Action pause: About Alex Walking
From the Introduction
”Alex Walking’ is a pen name. I deeply value my privacy. To that end, I’ve omitted many details that would allow me to be traceable.’
From Chapter 4
‘What Will and Won’t Be Here Now’
‘There’s an old saying that when it’s truth versus credentials, credentials usually win.
First, I must say that I wouldn’t expect an endorsement for this book from the teachers I name. They lived out their lives as celibates in the Theravadin tradition. But then, I didn’t write it for them.
Nonetheless, to support with credibility the truths I’m presenting, I will tell of my two primary teachers of Buddhism in Asia, and my time with them in the next chapters…
The most incredible Mrs. Helen Wilder was my teacher of Samadhi in Sri Lanka… In 1987, she became the Theravadin equivalent of a nun at that time… We met in 1981… her American husband, Bob, had died upright, meditating, a few months earlier. She taught English and Philosophy at Cornell University for many years.
I was immediately impressed with Helen’s agile intellect, buoyant mood, and how totally present she was in our conversation. She had just become the personal secretary (her term) of the Mahathera Nyanaponika, an old German Buddhist monk. Besides being the founder and editor of Buddhist Publication Society (BPS), he was the world’s most respected living Western-born Theravadin scholar and Pali translator…
My teacher of Vipassana was Bhikkhu Anavilo, formerly George Bickell. He was known as Phra George to all, including those of us who called him “The Dragon.” In 1984, under unusual circumstances I’ll explain later, I landed on his doorstep unaware it was the meditation section of Wat Mahadhatu, the temple which at that time was to Thai Buddhism what the Vatican is to Catholic government. I immediately went into retreat under his direction.
Phra George was a Londoner in his late fifties, truly brilliant, and difficult to describe, as many truly brilliant, charismatic individuals are. I soon found out that he turned away nine out of ten foreigners who wished to study with him. I eventually learned that his official title translated as “the teacher for foreigners under the auspices of the teacher of meditation for all of Thailand.”
I spent the next seventeen months in Thailand. A good portion of it was in retreat benefitting from his guidance before going back to Sri Lanka where I left the robes. I returned to Thailand during the next two years to continue practising Vipassana under his direction.
It was through Phra George’s example that I learned what is the complete selflessness of the dedicated teacher.
Regarding my late teacher of Red Tantra: she died unexpectedly within a year of the others. I will continue to honour a pact not to disclose her story, marvellous as it is.
I will say this: those that knew her at even the most superficial level considered her to be a role model for women. In loving, she had the amazing ability to morph spectacularly into the archetypal sexual goddess, ‘She Whose Name Cannot be Spoken by Human Tongue’. This brilliant lady considered such access to be every woman’s birthright which they’ve been denied through the subjugation of their sexual energy.
She would retain in her features some of the shift afterwards. A gorgeous diamond, she looked nothing like she did in pictures of her youth. As a mature woman, after a prolonged period of debilitating sickness, she awakened her sexual energy. Her lips naturally filled out to supermodel proportions. Even her receded gums regenerated which is considered a medical impossibility.
She was adroit in her navigation of the realms and her ability to articulate the experience. That made her, for me, the indispensable Initiatress into the secrets of sexual connection, a gift from the universe profoundly loved and respected.
As for myself, all I’d like to say is I have a career in relieving the suffering of others. I do my best to do it gracefully. My professional skills stem from my successes in meditation. They place me at the forefront of my field. My occupation challenges me both mentally and physically while demanding I always be mindfully present. It deepens my understanding of the human condition and my empathy for others.
I like my way of life. It’s satisfying to earn a living by reducing some of the sufferings in the world, no matter how small a contribution that may be. It entails great responsibility and trust. My work makes me feel beneficially effective in my environment which is so important for a human being.
It has nothing to do with sex or drugs. It’s ‘right livelihood’ by any Buddhist’s definition.’