as your guru. Most people
who go to India for spiritual reasons are seeking
enlightenment, but you went after your awakening already had
occurred. Why did you go?

 

LL: A lot of the major movements that happen—the
first trip to India, moving into a living situation with
students, moving out here, that kind of thing—are not
things that I have reasons for, although being minimally
intelligent, I can always come up with reasons for any major
move. The reasons I gave for the first trip to India were
wanting to pay respect to the sources of what I felt was my
cultural leaning, cultural resonance; to visit various
teachers, including people that I felt a very powerful
resonance with like Sri Ramana Maharshi; to visit ashrams
and to offer prayers and gratitude. Those were the stated
reasons for going. Of course the real reason for going was a
pre-awareness instinct in relationship to beginning a
different level of engagement of process with Yogi
Ramsuratkumar. And it took many years for that to become
apparent. Again, that’s only in retrospect. At the time I
went to India with students, one of the things I thought was
to get it over with—to go and check out my roots and
pay my respects, almost like going to a funeral to pay your
last respects. You go and that’s the end of it. Little did I
know I would find what I found.

 

WIE: When you first met Yogi Ramsuratkumar did you
recognize him as your teacher?

 

LL: No. It took the first trip, then the second trip
which was three years later, and then about a year after
that I started responding to him as my teacher, and even
then very lightly. It wasn’t until maybe three or four years
after that, in the early to mid-eighties, that I really
dedicated myself to him as my teacher, of course without
even knowing if he would accept me as a student or what
would happen.

 

 

WIE: You have said that Yogi Ramsurat-kumar was the
source of the awakening which occurred to you one year
previous to your meeting him. How can someone be the source
of somebody else’s awakening that occurred before they ever
met?

 

LL: Well, to a spiritual master there’s no such thing as
the past, the present or the future. To us everything
happens very linearly. In 1975 this shift of context
happened for me. In 1976 I met Yogi Ramsuratkumar. In 1983 I
really dedicated myself to him as my teacher. But to him
when Jesus was born might be fifty years in the future. And
some person that to us hasn’t even been born yet, to him is
like a living, breathing presence. Time is completely
malleable. So for a master like Yogi Ramsuratkumar the past,
the present and the future are completely interchangeable,
and he can shift them around at his will. I can’t describe
that according to a law of physics although I’m sure that’s
possible. But that’s how it is.

 

WIE: Has he ever acknowledged to you that this is the
case in terms of your awakening?

 

LL: Not linearly. I mean he doesn’t really just sit down
and talk to you like that. First of all my relationship to
him is one of 200 percent receptivity, so I never ask him
for anything. I never ask questions. Occasionally I’ll have
some curiosity, but as a principle I will not ask him for
anything, except for everything. When I’m in his presence I
will not make any gesture of appeal to him, none. I won’t
ask him any questions. So I’ve never asked what his
perception of all this is, although he has said things to
his Indian devotees which get fed back to me. I have gotten
feedback but it’s never been direct. And I know that if I
asked him directly he would not give a direct answer, so I
wouldn’t anyway.

 

WIE: Most people would say that after enlightenment you
don’t need a guru. But you entered into a guru/disciple
relationship after your awakening, at a time when you were
already taking on students of your own. Did that mean that
in some way that you felt there was something lacking in
your own realization?

 

LL: No, I didn’t feel there was anything lacking at all.
My view of it is that I was in a guru/devotee relationship
before my shift of context—or the shift of context,
since it wasn’t mine—and that’s what actually led to
the shift of context. My relationship to him is not one
where I feel incomplete and he’s somehow going to provide
the missing pieces. All that’s been done, that’s over and
done with. It’s a love affair, that’s all.

 

WIE: What is the purpose of the guru/disciple
relationship? What’s the role of this love affair?

