Order of Service
1 Music as we enter the chapel
Lama Gyurme - Chenrezi Pure Land Prayer
2 Intro: Welcome, Thanks & Preliminary Prayers
3 Remembrance / Tributes
Barbara - Adrian - Jane - Tim
4 The Commital
All read together
5 OM MANI PADME HUM
All chant together
(followed by 1 mn silence)
6 Dedication - All read together
from the King of Prayers
7 Thank you all for joining us today.
8 Music as we leave the chapel
Lama Gyurme: Prayer To Sangye Menla
We will then gather at Lam Rim Buddhist Centre
12 Victoria Place, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 3BP
Music: Lama Gyurme
Chenrezi Pure Land Prayer
Reflection, Welcome & Thanks
They would also like to thank Geshe Damcho and Geshe Thinley and all of you for being here for Alan, whose life has touched us all and whose death now reminds us of preciousness of our own lives.
Although we will each have had our own experiences of Alan’s life and death, with different memories and feelings of love, grief and respect, we all share a real sense of loss. Being aware of this should help us to express our sorrow and comfort one another in our grief.
We will make heartfelt prayers and dedications for Alan to take a fortunate rebirth and commit his body to be cremated. The power of our prayers depends upon the strength and purity of our intention. In this service it is very important for everyone to have a mind of compassion for all living beings in general, and for Alan in particular. If we have a genuinely compassionate motivation our prayers will definitely be effective.
Please visualise in the space before you the living Buddha Shakyamuni surrounded by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, like the full moon surrounded by stars.
I take refuge until I am enlightened
In the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha
By the positive potential I create
By practising generosity and the other far reaching attitudes
May I attain enlightenment for the benefit of all being
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes
May all sentient beings never be parted from sorrowless bliss
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger
We now visualise that from the hearts of all the holy beings, streams of light and nectar flow down, blessing and purifying Alan’s mind.
The assembly observes a short period of silence.
Tributes / Remembrance
Barbara: I met Alan in 1975. We had begun to study Tai Chi with John Kells in Wimpole Street. Wimpole Street was fertile ground. A Tibetan Lama used to come each week. Newly arrived in Britain, unable to speak English, he somehow transmitted the seed of Buddhism which flourished in Alan from the beginning. The Lama's name was Geshe Damcho, our beloved Geshela.
John also has a tai chi buddy called John Hicks. Those of us in the world of Acupuncture will understand the meaning of that. He taught at the College of Traditional Acupuncture and later founded his own school, where Alan went to study.
He moved to Bristol in 1983. We didn't often see each other then. He rarely left Bristol unless it was to receive teachings from the Dalai Lama or go to Lam Rim Wales or for any other purpose to which he was dedicated.
The last time we met, two years ago, was at His Holiness's teachings in Nottingham. He came to supper with his prospective wife, Paula. I thought, at last Alan, you have found her.
He was like a matrix out of which many things came. I believe he was one of the foremost Tai Chi practitioners in this country. He taught in Bristol for nearly thirty years, a devoted student himself of Dr. Chi. The night Dr. Chi died his picture slid down the wall onto the floor. Alan didn't learn of his death till the next day.
He was an energy mass. Anyone who came anywhere near him was absorbed into a physical manifestation of a qi field. Now that mass has transformed once more into its original state of universal qi. He has found the place he was looking for, the place we all long to find, through his dedication to the Path that led home. His great legacy, through that dedicated search for an understanding of qi, of our true nature, is in the light he shone, continues to shine, on the way home for all of us.
He truly is part of the matrix now. Dear wonderful Alan. You are woven so thoroughly into the fabric of my life and the journey through it, there was never a time without you. There never will be. It's just in Samsara, it seems like you're gone.
There will be many of you present that I know, & many that I can call friends. Though my tribute is vicarious the distance that separates us is only space. I am just as present & almost with you. I hope it’s enough to say that I would dearly liked to have joined you.
I imagine that I join many of you in these sentiments; A good being on earth.
I first met Al at the bottom of a dim basement stairway attending my first T’ai Chi class. I’ve often wondered at how lucidly I remember that moment – and I find it slightly unnerving now in the light of events. I so very well remember the feel of his warm, soft hand & his steady, friendly look – and his hair ! He seems to have left an impression.
We very soon became friends. I was just out of school at 18 & he was 30.
He was my first ‘adult’ friend – a good start !
Our paths ran parallel for 15 odd years & then diverged a little but not enough to separate us & we have been ‘pals’ [as he would say] all the while.
I could lament the loss to us of a worthy adherent of T’ai Chi, with uncommon skills. But there are many of his students present who can make a better case for it, so I’ll leave that alone.
