One of the most fascinating people on the teaching landscape is Lawrence Lanoff. Truly a renaissance man, Lawrence is a film director, photographer, author… and a deeply enlightened healer and teacher. He grew up on the streets of New York City in the 1970’s, in a tumultuous time that provided him with some of his greatest spiritual lessons and bringing a grounded practicality to Lawrence’s work. He calls himself a “rubber meets the road kinda guy” as he applies this practical essence to his artistic and spiritual skills over a 20 year span, to an amazing array of disciplines, starting with a couple of dream jobs – the directing of movies and as a photographer for Playboy Magazine. This is a man who has discovered that the way people understand movies is similar to the ways in which they understand dreams, symbols, and ultimately, themselves – and used that knowledge to unlock the secret of life. 

During this time, Lawrence studied physics, yoga, spirituality, neuroscience, photography, meditation, magic, social biology, semiotics, advertising design, computer science, philosophy, anatomy, meta-physics, psychology, NLP, hypnosis, fine art, massage therapy, secret tantra, Taoism, film, television, art therapy, marketing and business communication. He even managed to work in a Doctorate in Cognitive Studies.

Over the past seven years, Lawrence has been in a process of refining his radical teachings, leading people into a new kind of freedom, literally deprogramming them from the sleep imposed by cults and religions. What is slowly evolving is a revolutionary new theory of consciousness that incorporates evolution, symbolism, metaphor, neurobiology, and their relationship to healing, spiritual evolution, and neuro-economics — the neural pathways that influences our deepest feelings about self worth and money, and, of course, sex and relationships.

Lawrence! It’s great to have a chance to connect! So tell me… what are you working on these days?

I’m directing a new DVD series series with Jaiya – in conjunction with our company, New World Sex Education - as well as developing a TV series, and writing a new book on female sexuality. Oh, and I’m redesigning my website to handle digital downloads and video blogging. I love technology!

Let’s have some fun… tell me a memory about your childhood that explains who you are.

At the ripe old age of 11, my Mom introduced me to this very crazy tantric master guy. Few men ever rocked her world – but apparently crazy tantric guy did. Hoping to save to save legions of women from the drudgery of bad sex, my mom had me study the art form with a true sex master. The Secret, the master said, lies in controlling the orgasm. You control the orgasm through breath. When you are near ejaculation, instead of falling off the cliff, you breath deeply, contract the PC muscles, make noise, shake, and spread the intense sensations throughout your and your partner’s body. You dissipate the peak through breath, sound, and movement. — Like I said, I was 11 -so you do the math.

Tell me about a time someone taught you a lesson that saved your life.

Well, I almost had my throat slit one night by a crackhead in Manhattan. I was about 12 at the time. That showed me how – in a New York second – life can completely change. That experience kept me off the streets and taught me to stay away from drugs. I realized that I wanted to live, play and experience life. It can all cease so suddenly.

Wow, life must have been gritty on the streets of New York. Okay, so tell me about a moment of such beauty that it took your breath away?

The most beautiful thing I ever saw in my early life was my very first girlfriend’s orgasm. We were both young, but her openness about coming really rocked my world. I knew that I wanted more of that. It was such a raw, powerful expression of unbridled, unfiltered sensual energy. Something like that kinda stays with you… it did for me.

And what has been your greatest sorrow?

My greatest sorrow was realizing that I had wasted so much of my young adult and adult life on my “spiritual” path. I knew a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff – I was basically saying NO to all the things that made me truly happy, and I was miserable. About 8 years ago, I began to free myself from every spiritual and religious myth, system and construct…I began finding myself flowing in pure freedom, like water falling off the edge of a cliff into the blackness of “I don’t know.” When I awakened, I realized that though spirituality had served me along my path, everything I learned was now rendered useless. In clarity, even spirituality fell apart – in the face of pure awareness. Awakening left me in Kindergarten. I’m still in Kindergarten I guess, but now I really enjoy the not knowing of it all.

So this brings us to your work. Your work is truly radical… what are the basic principles of your work?

My work seems to follow 6 general principals

1. I know that I don’t know, so that allows me to be open, flexible, receptive, and always learning. Well, and I get to change my mind freely. And workshops are always different.

2. All of us are limited by our inherited beliefs, stories, and myths regarding spirituality and sexual expression. We aren’t nearly as “free” as we think ourselves to be. In fact thinking that we have it all worked out ends up really getting in the way of the very thing that we want – freedom.

3. Emotional, spiritual pain comes from the intersection of myths in conflict with one another. Any time that you find yourself in stress or conflict, you can be sure there is some story, sitting on the sidelines, confusing and tormenting you.

