Here with another run episode, this is Mrs. Elizabeth Lesser. She is the founder of the Omega Institute and author of her new book, “Marrow: A Love Story”. All I can say about this conversation is, “Wow!” It was like speaking to a long-lost old friend that I hadn’t seen or heard from in a long time. I admit the conversation flowed so seamlessly, and there’s vibes that Elizabeth you feel immediately. That hopefully translates in this recording. Please pick up a copy of her book, “Marrow: A Love Story”. It is truly a great read.
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But anyway, without much further ado, here is one of the best episode done hands down: Mrs. Elizabeth Lesser. Thank you guys so much for listening. The Human Experience is in session. My guest today is Mrs. Elizabeth Lesser. Elizabeth, welcome to HXP.
Thank you for having me.
Elizabeth, I admire your works so much starting from cofounding the Omega Institute in 1977. You have such a wide history. Can you kind of lay the foundation for anyone who may not know who you are?
What I started in my early 20s. A bunch of us were studying with a spiritual teacher in American history on everything politically and socially. I was raised in an intellectual family and didn’t know what it was to have a spiritual life and where it came from. I went to college and what I really wanted to do was just find a spiritual teacher. And when I eventually did, he was amazing man, like a Renaissance kind.
Western thinkers start school, holistic studies are a lot of what we were interested in. And French and American culture, things like as is Saturday much hearted American culture. Western culture on the one that was anti-myself and my ex-husband in charge. started school. I had no idea that Omega Institute there would turn into what it is today.30,000 people come every year for workshops and trainings, and workshops all over the world. Omega ensues so huge from my and delude to people trip abroad to from Ram Dass to Eckhart Tolle. There are so many visionaries that are kind of part of what you’re doing and just digging writing here.
Is there one specific thing that kind of defined you? Despite your hurdles with setting up this Institute? And the books you’ve written, you’re a best-selling author and 70. What would you say would be the defining moment of of that? And in the defining moment, like you mentioned, saying I woke up.
And when I was enlightened I will say this will experience me going on, so similar people will say those spiritual chairs scientists an artist industry. Jimmy and I were 21 years old and starting the coming of best-selling authors’ experiences. Dalai Lama and matter, were all the scene. Everyone struggles. Everyone gets confused. No one is nice and good all the time. That we’re going to put into practice in the Western. Now I’m trying to, and I decided be around people that are very similar. I’ve seen all and I see there is an inconsistency. In me is a great sense compassion toward myself for my imperfections. Between people I am after perfection. You are interested. I learned over my years. I think more and more authenticity. Seems to be the card the current kind of currency. I mean, without authenticity what do we really have? And trying to impress and what you impressed.
Still last week your life and yourself was with you’ve written “Marrow”. This new book, which actually details your help of your sister by donating marrow to her, and this affected you on both a spiritual level and up in a physical level.
My younger sister, from her family, for girl’s sister right next to me, very close range with sanity on gotten. Seven years previously, a virulent string of lymphoma and she’s gone into remission. For something you start anything. When cancer comes back it is your problem now. It’s very hard history to exist as bone marrow transplants and siblings are the best path for teaching match, so all siblings that statement. We were very surprised when it turned out that the person who tested perfect match was me. And I was surprised because my sister and I are very different kinds of people. We love each other, but we also have typical sibling history of being friends, being strangers, and training each other and loving each other, and all thing that siblings go through.
I was intrigued to read the research that, after my sister, if indeed she did survive chemotherapy treatment, in order to be prepared for the bone marrow transplant. She still would have a long recovery with lots of dangerous distinction would be, she would reject my bone marrow transplanting. And maybe my bone marrow are attacking, rejection you were sick. A lot of the literature thought is familiar, especially with sisters and siblings. Like we are wholly each other. We reject each other. And I thought we could do some kind of ritual or therapy or something, where we, with our childhood together, and visit how we reject each other. And like this Berkshire and walking to the field unconditional love, immediately to teach ourselves to do the same thing once they been transplanted. And the careful recommending this to my sister because she was like me, didn’t have the same interests and the same compulsion to go deep. All the time she inserted bemused that you are working box ,but she was very, very into this idea. And so we did, over the course many months, what we called our soul marrow transplant.
You tell us more about this soul marrow transplant and what was involved in this. That’s as you kind of opened up to each other.