When I met Al he was already interested in Buddhism. It was not long before we met Geshe Damcho & started to make trips to Lam Rim in Wales. Al’s commitment to this lineage became profound & it was soon instrumental in drawing him to move from London to Bristol where he could set up teaching & be nearer Lam Rim. There will be many among you who can give better testimony of Al as a Buddhist than I. Suffice to say, whilst I drifted form that path Al was, to say the least, conscientious.
Al also became qualified as an Acupuncturist. From our speaking about his Acupuncture I know this. He took care that he could manage his patients without compromise & so did not over fill his books. [.. ] It was typical of Al to bring this kind of moderation to his activities & I admired him for it.
There are, no doubt, many patients & colleagues to attest to his skills here.
Al also played Chess. A mysterious business to me, & he could even read books about it – happily! I could bring him no pleasure in this, but with the onset of the internet I introduced him to a school friend of mine, by then a well regarded theorist. Al gleefully rose to the challenge. At that time Al had several little travelling chess sets about the place – various games in progress by internet or some such.
Al was took too soon. I was assuming we’d share at least another 10 or 15 years – if he practiced hard – perhaps longer!
I got a call changing planes in Asia. As I flew Eastward, disconsolate at being unable to cancel or turn about, to see my old friends spirit also fly away, I distracted myself a little by measuring a thought : for 31years 3months 3weeks 1hour [give or take] I knew Al. In that time I don’t remember him voicing an ill feeling.
Even amid adversity & the difficulties that any life will throw at us, he was always at pains to understand the other end of the matter. In those lightly sombre moments when he spoke of some problem it was always high in his mind not to cause a harm or hurt to another if he was able. I can’t say for his success – who can say these things?
But I bore witness to a man who would bear no, even casual, malice that I could detect. For over 30 years I knew a man who would not inflict an avoidable injury of any kind, no matter how slight.
That’s a good track record !
Put simply - In Al’s passing a good being has departed us.
A good being.
When I last saw Al we had dinner in good company & easy humour – it was a pleasure.
As we parted we shared an affectionate embrace – as was our way many times.
I last spoke to him offering birthday wishes. Something in it caught him, I can’t remember what, & he had a lengthy fit of chuckling.
I last thought I had of him - a mere moment ago – may not expire.
9000 miles & a life separate us now.
After all this time, your hand is still warm in mine, your affectionate embrace ever present, & your laughter still ringing about my ears, I bid you farewell on your journey, my old chum.
Jane Moore's Tribute
”Dearest Alan, I remember you for introducing me to Buddhadharma, for inspiring me with your special practice of Tai Chi, for introducing me to special people and healers for the mind and body, for your appreciation of the finer things in life: art, poetry, music, wholesome food, philosophy and meditation. I remember you with love before and during our short marriage and remember your delight at the birth of our very special, beautiful, extraordinary and wise daughter, whom you named Lucy (as she was filled with light) a few moments after her birth. Later, we gave her a Sanskrit middle name, Kumara, meaning gentle and soft. I remember your aspirations for her life, your own dedication to gentleness, your search for meaning, truth and enlightenment. You learned so much about training your mind and channelling your energy and I believe, most of all, that you wished to help others.
Today, I send you from India, where I am continuing my own journey, ‘mani’ pills blessed by the chanting of thousands of OM MANI PADME HUM mantras by the monks of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery in Dharamsala, a blessing cord from them too, the most perfect prayers of my dearest enlightened teacher, Khyongla Rato Rinpoche and the unsurpassably powerful, magnificent prayers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, both of whom I personally requested a few hours after your breathing ceased, dedications made by me personally, visualising you with me at sublime teachings and on the circumambulation paths of Dharamsala, over the course of many days, and a ‘khatag’ white offering scarf blessed by the Head of the Drikung Kagyu school, Drikung Rinpoche, at his temple in Kulkan, Uttarakhand, where I am now. I had requested the pills and the blessing cord as soon as I knew you were unwell and the specific prayers for your smooth passing and very auspicious rebirth, as soon as I knew of your passing. For all that we shared during the short time we lived as a family, I am deeply grateful. May all your lives forever be filled with wisdom and compassion, love, happiness and eternal joy.”
Jane, Dehra Dun, 18 March 2010
Tim Parsons: A most extraordinary thing has happened. A precious flower of intense beauty has blossomed; a flower formed by a deep connection of heart which spans the decades of life and bridges the continents of Earth.
Since the news of Alan’s death we have received numerous messages of sorrow, tangible love and gratitude from places as far away as Europe, South Africa and the Far East and from friends and students reaching back to his youth.
