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Have a Love Affair with Life

by Lee Lozowick

You've got to take life by the cojones and let it sweep you up in its extravagance. There's generally too much "me" -- too much ego -- trying to take life and chew it up. Relax and let life smother you. Life will consume you if you let it. You're the ring on the carousel and life is coming around to grab you. Don't shy away. When life comes around to grab you, throw yourself out there. Just the colors in a room and people's faces, which are all treasure houses of impressions, can elevate you to states of mystic clarity. Watch even the nastiest person carefully enough, once or twice a week, and you'll have to be moved to compassion and tenderness.

You cannot let life consume you by a muscular effort of will. I have a fair degree of experience and I can't do it by an effort of will. I'm used to falling into it by default. You know how it is in car accidents -- usually the people who are drunk don't get hurt because they are limp, mellow. The car goes over the cliff and they think, "Far out." They bounce when they hit because they're so relaxed. When you tense up that's when you break an arm or a leg. So cool out. Be gentle, easeful, melt into life. Let it wash over and through you like a sweet soft breeze.

Life is bigger than all the limitations we tend to put on it, and you need to be in an ongoing romance with life, otherwise it is easy to get buried by your own peculiar circumstances.

It's easy to become an automaton who gets up, works hard, even does spiritual practices, but all merely as a mechanical habit. You can easily get the idea that your spiritual work, or whatever you are doing, is all-important and that you must give your life to it, while at the same time you forget what "giving your life to it" actually means. Then you can become even more mechanical than you already are (if such a thing is conceivable), but in a different form.

The Work [used in many spiritual traditions to refer to the Work of God] wants your life -- but only when you are in a love affair with life itself, only when you are bright, strong, confident, capable, in short: ALIVE. The Work does not want some kind of dull, dispassionate, struggling, agonizing humanoid. To give your life to the Work is to give breath and activity to the Work everyday; to give passion to the Work everyday. You have to have a childlike, eternal beginner's mind [approaching each moment as new], a belief in miracles, like, "Any day anything can happen!"

To consider entering into an intimate relationship that could be for the rest of your life, and will most likely involve children (whether you want them or not), you've got to have this passionate kind of relationship to life. In a deep, and hopefully meaningful, commitment with another human being, when giving your lives to one another, you need to realize that life is bigger than your own intense little chamber. There will be times in which you are going to want to really tear into one another for some minor or even some imagined slight. There will be moments in which you think, "My God, I'm only forty. I've got another thirty years of this misery." You may think that it is absolutely impossible to make your relationship work. That's when you will most need to have this attitude of innocence -- the belief that anything can happen. You've got to remember what LIFE is and always will be, no matter what your personal circumstances.

You can always access the largeness, the unlimitlessness of life, no matter how hopeless things appear. You don't get that by romancing your partner. You get that if you have a love affair with life itself -- a passionate life. Then your relationships will be passionate and juicy too.

I recently listened to a radio interview with Henry Miller, one of my foremost heroes. He was eighty-five years old, with crippling arthritis, and he couldn't walk without a walker or even get out of bed without help. Still, the man's voice was just like his motto: "Always merry and bright." He said, "When you're my age you've got to consider sickness," and then he laughed. Practically every other sound out of his mouth was a laugh.

Now, here was Miller, unable to use the typewriter, barely able to see anymore (he was blind in one eye and half-blind in the other), so full of pain that he was up all night unable to sleep, yet still he was constantly full of passion, full of "spit and vinegar," as they say.

Miller said, "Americans don't like me, but the Europeans love me. I'm not popular in America." It's no wonder. Americans don't have any taste, one reason being that we let seeming problems dictate our moods and our opinions. We let circumstances define our relationships. If we don't get exactly what we want, when we want it, if we don't get exactly the food we want, if people aren't exactly the way we expect them to be, we get depressed or angry or abusive. You have to have a passionate fling with life to be bigger than such pettiness.

I've often discussed other alternatives, but it is entirely conceivable to me that we might only get one shot at life. So make it a wild, passionate fling! Make it real, total, rich, and full of possibility. Life should be a grand, majestic affair -- the good, the bad, and the indifferent. If one day is a misery, be miserable. If you're "in the pits" one day, don't take it out on everybody else. Feel it, taste it, exude it. Don't bitch at your friends. If life is lousy one day, it will be great another day. That's beginner's mind. Anything could happen tomorrow. If for twenty years that is your attitude, and if for twenty years nothing does happen tomorrow, it doesn't matter. That attitude is enough!

If you don't have a love affair with life everyday, if you don't expect a miracle everyday, you're always going to be looking for God exclusively in what appears good -- in the attractive, in the easeful, in the predictable. Most of you reading this are old enough and mature enough and have had enough experience to know that you should not expect appearances to convey everything. Appearances are totally subjective. Instead, you should look to the heart of things; feel through appearances to the Essence. Not only are you capable of that, you all do that naturally anyway. You just need to be aware that you do it, trust it, and make this awareness more real than the illusions of your trained beliefs and opinions. But you tend not to do that when the circumstances are making life look a little grey. "What's going to happen when the bill collectors start knocking on the door ...?"you ask. And on and on.

You'll always have passion if you have beginner's mind. If your passion starts to die, it won't be because of your spiritual work, your friends, your lover, or because of life's down times. Your passion will die because you have bought -- hook, line, and sinker -- an attitude that was sold to you by your parents, your school teachers, and this society. You've bought the attitude that you've got to look like that Playgirl man (if you're a man) or that Playboy woman (if you're a woman). You think you've got to be cool and cultured, that you've got to dress right and smell like the corporate world wants you to smell. If your passion dies it will be because you've bought that appearances are everything, including the appearance of your worldview, politics, opinions, and beliefs.

To ultimately "make it" in this Work of Awakening, of Transformation, you have to embrace the miraculous -- always. And that miracle is you being so much at peace with yourself that you can turn your energy towards welcoming and using the opportunities that are always falling into your lap. To embrace and devour these opportunities will make you free, happy, full of life, full of passion. Then your circumstances won't affect you so dramatically.

It is the nature of this Work that a revelation, a breakthrough, could happen at any time, and has many times! But, how easily we forget.


This article is excerpted from The Alchemy of Love and Sex, 1996, by Lee Lozowick. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hohm Press. http://www.hohmpress.com

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About the Author

Lee Lozowick is an American spiritual teacher who has taught thousands of people since 1975, both in the U.S. and Europe. He is also a poet, songwriter, and author of fifteen books of non-fiction, including: Conscious Parenting; The Alchemy of Transformation; and The Alchemy of Love and Sex. Many of his books have been translated. His poetry ranges from rock lyrics to bhakti (devotional) mysticism. Lee is based in northern Arizona and travels yearly to India, France and Germany, where he gives seminars on the subject of spiritual life.


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