Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are proud to present this Interview with author and yogi, LYRIC BENSON FERGUSSON
Part 2 of 2 Parts
Lyric Benson Fergusson is a spiritual teacher and activist who pushes the envelope of how God is traditionally spoken of. Her mission is to spread the message of peace, love, and Divine-realization in the transformational poetry book, French Kissing God: A Journey to Enlightenment. Lyric grew up in Hollywood as daughter of actor/director Robby Benson and singer songwriter Karla DeVito. She spent most of her young life on television sets such as Ellen and Friends. Before her twenty first birthday Lyric experienced several life changing events.
At twenty two Lyric became a celibate monk and remained so until she was almost thirty. She devoted her life to silence and awakening, often spending eight to ten hours a day in eyes closed meditation or prayer. It was during these transformational years that she composed her poetic mysticism.
In Part 1, Lyric talked about her road to spiritual enlightenment and her meditation practices. In Part 2, Pillow Talking explores the path that led to her bestselling book, French Kissing With God.
PT: We talked to you in Part 1 of this interview about your childhood and your road to spiritual enlightenment. Now let’s talk about your creative endeavors now. Other than your parents what or who were your early artistic influences?
LB: I think to some degree it was a lot of painters and sculptors. I’m a huge art history buff and so you know the early artists – early Greek artists – I love Van Gogh – I actually wrote a screenplay on him – he was a huge influence on my life. I just found his story, his life story, so interesting and fascinating and moving that I think for me, watching how artists move through this world and change collective consciousness – and awaken collective conscious in their fellow human beings – to issues and just to life in general, you know was the most influential. I always believed that the artist has a huge responsibility and power to change society.
I think besides pinpointing who influenced me the most, it really was more the collective – watching all of the artists as a whole throughout time and how they transformed the world around them.
PT: What specifically drew you to writing?
LB: When I went to NYU I wrote something like seven feature screenplays in like two years. My teachers moved me from the freshman class to the senior class in writing. I always really loved writing and I think I found that in college. But then I remember I got a deal with a company associated with Sony Pictures to write a screenplay – they told me that they wanted me to write something like Road Trip – obviously those kinds of movies have a place in the world – but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do and not how I wanted to share my voice. That was kind of a good wake-up call for me when I was about nineteen and that’s one of the reasons I went on my spiritual journey (laughs).
PT: We believe you also did some acting?
LB: When I was very little, I was in the movie Modern Love that my dad directed. I also was going to be cast in a movie with Martin Short, but my dad pulled me out at the last minute. He didn’t want me to be a child actor (laughs). I think that was a good choice for me.
PT: So you were into writing and started your spiritual quest let’s say – where did you get the idea for French Kissing God and where did you get that title – which is awesome by the way.
LB: Thank you! So basically [it happened] during the many years of silence. I think everyone’s spiritual journey can be very intense and tumultuous at times, and wonderful, and painful. It’s just like life but somehow it seems to be magnified (laughs) when you are really focused on the path of evolution. What would end up happening is that I would often sit in silence in between meditations and I would just sit with a pen and a piece of paper with the intention to write – and sometimes I would write fifty poems in one day – just all of the wisdom the Divine wanted to share with me that day and at that moment. And all of the wisdom I wanted to express – the experiences, the frustrations the ecstatic bliss – all of those kinds of things would come out in my writing – and it all came out in the form of poetry mostly. And so I’ve written over two thousand poems. I decided to take one hundred-eight of them and put them into this volume of the book. And then the title – for me I was a celibate monk. I was celibate ten years or something like that. My love is God, my love is that flow, that unconditional, passionate flow towards the Divine that fueled my spiritual journey and that made everything worth it. Every bump along the way was the passion that I felt for infinity and that desire for union with that which is beyond form and beyond any kind of description. So the title represents that passion. And also for me when you say French Kissing God – how can you French kiss God? Well at every moment – I mean, if you think of a French kiss – [at least] for me a French kiss is not like just sticking your tongue down someone’s throat. It’s a very passionate kiss that you give to someone you love with all your heart – and to imagine doing that with Infinity at every single moment of every single day – that’s how I try to live my life. And it’s just very passionate and loving and intimate – and for me that is what the Divine is.
PT: That’s a great description. How did you pick one hundred eight out of two thousand poems?
