The guru principle moves and moves not.
It is far as well as near.
It is inside everything as well as outside everything. V62. Guru Gita
I spent much of the first half of my life, much blood and treasure seeking those who embodied the highest possibility of being human, looking into the hidden corners of the world’s great wisdom traditions. These jewels of humanity do exist, even in these dark ages. They are not easy to find, in fact it is said a labyrinth exists to deter casual seekers. What is surprising is that these authentic ones, are often hidden in plain sight. And this journey into the heart of all things through a relationship with a Teacher is ultimately about the deepest mysteries of being human. These revelatory mysteries continue to open before my path around relationship, embodiment and integration as a human.
In the end it was a chain smoking Indian beggar dressed in rags with a green turban that finally stole my heart. And his renegade spiritual son, a fierce mystic from New Jersey who fronted a blues band, wrote prolific poetry and led a community of artists, mystics, musicians and misfits in the high mountain desert of Arizona; the Western Baul tradition. An authentic devotional tradition that synthetised Vaishnavism, Tantric Vajrayana, and elements of the Fourth Way into an integrated and embodied form of spirituality that was profoundly grounded in the world. Somehow in spite of myself I had found my way home.
For this toasted pilgrim, the journey of arriving into the world of the guru was non- linear, steeped in slow time and soaked in the world of Divine feminine. I was quietly ushered into the labyrinth that precedes encountering an authentic master through dream and prayer, silence and landscape, through fire and storm, through breakdown and surrender. The ways of the old world. Initially through the reciprocity of old school letter writing, my relationship with Lee Lozowick was slowly cultivated, word by word, sentence by sentence. Over time and over a vast ocean, we wrote to each other before I had the chance to meet him. There was nothing casual about writing these letters for me. This intimate chamber became an expression of my deepest devotion for the Divine as I approached the school and the possibility of becoming a student, to learn of the Way into the heart of all things.
Through these letters I swooned like a lover, I ranted and cried, I wrote of my life and failings, of the light falling upon the mountains, and my adolescent attempts at spiritual practice. Over four years I sent a monthly letter to him. Lee replies upon funky postcards and scraps of paper were like messages from beyond, from the other world of Light and presence that I longed for, and yet so filled with compassion and love. It felt that through these letters I received his grace. In the children’s book The Little Prince, Antoine de saint Exupery writes, “It is only with the heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” These letters catalysed an opening towards deepening the presence of the sacred in my life. And after all , it is in these small details of a life that the sacred expresses its influence. Lee had said that “if it isn’t written, it hasn’t happened.” By this he meant that in writing we can offer and digest our lives as food for the Work of Divine influence in the world.
If you are sincere and dedicate yourself to practice the Divine will respond. It is a universal law. Though with this surrender I learnt there is a cost. Only deepening mystery, groundlessness and unknowing, yet exponential beauty and heartbreak. A surrender of the many illusions and delusions of myself. Stumbling upon and meeting Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the hidden saint and great universal master from Tiruvannamalie in South India, and later in the desert of Arizona, Lee Lozowick, his devotee and a man of heart, deep wisdom and even deeper silence. While culturally an American, I came to know Lee as a great devotee and silent mystic , who presented to the world Baul teachings encoded through blues, through song, theatre, writing and sacred art. His unique style reminds me of Robert Svoboda’s description of his guru, Vimalananda’s teacher, Guru Maharaj who lived in the early twentieth century.
“He is very strict, but he loves to play about in his own way. His play is of a different age. He believes in sacrifice, and he expects everyone else to also, so he will frequently cause trouble for someone in order to pull that person out of an entanglement. Of course he doesn’t actually cause the trouble. He just causes certain karmas to come out of a person’s causal body and be projected. Since he always causes the bad karmas to be projected, to purge the causal body of all its evil influences, this will always lead to misery. ... No one wants to accept responsibility. they want to enjoy all their good karmas and avoid the bad ones. Guru Maharaj is only here to make people remember God, not to make them rich or famous. I will give you a written guarantee, if you like, to the effect that after you meet Guru Maharaj everything will start going wrong in your life. That’s just the way he worked, the old crude way. But that’s the way he is.” Aghora. At the Left Hand of God 1986:144
And so despite my entanglement in my illusions of self and other, I wrote to him, and courageously approached the fire. And it is not possible to approach such a fire without getting burnt, that is, without paying a price, without transformation. These letters marked the trail of my journey towards and into the sanctuary of the Hohm community. I was attracted by the pristine beauty of the dharma of this tradition, of the devotion, its pure creativity, and the extraoridinary beauty and clarity of his students. So over four years right up to his death in November 2010 I sent a letter every month or so as an offering, dropping them reverently into the red letter boxes of Australia Post. My life was mundane, with a young child to care for, demanding fulltime employment that I was barely coping with, and the thousand things of a householder’s life to attend to. And a few surprises along the way too.
The letters reflected the journey from my home in the Blue Mountains of Australia into an extraordinary sacred culture I only dreamed could exist in the West. In this act of constellating and presenting my life in letters, the fault lines of my life began to crack and open, and I fell inevitably through these words into the heart of the beloved. So this is a love story above all else. A story of the longing for Love, for the blessings of devotion and connection to one who has drunk from the alchemised cup of Divine Grace. And this mysterious, wild and wonderful teacher who for want of a better word had realised the Divine, welcomed me into his world.
Lee’s life had become an offering of service and surrender. This was no ordinary man, his teacher one of the great saints of modern India, and this hidden school of tantrikas, these passionate lovers of God, no ordinary community.
On this Guru Purnima, where we honour our teachers, the Full Moon falls in the sideral constellation of Capricorn, an earth sign grounding the energy of the Vedic star Uttara Asadha, shining brightly, bringing victory and invincibility. The symbol of an elephant’s tusk illicits Ganesh’ protection and blessings upon new endeavours and in our relationships to all our Teachers. Remembering and honouring our Gurus on this full moon night.
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Is the Great Work
Though every heart is first an
That slaves beneath the city of Light
This wondrous trade,
This magnificent throne your soul
Is destined for-
You should not have to think
Much about it,
Is it not clear
An apprentice needs a teacher
Has charmed the universe
To reveal the wonders inside his cup
Happiness is the great Work,
Though every heart must first become
Who really knows
The Great Work. ~. Hafiz