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Posts Tagged ‘Burning House Parable’

If you are of a certain age you may remember the CB Radio craze. In the late seventies, long before the advent of smart phones, Citizens Band radio became wildly popular in America, not only with truckers and tradesmen but also with enthusiasts and hobbyists, who talked back and forth in their cars and trucks, warned each other of road conditions and speed traps, and entertained themselves by tuning into Channel 9, where fires, crimes, and other emergencies were reported and help dispatched.

Such was the pastime of one Allegany County [New York] resident, who lived alone in the country and spent his idle hours on his CB radio. On one occasion, so the story goes, this gentleman was seated comfortably in his bathroom, taking care of business, when he heard a report of a house fire in progress. Listening eagerly for details, he learned to his considerable consternation that his own house was on fire. Fortunately for him, he hastily assembled himself and fled the house, escaping serious injury. (more…)

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Allan Lokos

Allan Lokos

In the Parable of the Burning House, a revered text in the Zen tradition, a grand but dilapidated mansion catches fire. At the time, the wealthy owner is standing outside the gate, but inside the mansion, his three sons are playing with their toys, oblivious of the encroaching conflagration. Rushing into the house, their father implores them to get out, but they ignore his admonitions. To entice them, he promises to give them jeweled, ox-drawn carts if they will leave. By these “expedient means” he achieves his purpose, and his sons escape “the burning house of the threefold world.” Soon afterward, their father presents them with magnificent carriages adorned with gold, silver, and pearls and drawn by stalwart, pure-white oxen. Released from the burning house and their former attachments, his sons enjoy safety and freedom.

I was reminded of this parable while reading Allan Lokos’s new book Through the Flames, which recounts Lokos’s experience of a horrific plane crash and his near-miraculous survival and recovery. In December, 2012, Lokos and his wife, Susanna Weiss, were enjoying a ten-day holiday in Mynanmar. On Christmas Day, they boarded a short flight from Mandalay to Inle Lake. As their low-flying plane approached its destination, it struck electrical wires, burst into flames, and crashed in a rice field. Susanna jumped to safety from a side exit, but Allan, who was just behind her, caught his foot on something and suffered burns to a third of his body before he could escape. In the anguished days that followed, doctors in Myanmar, Bangkok, and Singapore informed Susanna that her husband, whose burns were massive and bone-deep, could not possibly survive, let alone recover. (more…)

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