31st October 2018.
My teacher and friend since 1973, Sangharakshita died yesterday at the age of 93.
After hearing the news, last night I dreamt that I was in a large garden with several people. I looked around and there was Sangharakshita, walking down a flight of stone steps to the lawn. He looked all of his 93 years, frail, and unsteady on his feet. I was very concerned, as he clearly needed someone to help him down the steps. Before I could get to him, he arrived at the bottom step, tripped, and pitched forward on his face. As he was so frail, I felt at once that he couldn’t have survived the fall.. Several people started moving towards him to help, but I was first to get to where he was lying on his face, unmoving.
Then to my amazement, he got up, unaided. Even his glasses were still in place, unbroken. Not only that, he looked younger. The only negative effect from his fall was a slight bruising on his nose. We began talking in an animated way. He seemed to have more energy than before.
I woke up feeling light-hearted, with a strengthened feeling that for a deep Dharma practitioner the death of the body isn’t such a major event. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why my mind has felt very steady on hearing of Sangharakshita’s illness and death. I was also helped by knowing that he died in a peaceful situation, surrounded by friends who have devoted years of their lives to his care, and they reported that there was an atmosphere of profound peace around him.
I’m currently on retreat, which feels like the right place to be. It gives me a chance to absorb the death of my teacher, a friend I’ve known for 45 years, and to have some space to appreciate the fullness of his Dharma life, his practice, and the scale of his achievement. I shall be out of retreat in time to attend the funeral, and hope to see many of you there.
Sending love to all of you around the world, especially those for whom his death feels like a loss.