Interview with The Native Society
The Native Society, July 24, 2018
Eli Jaxon-Bear is the author of An Outlaw Makes It Home, Wake Up and Roar, Sudden Awakening, and Fixation to Freedom. He has worked as a mailboy, dishwasher, steel-worker, teacher and organic farmer. He was a community organizer with VISTA in Chicago and Detroit before entering a doctoral program at the Graduate School of International Studies in Denver, Colorado. He has been living with his partner and wife, Gangaji, since 1976. They currently reside in Ashland, Oregon. Eli meets people and teaches through the Leela Foundation.
What do I do best?
Well it has changed over the past 70 years. These days I think those around me would probably say gardening or cooking.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Being silent. A silent mind and an open heart allow me to be myself in full acceptance and support.
What are my aspirations?
That all beings be free. I mean that both relatively and absolutely. It is the next leap for humankind.
My Biggest Success?
Being in a relationship with my best partner, lover and friend for the past 41 years.
My Most Challenging Moment?
I have been very fortunate to have many, many challenging moments in this life. When I was 18 and a freshman in college I took a bus to Alabama to join the civil rights marches. It was terrifying choice but I had to follow my heart in spite of the terror in my body. The challenges escalated from there to living underground as a fugitive during the Vietnam war to facing a death sentence from an incurable, fast-acting blood cancer when I was 60. But all of them fade away to the challenge of telling the truth to my wife. I found that over the years as secret resentments mounted I would have an internal dialogue about her without ever sharing it. Telling the truth was the greatest challenge and the greatest gift.
Nothing is real. Everything else comes and goes.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gangaji (my wife), Sri Poonjaji, Ramana Maharshi,
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
All my favorite places are tied into the activities that happened in that place. Having a satsang meeting in the Papal Auditorium in the Cathedral of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy stands out. Leading a retreat at ChoShoJi Zen Temple in Japan; all night full moon trance dance ceremony in an open air Temple in Bali and a Sufi initiation in Merrekesh are certainly up there. My favorite cities are San Francisco, New York, Kyoto, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I bought my first Bulldog garden spades and forks in 1978. My partner was training in acupuncture in England and brought them back for me. I still have them although the Bulldog Forge is long gone. The all-wooden handles feel good to the hand, the tool is well balanced and the heads have little extra touches that make them more user friendly.
My Current Passions?
I have always loved reading and the last several years I have been reading history a bit obsessively, trying to get a grasp of the larger flow from Sumer and Mesopotamia to the present. This has taken me through Greece, Rome, the Silk Road, many side roads, and the Americas. I have just finished a biography of Lenin and an excellent book on the French Revolution by Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety.