In 1952, Lester Levenson was an absolute materialist – if you could see it and touch it, it was real. Although successful at the money game, he was living alone and his health was a mess. He suffered through depression, jaundice, migraines, hyper acidity, perforated ulcers, kidney stones, appendicitis and persistent pain. Then at age 42 he had a second and massive heart attack and barely survived. His doctor, Dr Schultz, sent him home with no promise of life beyond the day he was in. “Get loafers”, was the advice he gave Lester to have him avoid the strain of bending over his shoes. Lester Levenson was angry.
Sent home to die
Later in his Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park, Lester felt like he was in a tomb and stayed in a paralyzing fear of death for three days. Then he got angry again at the thought of being a living corpse without the common sense to end it all. He checked his pill supply – enough morphine to exit comfortably in a cozy cloud. So now he had stood at a crossroad. The sense that he had a choice was empowering. He decided as long as he was breathing, he would try to find a way out of his desperation. He could always take the pills later. He had a sense that his problems were a part of him – his body, mind and emotions. He began to ask himself – “What am I? What is this world? What is my relationship to it? What do I want from it?” He thought of all the books that he had and all the things he had studied – physics, medicine, psychology, and philosophy – and realized that if the answers were there he would have already found them. He would put aside all “that crap” he had learned and start from scratch. Immediately he felt a load lifting off his back – a load he had been carrying his whole life without realizing it.
The search for happiness
Forgoing the rest the doctor had prescribed, he became absorbed and excited. After a month he arrived at the question of happiness – what was it. It wasn’t being loved. His family loved him and he wasn’t happy. It wasn’t accomplishing things because he could remember no happiness in his accomplishments. He began to review his past love affairs to find the times when he had been truly joyful. There was Virginia. When she loved him, he felt pleased, but it was a selfish pleasure that needed constant replenishment. Then Nettie, the girl with whom he had been so happy, flooded into him. For the first time in his life the dam broke and he wept over the loss of his love. After hours, he collapsed into bed and slept.
The first big shift
Next morning, feeling invigorated, he continued his dialogue with himself. Then it hit him. It was so clear. Happiness was when he was loving. And unhappiness was when he wasn’t loving. He laughed and cried and laughed and cried at the realization that happiness was from within – not from others. Then he thought, maybe I can control whether I love people or not. He thought of his doctor with whom he had been so angry. Did he deserve love? No. But that was not the point! Was it possible to change a feeling of hatred into love – not for the sake of the other person, but for his own sake. He tried it on the doctor. Something big inside shifted. At first he didn’t trust it. It was too easy. He tried it again and found himself saying with a grin “Dr Schultz, I love you”.
The journey begins
With this new found skill, Lester embarked on a journey – working his way through his life and sweeping aside the remembered pain and hurt. This was invigorating. Sometimes it came easily. Other subjects took hours to make a shift. But he stayed with all of it and bit by bit cleaned every corner. He gave up bed and took naps in his chair. Each day he felt stronger and happier. He became intrigued. How far could this road take him? Were there limits?
Over the next month, Lester continued the process and got so involved that he avoided social contact. When he did mix with people and they were not lovable, he found he could flip to loving them no matter what they did. It worked every time. Every time that is except one day when he remembered Nettie. Then he found he couldn’t shake the hurt – why had she chosen someone else? He wanted to run away from it but was dogged by the sense that if he avoided it, his journey was over. He felt the pain of his ulcers returning and remembered that the ulcers began on the day Nettie left him.
Lester Levenson and Nettie – his lost love, and the next breakthrough
Thinking of Nettie he cried to himself “It can’t be finished, I won’t let it be”. Then his words hit him. He was still trying to control this event 20 years later. This was where the hurt was coming from. “Screw that” he thought in a fit of pique and let it go. Suddenly the despair lifted. He remembered he and Nettie as they were. He simply loved her.
Giving up control
He felt the surge of this huge revelation. All his life he had been trying to control things Nettie, the government, the world. Now, giving up on the need to change things became a new part of his journey. He followed the threads of his past, and insights and revelations came tumbling at him. Past mysteries suddenly unraveled. Philosophers were understood. The world became a brighter, clearer place.
What is my mind?
“What is my mind?” This was the next question that came to him. As he worked with this, he realized that everything that happened to him had its origins in prior thoughts. When his business had failed it was not others who were at fault. It was that he had subconsciously withdrawn his interest when he discovered the business and the money were not a source of happiness. He was not, and never was, a victim of anything.