4. Nobody really cares, one way or another, about what you do in your life….people in general are way too caught up in what they have going on in their lives to be concerned about what is going on in your life. Therefore it’s important to ask ourselves the question, “what do I really want?” This may be one of the most important spiritual questions in life.

5. Be a spiritual adult. Cut down on the high school drama. Learn to take care of you. Communicate what you want and need clearly. Knock off the dependency of mommy and daddy and the invisible man to tell you what to think, and how to do “it” all the time. Be an adult. Take some responsibility for your decisions.

6. Life is what it is. Regardless of what we think, feel, believe, and hope, life simply is. The soon we understand and integrate this idea, the happier we will feel.

7. Everything is a story. Everything is a myth.  Anything that you have ever been taught is made up by somebody. The reality is that so much of what humans are fighting about has to do with completely made up stories.  No matter how strongly we believe any story, it’s still a story.

And how did you come upon these realizations?

It’s taken years of deep inner exploration, and literally thousands of hours of meditation – to attain an awakening to full consciousness. That moment itself was one of sheer bliss, tears and ultimate freedom. I was in Sedona when the shift occurred. This sense of oneness poured over me, and the entire universe unfolded like a flower within my mind. It was an extraordinary reality –timeless, infinite, expansive, sheer and absolute bliss.

After this, I saw life with a laser-like clarity. I saw that spirituality isn’t a serious thing, but rather something wild, unbound, uncontained — free. I won’t call it tantra, because that’s a label. I won’t call it crazy zen, because that’s a label too. And the reality of life cannot be contained by any system or belief or mythology. Just when you think you know it all – bam – life teaches you that you’re full of shit. This is boundless life. Having. Becoming. Having. Becoming. Existing. Ceasing to Exist.

Wow. This is similar to the system of Taoism I practice – called Complete Reality, which is a classical system, but every practitioner has to discover anew for himself or herself, that reality is boundless and our consciousness has to expand dramatically to have a hope of comprehending reality. Does your approach include a daily practice?

For me, truly, life is the meditation. Living is the meditation. The moving of sexual energy is certainly a beautiful meditation on bliss and pleasure. My daily practice consists of the waking up meditation, the shower meditation, the breakfast meditation, and the brush your teeth and floss meditation. That’s a really good one. Well then, of course, there is the food meditation. That’s a great meditation. I meditated on sushi last night.

And what’s your definition of tantra?

Frankly, tantra is simply another story, another myth. If you ask 1000 people what tantra is, you’ll get 1000 different answers – so clearly tantra is symbolic. That’s why I call my tantric work – Symbolic-Tantra.  I love the idea of tantra because for me, it’s a symbol of pleasure – open mindedness — sex-positivity – and adult sexuality. It’s a great context for creating sex positive, and body image positive environments.

And what is de-mythology?

Mythologies are the misunderstood stories, ideas, laws, and cultural values that underly our decisions and actions in life.

Myths function both consciously and unconsciously. We are energetically trapped with interwoven stories of “thou shalt,” which are ideas about reality that we’ve inherited from parents, teacher, and spiritual elders– but these are not the truth.

De-mythology is about ridding ourselves of disempowering stories that have molded and trapped us in their psychological spider webs. That’s why de-mythologizing is so tricky. If we tug on one strand of our beliefs, we upset the entire web of our identity. 

For most of us, our identity is everything, so we cling to it desperately. I’ve lost a lot of friends and students over the years since I have been doing this work. It’s very threatening.

In reality, my work is all about accelerated energetic clearing, psychological transformation, spiritual and sexual development. By clearing the depths of core issues, unleashing ourselves from the power of myths,  we can facilitate the expansion of consciousness to enlightening levels. 

Wow, that’s a brainful! So what will you be teaching in your upcoming video-webinar for OneTantra?

I’ll be leading an interactive meditation on the nature of Deep Love. Deep love begins with calling forth the energy of deep love. It begins by understanding that everything you know about love you learned from other people who only thought they knew about love. So together, we’ll release those inherited stories of love – and flip the love switches on! So do it, unleash your love on the world – and unleash the love that you have always wanted to give to others on yourself. Wrap yourself in the being of deep love and self intimacy.

How about leaving our readers with some spiritual advice?

Sure… “I don’t know much of anything. Therefore it’s safe to say, neither does anybody else.”

That’s the most spiritual advice I can give at this point in my life.

Oh yeah, and pack a drink and a sandwich. The road to enlightenment can be long and bumpy and fraught with people who insist on keeping the status quo.