Forest Sangha Newsletter
July 1998



The Power of Faith; Ajahn Viradhammo
Don't Lose Your Wits; Ajahn Siripa˝˝a
Maurice O'Connell Walshe; A Tribute
Mealy Redpolls & on Being Content
The best Wealth; Ajahn Candasiri
Signs of Change:


Maurice O'Connell Walshe - A Tribute
Maurice O'Connell Walshe was born in London on the 22nd December, 1911 and died on the 18th April, 1998. He was a student at University College, London, and at the Universities of Berlin, Goettingen, Vienna and Freiburg-im-Breisgau. He taught mediaeval German language and literature at the University of Leeds, and as a Reader in German at Nottingham University and Bedford College, London. After retirement in 1979 he became deputy director of the Institute of Germanic Studies, University of London. His published works include a three volume set of essays of the 13th century mystic, Meister Eckhart and, in 1987, Thus Have I Heard - the most popular and contemporary version of The Long Discourses of the Buddha. A few months before he died he completed a Buddhist Pali dictionary which, hopefully, will be published in the near future.

Maurice's commitment to Buddhism began in 1951 and he implemented his interest with the scholastic training and personal vigour that had marked his German studies. So apart from learning the Pali language in which the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism are written and writing numerous articles and booklets on the theory and practice of Buddhism, he took up the practice of meditation, visited Buddhist monasteries in South East Asia and most importantly, was a leading figure in the development of Buddhism in Britain.

He was both a Vice President of the Buddhist Society and Chairman of the English Sangha Trust. This Trust was established in 1956 with the aim of supporting a Buddhist monastic foundation in Britain. He continued to serve this Trust as a Director into his seventies and helped with founding its two monasteries - Cittaviveka in West Sussex and Amaravati in Hertfordshire. After the death of his second wife, Florence, Maurice entered the monastic Order of Monks for several months at the age of 77. Having spent the three-month Rains Retreat as a monk according to the Thai custom, Maurice remained a regular and much-loved member of Amaravati's congregation whilst continuing to travel and write. He joked (or maybe it wasn't a joke) about becoming a monk again when he was 90 in order to finish his days close to the heart of the religion towards which he had given so much. He was always ready to help with linguistic and other problems and extremely generous and kind. He will be greatly missed by his university colleagues and Buddhist friends.
George Sharp writes:
Maurice Walshe's funeral took place in the Amaravati Temple at 2 o'clock in the afternoon of Monday 4th May. Many of his old friends were there, perhaps seeing this aspect of his life for the first time. Ajahn Viradhammo, the Abbot, invited a number of them to speak. Without exception everyone took pleasure in reminding us of Maurice's dry wit. Garry Thompson, former Vice-President of the Buddhist Society, and EST member, aired a philosophical speculation Maurice would have enjoyed very much - 'Maurice Walshe does not exist' - and by this humour, for a brief time, he was brought back to life in fond memory. But, perhaps, the most memorable moment took place ten days earlier when the body was carried into the Chapel and laid with face exposed. Seeing our old friend's corpse was a shock.

We were contemplating a thing once animated, once a person, now dead; once the Maurice Walshe we knew, and now utterly gone. And to touch that cold, putty-like flesh was all the confirmation of the fact one could ever need. But my own emotional response was one of joy to see his body there, in that beautiful little Chapel, at the end of a long and fruitful life, surrounded by Monks and Nuns of the Order he had, for so long, sought to establish in this country. They stood in silent respect regarding the truth of the death against the backdrop of the glass reclining Buddha, and I thought the scene quite beautiful, and it seemed to me that Maurice could not have wished for more; for all that surrounded his body was the culmination of his hopes and aspirations. The work was done, the dream achieved, and this a home-coming more complete than he might ever have hoped, and perhaps despaired of achieving, during the many arid years of difficulty and disappointment as Chairman of the English Sangha Trust during its early years.

Always self-deprecating, almost shy by nature, he made little of his extraordinary achievements and possessed a keen sense of the absurd: hence the jokes, puns and wry comments which peppered his talks. He would have enjoyed the irreverence and absence of funeral sentiment. For our part, there was only joy that he had lived to touch the lives of so many. Being an only child, having been predeceased by his wives Ruth and Florence, Maurice's only immediate family was the Sangha he served so devotedly and who were gathered there to bid him farewell.

Last Moments
So ordinary, such clarity and balance
in allowing that to be
No drama, no crisis, no special offerings
in thought and wishes.
Just me here, in my ordinariness, with you
It's taken you to come to this
and now I see its beauty.
I'm nothing, I'm hollow and this
is what I offer to you now as
your body softly heaves its
last rhythms and pulses.
So gentle, no attachments.
Simplicity is everything, to die
with no thing to hold the heart back.
from a young friend who was with Maurice as he died.