A tremendous freedom came to him. Not only was happiness under his control (he could love as he chose), he could also control the events of his life by his thoughts (he could live as he chose). He was both joyful and at the same time eager to find just how joyful he could possibly be. It was now month three and things were speeding up.
Sometimes Lester’s thoughts almost overcame him, but he stuck with it and released them all. Sometimes he felt so top-heavy with joy, he could look at his body but he couldn’t move and had to spend hours coming down and down until he was sufficiently in his body to be able to operate it.
Conquering the fear of death
In this third month, an old enemy that had been lurking showed its face – the fear of death. Lester realized how if had dogged him all his life. He followed these thoughts, allowed them to dissolve – and they did! This worst of foes was nothing after all. Then a feeling of well being came from within. It brought with it a certainty – he knew that his illnesses were gone, his body was whole. In less then three months he had gone from physical wreck to complete wellness. He was blissful and the world and everyone in it had become extremely beautiful.
What is beyond this he thought? Sitting slouched in his chair one day the answer came to him – peace beyond all fear and tension. He sensed that there was an entry, and if he went in, he would never leave. And enter he did – easily – into a great stillness that was ecstatic and indescribable. His question about the limits to happiness was also answered – there were none, but there was a sameness to it and if felt good to slip into this new place of peace.
The connectedness of everything
This was a place of Beingness – at one with everyone and everything. To him it was like a comb and he was now the spine seeing the connectedness. Before, he had been one of the teeth, disconnected by his preoccupations. Now he could tune in where he chose. He thought of a friend in California and immediately saw him in his living room talking with friends. He called him and started to describe what he saw. Suddenly feeling negative thought, he realized it was his friend’s panic in believing that Lester could actually see him. Lester backed off, made a joke of it and his friend calmed down.
He realized in future he’d need to more careful to recognize when people were still thinking as he had done only three short months before when he saw the world as solid – like concrete. Now he understood that the world was just a result of his thought. Twenty years of buildup began to fall apart. His body shook. It shook for days until the ideas shook loose. The solid thing was not the world. The Beingness that was all of him was the reality. Like one big ocean, it had no limits. He let go of identifying with his body and saw himself as a part of everybody, of everything. The extremes couldn’t have been greater. He had moved from depression to indescribable serenity.
What can I do?
The then question became “If I am now all powerful, what power can I exert?” Powers came to him. In his early days of enlightenment, if he had a receptive audience, he would demonstrate moving a cup around the table with thought alone. Later he moved on from these demonstrations except for rare occasions when he felt someone would benefit. Even then, he did not regard himself as the doer, just the catalyst. By the time his experiments were done, he had proven to himself that the mind has no limits except those that were self-imposed.
He began to mix with metaphysical groups and found he had a receptive audience. Sometime his advice was practical. In 1953, he realized that he had never made a million dollars. In part to prove his abilities and in part to affirm that enlightenment did not mean giving up on ambition or prosperity, he decided to invest in real estate in New York. With no cash and no effort, within six months he had 23 apartment buildings and his goal was achieved.
Mantifestation on demand
“What’s next?” he thought. Wealth did not grant security because it could be lost. The need to have it meant no faith in your ability to manifest at will. Just before Christmas, Lester decided to holiday in Los Angeles. He packed a bag but no money and walked out. Within one block, he ran into an old friend with whom he had lost contact and who owed him money and delightedly paid him back on the spot. That paid the air fare. During his whole trip, friends appeared exactly at the right time and place with accommodation and transport, and airline seats for his return appeared on just the right plane even though all flights were booked solid for a month. He returned to New York as he had left – with no money.
Lester Levenson was always happy to share his knowledge. He never charged for his work. Impromptu gatherings would occur in New York and on his occasional drives across the country – sometimes with an audience of hundreds simply gathered by word of mouth.
The move to Sedona
In 1958 he decided to move to California. Along the way an inner voice sidetracked him to Sedona Arizona and he bought a farm there and settled in until he transitioned at age 84 – 42 years from being given months to live. During those later years, he never completely stopped his work – sometimes traveling to Phoenix, to what became a regular group in California and occasionally to New York. He felt himself at oneness with all and continued to share his insights with whoever was drawn to his presence.