Remembering Alaya

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Adhisthana Writings

Remembering Alaya

Remembering Alaya

In my bedroom in the Urgyen Annexe there hangs a framed print of Dr Johnson, one of my five literary heroes. The print was a birthday present from Alaya.  I do not remember which birthday this was, but I do remember Alaya giving me the print at Norwich Buddhist Centre in All Saint’s Green, which I was then visiting. Alaya had framed the print himself, for he was a carpenter and had been a member of the team that created Sukhavati, our centre in Bethnal Green. Though I did not have many meetings with Alaya over the years, three of them stand out. The first was when we attended a retreat held at Court Lodge, the home of Subhuti’s parents. I particularly remember his mass of ginger hair, which made a pleasing contrast with his dead-white skin. Our second meeting took place when I visited him when he was living as a member of a kind of hippy commune. I used to go past the commune, which was situated not far from the road, whenever I drove from London to Padmaloka. It stood opposite a pub called, I think, the Angel (connoisseurs of Norfolk pubs will correct me if I am wrong). I remember Alaya proudly showing me the communal earth closet, where he said he often enjoyed friendly chats with other members of the commune. Our last meeting took place in Norwich, at his home, when I spent a pleasant evening with him, his wife, Ratnamala, and their son, Sam. He had long been suffering from epilepsy but was at that time in a reasonable state of health. Subsequent bulletins about his health made it clear that his condition was deteriorating and I was not surprised when I heard that he was in hospital. His death at fifty-five came as rather a shock, and my heart goes out to Ratnamala and Sam. He was a friendly person, fun-loving but serious, and he was concerned to keep up his connections with the Order. His practice was the Green Tārā sādhana, which I remember giving him.

May she protect him on his way!

In my bedroom in the Urgyen Annexe there hangs a framed print of Dr Johnson, one of my five literary heroes. The print was a birthday present from Alaya.  I do not remember which birthday this was, but I do remember Alaya giving me the print at Norwich Buddhist Centre in All Saint’s Green, which I was then visiting. Alaya had framed the print himself, for he was a carpenter and had been a member of the team that created Sukhavati, our centre in Bethnal Green. Though I did not have many meetings with Alaya over the years, three of them stand out. The first was when we attended a retreat held at Court Lodge, the home of Subhuti’s parents. I particularly remember his mass of ginger hair, which made a pleasing contrast with his dead-white skin. Our second meeting took place when I visited him when he was living as a member of a kind of hippy commune. I used to go past the commune, which was situated not far from the road, whenever I drove from London to Padmaloka. It stood opposite a pub called, I think, the Angel (connoisseurs of Norfolk pubs will correct me if I am wrong). I remember Alaya proudly showing me the communal earth closet, where he said he often enjoyed friendly chats with other members of the commune. Our last meeting took place in Norwich, at his home, when I spent a pleasant evening with him, his wife, Ratnamala, and their son, Sam. He had long been suffering from epilepsy but was at that time in a reasonable state of health. Subsequent bulletins about his health made it clear that his condition was deteriorating and I was not surprised when I heard that he was in hospital. His death at fifty-five came as rather a shock, and my heart goes out to Ratnamala and Sam. He was a friendly person, fun-loving but serious, and he was concerned to keep up his connections with the Order. His practice was the Green Tārā sādhana, which I remember giving him.

May she protect him on his way!