Bo Lozoff | Indy Week

Bo Lozoff 
Member since Aug 30, 2008


Stats

Friends

  • No friends yet.
Become My Friend Find friends »

Recent Comments

Re: “The two faces of Bo Lozoff

I do not intend to post more than this one posting, as you can imagine this is a difficult time for me and everyone I know and work with. Below is something I am sending to interested parties, but first let me just say to some of the posters -- Amala and Eklutna particularly -- I wish you would be a little more skeptical of what The Indy has said about me especially when it is so clear to you, Amala, how slanted and unfair they have been in their remarks about Neem Karoli Baba, about how little time they gave us to respond, etc. You seem to have faulted them for everything except their portrayal of me as an abusive bully. Eklutna, your comparison of me with a clinically anti-social personality is hurtfully irresponsible when your entire source of information is this article. It is insulting to the other posters who at least know I am a real person who has been constructively involved in humanitarian work for almost 40 years. You act as though I have been fooling people for that long. Might that be a teeny bit arrogant and reckless?

My only post follows:

BOS RESPONSE

Hello Friends,

Obviously, Human Kindness Foundation and I are shocked and hurt by the recent cover story in The Independent titled The Two Faces of Bo Lozoff. Even among us, we do not agree on all the details of specific past memories, events and relationships, but we are absolutely unanimous in saying that the Kindness House and Bo Lozoff the article depicts bullying, intimidating, abusive, traumatizing, mind-controlling, tyrannical never existed. We poured our lives into that noble experiment and we accomplished wonderful things there, as well as making mistakes along the way. The atmosphere was very compassionate, centered sincerely around a community life of mutual support and practice.

The article especially tries to paint me as a David Koresh or Jim Jones kind of demagogue who compares myself to Christ and accuses others of being Satan, someone who is really self-isolated and out of touch with reality. Ive never met that Bo Lozoff, and theres no way to describe to you what it feels like to read something like that about yourself in a publication that is on newsstands all over your own hometown.

One very twisted and troubled ex-con, and two women from long ago who took offense at me, were the driving forces behind this article, and it amazes me to this day that they held and nursed their grudges for so many years and successfully convinced a few other people to corroborate their claims of bullying and abuse. I know the claims of sexual abuse are the most titillating and disturbing because of where we are as a society, but I will address those last because the other allegations of the article are extremely simple and uncontroversial:

It is entirely, 100% false that I bullied ex-cons (who were mostly twice my size) or humiliated or berated them or treated them in any uncompassionate way. Quite the contrary, I was there for them night or day, and often had arguments with other HKF staff who felt we needed to kick someone out because they were dangerous or incorrigible. Sometimes to a fault, putting the community at risk, I never gave up on the core goodness of anyone.

It is entirely, 100% false that I or anyone else intimidated or threatened ex-cons with going back to prison. In thirteen years, we never sent anyone back to prison even though several ex-cons caused serious damage to our community life, and one, Kevin Dessert, actually threatened to murder Catherine Miller and her husband. This was a real threat, yet I convinced the Millers not to call the sheriff because I felt we could handle him without his having to go back to prison. Kevin is now one of the primary sources of the Indy article. He is still living in a house I built, earning his livelihood from a trade he learned at Kindness House. Kevin has some serious psychological damage from spending many years in prison, and we were nave about the extent of that damage. He used to brag to us that his manipulative behavior had once shut down a very good halfway house run by wonderful people, yet it still never dawned on us to what lengths he might someday go to destroy us as well.

It is entirely, 100% false that my behavior frightened or betrayed Bruce Thomas or David Timmerman, the other two ex-cons quoted by name in the article. Kevin is a master of manipulation, and I have no idea how he got Bruce and David to say those things, but the truth is, Bruce actually turned to me for support and guidance for many years after leaving Kindness House in 1999, and Bruce even moved back into Kindness House twice once for six months long after the traumatic tuning that he describes in the article. David and I never had a cross word during his stay at Kindness House, and I was his most trusted confidant during his many problems with other community members and staff. Again, David kept in touch for years after leaving, and visited Kindness House several times as a welcome friend of the community. This total rewriting of history is chilling to me. We have loved, respected, and helped Bruce and David for years. No one in our organization has been unkind to them for a moment.

