I’m creating this post and sharing this story only because very few people have ever heard of Lester Levenson, a modern American master who turned misery, sickness, depression, and deathbed to complete health, happiness, and prosperity.
Lester Levenson has helped me to see what I truly am and my life has been forever changed.
“The original state for all beings is love. Our troubles are due only to our covering over this natural state.” – Lester Levenson
Here’s Lester’s story.
IN THE HOSPITAL
“What do you mean, from now on?” A very sick feeling was rising from Lester’s gut, up into his stomach.
“I mean that you cannot expect to live a normal life from here on.” He went on quickly when he saw Lester’s shocked look. “You’ve just had a very serious coronary; you’re lucky to be alive at all. Anyone else would have been dead by now with the severity of this attack.” The doctor paused, then cleared his throat, “I realize how difficult it must be for you to hear this, but I assure you it isn’t pleasant for me either.” He got up abruptly and walked to the window, his back to Lester. “I wish there were something else I could say; I wish I could tell you that in a few months you’d be back to normal and could pick up your life where you left off,” he paused, turning to face Lester quietly, “but I can’t. In all conscience, I can’t tell you that. And I’m sorry.”
Lester was angry now. “You’re sorry? Well, so am I! You saved my life… for what? So that I can be an invalid for the rest of it? What the hell kind of life are you giving me back anyway?”
Once started, he couldn’t stop. He raved on and on. All his frustration, rage and anger poured out until the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach finally rose to his throat and he began to cough and choke. The doctor held a basin for him while he gagged and heaved and finally fell back exhausted onto the pillows, his hand shaking as he reached up to wipe his mouth.
The doctor was shaking too as he carried the soiled basin to the bathroom. He carefully placed it on the floor, then hunched over the sink, one hand on each side of it supporting his weight, his forehead touching the cold mirror of the medicine chest on the wall. In spite of all his years of practice, these situations still affected him. He thought of home and wished he were there now, his day over, relaxing before dinner with a drink or two.
With a deep sigh, he pulled himself erect and walked back into the room. “I’ll sign the discharge papers today. But you can stay on if you want,” he said quietly “If you need more time to make your arrangements, I’ll tell the nurse it’s okay.” He didn’t know what else to say.
Lester answered, “No, that’s all right, I’ll leave today, this afternoon. There doesn’t seem to be any point in prolonging it.”
“All right, whatever you decide is all right. But remember that you can change your mind and stay a bit longer if you want.” He stood in silence for a moment, while he carefully examined Lester’s ashen face. “Please be sure to take it easy when you get home. I can’t overemphasize the importance of that. You shouldn’t climb any stairs at all. And do you have shoes without laces; you know, loafers?”
“Loafers? No, why?”
“You might want to have someone buy you a pair. It’s better if you don’t have to bend over to tie your shoes. It puts an additional strain on your heart when you get into that position.”
The idea struck Lester as ridiculous but all he said was, “Okay, whatever you say.” He’d always hated loafers but it didn’t matter now. Then as he watched the doctor walk toward the door, a question occurred to him. “Doc,” he asked, “I’m not going to die, am I? I mean, I might have to kind of take it easy from here on, but I’m not going to die, right?”
Dr. Schultz stopped. “I don’t know,” he answered, then turned to face Lester. “I wish I could give you a positive answer, but I can’t. The truth is that I simply don’t know. You’ve had a massive heart attack, and you could live for another year or two, or you could go tomorrow. I just don’t know.”
“Thanks for being honest with me, Doc. I’ll be seeing you.”
HOME (NOT THAT) SWEET HOME
That afternoon, Lester went home to his penthouse as though to a tomb.
“It is a tomb,” he thought, “and I’m a dead man. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.”
His sisters wanted to help and offered to take turns staying with him, to take care of him, but he sent them away. He just wanted to be by himself. He went to bed and mostly slept for three days, waking up only occasionally to eat, or take his medicines, or use the bathroom. Then he’d crawl, like a wounded animal, back to his hole.
On the fourth day, something changed. After his midday meal, he was sitting in a chair, looking out the window at Central Park. There was snow; the trees were sparkling; the park looked like a fairyland. How beautiful it was and then he realized that he wasn’t enjoying it at all. He could not respond, even to beauty. He was a virtual invalid, with no hope of ever getting any better. At best, he could look forward to years of sitting in this apartment, nursing a frail corpse that hadn’t the good sense to lie down and get it over with.
That thought made him so furious he got up from his chair with the greatest surge of energy he’d had since his attack, went straight to the medicine chest in the bathroom and counted his pills. He found a good supply of the newer medications; sedatives and heart pills. There were also morphine tablets a doctor had prescribed some years before for the pain of kidney stones. There were certainly enough left in the bottle to take him off this planet if he chose to go. And morphine would be such a nice way to go; you just floated off on a warm, cozy cloud, everything rosy. It was certainly better than waiting for another heart attack.
