This week, we pose some questions to Eliezer Sobel, the author of The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Experiments. Eliezer has spent most of his life seeking answers to the big questions and writing and speaking about his quests.
ALEX: Can you share a little bit about your background and current professional focus?
ELIEZER: I have no “current professional focus,” because I am not a professional; I am an amateur, part-time human being, with a background in intense suffering, anxiety and depression, spiritual seeking, therapeutic interventions, legal and illegal drugs, and the Holocaust.
I have also devoted a lot of my life to writing and music, leading workshops and retreats, and pizza delivery, although I was fired after several nights for taking two hours to deliver a single pizza. (The streets in Hackensack, New Jersey are really confusing.)
ALEX: What was the experience or who was the person that helped you learn
the most about yourself?
ELIEZER: It has been said that if you want to know how enlightened a (male) Zen Master is, ask his wife. My wife Shari is available to respond to all inquiries regarding my level of personal development.
I should mention, though, that she was a Transformational Breathworker and Kundalini Yoga Teacher until she met me, then gave all that up to pursue a Ph.D. in Mindfulness as a strategy to deal with sharing her life with me.
ALEX: Where’s your favorite place to go to think deep thoughts?
ELIEZER: All of my thoughts are shallow and superficial. And repetitive. Or at best, pornographic. I wasn’t even aware that it is possible to think “deep thoughts.” Are you telling me that other people are out there thinking deep thoughts? Seriously?
ALEX: What place have you visited where you felt a strong spiritual connection?
ELIEZER: The Hilton Hotel in downtown Boston, where I experienced my first true spiritual awakening in 1975, at the conclusion of the est training. I also spent a night alone at the top of Mt. Sinai once, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful a place as the Hilton.
ALEX: If you could have dinner with any person (living or dead) who would you choose and why?
ELIEZER: Jesus, because I missed his last supper. I heard that Judas got a doggie bag.
ALEX: What’s a quote that you consider particularly inspiring?
ELIEZER: “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.” – Woody Allen.
“Is it now yet?” –Dan Brown (the meditation teacher, not the Da Vinci code guy.) Dan also said, “The benchmark of progress [on the spiritual path] is experiencing spontaneous states of compassion and gratitude.”
ALEX: What’s your latest project?
ELIEZER: To develop better meta-cognitive awareness skills; meaning, to be better able to dispassionately witness the madness of my mind from the perspective of the Vast and Boundless Ocean of Pure Being rather than from the point of view of the little schmuck who lives inside my head and tends to wreck everything.
ALEX: Thank you so much for sharing with our readers some of your thoughts.
If you’re interested in learning more about Eliezer, visit his site at www.eliezersobel.com.
This is a series of interviews with spiritual seekers and trailblazers.
If you or someone you know would make a great interview subject, contact Alex Andrei and provide a brief description of your seeker cred.