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Lions Roar : July 2014
And word gets around. now when Lokos meets new people, they often tell him, “Oh, I’ve heard about you.” “So there is an opportunity here,” he says, “and I just hope I can be equal to it. I’m in uncharted waters. “ The twist,” Lokos adds, “is that I will no longer only be teaching someone else’s teachings. Great teacher though I do follow—the Buddha—I have now been ‘in the fire’ for real, and have been among people who have been suffering in a real sense. Susanna reached a point—and she has spoken about this openly—of saying, ‘I now know that there can be something worse than death; we would’ve been better off if we had been killed.’ So suffering is no longer theory and philosophy. And I’m not through the flames yet. I’m still sitting in them. “My life focus is around studying and teaching the dharma and writing,” Lokos continues. Indeed, Through Fire, which fol- lows up his 2011 book, Patience, is well under way. “I want to help people realize that the last thing the Buddha said is very important: ‘Prepare now.’ ” So, dId medItatIon save Allan Lokos’s life a second time? In a word: no. Lokos recalls that soon after the accident, his dear friend and mentor Sharon Salzberg advised him, “You shouldn’t be meditating.” It was as simple as that, Lokos explains. “I had no concentration whatsoever, and it wouldn’t have been wise to introduce an additional struggle at that time.” But is it possible that meditation practice helped him in his recovery? “ That’s the first thing people usually ask,” he concedes. “Maybe that’s where I had one leg up—that, due to practice, I’m not under as much stress as a nonpractitioner might be. I think the way the research about these things puts it is that there is no illness or condition that is not made worse by stress. none! So if we’re dealing with less stress, we have a better chance.” Wrapping up my visit with Lokos and Weiss, I ask about that comment she’d made to the doctor who’d said Lokos wouldn’t make it: “You don’t know this man.” What did Weiss know that the doctor didn’t? “I don’t tend to quit,” Lokos offers. “Rather, I become more intrigued. I’ve discussed this with my trauma therapist—that I don’t really think that you can actually quit. And she said, ‘But you can turn bitter.’ And that’s what happens—a part of you quits. That doesn’t interest me. “I don’t think I was in a plane crash for any reason other than I happened to be sitting on that plane. I’m very much a believer in ‘things arise out of causes and conditions.’ It was all my choice to be there; I don’t regret that choice—I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.” Lokos and Weiss even flew again, on the one-year anniversary of the crash, to see family. “I think it’s good to do those things, you know,” he says. “But it was not remarkable. Flying into Cleveland is not usu- ally remarkable. Even the anniversary couldn’t change that.” ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 68