 

LL: Well, in the real sense it’s not sadhana that
produces awakening. It’s assimilation that produces
awakening. So to assimilate something you have to be in its
field, in its aura. The guru is that which is grace, living
grace, and the real essence of sadhana is to assimilate
that. When the disciple wakes up it’s because they’ve
assimilated the guru’s grace, not because they’ve done
sadhana. Paradoxically, one has to do sadhana to create the
kind of resonance that allows the assimilation to occur.
Sadhana is like preparing the field but really it is all
grace. And to get grace you have to be in relationship to
grace. You don’t have to be in its physical presence
necessarily, although there are benefits to that. You can
get it anywhere as long as you hook into it. But the guru is
the hook, the source of it. A lot of people say, “Well, why
can’t I go directly to God?” We can’t go directly to God
because the human vehicle, which is the guru, is basically
about al we can take. Now there are examples such as
Anandamayi Ma and Ramana Maharshi who ostensibly didn’t have
a human guru. But neither of them are alive to talk about
that, and I think that they could be cornered into
acknowledging the need for a human medium through which one
hooks into grace.

 

WIE: When I hear people talk in terms of devotion or
grace it makes me wonder what role understanding plays.

 

LL: Devotion doesn’t necessarily have to show up in the
form of bhakti [the yoga of devotion] alone.
Devotion can show up in the form of jnana yoga [the yoga
of wisdom]. So grace itself is not this kind of
romantic, soft, fuzzy thing. One could say that
Nisar-gadatta Maharaj, for instance, was a transmitter of
grace and he was hardly devotional. He wouldn’t stand for
any devotion around him. So one shouldn’t exclusively
identify this idea of grace with the bhakti traditions
because grace is available in many, many different
traditions.

Even in any bhakti school, if it’s a real bhakti school
and not just some sentimental approach, love is a fire. Love
is a burning, raging conflagration. It’s not this weepy-eyed
thing, where everybody walks around saying, “Oh my guru is
so gentle and I love my guru so much.” If you call up a
school and the person on the phone is talking like that you
have to question it.

 

WIE: What is it then that makes it not just a sentimental
feeling but actually something that is fiery?

 

LL: It’s absolutely transformational. A metaphor might be
a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The alteration of
structure is so great and so profound that it can’t take
place without crisis. Often one element of the crisis will
be what we call this tremendous fire, this heat, or
tapas.

 

WIE: What is the nature of this tapas or crisis?

 

LL: Some of it is the standard confrontation with ego’s
autonomous identification with illusion as if that were
reality, and having to dismantle that dictatorship. And the
first thing that’s required in any kind of healing is you
have to first acknowledge that there’s sickness. So the
first order of business is getting some recognition of the
illness of identification with the body as total reality.
That involves an honest recognition and ownership of the
neurotic aspects of behavior that ego has assumed as
necessary protection for itself. That can be shame, pride,
all forms of narcissism and greed and so on. We’ve lived 20,
30, 40, 50 years, and to admit that in all of that time
everything that we’ve done has been informed by self-
centeredness, egoism and narcissism requires tremendous,
tremendous discipline, attention and a lot of just basic
hard work.

Theoretically we could come into this fire and see that
we’ve been selfish and that could be revelatory. We could
just go, “Oh wow, I don’t want to live like that anymore,”
and go on from there. But realistically most people aren’t
willing to do that. The bottom line is, it’s a matter of a
kind of core willingness to give up fifty years of whatever
we think we’ve accumulated. It’s like taking this immense
bank account and just giving it up. It’s as if you were a
Jew in Germany or in Russia at certain times in history and
you had a vault full of gold, and you had a chance to hop on
a boat with nothing but the shirt on your back and get out.
What would you choose, life or your gold? Most people chose
the gold and died for it under horrific circumstances. It’s
the same analogy. Someone could come to this work and get
the fact of the illusion and then choose life, but most of
us want to take the gold along with us. Really the gold is
shit but it’s just that it’s familiar and i s served us
well.

 

WIE: What is it that gets a person to the point where
they’re willing to choose life, even though it means giving
up everything that they’ve had and that they’ve known and
that they’ve done?

