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Remembering Lee Lozowick

Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s “Bad Poet” - Remembering Lee Lozowick

November 18, 1943 – November 16, 2010

Mary Young


American Baul spiritual teacher Lee Lozowick was known by many as the heart-son of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the revered “Beggar King” of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, whose guru was Swami Papa Ramdas of Anandashram in Kerala. In an intimate guru-devotee relationship that spanned almost thirty-five years, Lee’s reliance upon the guru’s grace was a rare example among both Westerners and Easterners of our times.

Lee first entered into the stream of American spirituality in the early 1970s, when he became an avid student of spiritual traditions, in particular the Indian bhakti path. By 1975 he had been teaching a system of meditation and metaphysics—now called “the Silva Method”—to seekers at his center and bookstore in New Jersey for three years. During that time he engaged a powerful sadhana that lead to a turning point in July 1975: after a night of prayer and chanting the mantra Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram, he woke up the next morning in an awakened state in which the realization of nondual unity remained constant and abiding. He called this transformed state “Spiritual Slavery”—a condition of being surrendered to the Will of God.

Believing he had no guru, at the time Lee simply attributed his spiritual awakening to Grace. With the eruption of divine energies in Lee, his metaphysical students naturally began a devotional relationship with him. In the ensuing years Lee often said that he had “no choice” in taking on the guru role; it was an obligation given to him by God. Lee gave his first satsang in September 1975, and very soon thereafter the Hohm Community was born in its infancy stages.  And so, unbeknownst to Lee, in a miracle of great dimension, the subtle influence of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, a great saint hidden on the streets of a small south Indian village—who slept on the ground in front of the brass market or under the punnai tree by the bus station—had catalyzed a tectonic movement in consciousness halfway around the world in an unknown American man.

By the spring of 1976 Lee was feeling a magnetic pull to India. He said at the time that he wanted to go on pilgrimage to India strictly “as a devotee” to honor the teachings and great masters who had inspired him so greatly. Hilda Charlton, the revered spiritual mother of the East Coast at that time, had previously lived in India for almost two decades; she was a dear friend who advised Lee about where to go and which saints and yogis he should visit. It was Hilda who suggested that Lee should seek out a “hidden” saint who wore the rags of a beggar and lived on the streets in a small south Indian village: “The “Godchild of Tiruvannamalai,” Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

In mid-January 1977 Lee met Yogi Ramsuratkumar in a mandapam near the large Shiva temple in the village of Tiruvannamalai. In a turn of the miraculous, Lee had found his guru, although the far-reaching effects of the Divine Influence that flowed from Yogi Ramsuratkumar to Lee would not become fully apparent for a few more years. In January 1979 Lee made a second trip to India with the specific intention of spending time with the captivating, enigmatic beggar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. The natural affinity between them was charged with symbolic and mysterious interactions as well as shared laughter and enjoyment. Lee was profoundly inspired and deeply moved by Yogi Ramsuratkumar, and while staying at Ramanashram (the ashram of Ramana Maharshi) at Mt. Arunanchala Lee wrote his first poem to the beggar saint.

 The truth of his relationship with his master slowly became obvious as Lee returned to the States and began writing and sending poems to Yogi Ramsuratkumar. The poem and an essay on loving God, written at Mount Arunanchala in Tiruvannamalai in 1979, were published in Lee’s 1980 book, The Cheating Buddha, and dedicated to Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

Over the decades the deep spiritual bond between Lee Lozowick and Yogi Ramsuratkumar evolved into an affectionate, intimate, richly textured relationship of many subtle nuances. Lee visited his master in India every year until his death in early 2001, and as Lee began to teach actively in Europe—establishing an ashram in France in 1995 and speaking before thousands of audiences over the years—he became, in truth, “the Effulgent Flame of Yogi Ramsuratkumar in the West.” Lee credited everything that arose in the course of his life—including the event of his spiritual awakening in 1975 and his subsequent teaching and work with students—to the blessings and divine influence of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Lee’s main objective, as he often stated, was to be as “transparent as possible to my master, Yogi Ramsuratkumar,” and to serve his master’s work by bringing his blessings and spiritual influence to the Western world at large.

