Leonard Laskow, M.D., has a distinguished career in medicine. A Stanford-trained physician, he is a Life Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a founding diplomat of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, and has served on the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco. But his true career path emerged from an entirely unexpected direction more than a third of a century ago—when he found himself at the epicenter of a series of inexplicable and dramatic spiritual healings. Dr. Laskow has since established himself as one of the leading researchers and teachers in the healing power of love. He recently shared with us his extraordinary journey and how he sees the true nature of business as an expression of unconditional love. — J.D.M.
How did you get from being a “normal” practicing physician to the fascinating work you do today?
Thirty-three years ago, while working as a physician in a very busy practice, I was also engaged personally in spiritual pursuits. At a retreat, while meditating at 2:00 in the morning, I had a fairly dramatic revelation that my work was to heal with love. It was a profound message, and I knew instantly it was true. I just didn’t know what it meant.
As I continued in my practice, events soon unfolded where I had an opportunity to spontaneously allow healing energy to flow through me. After that, miracles started to occur, and I quickly came to realize that this was what my life’s work was about.
At the same time, it seemed so complex. Working with people involves so many variables, and the biggest one of all—the elephant in the living room—is the placebo effect. People’s belief systems can be powerful enough to affect their immunology, even to the extent of turning genes on and off and triggering both illness and healing.
I knew that I was dealing with something more than a placebo effect. I was seeing the effect of the interaction of my consciousness and the consciousness of whatever I was focusing on. But I wanted to study this, divorced from all these variables, by working in the laboratory with single-celled organisms and non-living systems.
Through some friends at major universities in the Bay Area, we were able to do research with cancer cells grown in tissue culture, with bacteria grown in culture, with DNA, and with water.
Through this work, I was able to demonstrate that love was a real, tangible force; that it can affect changes in both living and non-living systems; and that the combination of unconditioned love and intention can be made manifest.
Once I’d satisfied the scientific part of my mind that this was all demonstrably real, I jumped in with both feet. I sold my practice and wrote a book about my findings called Healing with Love [see review p. 11 in this issue]. Now I teach seminars and do consulting and healing work with people internationally.
You have this extraordinary gift, as an individual—but what relevance does this have for the rest of us?
That’s what was so beautiful. I started doing seminars with people to see if this gift was inherent in others. There was a part of me that knew it was, but I needed to see that it was.
Sure enough, I found it is something anyone can learn; it’s our birthright.
Loving awareness is our inherent nature. In other words, the awareness of interconnectedness and relatedness. In the language of science, it’s an awareness of correlation within the world of duality.
At the deepest level, it’s the awareness of oneness: that all things are different manifestations and expressions of the one.
Once I realized this, it was obvious that of course we could all do this—because in our essential nature we are love itself, that which brings us back to oneness.
How does this awareness relate to the kind of healing you describe?
We can effect change in a living or non-living system when we become one with that system.
There are other ways of effecting change. When I was a surgeon, I operated on people. Some people effect change by making war.
But the most powerful, enduring way of effecting change is through love, because love represents essential truth: the truth that there is only one. When you effect change through truth, rather than hitting something with a hammer and breaking it, you come into oneness with it and you reshape it through love, by recognizing the unity of all.
So you’re describing love not simply as a feeling about another person, but almost like an extreme empathy, where you feel almost tangibly connected with that person.
Exactly—and then beyond that sense of connection is the recognition of oneness. At the deepest level, all suffering is created by the illusion that there’s an “I” and a “you.”
This is built into our language; it’s the way the human mind functions: through analysis, which is to say, through compartmentalization into subject, object, and whatever process occurs between subject and object.
Unless we can transcend our identification with the mind and the illusion of separation, we continue to have suffering, illness, distress and disease. That’s the process that form—which is created by the mind—takes us through, until we can eventually transcend it and recognize that everything is a manifestation of unity. Then we can relax into the whole process as the game that it truly is.
What role does this sense of unity play in business?
You also come to recognize that business is just another manifestation of the game of duality.
Business always involves some kind of exchange, which means there’s a relationship. So ultimately, business is about relationship. If you go deep enough, the essence of every relationship is love—because love is the awareness of our relatedness.