 

LL: Personally I think it’s love. And whether that shows
up in a tradition of bhakti or in a tradition of jnana, love
is not some kind of weepy, sentimental, misty-eyed sighing
kind of thing. Love is the life-essence of creation. I think
if one wants that badly enough or is committed to serving
that deeply enough, at some point you’re willing to go on
past your own assumed, illusory handicaps.

 

WIE: I’ve heard you refer to yourself as a crazy wisdom
teacher, a divine jester and a fool for God.

 

LL: I like to think of myself as a subtle crazy wisdom
teacher.

 

WIE: What do you mean by that?

 

LL: I call myself a subtle crazy wisdom teacher because
generally speaking my manifestations are extremely
conservative. Some of my students say, “Oh but your energy
is so revolutionary.” That’s well and good but in the early
days of the school I would do a lot more things with
students, like we’d go dancing or I’d do strange things. In
the last ten years I’m just comfortable living on the ashram
and having the same daily schedule and eating my salad. To
all external purposes a crazy wisdom teacher is someone who
acts in a crazy way to provoke or to shock students into a
kind of shift of context. I do that so rarely anymore that I
think it’s very nice of my students to continue to refer to
me as a crazy wisdom teacher. In effect that’s what I am,
but personally I think the subtleties of that are so obscure
that I’m always surprised when someone sees them.

 

WIE: What is crazy wisdom?

 

LL: One of the primary aspects of crazy wisdom is that
crazy wisdom teachers are willing to use any behavior no
matter how shocking or irreverent or disturbing, if that
behavior, and only if that behavior, has a very high
likelihood of provoking a shift in the student, a deepening
in the student. Of course in this day and age, because of
the communication industry, we hear about every idiot
throughout the world whose ego takes on a crazy wisdom
function and then goes about using shock techniques whenever
they feel like it, with complete disregard for the timing of
the matter. Everything is timing. Gurdjieff was a master of
timing. He didn’t just produce shock like a research
scientist to see what would happen. He only produced shock
when the likelihood of it being effective, in terms of
deepening a student’s relationship to the divine, was high.
It didn’t always work because it is only a likelihood, but
still he wasn’t random about it. And the teachers who I call
charlatans today are teachers who are completely
irresponsible in their use of power and crazy manifestation.
I would consider a crazy wisdom teacher someone who might
use anything, but is never arbitrary or never follows their
own personal motives. They only use dramatic and shocking
manifestations under specific circumstances at exactly the
right time. Like faceting a diamond, if you don’t understand
the structure of the stone and you just take a chisel and
hit it, what you get is diamond dust. You’ve got to know
exactly the structure of the diamond because you’ve got to
tap it along a particular fracture point. If you tap in the
middle of two fracture points then you just smash the stone
instead of getting a perfectly faceted jewel. Human beings
are the same way. They’ve got what we could call revelation
lines, so to speak, or enlightenment lines. A crazy wisdom
teacher is a master at faceting. A charlatan is someone who
just takes the hammer and chisel and whales away and hopes
that there are some beneficial results—or maybe doesn’t
even care, just loves the euphoria of the exercise of power
and people groveling at his or her feet.

 

WIE: The way you’re describing crazy wisdom it sounds
like it’s a very precise science.

 

LL: The thing is, though, the scientist is completely
spontaneous and instinctual. It’s not a science of mind.
It’s a science of function.

 

WIE: I think a popular notion of crazy wisdom is that
ultimately reality doesn’t make sense, therefore one acts in
ways that demonstrate that to kind of blow the conceptual
mind.

 

LL: That’s one of the revelations that can deepen a
student’s relationship to the divine. So one might do
something under a specific circumstance to produce the
revelation that reality is nonlinear. But ordinarily one
wouldn’t function like that all the time just to prove that
point. One would do that only when the student was just on
the edge of the real possibility of getting that point,
beyond just knowing the party line. Another important
consideration is that the kind of behavior that would
demonstrate the absurdity of linearity would not tend to be
violent behavior or the kind of behavior that would
psychologically scar someone.