So, I’ll just tell you what I mean by soul. It’s kind of a loaded word in Western terms. You know that the ancient Greeks believed that every human being came into life as a baby with something called a genius, which was like this in traveling spirit guide and almost got in touch with. And especially her parents in your school culture helped you, like, determine IS genius. She’s just how that person discovered who she is.
Let’s promote the indwelling genius you relate to the word so, like, we each would be the shining seed we are. And dammit! Parents try to help us and try to study and schools do, siblings do. The authentic leader who we are and down relate to each other. kind of surface to surface, so this our soul marrow transplant reflects my sister. And I didn’t get the help of the therapist. It was the week to show each other exactly who we were, amount included, how we heard each other and what we really have the drinking, why we did things that you know.
For example, there were quite a few years young adults, and my sister rejected me and because of her, when I never knew what it was that I never bothered to ask. Either you know the way. We just don’t tell the stories believe that another check them out. And as it turned out, there reason for doing that was such a painful whimper. Really nothing to give me more to do with her marriage, and her husband wanted her to give but she never told me that. I never told her my heart and what was amazing experience was this was the easier way, because nature, generally. was. All she had to say was, “You know the hurt, this is why I did it” and just hearing that disappeared all these years pain and rejection, disappeared nearly work together ourselves intact relating to each other. So we called it our soul marrow transplant.
So many times we went into the bone marrow transplant, these out really ready to give and receive interesting social persona. Read small passage from your book. It’s part of your your fuel pump that will notes, are my sisters words, that you know are. My sister started writing. The unit was a very dicey, risky form to write. And in this case, it was so much about my sister. I wanted to get her approval and I was reading her early versions of the book. And she also wrote and she wanted me to perhaps include some of her writing in the book. So we call her.
I was really touched by this passage. Sort of want listeners to to hear it. “Field notes, March 5: now that it’s a possibility I have to decide about the transplant, I feel trapped with no way out. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I’m frozen in place. My hair is falling out and I’m down to 95 pounds. I hur everywhere in my body and my heart today. I saw my daughter. We were driving on the road with the intention of going shopping. My only goal for the outing was to stay positive, but as I drove I began to break down and weep. When we pulled over I could no longer contain my company …”
It goes on. I mean this book is so touching. Why take this? Why bring it to this format? Why write a book about it?
The question, anyone who I called by memoir, asked herself for himself every day of writing on the answer that question the way climber would answer. Why in the middle of winter, they say because it’s there. And that’s always, there are the key questions of life. My niche struggle, suffering generally less, letting go. I really thought we’d prefer to write cookbooks or knitting or something. The book and it’s very researched analyses my own life as a seeker, weeding through it, very much admire life, but some people saying they actually think Sanchez read the stories. So I thought, well you write another book.
Probably since I write about the very deep human issues and read more about myself when I wrote and how difficult times can help us grow. And writing this memoir. Difficult things that they just were getting divorced, becoming a single mother. To my surprise it became a New York Times bestseller. When I was on Oprah, several times, when suddenly all of my dirty laundry was in the breeze for everyone to see. I don’t mind revealing about myself, that my family members, my friends. You write about difficult times you end up writing about people and so I doubt I will never write a memoir again. And just writing down without concern for my family, but I wanted to try to send you authenticity, and I tried, It doesn’t know the treasury section spent years working on a novel.
And I think that moment I should finish that now, because it was about a woman politician trying to the authentic in a world of disingenuousness, about living here and today, but wrestle a novel. But I decided it was not my form, and then, when I went through this experience with my sister, on each of us trying to offer the other one most authentic self, I thought, Well years the form to write a book about intrusive authenticity. Does it really mean to the authentic and how can we do it with each other always doing in trying to see entities? I’m not interested in that, more interested in what would happen if we all related to each other from our ourselves, from each other, weren’t embarrassed about being who we were, expecting the others authenticity.
That’s what I’m really interested in, so that’s OK. You’re also that artist. You’re going into broken open, seekers guide, which you have questions. But let’s let’s stick with authenticity, OK? Because this seems to be your mean kind of message that you seen relating here, so when we define authenticity as a way covering thing one should hold out in front oneself, this idea, I will finally get who I am and I will stand out. It’s the constant uncovering. At the very deepest core of who we are is something that I hesitate to talk about this. It sounds kind of cheesy, ends on a obtainable and that’s that we are all one; we are all connected together. The way we shame our body, our discomfort with our eccentricities on all invoices, and are.