It is entirely, 100% false that I ever compared myself to Jesus or accused Oprah of being Satan. These outrageous assertions didnt come from the Kindness House sources, they are the reporters own deceptive attempt to paint me as a cult figure. The reporter found two newsletters six years apart, in the first of which, Much Ado About Silence, I repeatedly remarked that I was no great sage and my year of silence was nothing so earth-shaking. I also said many people had been offended by the idea of my spending a year in silence, and at the very end of the article I said that sometimes our own friends or families seem to be against the spiritual practices we feel called to perform, and theres nothing unusual about that. I said it even happened to Jesus when he returned to Bethlehem, and I quoted, A prophet is not without honor save in his own home. No one reading that article would ever come away with the impression I compared myself to Jesus. The entire theme of the article was just the opposite that I am no one extraordinary, and even a year in total silence is not such a big deal.

Then six years later, in 2007, I wrote The Real Secret is a Dark One, about the book/DVD called The Secret, which had been featured on an Oprah show as well as in numerous churches and spiritual centers and virtually every media outlet known to man. I mentioned Oprahs name three times in the article, merely factual references to it being on her show. I then gave an academic comparison between the teachings of The Secret and Anton LaVeys Satanic Principles from the Church of Satan. I said the religion The Secret most parallels is actually Satanism, and went point for point explaining my reasons for saying that. Nowhere did I link Oprah to Satanism or say anything disrespectful about her or the other media people who helped popularize The Secret with sincere conviction that it was a good philosophy. In fact, this past year, Oprah used quotes from my writings twice on her worldwide daily inspiration website. I take extreme offense at the Independent inventing an outright lie that I accused Oprah of being Satan. It was said solely to make me sound like a madman, and it is entirely false.

It is entirely, 100% false that our weekly tunings were meetings in which Lozoff would face the group in the meditation hall, discuss religious texts and, according to former community members, ridicule and assert his authority over ex-offenders. The weekly tunings were simply community meetings which are a necessary facet of virtually any community structure. We sat in a circle and we often used the traditional talking stick method that means if someone had something to say and did not wish to be interrupted or argued with, he or she could pick up the talking stick and no one, including myself, could speak until they put the stick back in the circle. The articles description of tunings is just gossip and grumblings of the silliest variety. We were a community composed of uniquely diverse people, some with tremendous adjustments to make from living fifteen or twenty years in brutal prisons, and of course conversations would sometimes get heated or gripes would arise. The need for goodwill was constantly stressed in any community gathering and the tunings were times where a lot of growth and struggle occurred between people living together in goodwill and good faith. Did I have more authority than others in those meetings? Of course I did. I was the director of the community. And in fact, at one point I felt my authority inhibited others from finding their own voices, and so I stopped attending tunings for at least a year. Neither myself nor anyone else at HKF has come remotely close to fitting the image of swaggering authority figures who bully others. It is 100% opposite of who we are and have always been.

It is not 100% false that I yelled at people. About once or twice a year on average, I lost my temper and chewed someone out very intensely. Many recovery programs scream and yell every night. Living and dealing with ex-cons, addicts, lifelong manipulators, etc., sometimes compassion is not pretty, sometimes love is the tough love variety. Community life is intense and our community members were intense people. There is no set formula for how to handle the countless situations that arise. I have never had a routine pattern of yelling at people, I have never used screaming as a control mechanism, I have never threatened or attacked anyone. I occasionally yelled at someone in the context of living and working with them and being responsible for the welfare of a dozen or more people all going through different life changes. It is entirely false to characterize that as my style or as bullying, intimidating, or invoking (my) wrath. That is total, utter nonsense. I almost wish some of the ex-cons had been a little more afraid of invoking my wrath! They walked all over us many times. The entire tone of that portrayal of me is false, concocted by a very few people who fully know how inaccurate it is, especially Bruce Thomas, who has probably never been treated with more kindness, respect, love, and patience in his life than I displayed toward him for almost ten years.