 

WIE: Many of the crazy wisdom teachers that you hear
about wouldn’t necessarily draw any lines like that. I know
that you have been known to be outrageous, provocative and
unpredictable at times, so that in a sense puts you in the
crazy wisdom camp. Yet I also know that among your students
you have particular protocols or norms that are required.
For ex- ample, people generally have to be either celibate
or monogamous. You don’t allow promiscuity.

 

LL: I wouldn’t say we don’t allow promiscuity, we don’t
recommend it. So if someone is promiscuous that doesn’t
necessarily mean that they’re no longer a student or they
get kicked out of the school. There’s very little
promiscuity in the school because I’m so Victorian in my
attitudes. But the rules are not the kind that exclude
people who bend them.

 

WIE: Similarly, I think you recommend that people don’t
use alcohol, at least at the ashram.

 

LL: Or cigarettes or caffeine. Talk about no fun. No sex,
no alcohol, no caffeine, no tobacco, no drugs. That’s why
we’re such heavy movie-goers.

 

WIE: But when you think about people like Trungpa
Rinpoche or Osho it’s a very different kind of scene. So it
seems that to put yourself in the crazy wisdom camp, so to
speak, isn’t completely appropriate. You seem different than
most of the people who would be identified with that.

 

LL: That’s part of my crazy wisdom style. It’s a funny
thing because I hold Trungpa in absolutely the highest,
highest, highest regard. To me Trungpa can do no wrong even
though he did some pretty heavy shit. There are other
teachers who do far less than Trungpa that I wouldn’t even
consider to be teachers of any stature whatsoever, that I
think are completely deluded and that I would call
charlatans. So who I respect and who I don’t is purely an
instinctual thing. It doesn’t rest on linearity because you
can look at certain teachers who should be considered crazy
wisdom teachers because of their behavior and I think
they’re just crazy, period, and not teachers at all. And yet
Trungpa, whose behavior was really pretty much as wild as it
gets, I hold in absolutely the highest regard.

 

WIE: There’s no question, at least in many people’s
minds, that Trungpa had a great deal of realization. He had
a tremendous effect on many people and the kind of crazy
wisdom that is as precise as a diamond cutter is, of course,
what his students would claim for him. Yet the results of
some of his behavior, it seems, haven’t been so great. Look
at the scandal involving AIDS and sex that occurred around
his successor, Osel Tendzin. And Osel Tendzin and other
students became alcoholic, for example. I think that one
thing that happens is that students often tend to imitate
their teacher and take on in many ways, perhaps
unconsciously, the behaviors and attitudes of their guru.
So, when you have someone like Trungpa carrying on the way
he did, I think it was almost predictable that some of his
students would do similar things.

 

LL: Well, that’s a danger, and there’s no way around
that, I think. A really good teacher will work towards
discouraging that in students, but there’s no way around it.
Students are going to copy the teacher and in some cases,
they’ll bring integrity to it, and in most cases they won’t.
So what you see are the most cases in which there’s no
integrity brought to it. The fact that students copy the
teacher and the teacher can’t stop it is not necessarily a
mark against the teacher, the way I view it. Every new
student coming into my school is supposed to really get sat
down and get a lecture, “Do as I say, not as I do.” So, I
highly discourage students from copying my behavior.

 

WIE: Don’t you hold yourself to the kinds of standards
that you would like to see your students live by?

 

LL: Absolutely not.

 

WIE: Why is that?

 

LL: I don’t know. I’m free. That was a joke! I could give
you a good justification for it but it might not be exactly
the reason. The way I teach is instinctually designed to
optimize the possibility of my student’s duplicating my
state of consciousness, and behavior has nothing to do with
it. So I highly discourage students from mimicking my
behavior. Some do to varying degrees anyway. The function of
the teacher is designed to optimize the duplication of the
state of consciousness of the teacher, not necessarily to
produce a carbon copy of the teacher.

