The Teaching: Basics (1975-1985)

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Lee Lozowick, New Jersey 1976

The American Master Lee Lozowick established the Western Baul tradition and planted the seeds for it to take root in the West. His teaching work unfolded in a lineage of Indian Realizers and his Master, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, referred to Lee as an Indian Saint. Any real Master embodies the teaching and is not just someone who understands and can speak about it. The teaching is his or her life and far more than verbal communication. The intention with which Lee continuously worked, and the way in which he spontaneously and synchronistically moved through the world, spoke volumes about a condition of bodily surrender and the realization of non-dualism that impacted those who entered into relationship with him.

Lee spoke about some of the most fundamental tenets of the traditional spiritual path and sadhana (spiritual work) from a Western perspective. One of those tenets is that survival is the prime motive underlying our egoic structure. It is the first imprint that every human being receives as a newborn baby. “Within minutes after birth, as soon as baby loses mommy, the first concept is impressed at a deeper level than any other concept will ever be impressed as long as the child lives: survival… When baby comes out of the womb… survival—Concept One—kicks in. Every other concept from that point on—friendship, sex, family, love, marriage, politics, religion—is laid on top of Concept One.”

At the root of the survival mechanism is the fear of extinction, of death of the assumed separate individual. This principle is implicit in the desire to “win” in life in order to substantiate oneself. Although ego’s primal motivation is to maintain its separate identity at all costs, there is also an innate attraction to the spiritual path. “When we connect with a living tradition or a living teacher, something within our being—call it raw instinct—responds and is drawn to it…” Spiritual work always involves a return to basics. “We must always bring the illusions that arise—the attempts of ego to convince us that in fact we are unique, separate individuals over and against other individuals—back to the non-dualistic perspective.”

At different times, Lee spoke about the spiritual process in theistic or non-theistic terms. He communicated that there is only God and that there is nothing to attain with his being. “Because we think we are separate from God, we are motivated to seek union. Yet there’s no such thing as union; we were never separate. There is a part of us that recognizes illusion even though we are living by it.”

Lee’s expression could be profound or humorous, sacred or irreverent, and seemed to depend on what was needed in the immediate circumstance. His articulation of the teaching was an outpouring of his own revelation; yet he incorporated a wide variety of traditional sources (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity, and the Gurdjieff Work) in communicating what spiritual work actually is and what is needed to practice it. The foundational practices that Lee recommended were known as the “life-level conditions” through which students could study themselves and develop more of a relationship with the undisciplined mind. Following the conditions—meditation, study, exercise, and diet—was left up to students themselves, but their commitment and daily practice had the possibility to bring the thinking, moving, and feeling centers (a Gurdjieffian term referring to parts of the being which have specific functions) into alignment with the teaching. The conditions became the basis upon which practice of the teaching could be engaged in everyday life.

Lee made the point that an inherent part of the spiritual process was the recognition of the search, the illusion that there is something to get that will ultimately satisfy the individual who assumes separation. “Once we get into spiritual life, we tend to transpose the mundane search onto the spiritual search… It is important to recognize that one’s approach to spiritual life is founded on the same dilemma that motivates the worldly search for attainment, survival, and fulfillment… No matter what specific you contemplate, you’ll find that when you get what you think is enough, it’s not enough… No specific will ever be enough; only moment to moment living in line with the Law [of Sacrifice] is enough. Spiritual life is fulfilling the Law of Sacrifice. You don’t fulfill the Law of Sacrifice in a cave in the Himalayas or by giving everything up. You fulfill the Law of Sacrifice by being available to who needs you…”

Group work is an irreplaceable element in Western Baul sadhana. The community or sangha offers an opportunity that’s not available elsewhere in society because of the movement of Divine Influence, the transformative power of alignment to the Will of God that is actively present due to having been embodied and transmitted by a spiritual Master. Therefore, Lee referred to his school as the Enlightened Community, founded on a higher principle than individual enlightenment. One’s relationship and access to Divine Influence has more to do with inner availability than physical proximity to the spiritual community, which “is an environment in which we can pursue what is Real instead of what is illusionary.”

In The Only Grace is Loving God, published in 1973, Lee refers to a specific condition of Loving God, beyond realization of union with God. “The ultimate possibility of any human being is to Love God. The destiny of any human being, even of the entire Race of men, should we continue to live that long, is to be Love, to be responsible for the fact and nature of our already true Enlightenment. As we mature as a race and culture, we move to the surrender to God’s Will, which is already the fact of our existence, taken out of a temporal, spatial framework… But Loving God is not our Destiny, it is our absolute possibility, which completely transcends the Law… Loving God obscures man’s destiny for a lifetime through the Rapture of the vision of the Beloved.”

Books by Lee Lozowick published from 1975-1985, available from Hohm Press:
Beyond Release
In the Fire
Laughter of the Stones
The Cheating Buddha
Acting God
The Yoga of Enlightenment/The Book of Unenlightenment
Zen Gamesmanship: The Art of Bridge
The Only Grace is Loving God
Living God Blues

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Lee Lozowick, India