Okay. Now he had a choice. For the first time since his illness, he felt he had some control over what happened to him. He considered what to do. Should he take the pills now and get it over with? No, not right now he decided; he could always take them when and if things got too bad.
He went back to his chair and began looking the situation over, speaking aloud to himself, “You’re still breathing. No matter what those doctors or anyone else say about the prognosis, you’re still breathing, and that’s what counts. Maybe there’s some hope after all.”
“Okay, where do I start?”
That question brought on the sinking feeling again, and it occurred to him that perhaps he should go ahead and take the pills at once. At least then he’d be out of his misery and could stop fighting. And what had he been fighting for all his life anyway? Just a little happiness, that was all; and he hadn’t found it, not ever, not in any way that lasted more than a few minutes or hours at a time. Momentary… that’s what life was… momentary… impermanent… always changing… you’d no sooner think you had it made, had everything nailed down and could relax, then the next thing would happen, and there you were again … right back where you’d started … clutching, clutching, clutching for something you couldn’t hold even if you got it.
What the hell was life all about anyway? What was it all about? And what was he doing here on this planet? It didn’t make any sense to him that he should be born; go through all he had gone through in his life; never really get anywhere that really mattered; and end up with nothing, absolutely nothing except a dying body and eventually even that turns to dust. All his possessions and accomplishments felt meaningless and empty.
“Like dust,” he thought. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust… If the war doesn’t get you, the taxes must.”
He had to laugh at the truth in that silly rhyme. Life seemed so stupid. But as he thought about taking the pills, he realized that he couldn’t give up yet. There was something stirring in the back of his mind … an elusive thought that there might be an answer if only he knew where to look. Well, he had nothing but time, he figured, and even though his body was half dead, he still had his mind; he could still think.
“Should I try?” he wondered aloud. For a moment, he wavered, then decided with a shrug, “Oh, what the hell … I got nothing to lose. If it doesn’t work, I can always take the pills.” And he knew he would if it came to that. There was no doubt in his mind.
That being settled, he didn’t have to think about it again. His mind felt clearer than it had in a long time, and for the first time since his illness, he felt truly hungry. He went to the kitchen and fixed himself a real meal. Still very weak, he took his time and didn’t try to rush.
As he ate, his mind was busy exploring new thoughts, questions, ideas of where to look for his answer. The new project was exciting, and he felt himself coming alive again. Refreshed and strengthened by the meal, he went back to his chair by the window.
“Where to begin?” he wondered, “Well, first, what are the questions?”
“What is life? What is it all about? Is there a reason for my being here in this world, and if so, what is it?”
“What is life? What is it that I’ve been looking for?”
“Just a little happiness, that’s all,” he answered himself. “Okay, then, what is happiness? How do you get it? Where do you find it?”
“What is life? What is this world all about and what is my relationship to it?”
“How did I get into this mess I’m in?”
“Is there a way out of this mess?” He already knew the answer to that one. Other than dying, there is no way out, but he thought if he could only get the answers, at least he’d know the reason for his life. He might make some sense out of it all, and that would be something. It would have to do.
First, he looked in the dictionary for definitions of happiness and life. They didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know. Next, he went to his library of books collected over the years. There was Freud; could there be anything useful in that? No, he’d tried Freudian analysis for years, and it hadn’t helped. He’d also read every book Freud had written that had been translated into English and hadn’t found the answers. No, Freud had no answers for him. He went on to others; Watson’s Behaviorism, Jung, and Adler, nothing for him in those, either. Then there were the philosophers. He began taking books from the shelves, putting them in a pile. He’d read them all cover to cover more than once, but maybe he’d missed something. After all, he thought, he hadn’t then had specific questions.
Taking books to his chair by the window, he began to read. He skimmed through one after the other, stopping to read paragraphs or pages here and there. His head began to feel clogged with information, and his thoughts were spinning. More and more impatient, he went back to the shelves for other books, books on medicine, physics, engineering. He had books on everything, and he looked through them all over the next two days. The room was a mess, books piled everywhere, some lying open on the floor where he had thrown them in his frustration. The only ones left on the shelves were a joke book and some biographies, which had been given to him as gifts. Where to look next?
“You were always a smart boy,” he told himself. “Didn’t you win a full scholarship to Rutgers by competitive exams when there were only three being given? Even though you were a Jew, they couldn’t hold that back from you. You won it! And in school, weren’t you always on the honor roll? And haven’t you read tons of stuff on man, from engineering and physics to psychiatry and philosophy and medicine? Well, if you’re so smart, big shot, what did all that study and knowledge and reading get you? Migraines, kidney stones, ulcers, appendicitis, pain, misery, unhappiness, and finally a coronary which should have finished you off and didn’t. What more do you need before you come to your senses? For a smart boy Lester, you are stupid, stupid, stupid! All that knowledge has availed you nothing. And here you are looking for more, wanting more books written by someone else who hasn’t found the answers either.”
“That’s that!” he told himself. “I’m finished with all that crap.”
With that decision, he felt a lifetime burden lift from his shoulders. Suddenly he felt light, almost giddy. He realized he had actually been looking for the same answers all his life, but now he knew, without a doubt, that if they were to be found in any of the conventional places, he would have already found them. He would have to look somewhere else. And he thought he knew where. He would put all that useless knowledge aside, disregard everything he’d learned, go back to the lab and start from scratch. The problems were within him, he reasoned. It was his body, his mind, his emotions. The answers must be within him, too. That was his lab, and that’s where he would look. It felt good. He went to his chair and began.
ANSWERS BEGIN TO EMERGE
For a month he sat, relentlessly questioning, probing. At first, he tried to obey doctor’s orders and spend a good part of each day resting in bed, but he couldn’t stick with it. His mind was too active, and this new research was the most exciting thing he had ever done. He worked at it as intensely as he had worked on other projects, by trial and experience. He had two-way conversations with himself, first posing a question, then exploring each possible answer until he could either validate it or eliminate it. By doing this, he made his first significant breakthrough; got the first real answer.
It was about a month after he’d begun his self-search, and he was looking into the question of happiness.
He’d already eliminated some answers and once again asked himself, “What is happiness?”
The answer that came this time was, “Happiness is when you’re being loved.” That seemed simple enough.
He went on. “Okay, would you say you are happy now? Do you feel happy?”
The answer was no.
“Okay,” was the conclusion, “then that must mean you are not loved!”
“Well, that’s not exactly true,” came the rebuttal. “Your family loves you.”
That made him stop and think. He saw their concerned faces again when he’d been so sick in the hospital, remembered the pleasure in their eyes when he’d returned home after each lengthy sojourn elsewhere, heard his sister Doris’ sweet voice on the telephone, “How are you, honey?”
Oh, yes, he was loved. There was no mistake about that. And there were women, too. He could think of more than one who would marry him in a minute if he asked. He knew it was so because they had asked him, and had broken off the relationship when he refused. There were men who loved him, too, as a friend. These were men he had known all his life, real friends who had stood by him through all kinds of difficulties, who still regularly called just to say hello and see how he was doing, who enjoyed spending time with him. They loved him. It came as a shock that with all that love, he still wasn’t happy. It became obvious that being loved was not the answer to happiness.
He threw it out and tried a new approach. “Maybe happiness lies in accomplishments,” he thought. He remembered when he’d won the Rutgers scholarship when Kelvinator had upped his salary, when he got his first apartment, when he opened the first Hitching Post when he made the coup in Canadian lumber. Proud of himself, yes. But happy? No, not what he would call happy.
“Well, then,” he asked himself, “have I ever been happy and if so, when?”
The first part was easy; of course, he’d been happy sometimes. But when specifically?
He began to look at it…. There were the summer times years ago when he was camping out with the fellows. He had been happy then. Oh, not every minute, of course, so what were the particular moments? The first thing that flashed into his mind was a picture of him helping his friend, Sy, put up his tent one summer. Sy had arrived late in the afternoon, and one of his tent ropes had broken. Lester had helped him, both of them laughing, pleased with their friendship, feeling good about themselves and each other. Yes, he had been happy then.
He chuckled at the memory. He felt good even now, thinking about it.
“What were some other times?” he asked, and the next thing he remembered was how he felt when his friend, Milton, had eloped in college. No one was supposed to know about it, but Milton had told his best friend, Lester.
He had been very happy then; was it because he felt special that Milton had told him a secret?
Upon reflection, he saw that it wasn’t that. No, it was the expression on Milton’s face, talking about his beautiful new bride and how much he loved her; they just didn’t want to wait until after college. Lester had felt a twinge of envy for a moment, but then had looked closely at his friend’s face beaming with love and he knew he had definitely been happy for Milton. He felt the happiness well up in him even now, after all, the years, as he sat with eyes closed, reviewing the scene in his mind. Yes, he had been happy then.
As he continued to review the past, happy times came faster and faster. He remembered June and driving to pick her up for a date, his heart singing with love, impatient to see her. Yes, he had been happy then.
And there was Nettie. Oh, God, he hadn’t thought about her for such a long time. He really didn’t want to now, there was so much pain attached to it, but there it was. He’d been running away from that pain all his life it seemed, and he was tired, tired of running. It was the end of the line, and he simply couldn’t run any longer.
So he forced himself to look and to question. Oh, yes, he had been happy with Nettie. Memories flashed through his mind, moments when he had held her in his arms so tenderly, wanting to take her right inside himself. Moments at parties, when he would unexpectedly catch her eye across a room and be flooded with love. Remembering her smile, the sun glinting on her hair, the serious look on her face as they sat studying together, the faint flowery smell of her, the sound of her laughter, her voice soft in the night, “I love you, Lester.”
