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Explore the work of Tilak
Steven Walkowski explores the juicy work of Tilak
He was a very naughty boy. For him, that meant he was full of life—so full that he sometimes did things that got him into trouble, playing tricks on the neighbors or his family. Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical paradise, a teardrop in the Indian Ocean. The richness of beautiful people, the sensuousness of his mother’s Buddhism, and the intellect of his father’s physics colored life there and created the backdrop for a perfect storm. This was a storm to create a remarkable man.
Tilak defies classification and defines enigma. There is no group or categorization in which he easily rests. He is a smart-ass philosopher, a sweet soul sharing his heart with the world. He does nothing and yet the air around him changes people forever. The intensity of the force that he emanates is evidenced by the magnitude and polarity of characterization that others carry for him. He calls himself a wake-up service. Others call him “guru buster” or “coach.” And none of these are entirely accurate.
He has individual sessions and group sessions. What he is doing and what people experience are often different things. Some experience a cool breeze, a lightness, or visible lights. Some experience nothing in the moment, but days later recognize a subtle shift in their experience of living.
I had a unique opportunity to interview Tilak on a recent trip he made to Columbus. His open-heartedness is astonishing; he brings love to the table in every moment. Speaking with him for a little under an hour, I decided to print most of the interview with little editing.
SW: How do you see yourself and how do you characterize your work?
Tilak: To begin with, I do not call myself a teacher, healer, or a mystic, but people who come to me seem to put me into these roles because they do not know how else to relate to me. When I lived in Philadelphia, on the Metroliner train that took me to my center in Manhattan, people always asked, “So, what do you do for a living?” And I used to say, “I run a wake-up service.” Some people took that answer quite literally. In a way, that is what I do. I bring people from their sleep in which they have collapsed inside with their stories, or else wake them up from trance-like states with a pleasant shock.
So, I do not call my work spiritual, or psychological, or philosophical pathways. It is simply bringing people to live in excellence and to experience extreme possibilities that they have never imagined before in their lives. For me, my work is about breaking through whatever brings a person down, to turn it around and rise like a tidal wave beyond all the currents that are trying to hold him down.
I give initial sessions through which a person experiences a transmission of a cool breeze and lightness that washes away some of the dark matter and black lines in his body/mind. This allows a person to experience a sudden surge of energy, clarity and brilliance, leading to a new space opening to his life.
In my work there are different formats, such as Portals, Dynamic Sessions, and Intensives that are available to people on different levels depending on where they are in their lives. Basically, it is not just that they come and get a zap from me and go home and they are fine. Truly, once they are dipped in a space of true lightness and an emotional cool breeze, they become very alert, ready, and active out of pure wonder and attraction to life. Then they are given various practices and tools they can use to row their new boat upstream on the mystical river, so that their life will become adventurous and delightful.
The way I define “adventure” and “spiritual” and “the path of liberation” is absolutely different from other people’s opinions. In fact, most of the so-called “spiritual world” is challenged by my work. In Maui News in Hawaii, they call me the “Guru Buster,” because when I come, so many teachers…they lose their jobs. I am not doing something deliberately, though. This is part of my blessing and my problem for people who want to share me with others; they do not know what to call me. If you call me a spiritual teacher, that is not me. At the same time, people identify the work as something sacred that belongs in the world of today. One of my students in Florida called me his coach; I am the personal trainer for him. All these notions are true in one way or another.
SW: You’ve said that there is no lineage or teachers behind you. What are some of your influences?
Tilak: My influence actually has been my family and my parents. My father was a professor of physics, and my mother came from a rich, Buddhist family. And so they were very sweet parents. They did one thing to me, which was the best thing they ever could have done; they never interfered.
SW: The difference between you and other, say, teachers—for lack of a better word—is that most teachers expect a lot of their students and require that they will follow a fairly rigorous discipline of meditation and devotion. And that is not what you are talking about at all. I wonder if you would talk a little bit about that difference.
Tilak: Well, that is not entirely true because my advanced students, they actually are required to have tremendous discipline. I do not use the words “discipline” and “responsibility,” but I use the word “mindfulness.” I say they are mindful. When they are being mindful, there is a natural discipline, a natural respect that comes. So it is a different kind of terminology. But all the advanced Intensives I give require people to do practices and projects that they are given. They have to take part in very intense explorations and discoveries—emotional and intellectual exercises that provide them with the pleasure of seeing something different and discovering new boundaries.
SW: Without requiring dogma.
Tilak: That is the difference, without requiring dogma. And without requiring any need to suffer. One of my fundamental teachings is that life is a celebration. Anything that makes you feel you have to struggle and suffer is a myth and is coming from traditional and rigorous conditionings of all the religions, except Buddhism. All the religions actually make you feel that somewhere or other you have to participate in some kind of a painful ritual about yourself. This is, I think, one of the deepest myths there is, and actually you cannot get out of it. So you feel that struggle is a necessary factor in life.
SW: One of the ways I characterized my experience of your work was a momentary look at the illusion, an identification of the illusion of life. Being able to see that reality wasn’t as I had conceived of it before. Is that part of your intention?
