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Tributes to Godwin

Godwin Samararatne

(by close friend Mrs. Visakha Wickrameratne)

Godwin, the "gentle giant" is no more. Gentle he was, with all that inner goodness and feeling for humanity radiating through the world to those who sought solace from him. Gentle and child-like was his nature so that all who came into contact felt comfortable with him.

He was soft-spoken and calm in all his dealings with people. A very gentle teacher, he did not force his views on people but guided them so that a natural unfolding of the Dhamma took place within themselves, thus transforming their lives. The simplicity with which he taught something so profound, touching the very core of their lives, was understood by all, whether adult or child.

A giant he was in that he embodied all that is good and wonderful in human nature. He did not consider anyone's need as of little importance. To him each one was special. His boundless goodwill and compassion made him special to all who sought his guidance and friendship. He was loved and respected the world over.

He made giant strides encouraging and instructing people into a meditative way of life. His extensive knowledge of the Dhamma and the wisdom he imparted in his teaching made him a great master, much sought after. His spiritual guidance and counsel brought understanding and with it happiness to many weighted down by the pressures of life. Many are the saddened and the despairing who felt themselves isolated and who found a genuine friend in him to guide them tactfully and gently back to the acceptance of life as it is lived with its "see-saw rhythm", as he put it. In this way he brought comfort and harmony to many a home torn with conflict and aggression.

He wasn't the traditionally accepted holy guru seated cross-legged, cut away from the realities of life. He was one of us. He enjoyed company and his laughter was infectious.

His interests were manifold and his knowledge was not confined to one particular topic but extended to many. Once listening to him I was amazed at the skill he displayed in discussing English literature with the Advanced Level students with particular reference to R. K. Narayan and Chekov.

He gave freely not only of his spiritual guidance and counsel but his time and energy wherever they were needed. In addition to running two meditation centres and conducting numerous classes and retreats here and abroad, he was involved with research into near death experiences and rebirth. He was committed to many humanitarian activities and his special interest was to help the two hospitals at Peradenlya and Kandy, drawing on his own resources and those of friends abroad. He gave solace not only to the physically ill, especially those desperate with terminal illness, but the mentally sick also, with no concern for the sapping of his energy and health.

He responded positively to the poverty he saw around him. The distribution of frames for pairs of spectacles and hearing aids donated by his foreign friends, and the payment for lenses with his own resources, the contribution of medical supplies and stationery etc. to the less privileged villagers and financial assistance for the renovation of their homes, and active involvement in setting up projects for self employment of youth made him a true friend of those who were in need. Something remarkable was that he never complained, never fussed but was always with a smile.

Just prior to falling unconscious from which he didn't recover, the smile was there.

His classes in meditation were of great depth imparted with a lightness. His sense of humour and wit were remarkable so that the sessions we attended for nearly seventeen years were fresh and full of life. The mind became a source of experiment and enjoyment, in "knowing the mind, shaping the mind and freeing the mind" so that we could achieve a mind that is "free, happy and full of loving kindness," as he put it.

His was the epitome of such a mind. We learnt many guidelines for harmonious relationships and meaningful living.

In an age when the world's fast losing its sense of humanity, we cannot afford to lose people such as Godwin who in their selflessness are so rare in our midst. His absence leaves an abysmal void in the spiritual world, in our society and in our individual lives. What better monument can there be to his memory than his goodness engraved in many hearts.

May he be always peaceful just as he lived.