The financial article after the main article is a pathetic attempt at innuendo because the reporter scoured our books and personal financial records dating all the way back to 1980, and could not find a single item that could be interpreted as unethical. So instead of giving up, he crafted extremely inaccurate personal and organizational transactions together and contacted the NC Nonprofit Center for vague critical remarks like thats unusual but not necessarily unethical, or thats unhealthy. Be clear, he desperately wanted to find something specific HKF has done wrong and could find nothing at all in the entire history of our existence. We devote ourselves generously and fully to our work, and my wife and I have always lived without air-conditioning in small passive-solar cabins that I designed and built. The Independent refused our requests to visit our headquarters to take a look at how we operate and how my wife and I live. They would not set foot on our grounds.

Finally, it is not 100% false that I touched some women sexually. It is 100% false that I ever abused or coerced anyone or held power or authority over anyones head or anything like that. I am a gentle man and my sexuality is gentle as well. Sexuality is perhaps the hottest cultural button and most difficult topic to discuss in a sensitive way, and I feel daunted and humiliated having to attempt this in such a crude forum as this response to the Indys character assassination of me. The sexual allegations are distorted and purposely slanted against me exactly like the bullying and intimidation allegations. I dont have the heart to go line by line to try to defend or explain myself.

What I will point out is that I never had intercourse with any of the women the article refers to. Read the article carefully, past the hazy picture it tries to paint of sexual relationships, and you will see it never actually claims I went to bed with anyone, it just implies it. The vast majority of what I called unconventional sexual behavior in those years involved a gentle touch or kiss or working along the spine with someones energy centers, or sometimes just holding someone intimately in silence. It wasnt usually about my gratification or even about my body parts. When a woman was startled or offended, I immediately backed off. A clear majority of the women I touched in those ways felt grateful for the encounter. The same exact behavior left a few women confused or uncertain, and a few clearly offended, and I completely understand that. It happens in my lectures as well. The same words which inspire a hundred, offend a few. I tried to speak intelligently about this with the reporter but he wasnt interested in nuance or intelligence, he was interested in selecting only the words of mine that would further his agenda of portraying me as a lecherous despot. If I were a lecherous despot, I could have slept with a lot of women!

The truth is, I have been sincerely exploring the tricky subject of sexual energy for many years and like most people, have no clear answers. Though the article mentions it in a hostile, almost mocking way, I did indeed have some extraordinarily powerful mystical experiences during the Kindness House years and they added to my confusion and significantly affected my sexual energy. These were not kooky or self-deluded experiences, but by their nature, mystical experiences do not lend themselves well to description or explanation in secular terms. There were times when I was celibate, times I was monogamous, and times when I was neither.

Though the sources of this article scoured the nation looking for women to accuse me of sexual abuse, the worst accusations they could convince a few women to make were about kissing and touching. The one local woman whose photo appears in the article from behind, is the only person with whom I actually had a complex and very painful romantic relationship. Still no intercourse, but a lot of mutual sexual behavior that I have already publicly acknowledged was painful and confusing to us both and to my family and our community. We lived in intense community together, it caused a major disruption in our community life and my family life, and we dealt with it as honorably as we could. She and Sita and I especially worked through a lot of pain together and came out of it as friends.

Long after it had ended, she became engaged to one of our volunteers, and they chose to have their wedding at Kindness House. She gave a little speech at her wedding about all the good I had done in her life. There was goodwill between us. She continued coming to community events for some time, though her husband (whom she was not involved with at all during our relationship) felt very negative about our history together, and wanted no part of us. Slowly she began reperceiving the past, and after about a year she decided to cut ties with us. We have reached out to her and her husband several times to restore goodwill between us in the past several years but they have not responded.

