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Tributes to Godwin
Mr. Godwin Samararatne
(An appreciation by T.B.Dissanayake, Hali Ela)
As a student Upul Nishantha Gamage, who was studying at Kingswood College, was interested in reading many books: Buddhist books and books written by J. Krishnamurti. He thought that Krishnamurti must be an Arahat. He asked the following question of Ven. Dhammika who had had the experience of meeting many meditation teachers:
"Is Krishnamurti an Arahat?"
"I have met him." answered Ven. Dhammika Thera "He is a great philosopher, but he is not an Arahat, because I have seen that sometimes he gets angry."
"Have you met someone who does not get angry?"
"In Sri Lanka."
Upul was excited by this answer.
"Whereabouts in Sri Lanka?"
"Kandy." answered Ven. Dhammika Thera.
This was unbelievable news to Upul, who was living in Peradeniya.
"Whereabouts in Kandy?" Upul questioned again.
"In the D.S.Senanayake Library. He is the Librarian."
"Is it Mr. Godwin? I have seen him, but I don't know him very well. But I have seen him always with a smile."
"Yes. He doesn't get angry." answered Ven. Dhammika Thera.
Mr. Godwin Samararatne worked as a Librarian in order to look after his mother. After the death of his mother his home was Nilambe Meditation Centre. But much of the time he lived in other countries. He travelled to many Eastern and Western countries in order to teach Buddhist meditation. Most of the foreigners loved him because he conducted meditation programmes, which addressed practical living rather than theory. No one saw him in an angry mood. Not only that, but he was not accustomed to speaking about the faults of others. He had the very good practice of admiring the good aspects of others' lives.
Bernard Haymoz, a Swiss man who has had experience of meditating in many countries, said that he hasn't met any meditation teachers as kind and humble as Mr. Godwin.
A German Meditator, Helmut, came to Nilambe to meditate for one week before going to India. But he changed his plan of going to India and stayed at Nilambe for seven years. He is now a very dedicated Buddhist monk, Ven. Anuruddha.
Once a political leader visited Nilambe. He was very happy with the place. Then he offered to provide electricity and a vehicle for the Centre, and he asked if anything else was needed. But Mr. Godwin didn't want anything. He kindly invited the leader to meditate whenever he was free. Even some foreigners were willing to pay for electricity to be installed. But he kindly declined their proposals. What he valued most was the light within oneself, rather than outer things.
Mr. Godwin was a simple person. He was not married and therefore his life was really a simple life.
Ramaiya was a neighbour who lived on the nearby tea-estate. One day he came to Nilambe Meditation Centre to receive something from Mr. Godwin. Some foreigners had hired a vehicle to go to town. They offered the front seat to Mr. Godwin, and they sat in the back seats. As they were leaving, Ramaiya was there, wishing to go to town with them. Mr. Godwin asked the driver to stop the vehicle and invited Ramaiya to sit up front with him. He travelled to Kandy talking with Ramaiya in close friendship.
Mr. Godwin had no regard for caste, nationality, religion or any other group identification. Everyone was a human being to him. His life style reveals to us his vision.
Mr. Godwin had great respect for the Dhamma. Once there was a villager who came to the Meditation Centre to meditate. This person had been teaching Dhamma to a certain group. Mr. Godwin heard of this. He reflected on it, and the following day he met the villager and greeted him. Then he invited the villager to teach that same Dhamma to him. He went to the villager's kuti humbly and listened carefully. He didn't pay regard to the status of the person. He behaved towards him just like a humble student.
Sometimes the Meditation Centre is full of meditators from both Sri Lanka and abroad. If Mr. Godwin got to know that there was a meditator without a room, he would offer his room to that meditator and sleep on the bench in the kitchen. He didn't expect comforts. He considered the well being of others very highly. According to some people he was one who exuded holiness.
One day Mr. Godwin saw a meditator who was wearing slippers which were worn out. The following day he brought a new pair of slippers from town and quietly placed them in front of the meditator's room, saying nothing about it. When this incident was recounted to a group of people at his funeral, they said that there are thousands of such stories of his similar actions.
He was always ready to address anybody with pleasant words and treat them to his humble smile. He was keen to teach Dhamma at any time. His language was very simple? even when discussing Dhamma he kept it very simple so that it was suitable and understandable to professors, villagers or small children.
Mr. Godwin Samararatne expired on 22nd March last year. Today Mr. Upul Gamage, who got to know about Mr. Godwin from Ven. Dhammika Thera, is the meditation teacher at Nilambe Meditation Centre.
Nilambe Meditation Centre is situated about two miles uphill from Nilambe Office Junction on the Kandy - Galaha road. Siri Pada is nicely visible from the Centre. The Mahaweli River adds extra beauty to the landscape.
But the spiritual beauty of Mr. Godwin surpasses all others. It's an open secret to anyone.
May He attain Supreme Nibbana.