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Godwin's Impact on My Life

by Amy Chiang
(Administrator at the University of Hong Kong)

I knew Godwin since his visit to Hong Kong in 1997 and attended his talks and retreats held there in 1997 to 1999. Though I only had chance to meet him three times in Hong Kong, his impact to me is lifelong. He was a great Dhamma teacher, with profound wisdom and boundless loving kindness. In one of the talks in his retreat which I attended for the first time he asked the retreatants not to call him "Master", and said that he and all the retreatants were spiritual friends of each other and we learnt from each other. I never found a distance between teacher and student when I interacted with Godwin and never felt shy to tell him if I thought I did something in a silly or unwholesome way because he was such a kind spiritual friend of mine.

During the breakfasts and lunches in the retreat Godwin sat in the dining room with other retreatants to have meals. We could even sit beside him to eat together (but we did practise noble silence when eating). Again this demonstrated Godwin's moment-to-moment friendliness to the others. I was deeply impressed by this - I have never had meals together with other masters in retreats just like a family. Godwin did not have any privilege in meal arrangement. He simply ate what the other retreatants ate. As he told us, we were spiritual friends of each other!

Discussion and sharing sessions in the retreat were often filled with the laughter of Godwin and retreatants. The laughter was not recorded in the transcript of Godwin's talks but I always remember the friendliness and openness when we were together with Godwin. I recalled that in the sharing session in the last night of his retreat in Hong Kong in 1999 - his last retreat in Hong Kong - we had a small "party" with cakes and drinks, and of course lots of laughter. It was really a surprise to all of us!

Do you remember Godwin's laughter? So genuine and naïve. He reminds us that we can indeed live and laugh in a genuine and simple way. I will remember this throughout my whole life.

Godwin repeatedly taught us the importance of gratefulness. Each time at the end of retreat, he gave a long "speech" to express his gratitude to the organizer, workers, cook, yoga teachers, place where the retreat was held, etc and the retreatants. Godwin and retreatants bowed to each other. We were so grateful that we had Godwin and also a group of mutually supportive spiritual friends.

Godwin was a great and extraordinary spiritual teacher who touched and enlightened numerous hearts because he taught not only by words but also by the way he lived. Do you remember the smile always on his face? He showed us the powerfulness of the medicine given by the Buddha by the way he lived and he enabled us to develop confidence in Buddha's medicine by the way he lived.

May our beloved friend and teacher, Godwin, be well and happy and free from suffering.

Amy Chiang,
Hong Kong