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Lions Roar : July 2014
Immediately after the accident, a doctor on the scene assessed things this way: “There’s nothing we can do for him.” When Lokos was moved from Burma to a hospital in Bangkok, doc- tors there concurred. Then the same happened in Singapore, and once more back in new York. All told, six doctors would tell Weiss, who’d suffered seven broken vertebrae in the crash herself, that Lokos’s prognosis was hopeless. When one flatly told her, “This man won’t live,” she replied, “You don’t know this man.” Finally, two doctors—a Dr. Tan in Singapore and a brilliant new York surgeon named Dr. Yurt—saw not only the Lokos that Weiss knew but also the potential for turning things around. loKoS CountS Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Thich nhat hanh, Mingyur Rinpoche, and others among his teach- ers, but the path was not always so clearly delineated for him; in fact, he didn’t come to Buddhism until late in life. As a native new Yorker growing up in Brooklyn, he was raised in a family that was, as he puts it, “once-a -year Jewish,” though his mother’s side was both very religious and wonderful. “That’s where the joy was in my early childhood,” he says. “But—and I think this really plays into where I ended up—my mother died when I was sixteen and my father was mentally ill, bipolar.” his father was arrested repeatedly, and Lokos and his brother were eventually called to his apartment to intervene; he had pinned a woman down and was over her with an axe. he was arrested one last time and died in the forensic ward nine days later. Whether despite or because of such difficulty, the young Lokos found himself drawn to beauty. he began exploring the arts, in particular singing. (This can be no surprise to anyone who’s heard his sonorous voice and impeccable diction.) “I studied with Mad- eline Marshall, who was teaching at Julliard and was the great Eng- lish language teacher at the Met,” Lokos says. “She literally wrote the book on how to sing in English. I used to cut all my classes at Brooklyn College so I could go to rehearsals. This teacher said, ‘Why don’t you go to a school where your classes are rehearsals?’ ” A career was born, with Lokos performing on Broadway and loving it, as well as the lifestyle that came with it. It wasn’t lucrative, he says, but “I did lots and lots of raucous carrying on and having fun.” Later, wanting more, he and Weiss decided to pursue careers as ministers fostering harmony in post-9/11 new York. The inter- faith group they founded wouldn’t last, yet the ministry experi- ence would eventually lead to CMC’s birth in 2007, and training for it was what ultimately put Lokos onto the Buddhist path. It’s often said that people come to the dharma because of suf- fering, but that wasn’t quite it for Lokos. “I was suffering as much as anybody else,” he claims, “but even in seminary, I never under- stood why the word was used so much.” Instead, Lokos says he felt the pull of a more positive allure: “Part of the study program to be a minister was that a practitioner from each of the world’s religions would come and chat with us. And when this Buddhist fellow came in and began to speak, he brought this sense of calm and joy I really hadn’t seen before! That was in 1998, and I was about fifty-seven. he asked me, ‘My teacher is com- ing to the united States. Why don’t you come on retreat with us?’ So I did.” That teacher, Lokos’s first, was Thich nhat hanh. Today, the connection to calm and joy remains. he says, “I’m often asked what about this path appealed to me so much. It’s just, life works better. It’s easier. It’s more fun.” aFter tHe CraSH, Lokos endured surgery after surgery, graft after graft, with fantastic results. he seems awed, still, by all that’s happened, and without self-pity. But more than that, he seems appreciative. “The body is unbelievable,” he tells me, smiling. “It’s incred- ible—this is all healing. When I came home, I could not turn on my electric toothbrush. The first time I did, we celebrated! The nerves are regenerating right now, which is painful, but also sort “I went into an operating room to have two of my fingers removed,” Lokos says. But at the last moment, they showed signs of potential nerve generation. SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 66