The one area of blame I accept fully and feel tremendous shame and remorse for has nothing to do with bullying men or abusing women, which are the two main themes of the article. I was never a bully or an abuser. But I did allow the inevitable secrecy and denial that built up around my private meetings with women, and such secrecy is poison to any community life and to a marriage and family. My sexual behavior didnt rip the community apart, my secrecy and defensiveness and deception did. I should have either stopped being unconventional in my meetings with women, or I should have been open about the fact that I was. Instead, I did what I considered were honorable things, within a dishonorable context of secrecy. I do not feel I touched women in a dishonorable way. I see the Divine Feminine in nearly every female and I am in awe of it. But it was dishonorable to expect such intimate touching to be kept a secret within the intense goldfish bowl of community life as well as my marriage. I occupied incompatible positions. It was an impossible mix, and I am deeply sorry for the pain and confusion it caused. Believe me, I have paid and am still paying an enormous price for these wrongs.

I was nave to be honest and plain-spoken with Matt Saldana about all of this, not realizing how he would twist and turn and highlight my own words to damn me. Now I understand why so many people say no comment. Sexuality and affairs of the heart are extremely delicate issues for us all, and it is truly humiliating and counter-productive to air them in such a crude way as the Independent has done.

Kindness House was a unique community that bit off an enormous task of living fulltime with men and women from all walks of life, including some straight out of twenty years or more in brutal prisons. Neither I nor Human Kindness Foundation had anything to gain from the crushing challenge of running such a community. Sita and I gave up our family home; we lived, ate, worked and practiced with that group of ex-cons and others with zero time off. It was pure service at great personal cost, and overall we all did amazing things there that inspired visitors and residents from all over the globe. The Independent spent months talking to the few accusers and then gave us four days to respond, and limited us to a maximum of three to four people to contact them with good things to say about us. They only quoted two of the four, and one of those two, Katrina Holley, they quoted out of context to make her sound like a gullible fool.

The Independent has been rude and hostile toward us in every interaction, their minds set in stone that we are a harmful cult led by an unscrupulous demagogue. We are not, and I am not, and this is nothing approaching good or even ethical journalism. I am not perfect or infallible and I have never claimed to be. I have made painful mistakes and am truly sorry about them and have paid dearly for them. But instead of an intelligent analysis, the Indy made up its mind and took the lowest road to paint a picture that is 100% false in its hues, colors and tones of me and HKF. We have never abused people, finances, property or anything else. We are an honest nonprofit dedicated to helping the world be a better place.

I dont know what else I can say in a concise way. This is quite an upsetting education in the power of the press.

I am personally out of state in retreat now and have no idea when or if I will be back. I feel my hometown and good name have been ripped from me by the Indy and a few vengeful souls. I am a person of faith, so I absolutely trust that God knows what is going on and it is part of my path into the Great Mystery. I do trust that path even if it leads me through painful and lonely times. I pray for everyones healing and spiritual growth, and am doing a lot of spiritual practice to prevent bitterness or outrage from clouding my own heart. Its not an easy process right now but I am committed to radical goodwill, radical lovingkindness, and I will not yield to anything less. When I think of these few people who teamed up to cause this much pain, I remember Saint Steven shouting Father, please dont hold this against them!, about the people who were stoning him to death, and am humbled to my soul. I know I cant hold anything against anyone if I want to continue the journey my life has been about since I was a child. I assure you I am striving mightily to rise to this occasion and find the peace of pure faith.

Bo Lozoff

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Bo Lozoff on 08/30/2008 at 2:38 AM

Extra Extra!

Make sure you're signed up so we can inbox you the latest.

  • Weekly Newsletter (Wednesday) - The stories in this week's issue
  • Weekly Events Newsletter - Our picks for your weekend and beyond

Login to choose
your subscriptions!

Favorite Places

  • None.
Find places »

Saved Events

  • Nada.
Find events »

Saved Stories

  • Nope.
Find stories »

Custom Lists

  • Zip.
 

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation