Godwin Home Page
Learning through Meditation
Godwin's Retreat Talks in Holland in 1996 & 1998
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6: The Four Noble Truths
7: Living and Dying
8: Integrating Meditation into Daily Life
9: Guided Meditation: The Mirror-Like Mind
On Wednesday the 22nd of March 2000 I found a message on my answering machine saying that Godwin had passed away that morning at 7:30. Spring was barely one day old.
Godwin had been admitted to hospital a short time previously because of an infection in his liver. His situation was so severe that he couldn't communicate and he had to be treated in the intensive-care unit. But he got better, grew stronger, and after a while he was discharged, though of course he was still weak and had to rest a lot. He couldn't talk for more than 5 minutes before needing to rest again. Unfortunately his situation soon worsened and again he was admitted to hospital, where he passed away quite quickly.
In 1998 Godwin visited Holland for the last time to give a retreat. At that time he already had some health problems. Often he was tired, and when I asked him about it during a walk he said that when he felt tired he would try to go for a short walk, and after that he always felt more refreshed and stronger then ever. During that retreat the plan was conceived to make some of his talks available to the general public. It turned out to be a quite a big task and only after ten years have I found space to finish the job. The previous years I was too preoccupied with my professional career and did not have sufficient energy to work on it.
I first met Godwin in 1992. I had left Holland 6 months before to travel around the world. I didn't know what I was looking for, but a certain restlessness had always been part of me and books like "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac strengthened my resolve to travel. The first words I wrote in my journal, more or less jokingly, were: "I'm on my way home". Reading these words after all these years, I realise they were true. I was looking for a home, my real home.
I travelled through Turkey, Pakistan and India. It was 6 months full of impressions, but it didn't seem to bring me closer to the peace and joy I was looking for. In a hotel room somewhere in the south of India I had to admit to myself that I couldn't go any further. I didn't have the energy to visit more temples or places of interest mentioned in the guidebook. What seemed to bring joy to my fellow travellers didn't touch me anymore.
By chance I met a Dutch university student who was doing research on ashrams. He told me about an ashram nearby. As I was unfamiliar with ashrams, I decided to go there and investigate. In this ashram I came into contact with the living spirituality of India. My stay in this ashram made me realise that I was looking for something that was alive and that I could connect with my own experience.
I then decided to leave the ashram to take some time off on the beaches of Sri Lanka. In my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn't find peace on a beach, and as it turned out I never saw those beaches. In the plane on my way to Sri Lanka I met a young German who had got stuck in India just like I had. He had left his broken motorcycle behind and was on his way to a Buddhist retreat centre in the hills near Kandy. We stayed in a hotel together and there we met a wonderful woman who had just spent some time in this particular centre. She shared her experiences with us, and my friend left the next morning for the centre. One day later I followed him.
After a four-hour journey by train, a one-hour bus drive and a steep climb I arrived, tired and sweaty, in Nilambe Meditation Centre. During my first conversation with Godwin we didn't say much. He asked about my meditation experience, which was almost none, and tried to get a feel for me. During subsequent conversations we didn't say much either. Godwin gave me some guidelines for my practice and had a lot of confidence in the process of meditation I was in. The most important message he gave me on this first day, and he kept on repeating it, was that I had to learn to be my own best friend. In this way he gently led me to the treasure-house of my own heart.
Godwin liked to see himself as a spiritual friend, and he always tried to convey his vision of Buddhist meditation in a way that could benefit both Westerners and Easterners.
He spoke in plain language which was easy to understand. He was a man with a deep commitment to the spiritual path. A man with a lot of lightness and a very fine sense of humor.
But above all he was a man with a tremendous capacity to love, to understand and to live life joyfully. Godwin has been the most truly friendly man I have ever met.
May he be well. May he be happy. May he be peaceful.
Peter van Leeuwen
Gorinchem, May 2008