On Wednesday, November 17, we received the sad news that Lee Lozowick, an American guru who began teaching in 1975, had passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. “Mr. Lee,” as his students called him, was featured in one of the early issues of EnlightenNext magazine and taught side by side with EnlightenNext founder Andrew Cohen several times in the 1990s. I first discovered his work about a decade ago, when a friend recommended to me his 1978 book, In the Fire — a powerful look at enlightenment, ego transcendence, and the teacher-student relationship. In the provocative and bold style that characterized much of his early work, Mr. Lee begins the book with the declaration that “Society is not prepared for the advent of one such as I.” Later he writes:
The guru cuts a strange figure in the eyes of society. Indeed, the functional condition of the Divine contradicts all conventional standards. The cherished notions of the world are pointed out as delusions by the guru, and the movement towards union is declared invalid. The truth of existence is so potently simple that once you understand it, it seems totally unreasonable not to expect everyone to acknowledge your obvious grasp of the Divine process that is life. What does happen when you express this simple clarity? Not only are you not lauded, you are ostracized, vilified and attacked. The world does not take very kindly to the guru, because the awakened one is a living challenge to convention itself. The only challenge.
Although he resonated deeply with the Vedantic traditions of India, devoting himself (after his awakening) to Yogi Ramsuratkumar and considering himself and his students to be Western iterations of the wandering Baul minstrels of Bengal, Mr. Lee was a decidedly all-American mystic. He carved a unique and unconventional path through the postmodern spiritual landscape, mocking sacred cows with his “crazy wisdom” approach, fronting a series of blues-rock bands, and adopting the role of a spiritual guru in a culture that “does not take very kindly,” as he said, to anyone assuming such a stance.
Over the past few days, some of his students and former students have commented on his passing. One writes:
After I finished sitting and started into my morning doings, the phone rang, I picked up and a sangha mate told me the news that our Guru, Lee Lozowick, had left his body at 5 am that morning, right when I had been sitting in meditation. Lee had a big smile on his face as he left his body.
Mister Lee — a blasting BLAZE of Blessing Force, of fierceness and love. Outrageous.
As a tribute to Mr. Lee, I’ve compiled some of our own published pieces about him and his teaching work below. One is a feature article from our eighth issue, and the other is a video of him in dialogue with Andrew Cohen. I’m also posting a previously unreleased audio interview conducted by EnlightenNext Executive Editor Carter Phipps in Spring 2005…
Enlightenment’s Divine Jester: Mr. Lee Lozowick
Rock ‘n’ Roll, Crazy Wisdom, and Slavery to the Divine
Interview by Hal Blacker
EnlightenNext Issue 8, Summer 1995
(reprinted in Issue 20, Fall/Winter 2001)
Art, Consciousness, and Creativity
An Interview with Lee Lozowick
by Carter Phipps (March 27, 2005)
The Predicament of the Postmodern Guru
Andrew Cohen and Lee Lozowick
(I apologize for the “animation” effect on the video. It was made in a pre-YouTube era…)