Allan Lokos spent the first 30 years of his adult life in the arts as a professional singer on Broadway and in concert and opera. He then attended and graduated from a New York seminary and was ordained as an interfaith minister. His wife became one too, and together they founded the organization that would become the Community Meditation Center which he describes as "a nondogmatic welcoming [place] for spiritual exploration supported by a creative, open-minded community."
People are desperately seeking peace in this turbulent and ever-changing world, Lokos observes. Much of the time they feel frightened about the future and unsure of themselves. That is why it is easy to capitulate to the false enchantments and lures of selfishness, anger, sloth, and greed. Meditation is a practice that can lead to inner peace and joy; it also provides a counter-balance to these toxic emotions. Other spiritual practices can be done in everyday life. Lokos gave the following assignment to members of his community:
"For one week, keep five one-dollar bills on hand and give them to anyone who asks for help, no questions asked. In addition, give that person the gift of your attention, even if just for a minute, and listen to what they have to say."
The community responded very well to this kind of practice, so Lokos decided to create a book filled with more of them. The paperback is organized around qualities based on the Buddhist teachings called "Paramis" or Perfection Practices. There are chapters on generosity, morality, relinquishing, wisdom, joyous effort, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, and equanimity.
Lokos offers insightful and always practical commentary on many spiritual matters of consequence including the priceless gift of presence, the importance of intention as an animating force for good, the danger of making quick decisions, the feeling of pleasure without attachment, the negative fallout from the judgmental mind, the challenges of becoming more mindful of the words we speak, the hurtfulness of teasing, and the necessity of recognizing the impermanence of all things.
Here are a few examples of practices:
• "From time to time, when you want to ask for more, ask instead, 'How can I give more?' "
• "Consider letting someone off the hook for a deed they committed or harsh words they spoke."
• "Find a place where you can feel completely at ease and say to yourself, Only I can destroy my peace, and I choose not to do so."
• "When someone is pushing your buttons, replace your annoyance toward that person with the silent wish, May you be happy. Notice how it feels."