About The Community Meditation Center
The Community Meditation Center is located on Manhattan’s vibrant Upper West Side. With a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, in the company of a welcoming community, CMC offers instruction and practice in Vipassana (Insight) meditation and in-depth explorations into the teachings of the Buddha. Some of the world’s most renowned teachers comprise the CMC faculty and inspire the development of greater compassion, lovingkindness, wisdom, generosity, and equanimity. CMC exists for all who seek a more meaningful and joyful life.
CMC is committed to teaching and practicing non-harming as a way of life.
The world is experiencing more divisiveness than most of us have ever known. CMC remains resolute in its efforts to provide a spiritual refuge where everyone is welcome, respected, and included. An increasing number of CMC practitioners self-identify as people of color, and as LGBTQIA+.
CMC is financed entirely through the practice of dana, or generosity. When seekers came to the Buddha and asked for instruction in the dharma, he offered a progression of teachings that began with dana. According to the Buddhadharma, the root cause of suffering is our proclivity for clinging, grasping, craving, and endless desire. Acts of generosity are antidotes to these mental qualities. At CMC, each person gets to decide how generous they will be. That experience is considered to be of greater benefit for the practitioner than deciding whether or not to pay a fee established by others.
CMC has been granted 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status and, as such, is “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for elective public office.” CMC encourages all to seek out organizations with which they can actively support the candidates and issues of their choice.
In 2006, a few friends approached Allan Lokos about teaching them to meditate.
In the beginning there were seven in a small room practicing meditation and exploring the Dharma, the teachings of the historical Buddha. Before long, seven became ten, and then fifteen, and Allan found himself discussing with his teacher, Sharon Salzberg, his thoughts about starting a dharma center. Sharon was one of the few people in the world who had experience with such an endeavor. The big difference was that when Sharon co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, she was in her twenties. Allan was old enough to get a senior discount on the New York subways.
Susanna, Allan’s wife and partner in every adventure, might have thought he was crazy, but as always, she offered her complete support. In 2007 the Community Meditation Center officially opened its doors. The founding Board of Directors asked Susanna to be CMC’s Executive Director and Allan was named the Guiding Teacher.
At first, Allan thought CMC’s growth was slow, since after three or four months attendance averaged fewer than twenty people. Then came a great awakening: it was not the number of people who attended that mattered, but rather, were they reaching just one person? That became the heart of CMC’s mission; to help, to serve, to support through the teachings and practice of the Buddhadharma.
On Christmas day, 2012, CMC faced a crisis. 9500 miles away in Burma, Susanna and Allan were on a plane that crashed and burned. Susanna was seriously injured and Allan’s injuries were such that he was not expected to live.
Though seriously shaken, the CMC Board of Directors took immediate action.
They assumed Susanna’s executive duties and brought renowned dharma teachers to fill in for Allan and keep CMC going. Susanna healed slowly and Allan defied medical opinion and survived. They both returned to their beloved sangha (community) barely four months after the accident.
While gratitude prevailed, an important lesson had been learned. CMC had become a major presence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and relying so heavily on its two founders could leave the organization vulnerable. Additional volunteers were added to the team. The Executive Director would now have an assistant, and the Guiding Teacher began building a faculty comprised of exceptional, experienced, and wise dharma teachers. A pilot program for training new teachers was also initiated.
Today, CMC offers sessions on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, as well as advanced studies with Allan for more experienced practitioners. In a typical year, attendance at CMC sessions totals more than 6,000, but, as always, the priority is on the growth of each individual rather than on the number in attendance.
“CMC makes the world a better place. I feel that we are part of something significant at a time when we need something significant in our world.”
“CMC has brought a sense of well-being into my life.”