David Life is a co-founder (with Sharon Gannon) of the Jivamukti School of Yoga and co-director of the Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York. Born in a small town in Michigan, Life – who worked for many years as an artist; moved to New York with his then-wife Kathy in 1980. The couple quickly launched Life Cafe in Manhattan's East Village, which became one of the epicenters of the East Village's thriving artistic scene (the cafe was later immortalized in Jonathan Larson's play "Rent"). Life left his partnership in the cafe in 1984 to establish the Jivamukti School with Gannon. He has since taught yoga to celebrities such as Sting, Madonna, Russell Simmons, Christy Turlington, and Donna Karan. Life is a longstanding member of PETA; along with Gannon, he set up a 76-acre wildlife forest sanctuary in upstate New York.
David Life: Yes. I have had many teachers that I believe were enlightened beings. My teacher . . . My one living teacher now, __________, I believe is an enlightened being. I’ve had three principal gurus, all of which I felt were enlightened. What that means to me is that they had a certain detachment from the goings on in the world, and at the same time an involvement; so that at the same time they did meaningful actions in the lives, somehow they weren’t attached to those actions and their results. They did things because it was the right thing to do, and that to me is enlightenment. People do things for a lot of reasons, and usually for wrong reasons. And to me the enlightened souls are the ones that undertake actions because they are the perfect thing to do in that time. Of course the problem in that equation is when you meet an enlightened person, it tends to make you feel unenlightened. And the trick is so how do I get out of that unenlightenment and attain the same level of serenity and peace that these people are . . . have that I’ve met? And so there’s a wonderful saying in the tradition in respect to teacher and student – that the student’s first job is to find this enlightened being. Their second job is to love that enlightened being. And their third job is to leave them. That means that the student must, through their own effort, attain that enlightenment. Recorded on: 10/31/07