He sat back and let the pictures flood him, wash over him, let it all flow, let the long-held pain flow. His heart ached until his carefully erected, protected dam broke and for the first time, he cried over his lost love, his Nettie, his darling. Grief seemed to come from some bottomless pit of pain and loneliness. It went on for what seemed like hours and when it was over, he felt drained and weak. When he could, he crept from the chair to his bed and slept like a dead man.
WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
In the morning, he woke very early feeling rested and refreshed. His first thought was, “Well, then, what is happiness?” He laughed at his tenacity as he rolled out of bed and into the shower.
While preparing breakfast, his thoughts continued to explore the question which dominated his mind. Well, then, what is happiness? What is the common denominator in all these moments? There was Sy; there was Milton, then June, and his Nettie…, what was the common denominator? Somehow he knew it was tied up with love, but he could not, at first, see how.
When it finally came, it was so simple and pure and complete an answer that he wondered why he had never seen it before. “Happiness is when I am loving!” He realized that in every instance his feeling of love for the other person had been intense and that’s where the happiness had come from, from his own feeling of loving. It was so clear to him now that being loved was not the answer. He could see that even if people loved him unless he felt the love in return, he was not going to be happy Their loving might make them happy but it would not, could not, make him happy. It was a new and mind-boggling concept and even though he instinctively knew that it was correct, his old scientific training didn’t allow him to accept it without testing.
So he looked into his past, remembering those times in his life when he had been loving and happy, and he recognized that at those times, the other person had not necessarily been loving him. He looked at the other side too, the unhappy times and now that he knew what to look for, it was very obvious that he had not been loving. Oh, he’d thought at the time that he loved them, as with Nettie and June. He loved them, needed them, wanted them. But was that love, he wondered now. No, it was painful … he was experiencing pain that they didn’t love him. And even though he called it love, he was really wanting to possess them completely, thinking he needed all their love to be happy.
That was the key! He had been experiencing a want or lack of love, expecting the other person to supply the love, waiting for the other person to make him happy. He had to laugh, it seemed so ludicrous. To think that someone else could make him happy seemed like the funniest thing in the world. He knew, better than anyone, that no one could ever make him anything. He’d always been very proud and stubborn and self-sufficient, sure that he never needed anyone or anything.
“What a joke!” he thought. The truth is that he’d been all the time dying inside for want of love, thinking he had to get it from someone. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he laughed and laughed at the realization that what he’d been looking for all his life was inside him. He had been like the absent-minded professor looking everywhere for his glasses which were on top of his head all the time.
“What a shame,” he thought, wiping away the tears. “What a shame that I never saw this before. All that time, all those years wasted.… what a shame.”
“But wait a minute!” he thought. “If happiness is when I’m experiencing love for the other one, then that means happiness is a feeling within me. And if I felt unloving in the past? Well, I know I can’t change the past, but could I possibly correct the feeling now inside myself? Could I change the feeling to love now?”
He decided to try it. He looked at his most recent unhappiness, the day he left the hospital.
“First,” he asked himself, “was I experiencing a lack of love that day?”
“Yes,” he answered aloud. “Nobody gave a damn about me, not the nurses, not the orderlies, not even Dr. Schultz. They did not care. As sick as I was, they threw me out, sent me home to die so they wouldn’t have to watch one of their failures.… well, the hell with them. They can all go to hell.”
He was shocked at the vehemence in his voice. His body trembled with rage, and he felt weak. He really hated the doctor. He could feel it burning in his chest. “Oh, boy,” he thought, ”this sure isn’t love.”
“Well, can I change it?” he asked. “Is it possible to turn it into love for the doctor?”
“Hell, no,” he thought, “why should I? What did he ever do to deserve any love?”
“That’s not the point,” he answered himself. “The point is not whether he deserves love. The point is, can you do it? Is it possible to simply change a feeling of hatred into a feeling of love – not for the benefit of the other person but yourself?”
As the thought crossed his mind, he felt something break loose in his chest. A gentle easing, a sense of dissolving, and the burning sensation was gone. He didn’t trust it at first. It seemed too easy so he pictured again the scene with Dr. Schultz in the hospital. He was surprised to find that it brought only a mild feeling of resentment rather than the previous intense burning hatred. He wondered if he could do it again.
“Let’s see,” he thought, “What did I just do?… Oh, yes. Can I change this feeling of resentment into a feeling of love?” He chuckled as he felt the resentment dissolve in his chest. Then it was totally gone and he was happy. He thought of Dr. Schultz again, pictured him in his mind and felt happy, even loving. He saw now, reliving that last meeting, how the doctor had hated to tell him the things he had to say. He could feel the doctor’s pain at having to tell a young man in the prime of his life that his life was over.
“Doctor Schultz, you son-of-a-gun,” he said, grinning, “I love you.”
“Well, it worked on that one,” he thought. “If my theory is sound, then it should work on everything.”