 

WIE: But it would seem that behavior would be relevant to
showing the condition you described earlier as your
spontaneous slavery to the will of God. And that’s the kind
of behavior that you’d want to see in your students.

 

LL: Well, no, because my function is different from my
students’ function. My function is to bring my students into
alignment with the will of God. What their function is after
that is up to the will of God. It has nothing to do with me
or them. I’m not training teachers. If any one or more of my
students woke up, they might become teachers, but they also
might not. That’s up to the will of God. It has nothing to
do with my wish or their wish. I don’t think that everybody
who wakes up teaches.

 

WIE: Even so, it seems like there must be some core, as
indefinable or subject to many different manifestations as
that may be, of how awakening functions in the world.

 

LL: I have integrity in my work. And so, regardless of
the manifestations of my activity, if people can see that I
have integrity in my work, that’s something that they can
learn. That is a model for people. So there are, I suppose
one could say, subtle aspects or internal aspects of my work
that do act as a modeling mechanism, but not my activity.
The integrity of my commitment to my work, the integrity of
my commitment to my teacher, those kinds of
things—yes.

 

WIE: You identify yourself as a Western Baul. Could you
say something about the Indian Baul tradition and what your
connection to it is?

 

LL: Well, essentially my connection to it is realizing
after the fact that the spontaneous sadhana that has been
generated in my school is identical to Baul sadhana. I had
never heard of the Bauls until after my teaching work began.
One of my quirks is that I enjoy studying and reading. In
the process of my own consumption of spiritual literature, I
came across some literature on the Bauls and I started
saying, “This is exactly what we’re doing and it’s a
500-year-old tradition!”

One of the primary aspects of Baul tradition is that
communication of the teaching is optimally effective when
it’s experiential. The Bauls are known as itinerant
musicians. They encode the esoteric teachings of
transformation, including the teachings of their yoga, into
song and choreographed dance and music. Their lyrics are
cryptic representations of the teaching itself. People
listen to the music and watch the dance and get into a very
receptive state where the teaching is kind of organically
communicated.

 

WIE: One of the major things you do is lead a rock ‘n
roll band. As far as I know, you’re the only spiritual
teacher who is doing that.

 

LL: I hope so. I wouldn’t want it to become common.

 

WIE: Do you see your rock band, Liars, Gods and Beggars,
as a way to communicate your teachings?

 

LL: I think that Liars, Gods and Beggars has the
potential to communicate some essence of the teaching, even
if subtly, on a very large scale. I would never presume to
think that the real work and yoga of the teaching could
possibly be communicated on a large scale under any
circumstances. But I see Liars, Gods and Beggars as kind of
a subtle spiritual virus that can touch a vast environment.
I see its real effects as being over lifetimes. You know, if
Liars, Gods and Beggars actually got popular, every
journalist would ferret out the spiritual thing, and I think
that a lot of people listening to the music would presume
they were doing some sort of Baul sadhana. But that would be
ridiculous because vast quantities of people just aren’t
drawn to the kind of practice that produces the effects
designed by this kind of work.

 

WIE: What do you think is generally happening in the
spiritual scene today?

 

LL: Well, I think there’s a false premise in many
people’s minds, which is that as we approach the millennium
and the satya-yuga, the age of truth and light and goodness
and beauty, that more and more people are going to enter
into serious spiritual practice. And I don’t think that’s
so. I think there are no more serious practitioners now than
there ever were. Maybe number-wise, because of the
population, but not percentage-wise. It feels like the
spiritual scene is in another great expansion, like in the
sixties. We had a couple of decades where it went out of
fashion and even now gurus are very out of fashion. But
there are all these movie stars who are Buddhists, and
movies that have ostensibly spiritual ideas in them are
becoming very commonplace. Ten years ago, every movie had
Hare Krishnas and it was almost like the joke of the movie.
Now there are actually big name, major studio movies in
which people are seriously discussing and mentioning the
name of a ibetan lama. There’s a tremendous resurrection of
spiritual interest but I think that that has to do with
people’s fear of death. I don’t think that most of the
people flocking to the Dalai Lama and wonderful people like
that are ever going to become serious practitioners. I think
it’s just a kind of fear of the apocalypse or something.