Alan touched the hearts of countless people during the course of his life, simply by being who he was and living his life with gentleness, wholeness, sincerity and clarity. The stability of Alan’s practice was the bedrock not only for his own life but, through his teaching and example, the bedrock for many buffeted by the turbulence of life. It’s appropriate to give voice to just a few of the people who have written tributes to Alan, both friends and students, because this is really a tribute from many people.
“Alan really showed me how to live a good life and I'll always be grateful to him for that, he was an amazing man and I'll miss him a lot”.MIKE wrote
“He is an inspiration to me and so many people and passed on the gift of knowing oneself more deeply”.JANIE wrote
“Alan has always been our "rock", the quiet voice of reason and balance when any difficult issues arose. I so valued his measured approach coming from years of Dharma practice. I would like to add my love and prayers to the many others I know that are being said for such a truly special man”.CHRISTINA wrote
“I will miss Alan greatly as a friend, as a teacher, as a practitioner of acupuncture and as a presence in my life”.CHRIS wrote
“Alan was a genuine kind and loving soul, he had the unique ability to create a loving space for others and myself to become more comfortable within their own hearts and bodies. A talent so few process.
In his skilful and intelligent approach to teaching and interaction you were gently encouraged to let go of unnecessary holding and emotional fears, you were left feeling more natural and happy. In my mind Alan was a truly wonderful man who conducted himself with such love and compassion that only being in his company made you feel happy and safe. I will miss my dear friend, whose warmth and gentleness taught me so much about being human. I will try to follow”.These were just a selection from many, many tributes. When we remember you Alan, we remember many wonderful qualities. We remember that you always sought to see the positive in any situation; total open acceptance. “Any way OK” you used to say, “Any way OK”. We remember also that you were one of those rare adults who maintained a childlike quality of curiosity, experimentation and playfulness. One of your favourite phrases was “Imagination becomes Reality” which really captured this quality. It was also the basis of some of Alan’s more detailed teachings on the “quality of mind” in practice.
We remember you as a warm, gentle, patient man and an absolutely meticulous teacher, for ever correcting our errors, but never criticising them.… and we remember the times spent practicing together, “Golden times” you used to call them.
Alan, your life has been an inspiration and your death a great teaching. Thank you so much for the time you spent with us. Golden times they were, Golden times indeed.
Janie leads the assembly in prayer:
Everyone, please stand up for the committal.
Life is impermanent and all those who are born must eventually die. However, we all have the seeds of our past virtues, which have the power to bring a fortunate rebirth in the future.
We pray that through the power of this virtue, through the blessings of the holy beings, and through the force of our heartfelt prayers, our dear friend, Alan, will experience great good fortune and everlasting peace and happiness.
We also pray for the bereaved relatives and friends, that they may be comforted in their loss and find peace of mind and strength of heart.
May all beings without exception be released from suffering, and find true happiness and everlasting peace.
In love and appreciation, we commit the body to be cremated. Please sit.
Now, while focusing strongly on compassion for all living beings in general and for Alan in particular, we'll chant together the mantra of the Buddha of Compassion 21 times.
OM MANI PÄME HUM
The assembly then observes a few moments of silent contemplation and prayer.
We now dedicate all the virtues we have collected to the future happiness of our dear friend Alan.
The assembly recites the following prayers:
May Alan traverse all his lives in the world,
Free of karma, afflictions and interfering forces,
Just as the lotus blossom is undisturbed by the water's wave,
Just as the sun and moon move unhindered through the sky.
Purifying the power of all contaminated actions,
Crushing the power of disturbing emotions at their root,
Defusing the power of interfering forces,
May Alan perfect the power of the bodhisattva practice.
May he purify an ocean of worlds,
May he free an ocean of beings,
May he clearly see an ocean of Dharma,
May he realize an ocean of pristine wisdom.
May he purify an ocean of activities,
May he fulfill an ocean of aspirations,
May he make offerings to an ocean of Buddhas,
May he practice without discouragement for an ocean of eons.
May his pure activities be endless,
His good qualities boundless,
And through abiding in immeasurable activity,
May he actualize infinite emanations.
For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may Alan too remain
To dispel the sorrows of the world.
Dedication: verses taken from The King of Prayers
Lets remind ourselves that Alan still lives on in our hearts, minds and memories. Although no longer a visible part of our lives, he still remains a member of our family and of our circle, through the influence he has had on us and the special part he played in our lives.
We are coming to the closing of our proceedings here this afternoon but before we leave I would like to thank you all once again for being here today for Alan.
Please join us at the Lam Rim Centre. 12 Victoria Place, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 3BP
Music: Lama Gyurme
Prayer To Sangye Menla