Eagerly he began trying it on other moments, and the results were consistently the same. Each time that he asked himself if he could change the feeling of hostility or anger or hatred to one of love, the dissolving process took place. Sometimes he had to repeat it over and over until he felt only love for the person. At times, the entire process would take only a minute or two; at other times, it might take him hours of working on a particular person or event before his feelings were only loving, but he would doggedly stay with it until it was completed on each person and each incident. His entire life came up for review in bits and pieces.
One by one, he changed to love all the old hurts and disappointments. He began to feel stronger as the weight of his pain dropped away. He was happier than he had ever been in his entire life, and he kept it going, feeling even more happiness with each new thing corrected. So, he stopped going to bed because he had so much energy that he couldn’t lie down. When he felt tired, he would doze in his chair and awaken an hour or so later to start in again. There was so much to be corrected in his life that he didn’t want to stop until he had looked under every stone and around every corner.
HOW FAR COULD HE TAKE THIS?
Another thing that intrigued him was the question of how far he could take this. As he corrected each thing, he became happier, he could feel it; but he wondered how far he could go. Was there a limit to happiness? So far, he hadn’t found any boundaries to it and the possibilities were staggering. So he kept on, around the clock. His strength was returning, but not wanting to be distracted, he avoided getting involved in social activities and would sometimes even pass up the Sunday get-together with his family. He did his food shopping in the middle of the night, around two or three in the morning. There were very few people up and about at that hour, and he enjoyed the quiet of the city.
He went on correcting his life, even while doing the necessaries. And he noticed that when someone in a store or on the street would annoy him, he was able to correct that response with love either immediately or shortly after that. This experience pleased him, and he found himself loving others with an intensity far beyond anything he had imagined possible.
As he described it many years later, “When I mixed with people, and again and again when they would do things that I didn’t like and within me was a feeling of non-love, I would immediately change that attitude to one of loving them even though they were opposing me. Eventually, I got to a point where, no matter how much I was being opposed, I could maintain a feeling of love for them.”
He continued to correct his life with consistent results for about a month until one day he got stumped. He was working on the last time he had seen Nettie, the day she chose someone else. Even though he had already corrected a lot of the pain with regard to her; she had come to his mind again and again, and it had not always been easy. In fact, it had been very difficult at first to work on that old relationship but gradually as he gained strength, he had been able to confront some of those long-buried feelings and correct them. But on this particular day, no matter how hard he tried to correct it with love, there was still a feeling of despair which he could not dislodge.
He wanted to escape, to get out of his chair and run, to get something to eat, to do anything that would get him away from his intense feeling. Instead, he decided to sit there until he handled it. Something told him that if he let that feeling push him around if he lost that battle, he would have lost the war. He stayed in his chair, determined to ride it out.
He probed, “What’s wrong here? Why isn’t it dissolving? Nettie, oh, my Nettie.” He began to cry now, tears streaming down his cheeks, all the pain he had locked up on the day they parted came now in flood. “Why did you do it, Nettie?” he cried aloud. “Why did you do it? Why did you leave me, my darling? We could have been so happy; we’d have married and been so happy.”
“Damn,” he thought, “why do people do things like that? They throw their happiness away, and everyone else’s too. They have no right to do that.… no, they shouldn’t be allowed to do that.…, there should be some way of making them change…, some way of changing the things they do and the effect they have on people.….”
He felt the old pain of ulcers starting up again in his stomach and realized with certainty that the ulcers had started that last day with Nettie. He’d drunk the beer and thrown up; that had been the beginning. He wished it had been different. More than anything else in this world, he wanted to change what had happened. He wanted to go back and live it over again the other way with Nettie choosing him, with them getting married and being happy forever more.
“Well, you can’t change it, stupid,” he shouted at himself, “so you might just as well stop trying to.”
That jolted him. He saw that he was still trying to change something that had been finished more than twenty years ago. “No, it can’t be finished,” he cried. “I won’t let it be finished.” His throat hurt now and he felt like screaming and smashing things. Then, like instant replay, he heard what he’d said, “I won’t let it be finished.” That was the source of his anguish; he’d wanted to change it all these years and so he kept it alive inside himself, the pain buried deep, eroding his happiness. “Well, the hell with that,” he said, almost flippantly.
Suddenly, with that decision, the whole thing was gone. He couldn’t believe it. He felt for the hurt, the pain, the despair. It was all gone. He thought of Nettie as he remembered her, so young, so beautiful, and he simply loved her. There was none of the old painful feeling left.
He began to look now in this new direction. He realized that the cause of his ulcers was that he had wanted to change everything, starting with his nearest and dearest and extending out to the rest of the world, including the United States, other countries, government heads, the weather, endings of movies he had seen, the way businesses were run, taxes, the army, the President; there was nothing he could think of that he had not wanted to change in one way or another.
What a revelation! He saw himself subject to and a victim of everything he wanted to change!