Hence you tell us you’re bad once you included. You did back all the way that we’ve been conditioned to exist in family and culture. It’s uncovering those voices and saying, OK some really, maybe me, but some are my if I really just around that shining sea to take root and grow. Where would it be? What would I do if I was listening to that inner voice? So it certainly arts of uncovering. And a beautiful thing about being authenticity seeker today is that there’s so many ways to conduct the search on psychotherapy, to me is like holy type of seeking, trying to quiet the voices who give us that advice. Shielding the body is a way of uncovering soul because what our physical element is actually a way of defending against will feeling.
You know people who say over weeks and they don’t feel, they don’t take care of themselves, on character body sealing, the body, making the body strong and vibrant can be a way to uncover so and so traditional religious and spiritual paths. The reserve is I can talk to you to that found truly remarkable. You said something that I found remarkable. The beginning of the Kentucky said that there was within the room were 600 people, but there’s actually so many more because in each one of us there’s a multitude of personalities. And you said that in yourself you have two primary personalities that are in conflict in conversation, and you call them the Mystic and the Warrior. Can you can define that a little bit more? And actually that sweet spot where the Mystic me and the Warrior me gets close to what I would call authentic self.
Documentation people there are a lot of conflicting ideas and proclivities and we’re afraid to marry. And all see what would happen. So for me, on my Mystic Self was born with my Mystic Self. By Mystic, I mean someone who allows the mystery of human existence to kind of work on me. I always wanted to explore the mysteries: where you come; from how I live while I’m here right now; and I don’t. This is the Mystic. And Mystic someone who fearlessly wants to explore those questions.
I lived in Laramie, was raised by social activists and intellectuals, and my parents truly believe you can in your own light live out this ethos. You must get back to the community. We must state where you must work for justice. My mother was very involved in antiwar social justice movements. My father was a naturalist. And environmentalists have shaped like Rosa Carstens, Henry David Thoreau, is my parents. What we were raised to do and to be so very with a lot of energy that call to always get back to the community. But I also have this much bigger picture of human life on which was the Mystic part of me and got to college, accept us to purchase in diametrically opposed to each other. The Mystic said drop out of life Gobi. None just followed spiritual path and activist in this was very angry ending, get what was going on in the world, wanted to do something about it. So that idea is now the Mystic feels all makes sense. All is well. Don’t stress. Don’t worry.
Everyone who wanted to do justice in the world have been in conversation my whole life, while so powerful. You know, there’s the other, so much of advice. You do around sweep people who, in or near it, at the beginning of this conversation, talked about how we’re all kind of the same and we tend to put the people that we look up to onto pedestals. And others, a lot of hero worship that happens there. Do you notice that happens with yourself? Do notice that happens towards you? With the world from others?
Such a great question. I I’m shocked when it happens. For me and I’m kind of, I guess, kind of 90 about that will levels one work so hard not to do with other people and had a great opportunity to me practice, not just put people on pedestals to do that. Because one it’s no one else human being and that shamans or which are learned or why is where experienced. No one is immune to the struggle of being human. Everyone struggles. The wisest people have moments in the dark depression and despair. And the most famous and rich people can be miserably unhappy. I’ve met the greatest relationship experts in the world who are getting divorced. And I’ve met our organization guru whose car is a mess. She drives into the only party. This has never really upset me or made me cynical. It’s only human beings. A squirrel trying and we’re all looking for help. That just because someone can help you doesn’t mean they’ve got it all. Some kind know this because the greatest helpers in the world. So when people put me on a pedestal, I still think it’s kind of silly, although I have become more and more comfortable with accepting the role of someone who has walked a few steps farther on this, and I do indeed have skills and wisdom to offer, so on called it.
Like you, I grew. We do believe that you have the wisdom to and that’s a very humble stance that you’ve taken on your position on just the of of holding other people in that regard. I love it! It was with you giving them again. You started this in 1977 — 39 years ago. For decades! This is a long time running. What is your vision for this and what has been the vision for this and where it was a kind of going from here?
