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Sadly we report the death of Aloka David Smith from cancer in Birmingham on 31st July. He was 69. His funeral is on Thursday 13th August. (See below.)
Vessantara writes: “Aloka David Smith’s connection with Triratna began in 1997, when he wrote to Sangharakshita enclosing a manuscript he had written, an account of how his insight had unfolded during twenty years of Dharma practice.
Sangharakshita recognised in him ‘a kindred spirit’, and felt that his account of his Dharma experiences was ‘a treasure’. Sangharakshita felt it would be inspiring for people to see how such a self-acknowledged ‘ordinary working-class chap’, who worked as a self-employed gardener in London, had gone so far with the Dharma, and recommended the manuscript to Windhorse Publications. It was published in 1999, as A Record of Awakening. The book included David’s original text plus an extensive interview, in which he answered questions on his text and gave some background about his five-and-a-half years of practising Zen under the guidance of Myokyo-ni in London, and then three years in robes in Sri Lanka, during which his insight had unfolded.
David became closely involved with Triratna, and eventually asked for ordination. However, after some time it became clear that this wasn’t going to work out. Instead, he set up his own Dharma group centred in Birmingham, and began teaching. He went on to publish four more books, to lead retreats, and to record many hours of teaching. In recent years he began again to use the name Aloka, meaning ‘light’, which he had been given when he was ordained in Sri Lanka.
In his Dharma teaching he emphasised consistency and regularity of practice, bearing with and continuing through difficulties, and making the whole of life the practice. He bore his last illness with patience, confiding that he could sit all day looking at his garden, completely contented. His one concern was that he should die in a way that was an example of Dharma practice, and this he managed to do, passing away peacefully and with awareness.
David kept up his friendships with a number of people in Triratna, and his funeral will be held at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre at 11.30am this Thursday, 13th August. If you wish to attend please be sure to email team [at] dharmamind.net so they have accurate numbers.