The Remarkable Survival Strategy
of Mr Lester Levenson
by Stephen J.M. Bray
[Biodata and picture of
contributor will be found by clicking here]
When Lester Levenson, aged 42 years, was discharged from the hospital to his penthouse he concluded: "It is a tomb and I'm a dead man".
For the next three days he slept. The doctor had told him that he was so ill that he would never be able to tie a pair of shoelaces again.
Lester had suffered a coronary of such magnitude that he should by rights have been dead. His doctor predicted that his life would be over within three months.
Although the view of Central Park from his window was beautiful Lester couldn't appreciate it. The doctor's warnings had made him feel that he was virtually a corpse.
"What point is there in beauty if it cannot be enjoyed," he pleaded?
He thought of suicide, and even checked that he had sufficient pain killers to do away with himself if he so wished. Discovering that he had an ample supply seemed to give him strength. At least now there could be an end if things got worse.
His body was crippled, but his mind was still clear and Lester decided to use it to see if he could find ways to survive.
"What is life anyway," he pondered? "What have I been seeking?"
And from nowhere a matter-of-fact voice seemed to answer, "Just a little happiness".
"Then", Lester continued in this self-talk, "What is happiness? What is life and my relationship to it?"
For the following three months Lester pursued these questions relentlessly. He researched them at first in his own books, and later in libraries. He read Freud, Watson, Jung and Adler, but they could not answer his questions. He read the philosophers, but their words were like sawdust and Lester was starving. He returned to read engineering books, psychiatric books, and physics books.
And then one day he exclaimed: "That's it. I'm finished with reading all this crap." He had decided to return to basics and to examine his questions by self-searching.
After a few months Lester had rejected many commonly held beliefs about the causes of happiness.
For example, happiness does not come simply from being loved by family, friends, or intimate lovers. Nor does it come from accomplishments in sport, business, or creative endeavours, he discovered.
It's true, he had felt pride in many of the accomplishments in his life, but happiness ~ "No".
After a while he started to look for the times when he had been truly happy. Many experiences came to mind. When Lester examined these he found one thing common to all of them. In every experience of true happiness he Lester had been the lover rather than the beloved.
"Happiness is when I am loving!" he realized. "And since loving is something over which I have choice, then I may choose to be miserable, or happy." He then thought of all the people over the years who had treated him without feeling. He started with the doctor who had discharged him from the hospital. Did that doctor deserve his love, wondered Lester?
"That's not the point", replied the still small voice. "The question is can you love him, rather than does he deserve to be loved?"
Dr. Schultz was the first person upon whom Lester tried his loving process.
With each person to whom he had harboured feelings of hostility, anger or hatred Lester managed to change his feelings to that of loving. Sometimes the process took weeks as the old feelings tried to return. Bit by bit Lester reviewed his life's experience changing old disappointments, rejections, and frustrations into loving.
Meanwhile Lester's energy was returning. He was doing his own shopping, looking after his home, and even going for walks just for pure enjoyment. After two months Lester had a second revelation. He realized that throughout his life he had wanted to change the world.
He wanted to change: The President of the United States, other government heads, other countries, the scripts of movies, the weather, his girlfriends, the ways businesses are run, taxes and many other things.
"I have allowed myself to become a victim to all these things that I want to change", Lester exclaimed.
And so Lester reviewed this list of things that he wanted to change, each time dissolving the feelings previously held with those of love. As Lester continued to dissolve the pain he had nurtured in his life new questions came to him. He asked "What is intelligence?"
The image of bumper cars with all the razzmatazz of the fairground flashed into his mind. Each car is powered by a single source in a wire grid on the ceiling. The cars pick up the power from a pole attached to the car's motor, which brushes the powered ceiling. The cars accelerate very quickly, and their steering is oversensitive making them difficult to control. The result is that when drivers attempt to control the car, it becomes more and more difficult to drive. When they relax, however, the cars can be driven with great skill.
Lester concluded that if he learned how to regulate the amounts of power and intelligence coming into his own life, then he would have a better ability to steer it. In Lester's own words: "I saw that I was responsible for everything that had happened to me, formerly thinking that the world was abusing me! And I saw that my tremendous effort to make money and then losing it was due only to my thinking; that I had been always seeking happiness, and thought that making money would do it. So whenever the business started to make money, and the money did not bring me the happiness I wanted, I began to lose interest and the thing collapsed. I had always blamed it on other people and circumstances, not realizing that it was simply my subconscious knowledge that this is not happiness that caused me to lose interest and that, in turn, caused the business to collapse."
Realizing that happiness equates to loving, and that thinking was the reason that projects turned out as they did provided a powerful release for Lester. His compulsions dissolved as he realised that he did not have to be or do anything. Lester just got happier and happier in his new found freedom.
After three months the time came for him to face his fear of death. When he examined it he found that this fear had been the bedrock of every other compulsion, problem, or pain he had ever known. And when he dissolved death's spectre he discovered that his body was now completely healed.
But more than this Lester not only was experiencing joy and elation, he also was totally at peace.
He concluded that life could be understood like a comb. Each one of the teeth experiencing like an individual, but the spine of the comb being in contact with all of the teeth can experience the wholeness of the entire comb. Only if you chose to sit at the end of one of the teeth was any sense of separation possible.
By April 1952 Lester was able to experience time in a radically different way. Instead of past and future only nowness existed for him. His ability to feel connected, (as if experiencing the world from the spine of the comb), was such that telepathic powers had started to emerge. Car parking spaces 'miraculously' opened for him on busy streets. Whilst sitting in a chair, he was able to 'drop' his body completely and instead experience himself as the whole universe.
Little by little his identification with the universe, rather than the Lester the character within it gained a greater and greater hold upon him.
Lester Levenson's techniques are now taught as 'The Release Technique', 'Holistic Releasing', and 'The Sedona Method'. Workshops, books and tapes are all available to those who wish to buy them. But in some ways these miss the point, which is not that life may be experienced as love in action or some other phrase written here. But rather that each of us, through a process of personal introspection has the ability to find our own path to liberation. No book or guru is necessary.
Lester Levenson died in 1994 aged 84 years.
Bray was born in Dorset and educated at Blandford Grammar School, and
Universities in Plymouth, Manchester, Santa Cruz and London. He currently lives
in Turkey. Trained in the arts of dynamic therapy, family therapy, gestalt,
process oriented psychology and NLP, he now spends his time supporting those who
wish to help others. Details of his work and his contact information may be
found at http://www.quietquality.com/