To be truly successful, most businesses need to look at more than just the financial bottom line. The exception, of course, might be businesses that provide basic needs with no alternative choice available, such as utilities and public transportation, governmental agencies and monopolies. Otherwise, if it’s going to be successful and sustainable, a business also needs to focus on customer satisfaction.
And even governments, at least in a democracy, are voted out if the customer isn’t happy!
That’s quite true. You can actually apply this idea to all the above. If the utilities, agencies or monopolies don’t provide satisfaction, eventually they’ll deteriorate or be overthrown in some way.
We talk about “customer satisfaction,” but we can really go beyond mere satisfaction to the next level. To be truly successful, a business can provide people with what they’re really looking for in the world of human interaction, and that is happiness.
A focus on customer and employee satisfaction is sometimes called service; to serve is to give satisfaction, and at a higher level, happiness. The highest form of giving, the greatest gift, is love.
If it realizes what its highest purpose is—to engage in loving exchanges—then a business can become quite powerful through love. There’s the opportunity for a genuine win-win in business: to recognize that when we create something or share a gift, talent or passion and put that into a form called “a business,” and then someone else receives, recognizes, acknowledges and wants that creation, talent, gift, or passion and exchanges for it with an energy form called money—then what each one is actually exchanging is their love.
Has there been a progression here, where customer used to be viewed almost as a luxury, and has come to be viewed more and more as being central to the business offering?
Yes, I think so—and also to see the product that’s being offered as really a creation of the human mind and heart.
When people engage in business and create or market a product through which their soul finds expression, then the business becomes successful in this way we’ve been describing.
Then you see someone like Bill Gates, who starts to say, “Okay, what now? What will bring me the greatest happiness?” And now he’s focusing on giving back.
Actually, the business has been about giving and receiving all along. It’s always been an exchange. Bill Gates was always about finding ways of producing a product that satisfies people and gives them something that allows them to be creative and express themselves.
This is true of Warren Buffet, as well—two of the most successful businessmen in American society today, and I think they’re great examples of love in business.
They’re both so full now. You could say, “Oh, they’re just full of money.” But they’ve been dealing in this exchange all along. What they’re really full of is love, and now they’re just giving it back.
You tell a story about a woman with severe back pain, who it turns out was working in what felt like a “back-breaking job.” Isn’t that the perception that so many have, that they labor and toil within a larger system? How can they apply this sense to transform their own lives?
When you go through difficult times, what’s sometimes called the dark night of the soul, it has a purpose. Its purpose is to awaken within you those places that are resisting the truth of who you are—those places you’re identified with that are not who you truly are in your essential nature.
In this woman’s case, she came to realize that her “back-breaking job” was an echo of some painful early circumstances in her life that she was still identifying with, and that eventually showed up as an illness that required surgery. When she came to see me, I just shined the light of awareness on those darkened places in her subconscious, and when she realized that, the pain disappeared. The need for surgery was released, and everything shifted.
So our work is not just what we do, but it’s an expression of who we are.
Sooner or later, what we all have to find is that the love we’re seeking is ever-present within. Once we discover this, we stop seeking it and start really giving it. We become, essentially, the sun that we’ve been looking for outside of ourselves.
That’s what the purpose of human life ultimately is: the realization that we are the love we’re seeking outside of ourselves.
Sometimes we take a roundabout path through fear, which is simply a sense of separation from our loving nature. Most of society is set up to play upon those fears. For example, our recent political campaigns, which play on our fears about our survival, which depends on the identification with our physical form.
Some businesses also play on those fears. But the businesses that ultimately endure will be those that operate out of that direct awareness of the love we’ve been speaking of here.
That’s the one thing that will truly endure. Everything else is an illusion and will inevitably fall away.
It’s interesting to think about that in the context of network marketing, which is fundamentally shaped not by a corporate structure but by spinning a web of one-to-one relationships.
Exactly. The use of the word “web,” here, is key. Another word for that is matrix, or field. Each of these people is a node in that field.
Network marketing is really about love. What makes network marketing more successful and, in many ways, more efficient than many other forms of marketing is that it’s based on one-to-one relationships.
Most successful network marketers sooner or later recognize the role of connectedness or relatedness—which is to say, love—in network marketing. The top people in networking are very much in touch with their hearts.
