Non-Linear Teaching (2001-2010)
Lee Lozowick established an ashram in southern India, close to the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram, around the year 2000 at the Indian Master’s request. It began to serve as a place for practitioners from the community and for other visitors to stay and practice in India and to visit the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram. The stream of praise that Lee wrote to his Master seemed to flow endlessly, and second and third volumes of poetry were published. The trust and alignment that Lee had with his Master as the spiritual Reality beyond personality seems to be key in the transformative process that is communicated in the Western Baul tradition.
During the 2000s, scandals broke out in one spiritual community after another. Sometimes students from other groups visited Lee, who offered help to anyone who came to see him. Lee made connections with teachers from many traditions throughout the years of his teaching work and maintained relationships with those who had reliable integrity. His teaching thus involved interactions with other schools so that there was reciprocity with other systems that was useful for his students and other teacher’s students.
About the time of Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s mahasamadhi in 2001, Lee became less interested in linear communication of the teaching. Though much of his work with students had always occurred through lessons made in subtle ways, with students brought into close contact with what was going on for them through the Influence of the Master in everyday life, there had been an emphasis on his direct, verbal teaching. This began to change with Lee’s focus on teaching through sacred art and the archetypal qualities of sacred artifacts that could be accessed, and in contact with people in less formal teaching circumstances. He gathered with small groups of students at dinner parties at which he was less inclined to answer the psychological or dharma questions that he was constantly being asked. Students surrounded themselves with art and the empowered artifacts from Lee’s Sacred Bazaar, which could wordlessly, organically, and non-conceptually communicate the teaching. Lee considered the Sacred Bazaar a parting gift from his Master and noted that the change in the form of the Work was an evolution and maturation through which the teaching could be communicated and understood in a more subtle way.
Lee had written spontaneous essays in a journal that was published in 1990, but he focused on continuing this process in the 2000s. In all, nine journals of Lee’s unedited writing, complete with misspellings and extended run-on sentences that directly communicate the mind, heart, and mood of the spiritual Master were printed. Commenting upon these writings, Lee remarked that everything prior to these books had been “about the teaching” but that the journals “are the teaching.” Band tours continued in Europe and a trip to play Western Baul music with Eastern Bauls in India took place in Kolkata in 2009.
Lee’s physical health deteriorated in the last few years of his life, but his approach to death was a teaching in itself. He was sometimes fierce in his teaching communications, displaying a sense of urgency about what was needed for students to continue and stand in their work once he had died. He wrote potent essays that were read aloud when it became difficult for him to speak, which are included in the book Words of Fire and Faith. At one point, Lee made the comment that “I say this for my students—that my ultimate act of utility will be my death,” perhaps a reference to the greater responsibility that students would need to assume for the Work without his physical presence.
Lee left no single lineage holder, but his Influence is alive through the community of students he worked with individually and collectively and through the spaces and artifacts which carry his and the lineage’s Blessing Power. He authorized two of his students to teach: Purna Steinitz at Trimurti Ashram in Montana and Lalitha at Kripa Mandir Ashram in British Columbia, Canada. Western Baul practice continues at Triveni Ashram in Arizona, La Ferme de Jutreau Ashram in France, and Triveni II Ashram in India.
Some fragments of verbal and written teaching that Lee gave from 2001-2010 follow, with his comments in quotes mostly taken from Tawagoto, a publication of the spiritual community.
Lee spoke about the need for The Work to continue given that it is the only opportunity for real transformation from self-reference to God-reference. “You and I, all of us, will pass away, perhaps to be sentimentally enshrined by some few of our loved ones... And what will remain? The Work, the Path, the Teaching—Legacy, if we have been so fortunate to have left something Real, something authentic, something of Objective value and, perhaps more importantly, utility. …Everything in this world will pass, even our minds, but the teaching, which is more valuable than anything else, should never be allowed to pass.”
Once discovered, Lee’s passion for what he called the Sacred Bazaar, through which he made available empowered artifacts, continued unabated up to his death. Western Baul practice is to relate to the sanctity of the art and allow it to feed the sacred in ourselves. “The objects displayed [from the Sacred Bazaar] will, sometimes very dramatically and at other times subtly but always effectively, turn any space into a sacred chamber, a refuge, a Sanctuary. Yes, they are rare and beautiful, but their real value is in the extraordinary Blessing Force that they convey…”
About the usefulness of sacred art in one’s practice, Lee said: “…In a sense, it forces us to dig for the answers to our questions and our dilemmas… So we are essentially being forced to look somewhere else for the answer besides the place that our minds have trained us to look. Of course, our minds are very astute in training us to look there, because we’ll never get the answer there—through the process of linear question-and-answer dialogue.” “…The object of the Sacred Bazaar is to get priceless objects of prayer into the hands of those who can use them.”
The Influence of a real Guru has never been limited to his or her body. In spiritual cultures, there is the recognition that a Master’s Influence is alive and available after his death. One can receive the Master’s Influence through the artifacts that he left behind, including the community that he worked with, and spaces such as his samadhi site that are empowered as radiant sources of blessing. In 2005, Lee spoke about the way that Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s presence was still as powerful as it was during his lifetime. He paraphrased a saying that is posted at the Yogi Ramsuratkumar Ashram: “Any object associated with this beggar, like his fan or coconut bowl, essentially has full Blessing Power to convey this beggar’s blessing.”
We strengthen our practice and over time may find ourselves re-wired so that the habits of practice are what arise most naturally in response to people and situations in life. “My friends, it is all about the Teaching—not just learning it in our heads, which most of us do quite well, but embodying it so the practice is the first thing to arise inwardly and outwardly, in thought, feeling and action, in every moment, prior to the lightning-speed reaction of the psychological script.” People often tend to expect to see dramatic and instantaneous results, but the Great Process of Divine Evolution works according to its own timing. “The primary effect and result of practice is interior, subtle, and may not be apparent for ten, twenty, or thirty years.”
It is understood that everyone needs spiritual help, which comes in many ways and especially from the company of others doing the same work. Lee had a specific vision for what he called the Enlightened Community on the Western Baul path, in which the body of practitioners carries the transmission of the lineage rather than any one individual. “[H]ere’s a very obscure esoteric secret: the essential results of practice rarely, if ever, show up individually. They show up amongst groups; that’s why I work with groups of people. Meditating alone out in the jungle has very severe limitations, which is one of the reasons that sangha is such a major aspect of our work…”
The traditional Guru-disciple relationship, Guru yoga as a path (the way of realizing the unity of the individual and the universal through relationship with the Guru) is an ancient way, a method of spiritual transmission proven over the millennia. In one of Lee’s last journals, he writes about the most effective practice for anyone interested in real transcendence: “I am deeply (that hardly captures it, but you get the idea, I’m sure) devoted to my Guru, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, even though “Gurus” are really out of style, so passé, in “the scene” these days and it isn’t because I’m stubborn. Guru Yoga is simply and clearly, the absolutely most profitable practice possible. After all, are we willing to settle for “a tempest in a teapot” (lots of movement and phenomena within the dream—appearing as transformation but in actuality, nothing but shifting mirages) or are we interested in Objective Work, Real Transcendence relative to the whole complex (and complex it is) of illusions and confusions…?”
Books by Lee Lozowick, published by Hohm Press since 2000:
Gasping for Air in a Vacuum (second book of poems to Yogi Ramsuratkumar)
Intimate Secrets of a True Heart-Son (third and last book of poems to Yogi Ramsuratkumar)
Enlightened Duality (with M. Young)
Feast or Famine: Teachings on Mind and Emotions
Just This 365
Words of Fire and Faith