Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Manjusvara - Three Poems and a Funeral

July 6th saw Triratna’s Bristol sangha celebrating the funeral of Manjusvara, who died leading a retreat at Dhanakosa. Kamalamani has sent us an account of the day, and we’ve discovered three poems by Manjusvara in the latest edition of the Bristol Buddhist Centre’s on-line newsletter, which we reproduce below. Bristol’s Newsletter contains a moving ‘Rejoicing In Manjusvara’ by Ananda, his friend and colleague for many many years, during which he describes his friend as “the most generous person I ever knew”. Click here to read it.

Kamalamani writes -

“Manjusvara's funeral at Bristol Buddhist Centre was a very rich and fitting celebration of a life well lived. It marked beautifully the moving on of Manjusvara from his current life as a Dharma farer, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, ex-husband, lover, musician, poet, writer, fundraiser and world traveller. The funeral services were co-ordinated and led with immense love and care by Harshaprabha, Saddhanandi and Taravajra, following Manjusvara's wishes. There were rejoicings and remembrances from his family and friends (his brother: John Keefe, Meg Moginot, John Crown and Mario Cavalli, John Bloss, Manjuvajra and Samayasri), from poet and 'Wolf at the Door' friends (Dhivan, Larry Butler, Varasahaya), from friends at the Karuna Trust (Jayaraja and Amalavajra), from India (from Padmadhara read by Silajala), and from Bristol sangha friends (Satyalila, Suhada and Jvalamalini). In recent months Achintya has been creating a digital archive of poems by Manjusvara and Ananda, so we were fortunate to hear recordings of Manjusvara read some of those poems - it was incredibly poignant to once again hear his voice.

“The funeral was followed by a smaller service at the North Bristol crematorium with eulogies starting with a pre-Buddhist friend Stephen Hewitt, then his brother John, followed by another 'Scouting friend', Keith, then Harshaprabha and Ananda. Keith named how Manjusvara's funeral was a meeting of 'two gangs': his Buddhist 'gang' and his 'gang' of family and friends, and how moved he was to witness the love and respect for Manjusvara from his Buddhist 'gang' and his considerable achievements as a poet, writer, and fundraiser. The services were followed by feasting and an afternoon of spontaneous offerings for Manjusvara in the form of words, poems, songs and music.

“There was a recurring theme throughout Manjusvara's funeral: that he was a kind and encouraging man who gave so much in the different facets of his life and never wasted a moment. Whilst the funeral physically took place in Bristol, it felt to be an international celebration of him and his life. Indeed, several services and rituals have been held in his honour and memory from the UK to India since his death. The love and respect for Manjusvara was reflected in the diverse richness, love, humour and sobriety of his funeral service. The love of his friends in the local sangha was reflected in the responsiveness of so many Bristol friends in making the practical arrangements, skilfully woven together by Satyalila with the support of Jvalamalini and the centre team.

“In drawing this to a close I am reminded of a line from Manjusvara's poem, 'Writing Poetry at Edinburgh Airport': 'there is only one human story: it ends in leaving'. Whilst still absorbing the shock of the swiftness with which Manjusvara's left this life, we are also fortunate to witness his legacy of connection, kindness, boundless creativity, integrity, magical mischief, and love. May all blessings be yours, Manjusvara, as you journey into the next chapter of your human story”.

Three poems by Manjusvara -

Ghazal – Buddha

Even if we can’t see it,
we bow down in our own perfection.
The world is this mirror: our constant
re-telling of the image before us.
Time only serves the lament of the world.
There can be no shadow without the lust for shadow.
Fire placed on the highest ground. A golden thread
of sympathy connecting us through all darkness.
Surely this is reason enough to smile?
Trust in our goal; let things happen as they should.

Touching On My History

There's a room in my house
where an eagle flies
I hear its wings beating against the walls.
It has the smell of blood on its breath,
that seeps under the doorway.
I go months, even years,
trying not to think about that room.
But the eagle never forgets:
It has set me in its perfect vision.
It knows one day we will meet.
And whether I am ready or not,
it will be ready;
it will be there waiting to take me

Writing Poetry at Edinburgh Airport

Li Po said: 'To read poetry is to be alive twice.’
At the airport it is easier to see how everyone is equal.
There is only one human story: it ends in leaving

Friends in the Bristol sangha have created a blog in honour of Manjusvara, with photographs of his life, accounts of the funeral, his ordination, his Karuna and Wolf at the Door work, and more. It’s at

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