Jun 22, 2014 Allan Lokos’s inspiration to just be, at a high level
Each day challenges us to be busy, so that we get to work on time; get our work done; do our work well; have time to eat; do what we need in the shower and bathroom; hopefully have some time to ourselves, for exercise, with our loved ones, and with our friends; prepare for the next day; hopefully get enough sleep; and then repeat it all the next day, interspersed with weekend and vacation time off. Some people look for busy-ness at every moment even on days off, whether out of discomfort in simply being with and knowing themselves, feeling that simply being is a time waster in our finite lives, out of habit, or for a host of other reasons.
For several weeks, I had been looking forward to Allan Lokos’s appearance at this weekend’s BuddhaFest in Arlington, Virginia. Allan is an accomplished meditation teacher and interfaith minister with his wife Susanna Weiss, who previously performed in theater, as is evident when he speaks so clearly and entertainingly. Sharon Salzberg is one of Allan’s teachers, and I have benefitted tremendously from learning from Sharon since first experiencing her in 2011.
I started reading Allan’s book Patience
around a year before he and his wife were in a plane crash in Burma. They both survived, but Allan’s foot got caught on something as he was trying to get out of the plane, and his legs got so badly burnt that sheets of skin were hanging off, and bone was exposed. The local residents looked at him with horror on their faces. A local doctor told Allan’s wife that he would die.
Even in his greatest moments of danger and pain, Allan found the kindness in others and gratitude for them, from the local townsperson who reassured him he would be okay, to the other resident who offered to bathe him, to the American embassy staffer who just happened to have been in town when Allan’s plane crashed, to his burn doctor in Singapore who was ever in the moment, and whose burn team’s skin grafting on Allan’s hands made his New York doctors unable even to visibly identify any skin grafting. Allan’s doctor in Singapore watched Allan’s videos on YouTube, and told him that he wanted to read Allan’s books, but only after Allan autographed them, which Allan was ultimately able to do after returning to New York and going through more painful burn treatment
Allan will detail his planed crash and burn and recovery experience further in his upcoming book Through the Flames, due for release this December 2014.
Allan started his talk on June 20 at BuhddhaFest as I would love many gatherings to start, with a short meditation, this one being ten minutes. He pointed out how welcome doing so could be, at the end of the day. This was my most amazing meditation experience next to my first meditation experience with Sharon Salzberg three years ago, when for the first time I felt limitless in time and space.
With Allan’s meditation, he started off to connect even with neophyte meditators, including inviting them to return to their breath if distracted. At some point, he just stopped talking, and the room fell so silent that I wondered whether I would see only myself in the room upon opening my eyes. Ram Dass has spoken of experiencing LSD as if the ego dies, with the person emerging to something new. I have not done acid nor any other recreational drugs other than marijuana a handful of times decades ago, and do not wish to seek out chemicals nor other drugs for altered states of conscience. Nevertheless, for this brief few minute, this is the closest I had ever come to losing my ego, if even temporarily. This was transformative.
Then Allan rang the bell or singing bowl slowly, three time, but I did not want to return yet from this feeling of no ego, and now was challenged to continue towards the no-ego path with my eyes open, seeing and hearing the people around me
Regardless of how much this amazing experience was due to Allan or my readiness for it — clearly it was a combination of both — I am deeply grateful for it.
The more I shed my ego, the more I get to non-duality. The more I am on the path of non-duality, the more powerful and fulfilled I am. Duality, also known as attachment, is a huge barrier to me in court, in the rest of my work, and in the rest of my life, as it is to anyone. Non-duality is the way to go. Aptly, earlier this month, Allan Lokos affirmed: "In reality there is no duality."
A good ending point for this blog entry could be my transformative meditation experience under Allan’s guidance. However, I want to talk more about Allan here.
When the time came for a few questions to Allan, I at first thought about asking him for more detail about how he got through the daily hours, minutes and seconds of pain and likely repeated boredom, particularly when his body was in such straits that he could not even meditate. I stopped myself. It was better to try to answer myself, for times that I myself am experiencing pain and boredom. Be in the moment. Find something wonderful in the moment. Remember that our bodies are our hosts and do not define us. Do not judge the moment, yourself, nor nothing nor anybody else. Do not resist circumstances, but instead work through them. Do not attach to pain, boredom, and other hurdles, but engage with and be aware of them. Love yourself and others. Serve yourself and others.
Consequently, I decided simply to thank Allan, say how wonderful I felt about his rapid recovery, and give him the origami peace crane that I had folded for him after the meditation.
Onsite, I bought Allan’s Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living. I watched in wonder as he signed my book with those same hands that had been so badly burnt and later surrounded by material buffering his skin from touch.
I gave Allan the origami crane. He thanked me for it, noticing the intricacies executed with this 5×5 centimeter paper. I said that for me, the wings on the bird are transcendent, and pointed out that he had already transcended so much.
Such experiences can only be captured in person, not on YouTube nor in a book. Deeply thanking and bowing to Allan Lokos.