Deepening Practice (1986-2000)

Lee and Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Tiruvannamalai, India

On a trip to India in 1986, a few of Lee’s student contacted Eastern Bauls in Bengal whose practice included the expression of longing for God through song. The Eastern Bauls blended together diverse elements of a spiritual culture, incorporating aspects of Sahajiya (tantric) Buddhism and Vaishnava (devotional) Hinduism as well as Sufi mysticism. Coincidentally, about the time that a connection with the Eastern Bauls was made, Western Baul music set to Lee’s lyrics began to become a prominent feature in Lee’s teaching Work. After being invited to Germany shortly after returning from India, Lee began to travel to Europe. A European sangha began to form, and an ashram was established in France where students could live and practice. Over the course of the next three decades, band tours took place during the summers throughout Europe.

Prior to the 1986 trip to India that Lee made in that year with about twenty students, he had spoken minimally about his relationship with Yogi Ramsuratkumar. But upon returning to America, he directly announced for the first time to his students that the Indian Master was his teacher. Lee’s Western students were not aware that he had been regularly writing poems to Yogi Ramsuratkumar until the Beggar-Saint had a book called Poems of a Broken Heart published in India in 1993. These and all the poems that Lee had written to his Master that were retrievable were subsequently published in America in three volumes, which became another expression of teaching that could be useful for those who sought to immerse themselves in the spiritual process.

Beginning in 1996, Lee’s uniquely Western articulation of the traditional spiritual path was compiled into a collection of four Study Manuals. Besides his revelatory elucidation of practices that that could be useful to his students, there were also certain teaching statements that Lee coined which could be used as reminders for inner practice. These included Be What Nothing Can Take Root In and Draw No Conclusions Mind, which could relax the grip of the survival-oriented mind. Some of the Western Baul teachings that Lee gave from 1986 until 2000 follow, with quotes mostly taken from the Study Manuals.

The Body Knows refers to the inherent wisdom and resonance of the physical organism with the movement of the universe. To function from organic innocence is to live from the instinctual knowledge of the body, because the body is innately wise. “The Mystical, the truly Miraculous, is here, and absolutely nowhere else… The body is the Way, and not the ‘way out,’ but the Way directly to the Heart and Soul of God.” Transformation can only occur in the body. The Eastern Bauls have a similar emphasis on the body as a microcosm of the universe through which Divine presence can be accessed.

Paying Attention and Remembering is “the basic ground for other practices.” It is akin to the practice of self-observation in the Gurdjieff Work but from a Western Baul perspective. “The way Paying Attention begins is that we Pay Attention with the ego… [B]ecause it’s ego Paying Attention, we are going to be selective. We’re going to see some things very clearly and some things we are not going to see at all.” Paying Attention has the effect of naturally orienting us to the need of the present moment. Additionally, it is possible to “remember” regardless of what else is going on at the time. “Remembering God is just that!... The body may be hot, the emotions may be running rampant, and the mind may be clouded… yet, in the midst of all of that, Remember God. Intense states of rapture or revelation may randomly arise as you Remember God, but these states cannot and should not be equated with God.”

Men’s and women’s cultures and the consideration of essential masculinity and femininity are aspects of Western Baul training. On the one hand, effort and discipline are needed on the path. On the other hand, Lee stressed the importance of nurturing the essential feminine for women and men alike, and he never stopped making the point that we must become feminine in relationship to the Divine. “Plainly and simply, the process is feminine and the keys to the lock which imprisons Reality or Truth is in a feminine approach. We must get out of [the] confusion called the mind, or sleep, or unconsciousness, or illusion, or maya, with very gentle, humorous, patient, accepting relationship to it. We can and should practice vigorously but with bright and flexible rigorous vigor.” Building and maintaining love in a coupled relationship/marriage can create a matrix of spiritual work that is extremely useful on the path. For example, Bauls “look at their partners as the literal representatives of the Divine.”

The Western Baul tradition recognizes the need for the transformation of negative energies, which can be turned into fuel for inner work on the spiritual path. “We need all of the life-negative qualities that each of us has to some degree, and through working with them we transform them.” “If we are practicing, over time one thing becomes another in the transformation of negative energies.” Service to others is a key feature that is integrated into the Western Baul path. Service, of course, takes many forms and there is the recognition of a reciprocity in serving and being served. Lee very often leavened his teaching communications with humor. Without a ready sense of humor, we can fall prey to deadly seriousness over the challenges of sadhana. “Develop a raging sense of humor; laugh at yourself and everything else as well, but never from a position of bigotry or superiority…”

In our present age, called the “Kali Yuga” in Hinduism, it is said that the best form of practice is nama, the repetition of the Divine Name. That repetition can be in the form of chanting, “japa” (with prayer beads) or writing. The particular name of God or mantra varies according to spiritual tradition or lineage. “Speaking God’s Name is a matter of witnessing the Divine, of standing as a voice that proclaims the reality of God’s Presence, here and now.” Yogi Ramsuratkumar said his own name could be used as a name of God and that if anyone said the name—no matter who or where—he would be with them.

Lee referred to Assertion, Enquiry, and the Heart Breath as core practices in the Western Baul tradition. Although there are instructions to practice Assertion, it is actually a radical state of presence. The revelation that Lee had about Enquiry came in the form of a question that could be asked at any time: “Who am I kidding?” This question, he said, is perfectly suited to our modern world. “In every moment of consciousness we are kidding something… Whenever ego is dominant, it’s kidding reality…” “[T]he entry to the Heart Breath is the feeling…in bodhisattva terminology, ‘May I help be the source of the relief of suffering for all sentient creatures?’” The core practices are meant to be integrated into one’s life as one deepens in practice through relating to reality in everyday life. They are discussed in the Study Manuals.

The prime motivator of ego is survival, the fear of extinction or non-existence. But fear can be used to our advantage: “Cultivate the view that everything is in transit … If you really were afraid of death, this fear itself would be an extremely intense motivating factor.” Everything relative dies; yet relationship to a true Guru is accessible after his death. “The ultimate relationship that you have to Me is not temporal. It transcends the apparent illusions of both death and life. So that domain of relationship must become so substantial to you that you know that in dying, the only thing you will lose will be all the things you should be wanting to lose anyway, whether you live or die. There is nothing real that you will lose in dying.”

Does a tree decide
              to be struck by lightning?
Did Lee decide
              to have his heart broken by his Father?
Lee asked a tree which said:
              “Yogi Ramsuratkumar is to blame.
He is a dirty Sinner
              and a crazy Madman.
He is the lightning
              and he is the heart-breaker.”
Yes Father,
              Your son has discovered Your secret.
You are all,
              You are all.

Books by Lee Lozowick published from 1986-2000, available from Hohm Press:
The Alchemy of Transformation
The Alchemy of Love and Sex
Derisive Laughter from a Bad Poet
Conscious Parenting
Death of a Dishonest Man (first of three volumes of poetry written to Yogi Ramsuratkumar)

Lee Lozowick, La Bertais, France 1998