Fortunately for me there’s a whole crew of people now running it on a day-to-day basis. I used to live and breathe that, and work it 24/7. In the very beginning we know what we were doing, where people after drinking, and taught us everything. We know and we make no money and were real visionaries. It has grown into a real institution and it has a very large staff now and the other people who are running it, and make it more clearly, tell you the vision for today. Although I will tell you things, that is, I am involved still. We always envisioned it to be and and you always drive to make sure what it maintains is a sense of community. You know the church with synagogue used to be in this country, like the place where people went at least once a week to feel something bigger than themselves and try to explorer the human condition, and reasons you could go back and it would be inspiration.
Silas tradition and ritual and just does not exist for most people anymore and this is unique, the sense to belong to a group of like-minded people exploring what it means to be alive. And we often joke when the Omega letter comes out every year, and is more than 300 workshops and trainings in the catalog, and whichever is really one workshop and imagistic different words and process. Not true, because there are things like learning acupuncture, or learning African drumming. The whole thing in between on what we need is that people are really coming for his cousin, naked, use in an oasis. In this supercharged world is busy connected world celebrity. Never put yourself down, been working all the time and you just trying to get through the day of abuse. You arrested an oasis. You can come and relax, disconnect a little and talk to people on a deeper level.
People will always say to me a dining room, and I think I know her better than I know my best friends, because we just immediately went deep together. This summer purpose it’s always been, is to create a community of like-minded people who are learning and growing together, and you learn over the years different subject matters percolated out to fit the needs of the culture. And I said past eight years, maybe. I don’t know. We do need to do what we call the movement from me to we. We have really perfected workshops about taking care of yourself and really wanted to guide people toward self-care. Meeting with care our world which is in session, neither wisdom and care, and that’s why a lot of our initiatives, now scientists are regular workshops between 18. There are things like a lot of work for veterans, with responding to that’s coming home with PTSD. And while working with them we have a women’s leadership Institute that is helping women learn how to trust their voice in leadership.
I’ve said that maybe we could do power differently and another day part of our curriculum is environmental work, training individuals and municipalities and other constituents, to have a letter footprints. So we wonder what has this taught you, so you’re not running it now but you were. You cofounded it and you were the core of that for a long time. So what teaching to organize something that now is affecting so many people? We’ll see you out of course. On the most mundane level it taught me quite a bit of the subject matter because my job for most of my years there was on programming — choosing our faculty and also writing catalog. So I would have to take large books and turn them into the little to paragraph descriptions of the workshop for professional training. So I learned a whole lot about whole lot of subjects from science and brain science and different religions and music and art and so on.
I have kind of a broad knowledge and a lot of subjects taught me the most is the idea of working really, really hard. For one thing, we’re really choosing something to focus on and all your concentration and study and work love. And people often ask, “How do I find my purpose in life?”
That’s a very loaded question, but my answer probably disappoints them, which is just something you a little close to your heart and were connected. 20 years of work really hard and you will be given so much good, beginning the way more than one day, because it’s a great joy in incompletion and seeing things to and and doing something that serves other people on. So that’s the big lessons for me, in some sucking and sticking to the same thing as you could save her marriage, that if you are always looking for work to be the perfect pain before you commit, you find it. But if you commit to something that’s pretty perfect, you get perfect yourself.
Wow. So profound. So it’s kind of the letters to mean sometimes, because we get a lot of emails here at the show and a lot of different types of feedback. And people kind of just expect the show to kind of broad, and even when the guests kind of come on, they just expect everything to work properly idea that I met that I’m working in, like, eight or nine different knobs here and making sure levels are right. Everything that is behind the engine that you were kind of creating here, is there something that you kind of connect that analogy to?
Yes, well first comes up is and I learned this from working at Omega. Would a lot of different people have a large staff and when you’re in a leadership position, on the people who work with you really didn’t know what they’re doing, and see what they’re doing their narcissist, because, as you say, people are always doing way more thinking. They are always. What it takes to get one thing takes 40 thanks and stopped as a leader. And then looked at the people who work with me, and really seeing what you are doing, so that they are seen. And I know what my business really takes to run the really important aspect of leadership. To do that with people, you would like to really know what they’re doing. I know that the law of works to me is that everything takes longer. Everyone is working harder than you think. Give everyone that it up to. Of course there’s always charlatans and lazy people but most people are working.
You can locking just was good. You know, we’re about 40 minutes into it and if there’s one thing that you could kind of do to someone who’s made it this far into the episode, what and what was of me would give someone who is the struggling with self-doubt, has trouble with finding, sort of, their life mission?
