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
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 intentionreal 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
LL: Before I woke up, if indeed I woke upI 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 personallyI 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
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 happenthe first trip
to India, moving into a living situation with students, moving out
here, that kind of thingare 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 withto 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
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
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 is served us
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
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
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 example, 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
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
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
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
WIE: You identify yourself as a Western Baul. Could you say
something about the Indian Baul tradition and what your connection to
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
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
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
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 Tibetan 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
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
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,
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.