 

WIE: What is it that makes someone a really serious
practitioner?

 

LL: Being willing to sacrifice anything and everything
that is required for the realization of the divine.

 

WIE: You’ve been teaching now for about twenty years. Has
your teaching changed since the early days?

 

LL: Well, I think my style has changed dramatically, but
the essence, the shift of context was the recognition of
reality, and that can never change. Reality doesn’t change.
It is what it is. Although the forms of reality may change,
the essence of reality can never change. In the beginning, I
was sort of mimicking Da Free John. I was criticizing every
other teacher, like I was the only teacher on the face of
the planet who was real. That’s such a ridiculous posture.
As time has gone on, I’ve become much more willing to just
relax and acknowledge other people’s strengths. I still have
a bottom line because I think there are a lot of false
teachers out there who I’m more than willing to criticize,
but at the same time I think my style has become much more
grounded and less cosmic, more here and now. But the essence
of the communication can’t change. It can never be any
different.

 

WIE: After twenty years of teaching, are you happy with
the results?

 

LL: I’m relatively happy with the results, but I can’t be
entirely happy with the results because the results are
relative. So, I suppose what would make me really
objectively happy is if my function were duplicated in one
or more students. So far, that hasn’t happened. I’ve had
students who have even spent months in awakened states at
one time, but somehow have taken on qualities that are not
yet completely 100 percent finished. I’m happy with the
results in terms of a comparison with any other community,
and in terms of the embodiment of the teaching in my
students and their ability to transmit it, but it’s a
relative happiness. There is so much work to be done. And
you know, even if an individual student’s work is complete,
then there’s always more people needing what this is. So I
think that happiness or satisfaction is not an issue. I’m as
busy as I can be, there’s no lack of work. That’s all that
is necessary, really.

 

WIE: What do you see as the ultimate achievement that
you’d like to see in this community?

 

LL: I’d like to see everybody in a happy working
relationship. You know, loving one another, completely free
of violence and competitiveness. That would be enough.

 

WIE: Sounds great.

 

LL: Yeah, it does sound great. Or not in relationship,
but by choice. So in a relationship by choice or not in a
relationship by choice, but living a life that is com-
pletely nurturing and free of violence and manipulation.

One of the primary things that has changed in twenty
years is the way I use language. In the beginning,
everything was “wake up, wake up, wake up!” And now, it’s
like the gracefulness required to wake up is such that it’s
almost like that happens in the process of our lives
together. We don’t need to focus on that except as a kind of
obvious reason to be together. We wouldn’t be together if
that weren’t the reason for being together, so we don’t have
to dwell on it. What we dwell on is being kind to one
another in general and developing intimacy that’s free of
promiscuity and flirtation and gaminess and so on. That’s
plenty.

 

 

What Is Enlightenment? homepage

© Moksha Foundation 1995

 

NOTE: Two individuals that may be of some interest to
readers are Ann Faraday and Metta Zetty, because both, like
Lozowick, were “transformed by an experience that occurred
after waking up one morning from a night’s sleep,” that is
to say, Awakened to the Absolute as experienced by the
ancient masters.

 

 

Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not
different from the Zen master’s. Where

we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of
conceptual overlay onto that experience

and then make an emotional investment in that overlay,
taking it to be “real” in and of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM

 

 

 

SEE ALSO

 

THE AWAKENING EXPERIENCE IN THE MODERN ERA

 

THE DANGERS OF PSEUDO ADVAITA

 

 

THE ALCHEMY OF TRANSFORMATION is concise, straightforward
overview of the principles of traditional spiritual
practice. Subjects include: the role of a teacher, the
optimum disposition of a student, the function of community
in “self”- liberation and many other topics of use to
seekers and serious students alike.

 

 

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