Lee’s teaching and spiritual practice is essentially as traditional as his call to radical transformation is innovative and often unconventional. Lee was foremost a true devotee to Yogi Ramsuratkumar; at the same time, he was a great yogi, a man of God, and a spiritual friend to many. He was also a marvelous storyteller and provocateur par excellence, a lover of sacred art in all forms, a poet, lyricist, and a rock & roll and blues singer. Most of all, Lee had a unique fluency with ancient teachings of the spiritual path—and of Hinduism and the iconoclastic Bauls of Bengal in particular—which he easily translated into terms that could be embraced by the Western perspective.

His marvelous sense of humor, love of beauty and dharma, expansive mind, unabashed theistic teachings, and insistence upon Grace as the ultimate gift combined to create transformational potentials in a seemingly limitless range of milieus. Lee had a natural gift for including all aspects of life in the spiritual path, bringing critical insight and practical, compassionate wisdom to bear on ordinary daily life: sexuality, relationships, marriage, conscious parenting, careers, money, friendship, food, music and all forms of art. Lee’s strong practical side continually grounded his teachings in a way that lifted those teachings above the impasse of the merely intellectual.

Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s vision for his son’s “mission,” as he called it, was universal and inclusive; he blessed all of Lee’s wide-ranging activities, travels, teaching, his poetry and music, as well as Lee’s innate kinship with the philosophy, practices, and sadhana of the Bauls of Bengal. Through his avid study of arcane texts, Lee had discovered the Bauls in the early 1980s, at a time when their music was being introduced in the West by Bob Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman. In the last two decades of his life, Lee was acknowledged as a Western Baul guru and khepa, or one who lives in a state of divine madness; his kinship with the Bauls was most apparent in the inner yogas that were revealed through his own sadhana (which he passed on to his own students), in his faith and reliance upon the guru-devotee relationship, and in his natural love for encoding the teaching in poetry, lyrics, and music.

During his decades of active teaching in Europe and establishing a second ashram in central France, Lee focused on the development of his rock and blues bands, who composed music for Lee’s original lyrics, creating a marvelous body of teachings-in-songs. Over time Lee and his students formed five different bands that performed, toured, and recorded Lee’s songs. Their music became a major dimension of Lee’s legacy to the world, in which he so seamlessly blended East and West.

In the midst of the constant wellspring of teaching activity that surrounded him and the many creative projects he engendered with his students, Lee himself was a steady beacon of simplicity and pure relationship—qualities that often manifested in his abiding friendships with teachers and practitioners of many other spiritual traditions and transformational paths. Foremost among these was his friendship with the renowned French filmmaker, spiritual teacher and revered elder, Arnaud Desjardins, with whom Lee actively collaborated for twenty years. Underlying all of his activity was Lee’s invitation to discover one’s innate relationship with God and reliance upon faith and the reality of Grace.

Lee Lozowick left his physical body on November 16, 2010. Working intensely for his last three years with a serious illness, he continued to travel and teach with his usual momentum and enthusiasm; at a time when most others would have retired to rest and lay their burdens down, Lee’s forged onward, demonstrating a rare commitment to spiritual transformation. The graceful ease and expansive bliss of his transition from this world into the next was marvelously demonstrated by nature’s fantastic display of countless rainbows that appeared over his Arizona ashram on the day his body was interred there. 

Lee bequeathed an immense living legacy, foremost his example as devotee of his master and a rich teaching spanning more than thirty-five years, as well as three thriving ashrams in Arizona, France, and India. He has over forty published books and thirty-five CDs of original music, including three volumes of devotional poetry to his master, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

Spiritual Slavery: The Years of Milk & Honey, 1975-1980, by M. Young: Through a flow of stories and teachings, this timely new biography focuses on the first five years of Lee Lozowick’s teaching work, 1975-1980, and marks the inception of a literary work of several volumes. In these pages the reader is introduced to Lee, his teaching and the evolution of his teaching work, as well as detailed accounts of his first two crucial meetings with Yogi Ramsuratkumar in early 1977 and 1979.  An inspiring account of timeless teachings and the universal potential for the awakening of the human spirit, this book is for everyone who aspires to direct knowledge of self and the Supreme Reality.

For more information go to www.hohmpress.com or contact Dasya at hppublisher@cableone.net


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