He began dissolving all that. When he thought of something that caused him pain about a person or situation, he would now either correct it with love or dissolve wanting to change it. This added a new dimension to his work, and his progress accelerated.
By the time a second month had gone by, it was all he could sometimes do to stay in his chair, he became so energized.
And there were times, when he had worked on particularly painful incidents in his life, that he literally could not sit and would go out into the city and walk for miles, reviewing, correcting, dissolving until he had burned off enough energy to sit still again.
Sometimes he felt as though he had hold of a chain with many links to incidents on it which needed correcting. Once he got hold of the chain, he would follow through incident by incident until there was nothing left to be corrected.
An example of such a chain was jealousy. He had always been intensely jealous but managed to hide it most of the time under a facade of not caring. Nevertheless, his insides used to burn if the girl he was with so much as looked at someone else or even mentioned another man.
Once he decided to correct this tendency in himself he looked for it, not content to let it come willy-nilly. He would probe his memory for instances where his jealousy had driven him; correct it; then look for more. When he thought it was cleared out, he tested himself by imagining the girl he loved most making love with the man he would least want her to be with. It was a good test because he could see immediately if there was more work to do. Sometimes the intensity of his feelings would almost drive him mad, but he continued for days until there was no last vestige of jealousy left in him. When he could finally enjoy their enjoyment of each other, he knew he was finished with jealousy.
Insights came with increasing frequency. He would often gain a sudden, complete understanding of something which had always puzzled him. Philosophies he had studied became clear, and he could see that they had often started off on the right track, only to veer off into distortions, having been diverted by an incorrect idea springing from the author’s own storehouse of uncorrected feelings. His mind began to feel like crystal … clear, sharp. Colors seemed brighter and everything was more sharply defined.
LESTER ASKS, “WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE?”
There was a certain greater freedom I felt. It was easier to concentrate because of it, and I began to look more closely at my mind.
“What is my mind?” I asked. “What is intelligence?”
Suddenly a picture flashed of an amusement park bumper car ride. Small round cars each have a flexible pole in the rear which connects to a wire screen spread across the ceiling. The energy to power all the cars comes from this single source, the ceiling, and is transmitted by means of the pole at the rear of each car. The amount of energy is regulated by individual drivers using a foot pedal. This makes the ride more interesting. The steering mechanism is constructed to be oversensitive. Therefore, it requires the utmost delicacy of handling to maintain control of the car because the slightest movement of the wheel sends it careening and the cars are constantly bumping into each other, out of control. And it seems that the more a driver tries to control his car, the more erratic becomes the action.
This was a picture of mankind today. We all use the same single intelligence and power taken from above. But most of us are out of control, using the energy to bump into each other.
However, I began to see that I could regulate the amount of power and intelligence for my own use and that I could have control of it. I liked that so I began to dig at it. I began to examine thinking and its relationship to what was happening. And I saw that whatever was happening had a thought behind it at some time prior. And that the reason I had never before related the two was because of the element of time between the thought and the happening. But I did discover that with everything that was happening to me, I’d had a thought of it before it happened; and that, if I could grab hold of this concept and find a way to use it, I could consciously pre-determine everything that would happen to me!
Above all, 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 always been 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 which caused me to lose interest and that, in turn, caused the business to collapse.
This was a tremendous piece of freedom, to think that I am not a victim of this world, that it lies within my power to arrange the world the way I want it to be; that rather than be an effect of it, I can now be in control of it and arrange it the way I would like it to be. That was a tremendous realization, a tremendous feeling of freedom.
Discovering that my happiness equated to my loving and that my thinking was the cause of things happening to me in my life gave me more and more freedom; freedom from the subconscious compulsions that I had to work, I had to make money, I had to have girlfriends. Freedom in the feeling that I was now able to determine my destiny, I was now able to control my world, lightened my internal burden so strongly that I felt there was no need for me to have to do anything.
Plus, this happiness was so great. It was a new experience for me. I was experiencing a joy that I never knew existed, never dreamed could be. So I decided, “This is so great, I’m not going to stop until I carry it all the way.” I had no idea how far it could go. I had no idea how joyous a person could be. But I was determined to find out.
HOW JOYOUS COULD HE GET?
During the third month, things went even faster. There was a depth to his feelings that threatened to bowl him over at times. His knees sometimes buckled, but he stayed with each feeling until it was corrected. He was becoming happier and happier, still looking to see if there were any limits to what he could accomplish with this new process.
“How much further can I go?” he would ask himself, then push it even further.
It was also during the third month that he ran into an old adversary, one he had seen out of the corner of his eye again and again throughout his life. It had lurked nearby, always on the periphery and he had never before been willing to meet it head-on. Yes, it was the fear of death. Now he recognized it as the basis of every single feeling he had ever had.
He began to coax it out into the open, wanting to take a good look at this biggest foe of all, which had so very nearly won the battle only a few months ago. He began to lure those feelings into the open and to dissolve them. And it worked! He got to the place where, with great confidence, he laughed and laughed and laughed at this foe which had kept a fire lit under him his entire life so that there had not been one moment of real peace, ever.
This last of the monsters turned out to be, after all, only a feeling. As he dissolved the fear of death, he realized one day that his body was sound, healed. The physical impairment was corrected. He couldn’t explain to anyone how he knew; he just knew it as surely as he knew who he was. His body was sound.
By the end of the third month, he had slipped into a blissful, joyous state, which he could only describe as feeling like a million orgasms surging all at once through his entire body. It went on and on, and he realized that this feeling, although not sexual, was what he had always been looking for but never found in sex. He felt light, living for weeks with joy exploding inside him every moment. Everyone and everything became exquisitely beautiful to him.
He kept looking for more things to correct, but there didn’t seem to be much. Occasionally something would occur to him, but it would be gone almost before he could define it and the joy would surge through him even more strongly.
After several weeks, he began to wonder if there could be anything better beyond this joy. He was sitting in his chair in the usual position, slumped down, legs stretched out, chin touching his chest. He had the idle thought without expecting an answer, but the answer came.
What was beyond this incredible, joyous state that didn’t stop? He saw that it was peace, imperturbability…., and he realized with certainty that if he accepted it, if he decided to move into that peace, it would never, ever go away…, and he went…, slipped into it so effortlessly…, with just a decision to have it…, he was there.
Everything was still. He was in a quietness that he now knew had always been there but drowned out by incessant noise from his accumulated, uncorrected past. In fact, it was more than quiet; it was so far beyond anything imaginable that there were no words to describe the delectable deliciousness of the tranquility. His earlier question about happiness was answered too. There were no limits to happiness, but when you have it all, every minute, it gets tiresome. Then this peace is just beyond … and all you have to do is step over the line into it.
“Is there anything beyond even this?” he wondered. But as he asked, he knew the answer. This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness, and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to.
He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn’t true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one’s point of view.
LESTER DISCOVERS AMAZING NATURAL POWERS
If that were really true, he thought, then he could tune in at any point he chose. If he were the whole comb, he could tune in with any tooth at all. He thought of a friend in California, wondered what he was doing at that moment and was immediately there in his friend’s living room. He could see the place, the people in it, his friend sitting there talking to them.
So, he picked up the phone and called. “I just want to check something with you,” he said. “You are in the living room, and there are three other people there….” He went on to describe in detail the room, the people and what they had just been talking about. He heard a gasp from the other end of the phone and asked if what he had described were true.
His friend answered, “Yes, but how the hell could you possibly know that?”
With a laugh, Lester said, “I’m right there. Can’t you see me?”
There was a long silence.
He could feel panic and realized with surprise that it was his friend’s panic he was feeling. He felt as though he were right inside the other man, feeling and thinking exactly as the other one. It was a totally new experience, and it suddenly came to him that he was the other one… that he was, in fact, every other on … because his essence was the essence of all. He was sitting at the spine of the universal comb. He had a new point of view and could see everything.
To ease his friend’s fear, he said, “Oh, come on, you’re kidding me, right? When I described those people and what everyone said, you only told me that I was right to make a joke, didn’t you? It wasn’t true, was it?”
He could feel the panic subside as his friend answered, ”Lester, you son-of-a-gun, are you trying to tell me you made all that up?”
“Certainly I made it up. What do you think I am, some kind of a nut? It was just a joke.”
“Well, you really had me going there for a while because everything you said was true,” his friend was laughing now.
“Wow, what a fantastic coincidence,” Lester said. “Well, I won’t keep you from your company any longer. Give me a call when you get to New York next time. We’ll go to lunch together and have a good laugh over this.”
“Okay, Les, be seeing you.”
Lester hung up realizing that he’d have to be more careful in the future. He’d forgotten that people think in very narrow terms, unable to accept anything outside the usual. Suddenly, he remembered himself a few short months ago. He would have thought anyone crazy who had tried to tell him something like this. How rigid he had been then, how closed his mind had been, how limited…, and now…, he roared with laughter at the change.
When I started my search, I was a very convinced and absolute materialist. The only thing that was real to me was that which I could see, feel and touch. My world was as solid as concrete. Then when these revelations came to me that the world was just a result of my mind, that matter had no intelligence, and that our intelligence and our thinking determined all matter and everything about it; when I saw that the solidity which I formerly had was only a thought, my nice, solid, concrete foundation began to crack.
A lifetime of build-up began to tumble, and my body shook and shook. I just shook for days. I shook like a nervous old person. And I knew that the concrete view I’d had of the world was never going to be again. But it didn’t drop away gracefully with ease.
For days, I actually shook, until I think I shook the whole thing loose. Then my view was just the opposite of what it had been months previously-that the real and solid thing was not the physical world, was not even my mind; but it was something which was much greater; that my essence, the very Beingness of me was the reality and that it had no limits, that it was eternal, and that all those former things that I used to see as me, like my body and mind, were the least of me rather than the all of me.
That the All of me was my Beingness.
THE LAST TREMENDOUS BREAKTROUGH
It was April 1952 when he made the last tremendous breakthrough into the quiet state.
“Can it be only three short months since I was dying?” he wondered.
It was hard for him to believe all that had happened to him in such a short span of time. It seemed as though a million lifetimes had gone by and yet it seemed like only a moment. His sense of time had changed radically.
When he thought about it, he realized that, from where he was, in the quietness, there was no time. There was an ever-nowness. Time was relative and had meaning only in the world of differences, of separation. Where he was, everything was the same, made up of the same substance, the same inexpressibly beautiful, all-powerful peace which was inherent in every atom of the universe. He was that peace… his body seemed small and distant sitting in its chair. He could see it there if he chose, but he felt himself spread across the entire universe; that body was only an infinitesimal speck in the vastness that he was.
He was omnipresent. There was no travel, only a thought, and he was there.
It was obvious to me that I wasn’t that body and mind as I had thought I was. I just saw it—that’s all. It’s simple when you see it. So I let go of identifying with that body. And when I did, I saw that my Beingness was all Beingness, that Beingness is like one grand ocean. It’s not chopped up into parts called “drops of bodies.” It’s all one ocean. That caused me to identify with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe.
And that’s an experience so tremendous, it’s indescribable. First, you see that the universe is in you, then you see the universe as you. Then you know the Oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that’s caused only by separation. And then you can no longer be fooled by the apparent limitations of the world. You see them as a dream, as an apparency, because you know that your very own Beingness has no limits! It was a very interesting trip.
I had never known the things that I experienced existed. I had never known there was such power in the mind. But I saw how my mind could trick me so I had a maxim, “I only know that which I can do.” When I would ask myself the question, “What can I do?”, it was a shock every time. So I would keep experimenting until I could do whatever it was. I kept that going and great things opened up. “If I am these things, can I do them?” I would ask. “If I am all-powerful, what power can I exert?” And powers came to me. And I proved each one to at least two witnesses. That’s because I was trained as a physicist. You always have to go to the lab and do it to prove it, but it’s good training.
I’ll tell you the first thing I did. There was a cup on the table and when someone came into the room, I said, “I can move that cup to the other side of the table with my mind. Do you believe I can?”. If they said Yes, it was instantly moved; if they said No, it remained still. I wouldn’t impose on other people. If they didn’t accept it, I wouldn’t bother them. Of course, not having had much experience with it at first, I made mistakes. I even had people walk away from me and not talk to me. I learned to keep quiet and not disturb peoples’ beliefs and convictions.
Once he had proven, beyond any doubt, that he had indeed acquired the powers he used to scoff at, he saw that they, in themselves, were a trap if he tried to hold onto and develop them for the amazement and amusement of himself and others. They were not an end in themselves, and so he let go and moved on.
Later, there were occasions when someone needed a demonstration in order to break through his or her own limitations, and, at those times, unusual things would happen. But Lester never felt like the doer of them. He was only the clear catalyst, without ego involvement.
Lester also realized the source of intelligence. He saw that there is only one intelligence and we all have it. Therefore, unlimited knowledge, omniscience, is available to all. And he saw it was the same with power; we all have unlimited power, omnipotence.
Omniscience and omnipotence are within each one of us. Contemplating the source of intelligence and energy, I discovered that it too was available in unlimited amounts and that it came simply by my freeing myself from all these former compulsions, inhibitions, entanglements, hang-ups.
I didn’t have to be subject to anything. Seeing this allowed the power that was right behind my mind to flow through as it had never flowed through before. I saw that I had previously dammed this energy, this power and all I had to do was pry loose the logs of the dam—and that’s what I was doing.
On discovering each thing, I was removing a log and allowing this infinite flow—just like a water dam would flow if you pulled the logs out one by one. And the more logs you pull out, the greater the flow, so all I needed was to remove the logs and let the infinite energy and power flow.
There were times when I’d get the realization of what I am that would put so much energy into me I would jump up from my chair. Then I would go right straight out the front door and start walking and walking and walking, for hours at a time—and sometimes for days at a time! I just felt as though my body could not contain that much energy, that I had to walk or run some of it off. I remember walking the streets of New York City in the wee hours of the morning sometimes, just walking at a very good pace, not being able to do anything else.
By the time he had finished these experiments, he had proven himself that the source of all objective physical phenomena was the mind; that the mind has no limits except that one mentally imposes upon oneself; and that this is true for everyone, with no exceptions. Inherently each person has the ability to have, be, or do whatever that person wills or desires. The realization of the omniscience and omnipotence of each mind is what finally got him out of his chair. He wanted to share with others what he had discovered, wanted to help them discover it for themselves. He wanted others to know the incredibly beautiful, tremendous Being that each one is.