LB: Well one hundred eight is a very sacred number in the Vedic tradition. It is a power number, and for me – it’s kind of hysterical – I have all my poems scribbled on notepads in various bookshelves around the house and then I have a ton on my computer in random files. I just began going through and kind of sorting and I just picked the first hundred eight that was the most helpful and timely. That’s how I did it.
PT: So tell us how was Kickstarter involved in your book process?
LB: I used it as a pre-sale platform. The book was already written. The cover was already designed. It was basically ready to go to print. With Kickstarter I raised close to twenty-thousand dollars and presold over five hundred sixty books or something like that just as a way to create an awareness campaign to help people learn about it. Also I gave custom poems as part of the prizes, I did Skype calls, I gave signed books and signed CDs – it was just a way to connect more with people who were interested in the project and to help raise money for marketing.
PT: Your book is very different. It’s unique in that it’s like poetry, but not really. It’s like love letters but not really. It’s kind of like religious writing but not really. Do you agree and how would you categorize it?
LB: (laughs) Yeah, I think that’s beautiful! I would describe it as mystic poetry, but they are love poems to God basically. There’s a book called Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky that has all of these mystics from the past from Rumi to St. Catherine of Siena to Mirabi from all of these different traditions. And I think that what it is, is the heart speaking to the Divine and the heart speaking to humanity explaining to the Divine. It’s just a beautiful play of many different things. So I’m not exactly sure but what I’ve always felt that this kind of work is so good for healing for spiritual seekers because when people are having a hard day and wondering what the purpose of life is or why they are even on a spiritual path or why should they meditate or why pray these poems they act as sign posts to try and point the way home. Home is here and where is here? It’s in your own self – within your heart basically – I don’t know if that answers the question…
PT: It does. It’s very descriptive. Thank you. We read your poems together as a couple and we really enjoyed them. It was great – your writing has a lot of surprises. It’s like you’re being taken down this road –it’s very poetic, with flowery words, descriptions, nice rhythm and then all of a sudden the word ”shit” appears and it jars you – but in an interesting way. Did you plan for it to be like that?
LB: (laughs) You know…I just came to realize that that’s how life is.
PT: Yes, it is.
LB: My whole point is that God is the shit on the street that you step in and the pristine water that you drink. It’s all of the above. It’s like you can’t have one without the other on this planet and it’s this constant embrace of every single aspect of life that creates that inner peace and great acceptance and bliss so that when you step in the shit – Oh, isn’t that funny! and you are not that upset.
PT: (laughs) You haven’t been around our dogs who don’t always make it outside. It’s not always that pleasant. We suppose if we found a better way of looking at it, it might be more palatable – although palatable may not be the best word (laughs). They leave us little divine gifts everywhere.
LB: (laughs) That’s funny!
PT: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
LB: My hope is they take away hope – that they take away a realization that enlightenment is possible in this life and that you can live in a state that’s free from suffering even when you still have emotions – sadness, happiness, excitement, grief. All of these things can coexist with an extreme sense of freedom and internal power and strength and clarity and coherence. These things can exist simultaneously and I think that’s one of the most important lessons and it’s worth striving for – it’s worth putting in the hours and the time to live in a free way. I was actually just speaking to someone this morning for another interview and we were talking about how a lot of people live as if they are almost in a straitjacket – they feel confined and trapped and kind of hopeless. Oftentimes they seek medication to dull themselves and to try to escape how they are feeling and the challenges that are going on internally let alone externally. When you begin to really dive within and experience awakening then it’s like you are being let go out of this straitjacket and you can breathe and you can move and you can live as your authentic self which is the greatest gift we can give society. It is for each of us to live authentically. That’s what I would hope – the long winded version (laughs).
PT: There are certain aspects of our personal existence that are not within our control. It’s easy to tell someone it’s not under your control so just let it be – but that’s not always the case. How do you deal with situations sometimes that can be very difficult and tumultuous and do directly affect you, but they are things you don’t and can’t control.