Tilak: No, that is just a by-product. That is something that just happens. We are suffering from three things: illusion, suppression, and ignorance. As a result of those three conditions, we normally are not able to rise like a sunrise and experience the wonder of life.
People normally don’t see things because they don’t have the courage and the strength and the energy to see them. And if they see them without the courage, energy, and strength, it will shatter their whole energy. People can’t see certain things that are true in their lives; as a result, they hold on to various other things and wait. When people have a session, they are exposed. They actually see their true selves. They see the things they should be doing and what they should not be doing. They see the illusion.
The sessions give them the strength and courage to see clearly. This is one of the deepest exposures. This is actually the truth that is coming out of a person’s whole essence. Truth has an organic connection. I am not referring to truth in terms of a philosophy or a dogma, but rather truth as an organic connection.
SW: In other religions there is almost a sense of denial of body. And you talk about enjoying the richness of just being human.
Tilak: Actually, I talk about being sensuous. And all the religions, except Tantric Buddhism, completely denounce that we are sensual. They imply that just to feel the sensuousness and the vertical connection to the life force is not only taboo, it should be punished. So we never experience that we have a tasty body. As a result, all our pleasures have gone into various mental and emotional trips in which we are not truly able to experience an impact on the whole cellular level.
My whole work is about awakening, and awakening is a sensuous experience. It is a very sensuous experience. I am going to give a talk called “Sensuous, Sacred Secrets.” Human sexuality is something totally denied by all the religions and all the politicians, because they don’t want to hear about it.
SW: In other traditions, there is a sense that once you have achieved enlightenment, the goal is to be in that state continuously, and that one has not truly risen to the occasion if that is not the case. From what I am hearing you say, that is not necessarily what you believe.
Tilak: I totally disagree with the notion that there is something to achieve and that there is a certain Samadhi that you achieve and after that you are in a state of bliss. If you have to maintain a state of bliss, it is like Donald Trump trying to maintain his wealth. He may go bankrupt the next day, but he can come back and do it again. That is the excitement about life. There are no securities; all these are life fantasies that are coming out of our unworthiness and our imperfection. We normally like to believe that we can achieve huge emotional states and then remain there. You never can remain anywhere, not even in Hell. If you are going through Hell, you better go fast. That is the only thing you can do; get it over with. You never can remain anywhere; that actually is the truth about it.
When I was a teenager, I experienced something breaking loose in me. Ever since then, I am going; I am never stopping. Not that I attain Nirvana or Samadhi; I have no idea what they are like. I experience rebelliousness, a freedom and a truth that is coming out to be expressed without fear. This has put me into deep trouble many times, because I challenge and I am so expressive and so real about it. If you are truly a great warrior, it doesn’t matter whether people throw you roses or rotten eggs. You say, “Is that so?” I have remained that way.
It is like, I think I am going through a never-ending story called Infinity, but it is a cellular experience, a never-ending journey of love. I am discovering, and exploring, and connecting with pure love in many ways. Pure love brings humbleness and an appreciation, a sweetness into your life. There are no conditions to love.
SW: What you are able to bring out in people—I wonder if this is part of the evolution of culture, the evolution of human beings? And do you see yourself as part of that process? Pretty soon are there going to be more and more people that are able to break through reality in the way that you do?
Tilak: I think that is very true. Life has never been a one-man show. Actually, that is why there are so many great beings like Buddha, Krishna, Christ, and Mohammed. So many people came, and they were like great chefs. They came and gave something so palatable and so tasty to people that they could take it, because they actually were giving nourishment for human suffering. And some chefs were very clever, like Krishna; he gave very spicy dishes!
I think that something definitely happened in the human consciousness. There is a certain wave, like a tornado or hurricane, that comes once in a while in the whole world and it is like a cool breeze. You can’t normally experience it or feel it. Such a wave actually came in the 1960s and 1970s, and people got weird and wild. The flower children, the hippies, turned to drugs and random sex. That was the reaction people had. They reacted to something they felt; they felt free. They suddenly realized, “Why bother?” But they experienced the liberation as a twisted reality. Had they experienced the liberation, not as a twisted reality but as a direct response, they would have fallen in love. And not just with one another, they would have fallen in love with something so powerful. And they would have realized the very nature of reality and Infinity. For some reason, it was like a delinquent age of the human race, and they could not get it.
As I said, there is a certain wave and I have no idea whether it will come back in a hundred years or a thousand years. We know that such waves existed in the past about twenty-five hundred years ago and five thousand years back, because there are statues and paintings in the Kama Sutra and in Tantric sex. They disclosed that people responded to something. A wave went around the world. It is like a breeze. I call it the “mad rain,” a rain that actually allows people to get out of their houses and get wet. When you get wet in this rain, you feel so super. But rather than it being a physical rain, it was a breeze. It was a force that came. They say it is coming; it is coming from the end of Infinity, like a blessing or a grace that is there.
The Wellpoint, Summer 2005