If you operate only from your mind, sooner or later things will fall apart. The brighter you are, the longer you can avoid it. But inevitably, it will come crashing down.
The heart’s intelligence is the recognition of the oneness and the unity of all. That’s the truth. If a business is going to be successful, it’s ultimately going to have to come down to a recognition of unity.
In network marketing we talk about the corporation as the home office and the network of distributors as “the field.” But it never occurred to me before that it is also a field in the sense of being a self-forming, energetic field, like magnetism.
That’s right, it is a field, and even though it seems like there is a center—that is, the home office—it turns out that each node of the field is itself a center. Each person involved in a successful network marketing system has to see himself or herself as essentially the center of the source of love.
Walking along the beach in Maui at sunset, it occurred to me that wherever I was, the sun seemed to be pointing towards me. Love is like that: you can’t get away from it, because no matter where you are, it’s shining on you. It is the unconditional love that is the one source, and yet, it and you are one, so wherever you are, it is.
In this business, there’s often this process—I usually liken it to a bird emerging from a cage—where the person who’s new at this steps into a place we often describe as “leadership,” but it’s more than that. It sounds like what you’re describing: like they step out of fear or greed and into connectedness.
Exactly. And greed, by the way, is just an aspect of fear. When you’re greedy, you feel there’s not enough, so you want more and more.
At its source, fear comes from a sense of separation from the truth of who you are.
Most of the illness and all of the suffering, stress and disharmony I saw in my practice came from the illusion of separation, from people holding part of themselves separate from another part that was too painful to hold in consciousness.
This could be an early wound, real or perceived, even something from when they were in their mother’s womb, from a sense of their mother’s own fear of inadequacy or some other difficulty, interpreted by the fetus at the preverbal level in such a way that it has conditioned their whole life.
That deep preverbal conditioning then attracts vibration to it in the form of experiences that validate it. One then lives out one’s whole life within that sense of separation—until one becomes aware that one is truly loved. Then that can be released.
That’s one form of separation. Then there’s sep-aration from others, and then there’s separation from our environment, expressed in terms of how we treat our spaceship Earth. Then there is the ultimate separation, which is our sense of separation from our essential nature.
That’s what our life purpose is ultimately about: to discover the truth of who we are and transcend that sense of separation.
Which brings us back to stepping into that sunlight…
Right—in a web, each of us is a center. In a way, each of us is our own sun, and that ties back into network marketing. Successful network marketers are each a sun unto themselves, and the rays that radiate from that sun form part of the web that connects to other people and ignites their own sun, which go on in turn to connect to others.
And I gather you’re not talking here about being an extrovert, a great public speaker or any other sort of external characteristic, as much as something you generate internally.
Yes, it’s your inherent nature, tapping into the real source of it.
Look at the deeper motivation for going into business: what is it really? Why are people engaged in business?
The superficial answer, of course, is to make money and survive. And that’s valid. But what’s deeper than that?
For some people, it’s about creativity, the need to express themselves uniquely—because we’re all one and yet we’re simultaneously each unique. Some people go into business because they want to experience their uniqueness and the particular way that they can make a contribution to the whole.
Other people want to experience their wholeness: they’re making a contribution in a way that allows them to have their unity reflected back to them.
I think these are the two deep motivations for business, and that everything else is in the outer rings of it, so to speak.
It’s easy to look at the examples of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, because they’re so obviously successful in their fields and are now huge philanthropists. Can you also see the same principles happening for the waiter in a coffee shop, or anywhere else in business?
Exactly. This is why it doesn’t matter what you do or what your business is, at the deepest level. Someone can be genuinely happy sweeping the streets.
One of the happiest people I know is a shoemaker in Mill Valley. He used to be a lawyer in Eastern Europe before he emigrated; now his hands are all calloused from working on shoes and bags all his life.
I visited him in his shop. You look into his eyes and there’s an extraordinary aliveness twinkling there. When you walk in, he’s totally present with you. And when he’s focused on the shoe, he’s connected with the shoe, interested in that shoe. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he’s connected, he’s interested. He takes whatever is to be done, and he does it.
It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s the quality of awareness, aliveness and presence you bring to it that makes all the difference.
And people catch it like a cold.
Exactly. What’s behind it is an unconditional love for life—and that has an absolutely infectious quality.