A self-made man, Lester Levenson was not particularly spiritual in his early years. A physicist and engineer, he also achieved financial success in the restaurant, lumber, building, oil, and real estate businesses. He lived in New York City, and his life revolved mainly around his relationships with women and his business endeavors, although he was also an avid patron of the arts.
However in 1952, having had two heart attacks by the age of 42, Lester found himself on the brink of death. Also suffering from chronic jaundice, kidney stones, migraine headaches, and a perforated ulcer, Lester was abandoned by his doctor and sent home to die. Instead of giving up, he had the determination to heal himself and let go of all his inner limitations. He ended up living until 1994.
From his journey came the inspiration to found the Sedona Method. Below, Lester Levenson describes the situation in which he found himself in 1952 and the insight that it brought:
I was at the end of my rope. I was told not to take a step unless I absolutely had to because there was a possibility that I could drop dead at any moment. This was a terrible, shocking thing to suddenly be told that I couldn’t be active anymore, having been so active all my life. It was a horrible thing.
An intense fear of dying overwhelmed me, the fear that I might drop dead any minute. This stayed with me for days. I went through a real, horrible, low, spinning period there, in the grip of intense fear of dying or of being a cripple for the rest of my life in that I wouldn’t be able to be active.
This caused me to conclude with determination, “Either I get the answers, or I’ll take me off this earth. No heart attack will do it!” I had a nice easy way to do it, too. I had morphine the doctors gave me for my kidney stone attacks.
After several days of this intense fear of dying, I suddenly realized, “Well, I’m still alive. As long as I’m alive there’s hope. As long as I’m alive, maybe I can get out of this. What do I do?”
Then I said, “Lester, you were not only not smart, you were dumb! Dumb! Dumb! There’s something wrong in your intellect. With all your knowledge, you’ve come to this bottom end! Drop all this knowledge you’ve so studiously picked up on
philosophy, psychology, social science, and economics! It is of no avail! Start from scratch. Begin all over again your search for the answers.”
And with an extreme desperation and intense wanting out— not wanting to die, I began to question, “What am I? What is this world? What is my relationship to it? What do I want from it?”
“‘Well, what is happiness?”
“But I am loved. I know several very desirable girls with beauty, charm, and intellect who want me. And I have the esteem of my friends. Yet, I’m miserable!”
I sensed that the closest thing related to happiness was love. So I began reviewing and reliving my past love affairs, looking at the points where the little happiness that I had were. I began to pull up and dissect all my high moments of loving. Suddenly, I got an inkling that it was when I was loving that I had the highest feeling!
I remembered one evening, a beautiful balmy evening, in the mountains when I was camping with Virginia. We were both lying on the grass, both looking up at the sky, and I had my arm around her. The nirvana, the perfection of the height of happiness was right there. I was feeling how great is love for Virginia! How wonderful is knowing all this nature! How perfect a setting!
Then I saw that it was my loving her that was the cause of this happiness! Not the beauty of the setting, or being with Virginia.
Days of further cogitation gradually revealed to me that this was correct! I was happier when I loved her than I was when I got that momentary ego-satisfaction when she loved me.
I concluded that my happiness equated to my loving! If I could increase my loving, then I could increase my happiness!
That started me on weeks and weeks of reviewing my past love affairs. I dug up from the past, incident after incident when I thought I was loving, and I discovered that I was being nice to my girlfriends, trying to get them to love me, and that that was selfish. That was not really love. That was just wanting my ego bolstered!
I kept reviewing incidents from the past, and where I saw that I was not loving, I would change that feeling to loving that person. Instead of wanting them to do something for me, I would change it to my wanting to do something for them. I kept this up until I couldn’t find any more incidents to work on.
This insight on love, seeing that happiness was determined by my capacity to love, was a tremendous insight. It began to free me, and any bit of freedom when you’re plagued feels so good
The new happiness I was experiencing was so great. I was experiencing a joy that I had never known existed. I had never dreamed happiness could be so great.
I determined “If this is so great, I’m not going to let go of it until I carry it all the way!” I had no idea how joyous a person could be. So, I began digging further on how to extend this joy. I began further changing my attitudes on love. I would imagine the girl I wanted most marrying one of my friends, or the boy I would want her to marry least, and then enjoy their enjoying each other. To me, this was the extreme in loving, and if I could achieve it, it would give me more of this wonderful thing that I was experiencing.
And so I worked on it. I took a particular fellow, Burl, and a particular girl, and I wouldn’t let go until I could really feel the joy of their enjoying each other.
Then I knew I had it—or almost had it.
I would go higher and higher and higher and say, “Oh, my gosh, there can be nothing higher than this!” But I would try. And, I would go higher. Then I would say, “Oh, there can’t be anything higher than this!” But I would try, and go higher! And then say, “Oh, there can’t be anything happier than this!” until I realized there was no limit to happiness!
I would get incapacitated. I could look at my body, and I couldn’t move it I was so top-heavy with ecstasy and joy. I was actually incapacitated. I would do this for hours, going higher and higher and then I would have to work for hours to keep coming down and down and down until I could start being the body again in order to operate it.
When I started my search, I was a very convinced and absolute materialist. The only thing that was real was that which you could feel and touch. … When I saw that the solidity that I formerly had was only a thought itself, my nice, solid, concrete foundations began to crack. Twenty years of buildup began to tumble.
And my body shook, and shook so much; I just shook for days. I shook just like a nervous old person. I knew that the concrete view I had 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 solid thing was not the physical world, was not my mind, but something, which was much greater. The very essence, the very Beingness of me was the reality. It had no limits, it was eternal and all the things that I saw before were the least of me, rather than the all of me. The all of me was my Beingness.
I saw that the only limitations I had were the ones that I accepted. So, wanting to know what am I? And looking for this unlimited Being that I had had an inkling of, I got insight of this tremendous unlimited Being that I am.
And on seeing that, I right there and then realized, “Well, I’m not this limited body and I thought I was! I am not this mind with its limitations that I thought I was!” And I undid all body limitation, and almost all mind limitation, just by saying, “I am not it! Finished! Done! Period! That’s it!,” I so declared.
It was obvious to me that I wasn’t that body and mind that I had thought I was. I just saw—that’s all! It’s simple when you see it. I let go of identifying with this body. And when I did that, 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.
This caused me to identify with every being, every person and even every item in this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that’s caused only by separation. Then you can no more be fooled by the apparent limitations of the world. You see them as a dream, as an appearancy, because you know that your very own Beingness has no limits.
In reality, the only thing that is, is Beingness. That is the real, changeless substance behind everything.
Being in harmony is such a delightful, delectable state, not because things are coming your way, but because of the feeling of God-in-operation. It’s a tremendous feeling; you just can’t imagine how great it is. It is such a delight when you’re in tune, in harmony—you see God everywhere! You’re watching God in operation. And that is what you enjoy, rather than the time, the incident, the happening. His operation is the ultimate.
When we get in tune, our capacity to love is so extreme that we love everyone with an extreme intensity which makes living the most delightful it could ever be.