LB: I’ve had some experience with this recently. Someone I love dearly – is – I could see they are suffering and so out of my control. How would I give advice in those types of situations? For me, we need to go and do the work ourselves and then we come out with greater clarity and strength and desire to change things. It’s not that meditation makes you inactive. I did spend many years “out of society” but I did that because I needed to transform myself first. It’s so easy to look at the world as adversarial when internally there is so much conflict going on. When I began to experience more and more strength and clarity and peace then what I found was that in situations that might call for some action where you are going against the grain, when you are calling people out on things, or when you are standing up for things that you believe in that are completely unlike anything your loved ones might agree with – you do so with so much power and strength and coherence that you cut through the bullshit in a way that you weren’t able to before. For me, I don’t consider myself a fully-enlightened master. I definitely consider myself on the path, still blessed with the great experiences of enlightenment and great integration. I just feel that enlightenment is such a spectrum – I always feel I’m changing and improving and as these hard situations come up the only thing that we can have is greater tools to deal with them and greater tools to handle them so that we aren’t creating more pain and suffering in the environment. Even though at times it may look like we are – which is the funniest thing – you come in and let’s say a child is about to do something that is harmful and you say “No, no don’t touch that,” and then the child cries but you might have saved their life but they are wailing so it seems like you might have caused suffering. That’s the best way I can describe it.
PT: Let’s address a little materialism now. Your book was just launched on Amazon. You had all 5-star reviews which is absolutely stunning. It was one of the top books in the religious and inspirational categories. Can you tell us about the launch, how is it doing, any book tours coming up, what are you doing to get the word out?
LB: Thank you! Yes, it was a number-one bestseller on Amazon for eight days in a row in two categories which is pretty great. Right now my husband and I are moving back to the mainland from Hawaii so the book launch has been postponed momentarily, but I am planning to hopefully do some touring in the US early this year. I’m hoping to head to Washington DC maybe in March and do some things there. I’m going to let it unfold naturally and see what happens.
PT: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
LB: I would definitely say just go for it. At the same time I would say that self-publishing is very challenging. It’s a very beautiful thing to keep the rights to your work. And to now through Amazon and CreateSpace there are ways to get greater royalties so that you can actually reinvest into marketing. Writers should feel empowered. Marketing is definitely the most challenging [part] but if you have the desire I’m sure nature will support it.
LB: My parents have always been so supportive. I think at first they were curious about what I was doing and why [I was doing it] but then they began seeing the changes in me and the changes in my family as a whole and they recognized how powerful this awakening has been. They do their own practices themselves and understand it more fully and I think they are very proud of me that I am doing what I believe in and what I love.
LB: My husband is an angel (laughs). He also was a monk for many years, so he completely relates to me and he is integrated spiritually and he’s supportive and amazing. He is a complete rock and a powerhouse. He is the chief marketing officer of a company called bizHUMM which is a start-up company that is really awesome.
PT: We know you don’t have a lot of it, but what do you like to do in your spare time?
LB: I love to be with our dog and go swimming and to be outside.
PT: What kind of dog do you have?
LB: She is a Golden Doodle.
PT: (laughs) We have a Golden Doodle! We have a blended dog family – two Pomeranians and a Golden Doodle.
LB: Lola is so calm and the sweetest dog. She is so smart.
PT: We are envious! Ours is sweet and smart but pretty rambunctious – he’s still sort of a puppy! So tell us, other than your book and we assume your dad’s, what other books are on your nightstand?
LB: That’s a good question. I love Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now. I’ve read that several times.
PT: He recently published another one.
LB: Yes, A New Earth. I love that one, too. I thought it was very beautiful. As I mentioned, I love Daniel Ladinsky; he’s a translator. His books The Gift and Love Poems from God are just like, off-the-charts amazing – those are the ones I keep close by as well as the Bhagahd Gita by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – I haven’t read it for years but I keep it on my nightstand.
PT: What’s on your future agenda personally and professionally?
LB: Personally, well, I’m not exactly sure. I want to get my book out there and connect with as many other spiritual individuals who are curious about learning about the work. And just enjoying life. I still meditate two to three hours a day which for me is not very much but I just try to enjoy life and work.
PT: Now for the last question. We asked your dad the same thing. If you could sum up your life in one word what would it be?
LB: (laughs) Oh. my God, I don’t know. (pauses) Can I ask my husband?
LB: (to her husband) Baby, if you could describe me in one word what would it be? (pauses) Ahh, he said “magical.”
PT: Fabulous! That’s a keeper!