So struggling woman, wouldn’t we used to help, that we see that person went out first thing? I say I’m going to sound like a broken record is that you are not alone. There is nothing uniquely screwed up about you. And that secret shame we carry around that everyone else is given the instruction book and we work on, is really critical, because on top of the general difficulty of being human, we have this layer of everybody else hasn’t figured out. We don’t know the real me. He always talk about the open secret, and by that he means we all go around on training is a secret from each other and that secret is almost a joke. It’s not really a secret. We all try to teach each other that we wake up confused, that sometimes we are lost. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we make the right choice. We struggle. The family fall, but we trip from each other, so you need a friend industry and say you are you, and both people are not great. They have something going on, that’s, you know, hurting their heart.
Lessons once a great in the ambitious great, and then we walk away and both are thinking something, kind of wondering when she has an altogether work and her kids are all doing great in school. And is that we need to all go around and complain to each other all the time, but hiding the sense that we suffer, we miss out on real health and connectivity and intimacy and secrecy all the time. And really believe that go that and ruining your humanness with a sense of humor and a sense of belonging to this life really is way more than half the end to suffering. That’s only half the way, but by putting down the burden of thinking that you’re uniquely screwed up, all sorts of helpful hands come to help you, because you’re just being a receptive human being and there’s a lot of help out there. And I feel it’s like angels fear for the one who is vulnerable and open and that may sound will, but I have experienced it in my own life. When I put them defensiveness and disingenuousness, life rushes in to help me. That’s the greatest advice and help. Why I love it, you’re really big on meditation, you have the blog, the toolbox for their life, where you guys post stuff that people can use. One of things I guess you’d say to be medicine is meditation — why is meditation so important to really important people.
Saying affect from other kinds of spiritual tools to meditate, but for me meditation has been a tremendous friend, and I don’t so much now that I can access it in the second just by shifting the posture, of reading a certain way. practice that you know. It’s the work in the psyche practice to be a great basketball player by doing drills, scales on the piano. Meditation is this, so that you can become skilled in the art of living. It’s not you meditate to, like, become the best indicators we have, like that this together matters. I think on the practice of meditation is that the best way I can explain it in a way is you look at the posture.
Great iconography and religions like the Buddha with a straight back. Of course lots of different religions. The same posture in their leaders, which is the strong, straight warrior. But the heart is open and soft and we see this spoken in paintings, where you actually see the heart. When Mary, in her straight back. in her blue dress, her heart is illuminated so that the meditation is a straight back, meaning I am strong and with a very soft and open heart. And what I meditate after years, is doing it, working with different teachers, what I do is take that posture and I feel like I’m riding a horse, and I am so balanced and so strong in my back. But I’m so sensitive that the only training went in my heart and so meditation has taught me how to be both strong, and boundary clear and clean, and also open range and compassionate. And I can say those words, and you can hear, and intellectually. But the practice of meditation actually teaches you how to be both strong and soft.
This is beautiful. It’s perfect. That’s one of the best definitions of meditation of ever. I want to you the chance to kind of if you could if you could go back to the 25-year-old Elizabeth lesser and give her one piece of advice one one thing they could tell her would there be?
We had a wonderful poem from Rilke, when you’re very little coward, he says that it’s in his tiny book, “Query Protocol: Letters To Be Done Artist” — I think that’s what it’s called — and he says that now he’s writing, he’s probably 15 years old writing to a 25-year-old artist something like that. I can’t tell you what to do. This you wouldn’t be able to hear it consistently, 60s here, now supposed to be confused. Now and then he tells him will live the questions now and then one day maybe you will find yourself living into the answers. So I guess I would say to my 25-year-old self, like, to be freaked out by those questions that are really tracheotomy after that life-and-death, in which I do mine who should and marrying. Should I stay married to school? Really fully into those questions like, know that everyone is questions and will be fearless and brave and somehow trust that you will live into the answers.
Where can working people find your work, your website, the book?
My book comes out in September 20, 2016. My new book, Marrow is available on Amazon and other bookstores of course in my website is ElizabethLesser.com.
OK, guys. we have been talking to Mrs. Elizabeth Lesser, author of the book “Marrow: A Love Story”, which comes out on September 20. You can pick that up on Amazon and bookstores. She will also be doing a book tour. Make sure you get the website ElizabethLesser.com if you want to find out where she’s going to be and are interested in seeing her.
Thank you guys so much for listening this is the human experience will see you guys next week.